Wednesday, December 30, 2009


This post was requested by Kathryn in the comments of a previous post.

The two idols we're comparing are Idol of the Black Willow and Idol of Flaring Growth. Let's give them a quick once-over.

The Idol of Flaring Growth is an idol almost every Resto Druid owns by now, costing 25 Emblems of Triumph. It has a chance to grant a 234 Spellpower buff everytime Rejuvenation ticks. This proc rate is so high that often the buff will have a 100% up time with even one Rejuv ticking on a target. As soon as it procs, the buff is complete and immediate, and almost never drops off so long as Rejuv is rolling on a target. If Rejuv is rolling on two or more targets, you will never lose the buff.

The Idol of the Black Willow is an idol introduced in 3.3 and costs 30 Emblems of Frost. On every tick of Rejuvenation, the idol will grant the Druid casting it 32 Spellpower that stacks up to 8 times, granting a total of 256 Spellpower. It has no RNG; it will stack or refresh during every tick of Rejuvenation. It will have a 100% uptime so long as one Rejuv continues to tick.

It seems pretty obvious which Idol is better, as it should be. The difference is, however, only 22 Spellpower. While some argue that the ramp up effect makes the Idol of the Black Willow less appropriate for PvP, it is more reliable and less reliant on RNG (if we're talking about a single Rejuv). It is true that, once it procs, Flaring Growth has no build-up phase, but Black Willow should be easy to stack with the continuous Rejuv that should almost always be on a Druid or their partner(s).

However, as was stated earlier, the difference is only of 22 Spellpower. The Idol of the Black Willow is not a make-or-break piece as Flaring Growth was in the time of ToC. It is not a big deal to wait to pick this Idol up later, after you have completed more expensive purchases. Especially now that Emblems of Triumph are everywhere, it is more prudent to buy Flaring Growth and wait until you have no other uses for your Frost Emblems to invest in Black Willow.

So, in summary, Black Willow is obviously better, but not so much that you can't wait on it while purchasing other items with your Emblems of Frost.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Admit and Apologize

It hurts to look at something you've put a lot of work into, and realize you've done a bad job with at least one part of it. It hurts even more to realize you've been trying to ignore it, though it's been staring at you this whole time. Though people are reading it and you're confusing them, messing them up. And instead of fixing it you start avoiding it.

I've done a lot of things with this blog that I'm proud of. A lot. That being said, I've also done a lot of things I'm not. I've written things with completely faulty information. I've written things that were just plain wrong. I've gotten mad at stupid things, and looking back on a lot of what I've written I'm glad to see that I've come a long way. I don't always do well, or hit the mark, but I've done at least a decent job.

The regemming for haste post has bothered me since I hit "Publish Post." I knew I wasn't thinking about it enough, that I didn't have any real support for it, that it was just plain bad...and I published it anyway, so I could have something written and done between the time of finals and when I'd have some more time.

You've all noticed how poorly thought out, supported and reasoned it is. And I refuse to remove it, because people have made great points in comments. I've tacked on a disclaimer so people know not to trust what they're reading on it. But I feel it needs a little bit of follow-up past just rewriting. Especially as, well, the rewriting is going to take a while.

I am working on a rewrite to it. Unfortunately, part of the reason that post was so terrible is that I am not in a good place right now, both in and out of WoW. A huge deluge of real life problems and personal issues are pulling me away from WoW, which before was my haven from these things. I don't have a raiding guild anymore, and I don't feel it's responsible for me to apply somewhere when I can't commit at this point in time, and when you can't do what you enjoy in a game, it really sucks. But I still want to keep playing and keep writing, because it's still a nice break from things when I just can't deal with another problem blowing up in my face.

If there are other posts that come before the Gemming Haste rewrite, understand I'm not putting it off, it's just going to take a lot of work to try and do it right, and other things may get written in the meantime. I have posts owed other people, and I want to make sure they get done.

I don't know if this seems over-dramatic for a single post, but this blog and the information is contains is pretty important to me. I enjoy writing in it, I enjoy helping people, and when I print something so poorly done, it bothers me (and it bothered many of you). Please know I'm working to correct it, and if you want to keep commenting on the old one, please do. It can only help, and as soon as I can I'll address and fix everything.

Though it's likely not needed to be said, I request that those of you who know the specifics of some of the personal/real life issues mentioned briefly please not post any details of them in the comments.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just Because It's Easy

With the random dungeon finder, I've been getting in a lot of groups where people don't know what to do, don't understand, have never been in a heroic before...and hey, that would be fine.

See, I have no problem with people being new to an instance. That's totally cool; everyone starts sometime, somewhere. The problem is people don't try to learn.

What am I talking about?

Well, let's take three anecdotal examples from my experiences, shall we?

First, Oculus. Yay, Oculus! Some of you may know that I love Oculus. However, Blizzard has nerfed Oculus into the ground so hard I literally had a group member stand on the electrified floor without moving out of the sustained breath-beam-thing of a sky captain with little to no heals without dying. This is really teaching people get out of the fire skills, tell you what.

But I digress.

See, the whole group but me (on Sugarcake; almost all of my bad groups are on my huntard) and the Paladin healer had never been to Oculus before. So, the Paladin and I attempted to explain the layout, the bosses, how to avoid pulling a zillion blue drakes, how to use the drakes...and we got through everything by brute-forcing it, until we got to the last boss. Continual explanations, drake shifts to give them something easier weren't helpful. The tank couldn't even find the drake vendor, still, after wiping multiple times. No one was paying attention, at all. It's not even "vehicles are hard" at that point; it's "you're not trying to learn."

And then...Old Kingdom. Oh my goodness, Old Kingdom. I got this instance twice in a row, and both times I had to leave early because it was just not worth the repair bills anymore. I felt bad about it, but I just couldn't stay.

The first time, the tank had no idea where he was going. This is okay; everyone has their moments when they're learning an instance. But he wouldn't listen when the group tried to show him the correct way to go, instead running in circles around the first boss's area, pulling extra packs of mobs that actually ended up wiping us a couple times (because, hey, no one is controlling the insta-kill spell flingers, and when I try to freeze them in place the mage is purposely breaking my CC). It didn't help the healer was continually AFK (or unglyphed HT healing), either.

The second time in OK, the tank was "undergeared" (i.e. in blues). Now, obviously these heroics can be accomplished by "undergeared" people; we did it in the beginning of Wrath. However, this tank played like he was in ToC epics, pulling without worrying about control or even threat, really. So, of course, spell flingers were eating people, lots of wipes were had. After the second boss, the DK DPS pulled a second pack of adds for no reason and killed everyone but the rogue and I.

As the Rogue and I talked, we discussed how if we didn't Misdirect or Tricks the tank, the adds wouldn't get picked up; but if we did, then he would die. My CC would get broken. No one was using defensive cooldowns. The Holy Paladin was apparently half-awake, and the tank liked to die in a blaze of glory. Half the time the rogue was evasion tanking or I was kiting or my pet was tanking.

When the tank pulled an extra pack of mobs on his way back in, I apologized to the Rogue and left the group.

It is becoming somewhat common that I find people think just because it's easy, they can do it without any sort of thought or care. They try to brute-force everything because many things can be brute-forced. They don't take into account that their gear can't handle it, that some things still will one-shot them, that they need to pay attention.

I could see how the current content would breed that mindset. After all, I remember logging in early when ToC first came out, getting extra consumables and reagents and feasts and preparing myself to stay on late, because this new boss had to be hard. After all, it was after Ulduar, and with only releasing one boss at a time, it was going to require some work, right?

We killed Beasts in 2-3 shots and went back to Ulduar. This left us totally unprepared for Hardmode, as we'd been lulled into a false sense of security by the ease of normal.

Some of it could also be that people skipped the "hard heroics" like OK and Oculus with gear resets, and now think they can just merrily romp through collecting their badges with no idea what they're doing. Which is, in essence, the same thing.

Just because something is easy doesn't mean it can't kill you.

Just because something is easy doesn't mean you don't have to pay attention.

Just because something is easy doesn't mean you can slide through it.

Just because something is easy doesn't make you immortal.

So pay attention. If you don't know, ask. Do your own investigating, even if that means simply reading the text supplied to explain how your dragon works. Slow down. Mark groups. Don't break CC. Look where you're running. Listen to your group members. And remember:

Just because something is easy doesn't mean you can't mess it up.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Regemming Haste? Don't Do It!

As an important note, please be aware that this is probably the worst thing I've ever written. I'm not removing it because people have discussed some important things in the comments. I am, however, working on a rewrite that is being slowed down by the holidays. You can keep reading this and writing comments, but please be aware that much of it needs revision, clarification, deletion and editing.

Being unable to access the PTR, I never really got to experiment with haste differences before the patch went live. Aware that I'm sitting pretty compared to a lot of other Restoration Druids at 610 haste, I knew I was still under the cap. I would have been a little better off if I could have gotten the chest from Heroic Faction Champions, but it only dropped once and I didn't win it.

So, Saturday, my little-PUG-who-can hopped into Icecrown Citadel 25 man. We one-shot Marrowgar, five-shot (I think) Lady Deathwhisper, one-shot the Gunship Battle, and then had to call it on Saurfang on account of having waaaaay too many ranged (we only had about five melee; made spreading out impossible). During this time I got to play around with both raid healing and tank healing, i.e. doing both in a fight, and I found, insanely enough...

My timing is off.

I'm down to just fractions of a second more than the one second cooldown, with 610 haste and Celestial Focus, and my rhythm was still disrupted. Not terribly, not so that I couldn't heal, not so that my healing suffered. It was just an annoyance, a tic; when I was hitting my buttons now was my internalized one second GCD, and I just wasn't there anymore.

Delleyentar asked me just yesterday if I was going to regem haste or go Celestial Focus. I'm convinced, however, that regemming haste is not the way to go. Besides being expensive, it's a serious blight upon your Spellpower numbers, which are the biggest boost to a Restoration Druid's healing.

To take Bellwether for example, she has 15 sockets. Out of those 15 sockets, 13 are straight 23 Spellpower gems, and two are 12 Spellpower, 12 Spirit (gaining three socket bonuses along the way; +9, +7 and +5 Spellpower) . That's 347 Spellpower, including the amount gained from the Spirit. At 610 haste, I would need to regem 246 Haste to reach the fully-raid-buffed cap without Celestial Focus, which is 12 sockets of pure Haste and one socket of Haste/Spellpower. Fully regemming would get me to 910 Haste, but I would lose all that Spellpower and Spirit for a few seconds shaved off my GCD.

It's not worth it.

It's not worth it at any level; when you're low haste or high. Unless you're just a few points shy of the 1 second GCD, you're losing more by going for Haste gems. Spellpower is still priority. I'm going to be re-tweaking my Gemming Guide to explain this in detail, but I thought this deserved its own section, as well.

The one second GCD is not the be-all-end-all of Druid healing. Is it handy? Yes. Is it necessary? No. Can you raid heal without it? Yes. Is respec'ing into Celestial Focus helpful? Most definitely.

Don't gimp yourself trying to reach the one second GCD. You won't perish without it, and neither will your raid.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bell Iz Teech U 2 Boomkek LOL

Iz 2 Big 4 Mah Blog ONOES. U haz 2 click 2 see!





Friday, December 4, 2009

Being Extraordinary

Let's face it; the current game can be largely brute-forced. Unless you're doing some select hardmodes, you can rofl-faceroll your way to victory. There may be some wipes, some frustration, but eventually the stars will align and you will be teh winnar. And it's this kind of situation that reinforces the "good enough" mentality. This works, kind of, so it's "good enough."

But, seriously, who wants to be just "good enough"?

If you like being just "good enough," sliding through content and so forth, you can feel free to stop reading now. There's no shame in it, you just won't find the rest of this post interesting.

If you're still here, I'll assume you want to push past the "good enough." Maybe you're working on hardmodes or are entering a srs biznas raiding guild. Maybe you just want to be more than "good enough" because you're an over-achiever. Maybe you wish to be hyper-critical of any advice I post here! Whatever your reasons for sticking around through my rambling drivel, I salute you.

So, what does it take to be a better-than-average healer? Many things. However, there are some basics that first must be met before you can even start healing. These are:
  1. You must understand your spells. If you don't understand the mechanics upon which your healing operates, you cannot heal.
  2. You must be willing to adapt based upon what situation you are facing. Not every encounter behaves the same way, so neither can your healing follow a singular routine.
  3. You must be able to quickly react to a changing situation as it occurs, in hindsight, and in foresight.
  4. You must have OCD that operates upon a switch and has a shiftable focus.

Those are the basics. And, no, point number 4 is not a joke. I am quite serious.

Let's break these points down a little more and explore the differences between "good enough" and "super awesome" before going further, shall we?

First up is understanding your spells. This seems like a no brainer, but if that's true then I'm not quite sure what some healers are using to operate their characters. Perhaps a sea sponge? I digress. But, really, don't just read the text and go "Oh, huh. Neat-o." Actually attempt to understand what you're reading. Look at how the puzzles pieces fit together. The spells don't have labels on them (yet) telling you which situations they fit. They don't come with a manual. There isn't even a "healing dummy" that can give you practice. Outside of actual implementation, you need to understand the basics of each spell before you throw it into the fray.

Of course, you also have to be able to adjust this understanding with each new patch or hotfix. Just something to keep in mind. Moving on!

All right, adapting to situations! This is key. We don't have a "threat rotation" or a "DPS rotation" like the other members of our raid (the non-healers). We have certain spells that do certain things and make no sense to be used in a rotation (usually). And, as every encounter has its own unique "quirks," these need to be met with an ever-changing arsenal and selection of spells. Sometimes this can be predictable, sometimes it won't be. You have to be prepared for both.

The next part is your ability to react to change, quickly. QUICKLY! TOO SLOW THEY'RE DEADWTFMANWHEREWERETHEHEALS?!

Sometimes, things just go wrong. Or they go correctly but someone does something stupid. Sometimes RNG just spits in your face and then curbstomps you to the ground. And you, the healer, need to heal through that curbstomp as best you can so you can tell RNG to go fornicate itself inappropriately. You have to be ready for the melee to scramble through poison and void zones and lightning bolts. You have to be ready for the tank to forget his cooldowns or not have one up. You have to be ready for a sudden wall of white orbs bearing down upon your black-aura'd group mates.

Yes, you. Don't sit there and go "Oh the others will cover it." Maybe they will, maybe they won't. You don't know because this is an unexpected situation. You should react as quickly as you can to remedy it within your capacity as a healer and without neglecting your assignment. And you have to make that decision in a matter of seconds. Less than seconds. RIGHT NOW!

Too late.

And, the final part of the basics, your healer OCD. You must obsessively, compulsively, follow health bars, boss mechanics and fire-huggers. You must be able to shut this OCD off during boss fights in which it is inappropriate (see Anub'arak). You must be able to shift the focus of this OCD based upon your assignment. And you must be able to control this OCD to allow for trust upon the other (hopefully exceptional) healers.

To check a healer's OCD, raid leaders should follow this procedure: invite someone to the raid, who is not near the instance, with less than full health. Count how many frustrated healers begin roaming around the room, exclaiming in Vent and clicking/jamming buttons frustratedly. You hear that? That is their OCD on overtime.

All right, that's the basics. But that will just make you "good." Remember, we're going for EXTRAORDINARY. In caps. So, what do you need to lump on top of those basics?

It is not "I can't do this," it is "How can I do this?"
There is no such thing as a fight you cannot heal. There may be people you cannot heal, there may be healers you cannot work with, but there is no encounter you cannot heal. None. Zero. Don't even start with me because I have healed every fight and I say you can too.

There was a time where I was under the impression there was some stuff I couldn't do. Like healing people through Ignis's crotch pot. My HoTs just didn't tick fast enough! Well, I was wrong. I had to adjust my view. I had to think about it. I had to refresh my knowledge of my skills and my current gear situation. After all that, I adjusted so that I never allowed a crotch pot victim to die where I had a choice.

If something is not working, adjust. If the adjustment doesn't work, adjust some more. You can heal it. No ifs, ands or buts. It's like that cheezy can-do attitude stuff you learned in Kindergarten, only it doesn't apply to things like believing you can be a dinosaur.

You may hit some sort of wall, like your tanks need more mitigation or your DPS starts believing that standing in fire gives a buff. But that doesn't mean you can't heal it, it doesn't mean it's impossible.

Now, I know you can eventually bash your head aganst content and it'll fall over and give you its loots out of pity, but that's the "good enough" way. We're working on being extraordinary. Never forget that.

Use Raid Awareness to Precast
There will always be damage you know is coming. It's not about intuition or psychic powers, it's about a boss having scripted mechanics. Koralon is going to Burning Breath now, Gormokk is going to Impale now, XT is going to throw a hissy fit now. You know when it's coming because you have DBM or an equivalent/better, or you simply watch the boss. You know these things are coming.

So, what do you do with this knowledge? Precast.

You know that Koralon's always going to do Burning Breath before he does any Meteor Fists. There should be HoTs ticking all over that raid before he even fills his lungs. You know Onyxia is about to breathe fire on the tank because she's pulled her head back. Your Holy Light should already be processing. Gormokk's about to stomp and cut off half the melee's HP. You're already channeling a Chain Heal, cutting it off if it's about to be wasted, right? Of course you are, you're extraordinary.

Learn the Difference between "Aggro" and "Attention"
Many addons used to create special healing frames (such as Healbot and Grid) have the option to adjust themselves visually in some way when a character has aggro. This is incredibly helpful to healers because tanks often don't call when they're grabbing Gormokk (because they like watching their health dip?) and you can quickly adjust to healing their uncommunicative butt.

However, this also lights up when a raid member gets the boss's "attention." This isn't aggro, this is simply the boss switching to target them for a moment to cast a singular spell, usually a debuff. They then immediately return to the tank. This can be seen on Jaraxxus or Onyxia during the air phase.

Why is this important? For starters, someone who gains boss "attention" is about to either receive damage, or do some damage to others. Paying close mind to these "attention" warnings can give you anywhere from a split second (instant-cast debuffs) to a few full seconds of preparation time. When Onyxia is in the air, people who gain her attention have a few seconds before they, and the people around them, are victims of a fireball and splash damage. This gives you time to prepare with either a HoT or precasting a spell.

"Attention" is a common mechanic used by many bosses. XT, Jaraxxus, Onyxia and Icehowl are just a few of the bosses who utilize "attention."

Never Discount a Spell Completely
There are spells many classes scoff at, say are worthless or useless. For Druids, this was Healing Touch. Only wanted if his girlfriend, Nature's Swiftness, was doing the talking, he otherwise never got invited to the parties. He chilled alone with Tranquility, but at least Tranquility was cool on the 5-man scene. Healing Touch, he couldn't catch a break.

Then along came a boss called Hardmode Anub'arak and this guild, Apex, and they decided HT totally needed to come to the party, just so long as he was fast. And, indeed, with the proper glyphs and gear, HT was cast in under 0.8 seconds and verily did Anub eat much dirt.

Never, ever, take a spell and throw it out the window. Never assume a spell is pure trash. Somewhere, somehow, there is a purpose for that spell. It may not have been invented yet, but its day will come. And then won't you feel foolish when you have to go digging through the dumpster and apologize to it?

Don't Fall Into the "Good Enough" Trap
Be wary of the healer rut. You can get so used to something that "works" that, when you come upon the antithesis of your working model, you break down into blubbering healer tears and mutter disconsolately at the shattered pieces of your bubbles and earth shields. That's when the warlocks gather your tears and sell them on the black market. And you really don't want to give 'locks extra income.

If something doesn't work, you have to stop hitting your head against the wall. To really be extraordinary, you can't play by the "eventually it will work" rules. You can't think in terms of "good enough." Being extraordinary is a state of mind; it's in your approach, in the swish of your hips as you walk into the boss's room and tell him he might as well hand over your trinkets now because he is your bitch.

You got all that?

Good. Now go be extraordinary.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Trust Issues

So, what I can decipher according to the replies on my previous post, I am a control freak with trust issues towards other healers, and that's why I can't just DPS. And, yeah, that's pretty much hitting the nail on the head. I don't trust other healers. Not ones I don't know. My friends who are healers I'd trust to heal me through anything, but PUG healers make me nervous, make me crawl out of my skin, make me rant excessively to five different friends in different IM windows.

Terrible healers are why I can't relax as DPS.

Last night, I joined a friend's raid on my Hunter. I knew one of the healers, and trusted her. I didn't know the Resto Druid, but he was in her guild, so he couldn't be terrible, right?

No, wrong. So, so wrong.

His most used healing spell? Nourish. It accounted for 60%+ of his healing. Rejuvenaton almost never broke 20%. There was a fight where he beat Wild Growth healing with a single Healing Touch. Living Seed was his third most effective heal.

This was a conversation we had:

"I use Nourish on Twins because I need fast heals to cover for a lot of raid damage." says BadDruid after a wipe due to raid damage on Twins.

"It'd be better if you blanketed the raid with Rejuvenation, Wild Growth on cooldown and used Swiftmend." replies Bellwether, trying to be helpful.

"HoTs won't tick fast enough. I'll just use Nourish." BadDruid shrugs.

This is why I can't just relax and DPS.

He explained to me that Nourish was faster and stronger than Rejuv, and he was boosting it with HoTs. What HoTs? He barely used Rejuv, and Lifebloom either never registered or was near last. No Regrowths either. Oh, Wild Growth? Yeah, you're not using that either.

You want to know what attempted to heal off my Incinerate?

Gift of the Naaru. Neither of the healers being Draenei, it means one of the DPS or the DK tank tossed me that heal. Not a single HoT, not even a Nourish. Of course, this wasn't entirely his fault and I'm not making it just his fault; my Priest friend didn't heal me either.

So I spent over an hour wiping in ToC 10 before we finally cleared it. The last time I wiped in ToC 10 we were adjusting to using just one tank. Oh,, I went as DPS to kill Anub on a ToC 10 where the healers couldn't keep the tanks alive during Leeching Swarm.

I get so frustrated with bad healing. I try to be helpful in whispers and help them see why what they're doing could be improved, even just a little bit, by adjusting something here or there. I'm not rude or mean. I don't curse at them or bitch them out. And yet, they just keep going, spamming Nourish.

I won't even talk about how those tactics are reinforced through easy, brute-forced content. That is a post for another day and another time.

It's been suggested I shut off Recount, ignore health bars, just do my own thing...but when we're wiping I want to know why. And when I figure out at least some contributions to the wipe and make suggestions to fix it and they are ignored...I can't relax. I can't enjoy it, because I'm constantly worried if I'm going to die because the healers aren't paying attention, aren't on top of their game...I miss my guild healers.

And why, just to hurt me, do they always have to be Resto Druids? /cry

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Locked Into Healing, Revisited

In my previous post about being "forced" into a healing position, I was left an intriguing comment by Leafshine.
I think people sometimes get pigeon-holed as healers. They just get used to you, the player, being a healer, and assume you won't mind taking that role.

I took this, and a lot of other commenters in mind, when I tried to join groups and look for PUGs the past few weeks since writing the article, to see what happened. I monitored others' reactions and requests, as well as my own, to gauge the situation. A lot happened over that time period to give me plenty to think about.

Certain situations spring to my mind rather quickly. I was whispered to join a ToC 10, and was asked "which of your healers do you want to bring?" It wasn't "which of your characters" it was healers. This person was aware I had a hunter, but that wasn't what they wanted. When I joined the group on Bellbell (because Bellwether needs nothing that doesn't drop off of a Hardmode ToC 25), it was empty of anyone but him, me, and another healer, so it wasn't just a case of needing a healer.

Another raid was an Onyxia 25 in which I had finally been invited as Retribution DPS. Some guild members were tanking and DPSing, but it was mostly PUG. And then it is revealed...we have only four healers. All PUGs.

I should have kept my mouth shut. I shouldn't have asked "just four healers?" I should have just kept going as DPS. But I didn't. I said "just four healers?" and immediately my guildmates frantically requested in guild chat, in the spirit of not wiping, for me to switch. Of course, I caved in with much grumbling and sourness of mood. And we downed her first try, I "won" healing meters by a wide margin, and I died inside a bit.

Following that we went to ToC 25, and I was invited along as a hunter. With no pressure on me, with no one requesting it, I ended up switching to Bellwether to heal the instance because we couldn't find other healers. We just couldn't keep more than four online, and I switched. And again, I did 10-15% more healing than any other healer there. The one following most closely was a guild member's alt who had just hit 80 with an ilevel 175 blue mace.

When I finally got into an Onyxia 25 on my Hunter, I was excited. Finally, I have my DPS in a PUG raid. And then, as the fight progressed, I felt...helpless. Unable to account for anyone else's fate but my own and my pet's, I felt like I couldn't save the raid. I couldn't keep the tank alive, I had no cooldowns, no panic buttons. Not for anyone but me. I felt...isolated. Even with me coming in the top 3 of both DPS and Damage Done, I felt like I was less of an important piece than if I had come on one of my healers. I looked at the dead and wondered "could I have saved them?"

I did note with pride that I was in the top three of Damage Done and DPS. Even though there was no Ret Paladin in group, so the raid received my Ferocious Inspiration buff, I felt singular and replaceable.

Then, in a VoA 25, we downed both Koralon and Archavon. Yet, we wiped twice on Emalon before I left. Switching was slow to the Overcharged, and with several people (Warlocks, even!) doing 1k DPS, they weren't killed fast enough. And though I hit every cooldown I could and topped both Damage Done and DPS charts, I couldn't cover for those slacking people. When someone has low HPS or Healing Done, I can cover for them. I can pick up the slack and throw out heals left and right. But I can't push someone else's DPS, even when I'm hitting 5k+ myself.

So, what is really locking me into the healing role?

Well, one could argue its my environment. People expect me to heal. They know I'm a good healer. They want me to heal because not having good healers can cripple a raid in a most obvious and drastic way. I feel pressured to be that healer, to make the run go smoothly. What happens if I don't switch, and there's a wipe from insufficient healing? Is that, indirectly, my fault?

But, there is definitely blame lying squarely on my shoulders. That ToC 25 I was in on my hunter? No one asked me to switch. They told me I didn't have to. But I did anyway, even though my Hunter is the one who really needs the badges and Trophies, so my boyfriend's Shadow Priest could come in the raid and so we didn't have to wait for healers through the disconnects and random leaving due to impatience.

I still heal because I enjoy it, certainly. It is fun and dynamic and involved. But I also heal because it's what's expected of me. I heal because it often gives me more control over the outcome of the raid. I heal because it takes less time than trying to PUG a healer. I heal because I don't trust PUG healers. I heal because it makes me feel useful. I heal because I want others' runs to go smoothly.

While it might be easy to blame others for pushing me into this position, it wouldn't be fair to deny the role I've played in locking myself into healing.