It came from the PUG: Northrend eats healers alive!

There’s something about moving on to Northrend that has broken the spell with my paladin. I still think that Retribution is a very fun spec at the moment but I am rapidly going off paladin healing. I will (not very) secretly be glad to get back to Spinks.

What happened, you say? Northrend instances happened.

I’m not sure why it is that so many level 70ish tanks feel the need to screw up the first pull in Utgarde Keep by pulling the entire corridor at once, but it’s happened to me three times now. And in none of those cases was it a mispull, they all deliberately grabbed every mob in the vicinity. In one case, a druid tank almost fooled me by pulling three of the mobs; just as I was thinking, “Oh good, a sensible pull” he charged in and got the rest too.

In case anyone was wondering, this is not a kind thing to do to a level 70 healer in green gear. At least, not if you plan to actually survive.

I’m feeling this as a blow to my morale. After all, I made a point of healing through Azeroth and Outland instances just so I could get some practice (I figured I didn’t need any practice as melee dps but paladin healing is a bit different from druiding) and I did fine, absolutely fine. So to keep having groups that wipe on the first pull of UK just makes me uninclined to bother in the Wrath dungeons. It just seems to make more sense to queue as dps, suck up the extra 10 mins queuing time (probably by doing some questing) and leave healing until I hit max level and both me and the tanks have better gear.

There is an alternative of course. One could always just ask the tanks to pull more slowly and explain that undergeared healers have limits and that I’m not as good as their best mate who heals their level 80 all the time in arenas. But I think I stopped feeling that it was my responsibility to teach random people how to play awhile back … in comparison, that extra 10 minutes wait is sounding like pretty good value.

40 thoughts on “It came from the PUG: Northrend eats healers alive!

  1. Or you could queue as a tank and do it right? 🙂

    Stories like this are why I refuse to queue as DPS, if I have a hybrid spec available; it takes longer and there’s no guarantee that the tank is up to snuff.

  2. I strongly suspect that your tank was an alt for a player who has been rampaging through WOTLK heroics for months, and has gotten used to the idea that the right way to approach *any* instance is to rush through it like a chainsaw through a kitten. I’ve been seeing this sort of behaviour a lot over the last 6-ish months, and am looking forward with a kind of morbid glee to seeing 5-man groups come horribly unstuck in the new content.

  3. “I’m not sure why it is that so many level 70ish tanks feel the need to screw up the first pull in Utgarde Keep by pulling the entire corridor at once, but it’s happened to me three times now.”

    put yourself in the shoes of these tanks. They run 80 heroic UK as dps, and see every single tank pull those mobs as one group. They run the 70 dungeon as dps and see the heirloomed tank/healer pull both at once. Not doing the mega pull would seem to them an admission of being “bad”. So, they pull the whole thing, and hope the healer is geared.

    • Yup, although I’m not sure most heirloomed people would do that (there are no tanking heirlooms). On reflection, I think more of an issue is that damage really does ramp up in Northrend and heirlooms don’t scale as well. In Outland instances, you can survive some fairly large pulls without too much trouble if people are paying attention. But Northrend actually is a step up, and there’s no real way to notice that unless you’re paying attention. I suspect Cataclysm will be similar.

      When I say that heirlooms don’t scale as well, what I mean is this. Heirloom stats scale smoothly between level 1-80, but actually there was a step increase in stats in the game in TBC and then another step increase in Northrend. So heirlooms tend to be much more overpowered at earlier stages of the game (they’ll likely be significantly better than an equivalent blue drop) and not so much later on. This is also why Cataclysm heirlooms will probably be a lot better than Wrath ones, in practice (because they’ll scale to the improved level 85 max).

      • Correction; there is *only* tanking heirlooms! Defense is gone!
        But I do think that Ratatouille has hit a nerve. Cata PuGs will be very interesting.

      • Actually, no. Heirlooms make dramatic stat jumps around 57 and 67 to compensate for the upcoming change of locale. They are always on-par with a well-itemized, properly-budgeted blue-quality item. Not all dungeon blues are so budgeted, but there are plenty of example pieces that, at the right level, are definite side-grades o heirlooms from level 20 (below-20 blues are lol) to level 80.

        The solution for tanks that insist on making this particular pull in this fashion (one of the hardest pulls in the 5-man game, honestly) is to burn a cooldown pre-emptively. The whole problem is the stun component of those smiths: a mechanic that is never encountered with such severity until the blinding super-spider of AzN, but even then people rarely pull those three-packs simultaneously (outside of going for achievements). The seven smiths in UK, however, are lethal to at-gear-level tanks on N or H without a pre-emptive cooldown because, once stunned, there’s no way to activate the needed cooldown.

        My tank blew up there the first time I made that pull on H, and I knew it wasn’t my good healer friend. I figured out the problem, fixed my approach, and can make that pull confidently with any half-conscious healer on N or H with an at-gear-level tank. My main problem these days is having DPS hitting targets before I can even get in charge range of them, let alone hit them with something.

  4. Strangely I just got to NR with my druid and have had some of the same issues (healing). I just politely tell the tank if he plans to pull the entire corridor I plan to zone out. This normally works for me since tanks are no longer an issue once you get to outlands, and NR (the death knight effect) and more or less the tanks have lost the power to hold the groups que time. Meaning on my Battlegroup the healers are very scarce while leveling.

    Anyway, it works, give it a try.

  5. Don’t worry. The instances will be nerved soon. And if you wipe within the first 2 minutes you will get a pet and maybe even a Feat of Strength.

    Welcome to the future 😉

    • Nils, the instances have not been nerfed for 2 years of WotLK (including a year of 3.3) so I doubt they would do it now – doubly so because they want the players to focus on execution even in 5-mans in Cata.

    • Maybe they should have Feats of Weakness as well as Feats of Strength … “Wiped on first pull in Utgarde Keep,” “Fell off Teldrassil,” “Equipped spellpower gear on a hunter,” etc.

      • The “failchievements” add-on gives a great flavour of this (look it up on Curse). Example failchievements:

        “If it’s red, it’s dead”: Kill a friendly raid or party member when they are charmed. (Think of the Deathwhisper encounter to see when you might earn this)

        “Fly, you Fools!”: Fall off the world and die.

        “What’s mine is mine”: Roll need on an item you already have equipped.

  6. Use the time left, queue as a tank in Magisters’ Terrace and teach people about cc, careful pulls and boss tactics / planning. Warn them afterward that cataclysm will be another step harder and watch the realization sink in.

  7. Not instances eat healers alive, dumb twinkers do. And not only healers are eaten, tanks and sometimes dps to.
    I often ask myself, in which environment the shown behavior might be successful. Raiding without even a spark of discipline(?)? Without looking at the tanks and healers capacities? Without watching each others ressources? I understand, that players want to level fast. But one big pull + graveyardrun + res isn’t nearly as effective as a small but steady flow of enemies. My pity for those small brains. Darwin rocks: let’em become extinct.
    When maxed, one might be in error about the others equipment, one might be used to icc25+ geared healers/tanks and be (negativly) surprised by the fresh lvl 80. But when leveling, the difference in gear isn’t that great, even within 5 lvls, that one can be in error about the theoretical capacities of his companions.

    • “But one big pull + graveyardrun + res isn’t nearly as effective as a small but steady flow of enemies.”

      I know, I know. That should be obvious to everyone, right? But without wishing to oppress the dps, when you do queue as a dps for a levelling instance you really don’t have to care much abuot the rest of the team as long as you do your stuff ok. (At least that’s my experience.)

      • Even a good tank, when unpredictable, is a bad tank for me as dps or healer. As I’m used to tank things, I try to adapt to my tanks, when dpsing. But for the first pulls the tank is responsible for training “his” dps to his behavior.

  8. I am currently leveling a priest through Northrend instances, and I sing praises anytime I get a tank that pulls sensibly. Which happens very very rarely. Yesterday I had a tank that would pull 3+ groups in Ahn’kahet: Old Kingdom, and when I complained as healer, the tank just lol’d and told me that he NEEDS to do it, and how it spices up things. *facepalms*

    I really hope that very soon all those bad habits people have developed will be shattered along with Azeroth.

  9. I found it amazing how often the healer requested that I “pull big” in the leveling up wrath instances. No, I won’t “pull big” with my tiny cobalt set health pool when the mobs can stun.

    • Had a similar problem yesterday in BC Slave pens (~lvl63-65) when the lvl 61 Priest healer tried to force me to “gogogo”. Har, just in front of groups of 4-5 mobs that can fear and/or mindcontrol.!?

  10. Maybe it’s just PUG Tanks? I know that my level 80 DK hasn’t done any tanking really since she dinged 80, I’ve regeared my Shaman and am having much more fun chucking fire and lightning bolts all over the place. BUt the propensity for tanks to try ludicrous things seems to have increased. Maybe we’re seeing the bottom of the barrel tanks as all the decent ones are off with their guilds in hibernation for the coming Cataclysm? I’ve also seen Tanks with a very “holier than thou” attitude when they’ve been the one to cause wipes (pulling several groups of mobs in HoS for example) these are still Heroics, no matter how ludicrous your gear level is. Slow and steady wins the race, except for a UP group I had yesterday where the tank and healer ran through the first and 3rd bosses, got their achievements and dropped straight away… not a word of their plan to anyone, skanks!

  11. I’m currently leveling a healer (heirloomed priest) and a tank (DK without heirlooms) through the early northrend dungeons.

    My tank doesnt have heirlooms, but I’ve gemmed and enchanted him (level 71, 17.5k hp unbuffed), and even then I pull those first groups in two pulls when I’m pugging. The three patrolling mobs do a nasty stun and back when wotlk was just new it wasn’t uncommon for a geared tank to blow up by pulling everything on HC. When I got my guildie healer with me, I do pull everything in sight, but thats also to test and train him 😉

    There are some tanks who do that, but I’ve only had this happen to me once or twice, and then I’m very happy for being a priest healer with lots of instant heals, but it’s a close call every time.

    Pulling lots as a tank is usually not an issue of having a skilled tank, tanks just need gear to have a chance to survive it. It’s more an issue of how much do you trust your healer, healing through insane damage doesn’t only require gear, but also skills and the right class (healing through high spike damage is very hard as a paladin for instance, when the HP pool of the tank is low).

    On a side note, educating the pugs has already started in the leveling instances. I had a group with a warrior and a mage who would basically start dps as the paladin tank was still walking to the mobs he wanted to tank. The paladin tank got a little crossed with them and warned the warrior. On the next mobs the mage decides to pull while the tank is still at the back picking up loot. I decided not to heal him, you never know, the crossed tank might not pick up tanking until the mage is dead, and if I put a heal on him I’m gonna get aggro from the mobs the mage hadnt dameged. The warrior dps was very close to the mage, so he got his face melted after the mage died. Afterwards the warrior asks “why no healing, I didn’t pull!!”. So I kindly respond “If I heal you while the tank is on strike I’ll die, I don’t start healing until the tank has aggro.”. The mage apoligized for about a min and the warrior dps was silent for the rest of the run, but both of them had stopped pulling or charging in really quickly.

    I hope cataclysm dungeons will be like TBC more then WotlK, but a year from now I think that even in HCs people will be chain pulling instances again and the dps will decide to pull for slow tanks again.

    • “You pull it, You tank it! If the healer helps You and needs help after You died, I’ll rescue him once, but shame on me, if I do it twice.”
      “Willingly nontank first contact means full contact, leaves me without work and frees me to pull the next group”
      “You (death-)grip it once, You tank it. You grip twice, You’ll get a notice, You keep grippin’, I start kickin'”
      “You go all out on an aoe-tanked mob, I taunt once, You continue to focus, You’re on your own.”

    • Dominus, I think if more people didn’t heal in situations like you describe there would be a lot fewer bad pulls. So often I read stories of the “somebody did something dumb, but I healed them through it” variety. Nobody ever learns anything in those. In fact, bad behavior is usually reinforced. I think both the mage and warrior in your group learned something, even if the warrior didn’t find his learning experience very pleasurable. Sometimes getting smarter is painful.

    • I think the skill as a tank is in being able to work out how large a pull you and your healer, working as a team, can handle. And that means having an idea of both of your gear levels and abilities.

  12. Call me whatever, Spinks, but what you have described is what I have always in UK, with all 5 characters of 3 tanking classes that I have played so far. The pull, I mean. And I will do the same on my warrior when he gets there.

    Why? Because it’s fun when the instance is hard-ish. Aren’t you yourself tired of easy-mode dungeon farming?

    That being said, I know my cooldowns, I never tank in greens (unless I’m level 15 or unless it’s pre-4.0 and I *need* the green Saronite set which is ten times better survivability-wise than pre-Northrend blues), and I’m damn sure I *will* hold the aggro unless some moron DPS unloads before me. In other words, I am sure I will do my job and expect the healer to do hers. Now, I understand that in a PUG, you likely see me for the first time ever and cannot judge my skill at a glance. But I choose to trust in my healers. And I know well that a healer’s gear requirements are almost non-existent, after healing on two classes and watching my wife heal me on all four.

    Long story short, it’s a trust issue and certainly not a gear issue. How about working that out? 😉

    • Oh I pull the whole corridor when I’m tanking it on Spinks. And I’m bored of it however big the pulls are tbh 🙂

      But I still think it’s not good tanking to assume that you and your gear alone can carry it – you don’t know how experienced the healer is or what their gear is like. I don’t want a tank to trust too much in my paladin healing because it hasn’t really been stretched yet and I’m still learning. When I’m good, then you can trust me.

      And maybe you’re just that good but I found healing gear an issue on both my priest and paladin when first healing Wrath instances. It is a big step up from TBC and I did need to stop and drink a lot. If you don’t believe me, look at some of the other comments on this thread.

  13. Im levelling a tank at the minute and have jsut arrived in Northrend. At level 68 I enter my first Utard keep and carefully pull a set of 3 then the next set of three etc, at which point the death knight dps decides Im going too slow and aggros the next lot. We wipe and the response I get is “FFs worst tank I’ve ever seen how slow is this” I might point out that at this point im also top of the damage meter so it’s not like we have amazing dps either. The problem is this, ilevel 251 and 264 gear is to easy to get all characters end up way OP for daily 5 mans and can fly thru in seconds however they are not good players. so when they level a twink they believe they can do the same. Luckily im levelling with a friend who’s a healer, when we get arsy dps they are told whats wrong if it is not put right we leave, and level by questing together instead. I love the passive aggressive thing.

  14. If Ghostcrawlers recent post is any indication, healing will be a tough nut to crack come Cata.

    I am sort of excited. I remember healing in vanilla MC was a hell of a thing to master. Maybe those hardcore tough-as-nails days will be back.

    Then again, I don’t have the fondest memories from some of those days!

    • GC’s been back-and-forthing about this rationale for, oh, must be getting on a year now, and in that context I don’t read his explanation in the same way you do. I have the feeling that healing isn’t going to be harder as such, but that the type of challenge will change. For someone like me who prefers a less twitchy game, I think it might actually be “easier” – or at least a bit more thinky and less shit-shit-press-button-scary.

  15. But, but, Ghostcrawler *wants* healing to be stressful, er, challenging. It’s more fun!

    You must not be healing correctly.


  16. Mm, interesting. I started tanking on my 70-something warrior a few months back using LFD, after he was unplayed for most of Wrath. I expected a rougher ride than I got. People were generally fairly forgiving of the speed I went at. I see now that the healers were probably grateful, not impatient. 🙂

  17. I gave my priest a shadow spec when he hit Northrend for just this reason. I’d leveled that far just fine as discipline. I like disco priesting but trying to heal northrend pugs was killing my enjoyment of the game. The sad part is that it turns out I don’t much like playing a spriest so he’s sat at level 69 for a long time.

  18. I did a bunch of healing while leveling, and I have to say that reg UK was the most difficult dungeon I encountered. There were a lot of wipes on the final boss because I couldn’t keep up with the damage. I think the problem is that everybody still has a ton of BC gear at that point, which is really awful compared to WotLK gear. It gets a lot easier once you have gained a few levels, and everybody has full WotLK gear.

  19. It’s not the gear – it’s the players. Pulling multiple groups is rough, but healable if the group is good. Tanks can blow cooldowns, DPS can misdirect/tricks when the tank gets stunned and can mitigate some damage with stuns and disarms. I’ve been trying to top off a few of my alts and healing through Northrend dungeons has been really striking. I’m healing for more HPS (even overhealing my face off because health pools are only 10-15k) in regular UK than heroic UK . Dumb pulls, bad dps and fire-standers will make you work to keep them alive.

  20. Hmm, maybe you found the reason why healer population declines in Northrend dungeons…

    I levelled 3 plate tank classes and I never dared to step into first Northrend dungeons without the famous “cobalt set”, however on my healer chars I saw all sorts of people geared from hellfire greens to DK starting gear not seeing any issue their gear is 10 levels and 1 expansion behind. Add the gogogo chainpull all mentality and you get the disaster…

    I don’t know how is it post 4.0 but I’m afraid the same, sometimes you get nice runs and dps breaking 1-1,5k (yesm at 70), and sometimes you get paper tanks, 300dps “damage dealers” and poor healer running oom on Keristrasza (especially when people don’t bother to jump properly).

  21. Healing for a Paladin in level-appropriate gear was very difficult in a number of those 70-80 dungeons. Especially when you started getting the nasty debuffs that needed to be cleansed in places like Old Kingdom and Azjol Nerub. Most people have forgotten that by now.

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