Tag Archives: ICC

A team within your raidforce

Okay. I will admit it beforehand, for this post I am willing to adapt nickname Captain Obvious. What I am going to share is obviously a thing every progression raiding healer knows and loves and goes unspoken. Which is why I am speaking about it. So people actually stop and give it the thought. This post is about synergy in healing team. About collective experience of the team – how and why it’s such a great thing.

Team effort

Raiding of course is a team effort. All roles are somewhat equal in boss encounter to the point that you need tanks to keep baddies from dps, healers to keep tanks alive and dps to keep healers well saturated with mana. One contradiction comes in the point that loosing a single dps does not by far mean such disaster as loosing one tank or one healer (which is for most of ICC10 half of your healing or tanking squad), but we will leave it there.

As I wrote at the very beginning of this blog healing community is very special and although we form “insider” groups in our raids as dpsers and tanks do, we our groups have a bit different spirit. While the dps groups are usually full of friendly banter and competition, the tank group is mostly tossing around and showing off who outtpsed whom where, the healer group (when not fooling around) is quite calm relaxed and stressed community at the same time.

We just worry too much. It’s the very nature of a healer. We use our resources to let someone else to do the job and kill the boss. Although in PuGs we are often able to adapt the “don’t care that you died” attitude towards strangers, it’s quite different in guild raids. When you know the person who just died for some time, when you share a bond as brothers (sisters) in the arena, beating the odds to raise your hand in a final shout of victory. Okay, derailed. We healers are care-bears. And for the best results, we need to click not only on raid composition side. We need to click on personal side and learn to work like one. Rely on your comrade to heal the person you back if you are busy saving some pity ass over there. Trust them with your virtual life in order to do your job to the fullest. If the Appletree said he’s got me, then he’s got me. Period. No “ifs” no “buts”.

The importance of knowing your co-healers

About a month ago, my super awesome healing core started falling apart. First I lost a restoration druid who was able to clock insane 9+K effective healing on Blood Queen in tandem with Paladin healer (pre buff), end the fight with quite some mana left and even laugh about it. We are talking about loosing a Paladin who was able to kite zombies on Gluth while solo-healing the encounter (well, okay, it was late into T10 content with a bit of gear buff for Naxxramas) or solo healing Saurfang with 5% buff for the giggles. A paladin who (don’t ask me why) made look my hasted out LHW healing like damn slow sniping everything before me and keeping to his assigments. We are talking about loosing awesome tri-spec priest willing to respec for each raid, dps or heal as needed, rocking any meter and mastering bubbles to the point where Saurfang was unable to reach more than 40 runic (pre buff). But most importantly – it was loosing 3 other healers that progressed Icecrown Citadel alongside me. Bunch of fellows that we learned to heal the fights with, dipped our toes in the deep water before jumping in. Creating healing stereotypes for bosses to the point where you knew what healing you don’t really have to bother with.

After this leave we struggled to even get a raid going (add holiday and exam period as well) and only last week we managed to fill in the healing channel with a Druid and a Paladin. And we went for Icecrown Citadel. And it was terrible. Okay, I gotta admit the raid was bad for many reasons – just one regular tank, two unknown puggers, one healer in mostly i200 gear, the other one in i232 and both of them without any experience in Icecrown Citadel. In hindsight, the raid went fairly well. Just saying this in case any of my guildies will read this and will assume I think they are shit – because I don’t. Time proves very quickly those two know how to heal and that it was just the lack of experience and team play that made the raid so painful

We three healed everything up to Putricide, and yet we were struggling. It was mess. Even if I did assignments (which I haven’t done in ages), I could feel the uncertainty of us all – we were constantly on the look-out to compensate for others, which often led us to abandon our assignments in good hope to help others who seemed to be falling behind. Absolute ill practice and breaking all healing commandments (if there are any) leading us to many wipes. We weren’t ready and used to trust each other. I couldn’t yet trust the Tree to pick the raid up, I didn’t know him.

A week has passed. What has changed? A lot. Granted the buff went up by 5%, we geared the Paladin to average i232+ and our Tree picked some shinies as well, but the main difference was in the flow of the fights. We were trying out each other’s trust. Sure, we were still cautious but we gave each other chance to pull our weights before stepping in. And it worked. I am not saying we are where I want us to be. Yet. It’s been a week and there is long way ahead for us to learn to play as one. But we are definitely on the good way. We still overheal a bit too much on the assigment overstepping but that’s fine. It will mellow out over time.

From a raid leader perspective

I think I didn’t fully appreciate it before. As healer I was always happy it’s there and as raid leader I liked that I can count on those people to get us through anything. But I don’t think I ever realized how much a successful raid relies on the silent strong force of healers and their ability to cope with each other and with any bad situation together.

It’s saving huge amount of resources if your healers are used to work together and if they click. Less communication required, better assignment overstepping and better judgement of situation. No blame shifting – if healer screws up while being in comfortable place, they admit it and works with others to possible fix. If only by asking for help at certain moment (debuff landing, AoE connecting). It’s giving their raid leader a time to breathe if he can fully count on the healer crew and their ability to push through anything.

For me, getting this synergy back, will be like rediscovering my place again and getting into my comfort zone, as raider, healer and raid leader. I am looking forward for the day when there will be no re-explanation of assignments or tasks in healer channel because we will all know what will be going on, we will know that first few seconds of fight we can focus each on different tasks and tunnel on them because others will carry their weight to the fullest.

We will, without a doubt, close our eyes and take the leap into the abyss, trusting those healers down there to catch us. We will learn to heal like one, move like one, raid like one. And at that point, my task as a healer lead will be fulfilled. I helped to forge yet another excellent healer force.

So, as a healer, do you have appreciation for your healing team as a whole? And do you feel appreciation from your fellow raiders, raid leader and healers?

Are you still stuck in the raidforce with healer(s) that will do anything just to top meters, being useless and oomed halfway through fight but boasting how they had to cover for you “like all the time, dude”.

Or are you at the wonderful place when all your fellow healers are at same page, when cooldowns to pump up healing synchronise yet the healing gets distributed without (too much) overlapping?

And a final note for raid leaders outside the healing crowd – look at your healers and if they are indeed the stars they should be, cater to them. They are your precious. I am not saying to pat their back when they manage to heal your raid through Naxxramas weekly. But realize how much luck you have having such amazing squad to refill your raid’s health.


Icecrown buffs… no likey.

Okay. As we all agree, this is pretty much the hugest news of last days and everyone is blogging about it left and right, so I guess I will ride the wave too. We all knew it was coming but I guess we were all caught with our pants down anyways. I don’t really know what the Cataclysm release date is, but I am convinced the buffs started way too soon. From a strict-10 perspective, most of us are still trying to down Sindragosa, who is proving to be the current wall in the path of 10M progress. And we are given the buff that will somehow change all we tried so far, all we came up with for next progress night. And I am not sure I like it.

But it’s just 5%, dude…

And 5% is huge difference. And that’s just starting. The final buff is supposed to be 30% damn percent. But let’s get back to 5%. I read on few forums that 5% is nothing to be thrilled about. Well, think again. I will go from this base assumption:

  • 2 tanks, 50-55K healthpoints each
  • 2 healers, 3K effective hps each
  • 6 dps, averaged to 5K dps per person

Now, let’s apply the little 5% buff. Let’s go to healers first – I believe there is no need to mention that 5% more hitpoints raid wide and 5% more healing output combined do help a lot. It may see as tiny room for error, but if you ever healed, you know what I am talking about. Moving on. 5% more dps, that’s 250dps per person times six. That ups the raid dps by 1500 (which is a lot in 10M), and come on, it will be a lot more. And repeating again, that’s just starting buff. Tanks? Do I really have to get there? That’s 3Kish increase in raw health. Do you know how that affects effective health and survivability? Pffff. Fine. Three small buffs, add them up. Still convinced this is just like, yanno, minor buff and not a flat ICC nerf? Lemme do quick rundown of the 30% buff, and even assuming no gear upgrade comes till that time: 9K raid wide dps, 30% more hitpoints raid wide with 30% more effective healing, meaning way less buttons to push and frikkin 16,5K healtpoints more on tank. Go figure.

The buff mechanics…

So, I can see the upsides of the buff and all, making farm bosses quicker so you have a lot more time for progress bosses, you can opt to turn it off too and weeyay, it increases the number of tries available on heroic mode.

  1. Turning the buff off – you can turn it off, and apparently anyone in your raid can do it. And it seems that once deactivated, it can’t be popped back on in that raid ID. So yeah. Be really careful and think a lot about talking to any NPCs or switching it off.
  2. Heroic version – has the % buff too. That is probably the biggest letdown of all this. I agree that Blizzard makes the ICC accessible to everyone and there is frankly no better way than flat nerfing instance with this flat buff. But – and that’s huge but for me, they are nerfing heroic mode too. What is left for hardcore raiders then? (please take this point with grain of salt, as I’ve yet to set foot in ICC-10-HM, might as well be blogging in few weeks squeeling about how awesome it is to have the buff to kill at least trash in HM :) )
  3. Buff phasing and timing – is quite unfortunate. If we believe Blizzard, there are gonna be 6 ranks of this buff, release plan is one per month. That gives us at least 6 months till Cataclysm. Timing is quite hasted too in my opinion – the hardmode scene for both 10 and 25 raids is still starting to establish.
  4. General community impact – as oldschool competent raider it pains me that by the Cataclysm opening, the competent raider recruitment pool will hardly be existing – people tend to get comfortable with slacking off, which is exactly what this buff is offering. We all can watch the general attitude getting downhill, and making ICC supposedly “faceroll” content won’t help either. I am not saying this is end of raiding scene or hardcore raiding scene, but the community impact scares me.

The buff politics…

Probably the most tricky point – to turn it off or to not turn it off? I believe my raid leaders and guild leaders have their heads spinning around about this – there is pressure from your guild to move on, there is pressure for not falling behind other guilds using the buff in case you don’t want to.

There is this great epeen elitism issue – if we decide to progress it without the buff to actually do the encounter “as intended” and then it leaks out we did it without the buff, we are definitely going to be called names and dragged through trade channel for being elitist epeen no-lifers who have to brag about their pixel achievements. Which is not the cause, but you know, once your precious guild name gets stamped you will never get rid of it.

As for my guild, there is quite heated debate going on since morning about the buff. Let me illustrate by few quotes to see in what mess your guild and raid leaders are at the moment. The quotes are not credited as it’s enough I am ripping off guild forums for blog, let alone I did it with names. First voice goes in with relative progress race concerns. I understand, we are playing a game and we are competitive:

But should we actually gimp ourselves for no reward or recognition of any sort? And gimp our progress relative to other guilds? I mean disabling the buff would just be like not using heroism…or running content without enchants. Surely it’d be harder and the reward for extra difficulty would be the same!

What about switching the buffs?

About the buff, I also wouldn’t mind using it. The faster we get through normal the better. It’s the heroic mode that will matter anyway.
I’d see the buff as a tool to give some freedom on ‘learning’ the fight. After one kill you can switch off the buff for the next time to have a ‘clean’-kill for the record.

Isn’t that taking the most fun part from the game? This is my reply early on. Things have changed since then:

I heavily disagree there. The most fun is in learning the encounter and the feeling you BEAT it with just what you have at hand, no external buffs and help. That’s why, if anything, we are going to use the buff for FARM ONLY, and progress encounters as intended.

ie: I don’t mind using the buff on stuff we learned and is cakewalk, to speed up clear and get more time on progress targets, but as a cane for progress stuff, that’s off limits.

And the debate turning point by lunchtime:

I am cool either way, though nobody will give us a medal for not using the buff. On contrary, if we let it slip, we’ll be called elitist, arrogant, etc. by everybody (or almost everybody).

And lets make no mistake, 5% all around buff is HUGE! DPS itself, assuming you make just 5k…you get 250 extra…to get that kind of improvement on high gear level (that you upgrade from 245 to 251 or just sidegrade around hit) you need 2-3 or more decent upgrades!

But the real difference will come in survivability. HP and healing bonus mean less casts needed, less emergencies, less “Sophie’s choices”, etc. etc. Add to that DPS bonus (adds / spikes / tombs dying faster and thus doing less damage) and it really will scale.

The debate still goes on. But you know what? Totally off topic, no matter how this will be decided, I learned a great deal about people I raid with and they ensured me they are in the guild for all the right reasons.

That’s all folks…

At least for now. As a player with my personality, I am not liking the buff at all; the way it flat applies to everything. As a progression raider I am not against it much, though I think 15% should be full stop there. Maybe only 10%. As a Guild and raid leader responsible for well being of my lemmings, I am cautious. It will help us overcome tough times and move on, but at what price? So what about you? Did you guild had hard time deciding about this buff? And what was your conclusion?
PS: Bear with your leaders through this people; they are busy sorting it out I believe so if there is any discussion open, try to be constructive and mature.


Icecrown citadel is…

Conquered. Well, sorta. At least the four encounters available to date were downed yesterday by Cute Poison. And man, it was a ride. It was one of the messiest raids I’ve done in last weeks, we got very, very familiar with the floor all over the place and we had fun.

The idea of the run was to go in blindfolded, with the littlest clue about the instance possible. All I did was briefly going through TankSpot videos fifteen minutes before raid to see how the fights look in general. And the whole evening reflected such preparation – bosses were casting “that ability”ies, everyone was supposed to be aware of “that crap” and so on, you name it.

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