Monday, January 24, 2011


I'm not very accustomed to fail. You know those kids you went to school with, the ones that always got good grades, that were the stars of the basketball and other teams, the ones that all the girls thought were cute? It's a bit of a stereotype, I know, but I think we all know or knew someone like that. If there's one thing I am it's honest. Not modest, unless I'm in the mood, and today I'm not. I was one of those kids, and I was proud of it.

The thing about being the kid who succeeds at everything, is sooner or later you begin to think that you can't fail. Until you do. As this isn't exactly the time and place to list all of my life failures, rather a silly little World of Warcraft blog, I think I'll limit my comments to this silly game instead of confronting the more frightening reality of how totally unsuccessful I have been at meeting many personal life goals.

DPS to Heals to Failure
I would tend to guess that many newbies start their wow careers as some sort of DPS. Some may have started as a Holy Pali thinking that that would provide them the best chance at being awesome at swinging a big mace. But let's not pick on those silly little Paladins today, they have a hard enough time as is. I thought the point of the game was to hit with a stick. Then I experimented, learning took the place of ignorance, and in time I realized that I could do various things.

My road to becoming a healer has been treated on this blog, so for time's sake I won't rehash the past. Let's just say I found myself in ICC with my Resto Shaman chain healing my way to victory. That is until I had to give it up for a while.

So Cataclysm comes and I start reading how healing is hard, how it sucks, how people are giving it up because it's unreasonably difficult. I read how the devs think "healing is in a good place right now, where we want it" (not actual quote, just paraphrasing multiple quotes). I switched my shaman back to Enhance for Cata, not because of the supposed healing difficulties but rather because I wanted to have fun in a more seflish way this time around.

But my Priest, oh, my Priest kept a healing spec. And this past week I healed something for the very first time. And I failed.

Horribly failed.

And when I say failed, I mean I really was aweful. Even my own guildies didn't want to be patient after two wipes, they just thought I sucked. It hurt, mainly because these particular guild mates weren't a part of the guild in ICC, they didn't seem me almost single heal Festergut. They had no idea how good I was, (or how good I thought I was). Now in their eyes I suck, I'm a terrible healer that probably doesn't deserve a spot in the guild. As for me? What do I think?

Well I failed, and no I don't think I'm unworthy. But chances of me logging into my Priest again any time soon is around 3%. I don't take failure well. I didn't fail much as a child, or a teen, or in college where every professor wanted me to follow in their footsteps and choose THEIR discipline of study. I didn't fail when I programmed amazing financial models that improved the productivity and efficiency of my accounting department by measurements unknown to human kind. Ok, hyperbole, more like by about 500% increased efficiency. And a system that saw a 60% error rate to less than 1%.

I won't blame my back pain for any goals not attained, some things are just out of our controls. Even being unemployed doesn't make me feel like a failure. But for some reason, I felt like a failure this week when I couldn't even keep a tank alive for more than 20 seconds.

Odd, really, how something so silly, a game, can make you feel such things. I guess my specs will be Shadow PvE and Shadow PvP from now on. Screw healing!

Don't look at me like that! Don't you dare call me a quitter! I think I fight quite hard every day in RL to make up for EVERYTHING I may choose to STOP doing in a game. One thing was obvious to me about healing, I had no idea what I did wrong. What I didn't understand was why I couldn't keep a tank alive when I was healing every second. Health was dropping too quickly and I just couldn't keep up. Perhaps the tank was doing something wrong? I won't know, really, because he'll never admit to it. I kept my shield up on him, along with the Grace buff, Penance on cooldown, even Pain Suppression to reduce damage taken - not to mention Inspiration (another damage reducer). It's not as if I didn't now HOW to heal as a Discipline Priest, but it's obvious to me that there was something that I clearly didn't understand. And that bothers me.

I've read enough about healing to know what I needed to do, and I thought I was doing it. I've done it before on my Priest, A LOT in fact, just not in the Cataclysm era. And that's my undoing. But that's in the past now, I guess, and that failure will stick with me for a while, which is something I'm not looking forward to. I suppose I could try it again, a chance to redeem myself. But what if I fail again? Can my pride take it if I try again and fail again? What more trauma will that unleash on me?

We've seen the number of tanks and healers recently, and there's a lot of reasons for that, all of which we won't discuss today. There are even solution, which we definately won't discuss. I wonder how many stopped because they failed and, like me, are just too afraid to keep failing. Maybe it's irrational, but try being rational with the irrational - it's not an easy thing, ya know.

Where I Sum Things But Come to No Conclusion
All this talk about failure, though, is just too heavy for a Monday. But since I don't really care and this is what I felt inspired to write about today there you have it. I've been mulling the idea for a really long post on Success, I think I'll write that, it's all cheery and happy stuff.

Some fail and get back up and succeed. Some fail and get back up and fail. Some fail, which failure frightens them into trying again. I won't say if one is worse than another, all could happen to you or me at any time and any place in life, so I won't judge (although I'm sure somebody will be more than happy to). As for my healing failure, it won't mean I won't heal again on any toon, just that one...for now...maybe. I can't see the future.


Larísa said...

Oh, I know the feeling. To be honest I feel a bit like a fail mage at the moment. I think I'll pick it up eventually and learn how to juggle my spells once again, but the question is if it's quick enough considering the needs of my guild. And yes, my pride is a bit butt hurt.

I get a tad worried hearing about your difficulties. I was looking forward to level my alt resto druid since I really miss healing. But maybe it will turn out to be too hard to me? Time will show.

In any case: yes, I think you should consider the possability that it might not have been only your fault that your tank died. Maybe he wasn't doing everything right either? I think you might be too hard on yourself, jumping into conclusions too quickly. Give it a go again and try to heal some other tank. If you ask me.

comforting hugs

Anonymous said...

try holy
I was disc in ICC and it was awesome, but disc in cata lags significantly behind holy (at least for me).

As holy, unless there is avoidable damage not getting interrupted, you can keep up a tank and dps.

Gronthe said...

@ Larisa & Anon: I think I will try it again, and I'll give holy a go this time.

This was the first time that I healed any thing (besides myself) in cataclysm, and despite healing in the past the thing that worried/worries me is there has to be something that I'm missing, something I just don't know.

I don't like failure, true, but after thinking about it a lot last night I know that I'm also not one to give up, no matter the cost.

Thanks for hugs and tips!

Rebecca said...

Ugh, sorry to hear you went through this. I haven't played a healer since Cata dropped - I changed raiding mains from a healer to a tank, which has its own fun and games.

I don't like blaming things on someone's gear but, as a tank, I watch my health yoyo sometimes. Even then I use my cooldowns nearly as soon as they're ready, every time. I wonder if the tank you were healing had dubious gear, or something not quite right about it anyway - and whether combined with that, he wasn't using his cooldowns.

I'm with you on being selfish with what you want to do in game. Even so, if you decide to try healing again - especially on a different class - let us know how the comparison feels.

Tam said...

This was an incredibly courageous post - it's really hard to look failure right in the eye like this. I won't say anything pacifying, only that I completely understand where you're coming from, being a similar type myself :)

You mention that you find it a little absurd that a game can make us confront, and feel, all this stuff but in some ways I regard WoW as a sort of safe space. I'm not used to dealing with failure either but I'd much rather eat it in WoW than have hit me in the rest of my life, and there's me with no experience of dealing with it at all.

In terms of unsolicited, unhelpful, irritating advice ... I don't know what you were trying to heal on your priest, whether it was a raid or a heroic or what. But disc healing has changed massively since Wrath. Massively massively. Conceptually speaking I would say it's moved away a bit from mitigation and back towards actual healing - also heals are puny compared to tank health. Obviously I'm using penance off cooldown but my major tank healing spell these days is actually greater heal, especially when hasted with borrowed time, and combined with the boosts given by weakened soul and grace.

I have to disagree with Anonymous above that disc lags behind holy. Holy is more accessible but disc is just as powerful and significantly more flexible. It's shockingly rude to self-advertise on somebody else's blog and, of course, I won't but there are quite a lot of musings about disc over at RO atm. They're just musings, certainly not gospel truth or anything, and I'm far from an expert. But healing is, err, yeah, tricky these days.

Gronthe said...

@ Tam: Disc is definately different, and it hit me square in the face with a right hook.

@ Rebecca: I was healing a DK, and he had mostly 333 gear. I will give it another try, maybe, someday, if I ever have the courage to log into my character again. Time will tell, but I'll update when I do.

Serephine said...

Came here via Tam, and let me assure you that your problem was most likely healing a DK in 333 average gear when you yourself were also in a low gear situation. I'm currently ilvl 353 and have a hard time healing DKs that don't gear themselves perfectly (stat wise, not full epix lol), simply because the mechanics for DK mitigation are /absolutely wonky/ IMO. I could barely keep on top of one the other day by chaining Serendipity Flash Heals into Gheals. Even with that constant stream of heals he would STILL dip low. Another important thing is as much as everyone says it now, CC is important, even in normals if the gear level on people is low. If more mobs are hitting the tank than absolutely necessary you can't really be blamed for not being able to keep up with the damage considering Blizzard tuned damage in these packs to be quite lethal without CC on purpose.

Please don't give up healing, the world needs more healers and the healing situation is not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. It simply isn't LK heroic 5 man faceroll easy anymore. It starts out fairly brutal; I would end every boss fight with every mana cooldown used AND OOM when I first started healing heroics, and now I rarely have to bother stopping to drink. When I got Heroic Grim Batol for the first time I literally could not heal Throngus no matter how well the group and myself played and it felt horrible, but once I geared up a bit and got more used to the new model I went back in and had no problems (on a side note the stupid git has YET to drop my wand). The biggest issue I feel right now is people get beat down at the hardest time possible (start of the xpac gear/skill curve) and call the whole healing thing a wash, so I've been trying to do my best to encourage people to stick it out, it does get better.

Gronthe said...

@ Serephine: Thanks for the encouragement. You nailed the DK in question, ave 333 gear. Mine was worse, maybe ave 318-325 at the time.

I think one of the fears I have now, one that eats at me is that even my own guildies don't want to give me another chance, how would I fare with pugs who whine and complain and kick or drop at the first sign of trouble.

What I need is to find a group willing to let me learn, and if I can't find it in my guild I'm not sure where to go.

I appreciate the encouragement though, I'll keep looking for a way to get back and try again.

Anonymous said...

Oh i find priesting so depressing. I am feeling that no one wants me in their groups anymore, because the healing is woeful. And i was good, you know? Now I struggle

The changes from Blizz have removed virtually all pleasure from a game I have been playing 5 years, I just feel like walking away. There is no reward.

You cannot apply what needs to be applied, just what you can afford. And spamming "heal" continuously just isnt much fun

Ready to walk...

Giselle said...

This is a late comment, but I found my way to your post via Tam's link.

I'd like to add my voice to the other words of encouragement.

I tentatively tried healing for the first time in Cata a few weeks ago on my priest. I had heard about how disc was so gutted (my beloved shinies gone!), and was very strongly advised to go holy, so I did.

I carefully geared my priest up in ilevel 339 crafted PVP gear, reforged everything to spirit, and tremulously stepped into a heroic with my friends. Looking back, I had it relatively easy as the group was all friends who knew exactly what they were doing, and used CC and cooldowns properly.

Even so, we wiped on the first boss in Halls of Origination, and I was filled with shame and offered to step out so they could get a proper healer. Instead, they offered encouragement and told me to try again. We completed the run. It wasn't a really "fun" experience because healing seems to me to be altogether too frantic now, but it makes such a world of difference running with your friends.

I hope you get the opportunity to run with friends--it really is much better running with people who help the healer rather than ignore him.

P. S. Don't forget to put down lightwell, and tell them they can use it at 20 yards without changing targets.

Reala said...

Agree that failures, especially in pugs, are often blamed on the healer when they are not his fault. However it's hard to know what's your fault and what's not when you start out. Similarly, I don't feel that your guild is a particularly helpful bunch in this regard, they should be willing to provide patient guidance to a member wishing to better themselves and give the guild another healer.

This post resonated with me in a big way. In fact it was quite chilling. I also was naturally academic (terrible system, judges a very narrow definition of intelligence) and hadn't experienced too much failure until I was a young adult, which is a horrible time to learn certain harsh truths.

It's given me a very profound fear of failure in almost every sphere of my life, couple this with the fact that I'm a jack-of-all-trades with a perfectionist streak pushing me to be a master-of-all-trades, resulting in inevitable failures, it leads me not to try anything new. I do not bounce back, I hurt for a long time then may tentatively try again in terror (go go alliteration) but probably not.

I'm extremely saddened to hear that an aspect of WoW has made you experience that horrible feeling of failure. I have found the new difficulty of healing quite empowering, which has come as a shock! Yes I've been the cause of one or two heroic wipes, but somewhere deep in there I *know* I'm a good healer, I know my class, I know I will only get better, and my victories are sweet and satisfying. There are not many aspects of life I have such confidence in, and I grab at this with both hands.

I'm sure that you have something too, be in in WoW or otherwise, at which you excel. I get the feeling you're also one for striving to over-achieve, we can't be all things but alas when we try and fail it's very painful.


Koch (Aszune) said...

Maybe going into a PUG is actually the way forward, though. It doesn't matter so much if you get kicked out of a group after the first boss (wipe) regularily - if you're no in there for the gear upgrades and rather want to learn about healing.

Different groups have the added advantage of giving you a different set of variables every time.

Saying that - I sneakily dodged the tanking responsibility until I had seen all the heroics as a dps class first. Knowing what's about to happen helped immensely.

As others have stated before me: The world needs more good healers (and tanks, by the way). Give it a few more goes - maybe the healing models have just changed. I wouldn't know...

D said...

Maybe try battlegrounds if you're not pvp adverse?

People are generally grateful to get a heal there and it will let you experiment with heal vs greater heal etc without the sense of failure that wiping in a dungeon can have.

Kriyet said...

I totally agree with the low gear DK comments - our best guild tank is an awesome DK, but healing him in early Cata, I thought I was done as a healer, and just couldn't get the hang of it. I really wondered if I was only a mediocre healer who had benefitted unknowingly from the Wrath effect. Shiny Boomkin toys looked much more fun than watching your tank eat dirt cause you suck.

But signicantly, everything we ran our first few weeks was also raining healing pally gear on our DK, or caster gear, while he ground his teeth in frustration. Once he finally started getting actual tank drops, the difference was amazing.

Another significant difference I see now too between groups that know the instances and groups that don't is INTERRUPTS! There are some trash pulls with significant damage output. PUG groups that don't interrupt I can often lose 1 or 2 players on those pulls. Guild or PUG groups that pay attention, the pull can be a breeze.

So, don't give up on the healing. And don't assume you're to blame. Everyone has to bring an A game these days. DPS should be using pots and damage-reduction talents and even bandages darnit, tanks should be blowing cooldowns, and groups should be CC'ing and interrupting every single little bit.

And a guild that won't try to help you learn all the massive changes to your spec and gameplay? Well, I'd be ghopping...

Lìttlebear (Deathwing US) said...

I think one of the downfall of the current game, including the LFG system, is that learning isn't an option. First hint of an error, and the vote to kick goes out.

I was once kicked from a group because I ran up the hall a bit in throne of tides, because I had JUST left one, and wanted to see if the mobs were spawning, or we had been sent back to the old one. Not far enough to pull, but far enough to see if they spawned. I was kicked before the mobs even finished spawning.

I understand your self criticism. I'm hard on myself that way as well. An error will drive me to dizzying heights of self abuse and determination to never repeat the mistake.

Be gentle on yourself, and use it as a focus point to learn what has changed.

I have faith in you.

Chetti said...

Very late comment - I found my way here through a link on WoW Insider. I've never done raid healing, or heroic healing for that matter. I used to love my resto druid till Bliz decided to just KILL my tree. However, I still like healing, at least I think I do. :) I've got a priest, a resto shaman, and a holy paladin in the works.. I'm focusing on the pally. I see myself, even at low levels having issues healing that I know I never had before. I've never EVER wiped in stratholme (ever!) till last week. Holy Pally could just not keep the bear tank alive, and I can't even figure out why. Mana wasn't an issue, using beacon of light and capping others when needed, and basically spamming heals on the tank just would not work. After wiping twice, group fell apart, I went back to questing feeling like the worst healer ever. Next day - new group - through stratholme without an issue.

The key - don't give up. I know other commenters have said it, and I agree. Healing may be more difficult now (as my pally reaches the level of my resto druid, i'm seeing challenges I know the druid didn't have), but if you've been a raid healer before and good at it, you're still good at it, and you'll get the hang of cata healing. It could have been an off day for ya, everyone has em. :)

Good luck!

Zinn said...

Reminds me of my relationship with tanking. I have been tanking for quite some time and I love it all the way. Nonetheless, if things don't go very well, or worse, people make sure I feel really bad about my awful tanking, it can go months before I pick it up again. I have been trying to work on that, you know all the "don't let them get you down", and unfortunately it comes with the side-effect that I become really snotty and bitchy when I tank :P