Sunday, May 27, 2012

Project: Heal All The Things - Advice to New Lowbie Healers

So lowbie druid isn't quite so low level any longer, sitting at level 59 and waiting impatiently for me to pick her up again!

Along the way I've managed to boost her herbalism and skinning to about much higher than is needed for where she is- both are over 350 now, though I haven't kept track of how many mats I am in terms of completion of a Leatherworking kit for when she's max level.

I have had some interesting experiences healing PuGs along the way. The vast majority of groups were fine, but I have to be honest- the few bad experiences I had really soured it for me. While I can sit back and feel great about my ability to heal at the end of the day- if these were my first or only healing experiences, I don't know that I'd have the heart to continue.

This post is for all you low level, new-to-healing healers out there- keep calm, and carry on.

People Sometimes Provide Inaccurate Feedback

I'll give you a hint: Anyone whose feedback to your healing is 'Healz u suck', probably isn't worth listening to.

Even as an 8/8 heroic 25-man raiding resto shaman, whose druid healing experience is 7/8 heroic Firelands and associated meta-achievement- there are situations that my cloth-heirloom-wearing sub-Outlands restoration druid just can't handle.

If the first thing your groupmates do is lambaste you for how 'fail' you are, it's probably not worth sticking around to be abused. Even if you are genuinely not a great healer- yet, mind, yet- that doesn't excuse that kind of behaviour, and, unless you're able to let the words roll right over your back and keep trying, I'd strongly suggest leaving. Etiquette suggests you should wait for a lull in pulling before dropping group, but if the tank refuses to stop, inform them that you are dropping and then do so once they've had time to see it.

If it's just one person in the group, then just put them on ignore. This can be accomplished by right-clicking on their name and choosing the 'ignore' option; this will also prevent you from being put in a group with that character again. The 'ignore' function can also be used for tanks who overpull, or players who abuse other members in the party.

Occasionally, if the person spewing vitriol doesn't get the reaction they want- and their goals can be anything from getting you to 'get mad', or forcing you to drop the party- they may escalate to bad behaviour, such as overpulling intentionally to wipe the group. You can try a votekick; if it doesn't go through, then I'd suggest saving yourself the grief and just dropping. It isn't worth dealing with.

Remember: Even if you have made a greivous error, you still don't deserve to be treated that way.

On the other token...

It's Okay To Not Like Things, But Don't Be A Dick About It

In one of the truest (and catchiest!) internet songs ever created, you can disagree with someone all you like, but it doesn't mean it's alright to be a dick about it.

Even if someone else starts it, nobody wins arguments on the internet- you'll only have succeeded in making the group unpleasant for your other party members.

Nobody wants to be hollered at or cursed out in a PuG. You would be amazed at what a little bit of politeness can accomplish, though! It doesn't always work, but it's sure as hell more likely to work than obscenities.

'Hey, -tankname-, could you pull a little slower/smaller groups/wait for my mana, please? It'd make it easier for me to heal.'

I've even solved some loot disputes just by asking nicely and not raging at the 'dumbass huntard' that just took 'my' spirit/int necklace.

'Hey, -hunter-? Could I have that necklace? Spirit and intellect help me to heal, and they aren't good stats for your class!'


'-Priestname-, those legs you just rolled on were leather- could I have them, please, since you can't use leather?'

Honestly, most of the loot disputes I've noticed so far were actually accidental, not people 'failing' at knowing their class or intentionally being jerks. You really do get a lot further by asking politely than by being passive aggressive or cursing folks out!

Protip- People also prefer it when you use their character names, rather than their class or role. I don't quite understand, as I've never really cared either way, but it's a big pet peeve for a lot of folks, so it's best just to use the character name for politeness' sake. You're more likely to get what you're wanting that way anyway.

Be Your Best!

Unless you've already got healing experience, I would strongly suggest queuing for dungeons while actually having a healing spec. Yes, a boomkin or a shadow priest can heal dungeons, especially at lower levels- but it isn't what they're meant for, and there will  be a noticeable performance difference. At the last boss, in Shadowfang Keep, at level 20 and in balance spec- I had to drop a group after coming to terms with the fact that I just didn't have the healing oomph to keep up with the damage.

On the same token, wear gear that is appropriate for your spec- I'm looking at you, holy paladins in strength gear!

While it can be difficult to acquire healing gear, it is made much simpler if you just give up on having your maximum armor class for every slot. Holy paladin gear before level 60 is almost unheard of; the only benefit you get from wearing your correct armor class is... armor. Until level 50, anyway, when you get armor mastery, which is good, but still difficult to attain until midway through BC. So go ahead and roll on cloth!

One caveat: rolling on cloth is well and dandy, but try not to roll on anything with hit rating- even if it has more intellect than what you currently have, unless there are no casters in your group. Things with crit or haste are iffy if there are casters in the group, but things with spirit are completely your domain, and you should never feel bad for rolling on something with spirit.

Do be aware, however, that non-spirit cloth can be difficult for casters to obtain at low levels; don't get mad if a mage or warlock rolls against you, at least not until later levels. Another thing to be aware of is that it is pointless to get mad at a shadow priest, balance druid, or elemental shaman for rolling on spirit gear- they all convert spirit to hit rating, and will Need it just as much as you do because of that. Remember that loot is just loot, and will likely be replaced soon anyways.

On the same token, don't roll on things for your DPS spec that players queued as DPS need!

I know it sucks to level as a holy paladin, or at least it did when I tried to; even so, that fury warrior in your group waited in his DPS queue and it's incredibly impolite to roll on strength gear against him. You can acquire a decent off-spec set by questing or keeping a sharp eye on the auction house; sometimes you can get dungeon drops too, but make sure no one else needs it before you Need, and let the group know it's for your off-spec so that they don't assume you're a ninja.

To minimize this problem, shaman and druids can make their DPS-specs elemental and boomkin, respectively- it's much easier than carrying around two sets of gear, and if you don't like dpsing as that spec, you can certainly change at max level, or whenever you acquire a full set of gear for the spec you'd like to try. All kinds of priest use the same sort of gear, but holy paladins are out of luck- there is no effective DPS spec that uses healing gear!

Important note: Definitely be roling only on your maximum armor class by at least level 70.

PuGs are excellent learning tools!

The best thing about PuGs is that they are wonderful practice, even- or especially!- as a low level, inexperienced healer. If you heal your way to max level, you are intimately aware of each ability as you get it, and you will learn how best to use it- although admittedly, some abilities are less intuitive becuase of how late they come into play- I'm looking at you, Lifebloom.

Lower level dungeons are typically pretty easy. They can be made delightfully challenging if your group isn't good at what they do- instead of getting angry when someone does something woefully incompetent, look on it as a chance to improve your game! The great part is that if you wipe, you can let the group know what it is that caused said wipe, and feel no remorse for not being able to keep up with the tank in cloth with a two handed weapon, or the hunter who charged off ahead to pull the next four packs for you- how considerate! Nothing quite beats the feeling, however, when you can rise above the odds and salvage the situation... you might even get thanked or told 'great heals', though don't hold your breath on it.

I look on bad groups as an opportunity to prove my excellence, to learn new ways of being my very best- and it helps me stay sane. Relatively speaking.

In Conclusion,  without the LFG tool, it was so much harder to get groups for lower level content. and learning the basics was often delayed until much later levels. While there may be some folks who like to use the LFG to spew hatred and obscenity on other players, and while you will encounter groups that make you amazed that they can breathe and play at the same time, just remember that you can always leave if it becomes too frustrating.

Never forget that Warcraft is just a game, and you can log off at any point. Even a great healer knows their limits!

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