Shaman Mana Management

WoWScrnShot_022316_025237Wait! Don’t run away yet! Mana is the resource that healers use to keep people they like alive. The trick is being able to manage it efficiently so the remaining amount your character has by the end of a fight is as close to OoM (Out of Mana) as possible. This might sound obvious, and I hope it does, as managing resources in WoW is incredibly important. Warriors have rage, Rogues have energy along with Feral druids, the list goes on. Healers have the unique situation of keeping people alive with the synergy of having a resource that prevents what I am going to call “Free Casting”. Which essentially means “being able to cast spells without taking into account the impact it will have on your pool of resources”.

An example of Free Casting would be Wrath of the Lich King, where MP5 in combat was skewed in favor of the player and spamming heals nonstop forever was entirely normal.

Understanding Elemental Blast

I have a breakdown of how exactly MP5 in combat is calculated in the sidebar of this blog, there is a link to a google doc shaman guide that breaks everything down mathematically; however this article is simply geared at making sure the player is thinking about Elemental Blast. As well as remembering to cast it as often as possible. It is always better to end a fight with some mana than being oom at 30% boss health.

First off, what does EB do? Well it is a two second cast target-able spell that hits for a negligible amount of damage and provides the caster with a buff of 1000 spirit for eight seconds. Without going into the math of how much mana gain is provided by 1000 spirit in combat I will simply say it is noticeable. Having reasonable up-time on EB throughout a fight increases your passive regen by a significant margin. I am by no means saying that I have perfect up-time, far from it in fact. As there is a log that will show my up-time on a mythic Fel Lord kill was around 13%. Optimal up-time, realistically, is 30ish% and near perfect is 40%. This is taking into account movement, having to react to mechanics, and time required for casting healing spells.

Try not to think of EB by itself. Shaman have a multitude of mana regen passives and buffs that all work together. We have Resurgence that returns a percentage of a healing spells mana cost on crits. We have Water Shield which passively increases our mana per 5, and we have EB; which is our mental check for mana gain. Do your best to hit Elemental Blast when it comes off CD and you will be “drowning” in mana.

Digging Into Logs

Here is where someone will either love or hate mana regen. Some people really like looking at in-depth charts and number and fine tuning percentage up-times. While others just want to hear “keep EB on CD” and move on. That’s great! If you are not a log person I completely understand; I would love if you did check this one out at least as it is a line graph showing mana consumption throughout a fight. This is my log so be warned its not perfect. But it shows some regen points as well as some intensive resource spending.

Mana Management for Mythic Fel Lord

Learning From Logs

A very brief look at the above log. Without leaving that page at all you will see a graph showing mana consumption during the encounter. By my own analysis I can see that I had decent regen throughout but I ended above 50% mana when Fel Lord “fell” over. I can interpret from this information that I can be more intensive (maybe just this fight or perhaps over all) in my casting later on in encounters to make up for my strong passive regen.

Another thing I can check is by clicking “Buffs” going to the “All Abilities” section just below it, hovering over E, then selecting “Elemental Blast: Spirit” I can see a chart for my EB Spirit buff up-time. It is abysmal on this fight. I only cast it 4 times during the 4ish minute encounter.  I need to be more consistent with my EB and hit it more frequently.

Elemental Blast up-time chart

Don’t Be Afraid of Logs

Feel free to dig around in mine and have a peek at my short comings. As this sort of analysis is what makes you a better player. Being able to look at a combat log and see your mana regen up-times or resource management will allow you to improve from your own issues that crop up. It also helps with identifying problems.

This post was to assist players with mana management; or maybe you already knew about all this and I shed some light on logs.

Hope it was helpful and will see you in the next post. – Nop ❤

Shaman Mana Management

Taking on more “Jobs”

CoverImage5No, not like a Thief that can also cast White Mage spells. (That is actually a really good idea; I am going to try that in my next Bravely Default play through.) I am talking about those tasks that are presented in various raid encounters requiring players to switch up their tactics.

But I don’t do anything but hit/heal/get hit by stuff, what are you talking about?

That’s OK! I want to broaden your idea of a raid encounter. This is most prominent in the mythic setting but it does creep into heroic/normal in most circumstances, as the penalty for not doing this extra task is often diminished outside of mythic.

We need examples! And I won’t use Gorefiend

A prominent and relevant example is Xhul’horac. Aside from his atrocious name pronunciation; seriously say it out loud, it’s gross, this encounter has the wonderfully fun “Job” of clearing fire. Most circumstances will have a Rogue using feint and DRing the damage for the entire encounter. Rogues often are the ones who get to do these fun Jobs. This is where you come in! As a healer, encounters often times are boring for long stretches then suddenly super stressful! Then boring. It’s a cycle; and if you know your raiders well enough you know where the spikes in damage will go “those raiders” “the guy who stands in all the fire” etc.

Why does any of this matter to a healer? Well, not only giving your Rogue another person to help with clearing fire, it gives you the practice of healing whilst performing a secondary task. Multitasking! I hear people yell from the crowd, yes it is. And I might be in the minority but it’s super fun! Obviously this is being taken as a broad statement and not every healer can do every “job” or extra task in these raid encounters but its pretty clear when you can. The flamethrowers on Brakenspore is another example.

Managing the careful balance of clearing fire, without stacking debuffs, while raid/tank healing, and dropping grounding totems to catch the Void Fire is super engaging. (yes that’s a thing #RestoShamanPower) Do consider taking on the “Job” in your next raid and improve as you move through your Resto Shaman career.

Conclusion-type wording below

Basically; have fun with your Shaman and don’t be afraid to try out tasks in a raid. Volunteer for these jobs and you might be surprised at how often you are recognized for clearing fire properly, or burning the Brakenspore goo away from your friends.

Thanks for reading and until next time. Nop ❤

Taking on more “Jobs”

Why a Melee Alt Improves Healing

WoWScrnShot_021016_131655Hear me out, I know most people roll healers/ranged so they don’t have to be in the melee pile; but knowing what melee go through is important for a healer. The concept is simple; if you (as a healer) understand what makes a melee dps function and position itself the way it does you will begin to understand the mistakes that your melee raid members make. In turn allowing you to fix (sometimes) these mistakes with proper healing.

What is the idea of a melee dps?

Well for the most part it is to hit stuff really hard in the face with a big stick. A pretty simple concept that yields great results. Hitting the boss enough times with a pointy stick often results in the target falling over dead. I’d call that a win.

The reason you, as the healer, need to understand this is because of our need to be predictive. Knowing why a melee stood in the fire can give you an understanding  and prevent “Get out of the fire” spam in vent or raid chat. I am not talking about rolling a melee class for every conceivable fight in order to predict what the melee is going to mess up mechanics wise. I am simply suggesting that a well informed healer will perform better than someone who refuses to play a class that is fundamentally different; refusing to step out of their comfort zone.

My own examples and preferred Alts

The choice for which melee alt you decide to play with in your off time is entirely up to you. If you made it this far in the post I at least hope you are open to the concept. Narrowing down what alt you want to play is going to take some experimentation, and in reality you don’t even need to reroll if you don’t want to. You are a Shaman, you have tremendous flexibility in your class. Alt spec Enhance and go Storm Strike some LFR to get a sense of what being in melee is like. The difference is tremendous, and if you haven’t played a melee character before in a raid environment it might be eye opening.

If you are looking for a suggestion, I would recommend:

  • Rogue – Solid choice, I recommend Assassination as the starter spec. It is simple yet effective.
  • Warrior – Fury is simple yet effective with minimal gear, Arms is hilarious in PvP if that’s your thing.
  • Enhance Shaman – STORM STRIKE!

“Tunneling the boss”

If this were a dps focused blog, a much more informed player would probably tell you that tunneling is a situational thing that happens when it is appropriate. But I’m not a dps and I won’t ever claim to be (I find it leads straight to snoozeville). However, as a healer I need to know when the dps is “tunneling the boss” because that is most likely when that dps player is not paying attention to raid wide mechanics. I used Gorefiend as an example in a previous post but he is such a great example I’m doing it again. The Feast of Souls phase on Gorefiend is the textbook definition of dps not paying attention to anything else other than punching Gorefiend. This is good, as dps gain a bonus for tunneling during this phase. Healers, you need to be paying attention to the dps’ shifts in focus (in a broad sense) to make sure that key debuffed targets are remembering to run out and soak a soul to remove their death debuff. (This is of course in the context of mythic, if you don’t raid mythic thats perfectly ok, keep reading <3)

There are appropriate times to tunnel and there are inappropriate times. An inappropriate time on the very same Gorefiend encounter is, “anytime the boss isn’t in Feast of Souls”. Now think back to when you were on your alt and punching LFR bosses in HFC/BRF. Were you always remembering to move out for debuffs/fire patches/ect., or were you just thinking “killbosskillbosskillboss” this is what I want you to realize. That ah-ha moment where you understand; dps from every level love to kill stuff. A good player knows when to kill stuff, but most people decide right from the start that they need to be on the top of the kill stuff meter.

Today’s improvement post is for people who feel like everything is fine in an encounter then suddenly everything goes to shit and people are dying. Often times it’s not your fault (unless you caused your own death, then it is your fault). If you are looking at a wipe and seeing that a few of your raids melee died in the fire; ok, WHY did they die in the fire? Maybe they were tunneling, maybe one guy needed that last 2 seconds of his recklessness, maybe a cat jumped on his keyboard and he couldn’t move. If you have an understanding of why melee do melee things it will help you decipher the puzzle.

Thanks for reading and I will see you in the next post ❤ Nop 🙂

Why a Melee Alt Improves Healing

Nop and the Healer Mental State

WoWScrnShot_022616_171021Quick intro then we will get into the meat of this article. My name is Nop, I am a current Mythic Restoration Shaman and I have been playing the World of Warcraft for a long time. I have almost gotten to the point where I think back on when I first booted up the game and the realization of just how long ago that was comes back and punches me in the face with a strong does of reality. It’s freaky.

Over the years in which I have played this tremendous game, I have learned many things. First; debuffs are bad and you don’t want to stand on your buddy in a group. This is due to your buddy dying to your debuff (see example below) sometimes it’s funny. Second, going after the Time Lost Proto Drake is a myth, I refuse to believe that thing is real I have seen it fly around and I can’t even begin to talk about the number of times. TANGENT!

Bringing this ship back to its proper course, this article is focused on a healers mental state and prioritizing what to look at then reacting properly. This is of course in a very general sense; but the root of the advice is sound. Proper focus on certain mechanics allows for success.

Mental Priorities as a Healer: 

Where living through mechanics trumps topping the meters.

Raiding in The World of Warcraft is a wonderful experience; killing dragons and obtaining powerful items to stick into the hide of the next giant dragon (or in the case of Warlords of Draenor into the next Orc). Ever since the dawn of the game, the ever rose tinted goggles of “Vanilla” had tremendous amounts of quality raid content; and on one hand you have bosses like Ragnaros or Onyxia, on the other you have Baron Geddon.

You may be wondering why I bring these boss examples up, well these words that have been carefully and painstakingly typed out on this crisp internet paper are in the context of a healer. But the overarching idea remains the same. Anyone who attempted Baron Geddon in Molten Core proper can tell you that he really only has one mechanic that anyone had to worry about: Living Bomb. Oh Living Bomb, how I miss thee. The idea was, your buddy Baron would cast this ability on a random target at set time intervals. All the targeted player had to do was move out of the raid and blow up all by their lonesome off in the corner of the cave. More often than not (before boss mods became a staple item in a raiders toolkit) there were one of two outcomes:

  • A- Targeted player notices that Baron cast Living Bomb on them and runs out of the raid.
  • B- Targeted player does not notice and blows up the raid shortly after the cast goes off.

I use this example because it is the most prominent in the “get out of the raid or people die” type mechanic. However there are many examples of various debuffs or casts made by bosses toward players to force the target to do something in order to avoid damage or potential death. Another prominent and recent example is “Touch of Doom” during the Gorefiend encounter in HFC.

Improving your core mental skills

In order to improve one’s ability in a raid encounter you need a few simple skills, situational awareness, muscle memory, and common sense. Common sense is knowing when to do the right thing, which is always. Muscle memory is simply applied to knowing your healing rotation and what your proper keybinds are for your skills; getting to the level that you can use your abilities without having to actively think “Healing Surge is on F”.

Situational Awareness is the ability to identify and process critical information in the context of a goal or mission while working together as a team. Basically, knowing what is happening around you (or your character in the case of raiding) and reacting to it. It is very easy to fall into staring at your raid frames, making sure that you have hots on the right targets, making sure your tank is topped off before the big bad guy does his tank destroying attack, maybe life gripping little Jimmy out of the fire. Remembering to prioritize all of this mental running around as a healer; making life or death choices (like letting Jimmy die in the fire so you can save a global to keep the tank up) is very important. As a healer you should be thinking and making choices constantly. However, you need to be doing this type of thinking while also making sure you are not standing in the very same fire you just let Jimmy die in.

Don’t blame yourself or don’t blame your healers because Jimmy didn’t run out of the raid with Living Bomb and he killed 4 people. On progression teams this “blame game” does not happen. With proper guild leadership a wipe is a useful tool for analysis for the next pull. Being able to see what killed you and learn from it is a skill (along with situational awareness) that is invaluable to a raider. It’s so valuable because you can’t just spec into it, or regem your gear to min/max for it. It is a life skill that applies to the game we all love, and that is awesome.

The Infantry Scanning Method

When I was in the Infantry, we were taught while on patrol to scan our surroundings for potential shifts in the environment or behavior of locals. It was drilled into my brain the idea that situational awareness saves lives; and it does. There is a very simple yet very effective method of scanning an environment that you move through as an infantryman that I use in WoW because it allows me to track my screen in the same way that I tracked my eyes through a village in Afghanistan. It might sound extreme but the principles are the same.

The idea is to pick a point on your screen, I use my characters lower half (he is a Taruen so it’s pretty large), now move your eyes in a methodical and planned loop around your screen. You can go clockwise, in any weird pattern you choose, as long as it’s consistent and not exaggerated. Due to the predicted manner in which you are moving your eyes the brain will notice; scanning over your debuff window the first time and nothing is there. The second pass 10 seconds later suddenly there is a debuff! It will jump out of your screen as suddenly something changed in your environment.

The order I use goes as follows: Starting at the center of my screen I look for bad stuff on the ground in the immediate area around my character and move if I’m in it. Next I scan over my debuff section (which is a section of my UI that is under my map but centralized so I don’t have to swing my vision too far away from the center of my screen) to make sure I don’t have any passive damage or other bad things that need to be dealt with. Moving in a clockwise fashion I move back to my character’s feet and then my raid frames; which are just offset to the left of my character. So as to not have to look all the way over to the left corner of my screen to see the health of my raid team. Looping back around over my characters head back to his feet.

I do this loop repeatedly and constantly during an encounter as it allows me to keep an eye on all the important stuff without focusing too heavily on a single element. Scanning comes naturally to me; as having to do it for an extended period of my life allows this method to work for me. There are alternatives, for example removing excess UI and having your UI focus on boss abilities that are important to you. DBM is a culprit for having excess boss mechanics automatically enabled. Resulting in five boss bar timers ticking down every few seconds. It’s difficult to determine the important ability when you have five flashing bars at different time intervals.

Everybody sees and interprets things differently, finding how you do is incredibly important as any role in a raid. Healers need to be able to make on the fly decisions about players lives, sometimes on the move, while watching mechanics and keeping mana reserves in check. I am by no means saying one role is harder than another, as each role is vital to success, but I have my own love for saving lives of people in the raid so I’m a bit biased.

It is better to make a choice and be wrong; than not make a choice at all.

As a healer making hard choices happens on every progression encounter. Perhaps standing in fire for half a second is worth getting the lifesaving heal out. I can tell you it’s not. Straight up, if presented with a situation where I have to choose between standing in fire to save a life and moving out to risk the target of the heal dying, I’m going to move every time. Here is why; my role is presented with constant choice throughout an encounter. If you find yourself in the situation where your target could die if you move, then you have done something wrong as a healer. The mistake you made might have been just before you stood in the fire or it might have happened 30 seconds prior. Either way something happened that lead you to standing in the fire. Your job is to figure out how you ended up in that spot and not do it again. Healing is neither constant nor sporadic, it flows. Incoming damage is not a constant threat from the start to the end of a fight.

In the fire example it is most likely the boss’ fire ability that you end up standing in was something that could be avoided a few seconds prior. If you had, the priority would no longer be “I’m standing in fire and I need to heal this guy but I’m also in fire shitshitshitshit”. Being able to think in your head or even out-loud (just not with your vent key held as only you need to hear yourself talk), “in 5 seconds the fire will spawn so I need to be in X position to be able to heal”, comes with practice. Blaming the dps for standing in fire will get you nowhere; nor will blaming your other healers for letting the target die. The target dying is just as much your fault, in this example, as it is the dps’ fault.

Raiding at a high level requires players to be able to analyze a given situation and solve a problem. It can be argued that Normal mode does the same thing, and to a very basic extent, yes that’s true. However, when you are presented with Gorefiend on normal mode vs mythic the difference in required coordination/teamwork/personal responsibility is immense.

I want a reader to take away from this “short” article that teamwork is very important when it comes to progression, but just as important as teamwork is your own ability to accept “I fucked up.” and why. The “why” is something I still have to actively think about as being able to think four or five steps ahead is difficult when you already have so much to do. But the ability to do just that is immense when you finally are able to think: “Alright sac healer 1 just went in with both sac dps on Gorefiend on the pull. After I get out on the 3rd round of soul sucks before the first feast I need to come out of that phase with a clear debuff as I am sac healer 2. I’ll jump off this spot to make sure my ghost is in a good spot for the dps.” Anyone on mythic Gorefiend knows full well that you can’t micromanage your own actions and have every movement preplanned but the idea is there. The priority of a good healer/dps/tank/raider/transmog hero is making sure to be in the right spot at the right time. Being able to find things that you can improve on is what will allow you to become a fundamentally better player over time.

❤ Nop- Thanks for reading 🙂

Read this for further explanation and iteration:  http://iam.yellingontheinternet.com/2014/01/29/raid-awareness-is-a-learned-and-practiced-skill/

Nop and the Healer Mental State