Lathere is a healer. I am a damage dealer. But we both have alts at level 80. And we’ve both tried to swap roles, with little success. And watching Lath fail in her new role… is actually pretty satisfying. That’s sisterly love for you.
I do a lot of 5 man healing as my Priest. I’m okay at it. Not great, but okay. I believe that’s because I spend so much time playing the Priest that I’m “comfortable”. I’m not a good healer. I don’t know exactly what the difference between me and a good healer is, other than years of experience, but I know whatever I’m doing wrong, I’m not a great healer.
In the last couple months I’ve also been healing as my newish Resto Shaman. I’m okay at it, just. The only thing I’m good at with the Shaman is totems because I know the dungeons pretty well.
On rare occasions I’ve been given the opportunity to play as Elemental as the Shaman. And not only is it pretty easy, I’ve impressed people with my DPS based on my gear. A friend of mine once advised me: the difference between mediocre and great Elemental Shaman is the ability to factor Chain Lightning (on a cooldown) into a single target fight.
Is that it?
Forgive me, I’m not being very kind to Elemental Shamans. Of course there is some further mastery involved. If I were taking it seriously I’d be looking into whether or not it’s preferable to reapply Flame Shock early so that it doesn’t cause Lava Burst to be on cooldown even 0.5 seconds longer than necessary. It would also be a good idea to find out whether it’s worth sacrificing Totem of Wrath to put down a Fire Elemental in a 5, 10 and 25 man raid setting.
Actually the most interesting part of Elemental DPS, in my opinion, is when you need to AoE. Most classes that I’ve played get incredibly boring when you AoE. But an Ele Shaman’s AoE is on cooldown. And it’s kind of fun to try and spread the DPS all around.
Sorry – how did I get so off topic?! Self evaluation so far:
Shadow Priest: Awesome!
Discipline Priest: Good
Resto Shaman: Crap
Elemental Shaman: Good
And now I’m playing a baby Mage (level 46 as I write this) and receiving quite a lot of compliments. I figure, for every compliment typed in party chat during a cross-server pug there are probably about 5 compliments that never actually “said”. Of course I have a heck of a lot to learn about the Mage and I’m really ignoring a lot of the Arcane and Fire damage spells in my spell book as I’m leveling as Frost. So let’s add:
Meanwhile Lathere has been swiftly moving up the ranks on her level 80 alt, Alexria: a Discipline Priest. I’d say that my Resto Shaman and her Discipline Priest are pretty evenly geared. There’s one major difference: Lath is actually pretty damn good at the Disc Priest. And I’m still total crap at the Resto Shaman. She can hold her own in a ToC or ICC10… and I highly doubt I could do the same.
But the tables have turned!
Before Alexria was a Discipline Priest, she was a Shadow Priest. That was mid 2009. And she was awful.
Mistake Number 1: AoEing when there are only one or two targets.
I’m pretty confident that it holds true for all damage dealing specs across all classes. Except perhaps Ele Shamans when Chain Lightning hits the initial target so hard it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t hit much else.
Mind Searing 1 target when it only has 1 other target nearby actually taking damage from Mind Sear? Mistake!
Tip: If you play with enemy nameplates turned on (hit your “v” button when you’re in range to toggle them on) it’s very easy to see just how many mobs there are in a pull. You should mentally count the number in the pull as the tank is pulling them – every pull.
Mistake Number 2: Not knowing the kill order.
I think only a healer could ask repeatedly “so do we kill these adds or not?”. After a while I just got into the habit of actually explaining all fights and situations to Lath as if she was a new player and had never been to Obsidian Sanctum, Naxx or the Nexus before.
If you’re really not sure, watch the melee in the group. If they’re willing to move a few steps over and kill something, you probably should too. Or, if you count more than 3 debuffs applied to your target someone else is probably killing it already.
Tip: In instances either assist the tank (click on the tank and hit “f”) or kill anything with a mana bar first. Anything called a Disciple, Acolyte, Priest or anything that waves its hands around with a golden glow should be your first kill.
Back to the Story
I won’t even go into the other, specific, things Lath did wrong as a Shadow Priest. That would have come good (I hope) with a heck of a lot of practise.
Around the time she was giving up on Shadow damage dealing, she also had the opportunity to switch to Moonkin when we dropped to a 2 healer set up for ToGC Anubarak on 10 man. She’d had the opportunity to DPS a few times during Ulduar, but this 10 man fight was the time we really needed to see some numbers.
Lath had some Tier 9, 25 man, Moonkin gear and, factoring in some inexperience, you’d think she’d come in 500-1k DPS below the rest of us. Oh no. Lath was able to achieve a whopping 2.8k DPS. How is it possible that such a good healer could be so bad at DPSing?
Mistake Number 3: Pausing between casts
One of the things I’ve noticed while Lath and I have been playing DPS together is that she will wait until her cast is finished. Then start cast another one. I first noticed this during AoE packs because the cast/channel time of her AoE was so long, and I could see the 1.5 second gap between the animation ending and the next spell starting.
You need to queue up your next cast (click it) before the current one is finished. There should be no gaps.
Healers are encouraged to think carefully about what spell to cast and when to apply it. They are rewarded (extra mana regen) if they are conservative and take breaks when healing isn’t necessary. That’s not true of damage dealing. Cast all the time. Even if you’re not sure which spell is the right one to cast at any given moment, casting something is better than casting nothing.
Back to the Story
To be fair, I don’t know if chain casting was the missing element that caused Lath’s Moonkin debut to fall so flat. I doubt it was just that one thing. It also didn’t help that she wasn’t sure what targets to DPS when (I think I just told her to follow the Mind Flay beam when in doubt, so she wouldn’t have to fess up over Vent).
I think she was a bit flustered by Eclipses and frankly I know nothing about Moonkin damage dealing, so perhaps it’s a complicated topic. I do know that most main spec damage dealers use Addons to help them track the complicated parts of their rotation. Which leads me to:
Mistake Number 4: Using a healing or the default UI
How hard is it to heal using the default UI when you’ve been spoilt with healing addons like Grid or VuhDo or Healbot? Very hard.
The same holds true for DPS, too. DPS players use DPS addons. If you play a DoT heavy class like an Affliction Warlock or Shadow Priest use a DoT monitoring addon like ForteXorcist.
If you need to react differently when something procs and you gain a buff, (Fire Mages track Hot Streak, right?) consider using Power Auras or Elkano’s Buff Bars and great a custom visual effect, or at the very least, enlarge just that one buff so you’re not staring at a tiny icon in the corner of your screen that keeps moving around.
Back to the story
Now that Lath is quite successful as a Discipline Priest her dreams of pew pew-ing it up have been projected onto her level 80 Mage. According to Lath: “even a monkey could play Arcane” so either she’s finally come across the spec/class combination that she can excel at… or… she’s a monkey. I don’t know, but she’s doing quite well.
There’s just one final thing that she needs to master:
Mistake Number 5: Ignoring your Interupt key!
When your tank pulls a pack of five and several seconds later there’s 1 who hasn’t moved towards the group and is merrily waving their shadowy/icy/firey hands in the air? Interupt the next cast.
Tanks can’t really tank stuff out of their melee range. And if they’re not tanking it, the healer is going to. So by interupting you force the enemy mob to stop casting and instead it will come and try to kill your tank from melee range using physical attacks. You then get one more mob to include in your AoE, so everyone wins.
And if a caster mob starts to cast anything with the word “heal” or “mend” in it? Interupt! Casting “Mind Control”? Interupt that too! Oh, and anything with the word “volley” in it should be interrupted.