I was reading a post by Tobold today and I found it interesting. I wanted to put my two cents in regarding healing and the perceptions of what healers are. I felt sorry first for Tobold because all too often these situations arise. I have to be honest and say that I have never personally been assaulted over my healing capabilities, but I watched a run my wife was in fall to pieces and then the group turned on the healer, much the same as Tobold described.
I was thinking back on that instance run where I watched my wife struggle to not walk away. It was Hellfire Ramparts and it was the first time she had healed anything major without any guild members present. It was the truest definition of a PUG (which for the record, I refuse to PUG in general, yes, I am one of those kind). There was a loud mouth tank who thought he kneweveryone's class, yet did not even know how to develop and agro rotation. I mean granted, I hated tanking, but even I had to learn to rotate my abilities to manage agro. This tank charged head long into the instance, did not allow the mage to sheep, did not mark so that the rogue and mage knew what targets to sap and sheep respectively, and let us not forget his guildmate the hunter. This guy did nothing through the run. I literally sat there watching my wife get hacked to pieces and the hunter was standing there doing nothing; wait, I must be honest, he was typing to yell at the healer to heal the tank. I told my wife to bail on the group. She refused to. She is stubborn and believes in the innate goodness of people. I have yet to get this out of her to this day.
As the run progresses things went down hill. Finally, it happened. The tank turns and starts to yell at the healer. The tank, who did not hold aggro, had no concept of marking, and had no clue what he should have been doing, knew the spells and abilities of the healer well enough to criticize. Well, one good thing about my wife is she does not take anything from anyone, she laid into the tank and hunter and then left the group. I was happy she left but tried to tell her she should have left earlier. I wanted to impress on her that as a healer, we do have a very tight reign on what goes on. For instance, the hunter who did very little, I would have let that one die, several times over. If you do nothing for the group, you are a waste of mana. As for the dear tank who knows all, I would have politely explained to him how he should hold aggro, but my wife at the time was not as confident in her knowledge of healing, so she took as much as she could from them until she lost her temper.
I think the thing I would like to impress to all non-healers (maybe some healers as well) is that each role is an important role and to show disrespect such as many of these new tanks are displaying, is inappropriate and completely wrong. It is true, that if things go badly, the healer is usually tops on the list for taking the fall; however, have a spotless run and no one says thank you for not letting me die. It does not bother me any more, mostly because I only run with a set group of tanks, but also because I will only run the instances where there is something to benefit me. This is not saying I will not help a guild member out, but for those random please for heals in a run, please do not do that. If you have to resort to random messages you probably have a reason why you are having problems finding a healer.
One other thing I would like to touch while speaking about this topic, and I may revisit the whole thing at a later date and go into more of a way to control a group rather than just heal it, but that must be some other time. Anyway, back on point, for all the classes out there, such as locks (nothing personal, I have a great one too), please do not tell a healer how to heal. Each healer develops their own style of healing and random whispers asking for someone to change their style only annoys the healer and throws them off their game. Please do not tell us how to heal, and we will do our best not to tell you how to tank or dps, and I bet the whole game may become more enjoyable on some levels for all of us.
I had read some posts a while back by Larísa which talked about the soul of a guild. I was going to post back because I found the article very interesting. Also, as a guild leader, I think that I can shed some light on this as well. Does a guild take on a soul? I believe absolutely it does. When does thisoccur? I would say at inception. I know some may disagree, but for our humble little guild, it did occur at the foundation of the guild.
We all worked together for a well known financial company a few years ago (hard to believe that it has been a few years already). We were members of a larger more well known guild at the time, but we wanted to create a more laid back guild and make a joke about where we worked. So, Mass Affluent Slayers was born. When it first was founded it was a fun loving guild. Much the same as a child. We simply slipped away from our mains and had fun. We spent time running around doing silly little things. Making jokes about other members or things that we encountered at work. Little did we know that our little fun loving guild would need to grow up.
A couple months after the founding of MAS, our main guild went through several mergers and eventually collapsed upon itself. With a guild established we moved our main characters into MAS and solidified it as a stable guild. Over time, we added more members whom we worked with to our ranks, and we also began to add members that we had leveled with. During this time we were really going through the tough years of growing up. We learned the pains of being small and worried about the fears of growing up.
At the end of 2007, my wife decided she wanted to play, so she got an account and so began our growing pains. She brought a lot of members into the guild. At one point I started to refer to her as Miss Good Horde 2008 for her always helping every stray character in need. It was during this time though that we gained several members who would help us grow beyond just an average guild, but gave us the tools to become a more serious raiding guild. It seemed our childhood was over.
Our guild has been through allot over the past year, but the soul of the guild is the people who make up the guild. It is not a desire to form a core group of raiders (yes this is a goal), but rather the commodity that we share with each other. When my father passed away, the guild rallied around offering words of encouragement. When members have felt sick, there is general concern for them. When there is heartache and hurt, the guild reaches out. When my wife's account was hacked, the guild extended their sympathy and then offered encouragement and assistance. While we are still waiting on the account to be returned, the guild has poured out assistance helping her work on leveling new characters for a new account.
In closing, the soul (or perhaps the heart) of the guild is the people. Is the guild alive? Is the guild a sentient being? Of course it is not. Could we say that it is a body? Yes, we could say that it is. Can we see it? No, we cannot; however, we cannot see the wind, but we can feel the cool refreshing breeze or see the wondrous power of a tornado. We cannot physically see, touch, or hear the guild, but that does not change the fact that the guild is alive and has a soul. I would dare say that if something were to happen to me, that the guild would go on. Sure there would be sadness of loss, but there would also be offerings of support and concern for my wife and friends. That is what the guild is and perhaps the reason why some cannot see it in this manner is because we want to have it as a quantitative number or solid object; however, if that is what you seek, you may never find a true guild, rather you may find a group of people with a common goal but have no true connection other than achieving the goal. When the goal is reached those people part ways and move on to the next venture. (Sounds more like a business to me.)
So, I guess it is the way that we, as individuals, approach the guild and view it. If we are looking for something where people are connected and care, then we have a guild with a soul. If we are looking for a common goal that when all is said and done, we can walk away from, then we are looking for an organized group of people, sure it says guild, but there is no soul there, and I dare say that this does not make a guild then.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine today at our lunch. We had been talking about the year we each had and how difficult things had been. I think it was more a free therapy session for me, but he was kind enough to indulge my venting. While we were talking I jokingly said that right now my life feels about like the Eastern Plaguelands looks. We laughed and soon it was time to return to work. I sat there the rest of the day thinking about it and realized that the journey of this past year truly has resembled the journey that Ruhtra has taken in WoW. I wish to share this as a way of letting some things go, but also as something I hope will provoke some thought and perhaps help someone who may be going through a rough time by letting them know that there is still so much more to explore and see on this journey, both in the game and in our every day lives.
I remember when I first created my Paladin as I hit the button to begin my journey, I was excited to see what awaited me. I watch intently as the introduction played. Listened carefully to the narrator tell the story of the Blood Elves. Suddenly, the screen focused on my brand new character. Ruhtra stood there tall and strong. His hair was flowing and white as the clouds above. He was standing in a new world full of mystery and surprises. Ruhtra quickly learned the basics and completed the starting area. He longed to see the beautiful woods of his homeland; however, things suddenly appeared so different from what he remembered. Old friends that tended to the nature itself were now corrupt and had to be dealt with. Those who were once allies, were now enemies and those that were called enemies, were now called friend. The world around him had changed. As he ventured forth he discovered the great path of destruction. Half of his home, was left in ruin. There were even rumors that their blessed leader had gone mad. Only time would tell for Ruhtra what truly was going on.
I felt this way at the beginning of this year. I had accepted a new position at a new company. I felt I had gone as far as I would be able to go at the time with my current company. I could tell change was on the horizon and felt my best course of action would be with a new company. So I started out on a new journey. I was full of hope that the decisions I made were the right decisions for not just myself but my whole family. I had no clue what was to come. I had some doubts, but who does not? I had noticed that people I worked with that I once could trust were now focused on getting that next promotion and were not the least bit concerned who they needed to step on to get there, while others whom I had known seemed to be the ones who had the right idea of how to act. They appeared genuine in their actions and concerns about where the company was going. In essence, just like Ruhtra, people I once knew I could trust had changed. I knew I did not agree with decisions made by management and feared that staying would result in a stagnant career or worse, job loss. So I made my decision and went for the new job. It was during the first week of the year I noticed cracks in my stable and structured life were appearing. Someone who was very close to me had become ill. They swore it was nothing and because of how they had always been healthy, no one suspected anything else. We could not have foreseen what dangers were waiting for us.
Ruhtra had accomplished everything he needed to and stepped across into the Ghostlands. The place was filled full of sorrow. Where once there was a beautiful forest and thriving towns, now death awaited. The undead walked the land (both good and evil) and even nature itself had been tainted by the darkness that had invaded. The only town that was left was built more out of vengeance than out of an attempt at renewal. These Forsaken desired only to further their own goals but offered the means that Ruhtra needed to advance his own quest. The inner struggle existed every day here between right and wrong. The Blood Elves were attempting to revive the area while the Forsaken wanted to exact revenge on those who had taken everything from them. This was not a place for the weak of heart to dwell. Ruhtra had to fight every day to maintain control and not give in to the hopelessness of this place. To end the struggle, he had to face one of the most difficult struggles thus far, he would face the enemy that represented everything he hated. The final quest line to take out the leader of the Scourge for this region.
Much like Ruhtra I started out the year with high hopes, but a week or so into the year, a close loved one passed away. It was unexpected and caught me completely off guard. I too went into a very dark region of myself. In this area I struggled to maintain control of who I was. I fought daily to make sense of what had transpired and to reason things out. As Ruhtra had to fight daily not to fall to hopelessness, so too did I. The struggle was waged long in my soul and in the end I had to face my own personal demons.
Tirisfal Glades and Undercity
Ruhtra soon found himself preparing to embark on a journey into the Undercity to turn in a small token of the past of the leader of the Forsaken and to show that the Blood Elves did in fact belong in the Horde. He gathered all that he had, for he was alone. All of his friends were either farther ahead in their journey or had not even responded to the call to action. He journeyed forth completing this quest and renewing his personal journey of redemption. As he left Undercity he traveled through Tirisdal Glade, once a calm and peaceful region. The very pinnacle of the human spirit and kingdom, but now it was but a shell of its formal self. Things had changed in this zone and as much as Ruhtra would like to say nothing effected him, it did. He had grown stronger, but at the cost of seeing death and despair. He continued his journey heading for Silverpine forest and deeper into the depths of despair and hopelessness.
Again, I compare my own journey this year to that of Ruhtra. I continued to struggle on the inside, all the while on the outside keeping everyone at bay. I would do the things that I had to do. Make enough appearances to let people know I was still here, but not enough to reassure them that all was well. Even my relationships resembled Ruhtra's journey. I would speak with them, but hold them at bay, knowing that some could not understand the struggle internally I dealt with, while others had been through this struggle and were farther on down the journey of life. I would love to say that I came through this the same person as I was before, but this would be a false statement. I too had been changed by what had transpired. It was not the loss, but the self reflection and long hours spent thinking of all that had gone on that changed my view on things. During this time it truly felt like I was in a dark city far out of site of man. Left alone to my own resources (even though this was self imposed). I soon knew that even though this struggle was one I had to deal with, I also knew that I would need to return to work. So I had to prepare for the next phase of my life. A new time where I knew I had nothing to fall back on but myself and my own resources. (Again, my friends and family would be willing to help, but I do not open up and I never ask for help. These are areas that could stand to receive improvement, but that would be a whole new conversation.)
For Ruhtra this was the part of his journey where there were decisions to be made. What path would he take? Did he wish to wield the power of the light and heal those in need? Would he pick up the shield and sword and become a stout defender for all and protect those who cannot defend their self? These were both worthy thoughts; however, he longed to punish those that committed atrocities so he chose the path of retribution during a time when no one of the Paladin order thought highly of the retribution path. Every enemy that he met, he launched out at with righteous fury. Unleashing powers that could have been used for mending to destroy and tare down the wicked. All the while struggling in this dark forest with his own inner demons. He was learning new skills and learning how to apply these powers to his daily life. A time of growth in a place of decay.
Just as Ruhtra, I had decisions to make for my own personal path. Would I allow the sorrow to overtake my own life and retreat to the safety of my dwelling or would I decide to go back to work and apply my knowledge of previous jobs to this new career path? I did return to work. I was blessed with a good solid group of individuals that I work with. I was also fortunate that at this point, some of my friends were working within the same company. I struggled every day at first. Many days not feeling well, but this was not a result of loss, but rather the lack of focus. I had dealt with the inner demons and now I had to deal with the real ones that were presenting their self. Those demons were relationships, finances, and work. Each day was a struggle to stay from falling back into the darkness, but each day I worked was a day that I grew as a person. I learned some new skills and grew as a person, not because of the hardships of life, but rather in spite of the hardships. I was determined nothing and no one will ever be able to drag me this low again, not even myself.
Hillsbrad Foothills, Stranglethorn Vale, The Hinterlands and Beyond
Ruhtra was now steadily every day growing stronger. Learning knew skills. Fighting everything and every obstacle that came in his way. He had made friends and formed bonds that would seem to last a lifetime. There were days that were rough, but instead of relying on his own ability to pull through, he called to his friends. When he called, they came. None of them asking for favors in return, just simply helping an alli out of a rough spot. There was much time spent in the struggle to level and with each obstacle came the reward of overcoming it. Ruhtra had changed much since that first day on Sunstrider Isle, but at the core of his being, he held fast to those beliefs and principles that had helped him all this time.
Much as Ruhtra grew and changed, so did I. There were days where I did not feel so great, but rather than hiding those feelings, I found myself some close friends and would rely on them for support when at work. When not at work there were other friends and family who would offer support. It is a daily progression, but one that has turned out quite well.
The Take Away
I know that his was a lot of information, but I found it interesting that the phases of my last year could be summed up in a game that we play for fun. In all honesty one could probably paint this picture using a myriad of different images and stories. My true hope in this is really to provoke some thought. What phase of the World of Warcraft do you find yourself in. I must admit that currently I would say that I am truly in the Wrath of the Lick King at the Howling Fjord. I have overcome a lot of personal issues and stand on the brink of the next chapter of my life. What new things await? What challenges lie before me? Only time will tell, but I can promise all who read that I will, at the end of it all, still be standing to tell of the journey and offer some words of encouragement to those who may be at an earlier stage.
Wherever you find yourself in your journey (regardless of situations around you) remember that someone has walked that road before you. The road may be long and filled with danger. There may be times where you do not see the road at all. Remember though, that there is always another day and hold fast to the things that make you who you are. Struggles of life (in game and out) will always be there, but it is how we react that matters most.
Okay, so I have been meaning to write this one for a while, but things kept creeping up. I have been reading a lot of blogs about other healing classes and how they heal and so on and so forth, but have honestly not found a really great blog about how to heal as a holy Paladin. There is a lot of misconceptions about healing and paladins and there is a lot of truth on the same subject, but most of this is found in forums, where the threads eventually break down into "screaming" matches of sort or wander off topic. So I am going to put together the rules of how I heal for five man runs.
Rule 1: If the tank dies, it is the healers fault.
There is no room for debate on this one. I consider the most important aspect of healing to be keeping my tank alive. I know some people will rush to say that if the tank does not give enough time to replenish mana then how can you say it is the healer's fault? This is simple, as a Paladin, we must monitor our mana very closely in tight situations. If we are running with a tank who charges ahead then we must adapt our healing appropriately. (It should be noted though that there are just down right bad tanks in the game and no amount of mana regeneration will make up for the lack of skill and inability to learn.) Sometimes this adaption will come in cutting out the unnecessary heals that we cast. If we are being honest, we all know we do it. You have massive heals and want to flex your little holy muscles so you flash a heal here and flash a heal there, which before long leaves you yelling out of mana and trying to blame a tank for moving at a quick pace. Do not hate me here. I am being honest. This however, leads us to rule number two.
Rule 2: If the healer dies, it is the tanks fault!
I have found that in healing, the healer must have a good relationship with the tank. (I realize in a PUG this is not always possible, but expectations are always lower for success of PUGs.) I have personally ran with every type of tank that is available in the game, and might I add that they were all at my level and running appropriate level instances. I have personally never found a tanking class that is bad, I have met several tanks that do not understand rotations for holding aggro, but that is a topic for a tanking blog. As the healer, I will not run/move (unless an enemy combatant has an AOE effect which I must move out of as to not die) when I start getting hit with damage. It is my belief that, much like a healer must keep the tank alive, the tank must keep the enemies away from the healer. (Again this is accomplished by studying one's class and learning the proper rotation of your abilities/spells/trinkets.) If the tank keeps the healer free from enemy interference, then the healer is free to keep said tank alive and holding agro. This brings me to the third rule of my healing.
Rule 3: If the DPS die, it is their own stupidity which caused it!
That pretty much says it all huh? Don't get mad, it is true. Here is the thinking behind it. If the tank keeps agro off the healer, this frees the healer to make sure and heal the tank, correct? (Please keep in mind this is being addressed for the Paladin class only. Having rolled other healing classes, there are slight variations to the rules.) Then the DPS should be concentrating on taking down the enemy targets. If they are using their abilities in the proper method, they will not pull aggro because they will be killing the assigned target at the right moment. Where this goes bad, and in many cases the DPS will die, is when they see the healer getting assaulted and jump in to pull the agro off of the healer. You would think this is the proper thing to do, but you would be thinking wrong. Here is what happens: The DPS pulls agro off the healer. Now the DPS classes do not have the armor to withstand the damage they will take. This forces a healer to make a decision, heal the DPS and hope you can maintain both the DPS and the tank, or sacrifice the DPS for the greater good of the group. Most healers, in the heat of the moment will make the attempt to heal the DPS as well as the tank. This is a bad decision because it will reinforce negative playing style of the DPS and also expend way too much mana in prolonged fights. Often times, the DPS will die, the agro will go right back on the healer. The tank will be much lower in health because of split healing, and now once again the healer is taking damage. At this point the mana is low and either you run out of mana or your tank runs out of health because we were too busy trying to keep ourself alive. So the proper decision is to heal the tank, ignore the DPS, hoping they will not jump onto the assaulting unit, rely on the tank to pull the unit off of the healer and all goes well. This brings me to my fourth and final rule for Paladin healing.
Rule 4: Have clear marking rules!
In our guild we actually raise our tanks to tank. This sounds funny, but it is true. Often times the healers and tanks have been paired together. The tanks learn the healers abilities and the healers learn to trust the tank. At times we have people join the guild later in their development and they have their ways set or someone switches a spec to help with a needed tank slot filled. For these occassions, and to help keep clear cut communication, we established a clear set of marks. All of our tanks know thier marks and must use them. We refer to it as our kill order. This is a proven success. Regardless if I run with a PUG or a guild run, we establish a kill order. (We just made it easier on our tanks.) It is simple, the tank will denote which marks are for first kill, second kill, third kill, trap, polymorph, sap, etc. I will make it clear that if you deviate from this course and draw agro, you will not get healed. Some people have complained about this, but once they give this system a try they see it makes it easier for the tank. The tank will hold agro on those enemies marked by the kill order. The DPS will follow the kill order, ensuring that one through three (more or less, does not matter here) are dealt with in quick secession and then they will work in order of which crowd control will break first. Is it a perfect system? No, as with any system there are exceptions, the random elements of the game such as a missed trap, or poorly placed AOE, a missed patrol, etc. What you will find is that when done correctly for groups with Paladin healers in, there will be no out of mana moments, there will be no unnecessary deaths, and the group will sail through instances without any issues.
Did I get your attention with this title? Do not worry, this is not a blog that is going to go over the complaints of World of Warcraft, too much. In all seriousness, I had originally intended to sit down here and complain about how miserable life has been lately. This year seems like it has been one for the ages. If we were to compare it to WoW I would say we are on par with Mt Hyjol! I was going to go on a rant about how my wife's account had been hacked into and now it is closed out pending a long process of working with blizzard trying to prove rightful ownership of the account and no wrong doing. I was going to cry about how the game is horrible and they need to do something to improve it. I had a list that I could go on and on about, but after some time spent in self reflection and looking over the past year...... I came to the conclusion that I am still here. No matter what things come and how low things seem, I am still here.
People who know me may wonder, is he going to quit, how can he not be mad, and all the other wonderful sympathetic comments that people offer during times of sorrow. The one thing though about me as a person and a player is that I simply believe what does not kill you, makes you stronger. Sure I am mad at the person who hacked my wife's account. Wouldn't you be? She worked hard on her character(s) to level them to where they are. I helped her and spent a lot of time investing in her characters as well. I also lost a 70 shaman (temporarily I hope) because of this, not to mention all the materials in our guild bank, but you know what? They are simply things. I can still go home at night and sit down with my wife and talk to her and see her. I can always gather new materials for the guild bank, which on a side note, the majority of the items had been sitting there not being used much anyway. I am sure eventually I will get the shaman back, although I really have not been playing him much anyway over the last year. It all comes down to the thought that I am still here, perhaps I can say even that I am still standing.
I think sometimes in life we lose focus of what is important. I am upset because a part of my game was ripped away that may never return to normal. My wife is hurt and feeling betrayed that her characters are gone. She has expressed deep sorrow and stated several times that she has no intention to go through this again. That is the part that these "hackers" have taken from me. The ability to sit down with my wife and play a game. She started playing the game to spend time with me and through that became a really great player. Sure there were times that were tense and perhaps a mean word was said between us over a difference of opinion in the game, but at the end of the day, that was the special time that we got to spend together. That makes me furious and I hope that Blizzard can restore the account and we get her characters back.
The other thing it made me realize is how blessed as a person I am in life. I have a great family (in this instance I mean the disfucntional one we call Mass Affluent Slayers). As soon as the guild had heard what had gone down, they rallied to the cause. Whispering words of encouragement, reviewing forums, looking for information, and showing a genuine friendship that many people never find in the every day real world acquaintances. One of our memebers (who I am privilaged to call friend) even blogged about it. There were offers from all members to help power level a new character for my wife, if she decided to play and we were not able to recover the account. Then this morning on the way in, I hear a local morning show that was questioning why do people play this game the way that they do? I must admit I was surprised to hear this on the radio considering they are usually talking about politics, local issues, and economic concerns. I started to laugh a little on the way in, but it did get me thinking why do I play? I think the answer is simple. I have some great friends in this game. Some I have known for years outside the confines of the little box and others I have only recently met, but when the negative things of life occur, everytime without fail, the guild has always rallied to help whatever member is having the issue.
So regardless of the evils or bad things that occurr to me and my family in this game, rest assurred, I am still standing. Perhaps even more vigilant over my guild(s) now than ever before. I do not care about the stuff, but I have seen first hand the devestation and hurt that arises and I have witnessed the outpouring of concern and hope from this group of individuals scattered across the world and it has made me that much more resolved to hold the line. So Fish, do not worry, I am not going to quit the game. I will continue on, forging ahead through whatever comes my way. They may steal my gear, my gold, my characters, but they cannot steal our guild!
On a personal note for all of my guild members, thank you on behalf of my wife. She is too angry and upset to really speak with anyone or get online, but she does appreciate the outpouring that has been shown.