LFD and Healer Burnout

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Burnout: noun \ˈbərn-ˌat\ exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration (Webster)

We’ve all seen it happen. But just a reminder, let’s grab our popcorn and take a look at how an attempt at completing the daily heroic in the random LFD plays out majority of the time.

Heroic Halls of Origination (Anraphet):
Mely: Please remember to move out of goo.
Tank does a ready check and pulls. Evil purple spawns on the floor. The hunter doesn’t move.
Mely: Goo!
Hunter remains and dies.
Hunter: Wtf Healz??
Other dps: Healer fails.
*You have been removed from the group*

Heroic Shadowfang Keep:
*Tank pulls trash while party is buffing. We barely make it through with zero cc and I’m down to my last drop of mana.*
Shadowpriest: Dude do a readycheck or something.
Mely: Please use cc for these pulls – they hit hard.
Tank: We don’t need cc for this – never had a problem with any other healer. Heal though this crap
*Tank pulls while I’m still drinking, group wipes*

By now, these scenarios should have you wincing at your own less-than-pleasant experience with LFD PuGs. I’d like to say one thing: It’s not you.

I chose to bring this up today because after almost two months of Cataclysm being released, it would seem as though the high probablity of failure in PuGs has brought down much of the great changes to dungeons and healing with a resounding crash. And, in my opinion, this crash seems bigger to healers because majority of the time when a group wipes, the healer takes the brunt of the blame regardless of where the mistake was. A thick skin and persistance seem to be the short term solution, but everything has a limit.

It is inevitable that a constant rain of blame, kicks and healing-on-the-edge without smart cc is nothing short of incredibly stressful, with little or no thanks at the end of it. A few weeks of this sort of grind wore me down and burnout of a different sort was just around the corner. Whenever I pressed the LFD button it was with a feeling of dread, and it had somehow become associated with inviting insults rather than running a dungeon. I was rather in a dilemma because I love healing and always have…and yet random dungeons with a very few exceptions usually spelt disaster.

Burnouts happen and pugging is no exception, particularly with the required level of coordination in the new dungeons. Here are some of lessons learnt on dealing with this, as a fellow healer who’s been there:

  • Diversify into alts: The best thing one can do is take a solid break from that particular character or healing in general. If you’re at the point where healing is more work than play, step back and don’t put yourself through any more. Cataclysm brought much more than just endgame content – we have new races and entire new quest chains to explore.There’s more to Azeroth than just dungeons.
  • Professions: Taking a break means you now have two hours to gather herbs or level up your professions instead of spending it in a dungeon. Archaeology is another great profession to relax with and whats more, you might get lucky and get yourself a shiny!
  • RP or PvP: These are great alternatives to PvE and offer a different perspective even if you’re playing the same character. There’s nothing quite like killing a member of the opposing faction to vent your rage. Better still if you do in a cute outfit!
  • Or try an entirely new hobby: I’m serious! =) Sometimes a balancing act is all it takes to bring back a little bit of enthusiasm and positive side of other hobbies. I ended up reading a book that I’d been wanting to but never got a chance to.

When you’re ready to go back in and give it another shot:

  • Starting off on the right foot: I always greet members of my party. It might seem trivial at first but it does wonders in opening up communication between members from the get go be it the tank requesting, the dps offering it…or simply me asking for a mana break. =)  Ofcourse there are always those who choose to play stupid regardless, but hey atleast you tried.
  • Offering to lead: Noone ever really likes to lead but in my experience if the rest of the members have obviously never been to the place before, leading the group and explaining the fights is your best chance of success. Whats more, members often appreciate it when a complete stranger takes the time to fill them in and it makes for a happy PuG overall.
  • Hold your Ground: This is pretty much dealing with obnoxious jerks. I am open to constructive criticism and discussing alternate strategies to fights. However obnoxious, uncalled for insults is where I draw the line. I am a healer – not a personal punch bag. The hunter who stood in purple goo can yell at me all he likes but he isn’t going to get healed unless he makes an effort to move out. All I can say is try not to let it get to you – its easier said than done, but having support goes a long way.

As a final thought, I have met some amazing groups through the random dungeon finder. While they may be few and far between, they exist. It’s groups like those that make me wish the designers put in a cross-realm friend system of sorts. It would go a long way in making the LFD experience a lot more fun. In the meantime, happy healing!

Archaeology for Healers: Rest, Relaxation …and Shinies!

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Since Cataclysm’s release, LFD has acquired a somewhat notorious reputation for itself: players who charge in without thought, who ignore mechanics of a fight, and more often than not blame the healer for their own mistakes. My own experience included some of these discouraging moments and at some point when the tank said “No need for cc…plz heal thru!”, I decided it was enough. I avoided random groups like the plague, and instead, turned my attention to the new and exciting profession of archaeology. Initially I found it to be a cute but rather repetitive profession. However, I soon found myself enjoying it and looking forward to the next artifact to unearth. I admit for lore buffs such as myself, it was heaven. But hey, its not just about lore and great roleplaying artifacts…it has some lovely shinies (which have fascinating stories) which are great for gearing up. Yep… I did say shinies…

So why is archaeology a great profession to spend time on?

  • It’s stress free. As much as I enjoy healing, I have to admit that some of my experiences turned a couple of my hairs white. That’s not always the best thing! After the on-the-edge type of healing dungeons, archaeology is a welcome break to take a deep breath and make sure you don’t burn yourself out as a healer.
  • Doesn’t require huge chunks of time at one shot. The days of 20 minutes heroics ended a while ago now. Heroics usually take atleast an hour if not more…and with PuGs tend to go for two hours or sometimes more. I don’t always have huge blocks of time to commit in this manner. With archaeology, it’s easy to stop whenever you feel like and pick up where you left off. Heck, I can actually do other things while I’m on the flight paths.
  • It has shinies and goodies of all kinds. And I’m not just talking about gear…I’m talking mounts, pets, and a plethora of little whimsical oddities ( Bones of Transformation…haha) that are just plain fun. Yep…it’s fun!Furthermore, those lovely epics are bind on account. While they don’t scale with the lower level alts, level appropriate characters can enjoy them as well.

Oh yes, shinies. I did mention those. Alright, here are the yummy goodies archaeology has for us healers. Might I add that they are on par with first tier raid level gear.

Tyrande’s Favorite Doll : A rare tier Night elf item that is simply put, yummy for casters – lots of intellect and some great mana regen for us. Given its rarity, it seems as though one would need a skill level of 450 and above to have a chance of discovering this one.

Staff of Ammunae: Excuse me while I swoon at its awesomeness. *swoon* A rare Tol’vir item from Uldum digsites.

Ring of the Boy Emperor: Another rare Tol’vir item…when this showed up for me in the page I was in shock for a little bit and then spent the entirety of my day gathering the fragments.

You’ll notice that these items are exclusively in Kalimdor, which is where I spent most of my time digging. I used a combination of Ring of the Kirin Tor (for the CoT portal to Tanaris), the trusty druid Moonglade teleport and my hearthstone to get around the continent quickly. To maximise the Uldum digsites spawns, I always checked after every digsite I completed to see if there was one in Uldum. If there was, I’d go do that one first before the others.

As a side note, the goodies list doesn’t end here ofcourse. There are rare mounts to be found such as Scepter of Asj’Akir and pets such as Clockwork Gnome and much more!

We need to keep in mind a bit of statistics here. The drop rates on these rare items means that it could show up on your third Uldum artifact or your hundredth. Archaeology can be very time consuming and somewhat tedious if these items are farmed out. At the end of creating the ring, I was ready to do something different and didn’t want to see a shovel icon for a while. However, considering the low success rate of PuGs and the high stress levels, I personally didn’t see time better spent elsewhere necessarily. Archaeology makes for a great profession to pursue between dungeons and resets and profession cooldowns. I always have something to do on the side while I’m doing archaeology which makes it less repetitive and helps ease the zombifying feeling.

Hope you enjoyed the read and happy excavating! =)

Cataclysm Rare Gems Quick Reference Guide

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With my feet in a couple heroics, I’ve found myself turning my attention to the gemming options. I usually like to use the addon Panda for this ingame, but I have no real equivalent when I’m simply browsing otherwise. Hence we now have this browsable gem reference. Rather than limiting it to resto druid gems, I decided to include all gem cuts for browsing convenience with special note of the ones that restoration druids would find to be particularly yummy. Enjoy!

Inferno Ruby (red) – Red Socket

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Resto: Brilliant Inferno Ruby

Ember Topaz (orange) – Red or Yellow Socket

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Resto: Reckless Ember Topaz, Potent Ember Topaz, Artful Ember Topaz

Amberjewel (yellow) – Yellow Socket

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Resto: Smooth Amberjewel, Quick Amberjewel

Dream Emerald (green) – Blue or Yellow Socket

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Resto: Zen Dream Emerald, Forceful Dream Emerald (I wasn’t too excited about these – so far I’ve been avoiding green gems for the other intellect, spirit and haste gem options).

Ocean Sapphire (blue) – Blue Socket

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Resto: Sparkling Ocean Sapphire

Demonseye (purple) – Red or Blue Socket

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Resto: Purified Demonseye

Shadowspirit Diamond – Meta Socket

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Resto: Ember Shadowspirit Diamond (the one I personally prefer over others), Revitalising Shadowspirit Diamond, Bracing Shadowspirit Diamond