The guest post that started it all

Originally posted on clearcasting back in January ’10, this post ended up as the seed for the idea which eventually became Mohawk Troll. Reprinted here as reference:

Welcome to the Dark Side

… or how Zarigar learned to heal!

Arioch couldn’t get me to do it.

The rest of my guild couldn’t get me to do it.

The possibility of me getting to raid more often couldn’t do it.

The temptation of the dark side and their supposedly nummy cookies couldn’t get me to do it.

So why did I finally break down and pick up a resto offset?

We can thank the random LFG for that. That’s right—I was brought down by ridiculous DPS queue times.

***

My disdain for healing was a joke to people who knew me. When my old guild merged with the new one, this often appeared in guild chat:

Hey Zar, can you heal?

Arioch: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

When I say “disdain”, I don’t mean that I looked down on healing or healers. On the contrary, I have a lot of respect for people who do it and do it well.

It just wasn’t something that appealed to me. And the pressure, oh God, I have to try to keep all these people alive?

If I am sucky DPS, people might look at me sadly and my epeen might deflate a little.

If I am a sucky healer, people die and rack up repair bills.

I didn’t really want to deal with the pressure. As DPS, I have 2 others (and sometimes the tank) who could potentially pick up the slack if I was underperforming. There is no real safety net for healing.

Bad DPS might be tolerated (if not mocked to your friends and guildies).

Bad healing will probably end up with you getting the boot.

And I had convinced myself that I would be a bad healer.

***

Oddly enough, my first toon ever was a healer. My little space goat priest made her appearance on an RP server that didn’t seem to take the role-playing itself very seriously (thank God).

This was before WotLK and dual spec, so she made it all the way to 70 as a holy priest. (Why did I do that to myself?)

We weren’t really running any instances or end game stuff back then, so she didn’t really get to show off any of her healing prowess. Most of the healing she did was of the light kind, tossing a few heals while in group to kill elites, nothing too major or strenuous.

Sometime after that, someone got the great idea to create toons on a PVP server. (Not naming names; rhymes with Larioch.) (Edit: it wasn’t me, it was Tay – Arioch) I had no desire of replicating my priest and getting another one up to 70, so I chose to play a shaman instead.

Because it was a PVP server, we tended to quest together in group to increase our chances for survivability. Despite not speccing for it (still no dual spec at the time) my enhancement shaman occasionally became the de facto healer.

He healed a few group quests at the beginning of the game and some early instances, but eventually phased out of healing as more talent points got put into the enhancement tree. By that time we had some dedicated healers who were doing a great job of it and I decided I didn’t really want to spec to resto.

Aside from the occasional jabs and jokes about why I don’t heal—even after dual spec finally came out—it wasn’t anything I gave more than a glancing thought over.

***

And then freaking patch 3.3 and the random Looking For Group tool came along. The first time I queued up, I looked at the options available for me as a shaman: healing and DPS. I glanced at the little cross that signified healing, shrugged, and then placed my check mark next to the little dagger denoting DPS.

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

What the hell?

Finally, after 10 minutes—which felt like 3 hours—the ready box finally appeared and off I went. I collected my emblems and queued up for the next one.

And waited.

And waited.

OFFS.

Trade chat was full of people complaining about the same predicament. DPS was waiting a long time while tanks and healers were getting snatched up. They were running multiple instances in the time it took for me to be picked up for one.

Healing…ugh…do I dare?

I made my choice while I was in queue and missed my ready check.

“You have been removed from the dungeon finder.”

AAAARGH!!!

Ok, let’s heal.

***

I did a little research. Read some blogs. Tried to understand what I was going to do.

I had no illusions that I would hop in and be a master healer, but I wanted to at least not look like a total noob my first time out.

My old enhancement spec went bye-bye as I unlearned all my talents and converted it to a resto spec. All these weird new spells looked foreign to me. Riptide? Earth Shield?

Thankfully, I had a bunch of older tier emblems collecting dust, so I used them to buy lower level healing gear to start out with. I cobbled together what I could of a healing set. What I couldn’t yet acquire I used my elemental gear to fill in some of the gaps.

Seriously, I was pretty ghetto looking. I imagined my future pug-mates inspecting my gear and thinking, “WTF is with this guy? I know this is not the person we are depending on to keep us alive.”

Because of this, I hesitated before putting myself into queue as a healer. I wasn’t interested in healing for healing’s sake or for keeping people alive. I just wanted to get into the random instances faster.

Did that make me a fraud? That I was basically trying to jump the line because I didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for an instance? Was there any difference between me and the other bads who queued up as tank & healer to get in faster?

I’m sure if I had asked my guild I might have gotten a few brave guinea pigs to let me test my heals on them. But I decided to practice on strangers instead. In my warped logic, I imagined I wouldn’t feel as bad if random tank XX from server XXX died instead of Soth. And if my healing was so terrible—as a last resort—I could always just cowardly drop group and teleport back to the safety of my server.

***

Alright, screw it. I respecced, bought some gear, did some research. Might as well put it to use and see where I stand.

I opened up the LFG tool and clicked the Healing box–

Wait-wait-wait…if I random queue, then I have no say in which instance I get. I might get Oculus or Halls of Reflection or something that is easy for me as a DPS but might be a little hard to heal.

Eh, screw it. I’ll give up the extra emblems and put myself in queue specifically for UK. That is a nice easy instance and should be a nice first practice.

I’m in queue for less than a minute when my ready screen pops up. Yikes, my queue time went from 15 minutes to 15 seconds. And, look at that, with the power of healer I can make other people run the instances I want.

Too late, I remember that UK in particular is one in which the tanks like to show off their own peen. As in, let’s blitzkrieg through this as fast as we can. You get emblems and gold and 3 virgins each if you complete the instance before the LFG debuff falls off you.

And, yes, as DPS I absolutely love this kind of tank. Faster pussycat, kill, kill! As a healer I want to run back out of the entrance and hide underneath one of the hammocks in the Dalaran inn.

So bear tank takes off down the hallway, grabbing every vrykul he can get his paws on. I try to keep, throwing Earth Shield on the tank and try to keep everyone else healed.

I’m so worried about staying in range of everyone and making sure they stay alive, that it doesn’t occur to me until about halfway through the run that I haven’t dropped a single totem…

Epic fail.

Running as resto means that I have now played all 3 shaman specs. And in all of them, you drop totems; it’s like one of the first things they teach you in shaman school. Hell, it’s just one button now. It kind of unnerved me that I was missing this basic step in being a shaman.

/hangs mohawked head in shame.

Thankfully, no one called me out on it. And if they noticed, they were nice enough to not say anything.

All in all, though, the run went pretty smooth. Then tank was excellent and the rest of the group was pretty good in not taking unnecessary damage. No one died (yay!) and I got a better feel for healing.

I still consider elemental my main spec, though I now alternate between healing and DPS for my random instances. Some runs are super smooth, while others are a bit of a nightmare. When a run goes badly, I still get the feeling of being a “pretend” healer who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

But, all in all, healing is not so bad.

So where is my damn cookie?

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