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.

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.

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!

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.

Priorities, the post-birthday edition

October 9, 2009 at 10:37 pm | Posted in Characters, Eya (Aescuri), Ezza (Xenzzarn), Preparing for Cataclysm | Leave a comment

Truthfully, I don’t think this particular fact bears much on my WoW plans, but I did turn 44 this week and did have a very happy birthday.

What I’ve noticed in the few days since my frequent leveling partner Aerayn decided to let WoW rest for now is that leveling without her company simply isn’t as much fun. Furthermore, I’ve got this little raft of characters all within a few levels of each other, which means doing a lot of the same stuff repeatedly in close succession. Even changing the zones emphasized and stuff like that still means doing pretty much the same kind of stuff.

At the same time, I’ve been looking at the preview information for the next patch, 3.3, and thinking thusly: “I don’t think I could have a character ready to raid Icecrown Citadel when it debuts. But if I am quite sure I can’t have a character who isn’t already level 80 and with some substantial experience under their belt ready anytime soon at all.” Can I get Aescuri and/or Xenzzarn fit for it? Dunno. But it seems worth trying.

There’s a practicality here when it comes to money. 3 new characters each reaching level 68 means 1000g for each of them to learn cold-weather flying, for instance. Now, Aescuri already has her epic flying, but Xenzzarn doesn’t, and it’s 7000g. Waiting on the leveling-up characters would put me 3Kg closer to getting her moving fast. Likewise with the expenses of gems, enchantments, and the like.

I’m definitely not planning to abandon any of the characters I’ve brought so far lately, but I like the idea of refining the ones already at the top for a while.

In the meantime, I indulged in some renaming, for a simple reason: not all names that look good written out sound good when pronounced by someone in voice chat while giving directions or advice, particular when the speaker is in a hurry. Therefore, Aescuri the hunter is now Eya the hunter, and Xenzzarn the shaman is now Ezza the shaman.

Tentacles and bugs

October 8, 2009 at 7:28 am | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn), Letters to Mr. C., Movies | Leave a comment

Mr. C, you’ll like these, I hope. First up is one of the Faceless Ones, minions of the Old Gods that lurk in the darker recesses of the continent of Northrend. This one has the yellow exclamation mark because it gives a quest, with mind manipulation to make the quester (Xenzzarn, in this case) find the key that’ll set it free from the shackles attentive Scourge elites used to bind it. You can see the size of it compared to a troll, who’s somewhat bigger than a human being, and the quality of its motion. In combat, those long tentacles on its right hand shoot out further to inflict sudden blows.

Next up, a blast from the past, late in the “vanilla” WoW era, before the release of the first expansion pack. This is deep in the 40-person raid instance Ahn Qiraj, deep in the zone of Silithus, completely overrun by other-dimensional insectoid worshippers of another of the Old Gods. This particular hallway calls for rounding up all those guys and nuking ’em down once at the far end, before fighting the next of the bosses. It was hellish at level 60, quite a rush at level 80.

The mode in healing

October 1, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Characters, Ezza (Xenzzarn) | 2 Comments

I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts about cultivating a general minimalism when it comes to addons, macros, and other enhancements: I find that the payoff in game responsiveness and reduced error complication is worth it, in most cases. Recently I decided to try experimenting with a really bare-bones approach to healing, following some tips from my friend Aerayn, who is one of the best healer players I know.

This is how I have things set up:

In the main row, there’s:

1. Attack, right where it always is.

2. Chain Heal.

3. Healing Wave.

4. Lesser Healing Wave.

5. Riptide.

6. Cleanse Spirit.

7. Chain Lightning.

8. Lightning Bolt.

9. Lava Burst.

10. Flame Shock.

-. Earth Shield.

=. Wind Shear.

Generally speaking, then, healing stuff is on the left, offensive stuff on the right.

To heal, I click on a target or use the function keys to select a target, and click a suitable healing spell or type its number. Depending on my particular whim of the moment, I can click to target and type to cast, type to target and click to cast, or do both with clicks or both with types. I’ve noticed that my subconscious inclinations on this stuff vary for no obvious reason throughout a day and overall for reasons I don’t well understand, so I’ve made it easy to accommodate whatever mix prevails.

On the right, the basic tools of the non-elemental shaman’s fighting trade. Wind Shear to interrupt others’ spells, Earth Shield to plunk on anyone in need, Flame Shock for some damage over time, Lava Burst to fire whenever it’s ready, Lightning Bolt for while Lava Burst is on cooldown, Chain Lightning to bother multiple targets.

The upper row, which is all available via Shift-1 through Shift-0 and Shift– and Shift-=, is a grab bag of stuff I use less often: Berserk, Earth and Frost Shock, the earth and fire elemental totem pets, Grounding Totem, Bloodlust, Purge, Nature’s Swiftness (beloved panic button), Flametongue and Everliving Weapon buffs, Water Shield. Over on the right, stuff I use even less frequently, which I’ll cover in some other post.

This is working out really nicely for me both in five-person heroic dungeons and in battleground healing. I find that it works out about as fast as using an addon like Clique, because in the stress of the moment I’m just too likely to get confused over what’s Shift-Click and what’s Option-Right-Click and so on. Seeing what I’m selecting reduces the error rate enough to end up as a net improvement even though the individual response times may be a bit slower.

PS. MMO Champion links to the new artwork for troll shamans’ totems, to be released in patch 3.3. I am so stoked. (Also for the dwarf shamans that’ll be in Cataclysm and for orc shamans. Color me prejudiced, but I think Xenzzarn and her troll colleagues got the best of the lot.)

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