Monday, 16 May 2011

More wiping

Spent an hour in a new (to me) dungeon in WoW this evening, and very frustrating it was too. The party wiped twice, and nearly wiped twice more. The mobs in Maraudon are cleverer than in lower levels: they know to try to take out the healer, and react sooner and more viciously to my presence. I died in every run. In the end, the team just withered away, dropping out one by one after the last wipe. I have the strong feeling that at least some blamed me for the wipes. "WTF healer!" from somebody who ran ahead of the group, got out of sight and was hammered.

I see that differently. If I (the healer) tell you I'm out of energy (unable to do any healing in the immediate future) and sit down to replenish energy, and if you (the tank or DPSer) then walk away from me and get into trouble: that's your own damned fault and it serves you right.

It's amazing to me how little some players know about the mechanics of WoW: it comes as a great surprise to them to discover that I cannot heal them at great distances, or with walls between us. Many tanks don't appreciate that their role is to prevent others from receiving damage (the healer, for example) and will ignore cries for help from the "squishies."

Healing is a fulfilling role in itself, but carries much frustration with it. On the positive side, tanks and healers can always get a place in a random group almost instantly: I've rarely had to wait more than two minutes after joining the queue, compared to up to a quarter-hour for my mage.

However, on the other hand, many players seem to view the healer as a silent reproach, a reminder of their imperfection and fallibility: like standing in view of a juggler while holding a broom and dustpan. When things go well, the healer is superfluous: just extra competition for the trinkets and money that should have been theirs — because they're doing all the work, amiright? But the second things start to go wrong, the cry goes up "Healer! where the fuck are you?" And if somebody dies, it's the healer's fault for not saving them.

I've been in maybe two dozen dungeon parties so far as healer, in addition to other roles, and have saved maybe a hundred people's bacon many times over. I have been thanked for that: once. Now, I'm not doing dungeons for compliments but because I enjoy the role and want to do it well; but a little recognition once in a while would be appreciated.

It's not always like that. I've had good runs through difficult dungeons, where the team moved as one and nobody died, and the difference is largely due to the tank. A good tank makes a good run, and a bad tank makes a bad run, whoever else is on the team. It's that simple. I have met three good tanks and an excellent one, and the difference between them and the bad'uns can be summed up in two words: awareness and generosity. More on tanking in another post.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


I've been playing a lot of World of Warcraft lately, I was inworld for most of last weekend and almost the whole of today (a midweek day off). I recently discovered dungeons, and what a barrel-of-monkeys of fun and stress they are!

A dungeon is a special challenge within WoW, a section of the world that is cordoned off for a team to fight its way through a set of quests culminating in at least one "boss" — a super-villain, particularly strong and difficult to kill, often with special abilities. The team consists of five people: the tank, a heavily armoured warrior who holds the mob's attention to keep it from hitting the weaker members; a healer to keep the tank alive; and three DPS'ers who try to kill the mob without attracting its attention. The healer is also responsible for reviving the DPS'ers if the mob manages to hit them.

The mobs are stronger than usual outside the dungeon, most of them need the concentrated attention of two or more people to kill them. (By way of comparison: although a discipline priest, just about the weakest role in the game, my healer can often take on two mobs at once outside of dungeons. And by way of a boast: my arcane mage, one of the stronger offensive roles in the game, once soloed a mob that had had the team sweating, when it respawned and attacked her while the others were taking a break. The tank woke up near the end and came running over, but then just stood behind her watching and laughing.)

Healer is my favourite role in WoW, as I mentioned some time back; and dungeons bring healing to a fine art. I was healer today in five dungeon runs, and mostly I did very well if I do say so myself. But on one run, I wiped out the party. Entirely preventable, and largely my fault. I let the tank get out of sight, he ran into a crowd of mobs and got killed; with him gone, they made short work of the rest of us.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Still here

But still tired. Absolutely drained this evening, I came home earlyish from work with the best of intentions, wanting to write something sensible and meaningful, but after thirty minutes of staring at the screen I have to admit that it isn't going to happen. Sorry.