I was going to post a huge rant about just how awful the Heroic Spine of Deathwing encounter was, but when push comes to shove, I think I said it all in the guild update I posted after our kill. As such, I thought I might just repost that here, mostly because I feel it says so much while saying so little. Don’t worry! I will also offer a few additional thoughts afterwards, along with the video of our kill.
I have been raiding in WoW for over seven years. I’ve seen encounters that you had to spend two months farming BRD for fire resist gear, encounters where you wiped 50 times just trying to get into the room, encounters where you had to have a special macro to throw the damn ball, encounters where you learned just how bad people were at staying out of the bad, encounters where your pathetic magic betrayed you, encounters where all you want to know was who missed the fucking interrupt and encounters that took you 388 pulls to kill. But never, in those seven long years, have I partaken in an encounter that was as lackluster and mind numbing as Heroic Spine of Deathwing. I can honestly say that this encounter had zero redeeming factors.
In fact, this encounter was so bad that you were frustrated and bored with it before you even took your first pull. Let’s look at it shall we?
“Hey guys, we are going to pull Spine”
“uh..I’m going to need a minute”
“Are you ready yet?”
“No, really, are you ready yet?”
Once you finally got everyone back and ready to pull, you damn near had to reflask. Of course, then you spend the majority of your time working spine doing the following:
“No, really, GRIPS”
Needless to say, everyone was quite pleased to be finished with this mind numbing experience. We can only hope that Blizzard fired the dev team responsible for creating the encounter, and that we never, ever see another fight this mundane again.
In all seriousness, this was truly the least dynamic, most mind-numbing encounter that I’ve ever experienced. Let me see if I can articulate a few of the reasons why I feel this way. Read the rest of this entry »
I have had the opportunity over the past week of participating in three separate, completely PuG, Looking For Raid Dragon Souls. One on each of my three alt healers (Shaman, Paladin, Second Druid). I had two fairly good experiences and one pretty terrible experience (let’s just suffice it to say that I probably won’t run LFR on a Friday night again, as I clearly don’t have the fortitude to deal with the 13-17 crowd). There were a few fairly disturbing trends that I noticed happening in all three groups that I feel should be addressed – as I’m worried that people either have the perception that this is what raiding is about or will start to think that these are acceptable raiding behaviors.
As such, let’s go through a few of the things that I saw with alarming regularity and attempt to dispel some seemingly popular misconceptions about raiding, at least as they are evidenced by the general population participating in LFR: Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve spent a fair bit of time this expansion doing nothing but flying around and digging in the dirt. In fact, there have been entire weekends when I’ll sit down in front of an NCIS marathon on TV and dig for hours on end…every day. I have dug until I have found myself literally asleep at the keyboard and putting myself to bed. Every so often I’ll come to my senses and say “fuck this bullshit” and give up on Archeology. I think of all the time wasted, and all of the fun things I’d rather be doing – like washing my hair.
I’m sure there is someone out there reading that is thinking “if you hate it, why do you even do it”. Well, I’m glad you asked (even if it was internal!). I first started doing Archeology because one of our early Best in Slot trinkets, Tyrande’s Favorite Doll, came from the profession. And as a raider, who wants to be as prepared as possible for content, I felt obligated to go farm the damn thing. And so I dug and dug and dug. Lo and behold, my last Night Elf discovery was Tyrande’s damn doll. I wore that doll up until I got my Shard of Woe, it was that good. In our early raids (before druids got buffed), I was getting enviable amounts of mana return from that one trinket.
I suppose I could say it was “worth it” – but the fun factor was pretty much in the red. Every time I came across a dig site that wasn’t Night Elf I was more frustrated with how I was having to waste my valuable time flying all the way down to Tanaris and Un’goro, only to have to make the five plus minute flight back north for the Night Elf site that would spawn next. Sure, I made use of things like Jaina’s Locket (fast trip to Tanaris every hour) and Teleport:Moonglade. But that only made things mildly less tedious. Read the rest of this entry »
Today started like any other. I woke up, came to work, sat down to read some WoW news, sort through my feedreader – you know, all that good “must do before I can actually work” stuff. And during that process, I came across something that made me make the following comment on Twitter:
I’ve been a druid for almost seven years, and nothing makes me consider a “reroll” more than statements like this: “where the Druid would need to switch between healing and DPS”. I don’t understand what is so wrong with just wanting to heal? Why this constant feel that this “hybrid” theory be pushed on us?
Ok, that was actually more like three tweets, but I’ll just let you imagine that there were breakpoints every 140 letters. Anyhow, this comment started conversation between Derwent, Jarre and myself. Honestly, we probably would have been better served to have hooked up in gchat or vent and just pow-wowed, because let’s be honest – trying to have a meaningful conversation in 140 characters is borderline painful. Anyhow, the three of us spent some time discussing (read: bitching, moaning and doomsdaying) about the (very early and nowhere near finalized) direction Blizzard seems to be pushing druids with Mists of Pandaria.
Before I go any further I feel it is important to stop here, remind everyone that both Derwent and Jarre are very intelligent individuals – and I think I tend to use the bit of mush between my ears from time to time. We are all well aware that nothing is final. We are all well aware that everything can change. No one is screaming that the world is ending, the sky is falling or that we are running out and cancelling our WoW subscriptions. However, from time to time, intelligent people with similar interests get together to have intelligent conversations about things. And in most circles, this is considered healthy. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with three intelligent people analyzing the direction of our class, even if it is with a healthy dose of speculation.
Ok, now that I’ve got that out-of-the-way, let’s continue with where I was going shall we? Read the rest of this entry »
Today I’d like to address a problem that has been plaguing us since the conversion to 25 man raids from 40 man raids back at the start of The Burning Crusade. Something that has been frustrating not only as a healer, but as a raid leader as well. The problem: consistent healing requirements (or lack thereof) through content.
When I walked uphill both ways to Molten Core, setting up your healing roster was simple: 5 Priests, 5 Druids, 5 Shaman. 15 slots of your 40 were dedicated to your healing team. Or, put mathematically, 37.5% of your raid roster was allocated to healers. As guild’s made the transition from 40 people to 25, somewhere that percentage got jumbled.
When The Burning Crusade started, I think it was fairly common to run an 8 healer roster for most encounters. Broken down, you just took two of each class – at least until you got to Sunwell, and half of your healers had to reroll Shaman. Most encounters could be done plus or minus a healer, and most raids were run with 7-9 depending on the encounter. In fact, I think the only encounter that really favored 9 was Illidan, and even then, only while learning the fight. I have memories of our Feral druids having to respec Resto on nights when we were short healers.
However, I think the average was probably 7-8 healers for most raid teams. Or, put mathematically, ~32% of your raid. A slight decline, but nothing that was too out of whack.
The introduction of Wrath of the Lich King – and more specifically, the content patch that introduced Ulduar, is where I think things started to go amiss, especially with hard modes coming forth in earnest. You were required to have a deep healing roster, because you had fights like Heroic Freya where you took eight healers to meet the damage requirements. But then you had fights like Heroic Hodir, where we three healed our first kill. The rest of the zone was somewhere in between – with no level of consistency. 5 healers for Yogg, 8 healers for Thorim, 6 for XT. As you cleared through the zone, no two fights had the same requirement, and your healing team was constantly adjusting to the requirements of the encounter.
In simpler terms you ranged from needing between 12% and 32% of your raid being allocated to healers.
As we entered Cataclysm, I had hoped that this would be somewhat alleviated. And for most of T11, I felt it was – at least a bit. We ran most of our T11 content with 7 healers. We dropped to 6 for Heroic Cho’gall, Nef and Sinestra. And we ran 8 for pre-nerf Magmaw and Chimearon. But we pretty stubbornly kept 7 of our raid slots allocated to healers throughout the content, at least as much as we could.
And then came Firelands. We cleared Normal out in a week, using 7 healers for everything. However, as we approached heroic content, we found that we were once again yo-yoing healers. We 7 healed Heroic Shannox, because we could. But we had to drop down to 6 for Alysrazor and Rhyolith. Back up to 7 for Beth’tilac. Down to 5 for Baleroc and Staghelm. And we are now finding ourselves at 4 healers for Heroic Ragnaros. We are again jockeying between 14% and 28% of our raid team for healers.
And it sucks.
The Problem with “Off Spec” DPS
I am sure that some of the people who read this post are going to say “well, that’s what Dual Specs are for”. Only, it’s not really the elegant solution that certain people think that it is. Let me see if I can explain why. For starters, people who join a raid to heal, generally want to heal. It’s where they feel they are strongest. It’s their comfort zone. And most importantly, it’s what they find fun. Which is, consequently, why they are doing it.
Secondly, healing is a very different beast to DPSing. Many of the base mechanics of what you do as a healer have little or nothing to do with what you do as a DPS. People who aren’t comfortable at DPS, of find DPSing natural to them, are going to flail a bit when it comes to having to DPS. They aren’t necessarily going to be the same caliber player in a spec and role that they aren’t comfortable performing. It’s frustrating. Being strong DPS takes dedication and practice. Just because you are an amazing Bicyclist, doesn’t mean that you can hop on a Unicycle and not fall off. It’s a completely different game, and not everyone will excel at it. Which in turn means that if you are having to sit healers to bolster DPS, you are likely better bringing in a full member of your DPS team than asking a healer uncomfortable in their DPS spec to swap specs.
The worst part of this is that the only way to get better is by doing. Which means that they have to do something that they don’t particularly enjoy just so that they aren’t a liability when asked to fill that role. Which means that they have to spend even less time doing what they truly want to do (healing), just so they can get better at something they don’t really want to be doing (DPSing). It’s a very nasty catch 22.
Thirdly, there is always going to be a gear discrepancy. I always keep a full balance set. But it’s always behind our full time DPS. For starters, I don’t get my set bonuses until I have all of my resto gear, and I just got my four piece moonkin bonus last night. And of those four pieces, only one is heroic quality. The rest of my gear is a mish-mash of resto gear, and gear that I can throw together outside of raids through rep rewards of valor point purchases. Occasionally I may get a DPS upgrade in a raid, but they are rare because healers aren’t going to be awarded DPS gear over a main spec DPS. Which, in turn, means that my DPS gear isn’t always the best optimized, and it’s generally at least half a tier behind. This means that even if I can do awesome DPS – I’m likely still not going to be able to pull the same numbers of an equally skilled person in their better, main spec gear. Again, meaning that it would be more beneficial to the raid to bring in that player over me in a DPS spot.
Lastly, it can be a very demoralizing experience that can eventually break people. People in competitive raid teams want to be competitive. They want to do their best. They want to be performers. And if they are constantly at the bottom, in their off spec role, it will eventually get to them. As can comments that are meant to be a joke, or even comments meant to be helpful, about their performance in their off spec. The other night I bit the bullet and DPS’d for Heroic Staghelm. It was my first time for that fight in that role. I was mildly competitive with some of our lower DPS – but when push came to shove, at the end I beat the tank. I’m one of our top performers as a healer – and what I got to say about my undergeared, and uncomfortable performance as DPS was “Hey! I beat the tank…at least”. Frankly, I was embarrassed.
We have a resto druid that’s been playing moonkin for 3/4ths of our raid time for the past month as we push heroic Rag, who I am positive has been in tears on the other side of her computer on more than one occasion in that time. She is trying her ass off, I don’t have a doubt in my mind about that. But when push comes to shove, she’s not comfortable with the spec, and as a guild we are asking her to do something she’s not comfortable with for the success of the raid for an extended period of time. And she’s a champ and doing it – but I don’t doubt that she feels miserable many of our raid nights. In fact, I know that she feels like she’s a detriment, because she’s told me she feels that way and has openly offered to sit out for someone who will do more DPS.
And you know what? It makes me feel like shit to know that she’s uncomfortable and borderline miserable for 3 of our 4 raid nights. And yet here I am asking her to keep her chin up and keep trucking along…because I can only bring four fucking healers into the fight and I value her too much as a player and asset to our raid team for her to miss the kill.
The inconsistency is unfair to players.
In the end, it’s the players that suffer when there are such huge swings of inconsistency in what a raid requires to succeed. It’s the raid leaders who have to determine which healers to bench fight after fight. It’s the healers who have to attempt to learn to be comfortable and viable as a DPS, something that very few raiders have asked of them. It’s the raids that have to build a deeper DPS bench so that they can accommodate fights that need a fraction of the healers as others, and conversely have to be benched when a fight needs more healers to succeed.
In the end, it would be amazing if the development team could pick a set number of healers that they think should be viable for every encounter. I don’t care if that number is 5, 6, 7 or 8. I’d just like to stop having to constantly adjust to meet the demands of an encounter. I’d like to be able to build a healing roster and know that I’m not going to have to bench half of them (or offspec them) for several of the encounters in a content tier. I’d just like a little consistency. And I don’t think that it’s too much to ask.
Let’s get a little personal today. I’m going to talk to you a little bit about work. It’s something I don’t really do because I try to bifurcate my personal life and my professional life so that they don’t intersect with each other outside of the office. But I think there are some similarities with recent events that have occurred in both that I think are illustrative of a challenge that I’ve been handed since the nerfs with regards to raiding. Read the rest of this entry »
I finally heard back from my doctor yesterday regarding the blood work that was done over a month ago testing for Rheumatoid Arthritis. The tests showed that certain things were “high”, but not definitive enough to state that Rheumatoid Arthritis is the problem. However, because it was inconclusive, I have been referred to a specialist and have an appointment on Wednesday. I am so relieved, you have no idea.
After have done some research on the type of specialist, and reading what I could, I have learned a few things. The problem that I am having is not going to be easy to diagnose, and it may take several visits and trial/error things before we know what’s causing my pain and can look for a solution. Rhuematologists do more than arthritis – they do an extra three years of medical training in the diagnosis and treatment of joint and soft tissue maladies. In addition to arthritis, they also are “experts” in things like fibromyalgia and tendonitis.
Needless to say I am thrilled to finally get to a doctor that is going to understand the pain that I have and is hopefully going to be able to help find solutions to help relieve it. Also, somewhat needless to say, I am in the market for a new primary care physician. The length of time it took for my doctor to get back to me and refer me to a specialist was unacceptable. She had my test results on June 30th, and signed off on them at that time. Yet it took another full month for an assistant – not even her – to call me, and only after I called to inquire about them (and even then it took another three business days before I was called). This was the last of many things that have drove me to this decision, but it was the one that finally pushed me to make a change. As such, if you happen to know of any great doctors in the Seattle/Redmond area, I’d love to hear about them. I got a few great suggestions from Twitter yesterday that I’m checking out, but I want to explore all of my options!
As for my hands, I took a picture this morning. It’s a little hard to see some of the swelling – but I thought I’d let you see what you could (and if nothing else, you can look and go “god Beru, manicures – have you heard of them?!). The swelling is the least in the morning, and only grows worse throughout the day, with the worst being in the evenings, often regardless of if I’ve spent 3 hours or 30 minutes at the keyboard.
So probably the most obvious thing that you can see is the swelling in the knuckles on my fingers. They get so big at times that when I type or do other things with my hands my knuckles actually knock into each other. You can see some of the swelling in the soft tissue of my fingers, but not much. Where I have the sharpest pain is between where my finger meets my hand and that first knuckle.
What is harder to see is that the top of my hand also swells. With the soft tissue surrounding the knuckles on the top of my hand sometimes doubling in size. The top of my hand never has sharp pain, but lately has sometimes taken to have a burning sensation. Sometimes my hands feel very cold and sometimes they tingle just a little, and I’m not even sure that “tingle” is the best description for the feeling. I do not believe that I have numbness.
Advil and the Topricin that I use can stunt the swelling some, but never completely alleviates it.
I never have wrist pain. I never have elbow pain. I never have shoulder pain. It is always only just my hands.
Hopefully I’ll have some answers on Wednesday. Or at least a better way to deal with the pain, and a path/plan to work through what is causing the pain. At the very least I’ll know that we are working on a better solution.
As soon as I learn more, I will offer another update! Until then, you’ll be glad to know that I finally got some video of Heroic Shannox that I’m comfortable using for a guide – even if the riplimb tank died at 8% and his dog ate my face at 2%. BAD DOG!😉