I hope you enjoyed (or are enjoying!) your trip to level 85 so far. I loved every second of it, but from what I understand, I was lucky. My cutscenes all worked beautifully and I never had a bugged quest. Still, the stories in the new Cataclysm zones are awesome, and I hope you get to experience all of them.
I hit 85 on Thursday. On Saturday afternoon, I finished my first heroic (Stonecore) with a group of friends. These are players I know are extremely competent in their classes and roles, and yet we wiped several times–Ozruk alone got us about 5 or 6 times. Was it bad luck? Were my friends drunk? (trust me, it’s a valid question).
Nope. Heroics once again require practice and skill. Yes, we were running at the bare minimum gear requirement, but that actually had very little to do with it. While some of the encounters would certainly have been faster were we doing 12k dps instead of 6-8k, the mechanics of the fights themselves will keep these bosses from being trivial for quite some time.
A blogger & guildy of mine (templeofthegeekgoddess.com) recently posted about healer awareness–basically, being aware that your healer might need you to do more than sit on your butt and wait for him or her to save you, and I thought it was a great point. With these things in mind, here are some things to think about going into heroics:
1. Know What You’ve Got. Open your spellbook and take another look at your toolset. Sure, you can dps, but what ELSE can you do? Can you heal? Mitigate damage taken by yourself and others? Can you crowd control or interrupt? Do you have a get-out-of-fear-free card? (Humans, I’m looking at you.)
For boomkin specifically, there are a plethora of functional or newly functional abilities. Soothe is now the equivalent of a tranq shot, and every mob I have used it on (and appropriate bosses) have been “de-raged.” Barkskin isn’t just for getting off those extra casts in Sindragosa anymore, either; pull it out somewhere convenient. Solar Beam, though annoyingly bright to your tank, is a great interrupt (note: it does not silence bosses, but it will interrupt their non-protected casts).
Entangling Roots can be used for CC, and make sure Hibernate is out on your bar if you walk into Grim Batol, it’s an extra sheep for those pulls with dragonkin. Some of you may remember druids shifting out of form in BC heroics to tranquility the group–well guess what? Go ahead and plan for that, because it has saved my butt many times already. Don’t forget, of course, that you can also remove curses and poisons and can pop out and heal in a pinch!
Also, look at your professions. Do you have a potion you can make that will help with a resistance? How about Lifeblood, herbalists? And for heaven’s sake, train First Aid!
2. And When To Use It. Knowing that you have a spell and knowing when to use it are two separate things, and you need to understand both. Does the boss cast two abilities? Which one is most important to interrupt? Which type of mob should be crowd controlled? (Tanks are technically supposed to know this, too; but if you’re in a PuG that may or may not be the case). When should you use a cooldown, and when should you save it?
Tranquility, for instance, has a significant cooldown, so you probably don’t want to blow it on a trash pull. Also, before you use that battle rez, take a quick survey of the situation. Who is dead, and will they be missed? If the tank is dead, look at the boss’s health: if the boss is very close to dead, it’s probably more efficient to kite and kill than to rez and heal. If the healer dies, look at the boss’s health and the tank’s health: Is the tank going to die while you’re rezzing the healer? Is the boss close enough to dead that you might be able to heal the tank through it?
As you get to know the instances, too; you’ll get more comfortable with where to use different abilities. I know that there’s a boss in Heroic Vashj’ir that enrages, so I should plan to Soothe. I know that around the second phase of Siamat in Lost City, the healer will be running low on mana and the group will be running low on health, so I throw my innervate and pop Tranquility while the healer regains some mana. The key to this part will be practice and experience.
3. Don’t Be a Freaking Jerk. Read that last sentence up there again: The key…will be practice and experience. Practice, by definition, implies that there will be failures. You will wipe. You might wipe several times. Several of the boss fights require tweaking for different group compositions, and people are still trickling to 85 and seeing the content for the first time. Run guild groups if you can to save yourself some headache, but don’t expect a guild group to walk in there and roll over it. The benefit of a guild group is that a) you already know each other and can constructively work out strats (hopefully) without getting defensive, and b) once that group does it, they’ll be able to more effectively help other groups. If you do run PuGs, be patient. Explain fights if you know them. Offer your abilities: “I can sheep/sleep the triangle,” “Let me know when you need my Innervate if I miss it,” or “I think it might be a good idea to save Heroism/Time Warp for the second phase,” can go a long way in helping your group get through the instance.
That being said, don’t be a door mat, either. If your tank repeatedly refuses to let your group CC when there’s an obvious need, your healer insists that they can heal themselves through whatever they’re standing in even though the tank keeps dying, or the shaman repeatedly pulls things without the group because he “can heal too,” don’t be afraid to kick them. The words to notice here, though are: repeatedly and keeps dying. One mistake is not a reason to kick someone.
Also, if you kick someone for having lower dps than you on a boss when they’re interrupting, avoiding damage, battle rezzing, and helping heal through the healer’s death, you’re a jerk. Just FYI. (No, I’m not bitter, why do you ask?).
There’s a longer and more detailed post about just this that I absolutely love; it appeared on MMO-Champ a few weeks before Cataclysm was released, and I highly recommend you at least skim it and share it with your guildies: What Wrath Players Need to Know Not to Not Suck at Cata!
Now go in there and be a hero!