Sunday, November 3, 2013
Disc healing Afghanistan...Priest and Pilot is back, better than Iraq.
Priest and Pilot is back.
I'm about to pick up a full time crew and step out of the job I've been doing for nearly two months. Up to this point, my Afghanistan experience has been 6 days a week in the "mission planning cell," or tactics shop, supporting our daily theater tactical airlift missions as the deputy chief of tactics. All that means is that I am responsible at night for the development of the products our crews fly with, and occasionally I get to fly.
How does that relate to the common theme of this blog?
Well, I have had a consistent schedule, and I've made some time to play a game here and there in between my work shifts. In contrast to Balad, Iraq, where I spent my first two deployments, this place has "high speed" internet in the rooms.
This time around, I set up the small form factor desktop and I use the same USB adapter as before, the AWUS036H that I used in Iraq. Since the routers are close to the room, I ran the simple omni-directional antenna outside the door to my pod and mounted it using a magnetic base. (I will create a separate entry for the LAN work I've been doing here to optimize my connection.)
So, the end result is that I have a decent connection which allows me to game online, to varying degrees. Since arriving, I have taken my priest from itemlevel 485 to 530. I've managed to complete every raid via LFR, with the exception of the final boss in Siege of Orgrimmar. The 400ms-1200ms connection makes effective healing a challenge for sure, but I have even completed the Legendary questline through the metagem. Now, I am patiently gathering the final pieces to earn the Legendary cloak, which will be the first orange item I have ever earned in WoW.
One important lesson I learned early on was that I could not compete as a reactionary healer. With limited bandwidth and “red” latency, you need to fill a role that either prevents damage or automatically selects heal targets at the server level. If that isn’t possible, you need to be able to direct heals as quickly as humanly possible. These parameters drove me to atonement healing as a discipline priest, and forged the way I heal raids technically.
Atonement priests deal a portion of their healing via Smite, Power Word: Solace, and offensive Penance. The damage is directly (and automatically) duplicated to the raid according to who needs the healing. The value is great; it maximizes effective healing, reduces overhealing, and removes the time required for choosing healing targets. When your latency is high, a player may be already healed by the time you select them and cast your direct heal, but atonement healing allows you to be just as effective as the nerd spamming chain heal. Now, add Halo, Cascade, Spirit Shell, and Power Word: Shield to atonement, and you have a viable healing platform with moderate to high latency.
Addon-wise, some important things had to happen as I ventured into LFR (and later in flex raids through oQueue). I researched macros for smite, shield, and my direct heals. I am only in the rookie phase of macro use, and I combine that with a clean UI called "LUI." These macros all include a mouseover function, which blends nicely with any raid frames. I happened to settle on Grid2, primarily because of the simplicity and minimalist nature. Thus, when I place my cursor over the tank’s “square” and hit the key for my PW: Shield, it will shield him even if I’m targeted on an enemy, another raid player, or myself. Likewise, if I select the tank as my target and cast smite, it will cast against the tank’s target. Built-in logic allows me to quickly select heals without having to spend valuable time searching for a target. How a healer would ever succeed at high levels without these tools, I have no idea, but I met a disc priest today in Flex that uses more macros, no mouseover, and focuses on higher atonement dps and healing. I should also mention that yesterday I ran a Flex 10-man Siege of Orgrimmar (SoO) and was the top healer of 3 healers, and my latency was consistently higher than 850ms the entire time.
And so begins the technical discussion on atonement healing in current raids, both 25-man Looking For Raid (LFR) and 10-man+ Flex raids. What sets some disc priests apart in the raid setting in Throne of Thunder (ToT) and SoO? It all comes down to two elements: HPS (healing per second) and damage prevention. The former includes a proper management of your available mana, appropriate stats on your gear, and simply keeping people from reaching zero. The latter requires a knowledge of the fight, situational awareness, and appropriate use of preventative spells, such as Spirit Shell. I’ll be talking a lot about those elements of healing over the next few months while I’m out here.