State of the Raider: Life

Life

I find myself very full at the moment, and yet still feeling empty.

I have been in a strange place mentally for a while now – trying to juggle work and school and WoW and blog/writing and… personal stuff.  I do a fair job of juggling, I have been keeping all the balls in the air, but it makes me feel like I am not giving the due attention to certain things – especially now with some of the new duties I am taking on at work.

Love

On top of all of these balls, I once more feel like a failure at relationships.  <sigh>  I am half-convinced to never discuss who I am dating – or even the FACT I am dating – with any person or on any social media forum, as this seems to jinx it.  I think more than heartbreak, I am tired of having to explain, “No, we broke up.  Yup, single again.”

Add to this a lecture in Sociology last week that hit way to close to home – a conversation about Erikson’s Stages of Development.  Particularly the fact that I am in the Intimacy vs. Isolation phase of my life (and my birthday was last week, ugh).

I lean towards writing romance, whatever genre I am writing.  I know what I consider romantic and what I want (or what I think I want).  In fact, my counselor was always saying be careful not to get too wrapped up in the romance part, and too affected by the media’s portrayal of romance.  But I know I perpetuate the illusion myself.  I really believe that romance and passion has to be there at the start.  Friendship, yes, that is what ultimately makes a relationship last in the long run, but it needs romance/chemistry/passion too.

It makes me think of one of my absolute favorite quotes, from Meet Joe Black and said by Anthony Hopkin’s character, William Parrish:

Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without.  If you don’t start with that, what are you going to end up with?  Fall head over heels.  I say find someone you can love like crazy and who’ll love you the same way back.  And how do you find him?  Forget your head and listen to your heart.  I’m not hearing any heart.  Run the risk, if you get hurt, you’ll come back.  Because the truth is there is no sense living your life without this.  To make the journey and not fall deeply in love – well, you haven’t lived a life at all.  Because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.

On a related note, I found it strange to hear similar lines come from both the mouth of Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle and John Cusack in High Fidelity (you have no idea the number of romance comedies I have been punishing myself with).  Lines about the “right one” and how being with her feels like “coming home.”  I realized I do not really know what that means.  And it makes me sad.  I may have to ponder this more.

But the truth of the matter is I spend my life thinking that what I want is romance and a life partner, and in reality it seems I cannot seem to stand anyone in close proximity for any extended period of time.  :/

WoW

One of the areas I feel I am not giving enough attention is WoW.  Except for raiding, I do not even have the ability to log on most days.  And when I DO have a free moment, I am so mentally and/or physically exhausted I spend that free time either vegging in front of the TV or my laptop or sleeping.  For a while now, I have only been logging on for raids.  And logging on to raid has been a source of frustration, because usually there is some form of homework sitting undone while I try and focus on raiding.

And then, Wednesday night, it hit me – I do not feel as happy raiding as I used to.  I partially dread it, because I feel under-prepared since my only time on Ireenia is IN raid.  I have tried to do some research on improving my performance on my Monk, but my heart does not feel in it.  And the idea that I am not performing to my own standards or that I might be a disappointment to the raid is unbearable.

In fact, on and off for some time now, I have been debating and flippantly writing a piece about Effy, called “Outside Looking In,” explaining how detached I feel from WoW most days.  It is proving near-impossible for me to write.  Too painful.  I do not want to admit that I want to quit, that I am a failure as a raider, that one of the balls is going to drop.

But I did finally admit it (before here and now).  I have expressed my desire to step down as a raider.

I have not made any decision to cancel my accounts yet, but I also do not see me having more time to play than I do now.  Though, honestly, I am not sure how interested in Warlords of Draenor I am.  The biggest thing I am looking forward to is new stories and storylines – but is that really a reason to keep my accounts going?  I am not sure yet.  I know that I am thoroughly disappointed with the idea of “dumbing down” the game more.  The item squish is fine, but there was a dumbing down of talents and skills and stats between Wrath and Cataclysm, then again between Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, and now again going into Warlords of Draenor.  Soon, WoW will be playable on a console controller because we only have 5 buttons, and armor will be like in the first Guild Wars – meaningless as far as stats and only there for looks.  /mini-rant

So, since I fail at love and WoW, I am throwing myself deeper into my other interests – school, work, and writing.

School

I am going to school full time right now and focusing heavily on working towards my Technical Communications degree, while minoring in Web Design.  All my subjects are proving to be heavy doses of learning, despite the fact that I expected many to be just a polishing of my current knowledge.  But despite how much work it is, I am enjoying it, I am learning a lot, and I feel like I am moving in directions I want to go.

I am likely taking the summer semester off, but it will translate into more hours at work – summer is our busy season.  I might look into some online classes at Washtenaw, or some other sources of learning to broaden my writing horizons.  But come fall, I imagine my schedule will become more raid-unfriendly again.  This is part – but only part – of my reasoning.  It also has a lot to do with keeping my focus on learning and homework.  So many nights, I find myself stressed out that we have a raid and that this takes precedence over homework and sleep.  No more.

Work

I am taking on more and new responsibilities at work.  On top of my admin and customer service responsibilities, I am becoming more involved with our websites.  Additionally, I am becoming more involved with our social media channels and advertising.  The social media has been spilling over into my evening free-time as well, in research and implementation.

More about that part later, though.  I have a whole other post for that.

Writing

No worries about the blog.  It is not going anywhere.  I am not going anywhere.  I still plan to write, but it will likely be less WoW stuff.  I have plans to continue – and eventually finish – the Descending Twilight series.  I also have plans for a serial novel that will start on my blog soon™.  I have hopes for posting new story pieces that are not solely fan-fiction.  It is past due time that I started focusing on my original work.  I have the ideas, I just need the time.

I am working on a simple, brief email study course about writing better characters.  This, and I am setting aside a half hour of writing time every morning – the same time, everyday, a little bit earlier then when I usually get up.

Because the only way I am going to write more is by writing more.

And if there is one thing I have discovered – I am far more inspired to write when I am single and blah.  So I might as well take advantage, eh?

~ Effy

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SotR: Entering SoO

Siege of OrgrimmarPatch 5.4 is live, and we are now a week in.

Siege of Orgrimmar is proving very interesting so far.  I like the layout, with several very different “wings” that in reality take you through the destroyed Vale, underneath it, through Orgrimmar, underneath it (yay! Ragefire Chasm!), to who knows where, because I have not seen the entirety of the raid dungeon yet.  From what I have seen, it is visually captivating and tugs at my lore-strings.

From a healing point of view, it is a bit of a change from last tier.  We seem to be swinging in the direction of “overgeared” and therefore we are dealing with more spike damage then before.  There is no real use for fights where we can steadily manage our mana, since Spirit is steadily climbing.  We are moving more in the direction of the faster, more expensive heals.  Otherwise, one big spike hits and half the raid dies.

So goes the aging expansion for the raid healer.

I am enjoying the mixture of many mechanics with bosses that fall to good raid coordination.  So far, they require interesting dancing and dynamic mechanics, some of which grate against the good sense of every raider…  “What?  I have to stand IN the purple stuff on the ground??”  Or like on some fights, with more ingrained mechanics, like our part time real leader, Gv, is fond of saying, “There’s too much to explain.  Just avoid stuff.”  I like commonsense mechanics, but I do not mind the occasional curveball, as long as my guildies do not mind it meaning we wipe a few times while everyone mentally adjusts.  🙂

It has only been a week so far, but UR has made some awesome progression.  We are 8/14 already.  I have confidence we will get further this week.

Missing Wednesday night raids is proving very difficult for me.  (Poor Final, he is constantly dealing with “How goes raid?” and “What boss y’all on?” all Wednesday night while I am at school and after I get home.)  I know school is important, and I am doing well and enjoying myself and learning a lot.  But…  RAIDING!!  I miss my guildies on Wednesdays.  I miss being there, especially this early in the tier, for new kills, progression kills.  Heck, missing the first raid night of the week is meaning I am never going to see the first three bosses of SoO on Normal.  :/  And that number of bosses will grow as gear improves and the bosses become more farmable.

But I love my guildies.  I cannot fault them for being so awesome.  In fact, I commend them for the great job we are already doing this tier!

~ Effy

For the killshots I am missing, check out our guild’s front page!

Immerseus via Flex

Immerseus via Flex

The Fallen Protectors via Flex

The Fallen Protectors via Flex

Norushen viz Flex

Norushen via Flex

Sha of Pride

Sha of Pride

Sha of Pride DOWN in 25man!

Sha of Pride DOWN in 25man!

Galakras DOWN in 25man!

Galakras DOWN in 25man!

Iron Juggernaut

Iron Juggernaut

Iron Juggernaut DOWN in 25man!

Iron Juggernaut DOWN in 25man!

Kor'kron Dark Shaman

Kor’kron Dark Shaman

Kor'kron Dark Shaman DOWN in 25man!

Kor’kron Dark Shaman DOWN in 25man!

General Nazgrim

General Nazgrim

General Nazgrim DOWN in 25man!

General Nazgrim DOWN in 25man!

Malkorok

Malkorok

SotR: In the Defense of Raiding

Sometimes there are more dangerous things to tank then raid bosses.

Sometimes there are more dangerous things to tank then raid bosses – like ignorance.

I have long been a raider, and even longer been a gamer.  Defending my gaming life is something I have grown accustomed to.  I suppose you could say it comes with the territory.  Non-gamers just seem to not understand us.  I am sure there are many people (most of my blog audience, actually) who can empathize with me there.

When I took up raiding, I never thought defending myself would become more difficult and more prevalent, but it has over the past several years, by non-gamer friends and family who do not understand or respect the commitment that I have made to raiding.

I look at raiding as I would any extracurricular activity, or even a class – something that I commitment myself to, because I enjoy it enough to make such a commitment.  I would not ditch a class last minute just to go to dinner with a friend, a friend who could easily try and make plans with me later in the week.  I would not shirk my responsibilities with a real life weekly appointment just because a friend of mine is not considerate enough to plan ahead.  Similarly, I do not ditch friends in real life to whom I have made a time commitment if another friend asks me last minute.

I realize I am using the word “commitment” a lot, and probably will many more times before this post is done.  Honestly, I think that word and its meaning are the most important part of the point I am trying to express.  I think the other side of my point is the lack of respect shown by those who expect I will just cancel things at the drop of a hat to make other plans.

You would think the fact that I keep my commitments in a game would inspire hope in those around me that I would do so in real life.  Right?

Instead, I get the lecture.  Instead, I get the four ignorant arguments below without fail – ignorant arguments I am sure many of my fellow gamers can relate to hearing at some point.

1) “It’s just a game.”

Indeed, it is just a game.  I am not going to go all psycho sports fan nut on the subject.

That is why if I were just planning to run dungeons by myself all night I would probably go do whatever inane thing was just asked of me.  But the thing about online games is they also have this wonderful thing called “socializing”.  So more often than not, when I am playing WoW, I am playing WoW with other people.  When I play WoW with other people it is often through plans that were made prior to this very moment, unlike the last minute real life things that are usually toted as so much more important to my social life.

So needless to say, this usually leads to the next ignorant comment…

2) “They’re not real people.”

Really?  Is this really even a logical argument?  Apparently, all these years I have been surfing the internet and playing MMO’s with robots!  This is quite a revelation to me.  Especially considering all the people I have met face to face after meeting them online.

Yes, people on the other side of computers on the internet ARE real people.

Honestly, I think I have already devoted too much brain power and blog post to this idiotic comment.

3) “They won’t miss you for one night.”

First of all, see above and “commitment”.  Then, see “respect”.

Sure, my guild could probably get by without me for a night or ten even, that is why we run a roster of more than 25 people.  That is why we have a post out policy.  That is why raiders come and go eventually.  The point is, I have made a commitment, I have stated to 24 other people whose company I greatly enjoy that I will be there at X time on X day.  I would like to continue those people also liking me and enjoying my company.

4) “You can do that any night.”

Play video games?  Yes.

Raid?  No.

Just like in real life, it takes planning and commitment to organize 25 people in one place at one time.  Raiding is not something where I can just jump on at 8pm and say, “Hey, guys!  Let’s go raid right now!”  Even if 25 people are on at that exact moment, they may already have plans, either in game or in real life.  This is similar to how you don’t out of the blue call up 25 friends on the phone and say, “Hey, guys!  Let’s go club hopping right now!”  (And this is a really bad example, because to go clubbing does not require a specific number of people.  Maybe a spontaneous wedding or something might be more appropriate?  I dunno… moving on.)

There are only a few things I would actually post out or cancel for – holidays, scheduled events, and being sick.  By scheduled events, I mean a kid’s school concert or someone’s graduation or a theatre ticket.  These are once in a while things that I cannot really reschedule, and therefore, I make the occasional concession to not raid.  Notice these are also items that planned in advance.

I can be spontaneous at times, but there is nothing that irks me more than people who do not respect my time.  Popping something on me last minute, and then getting annoyed that I am either not in the mood or have other plans, is something I find hugely disrespectful of me.

I do not question someone else’s knitting or skydiving or nude finger-painting.  Please do not question why I raid.  Just respect that it is something I enjoy and something that I commit to doing certain nights of the week.

/soapbox

~ Effy

SotR: Amber-Shaper Un’sok

SOTR - ASU

Before ever installing WoW, I had been a healer for a long time.  The single biggest difference coming to WoW was raiding.  I had RvR’d in Dark Age of Camelot (large-scale, 3-sided, realm versus realm PvP which I desperately miss) and I had also done the open-instance raids and dungeons it employed, as well as 5man instanced dungeons.  These were a great precursor, but did not really prepare me for the WoW-style of raiding.

I love raiding in WoW.

Let me edit that: I love raid healing in WoW.

One thing I have come to learn over the past three or so years, since late Wrath, is that a lot is expected from healers.  Large damage phases.  Healing while moving out of fire/void zones/tornadoes/bad.  Spike damage.  Cleansing.  Healing amongst being feared/stunned/MC’d.  NOT healing at certain points.  NOT cleansing at certain points.  Managing cooldowns, either on my own or per callouts.

Above all – not panicking.  🙂

One thing I have come to know is even though much is expected of me, certain mechanics do NOT effect healers.  Up to this point, the most incapacitating mechanic I have dealt with to interrupt the flow of my healing is mind control.  And in previous expansions. this was usually only if I personally did something to screw up (ie. Blood Queen).

Mists of Pandaria has kind of set that standard on its ear – most specifically with the Amber-Shaper Un’sok fight.

I am not complaining, really.  I just found this to be a most jarring surprise.

On Ultraxion, as a healer I was immune to his Fading Light.  On Putricide, I never had to learn how to function the Abomination (but at least that one was a choice, except for those working toward Shadowmourne).  On the Blood Queen fight, I only had to get bitten if I REALLY wanted to and wanted the other half of my achievement.  All those were healer exempt, as well as many other mechanics I cannot recall at this exact second.

Un’sok, on the other hand, his Mutated Constructs affect everyone.

In all of my LFR runs, I have never been pulled into a construct.  So when watching the video for the fight before trying it with our 10man, my stomach did a tiny flip-flop.  I had an “Oh eff” moment.  I was totally unprepared.

I am horrible at vehicles.  I have STILL not mastered the drakes in the Malygos fight.  Quests with vehicles are usually those most annoying to me.

Holy crap.  What a rude awakening for a healer.

Holy crap.  What a nightmare logistically for a 25man raid!

I have noticed a trend with the Tier 14 dungeons, and that is breaking all the bounds of our previous comfort zones.  For me, first off and as a Resto Shaman, is the utter lack of stacking – a total 360 from Dragon Soul (my Spirit Link Totem feels so ignored!).  The tornadoes on Bladelord are a good example.  Attenuation on the Vizier is another.  The entire raid mechanic revolving around Garalon is certainly high on that list.  Fracturing the raid in the Sha of Fear fight.  A constant theme of splitting DPS is another oddity I have noticed.

So let me give the tiny bit of advice that helped me through through the Amber-Shaper fight…  (And even then I tunnel-visioned and forgot to eat off the floor in Phase 3.)  A quick how-to on managing the Mutated Construct:

Smash the ever-loving crap out of Button 1, and hit Button 2 AFTER the DBM countdown ends, to interrupt Amber Explosion.  Using the Construct was compared to beating down Wild Crops on your farm, and that comparison helped me a lot.

Yes, there are two other buttons – 3 and 4.

Button 4 is only to be used in Phase 2, while the giant Amber Monstrosity is up.  You use it once your health drops below 20% to leave the Construct.  (Tanks use it in Phase 1, where they are the only ones who get put into the Mutated Construct.)

Button 3 is only to be used in Phase 3, after the giant Amber Monstrosity is dead.  In Phase 3, you want to stay in the Construct for the remainder of the fight.  So use Button 3 to slurp up bright yellow goo from the floor to maintain your Willpower.  Willpower is what allows you to use your abilities.  Eating the goo also heals you.  So eat to live!

I know operating the Mutated Construct has a bit of a learning curve.  I am still working on it myself.  So these are just some more thoughts to help others along.

~ Effy

Note: For an actual guide to the Amber-Shaper Un’sok fight, as opposed to this opinion-laden editorial version, see here.

Completely off-topic aside brought about by thinking of Dark Age of Camelot: There I played Midgard, which was blue.  Here, I play Alliance, which is blue.  My favorite color is blue.  Coincidence?  Hmm.

Here are some kill shots from the past week!  Yay!  The Queen is our last remaining boss for Normal 25man!

Sha of Fear down 25man

Sha of Fear down 25man

SotR - Sha of Fear Down 2

Amber-Shaper Un'sok down 25man

Amber-Shaper Un’sok down 25man

SotR: Sha of Fear 25

SOTR - Sha of Ooh Pretty Colors

Or as I prefer to refer to him – the Sha of Ooh Pretty Colors!

WARNING: This post might be a little soapboxy.

It is a new year, and therefore I figured a slight adjustment to my raiding updates was in order.  Basically, the numbers were starting to get cumbersome, so I scratched that.  Also I decided to use a fancy acronym instead of the full State of the Raider.  😀

I also want to leave myself some room to breath.  I was starting to get a bit overwhelmed with pressuring myself to post an update every week.  I think that was why my posts fizzled out before the end of the year.  So I will try and post only when I actually have something interesting to say.

Or maybe just interesting to me?  Who knows?  🙂

Catch-up

First of all, let me catch-up to where Undying Resolution is right now.

Our 25man has Mogu’shan Vaults clear and on farm.  Heart of Fear is up to Amber-Shaper.  Terrace of Endless Spring is just up to Sha of Fear.

Our 10man recently cleared the all of the normal mode bosses for Tier 14.

Talk is for starting heroic modes in the 10man group soon.  This would mean Mogu’shan Vaults would be dropping from our 25man raids.

Sha of Fear

When I did this fight in LFR, I was ambivalent.  It was an okie fight.  The cone thingie everyone wants to stay inside was a mechanic worth paying attention to.  There was a meh amount of incoming damage.  Oh, something to dispell.  Blah, back to kinda healing.

Then, one day – randomly and for the first time in my several Terrace LFR’s – I was whisked away from Sha and teleported to a gazebo with a tank and three DPS.  It was a little faux 5man!  There was a boss, and we were far enough removed from the rest of the raid that it was us on our own.

It was so cool and different!

In LFR, this has only happened to me once.  😦  Boo.  (Random mechanic is random?  Wha?)

When our 25man got down Lei Shi in one shot this past Thursday (woot!), I was quite curious to see this fight in normal.

The Sha of Fear did not disappoint me.

I love this fight!

The more that I think about it, the more I think Challenge Modes prepared me for this fight.  Relying on myself to heal.  Relying my “group members” to do their part.  Not being in the standard 25man healer position of blanket healing and feeling that although my mana is dropping and Skada is registering growing digits, my personal, individual heals do not mean a whole lot to every 25 people every second.

In a 5man, I am actually DOING something.  Well, doing something that 100% matters.  Raid healing allows for small lapses in each healer – either to being CC’d or moving or even being dead.  But 5man healing only has one healer to lean on.  5man healing, in its most bleeding-edge sense, requires the coordination of everyone.  It requires you to heal your damnedest but also expect that everyone else is doing their part.

Yah, heroic dungeons these days do not require this kind of focus…  I think Challenge Modes were an interesting compromise, though.

Actually, I have a tangent to share.

Over the weekend, Ranico asked me to do a heroic to finish up our Valor for the week.  (I capped this week!  Yay!)  I asked him his thoughts on something I have been debating for a while, and he agreed it would make things go quicker.  I queued as a healer, and stayed in my Elemental spec.  🙂  Ranico tanked in his DPS gear.  The dungeon was Temple of the Jade Serpent.  It was easy through most of it, Healing Stream Totem FTW, but I know Ranico can do heroics without a healer… I have watched from guild chat.  lol  The Sha fight was intense though!  I was healing and DPS’ing and using cooldowns.  Whoa.  😀

Word of warning, though.  I do not plan to try this without Ranico any time soon.  lol

When I had a tank and a group I trusted (despite the hobbled position Resto Shaman maintained through much of the beginning of the expansion), I LIKED Cataclysm heroic dungeons.  I liked CC’ing things.  I liked everyone paying attention and doing their part.  I liked having to think about them and what spells I was casting.  I liked TRIAGE.

What I do NOT like is people dying and me having no control over it.  :/  One shots make me sad.  But I am still (Yes, still!  I might be a bit of a control freak…) slowly adjusting to the fact that there are some things I cannot heal through.  This is just one of those things I have to accept as a healer.  <grumble>

Admittedly, though, I never liked pugging in the beginning of Cata.

Okie, so the tangent had a tangent.

I have only seen about two-thirds of the fight in 25man normal, but from what I have gathered so far, the biggest deal in healing is on the platforms.  You have no backup, and focus is mandatory.  You also have to grab all the orbs – quickly or they heal the mini-boss.  Grabbing the orbs returns energy/focus/mana/etc. but also causes damage.  So it is also a delicate balance.

Even off the platform, there was usually two groups on platforms, and therefore healing at Sha was intense too.  It was not brutally heavy, but it was done with limited healers, and therefore required more focus.

All in all, the Sha of Fear fight gave me a chance to water dance.

Incoming Shammy confession…

The Sha was perfect for my current healing preferences, which is almost entirely ignoring my AoE heals.  (I know, it is heretical, eh?)  I pepper the raid with Healing Rains and Chain Heals occasionally, but lately it seems my single target heals are more efficient and just more easily placed.  AoE is only draining my mana and skyrocketing my overheals.  In farm fights I use them and oh well about overheals, just so long as I am doing something other than standing around, right?  But for progression, I am finding myself in “Challenge Mode.”  Back to triage mentality.  And honestly, Resto Shaman love triage.  It is in our Mastery.  🙂

I am not sure if everyone else in raid was enjoying it as much as I was, though.  After a few attempts we ended up going to Heart of Fear, and I was a sad Shammy.  😦

Soon.  Soon I will bring him down.

~ Effy

25man Normal Tsulong

25man Normal Tsulong

25man Normal Lei Shi

25man Normal Lei Shi

State of the Raider 5

SotR5 - Distractions

One of many distractions

My mind is a wee bit distracted this week, so I plan to keep my raider self-evaluation short today.  Also, not much has changed in the areas of skills or playstyles or bosses – except that some boss encounters have moved from being experienced by me in a 10man setting to our 25man.  So that is pretty exciting.

So far this week has proven lucrative.  As of logging off Tuesday night, I am already halfway to Valor cap.  That includes MV’s second half and both halves of HoF in LFR, as well as a Silver for the daily Challenge Mode in Scarlet Monastery.

Scarlet Monastery will be an… interesting Gold.  🙂

Last week’s 25man main raids on Wednesday and Thursday proved good for our progression.  We downed not one new boss, but THREE, and all on Thursday night…

Will of the Emperor down in 25man!

Will of the Emperor down in 25man!

The adds on Will of the Emperor are pretty insane in 25man, but our DPS did awesome.

Imperial Vizier Zor'lok down in 25man!

Imperial Vizier Zor’lok down in 25man!

The Vizier proved easier in 25man, and gave us little trouble.

Blade Lord Ta'yak down in 25man!

Blade Lord Ta’yak down in 25man!

The Blade Lord (who I think I have wrongly been referring to as the Wind Lord, cuz hello? he throws tornadoes and the Wind Lord does not… so m’kay) was an interesting dance, but allowed for more leeway and room for error than his 10man counterpart.  And the last phase seemed way easier to heal in 25man.

Sunday, I was not in the 10man, and Monday the 10man was canceled.  So no updates from me on that front.

It sounds like no 10mans on Mondays until after the first of the year, and the guild will probably focus on Heart of Fear for a bit, to gear up for Heroics.  So our 10man might shift back to Mogu’Shan Vaults, and gathering the last few pieces (mostly trinkets) that some of our raiders need there.  Including my own wish for the Jade Courtesan Figurine trinket.

So, Effy, are you going to give us a little more than just some killshot pics and fluff?

Hmm…

I do not have too much to say in that regard right now.  I have received a few upgrades, adjusted some stats, and I am adjusting as needed per fight.  Not much else has changed.

I actually downgraded my chestpiece to a Heart of Fear LFR version, because it has a lot of Spirit, of which my VP one had none.  That made getting my Spirit back to 7500 a lot easier.  It was sitting a little below 7k for about a week, and that was pretty meh.  So I lost a little Intellect, but it was getting impossible to finagle my Spirit appropriately with having so many pieces without Spirit.

Well, let me adjust that: it was getting impossible with my chestpiece not having Spirit, since that one piece has such a big chunk of stats.

Honestly, my bracers are my only other piece without Spirit, but once I finally replace my Ghost Iron Dragonling trinket, it is gonna hurt – a loss of 600 Spirit.  So replacing my bracers is pretty high on my priority too.

I have thrown that stupid “BiS” list out the window.  What a piece of crap.

Basically, my goal is the highest iLevel piece with Spirit I can manage.  Perhaps once Heroics are in full swing, or maybe even next tier, I can start focusing more on a piece or two without.

For right now, my Spirit is the most difficult to maintain properly, everything else is coming easily enough.  I am just barely where I need to be, or at least, where I am comfortable, Spirit-wise.

Oh, and I totally forgot to mention before, Effy has her Dragonslayer title!  Some guildies, along with some really friendly people from a few other guilds, went in and cleared Bastion of Twilight on heroic one Saturday afternoon, and I got to go along.  It was poorly DPS’ing, but I did not stand in too much stupid stuff.  It was my first heroic kill on the Council and Cho’gall, and my first time ever seeing Sinestra.

Very cool, and very fun.  Sinestra is still a fight requiring a good deal of coordination, so that was nice to conquer too.

~ Effy

Updates - Sinestra 1

Updates - Sinestra 2

Updates - Sinestra 3

State of the Raider 4

One of my favorite raiding items put to good use.

This week is Thanksgiving in the US, resulting in a truncated raiding week, so I decided to just put the two weeks together (this week and last).  This is much to the chagrin of some of our Canadian raiders, one of whom mentioned to me that Canadians are much more considerate by not putting holidays in the middle of the week.

Hey now!  I happen to like my two days off!  Pfft…  Besides, Canadians celebrate Christmas, and that is whatever day of the week it feels like.  😛

25man

Undying Resolution’s First 25man Elegon kill!

Last Wednesday and Thursday resulted in a new kill for our main 25man team – Elegon! – as well as some solid attempts on Will of the Emperor.

I very much like the Elegon fight.  There is some heavy damage, stacking periods (attacking the boss) and some lighter damage, spread out, regen periods (the wispy adds and electricity walls).  They seem timed perfectly for my big cooldowns.  SLT on the first explosion, HTT on the second.  And healing my butt off when/if we get a third.  But then, while we are healing our individual groups at the pillars, I single target and regen.

So though I think I mentioned it before, I really like the Elegon fight.

Will of the Emperor is an interesting encounter.  It is another of those fights where everyone is spread out willy-nilly, and trying to get anyone stacked for a Healing Rain or a Spirit Link Totem is like trying to wrangle kittens.  (I just like picturing that!)  So for the most part, until we get a kill and start perfecting, I think I am going to have to manage with HST, HTT, Ascendance, and my single target spells for the most part.  I can weave in the occasional AoE, but in most ways, it feels like wasted mana on that fight.

We shall see how it progresses as we tweak and fine tune.

Tuesday night was a strange night to raid, and I think it threw the group’s groove off a bit, but we still managed to get through all of our current kills – including Elegon about 10 minutes before the end of raid.  Five bosses in one night is a step forward for us so far this tier.  I imagine as the tier progresses, we will continue to cut that down.

So great job to everyone for making a weird-feeling Tuesday into a successful raid night.  🙂

10man

For some reason, I have no pics of Garalon, so instead, you get a pic of Effy stoned.

For this week’s 10man, I only went on Monday night.  Sunday night, the group downed the Windlord with three healers, so Monday was all about progressing on Garalon.  Once more, Monday was three healers.

The Garalon fight is, once more, a fight where everyone is spread out.  I guess after a whole tier of catering to Shaman and stacking for our AoE’s, Blizzard wanted to change it up some.  Oh well, unlike previous tiers, I feel more confident in my single target performance.

The big task is keeping everyone in range.  Standing in the center of the room, with the boss rotating around me is very efficient, and means I have to move a lot less than I would otherwise.  Keeping the melee in range while they DPS the far, back leg is the primary concern.

But I felt my performance was strong.  We just kept bumping into the enrage timer.

BTW, what is up with two raid bosses with very similar names this tier?  Gara’jal and Garalon.  Just to be confusing, eh?  It sure makes abbreviating their names difficult.  😉

Final Thoughts

Belf dancing with Aesa! (And Pon sitting there and pretending she does not know us, perhaps. heh)

In this past week, the level of overhealing present so far this tier has come onto my radar.  This has proven most disturbing to me, as someone who has always been very careful about overhealing, and the management of my mana.

I feel I took easily to the triage style of healing, because this worked well with my style of mana and heal juggling.  So seeing my overheal numbers of late makes me feel like I am misusing my abilities somehow.

Okie, so through much of Dragon Soul, mana was not too much of an issue – what with gear and the age of the expansion and Telluric Currents (Oh, I miss you so!) – and I may have become a bit more HPS/output focused.  Just to see what my Shaman was really capable of putting out.  But previous to that, I have always maintained a careful balance of HPS and overheals.

HPS is pretty meaningless if all of it is done to targets who are already full (or nearly full) on health.

It is not just Shaman – it seems to be everyone.  There was about a 50% overhealing average for our heal team last night.  The two Shaman (including) and the Monk being highest, but not by too much.

My next goal is to focus more on my efficient, non-overhealing skills.  This means very sparing use of Healing Rain, which is currently highest on the overheal list.

Sorry, Healing Rain, it’s not that we cannot be friends, but I just need some time apart.  Maybe, some day, there will come a fight where you will be truly useful again.  But for now, other than Feng, we are going to have to agree to see other heals.

And now, I am off to enjoy the rest of my really long weekend!  😀  Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Effy

State of the Raider 3

This week, I had the pleasure of raiding in both the regular 25man on Wednesday and Thursday and 10man on Sunday and Monday.  This gave me a really good chance to determine how well I am progressing.

To Do List Progress

First of all, I was curious how I am doing compared to the To Do List I made a little while back.

1. Manage my Riptides better – do not overdo them.  Alternately, unglyph Riptides and use it on cooldown.

I switched out my glyphs, and took the glyph off my Riptide.  This works much better for me.

2. Maintain Tidal Waves for every Healing Wave/Greater Healing Wave/Healing Surge.

I think I am managing this well.  This carries over from Cata, and so is not a change for me so much as a reminder to myself.  The only time I really miss taking full advantage of Tidal Waves is during periods of slow incoming damage when I am low on mana.  Healing Wave is pretty mana-neutral, and works well in these periods.

3. Only cast Chain Heal on Riptide targets.

Similar to Tidal Waves, I think I am doing well here.  It is a mild adjustment, as in Cata Chain Heal would consume Riptide.  So this is a nice change, and I am adapting well.  Once in a while, I still have to cast without the combo, just because my Riptide is on cooldown and not placed right for the need Chain Heal.  This is a good standard, but I do not think 100% is necessary, though, I will keep aiming to improve based upon where I expect damage to go out.

4. Continue to use Unleash Elements on cooldown for the single-target heal buff.

I noticed this week I was using Unleash Elements less than usual, which sounds about right for new fights where both the raid and I are adjusting to new mechanics.  I have been using it, but not as often as I would like for the healing boosts.  Definitely room for improvement.

5. Get more comfortable with my new healing cooldowns (Ascendance and Healing Tide).

I think I am getting more comfortable with all of these cooldowns.  The key now is figuring out when is the best time to use them in encounters.  There were a few times this week (especially in 10man), where I used a cooldown in an emergency situation and then berated myself for not having it later in the fight.  But learning encounters with just two healers in our 10man made keeping my fingers from those buttons difficult.

This also includes Spirit Link Totem.

The one cooldown I have to add to this list is Stormlash Totem.  It is imperative that I improve my usage of this cooldown.  It is not a healing cooldown, but especially for fights where we are still at a point of fighting the DPS race – like Elegon – it is critical.

6. Get more comfortable with my healing totems and their timers (Healing Stream and Healing Tide).

I am happy with my spread of Healing Stream Totem.  I am getting used to pressing it regularly.  Always room to improve, though.  🙂

7. Get more comfortable with my mana pool and regen.

I boosted my Spirit and Crit, dropping my Haste some.  My Haste should still yield me the next haste break with raid buffs and Ancestral Swiftness, which I am spec’d into.  My Spirit is sitting around 7500.  And I boosted my Crit which seems to be helping some too – both in heals and regen.

This tier, there are a number of encounters, or even just phases, where I cannot really justify the spam usage of Healing Rain and I am resorting to single target healing.  Prior to the state of Resto Shaman right now, that thought would have concerned me, but I am finding myself quite capable and that spamming a combination of Riptide and Healing Wave is making mana a zero issue.  I want to improve my combinations of Healing Rain and single target (which still using Healing Stream on cooldown).

8. Learn the fights better (from a healer PoV).

This is progressing nicely.  I even ran Heart of Fear in LFR early in the week, which helped enormously in our 10man there Sunday and Monday.

I have seen all Mogu’Shan Vaults in both LFR and Normal.  And I have seen the first three bosses in Heart of Fear on LFR, and the first two (so close to all of the second!) in Normal.

9. Try not to overheal or cast when I do not need to.

Still a difficult transition for me.  I feel like a slacker during low damage periods.  I am used to spamming Lightning Bolts during slow periods.  I do not like standing around, but my mana demands it.  :/  Especially with the state of mana and mana regen right now, I stick to my constant of maintaining a low overhealing percentage.  Healing those who do not need heals is hardly an effective use of my mana.

10. Do not panic heal.

As I get into my healing grooves for the various fights, this becomes easier and easier.  The biggest issue with panic healing is coming so far during Heart of Fear, which is probably a little hindered by my gear.  Doing the fights with two healers was part of it, I am sure, but there is already so little cushion in 10man.  I have 5-6 other healers to rely on in 25man.  In 10man’s this week, it was only myself and one other.  It is a lot of pressure, but a good kind of pressure.  It is just different, and I am adjusting back to it.

25man

This week was progression work on Elegon.  I really enjoy Elegon on 25man, even though we did not get him down yet.  It has a nice combination of raid healing and single target healing (where I can manage some regen).  That, and not to sound too full of myself, I dare say I rocked on Elegon.

Currently, it is a matter of familiarizing 25 people with all of the mechanics, and getting them to pew pew out huge numbers at the same time.  Even though we were wiping, we were flirting with the enrage timer as well.

But: mechanics first, DPS second.

I was pleased that I was not panic healing, despite our progressive stance right now.  For one, I cannot heal people that fall through the floor.  Nor can I really save someone who gets zapped in the lightning puddles (especially if they are not topped off when they do) or walks into the pillar wall.

Focus is for what I CAN heal, and that I did.

Sure, some people took more damage then they “should” have, but it is progression.  I expect these things.  Heck, I even expect these failings from myself on occasion.  Sometimes, mechanics combine just right or I am too focused and do not move fast enough.  Practice fixes this.  I also expect that we will improve, because I know my fellow raiders enough in this regard.

I, personally, think we have a solid chance of downing Elegon is coming week.

10man

On Sunday night, our 10man group finished up Elegon in two attempts, and one shot Will of the Emperor.  This was pretty exciting for me, as it marks my first Normal clear of Mogu’Shan Vaults!  Woot!

Then, it was on to Heart of Fear.  The first boss, Imperial Vizier Zor’lok, took the better part of the evening.  I like the mechanics during that fight, they are quite varied, but unfortunately random as well.  It was rough with only two of us healing, but we got our groove, and conquered the platforms.  Then, we were mainly focusing on the final phase, in the middle, where things get even more random.

It is kind of a cooldown crap-shoot at that point.  Attempts where the right platform (the Tortolla shells, as Ranico refers to them) was not first hurt, a lot.  I was using my cooldowns for the platform shells, and so if it was not first, they were not available when we hit the middle phase shells.  (Which means that fight is a lot shorter than it seems, heh.)

But we persisted, and we prevailed!  With two healers, I might add.  <flex>

Monday night was all Blade Lord Ta’vak, the second boss.  Oof.  That fight is a LOT of healing.  LFR did not even come close to preparing me for that fight.  Sure, I saw the mechanics, but in LFR they were pretty meaningless.  LFR was:

  1. Do not stand in tornadoes from Tempest Slash (but even if you do = we win)
  2. Stay spread out Wind Step (but even if you do not = we win)
  3. Stack for Unseen Strike (but even if you do not = we probably win)
  4. Do not fail to tornadoes in the second phase (but even if you do, you probably won’t die and = we still probably win)

Oh, and of course, in LFR there is no steady raid damage going out while you are dodging tornadoes in phase two.

This was fine the first time across the room, as I had Ascendance and Spirit Walker’s Grace available.  It seemed somewhat random as to whether Spirit Walker’s Grace was available for the second run.  But that is probably the first fight where I ever envied the DPS.  lol  All they have to do is cross the room while dodging tornadoes.  I have to run, dodge, and cast WHILE running and dodging.  Whee!

I was getting better at the first run, but the second one made me sad, watching everyone drop…

I am arguing with myself as to whether glyphing Riptide would make much difference there.  I do not think it really would.

  1. It would be without the upfront heal, which I like.
  2. It would probably not even cover the damage during the run period.
  3. It would make sure I am OOM by the time I hit the platform.

It is also the first raid mechanic I can recall that completely makes my totems useless.  They cannot help me until we all reach the platform.  Or I am within 40 yards of it, hmm.

Final Thoughts

I still have room for personal improvement (however, I feel I always do), but I am making great progress.  I still have room for improvement on our current progression bosses, and some additional research is in order before raiding this week.

But above all: I am thoroughly enjoying being back to progression raid healing!

~ Effy

Whoa! or State of the Raider 2

So yah, see above for my overall reaction to my first night back to actual, real 25man raid healing.  (LFR is good for practice, but it really does not count, which I proved again last night.  heh)

At the beginning of Cata I felt I was flailing to no avail, spending all my mana on spells that just did not heal enough.

At the beginning of Mists, I now feel like I am once more flailing, once more spending all my mana, but people are at least getting healed.  Additionally, I am constantly in a state of, “OMG, I have all these cooldowns!  Should I use one?  OMG, what if I need it MORE between now and 2-3 minutes from now and everyone dies cuz it is on cooldown??”

In fact, at one point, I even asked in healer chat.

When CDs are needed, they are called for in vent.  In Cata, this meant my Spirit Link Totem.  I had no issues there, no question on what to contribute.  Now… uhm… Does “Effy, cooldowns!” mean Healing Tide Totem or Spirit Link Totem or Ascendance… or all of them??

I just do not know, and no one could answer me.  (Or I got lost in the chaos of the moment…)

I did feel I was getting more into my healer groove last night. The beginning of fights was awkward, but once the damage started rolling in, and my heals started going steadily, I felt it was fairly smooth.  My numbers were okie and my mana management was much better.

I am still flirting with the bottom third of my mana bucket, and my “Low Mana” notification is certainly doing its duty of annoying the crap out of me.  😉  But I was not bottoming out too much.  There were a few crazy moments where extra healing was needed to cover some slip-ups, but I was able to recover from them.  Mana pots and alchemy bonuses are my friend.  heh

For my first raid back to healing, I was pretty pleased with myself.  Even as the night went on, I felt my performance improved.

My talents are staying static currently, but I did change around my glyphs.  Last night, I was running Water Shield, Totemic Recall, and Chaining as my majors.

I am not completely sold on Chaining.  I think it might be wasted on my mostly organized 25man, who are all good about stacking when we need to stack.  The CD on Chain Heal was really screwing me up too.  I tend to focus mostly on the melee anyway, so range is not really an issue and I will probably drop it, but I am not sure what to replace it with, since I am not sold on the Riptide glyph either.

I may just go back to Healing Wave.

Totemic Recall is great, though.  100% mana return.  Using it in the last 1-2 seconds of the totem means free healing.  The issue: timing.  I can remember to use it like no one’s business when things are calm.  But when things are calm – mana is not an issue.  It is when things are crazy that I need that extra mana.  I think the key is finding the ideal place to set up my totem timers on my screen (which is an issue, cuz screen real estate is a highly sought after commodity right now, especially in a 25man setup).

The looming problem is all these cooldowns.  Right now, they feel more oppressive than helpful, because I feel like I should be using them all the time, but using them all the time is both time and mana consuming.  Also, using them consistently would improve my output, but then it would leave me without when I really need them.

I need to find my happy balance.

What to do?  What to do?

~ Effy

Does anyone else feel overwhelmed with healer cooldowns?

State of the Raider

Last week was my first week back to raiding, and it was both exciting and nerve-wracking.  It was exciting to be raiding again, but it was nerve-wracking to be raiding as a DPS.

I quickly learned I am really not cut out for the pew-pew-rawr that is the fight for top of the DPS meters on a raid boss.  Towards the end of my rotation or during heavy raid damage periods, my eyes would wander to my raid frames, and I would catch myself hitting the one button that seemed helpfulbut not distracting enough to be “okie” while DPS’ing – Healing Stream Totem.  That is okie, right??

I am such a bad DPS.  ><

Luckily, my GMs (yes, plural, both Ranico and Mindalen handle this bulky responsibility now) were very understanding of my plight.  So this week, I am back to healing.  Too bad this week is only one day, but perhaps that is good with many of our raiders living on the east coast where Hurricane Sandy is currently ravaging things.  😦

I did DPS on both Wednesday and Thursday, and in fact, UR downed TWO new bosses – Gara’jal and the Spirit Kings!  I was pretty excited to be part of that, but I could not help be feel a twinge of regret that it was badly DPS’ing rather than successfully healing.

That means the past several days been full of lots and lots of heroics for me as I get accustomed to the changes to Resto Shaman between Dragon Soul and Mogu’Shan Vaults.  It has also meant a lot of research – gear, stats, glyphs, talents, rotations.

Healing throughput is something I can get behind and get excited about.  How and when to use cooldowns.  The best time and order to use my heals to their fullest potential.  What stats most effectively boost my style of healing.  I am not really sure why this is so different for me to manage successfully in a 10 minute fight over a DPS rotation and cooldowns.  DPS have to use their cooldowns as part of their rotation, as a healer, I am more accustomed to using them because I need them to keep someone alive.

I should really leave the DPS’ing to the pros.  Like lovely miss Poneria, who gently corrected and coaxed me through Thursday night and my misplaced excitement over damage and numbers.

So after a few new pieces, gems, enchants, a new profession, and reforging, here is where I am sitting…

Effraeti – Level 90 Restoration Shaman

Item Level

Effy is currently Item Level 472.  It is a nice jump from barely geared enough to run LFR last week.

Professions

I dropped Herbalism over the weekend, which is proving very weird.  It leaves me with one less “Ohh, shiny!” profession, and now I have to make due with just fishing pools.  But I maxed out Inscription, and I am being all raider responsible and stuff.

  • Alchemy – Extra time from flasks and more mana returned from pots.
  • Inscription – Shoulder enchants with 320 more Intellect than the standard epic version.

Stats

After doing some research, I conceded to Mastery being far less awesome than it was through heroics in Dragon Soul.  I am currently intrigued by the potentials of Crit and Resurgence, but I do not really have the spare stats to support playing with it too much right now.

Intellect > Spirit > Haste (12.5%) > Mastery (50%) > Crit

Honestly, through the first half of Cata, I did play a lot between focusing on Crit and focusing on Mastery.  When I joined UR, and we were pushing the progression envelope more successfully, Mastery definitely won.  We shall see how the stats treat me this time around.

Personal Performance Thoughts

Well, erm.  This is where I kind of have to shrug my shoulders.  I have no idea how well I did for my gear and class and spec as far as DPS goes.  I plan to keep working on my DPS, even if just through daily quests.  heh  But since I am trying to shift my focus back to healing, even though we are entering week 2, I am basically starting over again.

I would like to once more make a regular habit of reviewing myself as a raider.  Though, I would prefer those reviews to be through the healing perspective rather than the DPS.

Guild Performance Thoughts

Undying Resolution is now 4/6 in Mogu’Shan Vaults, and sitting nicely to possibly start the new content when it is released.  4/6 in normal puts us tied with the 1st place 25man guild on Elune.

I cannot make a lot of observations just yet, but the progress is steady so far, and impressive I might add.  Heroics will be the big marker, I think.

Parting Thoughts

I am really excited about raid healing this week, and I look forward to reviewing myself at its end.

~ Effy

Most of the research I did was using the following sites:

And in closing, I am finally back to my good ol’ self and my good ol’ techno.  Take it or leave it, as apparently some find my musical preferences less than pleasing.  Oh well.  This is a great new song I came across recently…

Phaeleh – Afterglow