Healing Progression

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been finding the heroics pretty tough to heal in Wrath.  My mana feels stretched even during some of the regular pulls, and during boss fights, I often have to let people die in order to keep the tank alive.  If there are supplemental heals available, I breathe a little easier.  If I’m the sole healer, it can get dicey.  Sometimes, we simply don’t make it through.

I have to remind myself that the success or failure of a run isn’t always a reflection of my skills or my performance. Gearing of the tank, group composition, and DPS/CC abilities certainly come into play, as well.  Over the weekend, I ran a series of heroics with folks from another guild where I was the sole healer.  We cleared Utgarde Keep and the Culling of Stratholme, but couldn’t make it past Anomalus in Nexus.  We called it when the mobs started respawning in the halls on the way there.  I was a little bummed, but I have successfully healed groups through that fight before.  I know I’m capable of doing it.

It’s also been a little tough to get into heroics with the guild, given that we have so many more healers than tanks, lately.  It seems like a group forms early in the day/evening and sticks together through UK, Nexus, and CoT:Strat.  Sometimes I get into the group, sometimes I don’t.  (Depends who’s on.)  If I don’t and the healer has to leave, I sometimes get the whisper to fill in, though it’s usually for a tougher heroic since they’ve finished the easier ones:  “want to come heal heroic Pinnacle?”  Ugh.  Then, if we’re unable to get through it, I feel like it’s my fault.  Rar.  Again, I can’t totally attribute the failures to myself (and they probably don’t either), but it doesn’t exactly boost my confidence.

So, I’ve been relying on pugs to get into some of those easier heroics and it’s definitely paying off.  Sometimes the groups are wipefests, but are still good practice for quick thinking and learning how to pull the group’s collective chestnuts out of the fire.  That’s one thing I did not get much practice with in pre-Wrath raiding, since most of the groups I was healing were pretty well geared and we weren’t doing much aside from Karazhan.  (I did have some challenging runs in ZA, but nothing like these heroics.)  Perhaps even more valuable are the connections I’ve been making on the server through these pugs.  I’m starting to reap the benefits of these in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

On Friday evening, I got an invitation from a DK I’d run a heroic with to come as the third healer on their guild’s Obsidian Sanctum run.  I asked if I was geared for it, they said definitely, and within a few moments, I received the invite.  There were six folks from the DK’s guild and four pug folks.  We all got on their vent server and they got us summoned and ready to go.  They said to the pug folks that they really appreciated us coming along and that we were welcome to roll for the loot.  I was assigned off-tank healing. Very cool.

We got the three lieutenants down with little trouble and then made our first bid at Sartharion.  He kicked our butts, but what impressed me was the guild’s attitude.  They were thrilled by how much progress we made compared to their previous week’s attempt.  They were reveling in it, excited by the prospect of actually killing this dragon on this run.  This attitude energized everybody.  This is what I’m looking for out of raiding.  I experienced only a tiny bit of this before BC because I hit 70 so late into our guild’s raiding career, and really felt it only in those few ZA runs before the lolpatch.  After that, it seemed that we were expected to fully clear whatever dungeon we were running and if we didn’t, something was wrong.

Anyway, it took several attempts (and somebody labeling themself so we could follow them to dodge the lava waves), but we finally downed Sartharion.  Holy crap, it was exciting.  And when that achievement popped up in our guild chat, there was a lot of “OMG” from my guildmates.  Hehehe… I was saying the same thing.  The guild hosting the run thanked the puggers for coming along and said they planned to run that raid every Friday night.  They said they’ll keep an eye out for the same puggers to help fill in the next raids, if we’d like to join them again.  Awesome!

I took a break from my priest for a bit last night to level my hunter (pug story on that a bit later) and toward the end of the night, popped back on my priest to party up with my husband and a friend to knock out some lingering group quests in Dragonblight.  We were finishing up the last one when I got a whisper from a very nice hunter I pugged with a while back.  I’d added her to my friend list, since she was one of the few DPS folks that reciprocated my “keep me in mind if you’re ever looking to fill out a group” offer.

“Not sure if you remember me,” she said, “but we ran a dungeon together a while back.”  I said that I did remember her, that she was on my friend list.  I asked how she was doing.

“Great!  We’re putting together a Naxx run and are short a healer.  Would you like to join us?  It’s a guild run and we’re going to cancel in about ten minutes if we don’t get a third healer.”

I asked if she thought I was geared for it and she asked what my bonus healing was.  (It’s +1433.)  The invitation arrived a moment later.  I said that I needed to pick up some food, repair, etc, and then I’d be ready.

(Zoh mah gahhh!)

I scrambled to cook some Pickled Fangtooth and fortunately had a few Flasks of Pure Mojo that a friend in the guild had given me in the days before.  I only had one runic mana pot left on me, but I snagged some super mana pots from the AH.  (Not ideal, but that’s all there was!)  They summoned me and I joined them in their vent channel.  We buffed up and almost immediately started trucking through the trash pulls.  We hadn’t discussed healing assigments or anything like that, so I just healed the main tank.  Before I knew it, we were at the boss, so I figured I’d better ask where I should focus the heals.  Indeed, they wanted me for main tank healing for this run.  *gulp*

Anub’Rekhan was a right bastard.  There’s certainly a bit of luck with these encounters, with positioning and who the boss targets for their random damaging casts, and he didn’t cut us any slack at all.  In our old Kara and ZA runs, our heals were rarely all that focused.  I’d main tank heal, but sometimes spot heal the raid, and the other healer would to the same.  Didn’t matter — we were mostly overgeared.  There was NO margin for this in this raid (or the previous), however.  Everything I had went onto the tank, or, in a pinch, me.  I used every mana regen trick I had and even made up a few new ones.  It was insane.

And it seemed I couldn’t keep the tank alive.  Just not quite enough oomph on those first few attempts, with heals just not going off quite in time.  One time, I tried casting my holy guardian on him to let him croak and regain 50% health immediately, but the other healers tried to keep him up, the guardian faded, and the tank still died.  Argh.  During the corpse run, the main tank said that the problem was “just not enough heals on me.”

I tried (awkwardly) to explain what I had been trying to do, but reassured that I’d save that trick for a more desperate moment and not try it again without mentioning it.  I really started feeling like I was to blame for all the wipes.  Damn.  And we continued to wipe after that.  One attempt was going really well until I again just missed a big heal on the tank.  My fault again, I thought.  I apologized, but folks were reassuring.  “It’s nobody’s fault,” said the main tank.  “At that particular stage of the fight, we just need all heals on the main tank and everyone else is going to have to take care of themselves.”  Ahh… so not just a message to me.  I felt better after that.  I also got some whispers saying I was doing a great job.  The hunter said they were telling her she should recruit me to the guild as hard as she could.  I was relieved to hear I wasn’t botching things up too badly.

We kept trying.  We had a great fight going at one point until the whole raid seemed to get caught in the swarm.  We adjusted our positioning for the next few fights to avoid the swarm, but I was a little confused because I couldn’t actually see anything hitting me.  I was SO focused on my little healbot window and cast bar that I wasn’t seeing it coming.  I suggested that someone mark themself with a raid symbol perhaps, so I could follow that in my periphery.  Then someone said, “no, it’s just a distance thing.”  They explained you can’t see the swarm; if you’re within 30 yards, it’s going to kick your ass.  OH!  Well, why didn’t you say so… (I felt like a moron for my comment, but if I hadn’t asked I wouldn’t have known, since this was a spur of the moment run!)

One of the features of healbot is that it does also show when you’re in range of your healing targets.  Given that the main spells I cast have a 40 yard reach, I knew I’d be safe staying just within that range.  I did this for the next fight and we downed that big buggy bastard.  Hallelujah.  I don’t think I breathed for the entirety of the attempt either.

Faerlina was a much easier fight.  The main tank explained the encounter, but the DPS didn’t quite understand what to do.  They downed all the worshippers right away, so when Faerlina enraged, we all got destroyed.  Heh… oops.  He re-explained that you’re supposed to DPS (very slowly) the worshippers and then kill one when she enrages.  The second attempt went mostly well, but we must have gone over time, or something, because killing the worshipper didn’t do anything to remove the frenzy effect from her.  Huh.  Anyway, we got it down perfectly the third time.  Hurrah!

And finally, Maexxna.  It was after 1am by this point, and while I was getting very sleepy, I didn’t want to be the one to bail. During our first couple attempts, we sorted out that the range DPS should take care of the Web Wrap effect, because by the time the melee got there, the range folks had released the person.  Folks also started cleansing the poisons, which helped immensely.  On the third attempt, we got her down to 10%.  Folks were really tired, but we were so close that we decided to drag our butts back in there for one more try.  We didn’t get her much below 20% on that last attempt, so we just called it.  It was almost 2am.  I think everybody was exhausted.

Afterward, I spent 10-15 minutes answering whispers.  Seriously, it was all pretty good for my ego.  Very nice to be complemented on my healing, after having some doubts about it recently, and folks said they were adding me to their friend lists in case I’d like to join them for heroics and future raids.  Of course for the Naxx raids, guild members will always be placed first, but they said I was at the top of their non-guild healer list now.  That feels really damn good.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind, this was always part of the plan for Wrath in making my priest my main focus.  I made a big effort to get myself out there and find ways to get geared even if the guild wasn’t running stuff regularly.  I never expected to forge relationships with other guilds though.  I have no plans to leave my guild — I adore them — but I have to say, it is nice to have options as I progress in my healing and through the content.

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5 responses

  1. Sounds to me like you were doing a terrific job! I’ve just started healing Naxx this week as well, and those fights are TOUGH. As the healing officer for the guild, I tend to feel it more with every death or wipe–even if the deader wasn’t my responsibility.

    We had our problems with Anub too–3 wipes, and I was on the MT (and my unbuffed SPL is >1600; almost 1900 raid-buffed). Sooo…wanna share some of those on-the-fly mana regen tricks you invented? 😀

    (We did manage to one-shot the other spider bosses, but I think that may have been more luck than wisdom; I also think Anub is the toughest of the 3.)

  2. @Bummer

    Thanks! The holidays slowed me down, but I’ll have a few more posts soon, I hope. 🙂

    @Kestrel

    Hehe, I’m sure those mana regen tricks were more discoveries than inventions. I think most are probably things that experienced raid healers (like you and Matticus) already do during every fight, but that I’m only now catching onto. I think it’s me finally hitting my groove, remembering to use my trinkets, not forgetting about Inner Focus, and stuff like that. All these things are becoming intuitive now.

    With each of the classes I’ve played at the level cap, I’ve had that epiphany moment: “Oh, so -that’s- how you really play a .” Despite all the reading I do, there are some things I just don’t remember (or bother with) until I’m forced to practice them. (Same as with real life, eh?) 99% of the game is forgiving and flexible. One can easily get by without a firm grasp of the nuances of a class until the very end (clearly — I have run Northrend instances with melee hunters). Those raid bosses really test your mettle.

    Anyway, hope your gearing up is also going well! 😀

    @Matt

    Ah, thanks, that was certainly it then. Clearly others in the raid were aware of this because it wasn’t a problem on the next attempt. I didn’t realize it because I’d gone in there not having read about any of the fights, since I was a last minute addition to the raid. 😉

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