peal's heals – a swtor blog


i’m level 11 and muckin up your queue

In an attempt to fight the problem we have with 6-8 people wanting to queue and dealing with how we split up our parties, how we stagger the queues (which ends up being time consuming, less games for one team), or if we’ll fight against each other, well, we thought we’d all roll lowbies so we could get a group of 50’s playing and a group of lowbies and it’d all be good.

Except we’re all kind of in love with our lowbies so we’re stuck with the same problem: 6-8 wanting to run together.

I made a sorcerer to heal. Of course I did. I love them. I miss my sorcerer. And the lowbie queue is really fun. It’s average faster queue times, and for some reason crushing losses are funnier when you’re level 11 with only 1 heal than when you’re 50 and still 2k points from your next War Hero upgrade.

We do experience crushing losses. When four of us level 11-12s join and the highest level person is 33 on our team, well, we realize we’ve kinda gimped everyone. But I don’t care, it’s still fun. It’s not all losses, and sometimes even at level 11 you can lead the scoreboard (in places like Voidstar where everyone can get face time) and still feel like you did good things.

I’ve even scored in Huttball. And here I thought I wouldn’t get the chance to score till I had Force Speed. Can’t wait for that, btw, and bubble, and Innervate… The nice thing about leveling this way is there’s so much to look forward to. I think most of us will do class quests but mostly focus on leveling PvP. And this time? Dark side all the way.

Seriously, though. BioWare, we need 8-man queues. Right away. We can’t be the only guild that’s suffering with this awkward size thing. Oh, and I’ve had a ticket open since 4/21 that no one has touched. Some customer service would GREAT.



three months in

Following in the brave tradition of Kristalys at All For the Wookiee and Shintar from Going Commando, I’d like to reminisce on the last three months of the game.

In the past three months I’ve leveled a whole lot of toons. A 50 Sorcerer, first and foremost, but the moment I hit max level with her I realized I needed an Operative. And on the way, I’ve made a Mercenary (got lazy around level 14), another sorcerer (got lazy around level 12), a Trooper (7) and a Sage (13). That’s on one server.

On another server (because for some reason I thought the people I went to high school with would be nicer than the random guys I met in WoW, oh god who was I kidding?! Now my librarian is my guild officer!)… Well, I made an Operative. Healing, of course, though this time I didn’t wait till mid-twenties to use the spec. Lux and I are leveling duo-operatives and spending quite a bit more time PvPing.

But, I… ahem. Already have a placeholder for a sorcerer. Quake was already taken on the Tarro Blood server, but (surprise) Peal was not. So if you ever see Temblor in a warzone, throwing darts of healing and shoving probes in your face, well, wave at me. 🙂

So that’s what I’ve done. In retrospect that’s a lot, though I never got into what I thought I wanted most: hard mode raiding.

Now I’m not even sure I want that. I’ve heard here and there that people leave because quite frankly the group play sucks. But I still don’t see it. I mean. The tank shortage seems to be a really big deal but at the same time we’ve got healers in abundance. Now I’ve enjoyed healing in games even when healing was awkward and clunky and resource management was a fickle creature, and in games like this healers/support were really rare. Remember looking for a bard or red mage simply to gain a level or two in FFXI?

Speaking of FFXI, remember camping HNMs for hours against several other guilds, only to lose the pop to a Japanese guild (lower ping) who would play with the boss for hours just to move its respawn timer to a more convenient pull time for that guild the next day?

At least we can run into an instance and play when we’re ready. I haven’t touched hard modes, like I said, but the normal seems well-tuned for casual play. As it should be. I’ve run flashpoints ad nauseum without actually having nausea. So I feel the content has decent replay value, if only for the satisfaction of knocking Captain Yelto to the floor again.

So… lots of healers means that lots of people find healing fun. And why not? The pace of healing is perfect, IMHO. As is the time spent healing -in new content where I’m undergeared it’s a challenge, sure, and it should be, but once me and the tank get a few upgrades I can throw out a grenade once in a while. And I love that. My DPS doesn’t compare at all to real damage dealers, but I still find it worthwhile to use a burst ability when there’s nothing else to do. Why not? Why should I be defenseless because I’m a healer?

(Explosive probe is my favorite when I have just a split second to help burst someone down in a warzone, because it’s so dramatically… explosive).

My biggest complaints are the interface (I get very tired of the bug where a player or two won’t load into my Operations frames, so I’m stuck trying to heal a warzone without an easy way to target them) and the lack of click-to-cast. But honestly after three months I’ve managed to forget. I logged enough gametime in SWTOR healing that I’ve just plain gotten used to it, awkward and clunky as it is.

Granted, it helps that I have a mouse with extra buttons on the side. And I hope that we’ll still see some upgrades on the interface for healers. Just because we forget something is broken doesn’t mean we wouldn’t benefit from it being fixed.

I’ve noticed (in my entirely limited experience) that warzone healers on my new server are rarer than my old one. More often than not, I’m the only one on my team… but I’m not complaining. I get a ton more MVP votes that way!

In the next three months, I look forward to more leveling, more PvP and maybe even a dash of raiding. We’ll see. But I’m definitely still excited about the game. How about you? Can you believe it’s been three months of SWTOR already?



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?



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?



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?