I took my Spellslinger out for another spin in wintry Whitevale today. I spent a few minutes plodding through quests and actually reading the quest text before remembering that there were a pair of level-appropriate dungeons awaiting me. I queued for Stormtalon’s Lair, the second dungeon after Protogames Academy at level 10. Sandwiched between those two dungeons are an adventure (a short instance) which offers a light-hearted group experience and a handful of shiphands (similarly short instances) which offer a solo adventuring experience, if that is your preference. It’s usually my preference.
The difference between the level 20 dungeon and the level 10 dungeon is that Protogames Academy (10) is designed to teach you how to play the instance game and Stormtalon’s Lair (20) is designed to teach you how to obey mechanics by dying to them repeatedly. I had queued up for both the damage dealing and healing roles which is perfectly acceptable to do at level 21 in assault-based gear. I was subsequently pleasantly surprised and entirely unprepared when I came up as the healer 35 minutes later. I wasn’t actually expecting to find a dungeon group prior to level 50.
I still had my Gear + Builder healing loadout in which I had slotted two attacks, two control abilities, and three heals. My healing responsibilities were in part facilitated by Grid (raid frames), Heal Buddy (uses the vacuum loot V key to autotarget the lowest-health group member) and Healie (draws health-deficit-colored lines to your group members). I’m also a little cheater-pants who uses Perspective which draws lines to anything you want that’s within 500 yards or so: quest objectives, resource nodes, enemy players, and focus targets, among numerous other things. I set the tank as my focus, thus giving me a permanent pink line to him terminating in a big pink heart so I knew where the primary object of my healing affection was at all time. For the rest of the group, keeping an eye on ForgeUI’s NamePlates sufficed provided there were not a large number of nameplate-sporting enemies afoot.
I didn’t have AuraMastery set up to show me the icons of off-cooldown abilities right next to my character so I had to look down at my LAS every now and then to see where the CDs were at. This wasn’t a major problem; however, my priority queue would have been much more fluid had I been using a properly configured AuraMastery setup.
The reason for this is that all of my Spellslinger heals are aimed rather than targeted. This means that I usually need to point my pistols at as many allies as possible based on the shape of the telegraph a particular heal sends out. This must be done while dancing and dodging around red telegraphs on the floor and remembering to use an interrupt when a foe does a Very Bad Thing That You Should Stop. The sum of these things resulted in a rather intense dungeon experience, which is just the way I like it.
The dungeon took just under two hours to complete; for at least a few of us, myself included, it was our first time running it at the appropriate level. I had run it previously on my maximum-level Stalker with Black Dagger Society in a damage dealing role; my fellow guild members seemed to be fairly well-geared and had done the dungeon several times before, so we pretty much one-shotted everything which allowed me to become familiar with the layout and boss mechanics and not much else. I was too busy concentrating on executing a respectable damage rotation in my pre-dungeon-caliber gear.
Per today’s adults-with-children standards, it was a bit too long. My ideal parent-length dungeon would be about 30-45 minutes. This is from someone who would spend 6 to 8 hours a night raiding Molten Core in college. My, how times have changed. A major contributing factor in the length of the dungeon was the fact that we wiped roughly ten times learning how to spank the bosses fast enough while not standing in red and pressing all the healing buttons. Every couple of wipes I ended up changing out one of my non-healing abilities for another healing ability and adding it to the spam-on-cooldown checklist. It sounds rather mundane in theory; in practice, ground-targeting a Voidspring in the midst of dash-dodging around red-is-dead murder-poop and remembering to then Spellsurge a C1 Vitality Burst chained directly into Healing Salve if it’s on cooldown followed by….well, you get the point. There’s a lot of stuff to do and it involves skillful ability management coupled with satisfyingly frenetic movement requirements that have me looking forward to wiping in the Ruins of Kel Vorath later this week.