Alright, as I was reviewing some information for this series I decided to litteraly start at the very beginning for being a Holy Paladin. These first few posts are litteraly the basics of play, but I think we all should be on the same page. Another way to look at it is that when you have a baby, the first big thing that they learn to do is roll over, then it is to sit up, and they progress from there. So in light of this, we are going to start off easy and then we will move on to some other things.
The very first thing that we learn as a Holy Paladin trying to heal is that we have to get in a good position. For quite some time the only heals that we will be able to use will have a casting time frame. As such, it is imperative that we learn how to position ourselves in a group. What I try to do is find a central location where I should be able to see the majority of the party and keep them in range. When in a room, so long as there is not something that mob does which will mess you up, try to position yourself in the middle. This will allow the party to maneuver wherever they need to and you will be able to see them. Another option is if there is a raised surface that you can stand on, try to get on it. This will allow optimal line of sight, which we need in order to cast our spells.
The second aspect of finding a good position, is to realize that you may end up needing to move. So try not to get wedged somewhere that is hard to move. This is more of a concern on a raised surface or darker area (where you may not notice an obstacle). We have to keep in mind that, especially in an instance, we need to be able to follow the tank. If the tank is fighting a mob that has a knockback ability, then we will need to make sure to keep an eye on the range of our spells and if the tank is hit with such a move, make every effort to close back in range.
As you level positioning becomes even more important, so by learning early the range of your spells and forming a habit of looking for the best spot will only help you whether you are soloing, questing, running an instance, participating in a raid, or in a battleground/arena match. It is not always easy, but better to learn it early on rather than getting screamed at by other players.
I know this is a simple concept, but I have ran in groups where healers stand still and expect the tank to bring the fight back into range. This is unacceptable behavior for any healing class and unfortunately it happens. So this is litteraly the very basic of concepts to learn. Tomorrow we will take a look at what is the stats of choice to be concerned with as a holy Paladin and how to approach gearing properly for what you are trying to do.
I was sitting here today reading through my older posts and thinking about where I wanted to go with the blog. There are a lot of topics that I can cover in here that are related to WoW. Being the head of a guild naturally gives me a lot of perspective on WoW. I have several alts at or above 70, so there is a lot of experience that I can bring and share with everyone. I love the aspects of both PVP and PVE, more recently I have been longing for PVP and the excitement of trying to win those matches. If you have never participated in an arena match, it is worth the experience. It is so different from running an instance with a set strategy. At the end of BC the guild was starting to spread it's wings and venture into running raids, some of which were successful and others were not so. At the end of the day though, I truly want to focus on the aspects of playing WoW as a holy Paladin, which is going to lean heavily on the aspects of healing. This got me thinking back to when I first switched to being a healer. I always felt you stand there and do nothing but cast "a spell" to keep the group alive. How difficult could this be? I had so much to learn. I am lucky that at the time I was leveling, I had a core group of people, so I rarely had to PUG anything, which is probably good for the PUGs.
So as my mind is wandering through these thoughts, I am sure you are asking where this post is going. That is a good question to ask. At first I was going to do a rundown on the different things I have done as of late and share the experiences, which would be fine, but I decided to go a different way with this. I always get compliments on my heals when I group with people who are not members of my guild. (Some people do not appreciate what they have, until they do not have it, but that is a discussion for another day.) I actually had some really nice compliments the other night, which made me think, maybe I should do a series on what makes a holy Paladin a good healer. I can tell you that just having some spell power gear and spamming flash of light is not going to do the job like it did in the past, but we will get to this in time. I do not know how long this series will run, but I do think it is an important thing for both Paladins and other classes to understand what it is that we do for healing and how best to accomplish it. I am going to start the series in my next post and we will see how long this thing runs. There is a lot of information that can be covered and I will try to get to as much of it as possible. I am going to warn you ahead of time that the first few posts will be as basic as basic can be, but sometimes it is the basics that elude us.
Alright, the last class to take a look at. The Warlock is one of my favorite classes. The second character I leveled to 70 and played with in arena was my Warlock. It was hard for me to come to the realization that Blizzard has turned their backs on the Warlocks of the world. In the expansion all reports and personal experiences have shown that right now in their current state, Warlocks rank at the bottom of DPS. That is painful to hear, but it has not stopped me from making plans to level my own Warlock, but what it has done is forced me to take a dim view of the current state of this class.
When looking soley at group dynamics for my Paladin to heal, I currently view the Warlock class as being gimped and not worth having in a group. Sure they offer some CC, but it is my experience that they have one of the weaker CC (the Succubus) and banish is only useful against demons. Sure they were great in BC and I loved grouping with them, but they have shown nothing but misery to me in the expansion. Hopefully Blizzard will work on correcting this issue and at least put them on a level field for DPS at least. There is no mistaking that, while I love the class, they are currently a liability to a group (unless you are an OP group).
As for blessings for Warlocks, it is pretty straight forward that I go with GBoW to help with their mana regeneration. I pretty much hold back on healing all caster classes, so the heals are kept to a minumum unless things have broken down, in which case the Warlock is usually dead already.
I know this is a shorter post than the others, but with the limitted DPS and weak CC, there is really not much to say. I hope Blizzard will balance this class out and at least give them a shot to compete on the DPS level. Only time will tell.
Okay, so we are moving on in my thoughts on other classes and why or why not I want to group with them. Again, I just want to say that this series is an opinion based piece. I have come to these conclusions after having spent quite some time playing WoW as both a PVP and PVE holy Paladin. The next class I would like to take a look at is the Shaman.
I personally enjoy playing a Shaman. I have one sitting at 70. The problem I have with the Shaman is that they really do not distinquish theirself enough to get into a group. They have good heals, but when you think healer the Shaman is usually not the first healing class to pop into your heads. This is really a shame because they have some pretty versatile healing abilities. I guess that would be a subject for another post.
So when looking at a group that has the healer established as a holy Paladin, that pretty much means the Shaman's healing is not required. This means we must compare them to the DPS/CC classes of the group. The major draw back for this is going to be the lack of the CC. The damage that a well geared and knowledgable Shaman can put out is adequate, but typically not chart topping. So this simply means that to put the Shaman in, you lose considerable firepower and CC. What sense would that make? Sure we can look at the buffs and totems that the Shaman can bring, and those things are definitely great. The totems alone could offset the lower damage numbers, but it is the CC in my opinion that matters most. If you have not figured this out at this point and time, I pretty much failed at presenting my idea group.
I will admit that if one of the other classes are not available, I will gladly take a Shaman in a group with me. As for the buff of choice for the Shaman, I will typically give GBoW to them. They are heavy mana users and very dependant on the mana for being able to put out the damage, so naturally the blessing that will improve their MP5 is the one of choice. When it comes to the healing aspect of grouping with a Shaman, I treat them as any caster DPS and heals are used only in the most dire of circumstances.
All and all the Shaman is a good class and the only downside to having one in a group with me is the lack of CC. If they ever get some CC, I would really have to reevaluate the concept of my preferred group.
Alright, back on track and continuing my thoughts on the different classes who are not the most preferred to be in my group. This brings me to Priests. I will admit that priests are probably the single best healer in the game when played well; however, when they are not healing, I do not think they deserve a spot in a group, unless there is just a short supply of DPS/CC available. I know that many people are already disagreeing with me, but you will see once more that the reasoning behind my feelings to be sound.
So let's look at a Priest a little closer. What is the first thing you think of when you saw this was about Priests? Healing. That pretty much says it all. There is no need for two healers in a group and if my Paladin is healing, then why would a group need a second healer? They do decent damage? What class are we comparing their damage output to? Warlocks? We all know that Warlocks are not up to par right now as a whole. Let's compare them against the other members of the group that I would have in place of a Priest. So do we replace the Rogue with a Priest? Well, we gain some buffs that would be nice right? Well, yes, the buffs would be nice, but we lose the higher DPS and reliable CC and gain a few buffs and a very limitted CC. To me that does not really equal out. Should we replace the Hunter with the Priest? Perhaps of the group, the Hunter would be a good target, but then again the damage that Hunters are currently putting out is topping most DPS lists and they have several different forms of CC available. Once again I cannot justify removing the Hunter for a Priest. So, what about the Mage? I am not even going there. Simply put a Priest who is not healing is not worth placing in a group. Again, there are always exceptions and there are some really good priests, but I think Priests are best suited for healing and with this article focusing on the group that my holy Paladin would run with, a holy Priest would not fit very well.
Another detractor to me wanting to take a Priest is for some reason every Priest I run with who does not heal ends up pulling agro and dieing. Then they rez and complain about their death. We rinse and repeat. It is just not worth the frustration of having someone constantly complaining in the group.
If I do run with a Priest, there is no doubt that they get GBoW. I ignore the ones who ask for anything else, and believe me there are those who want GBoK. As for healing goes, I treat a Priest like any other caster class, the heals are very limitted as I believe they must have a way to control their agro and not pull it from a tank. I still stand by my Rules to Live By post.
In closing, I feel Priest are bar none the top healing class in the game currently. With a great tank, they will not be easily topped when the player has skills. In contrast, as a DPS/CC, there is not much to be desired. They offer minimal DPS and their CC is very limitted. Unfortunately for a five man group with a holy Paladin, there is just not enough positives to justify them taking another position that could be filled by a class that has much more to offer.
I am taking today and stepping away from World of Warcraft for this particular post to pay homage to a great man who is no longer with us. It has been one year since you left us and we miss you.
Rest in peace Dad.
Alright, so now we get to the class that is near and dear to me. Alot of my friends had asked me why I went with a Warrior over a Paladin for tanking. So I plan to address this along with why I did not want a retribution Paladin for DPS.
On the subject of tanking, it was really a tough call. Paladins have received a lot of nice tools to use while tanking and have gained a new taunt in the last patch. Blizzard has worked to make the class a solid tanking option and I respect that. I also respect the efforts of the great core of Paladin tanks out there, but my issue is not so much with what they can or cannot do, it is more with the one limitation that will not change. Paladins are a mana using class. No matter how hard we try to get around this fact, they are reliant upon mana and unfortunately in a prolonged fight or multiple bad pulls (take your pick here), I have seen Paladin tanks struggle. There are exceptions and I am fortunate enough to have a couple good Paladin tanks in my guild, and they know that I value them and will run anytime with them; however, we are talking on a broad general basis. With this thought in mind, a lot of Paladins suffer from the same issue which affects Druids, they switch specs too often and that is what causes many to not be at the top of their game. I speak of this from experience. I started out as a retribution Paladin and never had issues with this until BC content where no one would take me because burst damage was not as valued and average DPS was lacking. I switched to tanking, thinking that I stand there and get beat on, a healer heals me, and the DPS mow down the bad guys. This was so off basis it was not even funny. I then switched to healing and had to learn how to heal, but this came easy for me and I have been a healer in almost all the old world content, the BC content and much of the new expansion content. I never switched once I found my home as a healer and as such, I feel, I have stayed at the top of my game. Unfortunately, most hybrid specs cannot stick with one talent. If you doubt me, read the forums, all anyone cares about is being able to be duel spec. I think this is a negative for classes that can do multiple things such as tanking, healing and providing solid DPS. Time will tell if I am incorrect there.
As for the retribution Paladins out there. I simply do not trust you. Nothing too personal. I know what retributions are capable of and I am excited at how well they play (I rolled a new Paladin just to be able to play retribution), but it does not change the fact that most retribution Paladins suffer from the same problem I have with Death Knights, they charge reclessly in, ignoring kill orders, marks, show no regard for breaking CC, and pretty much feel they are unstoppable. Some of this behavior has died down, as this class of player naturally migrated to the Death Knight class, but it is still there. I have respect for the retribution tree and hope that in time, good players will show theirself and I can move a retribution Paladin into my groups, but until they learn to work with the group, all the benefits of the retribution tree are wasted on poor play.
When thinking of buffs and auras where multiple Paladins are concerned it becomes frustrating at times. I have seen several Paladins just switch their auras at will with no regard for the effect on the group they run with. This is worse when you have two or more Paladins in a group and they end up having the same aura up. Buffs must be planned out at the beginning of the group so that each Paladin knows what they are casting. Healing a Paladin is actually fairly easy. The prot Paladins will typically get the FoL, while retributions get BoL and reap the benefits of fighting near the tank (now if they would just stay there).
In closing my final thoughts on the Paladin is much the same as that of the Druid, there is so much potential that gets lost from people not focusing on one aspect of their character. I truly hope a core group of people really take hold of that notion because the hybrid classes have so much potential it is ashame for it to be wasted on poor play.
Well, I had to get to Death Knights sooner or later. I decided sooner rather than later. I just want to get this post out of the way to be honest. It is no secret to anyone who knows me so I might as well share with the blogsphere as well. I dislike Death Knights. I think they are going to lead to WoW becoming very, very, very, very simplistic. I think we are starting to see this even now as we speak, but I digress as this is a topic for another blog at a later date. Back on topic with the Death Knight.
My main reservation right now with Death Knights as a class is that every one that I have had the pleasure (or pain) of running with, has been utterly horrible. I truly do avoid this class if at all possible. As a whole, they definitely have the ability to be strong tanks and can unload fearsome levels of damage. This should make them one of the most sought after classes for my traditional mind set of thinking you would think. You would be thinking wrong. I do think there is tremendous upside to the Death Knight and in a year or so from now, I can see myself retracting my statement and issuing an apology; however, that is a year or so from now.
My big issue with Death Knights is their lack of skill and thought that they do not need to have skills. I have run countless instances with them and they are all ran the same, chaotic and no regard for anyone else in group. Apparantly the thinking behind a Death Knight is charge into battle, cast every single thing at your disposal and cut down the enemy. Then yell at any non-Death Knights for standing there wondering what in the world is going on. I am not kidding and I am as serious as a heart attack. I am sure somewhere out there in some remote corner of WoW, there is a Death Knight with skill who understands working with a group and is learning to set a rotation for DPS or tanking, but at this time, it seems there are few.
I watched a few days ago, when I agreed to help a friend through a low level instance (BF), as a Death Knight (a friend of his, that I did not know) litterally died, because at 80, they can obviously take on every mob in BF alone. I was all too happy to let the player run ahead and not wait for their friend to regenerate health. The thing that amazed me is that this player did not do it once, but kept doing it. Apparantly, they felt it was fun to have huge repair bills and continue to display their lack of skill. It actually took longer to run that instance than if it had been a low level group running it for the first time. I could let it go, but this is the type of play I see from every Death Knight I have ran with. There are a couple members of our guild who are working on Death Knights and I only hope that they do not fall prey to this crazed, throw all caution to the wind method of playing. Only time will tell.
As far as healing a Death Knight goes, who knows? I am not kidding, if they slowed down and ran similar to a rogue, then BoL could be a great spell for them. The buff that most have asked for is GBoM, which I do see some logic in that as it does improve their melee DPS numbers. As there have been limited runs with Death Knights, I will revisit this topic at a later date. It will be interesting in a years time to see how viable a class the Death Knight is.
Okay, so in continuing my series of classes I choose to (or not) I want to take a closer look at Druids. I was really torn on the Druid class, because they bring so much to the table. They are litterally the most versatile class in the game. If you need heals, the Druid can give some great heal over time (HoT) spells. If you have a void for your tank, they go bear form and there is your tank. Perhaps you are in need of some DPS, well which do you prefer, caster or melee? So with so much versatility why in the world did they not make the group of classes I choose to run with, if available?
It is the versatility that makes me not like running with a Druid. I know it sounds crazy. I choose not to have the single most useful class in the game because they are too useful? No, this is not the case. It is actually the exact opposite. I have witnessed too many good groups fail completely because there was a Druid who was confused over what they were suppose to be doing. Let me say it a different way. Druids have a ton of abilities, but it is like the the old saying a jack of all trades, master of none. Often times when I am looking for a group to run something and I do not have a tank on from the guild and request in the looking for group channel, trade channel, or general channel; I will very clearly express that the group needs a tank. Without fail, there will be a Druid who responds, which is great, but not so great when I check them in Armory and they do not have single piece of gear that remotely resembles what a tanking Druid would be wearing. Then I will explain and then they get upset.
Another thing abour Druids which makes me hesitant to group with them is the fact that Druids tend to respec and fill multiple roles. This is good right? Again, I think it is a detractor, they end up doing so much that they never specialize and develop their skills in any one talent or role. This is detrimental I feel in a five man group, where each member needs to have a specific role and know what to do, not wait to be told what they are needed to do. It is sad but true. Within my own guild, we have a Druid who is excellent some of the time, but it depends on what spec he is at that moment. He knows his character well, but having run with him, I have seen some things that other classes may do better, simply because that is the only role they may be able to fill.
I am not trying to be harsh here. I have ran with some great Druids who understood their roles and were able to run flawlessly, but I have seen this to be an exception and not the rule. I compare a Druid to myself often times. I am a Holy Paladin (most of the time). If I decided today, to go home and respec to Protection, I would be able to grab some gear from my bank and some from the auction house. I could fumble through a run more than likely. If I had a good healer, they could keep me alive and we could probably clear it with a few wipes. I probably would not mark very well and would more than likely struggle to hold agro while I learn my threat rotation. Would I be successful? Maybe. Could someone else had done this job better? Absolutely.
I realize that anyone could say the same for me being a Holy Paladin. I would not argue with them. The logic would be correct. I would be annoyed, but could not refute it. Have I ever not allowed someone in a group because they are a Druid? No. I am always willing to run with anyone, because that is the only way to really learn and develop my own skills. If I had a choice, I would still pick one of my core group to run with.
As far as blessings go for Druids, it is realy dependant on what role they are in. I always ask my Druids to let me know what blessing they want. Healing a Druid is somewhat tricky as well. I do not want to waste a heal and have seen it happen where I go to cast and they shape change, cast their own heal and then my own heal is pointless. I try to have a lot of communication with Druids as far as how they want me to handle healing them. Each Druid is a little different in what they want and I try to accomodate them accordingly. On the flip side, I dispise when Druids attempt to tell me how to heal an entire party. I have noticed that with other classes who can perform multiple roles that you get some who think they know the dynamics of every other class who may share this function with them. Typically this result in me being quiet, doing it their way and allowing them to die. Then wait for the expletives to clear the air and then explain to them how a Paladin has to function. This usually will bring them back in line.
So in closing, why would I not want a Druid in my group? Too versatile with no focus. I would say when you find a good Druid, add them to your friends list and keep them close because they are too rare it seems.
Alright, so here it is, the final member of a group I like to run with for my Holy Paladin. If you ask anyone who knows me if I preach about group dynamics, the answer would be a resounding yes. I do not pretend to know everything about this game, but if I am being serious (which happens more often then most people realize) then there are a few simple things I always go by, and group dynamics falls into this category.
Number Four: Rogues
The final member of my group, and the most questionable to some people, is the rogue. The rogue provides some decent CC ability pre-fight. The other two members who do CC in my group will have to either pull the mob or start the pull with their abilities. In comparison, a rogue (who is skilled) will be able to slide into position and sap the target making for one less member of a mob to worry about. This is a numbers game to me. Besides the ability for their CC, rogues have the ability to level some sick damage and damage over time from their poisons. Along, with this ability they can disrupt casters and stun targets mid fight. These are invaluable on a bad pull or a run where we may not know the instance inside and out.
The buff of choice for rogues I run with is GBoM. This increases the steady amount of damage that they can put out, which to me, is more important than a minor buff to their health. The real trick to having a rogue present is that they tend to pull agro when they start piling on the damage and this can make it hard to heal both a tank and a rogue. It use to be I would opt for some sort of mail or plate wearing DPS for that very reason; however, since the introduction of Beacon of Light (BoL), I am now able to heal both the tank and the rogue. I cast BoL on my rogue and continue to heal the tank in a more steady fashion with the rogue receiving the benefit of being there close to the tank, they too receive their heals. With this set up it allows me to be much more efficient in my healing duties and be able to heal multiple members, something that we paladins could use a little more of (but that would take less skill).
So in wrapping up my "A" team, let's review the line-up. For my tanking duties I like the solid numbers and rotations of warriors. For CC/DPS I squease every last drop out of my hunters, mages, and rogues. I will be honest, with this group of characters, I have never ran an instance where it did not turn out successful, but as is the case with anything in life, there are always exceptions. I am sure there are many combinations of groups which can meet these needs, but this is simply from point of view.
Over the next few days, I will continue the "Know Thy Friends" series and examine Death Knights, Druids, Paladins, Priests, Shaman, and Warlocks. In the continuation of this series, I will not number these classes, as they all do have something to offer, but in a more limited way, at least I feel. I definitely have ran groups with all of these classes and there have been numerous successes, so please do not feel I am saying that I will not run with these classes because I will, but as we look at each one individually I will establish my thought process as to why they were not the preferred classes that I run with.