A Decision

Before I get into this, I wanted to say that I have not forgotten about the next post in my preparing a guild series. This post has to come first, for reasons which will become obvious shortly. (Members of Apotheosis, go read my post on our forums first, if you haven’t already.)

I had set a deadline for my guildies to let me know if they were interested in raiding with Apotheosis in Mists of Pandaria. That deadline was 12:00am ET on Monday, June 11th.

Of course, I had to make up my own mind. I have vacillated wildly throughout this expansion. I’ve enjoyed some encounters and some decisions Blizzard has made and I’ve also really, REALLY hated some encounters and some decisions. (Seriously, you ought to hear me in Episode 33 of Blessing of Frost, when we discovered, right as we were recording, that Firelands was being nerfed. Around the 38 minute mark.)

So when the time came for me to look at my own name in my handy-dandy spreadsheet, I hesitated. A lot. Under the “Raiding in MoP” column, I put YES. I put NO. I deleted my answer. I stared at the blank space and I promptly closed the spreadsheet.

I gave it some more thought. Saying “yes”, to me, doesn’t really just mean saying yes. As the guild master, it means another 18-24 months of commitment to the guild and the guildies and the raids. I cannot just say “yeah, sure,” and then bail after six months if I wasn’t happy, I would feel as though I was letting the whole team down. I know what craziness happens when a GM steps down. It’s even worse if they’re the raid leader (like I am). I knew that if I could not commit to another ~2 years, I should not commit at all. It would be so much worse for the team later on if things went to hell.

I went to bed.

I opened up the spreadsheet again the next day and typed in “NO” next to my name and let my officers know that same day. I posted to my guild’s forums late Thursday night.

So I will not be raiding in Mists of Pandaria. I will likely no longer be playing after my Annual Pass runs out. I will be giving up the roles of guild master and raid leader to other people (working that stuff out).

I am genuinely sad about this. But it has to be done. I can’t do another two years of “this”. And by “this”, I mean everything. The mediation of squabbles among guild members, the recruiting and interviews, the attempts to change policies, the research for raids, the log diving (as much as I love it), just attending almost every single raid… I think I’ve missed less than 10 raids in the last 18 months.

I thought about the whole “delegation” thing. People always tell me I do too much. Frankly, fuck that. It’s never really been a question of “Good God, I’m doing way too much,” because I am doing what I feel needs to be done AND I’m happy to do it. The problem was that external circumstances arose. My grandmother breaking her hip in December and my father’s recent hospitalization (he’s fine and she’s doing better, although I’m still her errand girl, as we live in the same apartment building), plus finals really showed me that “Real Life” can rise up and swallow ALL of your free time. I was forced to name a new healing lead, the wonderful Jasyla, which I don’t really regret (although I miss chatting more with the healers in general) and I did a lot of work for the guild ahead of time (like boss strats and such). I got to be very good at managing my time while my grandmother was hospitalized, but I knew I still had a lot on my plate.

The thing is, it’s actually less time-consuming for me to do stuff myself. And it’s more satisfying, too. Rather than constantly asking people to do X, Y and Z and then following up, it’s easier to do it myself from the start and there’s a lot less communication between people needed, because, hey, it’s just me!

Still, though, I thought about it. I thought about maintaining GM and giving away raid leader to an officer. I thought about giving the bank to someone. I thought about giving recruitment to someone else. It would have lightened my own load substantially, since the raid leader position is really the bulk of the work.

Then, I realized that I don’t actually want to raid in Mists of Pandaria. I’m not excited about any of the changes except POSSIBLY Challenge Modes. I am not thrilled by the beta, which is hilarious, because that is the only reason I signed up for the Annual Pass. And I have not logged into beta since the level cap was 87. (It is now 90, so it’s been a while.) I am uninterested in what’s in store for holy paladins (except Clemency, that still looks awesome — a cooldown FOR your cooldowns!) and hunters. I am not excited about basically anything I’ve seen yet. Sure, Pandaria is gorgeous, but I’m not connecting to it. I haven’t posted anything about the Mists beta here because I’ve literally done one instance a couple of times and I quested Kurn to 86. And that’s it.

I also don’t trust Blizzard not to nerf everything to hell and back again. I don’t trust them to… well, anything, really. The Real ID fiascos, the nerfs, the fact that Blizzard’s views of the game are drifting further and further from my own… it’s the writing on the wall. I AM that person who will say “You’re damn right I did Jailbreak for my guildies 17 times!” and “We 27-manned Gehennas one night, that’s how hard it was to get 40 people in a raid!” and I remember the OLD Decursive and I remember a time when all paladin gear had strength AND intellect on it and I remember when people would craft resist gear! I am that cranky old player who yells about how easy these kids have it these days with their LFGs and LFRs and VPs and 10-man raids.

I don’t value a lot of the things in the game right now. None of the LFG or LFR pugs I’ve run have been things I want to treasure. Most of them are things I want to forget. My guild is one of the few exceptions, because I really do value the people and the team and the atmosphere. However, there aren’t a lot of things in-game right now that I treasure. There’s nothing like my epic bow quest anymore. There’s nothing like the Benediction quest either. There are no more attunements. Instead, there are all these people who think they deserve epics and raid spots because they’re max level and can game the ilvl requirement by using PVP gear. (I am talking to YOU, DK tank who “tanked” my End Time run on my resto shaman with your PVP intellect boots and 0 gems or enchants on the rest of your strength PVP gear while wearing the VP agility trinket.)

The number of players who think the way I do and value the same things I do has rapidly shrunk this expansion. It was getting bad in Wrath, but it’s gotten worse in Cataclysm. The things I mentioned earlier, my memories of Jailbreak, of undermanning Molten Core bosses, of crazy tier gear for classes like the paladin… These things are important to me. Yes, attunements were crazy, but what a bonding experience for guildies. The 45-minute Baron runs? Amazing. (And this is likely why Challenge Modes spark my interest a bit.) Just about everything from “the old days” makes me smile. Farming Essences of Air in Silithus, hunting down my demons for my Rhok’delar (and having half my guild laugh as Klinfran the Crazed kicked my ASS across the Burning Steppes), 5-manning Zul’Gurub trash at 2am at level 60, doing a 45m Baron run in 39 minutes without a tank apart from my cat, Whisper… These are the things that mean the most to me, these were some of my best memories in the game.

I’ve always said that if you can’t roll with Blizzard’s punches, you won’t survive in this game. It’s true. You have to adapt, you have to change, you have to embrace the new stuff. I think that I’m finally done with it. It’s exhausting to keep up with the changes. It’s also sad, for me, to see how little Blizzard values the things I enjoyed, which some of my favourite memories centered around. So I will take my precious Vanilla and BC memories, some of my Wrath memories and some amazing times from Cataclysm, I will breathe a sigh of resignation and I will take my leave of the game.

Don’t get me wrong, here. I don’t care if you quit or if you keep playing. Do what makes you happy. I won’t try to convince you to leave and I don’t want people to try to convince me to stay. I’m just documenting my decision and the repercussions thereof. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to, and obnoxious comments will not be approved and/or deleted. :)

So with that said, what will happen to this little ol’ blog?

It’ll likely stay online for, well, a long time. It doesn’t cost me anything extra to keep it online, but at one point, it’ll become inactive in the sense that I won’t have posted anything for a while. I’ll likely write some goodbye post in November, but I’m not gone yet.

In the meantime, I plan to keep up on my prepping the guild for the expansion series. I plan to finish up some of those 33 draft posts. I plan to do something to pass my knowledge along to whoever’s interested. I’ve learned a lot about managing a guild and playing at relatively high levels of content and I feel as though I still have a lot to share before I leave.

As to the podcast, that’s still to be determined (and I still need to edit our latest episode).

As for the guild, Apotheosis will still be a 25-man raiding guild in Mists of Pandaria.

Once Choice finishes raiding for the expansion, I’ll be done over there, too.

And no. You may not have my gold or any other stuff I have on any character. ;)

Thinking about Time as a Raider (and GM)

I’ve had a lot of free time since my exams ended last month. Combine it with short raid weeks due to clearing content and the fact that Diablo III came out and, honestly, I haven’t spent a lot of time in-game.

This is vastly different from how things were for me back when I started playing. I was always trying to improve my character by getting things done, like getting all of my T0 set or working on my T0.5 questlines. Or farming for consumables and consumable-related stuff. Doing stuff that I genuinely needed to do to improve, not just because there was some achievement for it. (Because achievements did not exist back then.)

It dawned on me that I really don’t need to do that anymore.

Back in the old days, there weren’t these limits of “one flask or one guardian/one battle elixir”. You could have a flask and several elixirs active at once.

Early in Burning Crusade, the developers decided that was making it really difficult to balance the encounters. How do you balance an encounter for a raid group that is using 0 consumables and a raid group that is using every single consumable in the game? Simple, you cap the consumables and balance for a raid group at that cap.

Back in Burning Crusade, I will freely admit that Apotheosis was not a guild where most of its members used consumables of any kind. It was like pulling teeth to make people use elixirs or flasks. For myself, I always used the Elixir of Healing Power and the Elixir of Draenic Wisdom. This is primarily because, back then, Elixir of Healing Power was +healing (while Adept’s Elixir was +dmg/healing). I also used to eat the Golden Fish Sticks for the +healing.

I was, unfortunately, an exception in our raids back then. I had no idea addons existed to help verify/enforce consumable usage. On the night that we finally, finally killed Lady Vashj, my whole raid team was actually using max consumables and it was amazing. What was less amazing was clicking on 24 other people individually to see if they had their elixirs and food buffs…

That stuff, back then, was time consuming to get or expensive. And not remotely close to the way all of it was back pre-BC. In Vanilla, due to the lack of a cap on this stuff, you could farm for twice as long as you raided every week and still not have everything you needed. Hell, I never even used a flask in Vanilla, not on Kurn. The first time I actually used a flask in Vanilla WoW was when Tia and a warrior friend of hers and I decided to three-man Emp runs in BRD (me on Madrana). It was a Flask of Distilled Wisdom and it was glorious.

But I digress.

In Wrath, I fished up my own fish and cooked it myself. I made my own Flasks of Distilled Wisdom, yes, that same Vanilla-era flask, since they were SO good for holy paladins. It took a good deal of time and occasionally made me go farming in places where I could get Icecap and Dreamfoil and, of course, Black Lotuses.

It’s been different in Cataclysm.

Once all Valor Point stuff I want has been purchased, I feel that I only have to spend maybe an extra half an hour in-game per week. That extra time is all I need with regards to providing consumables for myself.

For me, consumables are not negotiable. I need to have a flask, I need to have food, I need to have various potions (I use Volanic sometimes, but mostly I use Potions of Concentration) and that’s all there is to it. I feel if you’re not buffed with flasks and food, you’re not going to be able to do your best.

This is something I’ve codified into our guild stuff. Raiders MUST be flasked with a food buff, or using two elixirs in lieu of a flask.

How is it, then, that I only need to spend a half an hour in-game per week on consumables? It’s easy. We’ve organized it so that the guild collectively takes responsibility for the major consumables.

For the majority of this expansion, every raiding member of the guild (Initiates, Raiders and Officers alike) was required to “donate” three flasks of a certain kind (pre-determined and they stuck with the same one) to the guild bank every week, due before Tuesday maintenance. This is a LOT less work than people needing 9 flasks of their own per week (or six in the case of Alchemists) and was made possible once we opened up the Big Cauldron of Battle after making 3000 flasks (gah) and then hitting Level 20 so we could have 30 flasks down per cauldron.

So we’ve been collecting flasks from people on a weekly basis since, uh, last April, maybe? We eventually brought that down to 2 flasks per person per week and now we’re about done with flask donations, period. It’s weird to be done sending in flasks, but definitely nice. So every raid night, I take six of each flask out and I drop a cauldron prior to the first boss pull and another one just after break. This worked out so well for us that I imagine the same sort of thing will be done in Mists. The guild bank has had to spend ridiculously little gold on flasks since we pushed a bit to get to 3000 flasks crafted.

As to food… Well, food is basically the Seafood Magnifique Feast, which is 90 of a useful stat to you and 90 stamina. We have the guild bank provide that, but I would say that we have spent… probably no more than 2500g over the last year and a half on various fish for the feast.

Every week, we have a specific donation for something we need in Apotheosis and if you give us what we’re looking for, we give you 200 EP. (We use the EPGP loot system, but you can easily adapt this for DKP or suicide kings or something else.) As such, we almost always have any sort of fish or anything we need. Every week, it’s just like “hey, do you want an extra 200 EP? Then donate (items here)” and people do it. Personally, I enjoy fishing, but sometimes I’m strapped for time, so I’ll occasionally buy the fish at the AH and donate them, but most of the time, I like to fish them up myself.

For enchants and gems and such, we introduced Raider and higher free enchants some time ago, including everything, basically, except for helm enchants and shoulder enchants. Again, we fund this primarily through EP drives from the raiders. Since we introduced this sort of thing, I don’t think we’ve had to spend any money on things like Greater Celestial Essences, Hypnotic Dust or Heavenly Shards. (Especially since shards can now be gotten from Maelstrom Crystals.)

The best part about EP drives is that they’re optional, but so many people decide to participate anyway. I have never missed a week and many others haven’t, either. It’s just a small amount of EP, but it’s a nice little token that may or may not make the difference in your EPGP priority versus someone else who might be after the same item you are. Over time, it certainly adds up.

This way, though, everyone becomes responsible for everyone. Small donations (20 fish here, 40 fish there, 3 Greater Celestial Essences here, 2 Heavenly Shards there) add up quickly, even if you only have 30% of your guild donating. Flasks are taken care of automatically because everyone’s donating every week. Fish and other stuff are taken care of as needed.

Even repairs are taken care of by the bank on a rank basis.

Alts: 100g/day
Friends: 100g/day
Initiates: 250g/day (people who raid but are in their trials)
Members: 250g/day (older members, retired raiders, no longer raiding with us regularly)
Raiders/Officer Alts/Officers: 500g/day

This is funded through the sale of BOEs, of crafted stuff, of crafting materials and patterns, plus the gold-to-bank guild perk, Cash Flow (2) and despite shelling out for epic gems to give out to raiders now and again, the Apotheosis guild bank has over 500k at the moment and has remained at about that level for a couple of months.

Making the whole guild responsible for consumables frees up a huge chunk of time for you and for everyone else. If everyone throws in just a little bit of effort on a regular basis, no one needs to do a ton of work. It’s great. In our system, there’s still individual potions to take care of, but I’ve always found that if you mix up one big batch at a time, you should be good for weeks on end.

So apart from potions, Raider-ranked folks are taken care of in the guild by the guild, with Initiates getting at least some of the benefits as well.

On the flip side, over on the baby pally, I basically pay 400g a month to Choice, which entitles me to flasks and fish feasts and repairs, but I take care of my enchanting myself and I often bring my own Fortune Cookies just because I’m a scribe there and I always have extras. They also have EP donations, but they’re on a grander scale and tend to be steady (whereas one week, Apotheosis will want fish, but the next week will want enchanting mats). Potions are taken care of by me as well, but being a potion master alchemist, that’s not remotely an issue, especially since my mage is an herbalist.

Back in the old days, being a “raider” meant endless farming before then wiping endlessly. Being a raider was a huge time sink. It’s not that it’s not a time sink these days as well, because it certainly can be, but as someone who has recently finished with school and is enjoying her free time, I really appreciate how everything is taken care of by everyone equally in my guild.

(If you want to start flask donations or EP drives, Google Docs’ spreadsheets are the most amazing thing in the entire universe ever, by the way.)

Saviour of Azeroth

(Yes, I spell Saviour with a U. I’m Canadian. Let it be.)

I have been playing World of Warcraft fairly steadily since October of 2005. That is nearly seven years. It is very, very, very rare for me to achieve anything for “the first time”, these days. That’s to say, while I can kill a new boss for a first time, I’ve killed plenty of new bosses for the first time. While I can kill a new heroic boss for the first time, I’ve killed plenty of new heroic bosses for the first time.

This tier has been a challenging one for me, and for my guild. Released just before the holidays, the normal modes of Dragon Soul seemed pretty elementary to those of us in Apotheosis. It took us three weeks to clear all the normal content, and part of that was Spine and Madness each taking a week out of us, plus roster issues due to holidays.

Roster issues. Never in my life have I been happier to have had an overflowing roster going into a tier of content. We have lost: Kamilla, Huntertoga, Hestiah, Mabriam, Tiandrina, Xmolder, Daey, Arolaide, Murran and Dar since the end of Firelands. That is 8 DPS (all three of our warlocks and a legendary mage) and 2 healers. And none of them jumped ship to another guild, those are all people who just decided to stop raiding. I feel most comfortable with 33-34 people on a roster for a 25-man raiding guild. We have been running with around 28-29 people. It’s not always been easy for us over the last few months.

But we kept at it.

Heroic Morchok, Heroic Hagara (server first!), Heroic Yor’sahj, Heroic Zon’ozz, Heroic Ultraxion, Heroic Blackhorn… then Heroic Spine of Deathwing and finally, Sunday night, Heroic Madness of Deathwing.

For the first time in my WoW career, I have cleared all heroic content on the current tier. (4/5 TOGC, 11/12 H ICC, 7/13 H T11, 6/7 H T12 and now 8/8 H T13.)

It’s definitely been an uphill climb. Sometimes, it’s been uphill in the snow (yes, hi, main spec healer doing offspec DPS and main spec DPS warrior tanking bloods for Heroic Spine? A night of work on Heroic Madness with 0 main spec tanks in the raid?). Sometimes, the attendance boss would rear its ugly head. But we usually worked it out and at least got something done, even on those sketchy nights.

This is the reward. Saviour of Azeroth. 8/8 HM. And we did most of our progression at the 0-10% nerf level. While it took us a while to get Spine down (and up to the 20% nerf), we would have had it with another week’s worth, regardless of the increase to 20%. And Madness is just such a joke after toiling forever on Spine.

But it’s such a relief to get it done. We’re not done raiding, but the tough stuff is over. One more heroic clear to ensure everyone gets the title/achievement, then over to “fun” achievements to get the Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider meta achievement and drakes and all that other jazz, before resuming heroic farm.

In the meantime, my “real” life has been competing with WoW stuff during almost the entirety of Dragon Soul. My grandmother broke her hip on December 21st, was hospitalized and only returned home two months later. I started my final semester of university in January. My father was hospitalized in April. I had two killer exams on the same day. I took a couple of raids off with Apotheosis and didn’t raid with Choice on my baby pally for about two weeks in there. The time off did me good and I haven’t spent a ton of time in-game since my exams ended. The time I’ve spent playing WoW has generally been raiding and the rest of my WoW-related time has been spent either podcasting or planning out raid stuff or recruiting. (Apply now!) Obviously, I haven’t been blogging and I’ve barely touched beta (though I really ought to) and I won’t be spending a lot of time playing Diablo III, although I did start a character this morning.

The good news is that my father’s out of the hospital and doing pretty well.

My grandmother’s hip isn’t what it used to be and she’s still struggling at home, but she’s applied to a senior’s residence that is pretty swanky, so we’ll see when they have a spot available. Until then, I’m still playing errand-girl, since I live two floors down from her in the same building.

So real life is settling down a bit. I passed my exams and my classes so I should be graduating on June 18th.

Things are better. I hope to be able to sit down soon and spend more time on this blog with you all than I have over the last month. :)

My Raid Group's Strengths

I posted about Heroic Warmaster Blackhorn yesterday and in that post, I detailed the number of ways my raid group struggled with the encounter. My guildies obviously took exception to the post and I got comments from them complaining that I made us look incompetant.

Clearly, if we’re 6/8 25-man HM, we’re doing something right, Kit pointed out.

So today, I will follow up yesterday’s post with a short (hah) discussion of where my raid group’s strengths are.

1) Healing. Myself excluded, my healers are fan-fucking-tastic. I can (usually) keep up, but the other healers are amazing. I guess that’s what happens when the guild master runs a blog tailored to a healing spec – the healers I tend to get are top-notch. I am consistently in awe of Jasyla, Featherwind, Kaleri, Sara, Kit and Walks. Not just their throughput, but their ability to follow instructions and mainly making good decisions. While I know I need to have enough healers to run raids in case a bunch of people have something come up, having more healers is genuinely problematic for me because so many of us make so many raids and having to sit someone out is always, always a difficult choice.

2) DPS. My DPS can bring it. No ifs, ands or buts. We have never had problems with an enrage timer if we have executed the encounter appropriately. We have a great group of talented, skilled raiders who bring their best efforts to the raid. It’s as though I’m a general and I have this elite force available to me and I can point at a target and say “THAT ONE, KILL IT!!!” and they go forth and kill it with ease.

3) Tanks. Not only do I have two talented players for tanks, I have three capable DPSers as designated OS tanks. I am fortunate to have five players (there are more than that, but a minimum of five) who know their classes well enough to tank through various encounters. We’ve had main spec DPSers be the main tanks on several occasions (Heroic Maloriak, Heroic Baleroc, just to name a couple) and we’ve kicked some ass with the versatility our tanking crew brings.

4) Attitude. By and large, we are not a cranky group of people. Sure, we all have off-nights and we all get frustrated sometimes, but we’re easily amused and our chatter during raids consists of things like poop (I don’t even know) and mocking Majik (and me). A good time is had. It’s a huge difference from the impending dread and doom I had back in Wrath when I was raiding with my RL Friend the Resto Druid (not that my friend is evil or anything, but the guild atmosphere was toxic). It is, overall, a joy to raid with this group of people.

5) Perseverence. My group doesn’t quit and my officers and I know when to push them and when not to. When to push? Tier 11 heroic modes. We got H Conclave and H Valiona & Theralion down and were working on H Omnotron when Firelands came out. When not to push? H Ragnaros. We pulled him a few times but recognized that wasn’t the best use of our time or energy given how close Dragon Soul was to coming out.

6) Interaction. We talk a lot. We tweet at each other, we comment on each other’s blogs, we listen to podcasts to support each other, we post on the forums consistently. We talk about all kinds of things, including, but not limited to, the current progression fight we’re on. My Ontario-based healers have Wine Nights every so often. There was a Vegas trip. People text and talk outside of the game. People play other games together. We’re not just a group of people that sees each other at raid time three nights a week. Actual friendships are born in the guild and that helps keep us going strong as a guild. It’s a real community that goes beyond the boundaries of World of Warcraft.

These are all strengths for my raid group, though I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. Those are the ones that came to me when thinking about what to write today, after discussing our flaws and weaknesses yesterday. We can overcome the weaknesses (as shown by defeating Heroic Warmaster Blackhorn) and the strengths serve to tide us over through our struggles.

Apotheosis, you rule. :)

Heroic Blackhorn

(Before I begin my ranty thoughts on Heroic Warmaster Blackhorn, I’d like to state that my guild has killed him on 25-man and that now that we’ve killed him, we are unlikely to change our basic strategy, so please, no “you should try this” or “no, no, do THIS” comments. Thank you.)

Heroic Warmaster Blackhorn has got to be the worst fight out there for my particular group of raiders.

I know, Heroic Spine awaits. We haven’t had a single pull on that encounter yet. I know it’s boring, monotonous, etc, etc, where nothing you do matters except for like, 18 second burns. However, I believe that’ll be something we’ll be able to accomplish with some time.

Allow me to tell you about some of the uncharitable thoughts I had about my raiders (my officers and myself included) during our 130+ wipes on Heroic Blackhorn.

“How the hell did they fall off the side?”
“… how the hell did they fall off the side AGAIN?”
“Move movemovemovemove goddammit, thanks for not moving and killing me.”
“Oh shit, they’re taking that one?! runrunrun dammit, shit, that’s my bad.”
“How many barrages can you die to in a single night? And whose fault is it if everyone in your group doesn’t go but you do?”
“FIRE IS BAD, JESUS CHRIST.”
“How many times?! HOW MANY TIMES do we have to remind you to MOVE OUT because of Blade Rush!??!”
“A SAPPER got through? SERIOUSLY?!”
“Oh good Christ, no battle rezzes are UP yet?”
“How many times can someone die to Degeneration before I sit them? Oh, wait, I DON’T HAVE A BENCH TONIGHT.”
“Yes, thank you for missing your Onslaught cooldown, now we are all dead.”
“Holy shit, we’re in Phase 2! … crap, that’s a wipe.”
“SHOCKWAVE IS BAD.”
“If you say even one more syllable, I will track you down and eviscerate you and I WILL ENJOY IT.”

This fight took every single weakness we have as a raid team and made it an integral part of the encounter.

1) Positioning. We are bad at positioning, collectively. I basically can’t say “spread out”, I have to draw out maps with specific areas for specific people to go to. That’s okay. I can deal with that. Drawing maps and layouts is part of a raid leader’s job. But we’re bad at it. We don’t clump when we should clump, we clump when we should spread. And, leading in to the next point, we are collectively awful at moving to somewhere we’re not necessarily expecting to be.

2) Dynamic fights. Again, collectively, we are awful at unexpected events, especially when they involve us moving somewhere. Heroic Majordomo Staghelm is a perfect example. I would organize everyone to stand in specific spots, but then fire would invade their spots and people would run around like chickens with their heads cut off. It’s similar on Heroic Blackhorn and Twilight Barrage soaking. I discovered that my entire raid team, myself included, is awful with deciding whether or not to grab a Twilight Barrage and anticipating whether or not someone else will grab it. The sheer number of restrictions as to whether or not someone grabs a Twilight Barrage is absolutely ridiculous. (Is it centered on a beam? Screw it. Is it outside your immediate little box? Screw it. Is a Twilight Onslaught ABOUT to happen? Screw it. Did a Twilight Onslaught JUST FINISH? Screw it. Have we gone through two sets of drakes? Screw it.)

We tried four groups of four, we tried groups of 2 and 3, we tried damn near everything and tried keeping people paired with the same people more often than not so that they could get a feel for whether their partners would grab that one or not. In the end, we had four groups of 3 and two groups of 2 and this seemed a little more workable.

But by and large, people just kept immediately dying to barrages as we learned this fight. Over and over and over again. Generally, all my battle rezzes were used by the 90s mark. Actually, that’s an improvement from the earlier attempts where all three of them were blown by the 50s mark.

3) Decisive action. I am a fairly conservative raid leader. I always have been. I like to weigh my decisions before making them. That includes battle rezzes and calls for wipes. Delaying either on Heroic Blackhorn wastes a ton of time and with only 9 hours of raiding a week, with a total of ~30 minutes of breaks, means we don’t have a lot of time to waste. In the early attempts, I was hemming and hawing a LOT. By the last couple nights of attempts, I was like “fuck it, we are wiping” more often than not. But then, wipes are discouraging things, too. It’s a fine balance and it took a lot of time for me to figure out what was The Best course of action for the raid group.

4) Cooldown rotations. We’re actually not bad at this. We got REALLY good at them during Firelands (you kind of had to!), but incorporating the tank/DPS cooldowns makes things a little more difficult and yes, a little more — you guessed it — dynamic! And the tanks/DPS aren’t altogether used to being called on for CDs so they’ll miss them on occasion. I can’t even blame them — they just don’t always get asked to use those abilities.

5) Target swapping. We have, collectively, never been very good at swapping targets, dating all the way back to Tier 11. There were problems with people switching from Onyxia to Nefarian, for example, or on and off Al’akir’s adds or getting on or pulling off the right tron in the Omnotron encounter… Yet on this one, the ranged go from melee adds to ranged-side drake, to melee-side drake, to melee-adds. And the melee are going from melee add to melee add (not chasing when they Blade Rush), then swapping to the freaking drake, then back to melee adds. Oh! And yes! The Twilight Sappers, too! Not to mention how we don’t even really want to LOOK at Blackhorn funny until Goriona flies off.

It’s as though the deck was stacked against us for this encounter. It has been, by far, the hardest encounter for us to get down this entire expansion. And Spine awaits. Oh, good. ;)

That said, I have to say that the guild did a great job in holding in their frustrations, for the most part. We struggled, we were frustrated, we were angry and yet… we’re still going. We even managed to have some laughs in the face of such adversity.

Behold… the Countdown to Heroism/Wipes? video. It’s comprised of 11 attempts where we called for a wipe just after Heroism was called for.

Thank you to the Apotheosis raiders for making this fight doable with laughter all the way through as we defeated a boss that seemed to be designed to expose our collective flaws!

Heroic Ultraxion and Some Ranting.

On Thursday, February 23rd, Apotheosis killed Heroic Warlord Zon’ozz.

We then took out Heroic Hagara as normal. We had previously taken down Heroic Yor’sahj for the second time and Heroic Morchok for something like the eighth time.

And then we faced Heroic Ultraxion for the first time, getting him to 8% and then, on Sunday night, we had a 0% wipe (somewhere around a million health left, maybe).

The first thing I want to rant about is how Heroic Dragon Soul is murder on raid leaders for organizing groups.

Heroic Morchok — you have to split your raid in half. As such, it makes life easier for everyone involved when you designate two and a half groups to Morchok and two and a half groups to Kohcrom. I can deal with this. That’s fine.

Heroic Yor’sahj — Due to the fact that you will, occasionally, have to spread out AND due to the fact that Deep Corruption almost certainly requires very controlled healing assignments, the easiest thing to do here is to dump three healers and two tanks into G1, most of melee in G2 and the rest of your DPS in groups 3, 4 and 5, putting a single healer in those groups with them.

Okay. I’m fine with that, too.

Heroic Zon’ozz — This was nightmarish for me. Maybe I organized the fight wrong, but we downed him, so I don’t think it’s wrong or even more complicated than it has to be. It IS complicated, though. So I have three healers, a tank and a “DPS tank” (feral druid) in G1 and then G2-G5 each have 1 healer and 4 DPS, all of whom are very, very precisely assigned to very, very precise DPS targets/physical locations. Naturally, it wouldn’t make sense to have two melee on one flail in the back of the room, two ranged on an eye in the front of the room and one healer tasked to healing all four of those people when they’re not in range of any of them, right? As such, group assignments for Zon’ozz are, I find, extremely fussy.

Heroic Hagara — I like to put the various people on a lightning line in a group together. That just makes SENSE, right? I also like to make sure Ice Lance soakers and healers are in the same group — and in the same lightning line.

And then, Heroic Ultraxion — Group 1 takes Hour of Twilight 1, Group 2 takes the second, Group 3 takes the third and then we go back to G1, G2, G3, G1 and G2.

Tier 11 was, without a doubt, The Interrupt Tier. Omnotron Defense system required interrupts. Maloriak required interrupts. Nefarian required interrupts. Halfus required interrupts. Ascendant Council required interrupts. Cho’gall required interrupts. Basically, if your interrupters weren’t competent, you were screwed.

Tier 12 was, in my estimation, the “OMFG WHAT COOLDOWN NOW?!” Tier. On every single encounter, proper planned usage of cooldowns was absolutely required. Shannox required tank cooldowns in particular, but Aura Mastery and Spirit Link Totem were great for the raid. Rhyolith – cooldown rotation in P2. Beth’tilac – hey, cooldown rotation in P2 again. Alysrazor – hey, yet ANOTHER batch of cooldowns for a specific phase of the fight! Baleroc – some cooldowns needed to help soak crystals/blades, but not much in terms of raid-wide cooldowns. Majordomo Staghelm – particularly on normal mode, was an encounter where cooldowns were OUT OF CONTROL. Ragnaros – hey, look, let’s all group up and BLOW ALL THE COOLDOWNS every minute or so. (Note – most of these comments describe the fights pre-nerf.)

And Tier 13 is, in my opinion, the “Hey, Let’s Make Your Raid Leader Cry by Making it So Inefficient to Not Organize Groups That They’ll Be Forced to Micromanage Groups!” Tier. And they make you do it through the crappy, old, outdated raid interface, which won’t allow you to change people’s groups while in combat, so you can’t even do it on trash.

So the second thing I want to rant about is related to group organization, particularly for Heroic Ultraxion.

You get a debuff when you eat an Hour of Twilight (even if you’re immune with a bubble or an Ice Block) that lasts two minutes. It’s called Looming Darkness. If you eat another Hour of Twilight while you have Looming Darkness, you die. No ifs, ands or buts. Dead. So you can only take every third Hour of Twilight. Not so bad, right? Just need 9 people on 25-man to soak Hours. Should be fine, right? Wrong. Heroic Ultraxion requires five soakers per Hour of Twilight. That is a minimum of 15 people (on 25-man) required to soak. Hours of Twilight come every 45 seconds, so every 2m15s, you’ll be asked to take another Hour of Twilight, if you’re a soaker.

Let’s look at who regular (ie: can take every third one) soakers can be:

Tanks – Your tanks have cooldowns up that last double duration and have half the cooldown length. This means that they can absolutely soak every third Hour and it’s probably best if you split your tanks into separate groups.

Feral (kitty) Druids – Hot tip: If you have your Feral (kitty) Druid go bear form, Thrall will mistake them for a tank and grant them Last Defender of Azeroth. That means that they can pop Survival Instincts on every third Hour of Twilight.

Fire Mages – Cauterize is beautiful. Doesn’t matter if you have no health, this will prevent your instant death and just requires a couple of heals before you burn yourself to death. There is a 1-minute internal cooldown on this, but that shouldn’t be an issue.

Hunters – Deterrence is amazing for Hour of Twilight. They take zero damage from it. With a two-minute cooldown, hunters are a fantastic choice for Hour of Twilight soakers.

Shadow Priests – Dispersion is great! 2m cooldown, 90% less damage taken. Yay!

Rogues – A well-timed Cloak of Shadows allows your rogues to eat every third hour without taking any damage.

DPS Warriors – A glyphed Shield Wall will allow you to survive an Hour of Twilight, but the downside is Shield Wall now has a 7m cooldown.

Of course, any spec of paladin or mage can eat a single Hour of Twilight due to their Divine Shield or Ice Block abilities.

But now, now we get into fancy acrobatics, including exterior cooldowns and swaps of people.

Up ’till now, we’ve really been looking at needing a 50% (or more) cooldown. Hour of Twilight is 300,000… or it was until the 5% nerf, whereupon it became 285,000 damage. Today, February 28th, it becomes 270,000 with the introduction of the 10% nerf.

I would still recommend 50%+ cooldowns. Fully buffed, I’m sitting at 164k health. If I pop glyphed Divine Protection (40% reduction of magical damage), I would “only” eat 162k hit. That leaves no room for error. As such, maybe 40% reductions will be doable at the 15% nerf, but likely only really reliable at the 20% nerf or beyond.

Further, Anti-Magic Zone will not work alone. Every single thing I’ve read about AMZ says that it will absorb 75% of incoming damage and THEN check to see if the cap has broken.

We tried AMZ on Sunday and ended up with a dead group. I made sure through the logs that it wasn’t previously hit by Twilight Instability and yet AMZ only absorbed ~58k per person.

What does this mean?

Well, for me, it means a somewhat ridiculous group composition that is really reliant on certain people to be there.

G1: Tank, Rogue, Hunter, Mage, Shadow Priest
G2: Tank, Rogue, Hunter, Mage, Shadow Priest
G3: Feral Druid, DPS Warrior 1, Mage, Holy Pally with PS+Glyphed Divine Protection, Holy Pally with bubble

Then we get to the sixth Hour of Twilight and G3 becomes:
Feral Druid, DPS Warrior 2, Mage, Holy Pally (bubble), Ret Pally (bubble)

Now we COULD get into HoSac and other such things and, you know what? We’ll have to if one of the mages, hunters, rogues or shadow priests aren’t there. One of my mages was tentative for Sunday. Do you know what my G3 looked like in the planning stages? Here, I’ll show you:

Feral Druid, DPS Warrior 1, Holy Pally with PS+DP, Holy Pally with bubble, HoSac from Holy Pally with bubble on Ret Pally with Glyphed DP

Hour Six: Feral Druid, DPS Warrior 2, Holy Pally bubble, HoSac from Holy Pally with bubble on Holy Pally with glyphed DP, Ret Pally with bubble.

It’s like musical chairs but with bubbles, Divine Protection and Hand of Sacrifice.

We can play with externals, but the problem with that is you then are reliant on not one, but two people to do their job flawlessly each and every time. I try to steer clear of those scenarios. While on Sunday, the disc priest hit me with Pain Suppression appropriately when called for each time, we missed one once on Thursday. Instead of 5 people soaking, you have 5 people and then a sixth that has to be responsible to help for the soaking.

It’s maddening.

So much for “bring the player, not the class”, right?

Now, I understand that this isn’t quite so bad as, say, Heroic Spine, pre-nerfs. Spine requires (or required) you to stack all kinds of bursty DPS. Still, my progression fight is Ultraxion and I’ll bitch about Spine when I get to it.

However, this is completely ridiculous. Blizzard tends to take an idea and run with it, all too often learning their lessons too late to make meaningful changes to current content. Look at Dragon Soul — is there any real interrupting going on? No, they learned that too much interrupting is annoying, not compelling, after T11. Is there a ton of trash? No, they also learned that from Bastion of Twilight. Cooldowns are used, but they SHOULD be used, but it’s not the kind of craziness that accompanied Flame Scythes on normal Staghelm, pre-nerf. They learned from the design mistakes they made in Firelands.

This time, it’s raid organization and even now, with the 10% nerf, there’s still raid comp stacking that absolutely must happen. Who the hell has 15 people who can consistently solo soak Hours of Twilight? It’s to the point where I have brought up to the officers the possibility of allowing well-geared alts of certain classes to come in for H Ultraxion if it otherwise means we can’t even attempt the boss. Next thing you know, I’ll be in H Ultraxion on my hunter, which is a horrifying thought, not just to me (oh god fading light halp) but I imagine my guild would be less than thrilled. (I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to this. I also sincerely hope I get a decent ranged weapon before it ever WOULD come to this.)

The good news is that it was a 0% wipe on Sunday and several in the 5-7% range, so we almost certainly have him this week — assuming all the people we’re relying on can make it.

If not, I’m going to be spending some Quality Time with my raid notebook, meticulously planning out more cooldown acrobatics. Thanks, Blizzard. I really appreciate all the extra headaches you’re throwing at us that go completely against your “bring the player, not the class” philosophy.

Your Mouth and How to Shut It

Hilarious title, when you consider that I’m the author of this post, right? One of the longer-winded bloggers, whose posts can often exceed 3000 words, is advising people on how to keep quiet? INCONCEIVABLE!

But seriously, folks, there is a very interesting issue that can arise in a raiding guild, particularly when you feel you understand a fight better than those who are organizing it.

Full disclaimer: I do both. I organize fights for Apotheosis (still seeking skilled DPS, including WARLOCKS PLEASE) and I’m a part of the rank and file in Choice.

One thing that I have noticed, as a raid leader for Apotheosis (both now and back in BC) is that I loathe people telling me what to do when I’m the raid leader. Note that this is very different from entertaining suggestions or people offering advice. I loathe when people say “Kurn, you’re doing it wrong, we have to do it this way”. It drives me crazy. In part, it’s because many times, the individuals who say these things to me are wrong (in that they’re forgetting a key part of the fight or encounter or whatever), but it’s also like, “hey, now, buddy. Show a little respect for the pecking order.”

In Apotheosis, I’m in charge. I oversee the raids, I am the guild master. I don’t run the guild like a dictatorship and I don’t have vetos or anything and I largely view my role as one of a mediator/administrator/communicator, rather than one of SUPREME DICTATORSHIP. (Although I have fantasies about being able to do anything I want, from time to time.  What guild master doesn’t?) But really, I don’t have to “answer” to anyone, technically, when it comes to raids. (Apart from showing progress for my raid group, lest they lose faith in me.)

Having said that, we do have review threads up for every single raid and everyone is welcome to chime in about what they thought worked/didn’t work and how to better improve something. 25 pairs of eyes is better than one, after all. I’m more than happy to hear what the guildies saw and what they think and I may (or may not) incorporate their suggestions/observations into further refinements of strategy.

I will even sometimes ask during the raids if anyone has an idea for something or if people have any suggestions, although most of our discussions take place on our forums.

And I also constantly consult with the officers to see what the impressions/problems are from a DPS/healing standpoint as well.

So it’s not that I don’t like taking advice and it’s not that I don’t like hearing what others think. I just feel strongly that there’s a time and a place for it and, in our guild, more often than not, it’s in the raid review forum.

Now flip that around.

Two nights a week, I raid with Choice — as a holy pally (on the “baby pally”, as I call her). The fights are the same as what I’ve seen in Apotheosis, since we’re both raiding Dragon Soul and attempting heroic bosses, both on 25-man. My own role is almost easy, because all I have to do is heal my assignment, as opposed to heal as well as oversee everything. It’s FUN to raid without any additional responsibility.

All of a sudden, however, I am keenly aware that I know the fights very well (given my other role as a raid leader with Apotheosis) and possibly know them better than some of the people in that guild.

The question here, when the raid group is struggling on an encounter, is “do I say something or do I keep my mouth shut?”

Since I absolutely loathe being told what to do in my own raids, I try to approach being a raider the way I want my raiders to act towards me. I will likely, privately, point out some issues to an officer and if the officer encourages me to do so, I’ll whisper the RL themselves. Or, even more likely, I’ll send a PM to an officer at the end of the raid, or occasionally post something in the raid forum after the raid with some of my identification of issues.

Throughout the raid itself, I will usually not say a lot with regards to strategy. That’s not my role. It’s not my raid group. And since I only raid twice a week with them, the officers are a lot more familiar with their group than I am. While most strats for most bosses share a similar basic strategy, it’s the nitty gritty parts that can, and do, change from raid group to raid group. I have to trust that the leaders in Choice are doing what’s best for their group.

Even if they’re struggling.

It’s occasionally frustrating to see the raid group not doing as well as they could be. The question isn’t actually saying something versus not saying something: it’s “do everything I can to make sure the raid succeeds versus letting them figure it out themselves”.

While I have no doubt that Choice will eventually get to the point where they want to be for kills and progression (they’re just one boss back of Apotheosis), it’s still sometimes hard to see them hit the exact same struggles we saw, because I KNOW how we solved that. Hell, I probably HELPED to solve that problem. And since they’re so close to us in progression, it’s really fresh in my mind as to how we solved those issues.

But at the same time, I know that I would quickly lose patience with some know-it-all who showed up in MY raid and proceeded to tell me how to do MY job as a raid leader.

So I largely keep my mouth shut with regards to strategy in a raid setting, unless I’m asked about something in particular.

But I do touch base with some of the officers to let them know of my concerns or issues or suggestions, usually after the raid. Choice has a raid forum for discussions, but they don’t do the level of raid review that Apotheosis does, so on the rare occasions I’ll post something public in the forums, it’s often just a lone post from me saying “well, this is why the tank died, this is who blew up the raid with deep corruption” and the like.

That’s also kind of frustrating, because I know the people there are interested in bettering their performances and preventing mistakes, but since it’s usually me posting these things, I feel like the mean ol’ person calling people out. In Apotheosis, that’s fine! I’m the raid leader! I can do that! In Choice, it’s somewhat more difficult to get my points across without seeming as though I’m an authority figure, or trying to BE an authority figure.

So for me, the best way to deal with this is to whisper or private message an officer with my concerns and post where appropriate on the guild forums.

My advice to those who are watching their raid group struggling, who think they have a better idea — unless asked for your advice during a raid, hold off until afterwards. Chime in on a review thread, or start your own, or chat with your role officer/friendly officer about your thoughts and ideas.

So it’s not exactly shutting your mouth. It’s more like holding your tongue until you have an appropriate time and place to discuss those things. And something else you need to be aware of: your advice may not always be taken or listened to. Unless you’re in charge of the raids, you always have to expect that your advice may be dismissed by the leaders. And that’s okay — you’re a team and your leaders may choose to go in another direction. The best thing you can do, as a member of that team, is support your team and team leaders and throw in your two cents’ worth at appropriate times in appropriate places.

(Also, have you listened to Episode 52 of Blessing of Frost yet? Why not?)

(Seriously. Warlocks. Apply now. Please.)

Deep Diving for Deep Corruption

On the Heroic Yor’sahj the Unsleeping encounter, you will certainly find yourself not wanting to kill the purple slime, or the Shadowed Globule, as it is properly named. (I’ll still be calling it “purple slime”, because I’m a rebel. Or something.) Allowing Yor’sahj to absorb the purple slime will cause him to affect the whole raid with one stack of Deep Corruption. This means that if you heal after that debuff has been placed on the raid, they will gain stacks of Deep Corruption. If they hit five stacks of Deep Corruption, they will do a lot of raid-wide shadow damage to the raid. On the 25-man Heroic version, that person will promptly deal around 95,000 shadow damage to each person in the raid.

Naturally, unless you’re trying to wipe, this is inadvisable.

The good news is that about 25 seconds into any phase where purple has been absorbed, the debuff resets itself, so you technically can heal someone more than just a couple of times over the entire course of the phase. One of the best ways to deal with this is to assign healers to specific people in the raid.

You may have already known all of this, but I appreciate you bearing with me, because now I’m going to talk about how to get a World of Logs parse to show you who That Guy (or That Girl) is who is stubbornly cross-healing or healing themselves or someone else when they shouldn’t be, which will stack Deep Corruption during a purple phase and will therefore explode. Every raid group has people who cross-heal or heal someone when they probably shouldn’t, so it’s important that you be able to ascertain who screwed up to nip that problem in the bud, or at least identify the actual problem, rather than insist everything will be fine if everyone just does what they’re told to do.

Plus, your healers (or DPS with self-healing abilities, or people who click the Lightwell when Deep Corruption is up) will be like “holy crap, how did they know it was me?!” when you whisper them and go “Stop cross-healing” or whatever. ;) It’s actually really quite simple, so let’s get started.

First things first, you need to be using World of Logs for these step-by-step instructions to work. It’s likely that you can figure it out with Recount or Skada, but I’m a logs geek, so that’s what I’ll deal with here.

Second, you’ll need to figure out if Deep Corruption ever blew up your raid. If you’re using something like Fatality in the raid, this will tell you why people died and who caused that damage, but I did say we were going to deal with World of Logs, so let’s start there.

Find an attempt in World of Logs where you’re fairly certain Deep Corruption went off. You can determine this by seeing if Deep Corruption caused any damage to your raid on the Dashboard page of a specific attempt.

Then go to the Friendly Fire screen for that attempt. Hover over the top-most person and if it says Deep Corruption, bingo.

In this case, there was a hunter who blew up the raid. But this is almost certainly NOT the fault of the individual who blew up the raid. How do you determine who did the healing to that hunter? Was it specifically the person who was on that group or was there cross-healing happening? Or something else?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… The Log Browser.

First thing to do is click “remove” on that Show all events query because otherwise you’re going to have every single thing that happened to your raid sitting in there.

Then, click on Add Query. You’ll see this pop up.

First thing to do is type in Deep Corruption in the Spell box, then hit Save. You’ll now see this on the main log browser page:


Next, hit Add Query again. This time, tick the “Heal” box in the upper half and then, in the Target box, type in the name of the person who dealt all that damage. While it wasn’t Kurnmogh, I’ll use my own name there to show you where to place it.

Hit Save. Your log browser screen should now look like this:

Now hit Run!

The lower half of your log browser window is now jam-packed with information. Here’s what you need to do.

1) Find when Yor’sahj casts Deep Corruption and it afflicts everyone in the raid. This may happen multiple times.
2) Find when Deep Corruption fades from someone and that person appears to hit people with Deep Corruption.
3) Look at the heals that person received between being afflicted by Deep Corruption and when it fades from them and they hit everyone in the raid with shadow damage.

Here’s what my log looked like:

I know, that looks like a LOT of healing. But it’s not.

The hunter receives 5 heals that add to his stacks before he blows up:

1) Priest’s Holy Word: Serenity
2) Priest’s Prayer of Healing
3) Priest’s Prayer of Healing
4) Druid’s Wild Growth
5) Priest’s Greater Heal

Boom.

For the record, Echo of Light (holy priest mastery) doesn’t add stacks, nor does Prayer of Mending, nor does the Glyph of Prayer of Healing, nor do the ticks of Wild Growth — just that initial hit of it.

While this post is mostly intended for 10-man tanks, it’s an amazing guide to what does and does NOT stack Deep Corruption on the Heroic Yor’sahj encounter: A Sunnier Bear: Heroic Yor’sahj Tanking Guide, so that’ll help. Also of note, apparently the heal from the Eye of Blazing Power Firelands trinket (and its heroic version) called Blaze of Life, is apparently currently causing stacks.

Anyhow, hope that helps diagnose some of your Heroic Yor’sahj wipes!

Late Night Math: Pets, Beacon and Heroic Yor'sahj

Apotheosis (A-25m-2/8HM, seeking casters and a resto shaman! </shamelessplug>) got Heroic Hagara down as a server-first and our next target is Heroic Yor’sahj the Unsleeping.

Assuming holy paladins are in the mix, a popular healing strategy is to beacon the tanks and heal the pets in the raid, because heals from Beacon of Light do not stack Deep Corruption and pets don’t receive stacks of Deep Corruption.

The question came up, the other day, about whether or not a hunter should use a Tenacity pet, who has the Blood of the Rhino talent. Would the lower DPS be worth 40% extra healing to a pet and then, ostensibly, 20% extra healing to the tank through Beacon of Light?

This was a popular strategy back on Valithria Dreamwalker. You would park a turtle or some other Tenacity pet with the same +healing talent basically on top of Dreamwalker or right next to her and you’d heal the pet for extra healing done. Unfortunately, this stopped being viable eventually when they fixed Blood of the Rhino to only affect the pet and no copied heals from that (ie: Beacon of Light).

But that was back in 3.3. Did 4.3 mean this was somehow working again?

I bothered Daey to get on his holy paladin, Saerani, while I was on Kurn and we experimented with him beaconing me and healing my pet. The first pet he healed was my cat, Whisper, who has no +healing talents at all, being a Ferocity pet.

So you can see here that Daey hits Whisper for 55355 (crit). This bounces to me for 27677, which is just half of that heal. (Yeah, I miss 100% Beacon transfers, too!) The same with the 27672 hit, that gets me for half — 13836. That is totally expected. This is the control for the experiment. Now let’s look at Daey healing my bear, Fozzie.

First, note that the non-crit heal hits for 40,102. Based on the heals Whisper got, it’s clear that Fozzie has the Blood of the Rhino talent if it hit him for a 40k non-crit.

But then you see that the heal to me was only 14322.

MATH TIME.

14322 x2 = 28644 x 1.4 = 40,101.6 = 40,102.

So the original heal size, without the Blood of the Rhino bonus was 28644. With the 40% extra healing, we get 40,101.6 (rounded up to 40,102). If this +healing did transfer through Beacon of Light, we wouldn’t see me being healed for half of the original heal’s size. We would see it be half of the final heal’s size. The final heal was 40,102, so we would be looking for 20,051 as the heal that I got. But alas, I was only healed for 14,322.

Let’s see how this holds up with the next heal.

Fozzie is healed for 71865. I get healed for 25666.

25666 x2 = 51,332 x 1.4 = 71,864.8 = 71,865

Yup, same deal.

So it’s quite clear — Blood of the Rhino does not transfer any extra +healing from the pet to the Beacon of Light target. As such, on the Heroic Yor’sahj the Unsleeping encounter, I do encourage you to beacon the tanks and heal the pets, but don’t gimp your hunters’ DPS by forcing them to bring a Tenacity pet to the raid. Their regular pet will do exactly the same thing a Tenacity pet will.

Change is Scary

When I first started raiding, all those years ago, I was a hunter. I quickly became a sort of assistant raid leader to our guild master at the time, back in Fated Heroes. I have fond memories of telling people to /assist me as I burned down the adds on Venoxis, one at a time and getting through three of the four sheep (haha, 4 mages in a 20m! It was glorious!) and then not being able to find the fourth sheep to break…

Believe it or not, my BROTHER was one of our first healing leads, on his druid Fog. This eventually became the one and only Cryptkikr, an extraordinary holy priest. We spent a good deal of time in Molten Core and Crypt was our healing lead throughout it. I picked up bits and pieces of it since I was required to heal through at least some of the fights on many of our raid nights. The idea of a healer custom channel was, to me, GENIUS. So that’s where I learned about assignments and while cross-healing if your target is stable is fine, respecting your assignments is still the important part. To this day, one of my favourite times was healing through Thekal in the original ZG. I’d killed Thekal a handful of times as Kurn, but the raid needed a healer, so I went in on Madrana and HOLY CRAP, what a freaking rush. In truth, that may have been when I first really felt like I was making a difference in a raid as a healer.

In early Burning Crusade, I wasn’t with Fated Heroes and Apotheosis had yet to be born, so my experience with healing in a raid situation at that point was Karazhan and dual-healing Kara with another holy paladin. I had responsibility for one tank and group, the other paladin (the raid leader) would handle the other tank and the other group. We ostensibly had a priest who was supposed to be healing with us, but she was shadow most of the time (MANA BATTERIES YAY) or, oddly, AFK. (2-healing Moroes with two paladins and careful use of Turn Undead was fantastic, by the way.)

When Apotheosis first formed, Cryptkikr was our natural choice as healing lead. And since I was the most geared of pretty much anyone (with my one piece of T4, the gloves, and several off-set pieces), I decided I wouldn’t DPS. I decided to heal.

So Crypt gave out assignments and such, although I filled in now and again, especially when we were on separate Karazhan teams, but he was key for Maulgar and Gruul and Magtheridon assignments. Meanwhile, since I’d always been the research-type person, I handled strats and general raid leading duties, with Majik also being fairly vocal, and then after raids, Daey and I would sit there and go through logs for an hour after every single raid.

It was as we were getting through SSC that we felt a need for more DPS, so Crypt went shadow. We needed bodies and had pulled in several people from my first guild in BC, including a couple of healers. So Crypt went shadow and I took on the healing assignments. Crypt eventually stopped playing due to RL issues and, well, I kept doing healing.

I loved my healers. I really did. There was Furormalic, Massimo, Kazir, Noon, Opus, Ribs, Space, Q, Lokdog, Legs and, of course, Euphie. We had a great time together in Burning Crusade and I loved being in charge of the healers, even when I wanted to kill them on Bloodboil for cross-healing when they shouldn’t have done so. :)

I maintained both raid leading and healer leading through the start of Wrath, but things went poorly in terms of attendance and so we couldn’t progress, then couldn’t recruit and we stopped raiding. I went to Bronzebeard, to a guild called Resurgence, after we’d stopped officially raiding in Apotheosis. Within two months or so, guess what? That’s right, promoted to healing lead.

I left them after being there for about six months. They were having trouble forming raids, the raid leader having gquit (apparently because of me and my arguments with him — to which I say, dude, if you’re going to call for a second set of cooldowns on 4m Ignis, you’d better make damn sure we HAVE 2 sets of cooldowns to use, jackass), so I went to Proudmoore and raided with my Real-Life Friend the Resto Druid. I was there from mid-September until late May/early June and somewhere in February/March… I was asked to take over healing for my RL Friend the Resto Druid who was going through some personal stuff and couldn’t raid for a good month or so.

I left that guild shortly after my RLFtRD returned and moved on to Choice where I was happy as a clam. I didn’t have any responsibilities except to heal. It was great. Of course, I helped out with some strats and such, because I had already gone 11/12 HM on Proudmoore and the guild was 7/11 HM when I joined, so I happily gave them any input I could — which I’m sure annoyed some of the officers, but the whole walking-the-fine-line between helpful and annoying as shit is a story for another time.

4.0 dropped. I headed back to Eldre’Thalas, to resume being a raid leader for the first time since early Wrath, and to be a healing lead again, for the first time in months.

When we started raiding on January 4th, 2011, our healing roster looked like this:

3 Holy Paladins: Myself, Walks and Apple.
4 Healing Priests: Kaleri, Oestrus, Numinal and Legs.
2 Resto Druids: Hestiah and Kaleina.
1 Resto Shaman: Dar.

(Yes, we overrecruited.)

Apple and Legs pulled themselves from the starting roster due to lack of time to get their ducks in a row to be “raid ready” by the extended deadline I’d given them. We removed Kaleina from our starting roster on January 25th due to a variety of things, including sporadic attendance. So our 10 healers dropped to 7 healers — good thing we overrecruited.

Having said that, we now have 8 healers on the roster, one in his trial, and though there’s only three of us left from a year ago (me, Walks and Kaleri), we’ve gained Sara, Kit, Featherwind and, of course, Jasyla. Plus Baylie, our new resto shammy who’s in his trial with us.

I love my healers. Sara and Kal share a brain sometimes (and, for whatever reason, poop comments/jokes are quite popular with them). Walks wanted to be a raid healing paladin in Cataclysm and so he has become phenomenal at it (unlike my sorry self), while sneaking in the most terribly awful puns you could ever imagine. Kit and her Spirit Link Totem have SAVED THE DAY on more than one occasion. Feather is always up for a challenge and is another one of us strange people with two max-level healing toons of the same class and spec. Baylie is still making his mark, but I’m looking forward to seeing more from him. And Jasyla, well, Jasyla is awesomeness in druidic form.

Healer chat has been filled with pudding and wine discussions, poop jokes, a ton of laughter and massive amounts of RSA announces.

Through the last year, it hasn’t always been easy for me to raid lead while being the healing lead as well. On countless occasions, I’ll have forgotten cooldown rotations and be in mid-fight and go “uh… crap… okay, so I’ll get AM first, Walks gets AM second, Kal third with PWB” and so on. Sometimes, I’ve actually forgotten to give out healing assignments at all. >.>

I came into the expansion thinking “I AM GOING TO DO HEALING REVIEWS EVERY MONTH OR TWO”. And I’ve done them twice, total, in the last year. (And will be doing them again this week.)

Overall, I feel that the healers have really deserved better from me in the last year. I’ve always thought “hey, I can do (some healer-related thing) tomorrow or next week,” but tomorrow or next week never seemed to come.

When my grandmother broke her hip in late December (she’s in a rehabilitation center now to build up her muscles and such, so she’s doing quite well — thank you for all your concern, tweets, emails and positive thoughts!!), I suddenly had 2-4 fewer hours in any given day, due to going to the hospital to see her, staying anywhere between 1-3 hours and then coming back home. This utter lack of time, plus the start of my winter semester, plus the fact that one of my officers with whom I’ve played WoW with for six years, on and off, is stepping down as an officer and a raider… this meant something had to give if I wanted to continue to play WoW with any kind of seriousness.

So I approached some people in the guild about becoming officers. One was Serrath, whose name you’ve certainly seen in the comments on this very blog, who I asked to take over Loot Master duties. The other was Jasyla, because it’s clear to me that it’s time for me to hand over the healing lead reins to ensure that the healers get the attention they deserve.

I’ll remain a healer — despite the fact we’ve had trouble recruiting hunters, I know that no one wants me to inflict my poor DPS skills on the raid on Kurn — but will hand off the healing lead hat to Jasyla and I’ll concern myself primarily with raid stuff.

In a way, it’s going back to my roots. This is where I started, after all, right? Barking out commands and orders in Zul’Gurub on Venoxis? It’s something I’ve done for the last year, so it’s not new to me, either.

But at the same time… my healers are my peeps. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my guildies overall, but over the years, dating back to BC at least, it was always the healing team that made things awesome for me. Cryptkikr, Euphie, Furormalic, even Noonshade and Opus back in the day (despite the nastiness that happened in the start of Wrath, I still think fondly of the BC days with them), all of which gave way to the people in Resurgence, like Kaleri (and Kaleina, who was healing on her priest as Carmentes back then) and, shockingly, Euphie (again!) and Fadorable. That gave way to my RL Friend the Resto Druid and a couple of the other healers over on Proudmoore. And eventually, my move to Choice gave me the opportunity to get to know Fugara (the GM) and meet Walks and heal alongside some very talented healers in Wrath. Even today in Choice, I love chatting with Fug and Azrulian and Lovin, while getting to focus on JUST healing the fights, which is still glorious.

So I am very reluctant to place them in someone else’s hands, but at least I know they’ll be well-cared for. Apart from anything else, I know Jasyla knows how to read the logs, so I know she’s not going to bench people for low healing output. ;)

This change has been in the making for about a month and that’s still not enough time for me to accept that for the first time in years, as long as I’ve been an officer-type person in the guild, I am NOT going to be doing healing assignments on a regular basis. I know it’ll be a benefit to the raid group as a whole to have someone else dedicated to that and no longer will I have to sit down and do assignments AFTER I’ve explained to everyone where to stand, etc, etc. No longer will I forget cooldowns or forget assignments altogether. It’s a good thing. It’s a good change.

Change is scary, though, and I really have to wonder how it’s going to feel to me, personally, next week when Jasyla does the healing assignments solo. (This week is a transition week for both Toga and Serrath as loot masters and me and Jasyla as healing leads.)

At least I’m still going to heal on my paladin and will still be in healer chat and will still get to hang out in the best Apotheosis raid channel. And I know my healers will get the attention they really deserve. <3