peal's heals – a swtor blog

from the searchbox
April 20, 2012, 12:00 pm
Filed under: for fun, pvp, strategy | Tags: , , ,

Here’s some search terms people used recently and stumbled across my blog.

1. Best crew skills for operative medic? I personally like Cybertech. Once you get 50 and have 400, you can make reusable bombs. Having a third stun is really nice even if it’s a short one. Otherwise, BioChem gives you a perma-stim, Armstech gives you… Umm… Let’s just say I was really disappointed with Armstech. So, um, how about that Cybertech? Yeah!

2. Operatives are overpowered healing. What? Okay, everyone’s entitled to their opinion and I’ve pretty sure I’ve made mine abundantly clear: Nerf Bounty Hunters, and nerf them now! Sorcs, too. *grumble grumble* Though, in fairness I don’t know if this searcher was looking for PVP or PVE information. With no meters in PVE I’ve healed alongside Mercs, Sorcs, and other Operatives. I could always tell when the person behind the character was good, regardless of class played. I’d say a good player makes any class look overpowered.

3. SWTOR instants interrupted. I’m pretty sure this is impossible, though I imagine that when things get really laggy it can look like you either interrupted someone’s instant (though really the game registered it as the spell coming after/before??) Or someone interrupts you while casting an instant but again, the game registers it as the spell before it.

4. Kolto Probe two tanks. The neat thing about Kolto Probe is that even though it only stacks to two, you can stack it to two on any number of players. As long as you can find a way to remain in range of both tanks, you can Probe both of them to your heart’s content. I wrote about how much I loved Probe a few weeks ago, but here’s the quote to explain how to roll:

…after experimenting I realized I was wrong. It does roll. So long as you cast 2 before the first Probe wears out, and continue to cast 1 Probe before all Probes fade, the hot will continue ticking at 2-Probe strength. The duration on the tooltip represents the timer of the most-recently-cast Probe.

5. Mercenary or Sorcerer. I have little experience with Mercenaries. And while I’m inclined to say “sorcerer, duh!”, my real answer should be: why not make both and play around with them to get a feel for which you like better? Your playstyle might heavily favor one or the other. Or maybe you’ll just like the Merc’s attitude better. I know I do!

6. Killing Operative healers 1.2. Oh, boy. See, when I’m the one getting killed I think “wow, this guy has it so easy. I’m squishy and seriously, Force Lightning took 90% of my life and how is that not broken??” but once in a blue moon I’ve been able to survive and seem very hard to kill. Like against some melee and sometimes against snipers (when there’s a playground for me to LoS in). Pretty much, interrupt and stun as you can, don’t let them get away. And seriously (this is totally inflammatory but hey, this is a healing blog) if you can’t kill an operative healer, you’re not trying hard enough.

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!

why you don’t want to play an agent
April 10, 2012, 4:12 pm
Filed under: for fun, pvp | Tags: , , , , ,

I have this embarrassing confession to make…

I prefer warzone groups that have exactly two Imperial Agents: me and Apparation.

There are a few exceptions, of course, but at the same time I see other snipers and operatives and think “sheesh, if only we had this many Sorcerers instead.”

And I could trot out some wonderful-sounding excuses like “well, Agents are hard to play properly” or “bounty hunters and inquisitors are just so gosh-darned good right now” but the long and short of it is, there’s this preconception that Agents are the weakest class.

If I’m being honest with myself, they are.

5 Reasons Not to Play an Agent in PVP

1. All the other kids in the playground (er, players in the warzone) groan when you hop into their game. No really, you could have rolled a mercenary or a sorcerer and everybody knows it. At least you can be bad and still do a decent job if you play the overpowered classes.

2. No freaking closing ability. Seriously, when we start talking about awesome movement utility the Agent gets left in the dust. Force speed is ridiculously amazing and that’s not all: Sorcerers also get Extrication (think life grip) for double the ball-carrying speed action. Then Powertechs get grapple, Warriors can Charge and Juggernauts can Intercede. So why do Operatives (a melee-only class) get… nothing?

3. While we’re ranting about what Agent’s don’t have, I should mention this other minor thing… KNOCKBACKS. Inquisitor’s Overload is awesome. Sure, it’s self-based but some can talent it to stun and man that stun always lasts forever when you’re on the receiving end. And whatever that thing that Bounty Hunters can do like all the freaking time- yeah, I hate that. Stupid bounty hunters.

4. See that Merc over there, spamming Tracer Missle like there’s no tomorrow? And that Sorcerer throwing out lightning? Sustained burst is not for you, Agent. You get to cast a whole three abilities (slight hyperbole warning) and then you can run around waiting for your energy to come back. Enjoy!

5. Speaking of sustained burst, a sorcerer healer has a lot of different offensive abilities they can use to keep busy when no healing is needed. Sure, their Lightning and all isn’t quite as powerful as going with a DPS spec, but they can still do a whole rotation of things and have some Force to spare for healing. I can’t speak for Mercs but considering some of the damage and healing done in warzones by Mercs I’d say they can stay busy, too. Not so with the Agent. Our Operative arsenal is pretty pathetic (you have to spec into the other DPS trees to get more key abilities) and not-at-all sustainable if we want to heal, too. Let’s face it, Overload Shot just costs too much for what it does. And that’s about all we have when Shiv and Backstab are down.

Fortunately, there are some good reasons to play an Agent in PVP:

1. You are the only healer who can stealth. So when those jerks on the other team put a giant flame target on your head (it’ll happen), you can actually get to the brawl and help your team before you get ganked. There’s also the chance you’ll survive, too, since you’re always with a group. Being able to choose your fights is priceless.

2. Sorcerers aren’t the only ones who can have fun on ledges, picking players off one by one. Snipers can, too. And cover makes you immune to Grapple and a couple other movement devices.

3. Agents are the minority. Which means playing an agent, you’ll round out the group. And here’s this other potential benefit: your other team may have less experience playing against you than they do Sorcerers and Sages. Seriously. Even as a healer with pathetic damage output, I’m able to solo players who don’t understand how Operative healers work (killing a n00b DPS is highly satisfying, give it a try) (and if two people are dead-set on killing me anyways, I try to lure them away from the rest of their team as far as possible and leave them in the wrong pit for maximum travel-time wastage. Most the time they really think I’m trying to flee and chase me all the way).

4. So maybe we don’t get cool toys like the other kids but you know what we get? Hots. And as much as I really think Probes should stack higher than 2, being able to spread them out over the group (watching the energy bar, mind you!) makes for some awesome zerg parties. Being able to move while I’m spreading the love is pretty great, too, so I can position myself to pillar-hump once some Merc thinks he has a shot of killing me. Dream on, dude. I got instants to spare.

5. Us Agents are patient folk. In 1.2, guess who’s getting nerfed? That’s right… everyone BUT Agents. As much as I think Agents (mostly Operatives, can’t speak for Snipers) don’t have all the utility we need, we’re being watched and I’m certain developers will keep nerfing and buffing till we have a shot at staying competitive.

6. The healing and damage done metric can be overrated. Sure, I’d do a hell of a lot more dps or healing as a Sorc or a Merc. I’m sure of it (and I’ve played Sorc to know). But at the end of the day, winning a warzone takes more than that. Fighting in the middle nets you good numbers but does it matter if the enemy claims the other two turrets or if the other team has the ball near the goalline? Any player sacrifices “numbers” to be in the right spot at the right time. It is trickier for Operatives because our interrupt, stun, and group CC are all melee-only, but with Stealth/Vanish we have a shot at getting to the ball, the turret, wherever we want to be, to do the most good. Not the most healing.

7. Our gear is so sweet. See that sissy running around in a robe frayed with purple fuzzies and feathers? Or that dude who thinks wearing a tin can is awesome? Not so, dear Agents (Scoundrels, too). We got style in spades… and the coolest sunglasses.

8. Oh, and the Agent storyline is the best. That is all.

operation: redundancy
March 16, 2012, 4:42 pm
Filed under: missions | Tags: , , ,

Haven’t really raided all week, which has led me to some other interesting endeavors in SWTOR.

1. Made another sorcerer to level alongside Lux’s new sniper. Mistakes I will not be making this time around: being nice, going light side.

2. Made another operative on a new server so in theory I can PvP with some people I went to high school with (I say in theory because of my love-hate relationship with PvP). I actually made two new operatives. The first I named Peal, then I realized that Peal is totally not an operative name. Quake was already taken, as was Tremor. Bah. BUT: the second time around this time has been so much easier than the first. I know what to expect and I understand abilities. In fact, I’m counting levels till I get some of them. Operatives aren’t really awkward, it just seems that way.

3. Leveling diplomacy is kinda fun if you read the missions. The difference between dark side options (this lady wants out of her arranged marriage! have Khem Val “convince” her to do it for the good of the Empire!) and light side options (this party could get out of control! Have Xalek show up to keep the good times rolling!)

Because apparently, Xalek is a party animal?

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. 🙂

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?

gearing up
February 16, 2012, 12:00 am
Filed under: for fun, gameplay | Tags: , , , , , ,

Results Not Typical.

I’ve had a very easy time gearing up my Operative in the short time she’s been 50. In less than a week, I had a 2-set Columni bonus. In less than 2, I had a 4-set. In that time, she also took other upgrades-mostly 136-level with a smattering of 126’s.

And before it sounds like I’m bragging, I’ve been trying to place if I’m just lucky or if I did all the right things and gearing up really can happen that quickly.

Dailies – Belsavis every day. Mmm mods, sweet mods.

Flashpoints – lots of ’em. One or two every night, up to 4 daily on the weekends.

Operations – I’ve cleared Eternity Vault once and done the first 2 bosses of Karragga’s Palace. I think I got 2 pieces of loot in EV and 1 (that I already had) in KP.

In flashpoints, I’ve had very little competition. I spend most of my time with an assassin tank and 2 dps mercs. All cunning is mine.

In Operations, I feel like the normal modes are tuned to be fairly easy. We ran into enrage timers but in all fairness we also had some cobbled-together groups. Fresh 50s and a couple of “sure I’ll respec and play a new role for the first time to get this group going” kinda things. And after a few pulls, we got bosses down.

I’ve watched Sorcerer Force bars with insane jealousy. Even Enrage timers can’t run ’em dry. Every time I see purple goo on the ground I wish I had something half as nice. QQ

But at the same time, my single target heals are pretty great. I’ve fallen into the role of tank healer quite nicely without doling out assignments or calling it out.

Oh, and the Operations bosses? With the exception of the puzzle fights, I really really like ’em. The banter, the mechanics, the teamwork. They aren’t so hard (on normal mode) to keep us banging our head against one thing all week. Two nights a week should be more than enough to clear both Ops and after coming from a 4-night WoW raiding schedule it’s a nice change of pace. I look forward to them now more than I used to and it’s not just because TOR is the new shiny. I dare say the new-shiny for me wore off a few weeks ago, and that’s not a bad thing.

Our raid team still needs some filling out, but not everyone we expect to play with is 50 yet. We’re a little bounty-hunter heavy (though if I had stayed Sorc, we’d be Sorcerer heavy too, so I haven’t regretted that at all). Our biggest void? Warriors. My pocket tank started out one (it was fun to do both Sith storylines together, had some nice synergy) and we both leveled our Operative/Assassin together (which has amazing stealth synergy; I absolutely recommend this combination for team characters for the sheer fun of double-sap double-vanish).

Altitis is getting to me a bit, though. Now that I’ve got my Operative geared up past Flashpoints I want to see if my grass-is-greener syndrome is really deserved. Besides, I haven’t posted about Sorcs in some time, so I probably should give that a go. Ya know, for the sake of research. 🙂

How are you progressing?