Saturday, January 31, 2015

Taking Holy Out for a Test Drive

To steal a phrase from my buddy BigBearButt, you are getting a Hammerwall (wall of text) today.

Hammer Log 23 January 2015 through 27 January 2015

I'm in a weird spot with Soma. I'm raiding with them, but I'm not in their guild and I'm not keen on transferring to Kil'jaden anytime soon. They are one of better PUGs out there and I guess they think I'm one of the better PuG tanks they've come across (why else would they have moved their schedule)? Still it feels more like a hotel than a home.

One thing I've noticed looking at both the ingame LFG tool and the Guild Recruitment forums is that there seems to be more openings for Healers and Ranged than Tanks or Melee. I love the Paladin class and I don't want to play anything else right now. Ranged DPS isn't an option, but healing is. I'd love to be able to go to a guild and tell them I could play any of the three specs and slot into what they need.

My experiments with DPS as Prot had given me confidence that I no longer needed a Ret spec for soloing so I headed off to Thunder Bluff to switch specs.

(Did you know there’s a portal to Thunder Bluff in Warspear? I didn’t until I found it. )

It took me a minute to find the Paladin trainer. I never leveled as a Tauren Paladin so I had no idea where the trainer was. I knew there was one in Orgrimaar but I felt like it made more sense for me to go 'home' to Thunder Bluff. I'm on an RP server now, I guess it's rubbing off.

I finally found them on Hunter's Rise.

Dear Baine: Why would you put the Sunwalkers on Hunter's Rise? Elder's Rise or Spirt Rise makes so much more sense. The Spirit Rise has all the other healers (shamans, druids, priests).

A few moments later I had traded in the Ret spec for a shiny new Holy spec. I opted for Vuhdo for my healing addon. I had been a Healbot user on my other healing toons but I decided to try Vuhdo this time since it seemed to be a little more popular.

I went out to my Garrison and found the Healing Target Dummy and proceeded to try to get a feel for the spells and their usage. Shock, Holy Light, Holy Light, Shock, Holy Light, Holy Light. I alternated between healing the Dummy and tweaking my UI until I thought I had something serviceable.

Next up was Proving Grounds. I started with Bronze because that’s where you have to start. It turned out my playing around on the Target Dummy proved to be insufficient preparation. Eventually, I got the hang of it enough to get past Bronze, but already I noticed that Holy Paladins seem to struggle in an AoE healing situation. I actually repeated Bronze twice more after my first victory to prove to myself it wasn’t a fluke of RNG and to get a little more practice. Then I kicked it up a notch and went for Silver.

Silver was definitely harder and kudos to the developers for having the Hunter NPC stand in the fire. He doesn’t move until the Mage NPC yells at him. Talk about your realistic simulation! It did make me wonder why the Tank challenges only have you and the healer. Clearly the technology for a party exists because that’s how the Healer challenge works. Wouldn’t it be better to use a full party in the Tank challenges as well?

After several attempts, I started to get the hang of it a little bit and before long I had passed the Silver challenge as well. At that point, I decided to be crazy and try the Gold challenge to see how far I could get. I didn’t see the exact wave we died on, but I think it was 4 or 5. Ironically, the death that ended my Gold attempt was my own. Maybe it’s because I’m used to having others heal me as a tank, or I’m overly reliant on Beacon of Light and the Protector of the Innocent Glyph, but I consistently forget to heal myself. I learned that I’m too conservative with my cooldowns as a healer. I have a same problem as a Tank or DPS. That’s probably an influence left over from my vanilla days when all cooldowns tended to be really long.

With Silver completed, I could queue for Heroics. Now it was time to foist my nascent healing ability (or lack thereof) on some unsuspecting PuG. As my luck would have it, I got Everbloom. It’s a dungeon I’ve run a couple of times as a tank. It turns out there are all kinds of mechanics that happen to the ranged and healers that I sort of never paid any attention to while I was tanking. There is also a ton more bad on the ground than you face in the Proving Grounds. About the only spell I can cast on the run is Holy Shock. Everything else requires me to root myself to cast it. There were deaths, including my own, but the pinnacle of the run was during the Yalnu fight. I went to Lay on Hands the tank, but still learning my keybinds, hit my Blessing of Protection* keybind instead. Yep, I BoPed* the tank. Amazingly, we didn’t wipe. I apologized to the tank but since we didn’t wipe he sort of laughed it off.

So far I had cleared everything I had tried. Next rung up the ladder would be an LFR. I queued up and it popped almost instantly. I set up my Beacons on the two tanks and got ready. I figured if I did horribly I would either get kicked or drop group. We started Kargath and I started filling up healthbars. I had planned to concentrate on the tanks but they seemed remarkably healthy so I played whack a mole with anyone who had taken damage. I checked Skada to see how I was doing against the other healers. There were 5 in our group and I was solidly in position 4 at around 10k HPS. The others were ahead in the 14k range and there was one (Druid?) who was behind at about 7k.

Throughout the run, just like the Heroics, I learned about all kinds of new and wonderful mechanics that I had either ignored or not had to worry about while tanking. I didn’t snag any loot on the run but that was okay. I had used my bonus rolls earlier in the week in Normal.

The next step will be to try healing an actual raid, but I’m not confident I’m ready for that yet, but I’m not sure the best place to get more practice. I’m thinking Heroics because there won’t be any other healers to pick up my slack. It will be sink or swim.

*I know its called Hand of Protection now. Old habits die hard.

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