The end, the end, the end … you’d have to be blind and deaf and under a rock to not know that the end of WotLK is fast approaching. The blogrolls are getting lighter (or more blood-thirsty, depending on which ones you frequent), trade chat more barren, PuGs more hard to come by and raids tougher to fill as WoW players shake off the dust acquired through the past 2 years, and actually pursue other endeavours. But not me! No, nerd that I am, I’m packing as much as I can into the end of the xpac, going through a Bucket List of To-Do’s, leveling up and gearing out toons, testing out the Beta, and racking up some long-overdue nerd points. (And playing SC2; a LOT.) I’ve yet to venture too seriously into PVP, because quite frankly it’s not my cup of tea, but I have been collecting a good list of healing challenges as I make the rounds through old and/or abandoned content.
So, based on my own recent adventures through parts previously unknown, here’s some healing challenges to keep you busy as we bide time before the end of the world (which, by all accounts, is going to be simply amazing):
1. Old Instances
Stop by some of the places you haven’t been in ages, before the entire landscape changes and you’re left wondering why desert bugs make sense in a lush tropical setting (*ahem* Tanaris designers …) or why Magtheridon holed himself up in Hellfire.
- Zul’Gurub – Farming a mount is fun, but the real challenge is to head in there with a friend and pull Hakkar while all of the bosses are alive. Who knew wiping in a Level 60 instance could be so hilarious, especially when it involves a Resto Shaman meleeing down an Spriest? Also, with ZG closing its doors come Cata, now is as good a time as any to get to know this sprawling instance (and it’s many, many different types of Bijous.)
- Molten Core – Okay, I’d be hard-pressed to see anything in MC as a challenge these days, but healing a cloth tank can still provide some heart-stopping moments. (Note: Cloth gear + Mortal Strike + lots of mobs = Oh my.) No points for bringing a plate wearer with you, cause that’s just cheating.
- Sunwell – Although it’s a little hard these days to re-create Resto Shamans’ heyday, heading into a Sunwell run can be a pleasant reminder of the simpler days when the solution to everything was Chain Heal. Tank damage? Chain Heal. Inside portals? Chain Heal. Someone not moving while marked? Scream in terr. … erm, *Chain Heal.
- Check off some of those BC heroics – I’d highly recommend bringing a buddy, since some mechanics aren’t very solo-friendly, but for the real adventurer, solo can be an enticing challenge. Extra points for chain pulling half the instance and hearing your buddy say “uh oh … maybe I pulled too much” as the horde of mobs barrels down on you. But mostly, it’s fun to trounce those bosses who used to make you grind your teeth. (I seriously hate you Quagmirran, diaf.)
- And you can bet that you’ll get special love from your current guild (or maybe a new one you pick up in Cata) if you start farming now for the items to make those oh-so-precious legendaries of old. While it was thought that the Dark Phoenix was going to be the reward for this illustrious achievement, it seems Blizzard isn’t tipping their hat just yet on this one … But I’m betting it’s something pretty special.
2. WotLK Instances
Venture into some more current content and test your (and the tanks’) limits by stepping up the healing challenges (extra points if you scare the group to the point where they threaten to leave):
- Heal as DPS, or conversely, DPS as a healer. I do this all the time in low level dungeons, where the combination of Flame Shock, Earth Shock and Fire Nova can generally assure my dps that rivals most noobs out there.
- Zero Overheal – A challenge pioneered by a former Holy Pally guildie in BC, who managed to do a complete Kara run with ~5k total overhealing, and which I absolutely stink at doing. I’ve been trying for months to head into heroics and do as close to 0 overhealing as possible, but I think I’m ready to concede—I’m not that pro nor that composed. But if you love the micro game, and want to prep for the rumored raid healing of Cataclysm, I can think of no better way to pratice.
- Be a Missionary. The ToC25 run that’s forming and requires only 5k GS? Send that raid leader a tell and the promise that you can do the job of 3 healers. Then, challenge yourself to not be an ass while healing like you’ve never healed before. I
- Get your alts into Ulduar and get them some 310 mounts. The buzz is that once Cata goes live, having a 310 mount will “unlock” that speed for all your mounts and save you a 5k investment. Not too shabby a savings for a couple hours’ work (although I’m sure Gevlon might have a different cost-benefit perspective!)
3. Newbie healing
Sometimes it takes going back to the beginning to remind you of how far you’ve come, and even grizzled altaholics can appreciate the view from behind a different set of action bars.
- Level a new shaman and enjoy having Healing Wave and only Healing Wave until level 20. Yeah, it stinks but you’ll be able to brag about it when Cata launches and all those baby Shaman get ES.
- Venture into those twink battlegrounds sub-19 and sub-29 and try to heal some n00bs in greys.
- Walk around in spirit BoA gear and get a million whispers from random group members advising you that Spirit does absolutely nil for a Resto Shaman. After the first 25, seriously consider buying the mail set so that you don’t have to keep telling people that you’re just ahead of the Cataclysm leveling curve.
If you’re a raider of almost any level, chances are you have an entire xpac worth of gear sitting in your bags and/or bank on the offchance that you need to *gasp* do something other than heal. With gem prices falling and badges flowing freely, there’s no hindrance to giving that offspec a try. So socket and enchant your stuff and then shake off some of the rust that comes from having been a healer for far too long. Hey, you even have my permission to stand in fire.
The area that Vix does not enter into unless otherwise compelled by boredom or a string of very bad I-hate-cheesy-SC2-strat losses. (Plenty of those this weekend, ugh.) That being said, I still get an occasional thrill jumping into a couple PVP environments from time to time:
- Arena Help-my-Nublet – If I actually did break out of my PVE comfort zone and seriously got into PVP, this would definitely be the solicitation I’d send out to my guildmates. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet amassed enough courage to have my butt handed to me on a silver platter, so my friends list remains nicely plump with people who simply don’t know what terror awaits them in a 2v2 queue with me.
- Arena Boost-a-Nublet – If you are one of the many Resto Shaman out there who are enjoying the ego boost that comes with being above a 2600 rating, sharing the wealth might be just the ticket to filling all those hours until Cataclysm. Yes, your Nublet partner(s) will probably do everything they possibly can to make things hard on you, but think of the joy you’ll have when they realize that LoS can be a bad thing and that letting the rogue beat on you probably isn’t winning them any games. Oh the joys of being a teacher …
- Secret Pocket Healing – by far and away, this has to be the most fun I’ve ever had in Bg’s—secreting myself away in some cubby, snickering my arse off while a team of the opposite faction try to smoosh an OP plate-wearer. I imagine them frustrated and screaming “Why won’t he die?! ARGH!” all while I ES/RT/HW away. If there was a way to make a rogue-shaman hybrid, I’d reroll in a second.
Thank you, Bob
As much as players love to sing the blues about WoW in the summertime, there’s something to be said for downtime and the freedom it gives you (both inside and outside of the game). As much as I love to raid (and thus, as much as I hate doing anything other than raiding) it’s good to be able to take a step back from it all to appreciate some of the things I’d otherwise never see. Whether it’s rolling an alt of the opposite faction (cause hey, their environments will be changing right along with yours), switching your PVE/PVP game up a bit, going back through instances you never raided, trying your hand at dps/healing/tanking, or simply roaming about the continents, there’s still a vast number of experiences to be had out there.
A friend and I have an ongoing joke that we trade back and forth when we happen upon something easily dismissed and yet equally notable in game–we attribute it to “Bob the Intern”. Bob the Intern is responsible for horrid questlines that lead you all over the world (Shaman you know Bob, he designed the Call of Water quests), bad drop rates, awkward models (knives that look like sticks or helms that look like helmets), but he’s also responsible for the little things in game that just pop out and surprise you as really well done. Vortex effects in Netherstrom, dancing fireflies in Ferelas, and secret mountain ledges that don’t look climbable but actually are–Bob’s done them all. So for me, the downtime at the end of an instance, the lull before xpac release, is a time to take a step back and appreciate all of Bob’s hard work. Because if I don’t, who will?