Archive for the ‘strat’ Category

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Healing on the Run – Minimizing the Nightmare

01/23/2010

There was a post asking for advice on this subject in one of the LJ communities I follow, so I thought I’d give a bit of advice on the matter.

– There’s always some sort of introduction to my posts, since they’re so long. –

Having to run around during difficult progression fights is no fun for any healers.  Sure, it’s easier for some than others (hi, Rejuv spamming Trees!), but it’s still a general pain in the butt to have to watch hitpoint bars while running around like mad people.  I’m going to give specific advice for some of the hardest movement fights, but let’s start with some basic advice.

1) Be aware.  If you know your fight mechanics and know when you need to move, you’ll suffer from less flailing, not to mention less stress.
2) Be attentive. Sometimes it’s hard to pay attention to so many things at once, but it is absolutely necessary. Watch your feet, watch your debuffs and watch your vicinity. Don’t tunnel vision those happy green bars.
3) Be calm. You have the ability to beat these crappy running fights, so believe in yourself.
4) Practice! And no, I don’t mean in the actual raids. Find fights in heroics or easy raids that have similar mechanics. Better yet? -ARENAS.- Arenas, arenas, arenas. Heck, even battlegrounds can help you get used to running around.

– Run to the wall! –

These are the fights where you get X debuff and have to book it away from the rest of the people around you.  Fights in this category would be the Gravity Bomb in XT-hardmode, the disease on Rotface, the debuff on Freya, the disease on Grobbulus, the fire debuff on Jaraxxus, the curse on Deathwhisper trash…  It’s a pretty darn common mechanic.  Because it’s the most common, let’s hope it is also the easiest for us healers to deal with.  But let’s give some tips, anyway!

1) Go as far as you have to and no further. The biggest issue I see is that the person with the debuff runs -way- past where they need to. Running away from the other healers is a really bad idea, as we all know. If you run directly to where you need to be, you’ll most often have time to get a heal off on either yourself or someone else before the debuff expires and you run back to your position. Spending less time moving is spending more time healing.
2) Communicate that you have the debuff and have to move. It’s for times like this that Vent should be kept clear. Even if you’re a raid healer and there isn’t any real danger of your assignments biting it, it is always best to know when a healer is having to run away. If you’re a tank healer, it is absolutely necessary so that the other healers can cover for you or so the tank can be ready with a cooldown.
3) Don’t forget your instants. Every class and spec have them. Keep a sharp eye on your own HP as well as that of your healing assignment and pop that instant if either is getting low.

Class specific advice:
– Paladins, I know your finger is hovering over that bubble, but don’t let bubbling be your first reaction to this situation. Divine Shield should be your -last- resort, not your default response to anything. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use it if you’re going to explode from that debuff and die, but your other tricks should be first. Sacred Shield, Holy Shock, instant Flash of Light if it procs, cancle-aura Divine Sacrifice, Aura Mastery if it’s elemental damage, Lay on Hands if things are dire. We are a class of many tricks, but if none work and your fellows are letting you die, bubble.
– Priests, I used to never suggest taking Desperate Prayer, but I’ve seen the light. If you’re Disc (or there’s no Disc priest in the raid), Powerword: Shield is your friend. I also suggest Prayer of Mending yourself as well as putting a Renew up. If things look bad, Pain Suppression/Guardian Spirit is your friend.
– Druids, this is exactly what Barkskin is for and let me tell you, the short cooldown on it means that should be your first reaction to taking any damage. Other than that, you’re the least likely to die. Get to casting Rejuvenation and Life Bloom on yourself, with your finger on the Swiftmend if you need it and you’re golden. -Really- in a bad way? Nature’s Swiftness with Healing Touch.
– Shaman, you’re kinda screwed of all of us. (Sorry, but it’s true!) Riptide yourself like crazy and be ready with that Nature’s Swiftness with Healing Wave macro. If your Earth Shield isn’t on anyone important, like the tank, you can use it on yourself to try to not, well, -die.- Other than that, you’re at the mercy of your fellow healers.

– Run away, little girl! –

Ah, kiting fights. Probably the most stressful of all the healing on the run situations. The three big fights where this is a factor are Professor Putricide, Blood Princes and Anub’arak. The main thing about this mechanic is that you have to run and -not stop,- no matter what. That doesn’t mean that you stop healing, though. It’s really, really hard to keep a cool head with instant death running at your heels (and heals, harrharr).

1) Have a “flight path.” (Harrharr!) This means you should know where you’re running to and have your movement mapped out in your head. For Anub, you’d know where the ice patch is and the route you should take to get there. With these fights, the direct route is generally -not- the correct one, as you’re trying to use the corners of the map to get the most “kite time” as you can before it switches to the next person.
2) Communicate. Just like the above, this is what Vent is kept clear for.
3) Work those instants. Your assignments are still important, so don’t completely lose track of them, especially tanks.
4) Have a Holy Priest with Body & Soul. I’m not kidding. It’s so -nice.- Make sure it’s clear that no one else should bubble the kiter.
5) Go to Karazhan. No, I’m not kidding. A group of all healers should be able to clear to the Opera if you have a healadin to tank. If you get the Big Bad Wolf, don’t kill him. Just practice running away from him while healing. Profit from the past, my friends.

Class specific advice is pretty much the exact same as the above, only use those instants on your assignments. Bubbling for paladins should pretty much never be done, as it’ll cause the kited object to turn to someone else, giving a high chance of raid wipe.

– I just never get to stand still! –

Constant moving fights are every so much fun. I have vivid memories of learning to heal Hodir. This is probably the easiest and most useful type of movement healing to learn, as elements of it can be useful in every fight. Professor Putricide and the Blood Princes stand out most in my mind for it, but these are skills that are very useful all the time.

1) “Run, stop, cast, run, stop, cast.” That’s the pattern that I use when trying to move and heal, even as I’m running from one side of the room to the other. For instance, when the tank is moving Putricide to the other side of the room, rather than chasing after her and trying to keep her alive with Holy Shock, I’m taking the movement in chunks, stopping to cast heals between steps. I do this -proactively.- If the tank has had a good stream of dodges and doesn’t need the heal, I cancel my cast by stepping forward a few more paces and then start casting again. Unless your target is flat-out sprinting away from you (aka. they’re breaking the Be Calm rule), you’ll be able to stay in range of pretty much anyone you need to this way.
2) Fight Keristrasza. No, really! She’s great practice for this sort of healing! You can do Nexus on normal if you’re really rusty and just heal while never getting more than a single stack of the debuff on yourself. I should have done this back when we were doing Hodir-25-hardmode, so learn from my mistake and take advantage of this great learning tool.

– Running sucks that much. –

In the end, the key is to maximize your healing and minimize your movement.  I’ve given as many pointers as I can to help you out with that (long post is long!), but this really falls onto the skill end of my “knowledge and skill” slider.  Thus, the first four general suggestions will be key.  In ICC, movement is present in most of the really hard fights, so we simply can’t avoid it.  So many bosses have kiting to do or things to run away from; fights like the Blood Princes or the Putricide have multiple types of running all wrapped up into one!  So don’t be surprised if there’s a steep learning curve in all that movement.  Even the most hardened of healers will suffer from failures at times.  Just grin and bear it as best you can!

And run arenas.  Seriously.

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Exploit vs. Tactic – Thoughts?

11/30/2009

After spending last night dying repeatedly on Twins-25-hardmode, I really got to thinking about how thin the line is between the two sides.  I find that I’m really conflicted on this whole idea.  Let me give two examples just from WotLK:

Sarth-10-3D:  When I first heard about the “zerg method” people were using to down this fight, I frowned.  It was the hardest fight of the day (really, Sarth with 3 drakes was the -only- challenge at the time) and it just felt so cheap that people were able to just burn him down like that.  Looking back now, I think I most likely overreacted to it because… well, at that time it would be nearly impossible for a healadin to heal the fight in that manner.  Yes, I’m human and I can be petty!  Killing as fast as possible to avoid nasty things that will kill is completely valid on most fights, so why was it viewed as a negative in this case, I have to wonder to myself.  Looking back it seems silly.

Twins-25-hardmode:  I am of course talking about the “door strat.”  People stand at the door and never switch colors.  It requires high DPS and high HPS/HPE, as you’re having to just burn through the specials with nothing but your wits.  It certainly isn’t -easy,- but it takes out the requirement that your raid must be idiot-free.  And let’s face it, in a 25-man raid, you -will- have idiots.  😛  The main question with this would be is it really an exploit to use the terrain?  Blizzard knows that people are winning like this, yet it hasn’t been fixed.  Does that mean that they believe it to be a valid tactic?

My raiding group refused to do the “zerg method,” downing the fight the old fashioned way.  Likewise, my raid leader is refusing to even consider the “door strat” on the Twins.  Unfortunately, that means that we have dropped in our raiding competitiveness for the server.  The other groups are using the easier method while we are killing ourselves as the same people keep hitting orbs over and over again.  And it’s making people angry.  Not the wipes, but the fact that a strategy is being dismissed out of hand without even any discussion.  I’m waffling on how I feel about it.  I’d love the power to kick the people who constantly die to orbs from the raid, but barring that, shouldn’t all raiders have some input into strategy discussions?

So what -is- the hard line between an exploit and a strategy?

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Multiple healadins – dealing with it

10/20/2009

My raiding group has recently had one of the tanks decide to go Holy, so we’re finding ourselves suddenly with three healadins.  Not ideal, but it got me to thinking of ways to deal.  Of course, even -two- healadins is not ideal.  Let’s discuss how to work healadins into your 25-man healing!

– One healadin –

By far the best situation!  Most of ToGC-25 requires two tanks, so you’ll be needing a Disc priest to also be on the tanks.  If you have a Resto druid, make sure they are rolling Regrowth and Rejuvination on each tank.  If you have a Resto shaman, they’ll want to have their Earth Shield on either the weaker tank or else the Disc priest’s target.  Any Holy priests you have in the raid should be rolling their Renew on both tanks as well, as well as helping to keep Inspiration up on the target the Disc priest isn’t on.  (The secret to ToC is tank healer throughput and smart healing from the raid healers, really.)  Have your healadin Beacon of Light the Disc priest’s tank, while the Disc priest uses PW:Shield on the healadin’s tank as often as possible.  And make sure that healadin keeps up Sacred Shield and the Flash of Light HoT!

If you don’t have a Disc priest, I suggest you get one, even if you have two (or more!) healadins.  Disc priests are very useful in ToC, what with the spike damage and the constant hits your tanks will be taking.  You -can- do it with a properly specced and heavily geared Resto druid on the second tank.  I’d suggest taking the talents and glyphs to maximize Nourish, as well as your haste.  The Tree would have to roll HoTs very heavily, Nourishing spike damage and be ready to Swiftmend at any time.  That should be enough throughput to keep the tank up.  It’d be hell on your mana, though.

– Two healadins –

You can work this pretty well with multiple tanks, although the synergy isn’t the best.  The main problem with using multiple Holy paladins is that they don’t give any sort of padding to the tank; all healing is in big chunks.  That means that there is a big chance one heal will land directly after the other, resulting in huge overheal and wasted mana, as well as gaps without any healing.  With multiple tanks, this is mitigated somewhat in that Beacon of Light overheal isn’t all the detrimental, but it doesn’t solve the issue of heal timing and lack of padding.

During two tank fights, each healadin should have an assigned tank to heal, while using Beacon of Light on the other.  Sacred Shield should also be kept up at all times, along with the Flash of Light HoT.  All the raid healing notes from above still applies, so be sure that your raid healers are doing all they can to help keep those tanks up.  If your raid healers are really on the ball and you have sufficient Resto druids/Holy priests, this can be quite a nice combination.  If you have three tanks (ie. Gormak during Beasts, Anub), it’s even better!  Two tanks will be healed via Beacon while the healadins “heal bomb” on the third tank.  Just make sure there is lots and lots of padding on all three tanks!

– Three healadins –

This is where it gets messy.  One of your Holy paladins is going to have to raid heal!  Generally, do what you’d do if you have two healadins, picking one of your three who has the best reflexes to be on the raid.  That “odd paladin out” is going to have the job of watching both tanks and judging which is most in need of their Beacon of Light during various points of the fight, using their fast heals (Holy Shock and Flash of Light) to handle raid burst damage and being ready to switch Beacons at any time.  I actually like having that third healadin still use glyphed Holy Light to allow big heals on people who need it with lots of splash, but it’s debatable if that’s the way to go.  Really, the secret to having this third paladin is all in the reflexes and clear judgement.  I’m not going to lie, bringing three healadins is severely nerfing your healing output.  Sometimes you don’t have a choice, though, which is very sad.

A note:  The third healadin should -not- use their Sacred Shield on either of the tanks, as it will override one from the tank healer.  Putting it on him/herself is a good idea, though, just in case.

If you have three tanks (again, Beasts or Anub in ToGC-25), generally you should assign a Beacon/SS target to each and then they can cover each other’s tank.  It’s really a bit of a waste, since there will be insane amounts of healing overlap, but again, it can be done if necessary.

– Conclusion –

If you can avoid it, do it.  While I know the limitations of having two healadins in ToC, I actually really like it as long as I have raid healers I can count on.  Your groups may vary and it’s all about bringing really skilled people and playing around with your limitations.  🙂  Good luck out there!

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ToC-5

10/16/2009

I just ran this about 8 times in a row on my priest (regular mode, obviously, but she’s still little and horribly geared [not even kidding!]), so I just wanted to get my thoughts down.

– On the first boss fight with the three champions, I give you two jobs and two jobs only, tanks:  keep aggro on all three and get out of the bloody poison.  *sighs*  I’m so sick of being killed by the mage or the hunter when there’s really no reason for it.  Throw a shield or a weapon or SOMETHING.  I don’t make that much threat with my bubbles, geez.  And get out of the poison ASAP.  That stuff will wipe you out faster than you can ever believe.  DPS?  Run out of the poison, even if the tank isn’t.  I mean, GTFO!  The healer will pretty much be ignoring you and spamming on the tank.  Your numbers will forgive you.

– On the second boss, if it’s the paladin guy?  Why can’t you turn away, DPS?  Do you think that getting stunned increases your DPS or something?  And if the healer gets Hammer of Justice-d and you’re a paladin or priest or shaman, why not dispel it so your healer doesn’t get one shot?  We’d love you for it!

– On the second boss, if it’s the priest chick?  Tank, please pick up aggro FAST on that add that pops up.  And DPS, kick it up hardcore on the add.  This fight is healing intensive and has an annoying fear (TREMOR TOTEM).  So, you know, chill and let us do our job.

– Third boss: Stop standing in the DK evil ground thingy!  (I’m a healer, not a DK, I don’t know what it’s called. LOL)  And stop getting blown up when the ghouls get the mark over their heads, geez.  During the ghosty phase, for the love of all that’s holy, stand on the boss!  You take less damage there!  All you casters, hop to it.  And if the healer gets targeted with the debuff, be ready for them to die.  So, so squishy.

…I look forward to better gear so I don’t get one shot. <_<

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Assembly of Iron/Iron Council – hardmode

10/06/2009

Back when Ulduar first came out, I hated this fight on normal.  I had just had my mana regen nerfed to the ground and here was a fight were the Steelbreaker tank took so much damage (being only Naxxramas geared) that I had to spam Holy Light all out to keep him/her up.  Added to the fact that I had to assign another healer to watch for the Fusion Punch debuff, it just seemed a giant pain.  After having done it a few times, it stopped being so difficult.  On both easy and medium modes, it became one of the easiest fights in all of 25-man Ulduar.

Then came the fight on hardmode and my hatred returned.

– Hardmode for 10-man raids –

Before I get into it for 25-man, let me first touch on the 10-man version of the hardmode.  This is, in my opinion, one of the easiest hardmodes in 10-man Ulduar.  Even before the ilevel 245 gear came out it was easy, so now it should be even easier.  As this is pretty much a “healer” blog, I’m going to focus on what you have to do and ignore the rest.  😛

Most people run it with two tanks (one on Steelbreaker and one on the other two) and two healers (a tank healer and a raid healer).  If your DPS is really, really good and your healers are under-geared, you -can- try it with three healers, but I don’t recommend it.  Some good healer combinations are Disc priest/Tree druid, Healadin/Tree druid, or Healadin/Holy priest.  I’d admit to have never tried the fight with a Resto shaman, but I’m sure it can be done.  They’re quite good tank healers, although the DPS tends to be too spread out to let them really shine as raid healers here.  For tanks, having a Prot paladin on Steelbreaker really helps, as they can focus on Cleansing the debuff off, letting the healer focus on healing him/her up after the Fusion Punch.  Having a DK somewhere in the raid (doesn’t matter if it’s a tank or DPS) also is incredibly helpful, since they can just yank Brundir right off the blue runes.

There are three phases to this fight, one for each of the mobs.  It’s generally considered good form to kill Brundir first so that your DPS can take advantage of the blue runes, so I’m going to assume that’s the way you’re doing it.  Even if you kill Molgeim first, the fight is generally the same for healing.

Phase 1:  Raid damage should be pretty light, so the Raid Healer will mostly be focusing on the Off-tank who is tanking both Molgeim and Brundir, throwing out occasional heals to the DPS who are taking a constant, low-level AoE.  The Tank Healer should be standing well away from the raid, focusing on healing up the spike damage on the Main-tank from Steelbreaker’s Fusion Punch and dispelling the debuff.  (And keeping him/herself alive!)  If you don’t have a Prot paladin as your Main-tank, dispell -first.-  This is very important, as the DoT will kill your tank incredibly fast (in a single tick later in the fight)!  When you see Steelbreaker start casting his Fusion Punch, start hammering your dispell and the moment it’s dispelled, give a fast heal followed by a heavier heal.  The main point of this phase is to conserve your mana and let the Tank Healer get into a rhythm.

Phase 2:  Brundir is now down, so you’ll have blue power runes and green death runes to deal with.  The Off-tank should be pulling Molgeim close to Steelbreaker, so the Tank Healer now will be keeping up both tanks at the same time.  Raid damage increases a lot during this phase, so the Raid Healer should be focusing on that.  Both healers need to be aware of where green runes are (they’ll kill people who stand in them, so more raid healing them) and where blue runes are (they buff the bosses, so the tanks will take -far- more damage) to ramp up the healing.  Again, you need to focus on using as little mana as you can.  A good idea on this phase is to have the Tank Healer stand off on their own, opposite the raid, but in range of the tanks.  It makes him/her less likely to get a death rune, something that can really cause headaches when you’re trying to heal two tanks at once.

Phase 3:  Here’s where the fun begins.  Raid damage becomes extremely heavy and so does tank damage, but at least there’s only one tank at a time.  You CANNOT let ANYONE die during this phase.  If any of the DPS dies, it is a wipe.  Steelbreaker does more and more damage with every death, both on the tanks and with the AoE, so you cannot afford to lose a single person.  Also, it’s a DPS race at this point, so you can’t lose anyone for that reason, either.  This is why you try to conserve mana during the earlier phases, because you have to go all out here.  It will probably be necessary to have someone other than the Tank Healer dispelling the Fusion Punch debuff at this point, so if you can have a Shadow priest or a Ret paladin do that, it’d be best.  If not, have the Raid Healer do it.  If not, just be -really- on your toes.  During the fight, there will be a tank switch.  The first tank will explode (literally!) so don’t fret when they die, as it’s planned.  The second tank will take even MORE damage than the first (as will the raid, joy), but this is the final stretch, so just spam like mad.  If your DPS is up to snuff, you win!  If not, the second tank will explode too and you’ll wipe.  Fun!

– Hardmode on 25-man raids-

This is the one I really hate.  The fight is fun and easy on 10-man, a giant pain in the butt on 25-man.  This fight is all about coordination and survivability.  Oh and no one can screw-up.

For raid make-up, you can be flexible.  You’ll want three tanks (at least one Prot paladin is -highly- recommended), with your highest HP tank going last in the phase 3 rotation.  You’ll also need plenty of good DPS, with enough Replenishment so that every healer will have it up always.  Two DKs are recommended, but one is necessary, of any flavor.  Then we come to healers.  You’ll need 5-6 healers, depending on how good your DPS is.  Our DPS is phenominal, so we tend to run with 6.  Healer set-up and ability is very, very important.  Each has to be able to pump out at least 5k HPS sustained and be very quick on their toes.  There will be a constant raid damage that is extremely high, with three select ranged DPS (“soakers”) in the raid getting a debuff that ticks for 10k.  I’m not joking when I say that damage is high and that your healers have to be at their best.  Generally, it’s 3 raid healers and two tank healers who also heal the melee.  For raid healing, Tree druids are absolutely insanely good during this fight (ours does about 8.5k HPS!), as are Holy priests.  Disc priests can be surprisingly good, too, if they aren’t afraid to use Prayer of Healing a lot.  We had one being responsible of our three “soakers” and she did so well at it, she had GCDs to bubble the tanks at times.  For tank healing, a Healadin is pretty much necessary to keep up the tanks near the end of the fight with Beacon, while Holy Light bombing the raid.  A Resto shaman or another Healadin should be doing the exact same thing.  Again, Disc priests can be useful to help out with that.  In general, Disc priests are good floaters for this fight.  IMPORTANT: Have a healer assigned as a dispeller on the Steelbreaker tank at all times that you don’t have a Prot paladin tanking him.  For our three “soakers,” we used two hunters and a Shadow priest.  Shadow priests -rock- at it, since they take less damage, but if you have hunters, they need to do it, since they can’t DPS in melee.  If you don’t have hunters, Arcane mages or warlocks are other good choices.

Phase 1:  The easiest phase.  We kill Molgeim first, as dealing with the green death runes just -sucks.-  So long as everyone keeps well away from Brundir, this is all about saving mana.  The tanks shouldn’t be taking much damage yet, so long as the bosses aren’t in the blue runes.  All healers should try to end the phase as close to full mana as possible.  Close to the end of this phase, Steelbreaker should be moved to the middle of the room (his final position) with your Death Knight(s) being ready to move Brundir to just north of him.

Phase 2:  The goal is to get Brundir close enough to Steelbreaker that the melee will be able to kill Brundir while still within Steelbreaker’s hit box.  All of the raid needs to be within Steelbreaker’s hit box area, other than the three designated “soakers,” during phases 2 and 3.  That way, the only ones getting Static Disruption are the “soakers.”  The Death Knight(s) should death grip Brundir so that the Steelbreaker tank is -just- outside the range of the Overload.  The melee will be standing at Steelbreaker’s back, the “soakers” to either his left or right, the rest of the ranged DPS and all healers will be standing on Steelbreaker’s tank.  During Overload, the melee run to the Steelbreaker tank with everyone else standing still, since they’re out of range already.  The “soakers” might have to adjust slightly (not much, though) and their designated healer might have to move a little, too, but also not much.  Having this positioning really helps limit the damage taken by the raid and allows the healers to not have to move around as much.  After the last Overload and hopefully before Brundir dies, the healers and ranged DPS should move to Steelbreaker’s back, at least 15 yards from the tank.  Luckily, Steelbreaker has a huge hit box, so it’s easy to do.  🙂

Phase 3:  You should be set up with the entire raid stacked up behind Steelbreaker, within his hit box but at least 15 yards from the tank, with your three “soakers” at range from him and at least 12 yards from each other.  Once the positioning is right, this is really just a matter of HPS.  Keep everyone up!  The tanks will be taking insane amounts of damage here and will -need- a cooldown for each Fusion Punch, as they will be one-shot without one.  Try to keep vent clear so you can call when they’ve used their own cooldowns, having an order set for the healers to use theirs.  Cleansing the Fusion Punch debuff should be given to a non-tank healer and you might want to consider having a Ret paladin or a Shadow priest do it.  The healing needed on both the tanks and the raid is so high that losing a single GCD to cleanse it off could kill someone.  The tanks need to count down to their Meltdown, so Steelbreaker can be taunted off; a smooth tank transition is very, very important.  This phase is all about DPS and HPS, so keep it up.  I save my Divine Sacrifice until the last tank of the phase and you might want to consider it too.  The damage at that point will blow your mind.  Good luck!