Sunday, August 16, 2009

Situational Awareness and You: A Guide to Avoiding Blindsides

Have you ever had one of those moments of horrible realization? One where you flip through your recount to find the semi-geared insert-random-DPS-here doing a less than subpar 300 dps? Where every pull is draining your mana fully, sometimes twice? But you need this heroic and it's an off time for the server, the tank's not so great no matter how amazing his gear, and even waiting 5-10 seconds after the initial pull your 3/3 Subversion specced Death Knight is pulling aggro.

Then the worst thing happens, a wipe. Not just a normal wipe, the kind of wipe where the mobs mop the floor with you because they have a lot more friends than you do. The kind of wipe cause by someone not paying attention and body pulling another group, or talking about how easy this instance/raid/fight is and slacking off. The kind of wipe that can only be cause by someone not giving 100% effort and attention to the task at hand.

As a Restoration Druid, I've found it a bad, bad habit to know I can HoT and walk away when it comes to running heroics and trash in OS, Naxx, and VoA. Go get a sandwich, cook a steak, take a nap, do a shift at work, and the Tank still has full health. This is a HORRIBLE habit to get into. We, as healers, as players, always need to be paying the fullest attention we can. Text messages, a phone call, they're not vital emergencies when you agree to heal, tank, or DPS an Instance, Heroic, or Raid.

As a good example: Elorius, Deathterrors, and I joined with a Prot Paladin and Warlock to knock out the Heroic Daily, Old Kingdom, before I had to scurry off to work. I scoped out the Paladin on our arrival and all seemed fair, he was in very nice gear, definitely prepared for tanking and his spec was all set (I've made a habit of inspecting my tanks after half way through a smooth HoL run, the Tank revealed he had been playing in Arms spec and was not performing to his fullest potential.) The tank proved to be a case of "not the gear, the player" as even on my request, Deathterrors and Elorius managed to pull aggro without trying too terribly hard after waiting five seconds post-pull.

I was a bit iffy about the warlock, as she was armored to the teeth in PvP crafted and Wintergrasp Mark gear, but it was good enough to provide sufficient DPS... or so I thought. Now, it occurs to me than an Afflcition spec takes time to build up DPS, and if you're burning down mobs too quickly it's going to wind up looking bad in numbers, but we weren't burning them very fast, and even in a 3 minute boss fight, it didn't break the 500 mark, after hovering around 300 and admitting to being distracted (but that's not why we're here, is it Guari!? No, it isn't!)

After all of this, we struggled through Elder Nadox, scraped by Prince Taldaram and were being manhandled by the pulls between the lower platform and Heral Volazj. I won't lie, I was beginning to get frustrated when the last straw snapped the camel's back... midway through a mispositioned pull FAR too close to a patrolling group, I called for everyone to hug the wall to avoid adds and threw out groupwide rejuvs and a wild growth. In a case of unattentive playing, our lovely warlock friend was nailed by wandering Elementals, who proceeded to steamroll our group. Even Nourish, WG, Swiftmend spam and a fairly well timed NS+HT, followed by Innervate and more spam barely kept myself and the tank alive long enough for his Consecrate to kill the mobs, my guildies and I(as politely as possible, etiquette is ALWAYS important) to let the tank know we needed to go, and me to log off just in time to make it to work, a heroic incomplete.

Now I'm not calling fault to anyone here, at least not openly, but I wanted to share this in hopes that you, as healers, DPS, or tanks, whatever form you find yourself reading this, will keep an eye open and scan your surroundings. Try not to allow yourself to get terribly side-tracked, remember that other people feel the pain of repair bills, and work as hard as you can to achieve the ultimate goal: success.

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