Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Fun of It

Given the choice, once I learned how to heal decently in Burning Crusade and then later in Wrath, I would rather run instances than quest.  It was fun!  It was a combination of juggling HoTs, dancing my way across a room and out of fires, and overcoming challenges with group members.  I enjoyed being able to plan ahead or quickly respond to a situation, depending on what was necessary.  It was fun to be able to, with a well-timed heal and skillful handling of my abilities, rescue someone from their own stupidity every so often or hold a situation together in the face of mass chaos.  It was like having a direct connection to "The Force", knowing intuitively what needed to be done and having a hard time later on explaining exactly how you did it.

And then came 4.0.  Or, rather, then came level 83.  No longer could I run circles around a boss while healing, dancing and juggling my way through the instance.  Instead, I was reduced to the status of a Holy Paladin without a Beacon . . . rooted to the ground more often than not, casting direct heal after direct heal, with only a little variation.  (Oh, boy, better let that Lifebloom stack bloom for a larger direct heal . . . then restack . . . way too scripted.)  And my healing aggro pulled more frequently.  And there were more "oh, bleep" moments when I'd have to pop Tranquility or something (and watch the adds come running to me.)

Sure, things are tuned harder and there is less margin for error on anyone's part in Heroics.  Sure, I've had to lecture the melee that my mana belongs to myself and the tank first, and it has to last the entire fight, including the inevitable Innervate and potion of some variety, so they are way down on the totem pole of my healing priority.  (When they've said, "Healer, you have mana!!  Use it!")  I even had one dungeon in progress where the group didn't seem too happy to see me, but gave me a chance instead of kicking me outright (and we were successful).  But what is the real problem is the general healing style overall in 5-mans.

Constantly casting direct heals is boring.  Knowing full well that if all jaheem broke loose (yes, I know that's an improper use of that word), there would be little I could do is not encouraging.  Watching those long-cast, low-mana direct heals hardly move the life bar of the tank is demoralizing.  And remembering the juggling dance of previous times makes me sad that I can no longer light-heartedly play with my heals.

Some evenings, I look at my dungeon finder button and just can't bring myself to hit it.  Some nights, I take a deep breath, click the dungeon finder, and move forward with the reluctant air of someone who has been assigned to do a distasteful chore.

I've noticed a lot of threads on the Blizzard Healing Forums complaining that healing just isn't fun anymore.  I can understand where they are coming from. I've even toyed with the idea of quitting. Yep. It's that much not fun.

I'm hoping it will change as we work on our 25-man raiding.  Last night was our first night in 25-mans.  After the first two bosses on Blackrock Descent, I hid my Recount, because I needed to focus without feeling I was a hopeless member of the raid being dragged through the dungeon.  When we moved to Bastion of  Twilight, I died so many times on the trash that I wondered if the raid would be better off with my character sitting in the corner and filing her nails.

But then we hit Wyrmbreaker.  The difference with this fight was that we had three tanks.  I had healers assigned to the first two, but I realized as we began the encounter that I had not assigned anyone to the third tank.  As I was in sort of a "hot the tanks and support the raid" position, I went ahead and focused on the third tank.

What a surprise . . . I felt useful.  I could see things happening.  I started worrying less about my mana and throwing around more Wild Growths to the raid when I wasn't spamming heals on the tank.  I tosssed out more Rejuvs and I Swiftmended more often.  And when, out of curiosity, at the end of the fight, I decided to take a peek at the meters, I found that all our healers had been performing well, including me.  (I was somewhere in the middle of the pack, but we were all in the same general range.)  And, as a bonus, I had NOT run out of mana!

Someone on the Healing Forum mentioned that he felt like he was battling his character instead of the boss.  I've heard more advanced Druids say that it gets more fun when you have enough mana and regen to be able to toss Rejuvs again.  Fighting our characters' weaknesses, indeed . . . I think what made me feel so triumphant on Wyrmbreaker was not that we got him down, although that was great, but that I battled against the weaknesses of my character to be able to dance a little in spite of the conventional wisdom of the most effective way to use a Resto Druid, and it worked.  (Like somehow I had defied the WoW gods and lived to tell about it.)

My husband still holds out hope that I will decide it's simply not fun and quit playing.  (Unfortunately for him, I'm not interested in Star Wars: The Old Republic.)  At this point, I'm just holding on to the hope that raiding will prove to have the fun that Heroics just haven't had.

And perhaps, with more gear, I will finally be able to dance and juggle again.

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