peal's heals – a swtor blog


on customer service
May 15, 2012, 1:15 am
Filed under: gameplay, missions | Tags:

My ticket was answered today.

I submitted this ticket three weeks ago, on 4/21/2012. Today, 5/14/2012, I finally get an answer.

We think we fixed the issue, so try resetting… again.

So at some point I will do the last leg of my class quest for THE THIRD TIME. I’ve had my Dark-Side speeder sitting my bag for more than a month, 100 points shy to use it because I hadn’t been awarded the Dark Side points I earned from blowing shit up.

Granted, I could have gotten another mount in the meantime. But still. I’m a stubborn woman and I guess I thought it wouldn’t take them a month to resolve the problem (first ticket with this problem was initially submitted 4/14/2012).

…in recent patches? You wait till a Monday night to mentioned you fixed this at least 6 days ago?

I’m kind of speechless. I really love SW:TOR and I want it to succeed… but I can’t be the only one who’s had to wait this long for an automated response for a problem they fixed “some time ago”. It’s downright insulting.



surgical probe is my new favorite thing
April 24, 2012, 4:24 pm
Filed under: gameplay, pvp | Tags: , , , ,

I don’t really have a good excuse for it, but I haven’t done a whole lot of research for theory-crafting my healers. And for a while there wasn’t much information out there. But now, there’s no excuse.

A few things I’ve learned:

1. Surgical Probe is actually awesome. My first instinct was that SP doesn’t heal for a whole lot – in terms of straight HPS there are better spells. But that wasn’t taking account for utility. Instant cast and no energy make this spell awesome, coupled with free TA refresh on targets less than 30%? This is pretty great, especially if you’ve got hots ticking on said target. Mobility is pretty darn important in warzones.

2. Surge is sadly lacking in battlemaster gear-for most classes. I realized at the beginning of the weekend I had no surge (literally), and that even continuing my upgrades, I was still on the path to zero surge. So instead of picking up a belt (which I got yesterday) I picked up the two earpieces that have Surge first. It helped a little. A healthy amount of crit and surge help a lot more than more tech power, in my biased experiences.

3. I found this link for Sang’s Operative Healer PvP guide and was surprised at how much I didn’t know. Okay, okay. For utility I was actually doing alright with my escape, dispels and stuns (You can dispel Flash Bang on other players!). But for actual healing I was a noob. For instance, stacking 2 Kolto Probes on everyone in sight is overkill and a waste of Energy. I was doing 2 by default and since I read this, I’ve been making a point to do 1 on everyone taking any damage, and going to 2 when I was being forced to kite and people had gone below half health. Between this change and using more SP, my Energy bar is a lot fuller… and I’m still doing about as much healing as before. In some cases more (though it’s so situational it’s hard to tell, Voidstar heals should not look like Huttball heals. PS I hate Voidstar).

4. I changed specs from Recuperative Nanotechnology to going a bit further into the Lethality tree for Improved Stunination (Slip Away) and Combat Stims. The extra energy helps a bit, especially now that I’m getting used to the TA proc sound.

 



the operative healer’s warzone survival guide
April 17, 2012, 5:26 pm
Filed under: gameplay, pvp, strategy | Tags: , , ,

I’m totally unqualified to write this article! Hurray!

1. Gear does help, some. Having 13k HP is infinitely better than 9 or 10k. Crits are amazing. So if you’re leveling, keep your orange gear modded with recent stuff to make sure you have comparable HP to the guys you’re playing against. I’ve seen -some- Operative DPS prioritize Endurance over Cunning (Patron Mod over Skill Mod, basically) and they still can wreck the charts. BUT. Said DPS also don’t worry about the ball or the ball handler. They go for easy kills. But if you’re frustrated with being an easy kill, why not switch around your gear a bit? Credits are cheap.

2. Stealth is awesome but it has weaknesses. One of my favorite things about Operative healing is that I get to choose where to fight. That’s powerful and awesome. But. Sometimes enemies can see you – some can spec for it but even those without talents for stealth-seeing can notice you, and sometimes even from max range. I’ve been popped out of stealth at 30 yards by a Merc after using Super-Sneak. I don’t understand and I was certainly frustrated, but the lesson I’ve learned is that Stealth isn’t perfect. Don’t try to sneak through a group of 5 enemies unless you’re actually going to fight them. When I notice someone stealthing near me, I can’t help but pop them out, just because. It’s irresistable and fun, so don’t tempt your enemy.

3. There are two games you can play in Warzones. One of them is heal all the players, the other is Huttball. Or Defend the turrets. Or Guard the bunker. As Operatives, we’re terrible ball carriers. And by ourselves, we’re not assaulting blast doors. But. We’re pretty great at sneaking up with another player. One of my favorite things to do is attack a turret guarded by one enemy and stay stealthed until my partner absolutely needs a heal. By the time the enemy realizes he’s outnumbered, it’s too late. And same with guarding. I know, being stealthed and staying at a node that doesn’t get attacked is boring and sometimes I hear healers qqing that they shouldn’t be guarding, they should be healing. Um, no. You just want the most healing done so you get more MVP votes. But now we get plenty of points for defending and what do you care more about – winning the match or winning the meters?

4. Currently (and let’s hope this gets fixed) you only get points and valor IF AND ONLY IF you get five or more awards in a match (update: It’s three. Thanks, Shintar!). When you win, this is easy. When you’re losing, not so much. You may need to do a mix of guarding your sole turret and attacking other turrets to get enough awards to win commendations. Otherwise, it’s a double-whammy of losing loseyness: no points and no win.

5. Speaking of winning and losing, you can have a good team, do everything right… and still lose. Sometimes some asshole on the other team will put a mark on your head and it will be the personal mission of four of their players to kill you the moment you pop out of stealth. Other times the enemy will just seem ten times faster than you and be one step ahead of your brilliant plans. Still others, you’ll raise your fist in the sky and say “how can that bounty hunter heal for so much even though we killed him 12 times?!”. I don’t have answers for that, friend.

6. As operative healers, we have a mite less utility than our sorcerer and merc counterparts. But don’t let that dishearten you. Sure, they can stun/interrupt/cc at range and have a full arsenal of spells they can cast (at range) and we don’t. At heart, Operative is a melee class so our utility only shines in close quarters, which many times we don’t want to be. But then when that sorc get focused down and you decide the other bunker is the place to be, well, Vanish gets the job done. It’s faster than running back from the graveyard.

Situational Awareness: So important it gets its own list

SA1: Your place in the world. Obviously, don’t stand in shit. But there’s more, so much more! Where are you in relation to the other team, your teammates? Fight near turrets/bunkers but be aware of LoS obstacles keeping you from healing. What does the field look like? Where will you be the most likely to heal in peace? I like to keep a pillar handy and/or stand at a far edge so that the other team’s ranged DPS approaching from their graveyard won’t be in range unless they specifically gun for me.

SA2: Not just who’s in range, but who isn’t. Because if 6 of your team are fighting 2 enemies here, that means you’re about to lose something big somewhere else. And sometimes, it’s just gotta be you who gives up all that juicy potential healing to haul ass and help out elsewhere.

SA3: Typing and healing at the same time is a pain but it’s a necessary evil. If no one else is communicating, get the ball rolling. How’s mid? NW is clear. They’re going East. INC OMFG HELP S NOW I’M A HEALER SQUISHY. Splat. Players are more likely to help people who lead. Though, in all fairness I’m terrible at calling doors in Voidstar. I can’t remember which is which, and saying “help other door” isn’t terribly effective.

SA4: Who’s your enemy focusing? That friendly needs a lot of heals. The sniper in the back at half-health who they’re ignoring to focus your other healer? Slap a hot on the sniper and spam heals on your partner-in-healing like there’s no tomorrow. They’re gonna need it.

SA5: What are your enemies? I hate to be all “this and this are overpowered now” but different enemies call for different strategies. A sniper sniping you from max range is easy to avoid by either stepping back a few yards or sliding behind a rock. And sometimes you get lucky-a ranged DPS will switch targets rather than chase you. If you’ve got a melee on ya, well, you probably don’t want to just stand there and take it. You want to kite and kite some more and when they do catch up, dole out stuns as needed to buy space and hot-ticking time. Oh, and once you know there are two stealthies on the other team, you may as well pretend they’re about to gank you at any moment. Because they are.

SA6: What are your teammates? A tank-specced assassin takes much less damage than a sorcerer. Healing next to another healer also changes the dynamics, the kinds of spells you can use, and how you manage your energy. And sometimes you have to make hard choices: if I have to heal one person at the risk of losing another, who do I keep? It takes a lot of PvP to learn intuitively how to make these kinds of decisions, and many times the answer isn’t ever clear.

SA7: Some areas in warzones are prime targets for AOE-fests. The blast doors in Voidstar. Turrets and bunkers. If you aren’t trying to claim something right away, stay near but not in those areas and avoid some damage. Likewise, don’t get buddy-buddy with your teammates. One AoE stun on both healers can hurt the team, and when you both try to move out of the Orbital Strike, you’re both doing less healing.

SA8: How much time is left in the match? Sometimes it’s better to waste 30 seconds than it is to try to go for one last score. When there’s less than a minute left in Huttball and we’re winning, my team often will drag the ball into our pit. Why? Because at that point, controlling the ball is more important than another score. Same with the final countdown in Voidstar – with 20 or 15 seconds left on the clock, it doesn’t matter if you’re the only person going against 5 players. All you need to do is keep all of them from arming a bomb and then they don’t get the door at all. And is it really worth stressing if the enemy takes a turret when they have 10 defense left and you have 240? Enjoy your win.

SA9: Cooldowns. What do you have left in the fight to use? What will be coming up again and about how soon will it be ready? Proper cooldown management can be difference between OOE and “haha, sucker, you can’t stop me!”. Don’t just think about healing cooldowns, either. Explosive Probe is great burst damage and our stuns can turn the tide in a fight. Oh, and relics! I’m a relic-noob and I would probably heal more if I remembered to use them, like, ever. Same with stims and medpacs, though I only use them when I see it making a clear difference in the fight.

How do you survive in warzones?



the nerf bat swingeth

So… how do you like the changes?

1. The new warzone is a lot of fun. I like the push/pull way of holding bunkers and turrets. The all-or-nothingness of Voidstar and Civil War (you either plant the bomb or get interrupted) works… but it’s nice that even a few seconds of channeling control does something for the team–and the fact that more people clicking is a much faster channel! It’s smooth and fun.

The map is also a good size. Sometimes when I’m stealthed I feel like it takes forever to get from one to the other but it’s not. You can see your teammates (and the enemy) all across the map. And any complaints I have about traveling are from my seething jealousy of Force Speed, that’s all.

2. I missed the memo and thought we’d get some things we haven’t gotten yet, like auto-group-keeping between warzones and 8-man queues. But that’s alright. As much as it’s annoying to reform your group between each, there are much worse things.

3. The new UI is neat. I’m still holding out for some healer-friendly changes but we got a few neat toys you may want to play around with. You can enable target of target by going into UI editor–there’s a couple of red boxes near the mini-map. Clicking and then clicking enable (kinda sounds like I should have taken a screenshot of this, eh?) will show your target’s target. This is less important to me now than it was while I was still learning the game; it seems I’ve gotten used to not having it. But it’s still nice. The narrow red bar near the target’s target is the target’s target’s cast bar (say that three times fast!). Also handy.

4. Still really wish offensive/healing spells had a reflexive targeting quality like you could set them up in WoW. Like, if you healed the boss it healed the boss’s target. Or even if you could heal a target you didn’t have targeted. Because it’s really annoying to interrupt people while healing. Possible, but annoying.

5. Had a blast last night PvPing. That was all we did now that our points max out at 2k. It’s crazy that when we ding 50 we’ll have access to Battle Master gear. It’s pretty expensive, but it should be. There’s still a bit of grinding to get a full set, just much less of a grind than there used to be. But I’m glad that Bioware seems to be interesting in doing a tiered leveling system–once new shiny gear is introduced, the old new-shiny is made highly accessible. Because seriously, new level 50s have enough going against them without having to do a separate grind for each tier of gear.

6. The change to allow medics up to 3 stacks of Tactical Advantage ended up being a much bigger, better change than I’d initially thought. It’s a lot more on-the-move healing flexibility, for one, and Energy is a lot easier to manage. When I only had 2 stacks, I ended up wasting so many TA points. With up to 3, less get wasted and there’s more to spend more often it seems.

7. I miss our giggling already – but – there is a silver lining to the storm cloud that is the giggle-nerf. When we get TA procs via Kolto Probe, there is a sound. If I had to describe it, I’d call it a clank noise, something like a wrench tightening a bolt with sudden finality. But better yet, why not hop on your Operative and spam some Probes until you get used to what it sounds like yourself? To me, it’s louder and more obvious than a free Consumption proc on my Sorcerer (I had a hard time training myself to listen for that one, it’s too quiet IMHO). We do have an audio cue to help manage our TA it’s just not a fun cue anymore.

8. May or may not get 50 tonight. We’re level 49 and enjoying it. For the Empire!



we didn’t try that hard: 16 man operations
February 28, 2012, 9:04 pm
Filed under: gameplay, on gaming, operations | Tags: , , , ,

Last week, my guild journeyed into our first 16-man operation. We filled out the raid with 11 guildies and 5 pugs. Further, we use Mumble which tends to be the rarest of voice-type programs and it’s too much hassle to get people who are unfamiliar with the program into the channel. So we didn’t bother.

Heck, in our WoW guild we used to joke that’s a secret part of the trial. If you can’t figure out how to get into Mumble before your trial is up, you don’t get to stay in the guild. =P

Now please understand. The list that follows is entirely based on my anecdotal experience. It’s opinion.

I really hope I’m not done with 16s permanently but for right now this one experience was enough to scare me away until things get patched up.

16-mans: The a-Peal:

  • Large groups feel more epic. More coordination. I felt like a healer-team lead instead of just the one healer who bosses around the other. I love large group play.
  • Damage happens hard and fast. I was a dedicated tank healer and it was fun to feel like my Operative was really filling a unique niche role in the group. It didn’t even bother me when we had to stack up for AoE heals and mine ended up being pathetic; I’d saved the day several times with my big, fast single target heals before the last phase. Healing class uniqueness really shines in 16s.

16-mans: The Appall:

  • Lag-fest. My computer was less penalized than I expected, but I saw just about everyone else grind to a painful halt with all the extra stuff going on. Apparently it’s a known issue and it isn’t a matter of your computer being “good enough” or not.
  • Trash is ridiculously hard. Things hit so much harder so it’s highly important for tanks to be taking every hit. But then you have 10 DPS and 4 healers doing their thing so the odds of someone getting one-shot are pretty good. Twitch reflexes seemed necessary, but did I mention the part about lag?
  • The one boss we did felt well-tuned enough but battle rezes work the same in 8s as they in 16s. So it feels like in 16 you are penalized. Not only do people die faster and suffer from computer lockup, you only get 50% forgiveness (Okay, that’s not true at all. That’s just how it feels).

All these things combined made our one 16 feel at least four times harder than our experiences in 8. We poked our heads into 8-Hard last week and while we hit the enrage timer at 30%, it felt more achievable as a long term goal than 16-normal. And seriously, why would anyone want to bang their head against the wall on 16s for normal gear when those groups could split and focus on 8-hards?

But then, like the title says, we didn’t try all that hard. We spent about 2 hours actually raiding of a normal 3 hour session (1/2 hour to filling the raid with pugs, called early when one of those pugs “ran into bad weather and may lose internet”. Except, pro tip: If you’re going to fake DC, don’t log out… It removes you from the raid and we know you logged out. To convincingly fake DC, you have to alt-F4 the game).

I’m a bit sad since I do enjoy the larger group sizes. It just feels more epic when I’m a part of an army and with 16 players, odds are good that all advanced classes and specs are well-represented. It’s group diversity at it’s finest. I hope that Bioware makes the changes they need to make to encourage more 16s so I can dip my toes in again.

Till then, I’ll enjoy being the only Operative in the raid. 🙂



what’s your format?
February 21, 2012, 9:38 pm
Filed under: gameplay, operations | Tags: , , , ,

8-man, 16-man, normal mode, hard mode, nightmare mode. There’s a ton of different options to keep us occupied.

8-mans are (logically) the most accessible. Smaller group sizes are easier to put together on a whim.

I haven’t set foot into a 16 yet but I think that was always the goal for me, the larger size. A vicious rumor is going around that I can’t verify: that 16-regulars are actually tuned harder than 8-hards. Whether or not this is true, it makes us reluctant to pug and my guild is growing. We’re a bit bigger than an 8 but definitely not big enough to be 16. Growing can be difficult.

I’ve cleared EV 8-Regular (that’s a lot of information, isn’t it, just to say I completed one Operation?) twice now. I don’t want to call it “easy” because that isn’t the right word. It’s accessible. It’s puggable. It’s doable without vent or mumble. And it should be. As a first hurdle to large-group play, I think it’s tuned well. Fights are involved but not pinch-point twitch-reflex OMG SPAM SPAM SPAM *tank death.* For those that just want to spend a few hours every week playing, regular mode raids are going to be fast and fun.

That said, we toggled to Hard mode and got our butts handed to us over and over on just the trash. We got two pulls on the boss and survived… to the enrage timer. We only got the boss down to 35% health. I look forward to banging our heads on that while we gear people up for it.

Another big thing my guild needs to get set up is attendance and roster-stuff. Since regular ops assign loot via computer we haven’t implemented an EP/GP like system though we would like to. In the spirit of full disclosure, I love EP/GP systems because they reward recent activity and, um, I’m a huge nerd with 100% raid attendance. But one thing I wonder about will be the popularity of alts. Once we get into hardmodes I see it being less of a potential problem but last night our ops leader rolled randomly to see who sat and one person’s “main” lost out to an “alt” (because their main was a healer and we were already full there). It worked out in the end; another person dropped out to do some RL stuff, but I’m curious how other guilds are handling things like this. Until we get dual-spec (and even once we do, to a point) it’s easier to bring an alt to stay flexible than it is to change the role of your main.

Especially with the prevalance of tier gear. If you want to optimize, you’ll be carrying around two sets of tier gear. It’s a lot to ask of, say, tanks, for some fights are one-tankable and others aren’t.

These aren’t new complications, though. MMO-players have been wrestling with roles, gear, and whatnot for years. TOR may end up working out socially like top-end raiding guilds in WoW. Or it might not. We’ll have to see how it shakes out.

Have you jumped into Ops yet? What kind of raiding have you done/do you want to do?



do operatives get better?
February 17, 2012, 10:05 pm
Filed under: gameplay, strategy | Tags: , , , ,

The wordpress stats page has got to be my worst timesink outside of TOR. I’m always so amused at some of the search terms that bring players to my blog. Some probably don’t find what they were looking–sorry, my Twilek Sorcerer is light side so my screenshots won’t show Sith corruption.

But the question “do operatives get better?” and “healing and leveling operative solo” came up and I figure, hey, I can answer that.

Do Operatives get better?

Leveling Operatives is a strange experience. I was confused early on by the importance of cover (it’s a bigger deal for Snipers) and in the early stages of leveling, our core abilities are split between range and melee. With the Energy system, we have free things we can do as “filler” and cost-things we can do that if spammed will drain us dry. Early on, it’s tricky to balance. Oh, and not having a movement help – closer/leap/grapple – sucks.

And are we ranged or are we melee? Both DPS trees offer perks to both ranged and melee abilities. Cover helps mitigate damage if we stay ranged, but then we lose out on some really great abilities. And interrupts. I made the leveling process harder on myself; I knew I wanted to heal so I focused mostly on ranged abilities. You can learn from my mistakes.

Energy gets easier to manage. It does. As a healer, there’s a sweet spot in the low 30’s where you get Tactical Advantage procs like crazy and life gets better. Having played mana-style healers for more than a decade it took me a long time to train myself not to panic when I ran out of Energy. The bar fills up pretty quickly, especially if you constantly roll Stim Boost (which you should).

Short answer? Yes, it gets better. I don’t even need to know what level you are, I’m sure it does.

Landmarks for Operative Awesomeness:

  • Adrenaline Probe (14). Energy every 2 minutes. BTW, 2 minutes is faster than you might expect in-game. Use early. Use often.
  • Sleep Dart (level 20). Amazing utility for sneaking around and even CCing pre-pull.
  • Cloaking Screen (22). Vanish. Poof. In combat no more. A bit buggy in caves or story areas if you’re in a group… but what a time saver. Ever had some meanie try to steal your gathernode/quest clickie while you’re fighting? Screen, they pull aggro, then you get the node. Not that I’ve ever done this, of course! (The more honorable use for Screen is nabbing a quest-clickie–you can disable/attack some things in combat–then dropping Screen).
  • Sneak (22). Makes you sneakier to get through tight hallways. Great if you finished your quest and don’t want to fight your way out. And for droid hallways, because droids can’t be Slept.
  • Evasion (24). Less damage taken, hurray!
  • Orbital Strike (48). Words cannot do this ability justice. Why yes, I did just use my walkie-talkie to order an orbital strike. That tremor shaking the ground? My power.

Leveling as a Solo Operative Healer

I have to admit, I only did a handful of levels solo post-30. I spent much more time running around alone on my Sorcerer. My initial thoughts are: it may be a bit easier to level solo as a healer as Sorc, but only because they have spammable AoE and the bubble is just so freaking good.

That being said, I don’t see why an Operative can’t do whatever she wants, whenever she wants, however she wants to do it.

Kaliyo is an alright tank and if you focus on keeping her geared up (if you spend most of your time solo, you’ll probably use her exclusively). If you do swap companions, go through her quickslot and make sure all the things you want her to use are still selected. Perhaps they’ve fixed that bug, but her tanking abilities got turned off each time if I summoned Kaliyo after I’d been running with Vector. When she isn’t guarding, she’s quite squishy.

You can either send in Kaliyo to tank everything or you can send her to one side of a pull while you yank aggro on the other side so you split the damage and (in theory) need to heal less in-combat. What I did was send her after the toughest guy in the group (the strong/silver) and I choose weak/standard target(s) to finish off as quickly as possible.

Sleep Dart lasts for a long time. This is a very good thing, since mitigating damage means you spend more time dealing damage and less time healing you and your companion. Sleeping the guy furthest away from pack where you plan on sending your companion will ensure Kaliyo doesn’t break it (well, sometimes at least).

As a healer, your AoE options are pretty limited. But snipe is decent damage and Operative heals are quite strong to keep Kaliyo up through whatever you send her into. A word of caution: it’s hard to go full-tilt damage mode then switch on the fly to spam heal. As a healer, you get efficiency for healing but not for your damage spells. I try to weave the free stuff in to my rotation and use Rifle Shot to pick off targets once their health is low.

Kolto Probe is pretty awesome. 2-stacks on your companion, rolled well, will do a brickload of healing.

Be prepared to sneak around a lot. If it doesn’t need to be killed for a bonus, a drop, or a count on your mission, it doesn’t need to be killed. Period.

Quest rewards often give you a couple of choices in gear: an item with more cunning and less endurance, or one with more endurance and less cunning. I chose “more cunning” all the way through but if you’re having trouble taking too much damage, a healthy mix couldn’t hurt. Be willing to experiment till you find both a gear style and a playstyle that keeps you questing. What works for me might not work for you. Heck, I’m known for missing obvious things so you may already be playing so much smarter than me.

And for elites, if you can’t keep a companion alive, you can often kite. Only group events have enrage timers and in story areas, the surrounding mobs don’t respawn. It’s a long fight, that way, but when that mob dies, it’s a good feeling.

How do you survive as a healer?