The Light and How to Swing It — Kurn’s Issues, Part 2Posted by Kurn at 12:28 pm
Welcome to Part 2 of my issues with the current holy edition of The Light and How to Swing It, a column written by Chase Christian at WoW.com. This post will focus primarily on the three articles written thus far by Mr. Christian as well as expound on the reasons why I believe his lack of experience as a holy paladin will be detrimental to the holy paladin community as a whole. If you’d like to read the post I wrote detailing his lack of experience and the apparent false justification Mr. Adam Holisky offered to me regarding Mr. Christian’s appointment to the column, you can do so here.
Before we delve into the nitpicky reviews of Mr. Christian’s articles, I wanted to address the fact that some of you are, doubtlessly, saying to yourselves “Kurn, this is a stupid video game. What the hell gives? Why do you care?”
My entire WoW “career”, if you will, has been centered on informing people and educating people. Since I first learned that Onyxia and Molten Core needed attunements, I have done whatever I could to teach people about these important, in-game things. Hit rating? I collected all the hit caps for various classes and specs for my whole guild in September of 2007 because I had realized that my raiders had largely ignored hit rating, leading to sub-par DPS and 4% wipes on Gruul. Once my guild was informed of their hit caps and made efforts to regem and re-enchant to meet those caps, our collective DPS soared and we downed Gruul.
I was the person in my guild who would explain attunements and lay out the entire questlines for everyone. I’m the one who made sure every single person had their stupid Black Temple attunement, complete with the Medallion of Karabor, so long as they made even the smallest bit of effort in attuning themselves. (We will not discuss the fail rogue and fail DPS warrior who somehow confused the BT attunement quests with the Champion of the Naaru quests, a fact that came to light as we stood in front of Mother Shahraz.)
Basically, I’ve always been the person who, when she didn’t understand something, went out there and researched in order to understand it and then explain (usually at great length) that something to my guildies.
So why do I care that the new holy paladin columnist is not up to par, in my opinion? I care because it’s an affront to people like me who want to explain things to others. I believe that the best way to acquire knowledge in this game is to gain experience. I believe that those with sub-par experience are lacking the knowledge of the subtleties and nuances relating to their class and spec. For example, I raid as a holy paladin. I would never, in a million years, volunteer to write anything of substance about protection paladins. Why? Because I lack the subtle, nuanced knowledge that comes from having tanked through SSC, TK, Hyjal, BT, Sunwell and through this expansion. My “tanking” of Hydross’ adds and Tidewalker’s adds really pales in comparison. My tanking of TOC10 means very little compared to someone who’s been an add tank on Anub’arak 25 heroic. I just don’t have the experience to help shape any kind of writing I would do about protection paladins, short of the very basics.
“Kurn,” you might be saying, “it’s still just a dumb video game. Why are you wasting so much energy on this?”
I’m wasting energy on this dumb video game because the game is a hobby of mine. I spend twelve hours a week right now, raiding with 24 other people. I spend more time than that pugging on various toons, doing things like VOA. I honestly view this game as something akin to a team sport, albeit less physically exerting. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re letting the team down, whether that’s you as a healer getting spell-locked on Ingvar the Plunderer in Utgarde Keep or not jumping into a portal you’re supposed to jump into on Valithria Dreamwalker in Icecrown Citadel.
So it matters to me if other people, placed in a position where they have a platform to educate and inform others, aren’t top-notch candidates for such a position. It matters to me if those people don’t have the experience they should have in those positions. It matters to me if they’re making what I consider to be mistakes in the information they’re posting, which only does a disservice to their readers.
Having said all of that, let’s look at Mr. Christian’s three holy-themed The Light and How to Swing It articles in detail and I’ll show you exactly the issues I have.
Let us look at his first article, Holy 101:
Here are some of the problems I have with this article.
“You focus on healing and supporting your party, with a special focus on tank healing.”
Wrong. Single-target healing is our focus. True, this will generally be a tank, but that’s not always the case. Tank healing does not equal single-target healing. Apart from anything else, calling us “tank healers” completely ignores paladins who like to engage in PVP and arenas. There’s no way a mage, for example, can properly be called a “tank”, unless they’re tanking Krosh Firehand in Gruul’s Lair.
Tank-healing is a subset of single-target healing. Paladins are, at their base, single-target healers. We don’t have any way to target two or more people with heals at the same time without using Beacon of Light, and even then, there’s just the two targets. Flash of Light, Holy Light, Holy Shock and Lay on Hands are all single-target heals. However, we lack even a Binding Heal and don’t have a Prayer of Healing, a Circle of Healing, a Wild Growth or a Chain Heal. Sure, we have Glyph of Holy Light. But that’s not a smart heal and is completely uncontrollable, so we can’t rely on it. It’s more of a bonus that our big single-target heal will benefit the others in range of our target.
Thus, we are not necessarily tank healers. We are single-target healers. That, in his first point, Mr. Christian automatically categorizes us as tank healers means, to me, that he is unaware of this subtle, yet important, distinction.
“Simple playstyle with few buttons to push” / “Amazing buffs and cooldowns, including the only 60-yard heal”
This is right about where I said to myself, “Self, how did this guy get the position when he doesn’t understand the class at all?”
As I’ve already detailed myself, the Holy Paladin playstyle has changed significantly since the days of vanilla or BC raids. No longer are we Flash of Light spammers (for the most part). We have to keep up judgement debuffs, Judgements of the Pure, Sacred Shield, Flash of Light’s HoT, Beacon of Light, manage various cooldowns (like Divine Plea, Divine Sacrifice, Avenging Wrath) AND keep our targets up, all while not dying in fire or void zones or what-have-you. It doesn’t seem all that complicated when you’re used to it, but as I was explaining the class talents in detail in my first How-To post, and later explaining how to use the abilities in my second, I was astounded at how much crap I have to manage when I’m playing. Just because it feels like it’s easy once you’re used to it doesn’t mean it IS easy when you’re learning it.
Properly playing a holy paladin in Wrath is not a simple playstyle, or the paladins in my previous guild on Bronzebeard wouldn’t have repeatedly screwed up using Hand of Sacrifice as a tank cooldown. A simple playstyle is one that’s accessible to a majority of people. I maintain that the amount of screwups I’ve witnessed over the last year or so means that it’s not as simple as Mr. Christian makes it out to be.
Amazing buffs, cooldowns, yes, I’ll agree with that, but I believe that Mr. Christian is misunderstanding Beacon of Light. It’s not a 60-yard heal, it’s a 60-yard range. Let’s look at the tooltip:
Thus, if you cast Beacon of Light on someone who then runs 100 yards away from you, but is 60 yards from someone who is 40 yards from you, and you heal that person 40 yards from you, the person 100 yards from you will receive the heal. Thus, if you want to talk about Beacon of Light as “the only X-yard heal”, at least be accurate. They can be up to 100 yards away from the casting paladin’s heals. Period.
“Incredibly repetitive healing style. You can heal most encounters with a single button.”
You CAN, sure. Guess what? Shammies can heal raids and dungeons using nothing but Chain Heal. But is that always the best choice? No. Similarly, paladins CAN heal most encounters using just Flash of Light or just Holy Light. But SHOULD you? Probably not. You don’t HAVE to judge, put up Sacred Shield, use a Flash of Light to drop a HoT on a shielded target. You may not even HAVE to use Holy Light or Lay on Hands or Beacon of Light or Aura Mastery or any Hand spells. My issue here is that Mr. Christian is not helping the image of raiding holy paladins. More, he’s encouraging laziness on the part of newer holy pallies, looking for advice. I envision people going ‘hey! If Chase says I can heal most encounters with a single button, then I’ll do just that!’ and spam nothing but Holy Light in all situations. (More on this later.)
That’s not the kind of advice to be giving out to those who are new to our class and spec. Sorry. Not if you want to help cultivate better players, more knowledgeable players, players who do more than the bare minimum they’re expected to do. And isn’t that why people write class/spec-specific columns? To educate others and to share information? That’s why I applied to be the holy paladin columnist.
“Nearly no damage capacity, which means that you are just sitting idly any time there isn’t healing to be done and can’t contribute to the raid’s DPS.”
In this single sentence, we can see why it concerned me that a DPSer was going to be writing the holy paladin column. First of all, DPS is secondary, no, TERTIARY to your primary goal, which is keeping your target up. Your secondary goal is staying alive. Your tertiary goal is to help the raid encounter with cooldowns/etc that will aid your group somehow.
If you’re just standing there, see if there’s anything to be Cleansed. Then judge. Maybe cast Exorcism. Basically, if the situation permits, refresh your shield, your beacon, your judgement, and go melee the mob for a bit. Drop a Consecration if there are no adds incoming. Use a Shield of Righteousness. Melee for mana back. There’s usually something to DO.
On my first 25-man Heartbreaker kill, by the way, I did 2k DPS — as holy. Consecrate, Judgement, Holy Shock, Shield of Righteousness, Exorcism, melee… That’s not exactly not contributing to the raid’s DPS, even though it’s not my primary or even secondary goal in any raid encounter.
Further, if you’re not using Holy Wrath to help interrupt, say, Burrowers and their Shadow Strike on Anub’arak, then you’re wrong. Do you realize how amazing that is? That’s a stun on all undeads and demons within 10 yards for 3 seconds. And it interrupts casting. That is seriously overpowered and that’s why it ONLY works on the undead and demons. Even if it doesn’t do a lot of DPS, it serves a significant purpose in interrupting Shadow Strike and preventing the adds from damaging the tank for three seconds. So my issue here is that DPS is not our raison d’être and Mr. Christian chastises the spec for not being able to do DPS. Seriously, holy is for healers. What are you expecting? God help you if you roll a tree, since you have to shift out of form to do any kind of harmful spell.
Surprisingly, I have no real issue with Mr. Christian’s breakdown of stats for paladins. Except that there is a small subsection of paladin healers that prefer spellpower to intellect for a good reason — they rarely cast Holy Light and, as such, don’t need the massive mana pools and potential mana regen that Holy Light caster do. But I’ll let that slide, as he does talk about them a bit later on.
I do have a problem with his paragraph in which he discusses Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield. Good call, casting them on separate targets, but you know what? Sometimes a fight doesn’t have a real application for Beacon of Light. “Any time that Beacon isn’t active, you’re losing nearly 50% of your healing capability for no reason.” That’s true, but that’s a DPS mindset. That’s a “ZOMG NUMBERZZZZZ” mindset. That’s not a HEALING mindset.
The healing mindset should be to keep your target alive, and I’ll talk at length about this later. If you can use Beacon effectively (and it costs a ton of mana to keep up, particularly if you’re casting it several times in a fight, if you’re not glyphed for the extra 30s) then use it. But don’t cast it willy-nilly. As a healing lead, something I always made sure to assign was healing targets and beacon targets. My current healing lead assigns beacon targets as well. And she *will* call you out in healer chat in mid-fight if you don’t have your beacon up on the right target.
It’s about working as part of a team, knowing what your role on that team is and not necessarily about what kind of healing you can do to the raid with a beacon on your actual target.
I learned on Gurtogg Bloodboil (pre-nerf, thank you very much) that my healers in Apotheosis were cheaters. They were obscenely cheating their way through healing assignments on virtually every encounter. And because I wasn’t looking for it, it ran unchecked until we just COULD NOT down Bloodboil. That’s when our melee DPS officer hauled out Recount (which was relatively new at the time, instead of being the gold standard of meters these days) and informed us in officer chat of how the healers were failing to focus on their targets.
That’s when I got downright cranky with my healers and expressly forbade them to crossheal. And yet, one of our officers kept doing it. I told him IT WAS FINE if other people died outside of his assignment, that we’d jiggle the assignments if we needed to, if people couldn’t handle the assignment, but he couldn’t help out others as well as handle his own, because his people kept dying.
So don’t just randomly use your Beacon. Make sure it has a purpose. Even if that purpose is keeping yourself healed on Kologarn or the Iron Council in Ulduar, that’s fine, so long as your healing lead doesn’t instruct you otherwise. (And if your healing lead doesn’t assign Beacon targets, you might want to start asking them who they’d like you to place Beacon on.)
On to Glyphs… Mr. Christian says we have four true Glyph options and then lists five major glyphs, meaning he needs to proofread his articles a little better. To his credit, he does list the three most useful ones (in my opinion) first.
The rest of his glyphs and enchants are fine, I don’t have any issues with those.
Now, however, let us examine his second article.
The topic of Mr. Christian’s second article is “Essential addons and macros for holy”.
However, we can clearly see that Mr. Christian’s DPS background betrays him here yet again, as there is not only no link, but no mention of any raid frames in his article. No Grid, no Healbot, no Vuhdo, nothing. Nor does he mention the amazing addon, Clique, which allows you to bind your casts to mouse clicks and keypress/mouse click combinations.
He talks about mouseover macros and gives an example. Fine, that can be useful. He even breaks down the syntax of the macro, for which I have to give him props.
But in this video of Trademarked, you can clearly see that Mr. Christian (whose point of view the video is from) is using XPerl as his raid frames and he’s clicking each box individually before hitting the button associated with the heal he’d like to cast. In other words, he’s not using mouseover macros for his heals, nor is he using something like Clique (which is my preference for click-casting). Really? You’re using XPerl as your raid frames and clicking targets individually and then hitting heals? Maybe this is something that comes with experience, but in September of 2007, when my guild was struggling on Gruul, I was struggling with managing raid frames. I used to use XPerl. I tried agUF. I tried a variety of solutions before a RL friend of mine (who is now my healing lead) suggested Grid and Clique. I haven’t looked back since.
Generally, I figure if something works for you and your healing, that’s great, keep it up. But given that Mr. Christian doesn’t use a specific raid frame set, it now becomes clear why he didn’t list even a single option in his article. Even though I use Grid and Clique exclusively, it wouldn’t prevent me from mentioning Healbot and Vuhdo. This is one area where I believe Mr. Christian’s lack of experience is actively harming the community.
Moving on, he then talks about linking Divine Shield and Divine Sacrifice via macros, Aura Mastery macros, Divine Illumination/Divine Plea macros… and doesn’t give a single example of what he’s talking about.
What’s that about? That’s like sitting there and going “man, this chocolate cake is awesome. I made it from scratch,” and then, when the audience would look at him expectantly for the recipe, or at least the ingredients, he just ignores them.
If you’re going to write an article where the goal is to help to teach and inform people of how to do stuff, you’d better bloody well show them how to do the things you just suggested. Never, ever assume that your audience knows how to make a macro. Never assume they’ve read tooltips of abilities. Never assume anything. Start from scratch.
That’s what I’m doing with my Holy How-To articles. And I do believe they’re quite a bit more useful than the articles we’ve seen Mr. Christian, rogueadin extraordinaire, post to date.
Mr. Christian’s third article, posted to WoW.com yesterday, is less of an informative article (at least compared to his previous two) and more one that deals with the philosophy of healing as a holy paladin.
“Trying to reconcile the difference between these two paradigms, massive throughput vs persistent longevity, is one of the most intensely discussed topics in the holy paladin community.”
In this article, Mr. Christian attempts to explain to the holy paladin readers that Holy Light is what you should be spamming and Flash of Light (in general) doesn’t have a chance at coming close to the throughput necessary in many raid encounters to be your primary spell.
Basically, I agree with him.
The problem is that he distills it down to “how can I do the HPS required?” instead of “how can I help my raid/team succeed in this particular encounter?” which, in my mind, is the proper mindset.
Mr. Christian’s DPS background betrays him here, yet again, as he discusses Holy Light being the highest HPS of any single target heal in the game (which is, technically speaking, false. Lay on Hands, anyone?) and really tries to break healing down into a numbers game.
Don’t get me wrong, healing is, at its base, about numbers. Can your green numbers outdo the red numbers the raid is taking?
The problem is that people can EASILY focus on the numbers. Recount and World of Logs make it extremely easy to find your own specific numbers and your precious HPS. I’ve been guilty of posting my obscene HPS on certain fights on this very blog, but that’s more out of pure novelty than a real focus or concentration on that. At the end of the raid, what matters more? That I pulled 11k HPS on a couple of Blood Queen Lana’thel attempts, or that we didn’t get her down? Obviously, the latter is the more important issue. Was I doing my particular job? Yes. Was the rest of the raid? Clearly not, because she didn’t die. Should I have HAD that obscene 11k HPS? No. It’s not indicative that I did a good job, but rather, it indicates that the rest of the raid didn’t do their jobs and, as such, we didn’t get the boss down.
It’s my belief that healers who are overly preoccupied with numbers are generally those who heal off their assignments, trying to squeeze in just a little bit more healing. They’re the ones who die in fires, because they wanted to finish that cast. They’re the ones who snipe other people’s heals when they have a spare GCD. These are not team players. These are not the people that you WANT to be healing with.
When I was healing lead in my previous guild, I had to step in on Thorim at one point and yell at a holy priest and a resto shammy who were spamming Recount in the healing channel after every attempt, trying to outdo each other. I basically told them to knock it off and that, clearly, despite their leet heals, PEOPLE WERE DYING, so those pretty numbers meant NOTHING. I then spent two hours writing up a post entitled “Why Healing Meters Suck” where I dug into recent WWS reports (back when WWS worked and actually acknowledged healing) and showed just how inaccurate the “total healing done” lists can be.
That shut them up pretty good. The holy priest learned that numbers weren’t everything and really grew into a fantastic healer. (She’d always been good, but she became even more of a team player and even offspecced disc to help the raid, doing a great job whenever called upon. <3 Kal!) The resto shaman, sadly, remains a chain heal spammer who chains off tanks. That’s about all he does. That’s what I basically assigned him to do, after a certain point, because that’s all he’d do anyways. And yes, he’d top the meters more often than not, but honestly, does that matter? It means that his class and spec is being well-used in the encounter.
What I’m saying is that your HPS does not matter so long as you are succeeding in your task. If your job, as a holy paladin, is to heal one tank and beacon another and just STAND there and spam Holy Light and keep them both up, solo, and you’re able to do so? You win. So what if your HPS will be something like 11k? You did your job.
Similarly, if you and two other healers are assigned to one tank on a single-tank encounter, your HPS will suck. It will be very low, you will have a lot of your heals sniped. But if you’re the one casting when that heal NEEDS to land on the tank and your heal lands, you did your job. You did what you could to keep the tank up.
The issue I take with Mr. Christian’s perspective is that his mindset is so obviously one that comes from the DPS side of things, where numbers generally are a good indication of someone’s performance.
Don’t get me wrong; I completely agree that Intellect is a great stat for holy paladins and that stacking Intellect really helps to negate the longevity vs. throughput argument. It does, absolutely, allow us to ignore the longevity problem and gives us no real reason not to spam Holy Light even when we THINK it might be necessary. I now have three offsets to Divine Plea’s healing reduction, allowing me to essentially use DP on cooldown without worry that my target will eat the big one while my healing is halved. This allows me to basically spam Holy Light with impunity.
But I don’t spam HL because it boosts my throughput. I spam HL because it’s what’s going to keep my target up. Is that because my HPS is high? Perhaps. But I’ll tell you right now that it’s due entirely to my focus on my target that they stay up. It’s not because I’m cheating on my healing assignments and squeezing in an extra cast here or there. It’s because I’m focused on the goal at hand, not stupid numbers flashing across my screen. I don’t even use a scrolling combat text mod to show me my healing numbers in an encounter. It’s only set up to show me mana returns (which is a really nice thing to be aware of), damage taken (always good to see how much damage you’re taking) and damage done (did I miss the Burrowers when I hit Holy Wrath on Anub’arak?).
The other holy paladin in my guild is a guy who loves his numbers. He hates it when I outheal him (which is rare) and he gets SUPER competitive about it. My healing on Putricide, in general, sucks. I’m usually running around with the tank and casting on him to keep him up. I’m basically there so that in phase 3, we have 2 Divine Sacrifices to use and another dedicated tank healer. Last week, one of our three tanks died. I was mid-cast, so I wasn’t sure what happened. When I looked it up in the logs later, the other holy paladin had been chain casting Holy Light on RAID MEMBERS, with a beacon up on a tank that WASN’T the active tank. Did his healing look awesome at the end of the fight? Yep. But did he succeed in his job? Nope. He was assigned to tanks in P3. And he completely ignored the assignment, not even switching his Beacon to the right tank.
These are the types of healers that I hate healing with. They’re out for themselves, they’re out to top meters, they’re out to outdo the other healers, even at the cost of a wipe.
This is what I fear Mr. Christian’s mindset is, based on this latest article, along with hints from his previous two articles. This is the reason I take issue with being given false information by Mr. Holisky regarding Mr. Christian’s experience. Mr. Christian is going to be responsible for many new holy paladins coming into the group-experience part of the game. He’s going to be responsible for shaping them in his image. It’s my fear that he’s going to let them loose on the realms with the mindset that HPS is greater than all, that HPS is what makes a great healer.
And I’m pretty sure that it stems from the fact that Mr. Christian has not spent the hours others have, healing in a progressive raiding guild, through classic WoW, Burning Crusade and now Wrath. This is why I’m harping on his experience, this is why I’m so annoyed that he got the position and someone who understands the subtleties and nuances I’ve mentioned did not. There HAD to be better candidates than Mr. Christian, particularly when these three articles are what he has to offer the holy paladin community. Like me? Perhaps. But I bet there were better candidates than me, as well, who could have served the community better than Mr. Christian and better than myself.
Instead, we get a numbers guy teaching people how to be a holy paladin, atop his platform on a very popular website, and my own readers get subjected to posts like this.
New Holy How-To post coming early this week, by the way. And I WILL copy my macros into the posts for you guys.