Whoa. Wait. No, you didn’t misread that title!
I did, indeed, heal my first raids this weekend. And they were, indeed, Syrcus Tower and World of Darkness.
Slowly, quietly, I have been leveling Zuri’s White Mage while gathering crystals for my first Relic weapon. I’ve gathered them all now, and White Mage is only at level 57… so, I have a ways to go before I reach level 60. So close, so far away.
Each week, I’ve been rolling for healing gear in Void Ark, and have been able to gather many drops… since my Bard legs don’t seem to want to drop. So, I’ve been slowly working on end game gear, but I’m not quite there yet. But there is one raid I can run at my level.
Crystal Tower Sunday
Crystal Tower Sunday is an initiative started by clever folks on the FFXIV Reddit. CT is a series of three raids that used to be pretty popular before Heavensward dropped. However, now that a lot of it is somewhat trivial due to many players being far overgeared, and the fact that the dev team hasn’t really put CT in a raid roulette or made drops there desirable for level 60 players, it’s really, really hard to get a queue together to play it.
This is sad because it’s a series of really fun raids. It’s also the raid content that fresh level 50s and folks who don’t have Heavensward can enjoy. It’s a favorite among some of our FC, including Syn. And I still have to admit that I enjoy it more than Void Ark and miss running it.
CT Sunday is an allotted time when people of all servers and data centers get together and queue up for the raids in order to actually have a chance to play it. The idea is to relive the fun we used to have and teach players who are new to the fights the mechanics. This week was really successful in that I saw two runs that were really dedicated to getting the new players through.
Despite being a 24-man raid, CT is a place of learning and honing end game skills. For me, I really learned how to work in a large group and got better at my Dragoon rotations by playing CT. I think playing CT was the time when the game started to click for me… so it was always an instance that we encouraged new level 50s to practice in.
Now, you’d think a raid wouldn’t be the best place to practice, but it really is. Yes, there are mechanics to learn (and practice), but once you understand what the fights are about and how to handle them, the rest of it is learning how to work in a group to the best of your ability. Large boss fights have just enough staying power to let you practice rotations, but also enough mechanics to teach you how to effectively dodge and work in a group.
Learning to Heal
I’m not sure where it came up that I could practice healing on Zuri in CT. But it seems like a natural place to start. It’s a large group, yes, but I had a second healer (Syn) to back me up, despite all of my own self-doubts. Plus there are four other healers to help take the pressure off if things start going poorly for our teams.
I know the fights and mechanics in CT well after doing them so many times as DPS. But all these things didn’t keep me from fretting and entering the queue in my scared-to-death hand-shaking state of mind I usually get when I’m doing something totally different for the first time.
I may have leveled a White Mage to 57, but I rarely healed a dungeon past Brayflox before this. My mind is wrapped around the DPS perspective (with a little tanking experience thrown in), which is really, really different than what you think about and focus on when you’re healing.
Suddenly, you’re watching health bars and trying to make sure the main tank stays alive. It becomes a more personal experience as you start to notice the names and jobs of people in your group – especially those DPS who seem to be struggling to stay alive.
Some of the folks playing CT were brand new to the raid, so we had a mixture of levels, gear and experience. It made for some pretty interesting situations. Never were we at risk for wiping, but I saw more deaths as a healer in CT than I usually do as DPS.
Part of it is because I’m still trying to practice concentrating on two things at once: mechanics and health bars. As as DPS, all I have to worry about is mechanics and rotation… and those two things blend into one pretty naturally for me. As a healer, I found myself fudging easy mechanics (Mortal Gaze) now and then, and felt that perspective shift the most.
I’m learning the woes of healers, as well. Such as… when you’re healing so hard to keep the DPS alive, but they die anyhow. Then all the aggro that was killing the DPS focus-fires you down, despite you pulling the mobs to the tank. ><
I also have some trouble knowing when to shift in and out of Cleric Stance to do damage. The moment I pop in and get a stone off seems to be the moment some DPS is eating AOE. Now, part of that could be because the DPS was new to mechanics, too, but it made me leery about stance dancing before I felt comfortable just dealing with healing + mechanics.
Overall, though, I think I have potential as a healer. I didn’t dislike it. In fact, I asked to go through WoD a second time just to practice it some more (and got picked at by Syn for it). Hey… I can only get in the raid every Sunday, so might as well keep practicing the thing I’m already learning, right?
I wasn’t as nervous the second and third time through, though I feel like I need a lot of practice to unlearn the ways of DPS and think like a healer. It’s a whole different way to play FFXIV, almost like a new game in a way, and that’s a rather exciting prospect.
PS – Check Reddit for upcoming information on Crystal Tower Sunday this weekend. Spread the word! Join in! I want to practice my healing more! 🙂