DPSing vs. Healing

I started playing World of Warcraft in October of 2005, as a hunter named Kurnmogh. I primarily raided as a hunter throughout Vanilla, although I was certainly asked to swap to my alt holy paladin, Madrana, for several raids. (I remember healing Sulfuron and Golemagg in MC as Madrana, in particular, not to mention a couple of ZG clears and some AQ20 partial runs.)

When Burning Crusade came out, I dinged 70 on my hunter first. And then I didn’t really have any place to raid. So I dinged Madrana 70 and promptly got snatched up by a guild that was looking for healers. When that situation didn’t work out (8 of the 12 people on the main raid team in that guild got poached by another guild on the server), Majik, myself and a bunch of old Fated Heroes members (our Vanilla guild) formed Apotheosis.

Here’s the thing — I was so well-geared as Madrana, and we had so few healers, that I basically didn’t have a choice but to continue to heal as Madrana in raids.

It was okay. I wasn’t upset. It was very weird to me to progress as a healer, mind, but it wasn’t a problem for me. I just hadn’t really had the ability to choose what I wanted to do during BC. I mean, I wanted my guild to succeed, so I healed because I had the gear and because we needed healers. As time went by, I could have recruited another healer or two in order to replace me, but I didn’t. Over time, I’d made the decision that Kurn would get all the holiday titles and such (primarily for the free epic flying that came with the violet proto-drake) while Madrana would get all the raid titles and mounts and stuff. I’d made my peace with Kurn being my non-raiding character.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, I was on the fence over what to do. I really enjoyed playing Kurn. I always had. So while I levelled Kurn to 80 first (as always, Kurn is the first to hit level cap), I was debating whether or not I’d raid as Kurn. Almost as soon as I dinged 80 on Kurn, I started levelling Madrana to 80. But I also dipped my toes into casual 10-man Naxxramas runs that my guildies were doing — as Kurn. I figured that it would be a good way to see if I wanted to change how I played the game.

It was the Abomination wing that made up my mind for me. We were trying to down Grobbulus. I’m sure most people in the 10-man raid were undergeared, not hit-capped and such, but we were dying to stupid things. People weren’t dropping things where they were needed to be dropped, adds were running amok and the like.

It was then that I realized that I was just one DPS. No matter what I did, I could not, single-handedly, kill everything. I was doing everything right and still, that was not enough. More to the point, it would never be enough. I, as a single DPS, would never, ever be enough to make up for all the other DPS in a raid situation.

By contrast, a single healer can make a huge difference. A massive difference. Our very first Vashj kill happened because I threw Lay on Hands on our sole remaining tank and it crit, buying us the precious few seconds we needed to get the kill. A well-timed cooldown here, a clutch heal there… Even one healer out of six or seven can make a huge difference, at least compared to one DPS out of 17. And, personally, I like being someone who really makes a difference on a fight.

Why am I talking about this?

I’ve been on a bit of an LFR binge. As of this writing, I have done all the LFRs relating to Tier 14 once. (And gained 5 Sigils of Wisdom and 8 Sigils of Power or something like that.) Of course, I’ve been doing these on my hunter, who has gotten a chunk of gear over the last few days. Madrana, much as I love healing with her, is still sitting pretty at 85, although it’s tempting to start the grind to 90.

We were on Wind Lord Mel’jarak and both tanks were dead by the three-minute mark. The fight continued for another four and a half minutes (total time was 7:22!) and I was literally mashing my buttons and trying to do anything I possibly could to get more damage out. At one point, I realized that was it: I could not put out any more damage. Everything (Rapid Fire, Murder of Crows, Stampede, agi potion, even my cat’s Rabid) was on cooldown and all I could do was wait for something to come back up and try to keep a perfect rotation while I waited.

As we whittled the boss down, I sat there thinking about how I could have made a difference as a healer. Maybe I could have kept at least one of the tanks alive. Maybe a druid would have given me Symbiosis, granting me a battle rez, allowing me to rez one of the tanks. The boss’ health kept dropping, I kept mashing my buttons and watching as OmniCC’s 1m started counting down in seconds on a couple of my abilities, rather than minutes.

Throughout it all, I knew that even that boost granted me by Rapid Fire and Murder of Crows was, ultimately, not the make-it-or-break-it portion of the fight. Even if the fight were extended by another 15 or 20 seconds, we would probably down it. Of course, it was LFR. In a normal or, more likely, heroic version of a fight where there are unforgiving enrage timers, DPS makes more of a difference. They have to put out a lot of damage or the entire raid will die. But even in those cases, I don’t think that I can ever feel as though I, personally, made a difference. Anyone can do damage. The fact that I’ve ranked on World of Logs on the majority of my LFR excursions, after not playing for 13 months, attests to that. ;)

There have always been jokes in my guild, and among my friends, that I’ve always wanted to raid as my hunter. I got teased a lot about it in Cataclysm as new people would join the guild and go “what the fuck, you don’t raid as Kurn but you want us to call you that and you refer to your non-raiding character as your main? What is up with THAT, you freak?!” (Well, perhaps they were a bit more polite than that, at least until they’d been in the guild for a while.) People made the assumption that because I wanted them to call me Kurn and because Kurn was my so-called “main”, that I wanted to raid as Kurn.

Nope. Healing is my preferred raid role. I could easily blame it on being used to healing, but that wouldn’t really be honest. I like being someone who is a difference-maker. That’s not to say DPS can’t make a difference, because they can — we had lots of people in Apotheosis whose presence would be the key to downing a new fight. But individually, I personally feel a lot more useful as a healer than as a DPS.

The fringe benefits (shorter queues for various content) are nice, too, but, for me,  it’s really all about keeping those other people alive so THEY can do crazy amounts of damage, as a solid group of 17ish DPS. As for myself, I’ll take being part of a kick-ass team of healers over disappearing into the huge group of DPS any day of the week.

As for my plans for the last three days of this trial: I have one mob left for the Glorious! achievement and I plan to try to do all of Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar’s LFRs over the course of the weekend. (Wish me luck!) And I’d also like to get Gold Proving Grounds, too. :)

What are you doing in WoW this weekend?

What’s New with Kurn

Hi, folks! I have had a heck of a weekend, first watching my brother (aka Fog) get married and then skipping his reception to fly to Toronto where I stayed overnight before grabbing a flight to Newark, whereupon Daey and Toga picked me up and then I got dropped off at the lovely golf club where Majik was going to get married — and I was a bridesmaid.

I’ll write up a post later, I’m sure, about meeting Daey, Toga, Dar, Kam and all the others, but I’m still exhausted from my 4 airports, 3 flights and two weddings in the span of 72 hours. (Add 11 hours of sleep in that time span to get a really good idea of how tired I still am.) Short version: Everyone was awesome and excellent and the 21 hours I spent in NY were not enough.

Also, I have a short recording from the post-reception afterparty that I will be using in a super special BONUS episode of Blessing of Frost! It is hilarious and I can’t wait for you guys to hear it.

In the meantime, I’m still writing up that how to be a kick-ass GM guide. Not done yet and I’m at nearly 27,000 words for the whole thing. The first module (about actually starting a guild and getting things in place) is just over 5,000 words and I think most modules average 5,000-7,000 words, although the How to Recruit module is almost 11,000 words and I am still adding to it, because recruitment sucks a LOT.

Anyhow, this is really going to be a complex, in-depth, modular guide and I hope you guys will enjoy reading it and learning from it as much as I’m enjoying writing it.

Oh, speaking of the guide… From this weekend’s post-reception afterparty: Dar told me that Daey was telling her that the only thing I need to include in my guide section about loot is “/roll”. Oh, Football. Never change.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this game called Healer that Megs pointed me to. Dar and I were talking about how we missed healing and I said that this game was really the solution to healing without playing WoW. It’s very, very similar to WoW healing and there’s even an Onyxia-type encounter. Dar ended up playing the game on my iPad post-afterparty for like, 20+ minutes and this game is the sole reason she actually wants a tablet now. (I think the game is only available for iPad, not iPhone or any other platform.) Time to start up a Tabletfordar fund. ;) The game is really neat and I quite enjoy it. Check it out if you have a healing itch. (Note, it’s $4.99, but I think it’s pretty well worth it.)

Okay, I should wrap this up as I have some errands to run and, clearly, lots of guide-related and Blessing of Frost-related work to do! Enjoy your 5.3 patch day, folks. :)

Better Late Than Never

Ladies and gentlemen of the holy paladin community… hello.

You are probably all caught up on this stuff, but since it was a lingering issue throughout the Pandaria beta and well into live, I thought I’d actually update here. Thanks to Ophelie’s post that reminded me I hadn’t updated the situation!

Shortly after 5.1 came out, I sent a note to Jacii, a holy paladin in Apotheosis. I was like, “dude, can you please do me a favour and see if they actually fixed Holy Avenger like GC promised they would?”

He happily obliged, for which I thanked him profusely. Then I got caught up in holidays and family and junk.

So here, now, are the results of Jacii’s testing:

Holy Avenger will now grant 30% extra healing to Flash of Light and Divine Light on the Beacon of Light target while active.

Additionally, they will continue to give you three Holy Power when benefiting from Tower of Radiance, when Holy Avenger is active.

Here are the averages of about 10 casts WITHOUT Holy Avenger active:

Holy Shock – 34,755
Holy Radiance – 25,674
Flash of Light – 46,791
Divine Light – 62,204

And here they are WITH Holy Avenger active:

Holy Shock  – 45,147
Holy Radiance – 33,421
Flash of Light – 60,999
Divine Light – 80,516

Jacii kindly also included the percentage differences, which means I don’t have to do math. Yay!

Holy Shock – 29.90%
Holy Radiance – 30.17%
Flash of Light – 30.36%
Divine Light – 29.44%

Obviously, the offsets here and there are due to heals healing for a RANGE of healing and not always, say, 35k, 25k, 47k and 62k. It seems as though Holy Avenger now properly grants 30% extra healing to all heals that grant Holy Power, as the tooltip indicates! Yay!

If you want to see the screenshots from Jacii, they’re all available here: http://imgur.com/a/pD0qr

Anyhow, my apologies to being late on this, but that pesky “real life” thing tends to get in the way an awful lot. :) Thanks again to Jacii from Apotheosis for getting me the info (like, six weeks ago) and thanks again to Ophelie for reminding me, however unintentionally. ;)

Lastly, Majik and I are still plotting planning our grand finale episode of Blessing of Frost. We’re looking for YOUR comments on what you liked best about Episodes 43-74! Recording will likely occur in early February, so get your comments in now! Tweet us @kurnmogh and @majjity or email us at podcast [at] blessingoffrost [dot] com. :)

 

BREAKING NEWS: Holy Avenger and Holy Paladins

Back in preparation for 5.0, I wrote a post where I talked about talents, including Holy Avenger. In it, I said:

You can see that Holy Shock and Holy Radiance both get the appropriate 30% bump. Even though I had Beacon on me and was healing myself with Flash of Light and Divine Light (and getting the extra holy power), neither of those spells were affected by the 30% bump.

[...]

Remember, though — those would only on the beacon target and it may actually be intended that you don’t get a bump to healing with those spells on a beacon.

So let’s look at Holy Avenger’s tooltip:

Abilities that generate Holy Power will deal 30% additional damage and healing, and generate 3 charges of Holy Power for the next 18 sec.

For a holy paladin, we can generate holy power in the following ways:

- Casting Holy Shock on any target
- Casting Holy Radiance on any friendly target
- Using Crusader Strike on an enemy target

… but we can also cast Flash of Light or Divine Light on a target with our Beacon of Light on them to gain holy power, via the Tower of Radiance baseline holy passive ability.

Now, if you were to use Flash of Light or Divine Light on a beacon target, you WOULD get the three holy power. Great. But you would NOT receive the 30% extra healing.

Since late beta testing and early 5.0.4 testing when I noticed this, I’ve been asking (bug report forum, beta forum, tickets, even tweets to Ghostcrawler) which behaviour is intended? The way I saw it, the Tower of Radiance heals were either incorrectly giving the extra holy power (if those kinds of heals are not supposed to benefit from Holy Avenger) or they were incorrectly not benefiting from the extra 30% healing bonus (if those kinds of heals are supposed to benefit). And I could not get an answer about it. Either way, it was buggy. Half of the tooltip worked on those heals, half of the tooltip did not. You see the issue, right?

Finally, today, Ghostcrawler responded to a tweet I included him in with the holy paladin in my guild, Jacii, who had been lamenting that he had accidentally kept Holy Avenger as a talent through last night’s raids after testing to see whether or not the Tower of Radiance heals did or did not benefit from it.

So he said it wasn’t intended to work with Flash of Light and Divine Light on a beacon target. Okay, that’s fine, that makes sense — but why, then, does it grant extra holy power?

I tested it on live servers and screenshotted the combat log and you can clearly see it IS giving me 3 holy power due to Tower of Radiance and Holy Avenger.

So there you have it, holy paladins. Holy Avenger WILL work with Tower of Radiance heals in 5.1. As to right now? Nope, still not working.

The first two heals are without Holy Avenger. Flash of Light hits for about 31k, Divine Light (non-crit) for about 40k. (Bear in mind this is on my pally at level 85 in heroic Dragon Soul gear.) The next three are with Holy Avenger and you can see that there isn’t a substantial difference between the first two heals and the last three heals (barring the crit, but if a crit is an increase of 100% from a non-crit heal, you can do math and see that the crit Divine Light wasn’t empowered either, since half of 82k is 41k).

You can see that though I’m gaining the extra holy power through Holy Avenger and Tower of Radiance, Flash of Light is still hitting for about 31k and Divine Light is still hitting for 40-41k, all before Holy Avenger fades.

CONCLUSION

Holy Avenger is still broken in terms of the healing bonus on live right now, but Ghostcrawler says it DOES work in 5.1.

So there you have it, holy pallies — don’t completely discount Holy Avenger once 5.1 goes live. I’m glad I was able to get in one last piece of important holy paladin information for you guys before my subscription ran out. :)

UPDATE: This has been fixed in 5.1.

First 5.0.4 Raid as a Holy Paladin

All right, I’ve had a night in Heroic 25-man Dragon Soul. I’ve also redone some of my testing and updated some numbers and such in my 5.0.4 guide.

The first thing I did after I recovered from the addon explosion in my UI was try to do an LFR. I zoned in and died on Ultraxion trash because, oh look, my addons were still exploding. (TipTac seems to have been my primary culprit, your mileage may vary.)

Once I got that sorted, I went back into LFR and zoned in for Spine and Madness. Apart from a wee bit of lag whenever the Burning Tendons popped up, things went fairly well. However, I realized two things:

1) Holy crap, I was burning mana FAST.

2) My UI was still insanely unhelpful.

So I did the following before my real raid:

- swapped to Heartsong on my Heroic Maw
- took out my 3x 67 intellect JC-only gems, replaced them with epic reds
- since I wasn’t getting the socket bonus on my pants anyhow, I gemmed all three sockets in my pants with the 67 spirit gems

Without Heartsong active and without any external buffs, that’s 4006 mp5 in combat, according to my character sheet.

With 10 stacks of Heart of Unliving and Heartsong active, that goes up to 4698 mp5 in combat.

I figured I was good to go.

Wrong. I still felt the pinch when I healed a bit too aggressively on Heroic Hagara (frost phase) and Heroic Blackhorn, not to mention Heroic Spine. We didn’t actually kill Heroic Madness last night, although we’ll be finishing that up tomorrow, but on our longest attempt, I felt the pinch on the fourth platform and into P2.

Part of it, at least on Madness, may have been our comp. We didn’t have a disc priest in the raid, so no barrier means more overall damage done since we had fewer people with damage-reduction CDs. (We could have bothered our rets or our prot to use more Aura Mastery Devotion Aura, but I know I didn’t think of it.)

Speaking of Devotion Aura, it’s better than Aura Mastery was, although we pay for that with an extra minute on the cooldown (DA is 3m vs. AM’s 2m). Why is it better? It works on Watery Entrenchment on Hagara. It works on Hour of Twilight on Ultraxion. These are two areas where Aura Mastery did zip.

Back to the instance… I think that it was more challenging than I suspected it would be, to be constrained to 100k mana (102k with the meta gem that grants you 2% extra mana) and to be careful not to overextend myself. I found myself in trouble a number of times. Thank goodness for Hymn of Hope sticking around as well as Mana Tide Totem!

Of note, with the redesign to Blessing of Might, I think all pallies need to bear in mind that we have a crazy amount of mastery just by virtue of being fully raid-buffed now. Illuminated Healing did a LOT of healing/absorption. Part of that might also be because I was making great use of Eternal Flame, which contributes to Illuminated Healing on each tick. (Remember not to overwrite a stronger Eternal Flame with a weaker one!)

I forgot, several times, that Light of Dawn is now a circle around you, not a cone, and I still have Judgment (new spelling) on my bars, although I should throw it away at some point. I’m not sure what I’d put in its spot, though!

So those were my experiences — I loaded up on more Spirit (but maintained an intellect flask with intellect food) and had a couple of sticky situations. I would recommend people be conservative to start their regularly scheduled content until they get the “feel” of the new size of their mana pools, too.

How was your first experience raiding in 5.0.4?

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