peal's heals – a swtor blog

operative heals
January 24, 2012, 4:00 am
Filed under: gameplay | Tags: , , ,

My little operative is quickly growing more powerful. I leveled her as DPS until at one point my guild ran a quick Mandalorian Raiders flashpoint and… well, we had 2 tanks and 2 dps. Those 2 dps were about four levels too low to be there. Is this a good idea?

It’s a great idea.

We had everything covered until we got to the Jedi bosses, which, for a normal group is a challenging fight. Five elites, immune to CC, strange aggro tables, knockbacks, interrupts, etc etc. I remember going into this flashpoint to help out two guildies who had managed to duo up to this boss and needed a tank and healer to help them get past it. And even then we had a rough time of it. It’s a long fight and each time you kill one of the bad guys, the others get a buff, so it’s not like other pulls where the incoming damage dramatically lessens with the first defeat.

After several “almost got it” wipes our tank declares he’s going to the AH to buy himself some upgrades. And that was about all I needed since I’d been looking at the healing tree. I mean, not that I needed an excuse to try operative healing or hadn’t been waiting for such an opportunity.

Operative Healing: Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love

First, I can’t really talk about operatives without raving about the concept and/or milieu. That ka-chunk you just heard was me firing a healing dart. A healing dart.

And if that isn’t self-evidently awesome enough, early on in the healing tree you get… probes that restore health… by spraying the target with kolto.

Don’t forget the scanner and the nanbots. Yes, nanobots.

Operative Utility: Battle the Pink Robots

Perhaps I just never really looked at operatives the right way (the grass is not greener when you’re in love with the class you’re leveling) but I didn’t feel like they had enough spell variety and that sorcerer utility was more better than operative utility.

Ahem. It is clearly too early in the game for me to have such ridiculous opinions. Operatives indeed have some very clearly situational abilities. The problem with situational abilities is that when you don’t need them, they’re worthless, and they can be harder to use if they have a narrow window of opportunity.

Take, for instance, Cloaking Screen. It immediately removes you from combat and puts you into stealth. You can’t get healed while you’re stealthed… but what a solid aggro dump.

Compare to “drops aggro by a moderate amount” which may not be enough and may certainly not be instant enough. Ops get that, too.

Sneak as healer utility isn’t… well, I’m trying to imagine operations which I haven’t done yet. I see sneak not offering a whole lot of added value except for maybe the start of the fight where we can position ourselves and stay stealthed till healing is necessary, thus staying off the aggro table a second or two longer than, for example, a sorcerer, who would want to send the tank in pre-bubbled with a hot ticking.

Cover is an interesting piece of utility. Maybe the “damage absorbed by cover” doesn’t add up to all that much in a PVE environment, yet I can’t stop giggling every time my agent tosses a healing dart at her comrade and then ducks back behind the chair. That’s just freaking cool.

I mean, why wouldn’t you hide behind a chair and toss healing darts?

I haven’t figured out energy management in the slightest, though. It’s either feast or famine. The free heal doesn’t heal for a whole lot. The energy pool is small so even the “cheaper” heals cost a decent chunk of the bar and you can very easily go OOM. (Yes, I know it’s technically OOE but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it). And while being OOM as a sorcerer is more painful because of the slow spend/slow regain nature of Force, I feel like operatives have a tighter margin with which to play. Definitely while leveling and learning how to heal, the sorcerer is more forgiving of not only your team’s mistakes, but yours.

Agents, though. Wow. No forgiveness whatsoever. At least not while you’re low-level.

I felt constrained by Energy–both as DPS and a healer–for many, many levels. I noticed around 33 that I was “just then” getting the hang of it; but also I had taken a ton of talents in the healing tree to support my Energy management; more ways to use my executions, more cooldowns, and more ways to proc energy. On top of that, your teammates are getting further up in their own trees, so your tanks are getting procs and cooldowns of their own. It’s a double-whammy of being low level.

Oh, and that detached giggling that you keep hearing behind your shoulder, that keeps creeping you out? That’s a Tactical Advantage proc.

Which is surely a topic worthy of its own post. Stay tuned, and in the meantime… have you leveled enough to try out two different healing specs? What do you think about your experiences?


warming up to Hoth
January 17, 2012, 12:00 am
Filed under: for fun | Tags:

I had heard that all there is to Hoth was whiteness and snow blindness. I am pleased to report that nothing could be further from the truth. A harsh, somewhat barren place, yes, but so much beauty:

catch me if you can: sorcerer kiting rehash
January 11, 2012, 12:00 am
Filed under: gameplay, strategy | Tags: , ,

I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers, here. But I have to be honest, for fighting a lot of the big bad guys in my Inquisitor class missions I ended up kiting. I’m sure I’ll still get pwned the first time I try PvP, but one thing at a time.

1. Can not stress this enough: know the world around you. There may or may not be catwalks specifically designed for you to Overload people off of. IE, you hit the button and the “congrats you killed this dude” cutscene is loading before the body hits the ground. The developers have given us a world to play in, and I mean the word play in the most traditional (and enjoyable) sense. Play in the whole world. We’re supposed to.

While I’m annoyed that line of sight is so finicky out in the world when I’m trying to hit that droid behind the thing, it’s sure handy when you’re on the receiving end. Pillars and corners and nooks and ramps! My new title should be Peal The Pillar-Humper. Forcewalking is so passe.

2. Interrupting: socially acceptable once you’re Sith. Most elites have one or two abilities you wanna interrupt. We have three ways to frustrate the big bad dudes: Jolt, Overload, and Electrocute. I’ve found that if the big bad dude tries to heal, that healing should be interrupted first. But occasionally they’ll have an attack that just hurts too much if they can finish casting.

Even with three interrupts there may not be full coverage. But I’ve found leading with Jolt and using Electrocute second (long cooldown, using it early in the fight to squeeze in a second or third use) will make sure Jolt is up for the third. And the fourth? Overload. Once you get a feel for the timing of the big bad dude’s cooldowns, you’ll know when to either let him get close to you or when to run in.

That is, if you’re not using Overload to throw people off stairs and around corners. Some planning may be in order. Overload can be finicky as an interrupt. If you cast it too late the big bad dude will finish the cast before he goes flying and sometimes he won’t get interrupted.

3. Kiting: It’s not just for healers who can’t nuke. Sometimes you just need a second to let that hot heal you back up, an ability to come off cooldown, or the Static Barrier debuff to wear off. You don’t need to kite the whole fight to make use of the breathing space afforded by making the environment your slave. You can kite/use LoS at the pull to avoid the patrol (though keep your minion in check). Or kite to get enough Force to finish the mob off. Or duck behind a corner to get all the mobs into one neat little pack so you can Force Storm them to pieces.

Am I the only one who gets a kick out of the way weak targets writhe while caught in my wrath? This Light Side thing is a ruse.

duos and parties: a-pealing or appalling?
January 10, 2012, 4:00 pm
Filed under: gameplay, missions | Tags: ,

It was only a matter of (apparently short) time before I ended up waving my opinions on couples/friends playing together in TOR. Nearly a year ago I wrote a post about leveling together in WoW: Cataclysm (and how I was disappointed. “Seamless” Phasing is absolutely the bane of dual-playing).

The long and short of it: Luxin’terior and I play together. A whole bunch. Which is great, because an MMORPG should be easy to play together, right?

Murder and Mayhem at Every Opportunity

Team Play: the a-Peal

Class stories are set up so that a friend can help you. They see your cut scenes, they can terrorize your bad guys. This is so flipping sweet.

Being able to participate in conversations together, get social points, and join in holocalls when one player is too far away to be there and still see what’s going on and get the mission. Oh, and it  keeps conversations interesting because you get to hear other voices and see what other people choose to say. You get to see the light side option (while still getting your dark side points) once in a while. This is great.

Little-to-obvious phasing means it’s easy to join in wherever we’re at. My big beef with Cataclysm was that one player of Team Tank & Heal would disappear after taking a quest. In Star Wars, the phased area are instanced off in caves, rooms, etc. While passing through the green film is more game-like, the more immersive “seamless” phasing is not friendly to group play. Not to mention, seamless can get very buggy with gathering nodes and enemies.

Mission areas have a decent level spread so even if we’re a couple of levels apart we can still play. And all those heroic quests? Yum. Those are the times that make me so glad I am a full-time healer.

Flashpoints are accessible and fun. It’s been easy to get into them, find players to go, and do them. I fell in love with the first flashpoint we ever did (Black Talon): You mean we’re hijacking this ship? That is so cool!

Different classes are still set up to get speed boosts and travel helps at similar levels, so with a few exceptions (14 to 15 and 24 to 25) we’re able to stay together without one having to wait on the other. This is pretty minor, but it’s kind of annoying to get a class-specific speed boost and never get to enjoy the benefit because your friend doesn’t get anything like it for another few levels. Or ever.

There’s enough non-questing content to keep one half of Team Tank & Heal busy should he or she get an afternoon off. Luxin’terior enjoys space battles. I’m obsessed with crafting and lately, convincing Andronikos that he should love me. Did he really just imply he wanted kids?

I don’t have any statistical proof that being in a group gives you higher chances of more and better loot… but… In the 10 or so (post 30) levels I have done by myself I have not once seen a blue or purple drop. Contrast that to when I’m doing missions in a group, we’ve seen several purples and a solid handful of blues. Our companions have some really nice gear because we’ve gotten BOEs that they can use.

You do, for sure, get more XP/hr doing missions with a buddy. For one, you can kill more, pull faster, spend less time recovering, etc; but you also get extra xp for being in the group when you complete missions. I love smashing enemy supplies, tossing heals while Lux pulls everything in sight. Mission completed in record time!

Team Play: the Appall

One player in the group is doomed to the slowest computer and if there’s one thing I really don’t like about TOR, it’s that it is not friendly to average computers. For now, I’m cursed to be the one everyone is waiting on. And playing with another person in the same room shows clearly just how long a gaming computer waits for an average computer.

Moreover, participating in the same conversation in the same room is a bane for the sound. Even if we had similar computer builds, we’d be having the same conversation coming out of two sets of speakers at a second or so delay. As it is now, I mute my computer and turn around to watch the scene from Lux’s computer (because the sounds don’t make sense watching it from mine). I haven’t gotten terribly annoyed with that yet, but some sort of anger-response seems inevitable long term.

A small plus is that for flashpoints and repeatable content you can space-bar through things once you’ve seen it. But even the loading time to get to the point where I can space-bar gets obnoxious. And if I haven’t seen it yet my friends will be waiting a long time for me to get through (especially if they’re space-barring because this is old hat for them).

There’s definitely a lot of reasons to play with people as you’re leveling up. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages. So in that regard, EA has done a great job. An MMO, in my humble opinion, should make it easy and rewarding to join groups and play with other people, which TOR does.

Have you played extensively with a friend or loved one? How did the experience go for you?

January 7, 2012, 10:22 pm
Filed under: gameplay, missions | Tags:

Welcome to Belsavis. Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 credits.

In Taris, Belsavis, and to a lesser extent in Voss, mission directions are a bit wonky. What I mean is this…

The maps are pretty easy to use in TOR. They show you where your missions are and approximately how to get there. And even better, when you click on speeders, the paths will turn to green when you have a mission, showing you which speeder to take for efficient travel. Which is great.

Except for when it doesn’t work. They’re a little buggy in the higher end zones, and if you don’t watch where you’re going, the game will direct you to drive your own slow cruiser through several zones and pass speeder points you already know.

So you may have to actually, you know, look at your map once in a while and make sure you’re planning out the best route. The game may not be doing it for you, at least not as well as it had in the earlier zones. I learned the hard way and wasted a boatload of time. Traveling is not fun.

Of course, this could be a bug that doesn’t affect everyone (it’s inconsistent, for one, sometimes I’ll fly to one place for a mission and then it says “oh, whoops, fly to the next one instead!”), but just a head’s up. Before you start driving, make sure that you’ve already flown as much as you can.

wtb community: link love
January 6, 2012, 12:00 am
Filed under: for fun, on gaming | Tags: , ,

I’ve never been in an MMO from day 1 like I have with TOR. It’s been exciting to watch the community spring up around me. So have some links! Most of these are on my blogroll, but I figure there’s no harm in highlighting some good posts now and again. – a SWTOR healing community. Need I say more? Check ’em out.

Going Commando: Social – Shintar takes on the new heroics and group play.

Blessing of Kings: Shared Reality – Rohan discusses phasing in SWTOR.

TORHealbot: Setting Up An Effective Healer UI – Some tips to get your heal on.

Crew Skills: Drinking is Good for you – Got Spiced Nerf Milk? Mmmm tasty.

Scary Worlds: ESCing my companion’s affection – Apparently I’m not the only one who cares more about impressing Khem Val or Space Pirate Andy over the puny-human NPC giving me the quest.

Where are you finding your online community? Got links to share? Please, do!

sorcerer kiting
January 3, 2012, 12:00 pm
Filed under: gameplay, missions, strategy | Tags: , , , ,

I had the opportunity to, ahem, teach myself how to kite.

Normally Khem’s a pretty good bodyguard but once in a while there’s a melee-class elite that roflstomps him. Completely. In situations like this no amount of healing can save him. He falls over like a big dumb rock, crying “Heal me little sith!” while I’m spamming him.

Andronikos is even less sturdy, though I appreciate his attempts at humor in the face of death.

After way too many attempts to keep these companions alive and barely burning the elite to 75% or so, I considering waiting and begging someone for help but that isn’t very sith-like. And I was sick of dying, so when Andy fell, I refreshed my dot on the elite and ran like hell for the instance. The craziest thing happened…

I lived.

The spark of an idea was born.

I decided to let my poor pirate go without any help. He died quickly and I kited the elite. A long fight, very long, yes, but I did it.

Then further down the quest chain I had a surprise elite jump me. I managed to kite him from 80% without any problems at all. I felt liberated; sometimes leveling healer-spec can be thankless and suicidal, but if I can kite, then new worlds (or is it galaxies?) are opened up to me.

And upon further reflection, I’m a complete and total n00b. I forgot to utilize two abilities… ya know, ‘minor’ things like Force Slow and Electrocute. *sigh* But that’s okay! Learn from my mistakes.

Kiting As A Sorcerer Healer – The Path to Awesome

  • Clear the area. Extra pulls will kill you dead, so give yourself plenty of space. CC the elite and wipe out his bodyguards. If you get a few seconds remaining on Whirlwind to top up your health and Force, use it.
  • Get to know the room. Look for line-of-sight nooks, corners, ramps to jump off of, and straightaways to maximize your Force Speed.
  • Instant casts are your friend. Affliction can be cast while facing away from a mob. To cast Shock, however, you’ll need to be facing him. With Overload, you will want to get the hang of when to best use the knockback. If you’re too close to a wall, you won’t get its full range. If you’re running in the same direction, you won’t put as much space between you and the elite. I had the best luck putting the elite behind me and then knocking him away.
  • Did I mention instant casts are your friend? Static Barrier and Resurgence should be about all the healing you need (though I am trigger-happy with the med packs. When else am I gonna need ’em?).
  • Force Lightning is great because you can clip it and still get a couple of ticks of damage. Though I found myself relying more on Affliction and Shock. I’m sure the same holds true with stealing ticks of Innervate, but again, you’ll probably want to keep moving and allow Resurgence to tick instead of taking damage.
  • Kiting an elite as a healer takes a long time compared to many other fights you’ll encounter while questing. Think more about survival, avoiding damage, and refreshing Affliction. Keeping abilities up and knowing what you want to use next and where is more important than nuking.
  • You’ll be running your ass off. Stay moving.

And there you have it. Have you tried kiting yet as a solo healer? How’s it working out for you?