Coming in late on a healing discussion

October 31, 2009 at 11:02 am | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn) | Leave a comment

I just read this morning about Miss Medicina’s survey of healers, and hey, that’s me…

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?

Ezza, restoration shaman. (Other spec is enhancement, these days for questing and power-leveling friends.)

What is your primary group healing environment?

Five-person runs, PVP, and 10-person raids in about equal measure. My guild is very large and has some really dedicated players, and I’m still working my way up to be ready for 25-person raids.

What is your favorite spell for your class and why?

Chain Heal. I love what it does—healing more than one person at once—I love that there’s actually a little tactical maneuvering possible in choosing the initial target and shaping the path it leaps after that, and I love the look of it with light blasting around the field of combat.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

Cleansing, I guess, and that’s only because if I need it more than once or twice in a fight I throw down a totem for it. One of the reasons I particularly like shaman is precisely that the toolbox of healing spells is relatively small but every single one gets frequent use.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Versatility. Four good spells (Riptide, Lesser and regular Healing Wave, Chain Heal) plus totems adds up to a lot of potential for fine-tuning. I can fill just about any niche a group is likely to have when it comes to healing and support.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

A shortage of instant burst healing, definitely. I’d like something like Lay on Hands, costly to use but lifesaving when I bring it into play.

In a 25-person raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

Raid healing, easily. I can do main tank healing—I did it this week in 10-person Trial of the Crusader and did well at it, and had some experience with it in Serpentshine Cavern and Tempest Keep back in the day, but jumping around to heal everyone who isn’t tanking plays to my strengths most. Riptide makes that even more true at 80 than at 70, too.

What healing class do you most enjoy healing with and why?

A second shaman makes life great, but it’s hard to beat a discipline priest for the world-class shielding and such. But I don’t think there’s any healing class I don’t wish to group with, when played well. I feel that resto shaman is distinctive enough that everything else complements rather than conflicts.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Hmm. I suppose that if I had to make a pick, it’d be holy paladin, for the mutual lack of instant burst healing. But that’s a matter of “preferring somewhat less”, not “disliking”.

What is your worst habit as a healer?

Overhealing early on and running short on mana multiple times during a long fight. I’ve really got to rein in my impulse to top everyone off too much.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

This needs two separate answers.

For the player base at large, all those “X needs heals!” and “Heal me!” shouts, for sure. Yes, I know, I know, hush up and do your job.

But my guild doesn’t do any of that. Back in the day, people would get booted from instances and raids if they didn’t turn off heal-me emotes from add-ons, for instance, and the lesson stuck. So my biggest complaint is just lack of opportunity to actually learn some of the fights that’d move me from third-string healing to second or first, for sheer population. This is not a bad complaint. 🙂

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

Very much so. In fact I think that the contrast between shamans and other healers is just about a textbook example of how to do it right.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

Well, success is the crucial test. If we win fights and the others feel satisfied with the outcome, that’s what matters most. Metering tells me things like whether I’m overhealing more than I can really justify, but I don’t worry about it much. Earth Shield, for instance, doesn’t get easily credited to my healing tally, and yet good use of Earth Shield is crucial to shaman contributions to raid healing. So I’m interested in the human judgment of my guildmates more than the data sets as such.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about your healing class?

Oh, this is an easy one: shamans can’t put out enough healing fast enough to be main-tank healers. Thanks in particular to Riptide, with good gear and prep, we can and do.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

While leveling, the shifting balance between Lesser Healing Wave and Healing Wave in terms of just how much they help against what kinds of incoming damage volume. In raiding, the tradeoffs between a few Chain Heals and a lot of Riptide and Lesser Healing Wave, when many raiders are damaged.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc.)?

Well, overhealing more than is wise, certainly. Beyond that…dunno. Good performance, I think.

Haste or Crit and why?

Up until recently I’d have said increased critical change, easily. These days I’m leaning toward haste, now that I have enough of it to see the difference it makes.

What healing class do you understand least?

Either holy paladin or holy priest, I think.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any to aid you in healing?

I love X-Perl’s display of status a lot and rely on it heavily. I use Clique and alternate between clicking and typing as the fancy strikes me to cast spells. Beyond that, not much; I have tried a lot in the past but find that the speed advantages of lighter resource load offset anything else I might gain.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

I made spellpower my first priority just because it was way low when I started raiding. Now I favor a bit of everything, juggling mana regeneration rates, haste, critical chance, and expertise. A lot of my decisions are responses to whatever neat new loot’s come my way.

I’m sending this on to Siha of Banana Shoulders in hopes of drawing her in.



She is not dead nor doth she sleep…

October 28, 2009 at 6:36 am | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn), Matosha | Leave a comment

…in fact she’s been healing a lot lately.

This genuinely is a surprising development. I mean, part of the reason I burned out with my shaman in Burning Crusade was that raid healing had really gotten me down. And here I am doing it on a regular basis with her now, doing it fairly well, enjoying it, making progress in her ability and mine.

It occurred to me that maybe this would be a help in advancing my stalled-out druids. I’m going to experiment with Matosha, where I have the same guild and community as with Ezza, and see how it goes.


Ezza, meet the Trial of the Crusader; Trial, Ezza

October 19, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn) | Leave a comment

I don’t have screenshots tonight of the actual battles but I did go with a 10-person group into the Trial of the Crusader and then on to Onyxia in her 10-person version. I had a wonderful time: good group of folks I enjoy playing with, and excellent raid leadership. No wipes, just a couple of deaths, and I came off bearing loot. Ezza’s new shoulders are on fire. They emit blue fumes, seriously. It doesn’t get better than that, I don’t think.

Letter to Mr. C: The silithids

October 18, 2009 at 11:30 am | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Movies | Leave a comment

Dear Mr. C:

I realized this morning that although I keep writing about the silithids and their hives, I haven’t put up a lot of pictures or anything. Consider this some correction.

Regards, Ms. B

Ezza’s new chestpiece

October 12, 2009 at 10:24 am | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn) | Leave a comment

I’ve been diligently doing heroic instances with Ezza, building up her gear and experience, and finally I had enough Badges of Conquest to buy her first piece of tier 8 gear (the first piece of tier 8 on any of my characters, actually), the Conqueror’s Worldbreaker Tunic. Here she is modeling it in the Echo Isles, where she started her adventurer training some while back:

Astute readers will notice these images are sized to serve as iPod Touch wallpaper. I sure am that geeky, yes.

Adequate play: Shaman healing, the tools of the trade

October 12, 2009 at 7:00 am | Posted in Ceri's Guide to Adequate Play | Leave a comment

This is a guide to the basics of healing as a shaman character in any spec, for five-person groups. I want to write some things about the restoration talent tree in particular and about raid healing, but those will be for separate posts. Furthermore, this is a guide to best practice in a very specific sense: I’m aiming here for simple reliable techniques, ones that work across a wide range of computer strengths, connection quality, and other conditions subject to change with or without notice, in or out of the player’s control. I’ll be linking to people offering advice for those aiming higher, too, but the point here is to help those who want to do a solid good job despite limitations.

Shamans have the most limited toolbox of any of the healing classes, which actually makes things kind of handy. You have three healing spells: a little heal (Lesser Healing Wave), a big heal (Healing Wave), and a multiple-targets heal (Chain Heal). You have one weapon buff that helps: Everliving Weapon, which strengthens your healing spells. You have a variety of totems that come in handy in different situations. You have magical shields. And you have your armor, your offensive spells and physical weaponry, and your groupmates to protect you.

With these tools, we will assemble coolness!

Your spells

The first thing you need to know to heal well is how the numbers the game gives you translates in practical terms into health for yourself and other targets. Spell tooltips tell you the base number of health points a spell will return to its target, but things modify that, a lot. Everliving Weapon makes your healing better. Intelligence adds to your spellpower, and points in +spellpower (and +healing, if you have any healing-specific bonuses from items) do, and so forth and so on. You want to know how your heals work, and you want to know it before you get into the exciting crunch time of actual combat.

So go damage yourself, and get friends to do it too. No, seriously. Jump off cliffs, towers, and other high places and take enough falling damage to mess yourself up but not kill yourself. Then cast a lesser healing wave and see how much of a health bar comes back. Cast a regular healing wave and see how much it does. Cast a chain heal and see both how much it returns and how it zigs around—it turns out that you can pick up your practical healing rate with good positioning. Thinking of it as bowling or pinballs for health. Also notice how long it takes to cast each, and that means both the objective time and how long it feels to you. With practice you’ll be able to do things like notice the rate of decline in targets’ health bars and choose your spells to match, once you know what you can do in response.

Do that every few levels, and particularly after you learn a new level of a spell or you or someone you expect to heal regularly gets new gear or something else that raises their health level a lot. Keep your intuition primed, so that when a fight breaks out, you can think, “Oh, right, lesser healing wave there, whoops, he’ll need a greater wave to keep going, and I’m going to start casting a chain heal now so that when that blast goes off, everyone will be covered.”

Your weapon buff

Shamans get a bunch of neat options for spells to cast on our weapons, and make them glow and leave wonderful trails when we fly and, oh, yeah, enhance our performance in various regards. For healing it’s simple: Everliving Weapon. If you’re in the midst of something else but need to switch to focus on healing a while, change your weapon buff. It pays off, sometimes hugely. Go back to Windfury or whatever your favorite is when the healing crisis is over.

Your totems

By level 30, you’ll have complete quests for each of the four elements, and have a fully functioning totem bar. It’s good fun. The quest for the water totem wasn’t much fun, particularly if you’re a Horde shaman, was it? But it’s done, and you have the totem. So that’s all good now.

(Really, no fooling, I think the Horde-side quest for the water totem is in fact the hardest, longest class quest in WoW, and certainly the hardest that’s still essential. The level 60 warlock and paladin mount quests used to give it competition, but they’re no longer essential, so Call of Water wins.)

Earth totems. Stoneskin remains a handy thing throughout the lifetime of your character. There’ll be a lot of situations in which someone you’re grouped with has a better armor-enhancing effect, but not all the time. Keep it in mind as a fallback. Earthbind, Stoneclaw, and Tremor are panic buttons, basically, things you toss down when you need help in a particular situation. Just lately I’ve been doing a lot of the 5-person Trial of the Champion, for instance, and Earthbind’s slowing effect is very handy on the wave of zombies the Black Knight summons up in phase 2 of his fight. Stoneclaw is good whenever you and your companions are just plain getting swamped by enemies. Tremor is what you want out whenever you’re fighting enemies who can induce fear. The earth elemental is a fine occasional spare tank and “look at me” aggro magnet, when you want something that doesn’t just attract enemies but hurts them too.

Strength of Earth is what I put down whenever I don’t have a specific reason to put down anything else. Boosting party members’ strength and agility is just one of those widely handy things to do.

Fire totems. Searing and Magma are your weapon totems. For a long time I favored Searing and its strong damage on one target; lately I’ve been using Magma more to hit on everything in the vicinity. Try both and see what works for you, and keep in mind that the more you use Magma, the more you’ll want a companion who can taunt and hold the aggro that would otherwise come to you. Frost Resistance is situational, of course; if you notice yourself suffering a lot of frost damage, use it. The fire elemental is similar to the earth elemental except he goes chasing after enemies. This is fun, but you will want to take some time to get a feel for his range, because “oh, rats, I didn’t mean to aggro those too” is something you don’t want to say more than you really have to.

Flametongue is my fire totem of choice when I’m not using Magma. It boosts all spellcasting, both damage and healing, and there is no caster in Azeroth or Outland who will say “Oh, heck no, don’t bother making my spells more effective.”

Water totems. Healing Stream heals. This is never a bad thing. It doesn’t heal for a whole lot, but so? It’s healing. It’s never going to be a damaging awful choice. Fire Resistance is like Frost Resistance. You know you need it when you’re burning. Cleansing Totem is an absolute lifesaver whenever you’re fighting anything that poisons or infects: snakes, trolls, undead, rogues, and so on. Drop it down near your meleeing companions, and every 3 seconds it wipes out some poison and disease weighing them down. You have spells to remove these things, but not having to take time out of casting to deal with them makes you a much better healer, and makes your companions live longer.

Mana Spring is my totem of choice in a group. The way the math works out, it pays for its mana cost to cast in mana returned to party members if you’ve got 2-3 people getting the full benefit from it. In a group with 3 or more mana users, it’s a no-brainer. And it’s not bad as part of a totem set even if you’re the only mana user in the group. But when poison and disease are common, Cleansing should be your priority.

• Air totems. Seems like I used Grounding a lot more in Burning Crusade instances and raids than I do these days, but it’s still not a bad thing to keep in mind. If you know you’re going to face a particularly nasty spell from an enemy, have it ready and let Grounding chow down on it. Nature Resistance is the same deal as Fire and Frost Resistance. Have I ever actually seriously used Sentry in play, as opposed to just messing around with it? Can’t recall if so.

My favored air totem depends on the group. Windfury’s the thing if you’ve got more meleers, Wrath of Air if you’ve got more casters. When I’m tooling around with my enhancement spec, I go with Windfury by default, and tend to stick with it in restoration spec, but an elemental/restoration shaman would likely do the same with Wrath of Air, and really, they’re both great.

Your shield spell

When you are healing, you want Water Shield active. Period. The way of the shaman is to be thirsty, you’ll hear veteran shaman players say, and it’s true. Any shaman who regularly says “oh, I have all the mana I need” has died and gone to heaven and won’t be leveling anymore. You need mana even more when you are healing. If you regularly use Lightning Shield, go back to it after a healing crunch is over.

In part 2, I’ll explain what you actually do with all this stuff.

Another moment of melee pride

October 12, 2009 at 6:22 am | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn) | Leave a comment

The fel reaver is one of the really iconic monsters of Burning Crusade, one of several truly massive demonic machines stomping the length and width of Hellfire Peninsula, making the ground tremble, capable of squashing any new-to-the-expansion adventurer like a bug. There was (still is) a quest to get the key to one of the high-end Burning Crusade dungeons that calls for killing one, and doing that with a group of 5 felt seriously epic.

Time moves on, of course, and now there are level 80 characters…

…including mine, working up her herbalism and suddenly deciding that it might be nice to get some revenge.

A moment of melee pride

October 11, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn) | Leave a comment

I’m focusing on Ezza’s healing as her primary thing, because I’m better at it than melee, enough so that it’s just plain more fun for me in group action. But I’m also trying to get better at the meleeing, and improving her enhancement gear as well as her healing set. Well, today I hit a nice mark of progress. Here’s the Recount summary for the whole of a heroic Violet Hold run:

And here’s the report for the final boss fight:

Ezza actually cracked the 3000 dps mark in 4 of the 18 waves (2 bosses and 2 others). Woo hoo!

Eep! Apologies!

October 11, 2009 at 11:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I forgot to check to see what real comments might have ended up in the spam trap. Catching up ensues.

Suddenly, it’s that much closer

October 10, 2009 at 7:56 am | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn), Factions | Leave a comment

Epic fast flying for Ezza (Xenzzarn), that is.

The riding skill for WoW characters moves in a few large steps. Riding skill 225 lets your character fly the slower flying mounts, and 300 lets them fly anything they can afford to buy, win as an award, or otherwise acquire. Expert (level 225) mounts provided an 80% speed boost in the air, and artisan (level 300) ones up to 310% for the fastest mount currently in the game.

Now I knew there’d been changes, because I’ve taken advantage of them. Artisan riding became way cheaper, and available at level 60 rather than 70, and also subject to discount for high reputation with one’s capital city (Orgrimmar or Stormwind), and artisan mounts became faster. The boost from 80% speed increase to 150% has been great. Finally, the basic flyer is faster than the standard fast ground mount, which provides a 100% increase. Everything is closer, it’s much more convenient to take side trips, and so on.

What I hadn’t properly internalized, because I haven’t had occasion to take advantage of it myself yet, is that the reputation discount applies to artisan riding as well. It’s a base of 5000 gold. But Ezza is exalted with Orgrimmar, as good with them as a totem-wielding girl can get, and that means that for her, it’ll only cost 4000 gold. That’s still a lot to save up, but it really brings epic flight closer for her, so she can join the speedy ranks of characters like Eya.

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