So, yay for me! I finally found a group for Challenge Modes and we had a very enjoyable weekend-and-a-bit hammering out Gold medals in all 9 Challenge Modes. Well, okay. It was mostly enjoyable, and a little bit ridiculously grueling and demoralizing. But that’s Scarlet Monastery for you.
I doubt I’ll end up writing a full-blown guide to healing Challenge Modes, since there are so very many good video guides out there, and I haven’t yet completed them on all the healing classes. Instead, I’ll leave you with some tips, tricks, and observations that I made during my attempts:
1) Be prepared. Watch video guides. Even if they don’t tell you all the healing tricks you’ll need to get through the content quickly, the videos will make it very clear where the hard parts are and at what times you’ll need to plan to use your cooldowns.
2) Be proactive. Use your CC, your interrupts, your utility abilities, and your cooldowns before the damage is dealt. Some of the trash packs in these dungeons are ridonkulously difficult to heal through, and you won’t be able to waste a global popping your Barrier or moving into place to use your Demoralizing Roar or fiddling about with your Elementals when the damage actually hits.
3) Maximise your DPS. On trash and on bosses, the faster you get things dead, the sooner the nightmare will end. I ran with Primal Elementalist, and my Fire Ele dealt about 1 million damage each time I summoned him, which, for the record, is about 1,000,000 DPET. (Primal Earth Ele helped a lot too.) I also used Intellect potions where all our DPS were using their potions, and I ran with Flametongue Weapon instead of Earthliving for any fights where I might get to do a little DPS.
4) Passive healing is amazing. It keeps your party alive while leaving you to interrupt, stun, DPS, CC, whatever. Healing Stream Totem, a pre-cast Healing Rain, and Healing Tide Totem all saved our asses more than once. I know that this sort of passive healing is really a Shaman thing, but if you have anything you can do in that regard – maybe even Force of Nature! – consider it, because it’s really handy to know that your party is safe while you fill any gaps in your group’s utility deficiencies.
5) Use all your abilities. Okay, maybe not all – I didn’t use Earth Shock or Rockbiter Weapon, for example – but clear space on your keybinds for anything that could be situationally useful. For Shamans in particular, make sure that you have a good keybind for Grounding Totem and Capacitor Totem, because these are the rock stars of your repertoire. I made a WeakAura to announce when I had dropped my Capacitor Totem and when it had gone off, so that the other party members could coordinate their AoE CC with me, and I also added a macro that marked it when I summoned it so the tank would know where it was and not to pull away. (I had Totemic Projection just in case, but sometimes you just can’t fling a totem fast enough.)
Finally … If anyone tells you that you “have” to spec DPS to get Golds – it’s lies. By all means, do it if you enjoy DPSing, but if you’re like me and absolutely despise your non-healing spec(s), don’t despair! It can be done!
The typical place where people expect the healer to DPS is on the final boss of Stormstout Brewery, Yan-Zhu the Uncasked. He’s got a lot of health and the timer in SSB can be a little tight. But I can assure you that it is unnecessary. I did spec Enhancement for that fight, and on our successful Gold run I dealt only 27k DPS. (My Fire Ele and Ascendance were both on cooldown. I’m not really that bad. I mean, I’m terrible, but I’m not really that terrible.)
On a previous attempt, where we made time-deleting mistakes in the trash before the first boss, and where I was unable to respec before attempting the final boss, I did 53k dps as Resto. So clearly, healer DPS is sufficient. I’m sure most healers can pump out 27k+ DPS in their healing spec, and you’ll save a few seconds by not having to wait for the respec just before that boss, too. Just make a macro to sub in some DPS trinkets/off-hand/weapon, use your Talents creatively, and do what you can.
Extra-finally … If you’re scared of Challenge Modes, don’t be! They are awesome fun. Even though I don’t actually like the way they were implemented – which is a rant I will save for later – I still had a great time. It wasn’t quite as awesome as attempting all 16 Burning Crusade Heroic dungeons in a 24-hour period (we failed because my friends turn in to pumpkins at midnight, *sigh*), but it was definitely an adrenaline rush! And yes, they are hard, but what better way to build your skills than to put them to the test?
Truly finally, I’d like to say thanks to my team:
You guys are awesome and I <3 you!