SotR: Reflecting on Raiding
Wednesday night was interesting, getting onto my Shaman for real for the first time in about a week (AKA last Thursday, when I last raided). Of course, there were other times that I logged her on over the week, mostly to ferry around my Monk.
BTW, total aside here, two-person mounts have just about been negated in their usefulness by CRZ. I spent more time refinding my toons (yay for phasing on top of it!) and remounting my Monk on the back of the rocket than I did actually flying. Because every time I entered a new zone, it would kick Ireenia off my rocket, to oh-so slowly parachute her to the ground, where I would have to turn around, land, and commence searching. I might just have to go back to my previous way – both on separate flying mounts and liberal use of the /follow command. Of course, that always has its problems too. Namely, toons with different flight speeds.
Geez, Blizzard, accommodate my altoholicism and need for two accounts and playing both simultaneously!
This Week in 25man
Wednesday night was a quick clear of Terrace (just Lei Shi and Sha of Fear, as there was a preclear of the other two encounters Tuesday night). Then, we headed over to Mogu’Shan Vaults for some heroics.
Heroics are awesome. But there seems to be a general air of disappointment over MSV heroic loot. C’mon now – it’s HEROIC! But I guess since it is really not better than Terrace normal, there is a disconnect here. Why was there a need to present multiple levels of iLevel in one Tier? I realize Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring were released later. But staggering the iLevels so as to make MSV heroic loot so meh just does not make much sense.
Anyway, I digress again.
We once more killed Stone Guardians, which is finally starting to feel like a farm fight. We also downed Feng again, which is still feeling very progressive. After our break at 9:45 or so, we worked on Gara’jal.
When he started explaining the fight, Z first commented something about what a cluster the fight would be and OMG enrage timers. Well, yah, the first few attempts were messy – it was our 25man’s first time in front of the boss. And yah, we hit the enrage timer a few times. Calling both DPS and healers to go into the spirit world for 25 people over Vent was a tad chaotic. Luckily, the healing team got ourselves coordinated better, and we stopped missing having a healer in for each totem.
Once that happened – BAM! Dead boss!
Last night, we returned to MSV, and worked on Elegon on heroic. They added a very interesting mechanic or two to the heroic version.
- There is a break in LoS between the platform (starry form) and the outside ring (non-starry form)
- The Celestial Protectors have the ability to one shot the entire raid! Basically, three DPS and a tank have to soak the damage of Total Annihilation outside the starry form platform to avoid this. Also, if someone without a cooldown steps onto the outside, yah, one shot. So no clearing stacks during Total Annihilation!
No kill on Elegon yet, but we hit the final phase (and the enrage) a few times. Lots of DPS checks this tier, I am noticing. It is more enrages that slow our progression than anything else.
So yes, we are now 3/16 in heroics for the tier. And this is all pre-nerfing! And pre-5.2! Hooray!
At first, being on my Shaman felt awkward – I have been Monk healing lowbie dungeons for a week. The Monk skillset is totally different than other healers. There is no little-slow/big-slow/fast trifecta of heals. It is truly a different feeling way to heal.
But quickly I got into my groove, and as usual, I got into my comfortable happy place of healing.
Even against two Pandaren Resto Shaman, I felt I did well.
I even made a small change that seems to be working really well for heroics, at least when there is some stacking involved. Vixsin wrote a great post over at Life in Group 5 about some Resto Shaman “Best Practices”. It is a great post, and I recommend it to anyone who is Shaman healing this tier. In fact, I always recommend Vixsin, because she has great info every tier.
The biggest tip that was a “Whoa, I did not know that!” for me was #2 – using Unleash Life right before Healing Rain. This is huge! I cannot explain how huge. It actually encouraged me to use Healing Rain last night – a lot. And it was noticeable.
Some of the other things I already practice regularly – HST on cooldown, Chain Heal on Riptide targets, and 100% uptime on Earth Shield (I try and make a habit of recasting it at about 3 charges remaining).
The others are things I try to do, but it does not always work out that way – not overwriting Riptides, Ascendance or HST with SLT, and healing the Unleashed Fury target.
As one in a large healing team in a 25man raid setting, I rarely pair healing cooldowns. Sure, there are situations that require it, but they are far fewer when you have 6-7 healers. It is more often that we pair two healers with one cooldown each, in that case. So I try and spread my cooldowns out along the fight, especially for when that unexpected “oh crap” moment hits, and you are trying to prevent deaths or salvage an attempt before too many people die.
Riptide and Unleash Elements with Unleashed Fury are things I usually use on tanks. But even tanks have healing lulls. And sometimes we only have two tanks for a fight, or even just one. I would rather have Riptide rolling on the tank(s) regularly than to try and fight to have exactly three rolling at all times. Ideally, yes, but in reality, there are sometimes bigger priorities.
I do not claim 100% efficiency as a healer. I aim for it, certainly, but I am not going to lie and say “OMG, I totally always do everything exactly perfect, and to be a good healer so should you.” I certainly never said I was an infallible healer.
I know this is going to be a hard transition for me. I have been raid healing on my Shaman for about three years now, and it has always been her first and foremost in my WoW raiding. There have been times where I did not raid, or times where I alt-healed on other toons. But my Shaman has always been my raider.
I started in ICC, in 25man PUGs and 10man raid teams. I remember killing Lich King, and that is still one of my biggest gaming accomplishments and sources of pride. There was not a great deal of “raiding” in my past gaming, and it was my first time killing an endgame boss.
I got comfortable, and then Cataclysm was a big eye opener. I remember the start of Cata, and people saying it would weed out all the Wrath-babies. Well, I am a Wrath-baby. I do not mind admitting it. ICC was no faceroll. Yah, once I had epics, heroic dungeons really were, but not raiding. Yah, healing was different. It was Chain Heal all the things for Shaman, but I still excelled at what I did. I watched other Shaman go OOM halfway through fights and sporting twice the overheals I had. I still gauge myself more in that way than HPS numbers.
Cata made me learn my Shaman all over again. It was not about pushing out huge heal numbers – it was impossible at the beginning of the expansion. The only way I could manage myself was with Healing Wave as my primary go-to heal, and it seemed like three times the damage it healed went out in the time it took to cast. But Shaman got stronger through the expansion, and by Dragon Soul, we were healing gold. I still swear that Dragon Soul was built around Resto Shaman toolkit.
Mists of Pandaria has been a whole different learning experience. It is somewhere between Wrath and Cata as a Resto Shaman – it is not lol-spam-AoE-heals nor is it a harsh triage setting where you dangle all of your party members over the abyss with minimal hit points while praying no one steps in something or misses an interrupt. Our totems have changed, and though I miss having their comforting presence always around me, I think it was good for our quality of life. They feel more like choices and less like the one situation I vividly recall, where Effy found herself kicked from a dungeon because she spent two trash pulls with no totems down. (lolwut)
But with knowledge, I grow comfortable. And at some point, I think Effy and I grew too comfortable. I am still learning, sure. The Unleash Elements+Healing Rain trick is one example. But at the same time, I am feeling like I did at the end of Cata, where Effy maintains herself, and has few upgrade prospects at the moment.
So, in many ways, I am looking forward to a change. Even the totem change is not equal to a change in healer classes. Especially the vastly different Mistweaver Monks. I am looking forward to seeing raiding through a different pair of eyes (though, still from the same role). I am looking forward to once more being on that edge where I am learning and growing as a healer more than healing on instinct and habit.
I cast a now-commonplace Earth Shield on Ranico Wednesday night and had a melancholy thought that accompanied it. I whispered him my thought, “I am going to miss ES’ing you.”
Instead, I will be casting Life Cocoon or Revival or Uplift on him in times of need, and healing him alongside my Jade Serpent Statue – a thought that is still one fraught with annoyance at its Shaman-like qualities. But the Serpent and I are coming to an understanding.
Ireenia is Level 87. It won’t be too much longer…
And here are our most recent Heroic kills! Feng and Gara’jal!
BTW, for anyone reading this via a blog reader, I updated my theme and added a header! Now with more dragons!