Translating Vanilla to Wrath

I mentioned in my post the other day that I was avoiding boosting runs on my priest because I am forcing myself to learn how to heal as I level.

This garnered a comment from Fish that basically said, per his experiences, the abilities and experiences from early in the game don’t translate to end game so he doesn’t bother – just zip through vanilla, start to pay attention in TBC and really bring it together in Wrath content.

And then smart001 goes and agrees with him.

Well, way to make me feel stupid, guys!


I’m not really tore up about it, don’t worry. Not too much. Maybe just a little. I will accept apologies in the form of chocolate.

Here’s my take on it:

All my characters up to this point have been DPS.

Only one has made it to level 80.

How my poor warrior made it past 60 is still a mystery. The game should have uninstalled itself from my computer out of shame and fear over what a noob I was.

My priest is a healer.

I have a whopping 3 points in shadow, just to max out that Spirit Tap thing to help move things along a little faster when I am out in the wilds by myself.

Got me 13 points in Discipline, just enough to get the mana regen talents.

Rest in Holy.

Yeah, I’m leveling a Holy Priest.

Rumor has it that this is grounds for admittance to the local loony bin.

This is what I’ve noticed:

DPS and healing are NOTHING alike.

It’s a completely different world.

(Of course, this is my own opinion and obviously there will be differing ones.)

As a DPS my whole focus is around the damage I dish out.

I generally have one mob targeted and possibly a troublesome mob as a focus to keep tabs on for the emergency counterspell.

I watch my damage and threat like a hawk.

If the threat gets too high, pop Mirror Images, Invisibility, stop casting, something. Not doing more damage is a viable (although undesirable) option. If I continue to do damage and pull the target (and the tank wasn’t retarded to begin with), it was my fault and I had best be prepared to deal with it – even if it means my death.

Something’s attacking the healer and the tank can’t/won’t get it?

I pull it off, Frost Nova it away from the healer, sacrifice myself if needed to save the healer.

Hopefully the healer noticed that I was looking out for them and tosses a “thank you” heal my way.

I worry about standing in the fire.

I know that I am low on the totem pole for heals (sometimes not on the roster at all depending on who’s healing) and don’t like doing anything that puts pressure on the healer to have to pay attention to me.

I have raid frames and even Grid up so I can keep a casual survey of the state of the raid.

(Not to mention, it’s the easiest way to remove curses and polymorph mind controlled party members.)

But I’m not glued to it. The frames are something I glance at periodically.

If there seems to be a problem with people following kill order I might pay a little more attention to it.

When I’m leading the raid, I pay a little more attention to it.

But otherwise, they’re just pretty colored boxes off on the side of my screen.

As a healer my whole focus is the incoming damage and the utility I can provide.

I generally have nothing targeted.

All my heals and utility are based on mouseover.

This means I often don’t have a clue as to how close to winning we are.

If I know the mob gets nasty buffs I can do something about, I will keep it targeted so I can dispel them.

I might target the tank once in a blue moon and keep an eye on the progress of the fight through the target of target feature.

I don’t watch my heals on the meter; don’t even have recount set to show healing.

Right now I’m in 5s so why bother? Funny enough, I’m probably going to be at the top of the list.

I’m not concerned with overhealing so much as I am with mana management.

I bubble people and my bubble is glyphed to heal, so there’s a lot of overheal I can’t really do anything about.

I also have a compulsion to keep people topped off. Even my lowest heal tends to be an overheal when I’m filling the bars up in between fights.

But so long as I have the mana to keep going and no one is waiting for me, I must be doing OK.

Since I’m not targeting mobs very often, my Omen tends to be a little empty.

I have to rely on the X-Perl and built-in aggro warnings.

My options are to pop Fade and stop healing.

Fade has a cooldown and is a bit heavy on the mana.

Stopping healing isn’t really an option… but I can be more selective about who gets heals at that point.

Sorry, crazy mage that keeps casting Flamestrike when the tank has zero AoE threat built up – you get a bubble and I hope you remember where Ice Block is bound because you are getting nothing more from me until the tank gets this whelp off my face.

On the one hand, it’s a very powerful feeling to be ordering everyone’s little lives according to their worth on my healing chart.

On the other hand, I’m trusting those same people to not get me killed.

I have to hope that someone is looking out for me, willing to take one for the team to keep me up so I can keep the tank up so we can win.

I worry about standing in the fire.

I also worry about the tank standing in the fire.

And that guy standing in the fire.

And that other guy standing in the fire.

And the other, other guy standing in the fire.

Raid frames and Grid are my world.

I’m borderline OCD so having little green boxes that aren’t all neatly filled up bothers me.

This could be a problem when I get to raiding and won’t be responsible for all 10 or 25 boxes. Third phase of Anub’arak in ToCr is probably going to send me right up the wall.

I’m so focused on the frames and the ground beneath my feet (so I don’t stand in fire) that I don’t get to see anything else.

I remember running WC on my priest and having no clue where I was most of the time even though I’m reasonably familiar with the instance.

For me, the difference between going through as DPS and going through as a healer are like playing completely different games with similar scenery and sound files.

I know that the abilities I get will change as I level.

As it is right now, I have 2 heal spells that I have no idea why they even exist. I’m assuming that later on I might get a talent or glyph that makes them useful. Until then, they aren’t even on my bar. (More mana, longer cast for less throughput? Thank you, no.)

But as I get each new ability I spend time standing at the trainer and poring over my spellbook and talent tree. I even pull up those 2 spells and agonize over their uselessness.

I’m looking for the connections, what do I have that makes this better, what do I have that makes this different?

Each piece of the healing puzzle gets added in and I slowly master the new addition to my toolkit.  (I could probably master it faster but I keep setting this character aside for weeks at a stretch.)

I don’t think if I had been boosted to this point or beyond that I would have the faintest idea of how the character worked.

And I certainly would not be able to make the transition from a DPS at 80 mindset directly to a heal at 80 mindset without all the practice from 1 to 80.

That jump would just be too much for me.

If it was just me that would be affected, say if this were a single-player game or if I was making the switch from heals to DPS where at least 4 other party members could help pick up the slack… maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal for me.

But to even consider getting boosted to TBC and then start healing?

That is too much for me to take in all at once and too many other people would suffer (especially since I’m pugging my way through this character).

Maybe if I was going from one ranged caster to another.

If I were going shadow priest I probably wouldn’t be so nervous about the transition. My effective purpose within the group would not be changing. My focus would be the same, just with more purple and people always asking if I have a healing offspec.

More power to the people that can make the transition without the practice and I hope to hell I don’t end up in the pugs of the people that can’t.

And I’m willing to bet that most can’t.

Think back to the introduction of the death knight.

Practically overnight we had hundreds if not thousands of fresh 80s that could “tank.”

In theory.

They had the gear, they might have even had the theorycraft.

But they didn’t have the experience.

Had they tanked from the beginning, or tanked on another character, I bet more would have been successful.

But they didn’t, most facerolled DPS up to 80 and then realized that no one needed yet another DPS DK.

If they wanted to run, they had to tank.

So we got flooded with, “lol, I can tank cuz DKs r OP” and we paid for it at the repair merchants.

I don’t want to be the “priestard” to their “deathtard.”

I know that the experiences between vanilla and TBC and Wrath are different.

But they aren’t so different as to be completely foreign to one another.

Good lessons are still learned, even if the mechanics between the fights change from expansion to expansion.

Hell, learning about adapting to different fights is more important in my book than learning to respond by rote to a set series of stimuli.

When I get to Wrath, I will be comfortable with my character.

I will know his abilities inside and out.

I may not be able to guarantee that I’ll be a good healer, but I won’t be able to blame any failure on not knowing my class.

I’ll blame it on the tank.


9 comments on “Translating Vanilla to Wrath

  1. Delerius says:

    I for one am against boosting completely. I will admit I had 2 or 3 Zul’Farrak runs, but that was it. I levelled by questing with the occasional (fail) pug dungeon along the way. If my friends, even RL friends ask for a boost, I say no.

    That being said, I am one of those people who never healed anything until 80. I take that back, I healed a Gnomer run as feral. Turns out there aren’t really any good healing talents in the Resto tree for the first few tiers, so feral was as good as any.

    Going from caster dps to healing isn’t all that bad for me. I still cast spells on various targets, having to prioritize which spell on which target. Going from a caster to melee… that’s hard. I actually have to run up to him? Really? I don’t want to slow him down and run in circles? I don’t die in 3 hits if he gets to me? Weird.


  2. melanthor says:

    Great great post.
    You are abolutley right, i never asked to be pulled throug any content. currently i am working on a shaman.
    I was interested since the beginning. And besides the rouge it is the last class I had absolutley no clue.
    I am no level 29 and already have ~15 totems in currently 3 categories: Fire, Earth, Water. Each totem has some very intersting possibilities. Beside that i do not have many spells to use.
    3 different instant shoks currently and a purge, beside the 2 heal spells.
    Man this is confusing to pull out the right totem and even understanding their purpose.
    I spent the last 2 evenings queing for WG and AB battleground. To learnd how to smash heads of allies fast and efficient.
    I am trying totem for different match ups and situation. I am learning a whole lot.
    This is in my opinion the only way to learn to play your character.


  3. Fricassee says:

    For the most part, I believe in the non-boosting of new players, but I think it’s alright with new characters.

    The truth is, a lot of the experience you get leveling up transcends classes. It has to do with where to stand, how to react, binding keys and knowing that addons exist. The healing will change at TBC and wrath, because the game switches to something where tanks take much higher damage and anyone else getting hit is pretty much 1-2 shot in appropriate level content.

    That being said, you should enjoy playing and if leveling as holy is fun, then do it. You will be more familiar with your addon’s at 80, so you’ll be ahead of the game. It just becomes a question of whether to get to 80 faster and spend more time learning healing there or learning it along the way.

    I had the opposite order. My first character was a priest and I leveled holy (lolsmite) and did healing on the way up. Then when I got to 70, I was told that I was our new shadowpriest and I had limited experience with focused DPS. There was a learning curve, but it came to me quickly. The next time through on my mage, I rushed content, but I knew enough about the general game that I was able to come up to speed on my abilities relatively fast.


  4. jong says:

    I can’t wait till your priest dings 80 and start healing some raids with lots of raid damage. I like your angry rants.


  5. repgrind says:

    Amen. I must disagree only slightly … getting run through dungeons on alts isn’t such a bad thing … as long as you are also solo questing and/or doing BGs so that you actually learn how to use your own abilities.

    The worst thing IMO, even for experienced players, is RAF.


  6. theerivs says:

    I have a pally, and would like to heal one day, it would be strange indeed.


  7. Kaldreth says:

    Wait until you get up to 60 or so and figure out that the two talent trees of healing for priests have completely different play styles. I still am not used to holy even after leveling through dungeons and questing as discipline.


  8. Fish says:

    It sounds to me, based on what you’ve written, that you will be an excellent healer. You have attention to detail, and know the reasons and use for all of your abilities. I healed ramps in a pure shadow build, no Holy, no Discipline, thats the hardest time I’ve ever had healing. My main point was that you will learn how to instance heal by doing it, but until you have all the abilities, it doesnt quite translate. My druid can roll lifebloom, and I know how to HoT up everyone, but at 71, he’s lacking one of the really major druid raid heals. As someone with a love of alts though, I respect your desire to really experience it in full.

    @repgrind – I disagree completely. RAF isn’t the worst thing. Playstyle in instances and in leveling are completely different. I leveled a priest as a tag along while dual boxing and granted levels to boost my current priest. RAF will only go to 60, so you get 20 levels to learn play mechanics. If you are an experienced player and either talk to people or look online, you can get the hang of most classes. Instance roles do take experience, but can you honestly say ZF prepares you for UK?


  9. repgrind says:

    @Fish – I’m not talking about instances preparing you for playing in a group. I’m talking about knowing what abilities your class possesses. If someone plopped a level 60 toon in front of me and said “here, play” .. on a class I’ve never played before .. it would be a disaster because I would be completely unfamiliar with the spells in the spellbook. Yes, true, I would have 20 more levels to learn that stuff … but for me, personally, I would do better learning that as I go. Then again, I’m a true altoholic and enjoy the leveling process _probably_ more than I enjoy any other aspect of the game, so … /shrug


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