Tag Archives: less pug more talk

Because I like Mana Berry Delight.

Last December, I started what was just going to be a  little side project. It’s one of those things that… Well, it snowballed. I thought a few people might read my funny little pug stories. More than a few people have done so! I’ll admit that the first time I wrote here after I knew people were actually reading it I had a bit of stage fright. I’d open up that new post screen and stare at it. Fortunately, the adventures of LFD provided ample material to keep pushing me to write and get over it.

Once Vidyala “came of age,” I had many people asking if I was going to stop blogging. But I had the blogging “bug” by then, I didn’t want to quit! I kept writing about various Warcraft-related topics, some of them (but most of them not) related to paladins at all. Naturally people tend to assume that I play a paladin… Why wouldn’t they? It’s in the blog title.

Having a “project” for a blog was a fantastic idea for me, but it didn’t make the blog very livable or sustainable. Nowadays when I am trying to think of topics I am stumped because I keep thinking – this has nothing to do with pugging, and this has nothing to do with paladins. I haven’t even specced or glyphed poor Vid post 4.0.

I love blogging. But my paladin is an alt. I realized it was time for a change. (You didn’t think this post was going someplace SAD, did you?)

So, Manalicious was born! The idea is that (with something of a mage flavour, but without “mage” in the name) it’ll give me a place where I can blog to my heart’s content about anything that strikes my fancy. I play casters. I like mana. I like cooking things (and am, at heart, a mage, monarch of the created pastry!). Manalicious was my favourite cooking daily (no kidding) and so… It’s all very logical, you see. It will have more silly mage recipes, caster talk, achievements, lore, quests, raiding – all of the things I like. It’ll probably also have a Pugging Pally feature when Cataclysm has been out for a bit. Yes, I’ll level Vid through pugs, I am clearly a glutton for punishment.

I hope if you enjoyed Pugging Pally you’ll forgive me the hassle of updating your RSS feed and/or any blogroll links to Manalicious. I’m not going to actually take Pugging Pally down – it will stand as a testament to the brief period of PUG insanity I endured in 2009-2010, but I do expect that my writing from now on will occur over there.

In short: I’m not going away, just moving, and will be more active when I don’t have the paladin thing hanging over my head. I see this as a positive change. I’ll post one last “Redirect” post after this one so that people looking for me don’t lose their way. I hope to see you at my new digs! There’ll be cake.

Immersion

I’ve been slowly working away at the Loremaster achievement for my main, Millya. This is something I’ve spent time doing off-and-on since the beginning of Wrath. She’s actually not doing badly! Because she’s a tailor – I was one of the first folks back on my old server to have the Deathchill Cloak recipe – she already has Loremaster of Northrend.

Now I’m done with Kalimdor, and I have about 520/700 done for Eastern Kingdoms. Duskwood was a real find – I’ve gone through on other characters but Millya hadn’t touched it at all. I’m hoping it will be as easy. The problem with Kalimdor was that Millya leveled there and has done various other things – mostly what was left was odds and ends. There was little in the way of “Oh, I haven’t even been to this zone.”

I actually completed the Noggenfogger achievement for the first time on any character. I don’t know why – I think I’ve always dropped the chain at “The Thirsty Goblin” stage because I could never find that dew gland thing. So now I have finished it, and I can be a skeleton should I so desire. I add this to Millya’s repertoire of other shape-changing abilities. She does make a rather fetching blood elf, I think!

I think she looks sort of like Fyreuni.Only with different-coloured hair, naturally.

I took a break from Eastern Kingdoms to go and clear some quests out in Blade’s Edge Mountains last night and I’ve been struck by some differences between “old” Azeroth, Outland, and Northrend. Now, I haven’t conducted any comprehensive study in this regard so please feel free to add your own examples in the comments. Since I’m far from being perfect, I’m sure there’s things I have missed. However, in terms of immersion, it’s striking just how different Outland feels to me compared to Northrend and old Azeroth.

For example, I was at Toshley’s Station picking up some quests, when I noticed a disturbance at the other end of the little town. These Gore-Scythe Ravagers were just pouring up the hill. All of the gnomes in the area started pitching in to help as these monsters swarmed in and began to attack. I took a screenshot because it seemed like something exciting and memorable was happening.

We're under attack!

Since the quest chains in the area deal with some related things (Gnomish ingenuity,  launching me into the stratosphere, encroaching dangerous monsters) – it really made the area feel alive to me. These crazy gnomes really need my help. I don’t know how often the ravagers attack Toshley’s Station, but that’s part of the beauty of it.

Earlier in the evening, Vosskah and I were working on Ogri’la reputation. I had been checking wowwiki and had read something about an assault on Bash’ir Landing. He said, “Hey, this guy is saying something about an assault on Bash’ir Landing?”

“Let’s goooo,” I replied, “It must be happening right now!” We high-tailed it up to Bash’ir Landing to find swarms of various ethereal elites and other things moving in. A few Sha’tari Skyguard NPCs are conducting experiments there. As far as I can tell (obviously I didn’t do Ogri’la during Burning Crusade) the purpose of the NPCs is to purchase flasks and have other items made. Obviously, we don’t need any of those things, but I had a blast taking part in the event anyway!

The assault happens in three phases; initially there are just a few misty mobs meandering around. Some are elite, and some aren’t. Once you destroy towers that are there, it triggers the second phase. The two of us were able to handle the first phase pretty easily, but during the second it began to get hairy. More and more elite ethereals were spawning, Voss was zooming all over the place to pick them up, and I was trying to DPS them down. Once you’ve killed enough of them the Grand Poobah of Etherals spawns. I ended up dying in the fray, as did the NPCs, but Voss managed to finish that guy off.

From what I understand according to Wowwiki, the first phase was considered do-able by five people. The second phase “requires a Kara-sized raid group,” and the third phase “takes a raid group of 25.” Obviously that’s not true any more, and I doubt anyone would bother. The only tangible rewards from the event were an Apexis Crystal that dropped. But it was still exciting because something was happening! It had nothing to do with me as a “player” in the game, it was going to happen regardless, but I could and did influence the outcome. Obviously, it’s not something permanently world-changing. But it made the world feel more real.

Later, I was doing a quest in Blade’s Edge where one of the Ancients asks you to plant seeds. To my surprise and delight, planting the seed actually changes the landscape (with an accompanying creaking and cracking sound of sudden and abrupt tree-growth). I’m sure it resets after a time, but while I was around it was still evident.

I moonlight as Johnny Appleseed. Except it requires sunlight.

I love this stuff. I was thinking back, and off the top of my head I can remember a few other places in Burning Crusade where there are “unusual” or notable things happening. Every once in awhile, Honor Hold is assaulted by Legion forces. I remember the first time it happened, I really didn’t know what was going on! Were we going to be killed? This was back on an RP server and someone shouted, “Run for cover!”

You better believe I did! I ended up attacking some of the invaders after a few moments, but it was accompanied by a genuine rush of adrenaline. To a lesser degree, a similar thing is happening in Shadowmoon Valley. It’s less random and believable though because the NPCs are constantly engaged in combat with attacking forces… But in a way, that is believable. After all, it is one of the major strongholds of Legion influence. I’m eager to re-visit Shadowmoon Valley and see if there is anything else I’m overlooking there.

I can’t help but think – Wrath of the Lich King had many big, grand events. They used phasing technology for things like The Wrath Gate event and building the new Argent stronghold and other things. But those tended to be large, grand things that changed the world irrevocably – not small, random occurrences that added flavour. Maybe it’s just me, but I love those little things – if you are a Night Elf and have never done so, listen to the conversation between the Night Elf guards at Star’s Rest sometime. If you aren’t a night elf or can’t be bothered, I’ll just tell you about it. They are making fun of the Draenei there, Modoru, because of the robe he’s wearing! The first part of the conversation happens in Common, but they carry it on in Darnassian afterwards.

Sentinel Sweetspring says: [Darnassian] “Psst. Naohain. Why does Morodu still wear those ridiculous robes? He looks like some interdimensional bumpkin who stumbled out of Ammen Vale not six hours past.”
Naohain says: [Darnassian] “I… I do not know.”

What makes it even better is that you can purchase the exact Draenic Silk Robes from Hakmud of Argus with some fun flavour text. (All my draenei own and wear them with pride). Incidentally, interdimensional bumpkin? I resent that remark. This little interchange is one of the few times that Draenei are actually directly mentioned in this expansion – a story for another time.

Whoops, is this a fashion faux pas?

Even though it’s nothing attacking, it is a small way of adding extra “dimensions” to the world we’re all running around killing things in. I think some parts of Wrath were great for it, but I sincerely hope that Cataclysm has as many immersive elements as The Burning Crusade did. I can’t wait for the pre-expansion events! What things have increased your immersion on the game? I haven’t touched on “old” Azeroth as much, but I’m sure there are plenty I haven’t seen or haven’t thought of!

P.S. – I am diligently avoiding spoilers for the pre-expansion events and any other quest/lore occurrences in Cataclysm as best I can. I ask you to respect that in the comments – it’s been hard avoiding so many blog posts lately, and I know other people are excited (I am also excited!) But I like surprises. Thanks, I appreciate it!

The more things change

Purple dragons and pretty flowers are in no way misleading to the content of this post.

It took me some time to think about writing this – first, whether I wanted to write it, and second, how I’d go about doing it. It’s a strange topic with a lot of emotions tied up in it. It wasn’t a big deal, and it was a big deal – and it was somewhat freeing, and it was also an incredible downer. It felt like a kind of failure, and it also felt like one of those things you build up into being a huge thing and then it just isn’t.

About a month ago now (I’m just guessing) – our formerly strict tens guild decided to let our strict designation go. Earlier we’d made the decision to keep it when an in-guild vote yielded an exact tie. After a few more months of working our way through the “stale content doldrums,” the vote came up somewhat differently. The guild was overwhelmingly in favour of forgetting it, and so we did.

What’s funny about it is that it hasn’t effectively changed our gear at all. Most of us who hadn’t done so have poked our noses into an ICC pug to see what the fuss is all about. I didn’t win a lick of gear, and our pug wasn’t good enough to down Rotface so I didn’t even sniff the instant-drama magnet DFO. I personally enjoyed my brief foray into the larger version of ICC. Marrowgar didn’t really feel very different. Lady Deathwhisper felt much like the ten-man heroic version of her fight, except with more adds (and more tanks to pick them up, and more people to burn them down). I have to admit that I liked the 25-person Gunship quite a bit more. It really felt like a real battle with all the cannons lined up there and so many people flying back and forth. It’s an encounter that didn’t translate as well to the ten-man version.

My overall feeling was one of being underwhelmed, though. Of course, I was in a pug: somewhat disorganized and dysfunctional and not apt to succeed. I’m sure being in a great guild run is a different beast! It just reaffirmed for me that I am interested in tens exclusively, and I’m okay with that.

The guild has taken it in stride, and it’s business (time, har) as usual for us. Fsob made a joke about how we were now ranked 114th for progression on the server. Good news, guys, we’ve killed Marrowgar! Others were over the moon to be able to finally bring their many alts with achievements into the guild. That definitely helped me realize that it was the right decision at this point in time. With waning interest in ICC, it’s important that people can explore any options they feel like – an ICC 25 pug some night we aren’t raiding, or whatever. This became increasingly apparent was I’d hang around in trade, see a pug advertised – “They are looking for a mage!” and then realize that of course, I couldn’t go, and neither could many of my guildies. It started to feel like a weight.

The strict ten movement was an important one I still wholeheartedly support. I love being part of a group of people focused on tens, intent on proving that tens can be done in gear available from tens. If you don’t believe it, just ask Kae – her guild was the second strict ten in the world to down H LK recently!

I’m still all for that, and our guild will still raid tens exclusively come Cataclysm. Especially with the shared lockouts between them, this is going to be a non-issue for us. I feel that what we were aiming to achieve has been done – shared lockouts and shared loot is an open recognition and an admission from Blizzard that the way that tens scaled was unfair. Never again will people who like 25s have to farm tens just for emblems, or for a specific drop that isn’t available at their preferred raid size. Never again will I have to sigh and mentally adjust my DPS numbers and BiS gear “downwards” from what is recognized as “the gear” to have – because I know I can’t have that gear, can’t push those numbers, and will have to settle for what I can get my hands on.

As I have said before, it’s not about the gear specifically, it’s about parity. I think there are still plenty of people who want to raid 25s and will still do so. I sincerely hope it to be true that everyone can raid the size they want. I know some people really don’t like tens. I really don’t like 25s. Cataclysm has a place for all of us, and I can’t wait! I’m grateful that this isn’t a debate our guild will need to have again. No one will ever need to be restricted – we’ll all raid together. No one will be excluded from the guild because of what their characters may have done in the past. Maybe we’ll never be in the top ten rankings again with the growing popularity of tens, but that’s okay too. I believe we’ve accomplished what we set out to do in this expansion. Although we’re still working on H LK, we won’t be designated as a “strict” guild when we do it, and I am okay with that. Our contribution served its purpose – and we remain completely unchanged in essence and fact.

Gallery

Vows

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Five years ago today, I made a solemn vow. There aren’t many things any more that we vow about, if you think about it. You don’t tell your friend, “I vow I will help you in your epic moving quest!” … Continue reading

Two for the Price of One

Jaedia over at The Lazy Sniper just celebrated her one-year blogaversary! It’s a big milestone. To celebrate, she was offering blog prompts for anyone who asked. I asked for one, and this is what she gave me!

I’d like to know, what’s the nicest thing anybody has ever done for you? Something that has stood in your memory, perhaps it’s a gift, or a tip that changed your game, maybe somebody waiting for you to get home before they started a raid, anything that might have given you the warm fuzzies.

Needless to say, this was a fun topic to contemplate, especially coming on the heels of my admonition to give players a helping hand if you’re able to – it was enjoyable to think of the incredibly nice things people have done for me during my time playing.

Sight-seeing with a friend. This is relevant because it was one of the few screenshots I had of him. Maybe he's camera shy!

An inheritance

When I was still relatively new to the game – had been playing for less than six months, I had a friend who made the abrupt decision to leave the server. Not only that – he actually deleted his character. He and I had chatted a lot and were good buddies, so needless to say that first “Friend removed because character no longer exists” message was a shock. The mail awaiting me at my mailbox was an even bigger shock.

It basically said, “I’m leaving, thanks for being a good friend,” and had enclosed a variety of herbs, flasks, and other things he’d amassed in his travels –  as well as nine hundred gold.

You have to understand that to me, at the time, NINE HUNDRED gold was a fortune. It allowed me to train epic riding. I hadn’t figured out the auction house. I’d scrimped and saved just to get a regular mount at forty, and it was a big deal. That money – a paltry sum by today’s standards – enabled me to invest a few things in the auction house. But let me come back around to that.

When I actually received the letter, I was stunned and upset. It was nice of him to give me the gold, but I didn’t want the gold, I wanted my friend to be playing the game with me. This character was the character he used for slumming it with us Alliance folks – I knew his character’s name and server, Hordeside.

I knew what I had to do. I immediately rolled a low-level Tauren (it would have been easier to get the cash with another race but if you knew how much my friend loves Tauren you’d know that it was appropriate). I began to do quests and kill mobs with that Tauren, and then I slowly loped my way to a mailbox in Bloodhoof Village so I could send him a series of mails telling him that the money he’d sent had made me cry, but no amount of gold was worth him having deleted his character.

He was so surprised and touched that his leaving had upset me that much – that he contacted Blizzard and had them restore the deleted character. He made me keep the money. The irony is that later I went on to become a big auction house person and would routinely make money – while my friend, an avid RPer and all-around nice guy, preferred to spend his time talking to people and fishing. I hope he feels that I was able to repay his kindness and generosity once I had the means. You can’t put a price on friendship, in or out of game!

The first time I went to Kara, and my coordinating pink BC gear. I didn't care if my staff was a bit gaudy. It was MINE by gosh. I still have it!

And a wealth of knowledge

This next kindness is a little bittersweet, because the friend disappeared without a trace over a year ago. I assume he just stopped playing WoW or had to leave or what-have-you, but before he did I owe so much of the quality of my WoW-playing experience to him.

It all started with an innocent mage in The Underbog. I remember that day clearly, because it was the day I had learned about Recount. I downloaded it, I installed it. As a few folks have said since… there is no going back once you have some kind of damage meter. You could uninstall it, or close it, but you will always know that it exists and your entire mentaliy changes. Before that, I was blithely content with whatever paltry damage I was doing. I was casting spells, wasn’t I? That’s what a mage does, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure I had no idea what a rotation was, and was just happily casting whatever spells struck my fancy.

We were running with another recent friend, an ex-raid vet who’d re-rolled on an RP server for whatever reason. I’ll call him Otto. I pretty much fail at pseudonyms because… well, that was his name. Anyway, I don’t know why he’d rolled on our server, but he had – he was playing a hunter. And his hunter was out-DPSing my mage by a significant margin. I whispered him to ask him, basically, “How are you doing so much more DPS than I am?”

“Well, for starters,” he whispered back, “How often do you use your trinkets?”

(The answer was hardly ever, when I remembered. At least they were on a button, a button I no doubt clicked.)

“You need to macro them to an ability,” he explained. “I will show you how.”

So it began. Otto was the best DPS I’d run with, and I’m confident he’d be among the best even now that I’ve met many more awesome DPS. He showed me the ropes of DPSing, everything from server lag and speccing to aggro management. When my DPS was flagging in late BC, he suggested I try out Frost, and then took me to do dailies while I got used to the spec. He taught me about kiting. When I dinged 70, it was in a whirlwind rush of quests he’d helped me obliterate and the screenshot has him cheering in it. He took me to the Isle of Quel’Danas (henceforth known as the Isle of WTF) to initiate me into the mysteries of Being 70 and Doing Daily Quests.

When Wrath came out, he and I got into a VoA together with his newly-leveled Death Knight and my Mage, naturally. Two pieces dropped from Archavon: DPS DK Tier 7, and Mage Tier 7. We both won the rolls for the pieces. We were on Vent screaming and yelling our glee at each other. Even though he stopped playing, I still think of him often because I learned so much from him.

I can be Auctioning, and I hear in my head, “Pro tip: post them for as short a time as you can manage checking up on them, especially if you’re undercutting or being undercut.”

I think of him sometimes when I pop Invisibility and heave an exasperated sigh at my monitor and mutter, “I’ve been threat-capped this entire time!” (Naturally, not when any of my guild’s tanks are tanking, but sometimes in pugs).

When I spent two solid weeks in Alterac Valley PvPing to get enough honour to buy my fancy pink magestaff (better than anything from Kara), he was right there with me for a lot of it. He said, “I’ve never seen someone with 5K hp f*** so many people up.” I loved Alterac Valley.

He taught me to look at the game in unconventional ways, to push myself, and to always give as much as I can.

The other day we killed Patchwerk for the weekly raid quest, and I had to smile as I remembered him saying, “Let me test my DPS on your perfect environment standing-still target dummy boss, with raid buffs? Yes, please.” That one was for you, Otto.

He was an elusive fellow, so I don't have many screenshots, but this was one from (duh) a Winter Veil party. The best parties are ones where people turn into reindeer spontaneously.

Finally, I think this is too nice a topic to be isolated – I’d love to read about the nice things people have done for you, either in comments or posts if the spirit moves you!

Missing you, Moon Guard

Last year in late September I realized that my current server couldn’t suit my specific needs when it came to raiding. I wanted a very focused type of guild to belong to – a strict ten-man guild, and I set out to find one. Prior to that, I’d been playing about two years – and all of those years, I’d been on the Moon Guard US server.

Perhaps you haven’t heard of Moon Guard at all. Or perhaps you’re hearing about it now, in the form of a WoW.com article that details Blizzard’s plans to “police” the Goldshire area for inappropriate and harassing behaviour due to complaints that they have received. Perhaps you had heard of Moon Guard, and you heard that it was “the place where all of the naughty roleplay goes on,” or whatever.

First of all – yes, a lot of unsavory things happen in Goldshire. I only passed through on rare occasion (when I was doing Loremaster quests) and there were a lot of shenanigans there. It was a relief on my new server when the new “thanksgiving” type event came out and I realized that I’d have to go to Goldshire…but on my regular old PvE server, Goldshire is a ghost town. I did not enjoy Goldshire on Moon Guard.

However.

There is no other place in the game I have been (and I’ve visited quite a few servers, including roleplaying servers) that was as friendly and welcoming as Moon Guard. I mentioned that I was relieved at the quiet Goldshire on my new server. I’ll confess that I was also a bit relieved the first time I had to go to the Stormwind Cathedral on an alt, and there was no one there. Likewise, the place in Stormwind where the warrior trainers are was deserted. On Moon Guard there were usually people roleplaying in those places – the Cathedral could sometimes feel like running a gauntlet of religious types, beggars, and other oddities. I was relieved – and then I was a bit sad.

The people that populate and congregate in these places are what give the world a sense of space, an environment you can immerse yourself in. Hanging around with “Ipwnu” the DK bouncing around on his spectral tiger mount in front of the bank is not the same thing. On a normal server, you can have crowds, but you seldom have gatherings. I never see anyone walking any more. The world has become a place where people are in perpetual, frenzied motion – unless they happen to be AFK.

Moon Guard has a massively large community of people who truly care about their server. It’s so vast that there is bound to be a place for everyone. There are long-established guilds there to provide homes for people with innumerable divergent interests. There was a gnome in Stormwind who used to cry the daily “news,” there was a bizarre Night Elf giant woman, there was gossip and backroom deals and drama. It was an exhilarating place.

For me, the server transfer did involve some sacrifice. On my new server, a dwarf isn’t going to sit down next to me while I’m doing a fishing daily (hoping to get a crocolisk!) and wind up chatting for over an hour about how he used to be a pirate, and got chased out of town because of an inappropriate involvement with another pirate’s daughter.

On my new server, I’ve had someone chase me around a zone whispering profanities at me for “stealing his mobs.” I messed up in a pug run (before LFD was introduced, so this was all “local” people) and I got hit by the ghoul explode in the ToC 5-man. A warlock in the run started ranting at me, “Why would you do that?” etc. I whispered to him and told him that I realized I screwed up, there was no need to be so rude, and he told me I should be thankful, because “It could have been worse, I could have been swearing at you.” (This has since become a running gag for me, “Well it could be worse, I could be swearing at you! You should be thankful!”)

In the two years that I played on Moon Guard, I never had anyone say or do such things. Sure, it’s anecdotal evidence, but isn’t any server experience that way? You either have good experiences in a place, or bad ones. And don’t get me wrong… I love my guild. I wouldn’t trade them. But I feel absolutely no loyalty to my server whatsoever. I’ve met some neat people there, but in general people are more impatient, ruder, less helpful, and less friendly.

It took me over an hour to find enough people to sign my alt guild bank charter on my new server. I accomplished the same task in ten minutes on Moon Guard. On the new server, I was offering TEN gold per signature and people still wouldn’t help me. It was boggling, and I wondered if I had made a mistake in coming there. I don’t feel that I did at all – the community of people we have in the guild is also awesome. But the community in general is not. It’s pretty much non-existent. I have friendly relations with another tens guild on the server, but I don’t post on the realm forums because it’s more trolls than anything.

On the Moon Guard forums, people organize realm events, or talk about RP, or whatever. Sure, it has trolls. It’s the largest RP server in existence, that’s bound to happen.

I knew people who weren’t roleplayers, had no interest in roleplaying at all, and still played on Moon Guard. When asked why, they said, “Because the people are just really nice.” It’s true. I left because I wanted a different form of play – more intense raiding, and I found that. But my leaving doesn’t speak to the server itself. If I were looking for a roleplay server, I’d go back happily. Now people who have no knowledge or interest in RP servers whatsoever are hearing about Moon Guard’s infamous Goldshire, and I find that unfortunate. Just remember what with any story, you’re going to hear about what’s “news,” but it isn’t the whole or even a fraction of the truth.

This is my mage learning how to polymorph things into pigs. She was still wearing her super Outland clown gear at the time, because the drab browns and greys of Northrend didn't exist yet! This is related, because it was taken on Moon Guard, with a pig. They are proud and noble animals.

Not on my watch

This is a slightly late Blog Azeroth shared topic suggested by Ecclesiastical Discipline (I knew I couldn’t type that correctly on the first try…) and it’s a doozy:

When should a healer let someone die?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and hope that my history bears me out. That means “please don’t dig through my blog looking for an instance of when I let someone die deliberately,” but in general, my answer is “I won’t.” Wait, it’s coming back to me, that’s not entirely true. There have been certain special circumstances where I did so, but in general my answer stands.

Tossing out heals for pugs since level 17.

I see the role of a healer as a facilitator. It’s part of what makes it so much fun, at least for me. You are a support for the group. When life gets the group down, you are the one to be there cheering them on, and bandaging their wounds. I take that role seriously, and it’s not lightly that I abandon it.

The damage dealers: “Whoops, I did it again.”

That means that when an over-eager DPS pulls aggro, I view it as a personal challenge to keep them alive. I know some healers would challenge me on this, and even some tanks. (You yank it, you tank it!) There are exceptions to this. When I was leveling Vid, my mana was pretty precious. I didn’t have forty-thousand mana to throw around, nor did I have the ability to simultaneously heal more than one person. I have a responsibility to the tank to heal them, and a further responsibility to keep myself alive so that I can fulfill the first. The other three group members take a back-seat to that. So when a DPS needs heavy healing because they pulled, I might do it – but only if it doesn’t put the tank or myself in jeopardy. This comes into play more in heroics at eighty. My restoration druid has so much mana, she hasn’t drunk a thing in weeks. Needing to heal a DPS probably means I’ll stop casting wrath to direct heal someone.

Again, it’s very situational. In a raiding situation, if someone pulls aggro they are likely to be dead. I’ve told you about the fury warrior-turned-warlock in our guild. His nickname is Dirtface, and it’s Dirtface for a reason. In his words, “I play because the ground in ICC is tasty and delicious.” His death is routine. I still try to keep him alive when I’m a healer. During one heavy pull in our last alt raid, our off-tank had to take a phone call. I’m not sure if he was actually AFK or just distracted, but we had a Fury warrior off-tank for awhile. And heck yeah I put Beacon on him. I wasn’t aware that the tank was AFK, I just knew he didn’t have aggro, wasn’t taking  damage, and didn’t need it. Dirtface lived.

The flip side of this (because I am DPSing at least as often as I am a healer) is a very resounding “mea culpa.” As a healer I try to keep the DPS alive. As a DPS – I don’t expect to be kept alive if I pull aggro. Whether the tank is “bad” or not isn’t relevant, it’s my job to manage my aggro. Sometimes I impose on my healers to heal me when I have gone overboard DPSing, and I’m very grateful for their benevolence, but I don’t expect it. Generally if I die, I have no one to blame but myself!

The wall of bricks: “We can handle all of this, right?”

If a tank dies, I get an immediate wash of intense guilt and regret. It always feels like a personal failure, and in many cases it is. The only exception to this is if a tank really was trying to do too much. I don’t mind a tank pulling aggressively, but I’m not apt to “punish” him for it either. I will do my damnedest to keep a tank up through hell and heavy pulling, but if I fail in that case I wouldn’t take all the responsibility on myself. It comes back to the tank and healer relationship. I was fortunate to have considerate tanks when I first started getting my hooves wet healing as a paladin at eighty, and I usually made a point of saying, “Hey, I’m still pretty new,” just as a heads-up. It’s part of the tank’s responsibility to know their healer’s limits.

I know I’ve pugged in with a great tank when they make their first few pulls a bit cautiously, or even ask me what I’m comfortable with. I know what they are doing; they’re feeling out to see how far they can reach with me backing them up. Only after they get a feel for my healing do they start to pull more aggressively, and I love that. In a short amount of time you’ve established a rapport and trust, even just for the 20 minutes you’re in the instance together, and those are always smooth runs. I like being able to trust the tanks I’m with, which is probably why I tend to prefer tanks I know.

A tank won’t die if I can possibly prevent it, unless he is an incredible jerk. I ran into such a tank wayyy back in my Deadmines days, and I checked: even then I didn’t kill him. Because if he dies, it means that other people are likely to die, and that’s not my decision to make.

It’s my off-spec that is Retribution

Occasionally I do run into a situation when someone will expressly ask or expect me to not heal someone. I know I’ve said I won’t let someone die, but there are a few exceptions, and here they are.

  • Avoidable environmental damage, a.k.a. “Why is the ground burning me?” For this I follow a general rule of “Once, shame on you, twice shame on me.” If someone is standing in something that’s killing them and I can heal them through it, I probably will – the first time. This will be followed by a general reminder, “Please watch out for such-and-such” on the ground. A repeat offense might be healed, but definitely not a third. This is a lesson situation. If there’s no consequence for standing in fire, people won’t ever learn not to stand in it.
  • The tank is having a hard time with someone continually pulling aggro and they ask me to “Please not heal so-and-so” or “Just let them die.” I still have a really hard time with this. It’s happened when a DPS thought they could pull groups instead of the tank, which is not the same as pulling aggro. This is a situation in which I feel the healer has to back up the tank, but it’s always a judgment call. Does it really justify withholding heals? In some cases it does. But I don’t like doing it. The biggest reason is because death of any kind in most instances punishes the whole group and not just the recipient. If I let them die, we have to then resurrect them, have them get their mana back, and probably rebuff them which costs me and other party members a reagent in any case.

In short, I don’t like punitive healing. If I’m there healing, I’m going to keep everyone alive to the best of my abilities. Sometimes DPS pulls aggro, mistakes happen, things get messy. I revert to my priorities: self, tank, DPS dead last. Sometimes that means they do wind up dead, and if they don’t I feel I’ve done a good job.

Most importantly, when I’m on the damage dealing side and I pull a bonehead maneuver and the healer has to heal me through something smacking me in the face… I make sure and thank them! Usually in the form of, “Thank you for saving me from my own stupidity, I know it was above and beyond the call of duty.” Because it is; the healer isn’t obligated to heal you through extraordinary damage if you bring it upon yourself. Treasure them and be grateful when they do, and remember it if you’re ever on the flip-side! If more people showed a little love for their healers, there’d never be a healer shortage. It can be an incredibly rewarding role when you’re grouped with great people.