This is an April Fools joke and not real healing tactics you should use on your friends!
I love playing healing classes for group instances and raids. I think part of it is that I get to do enough killing as a solo player. I don’t like melee classes, so tanking is usually a bad idea for me. I also don’t like to get blamed when a group wipes (because a wipe is always, always, ALWAYS the tank’s fault for not being able to hold aggro).
Healing lets me channel my inner nurturer and keep the group alive. It also helps that all you really have to do is watch the green bars. No one ever asks a healer to do other stuff like lock down adds, mez the other boss, light braziers, or anything like that. Heal. Heal again. Heal some more.
Plus it’s always easy to find a group.
All you have to do is drop a message in OOC or LFF that says something like “Healer LF23M for Gatecrasher. PST for invite.” Boom! Instant raid.
Sometimes, I’ll post a message in kinchat, “Hey, I need some skirms. Let’s run BD Survival. I’ll heal.” Five minutes later, I’ve got a kinmate’s warden running in circles, the raid’s lead hunter is calling out, “The Pale Trapper’s got to die!”, the Canadians are going on and on about their fabulous free health care, and the Aussies begin singing something no one knows, but nobody complains because the Americans picture them all as looking like Kym Johnson or Hugh Jackman.1
Yet sometimes, I find myself dragged into an instance or a raid that I really don’t want to be in, but I go along because I’m a good kinmate or because I’m returning a favour. If this hasn’t happened to you, 1) you don’t belong to a kinship, 2) you don’t have any friends,2 or 3) you’re lying.
Seriously, how many times have you found yourself in Grand Stairs or a Helegrod trash run wishing that you had gotten the healer’s spot in Draigoch or that you were out in the Moors running down creeps at TR?
Here are some quick suggestions on how to make your time as a healer much, much more fun.
Option 1: Letting people die without making it look like you’re letting them die
Generally speaking, I don’t recommend allowing fellowship members to get blown up.
Not because it isn’t fun (because it is!), but because if you earn a reputation as an incompetent healer (as opposed to simply being lousy), no one will invite you along any more. And that really isn’t fun.
Still, there are times when you just need to be rid of one person in the group. You know the one: That hunter who can’t stay on target. The hunter who lights up the voice chat with, “Hey, guardian, I’ll bet you can keep aggro from me! Muhahahahahaha!”. The guy playing the hunter whom they only allowed into the kin (and was made an officer!) because he’s the leader’s brother. The hunter who shows up to DN wearing the Fem armour set.
If you’re not the raid leader, you can’t just be rid of him/her (or if you are the raid leader, maybe the person who needs to be sacked from the raid is your brother, but you can’t kick your own sibling out of a group). So how to you keep that one person from wiping the whole raid?
Many instances and raids can be completed by less than a full group, even in hard mode. Going one person down generally will not stop you from completing most of them and getting the quest rewards you so richly deserve. If there is one person in your group who is annoying you to no end, and you cannot boot them out, let them die. Be sure to PM the captain to let them know not to burn an in-combat rez on the offending party, too.3
I am a firm believer in “play what you want to play, the way you want to play it.” However, if someone signs up for a raid to fill a certain role, and isn’t willing to follow the directions of the raid leader to see that role through to completion, they need to pay the price, which includes the massive repair bill you’re going to saddle them with after they die a time or nine.
Another thing I firmly believe is that people can—and should—enjoy a computer game, regardless of their level of ability and competence. Unless you are a member of a hardcore raiding kinship, there is a good chance that your kinship has a handful of members who range from bad to slightly below-average players who always want to go along for raids. Maybe they don’t know their class, they don’t always have the best gear and you tend to hear them say, “What does this button do?” a lot. However, they are a lot of fun to have in Vent/Teamspeak/Mumble, will move heaven and earth to help you out with crafted materials/items and are the prime organizers in some of the kinship’s social events.
In a virtual sense, they are the best friends you could ever ask for from a community you only know online. However, like some of your real life friends,4 you may not always want them around, especially if there is a Worn Symbol of Celebrimbor on the line. Some of them want to learn to play their class, and if you take them along for the ride enough times, give them pointers and encourage them when they do well, they’ll eventually become good raiding companions. For others, there’s simply no hope. At the same time, you can’t just leave them behind if they want to go along for Dark Delvings or Sammath Gûl because that makes you look like a dweeb.
Whether you’re allowing someone to get knocked off out of spite or in the interest of preserving the remainder of the group, you have to find a way to creatively let them die, but not while letting it look like you’re allowing them to die. I suggest casting a heal on them now and then, but not using any of your big heals. You might also conspire with the main tank to keep any eye on this person so that they don’t grab the aggo off this person when you mean for them to keep it. Make sure they’re “out of range” of your group heals.
Another thing to consider is that some of the fights have a massive one-shot attack (ie-the wave in the Watcher) and many times, this person will do your dirty work for you and get him- or herself killed, thus saving you the trouble. You might also consider setting this person up so that they just “happen” to be in the wrong spot at the right time and end up needing a rez once the fight is over.
Of course, other times, it’s fun to let party members get whacked just for kicks.
Chapter 9: Let’s Play a Game
Back before RoI dropped, I used to see which instances I could heal while in war-speech. I actually got pretty good at running Grand Stairs (hard mode) from war-speech. Now that you can only self-heal from WS, the fun of this particular game-within-the-game is gone (damn, you Turbine devs!!!!), but there are still others to be had. Here are a few of my ideas:
- See if you can get through Lost Temple without casting a single group heal.
- Cast Raise the Spirit only.
- Declare at the beginning of the raid, “Today is International Red Line Day, I will be main healing, but I have no blue or yellow traits slotted.”
- Run a virtue set that’s all agility and might.
- Switch the buttons on your mouse and play “left-handed”
- See how far down you can let your main tank go before you start healing him/her. I hear someone whose name rhymes with “Molding Tar” likes to do this.
- Equip your DPS weapon and songbook
- Near the end of a boss fight, call out, “Minstrel flop! You’re on your own for 10 seconds”, then hit your Still as Death skill. See who survives.
The object of these games isn’t (really) to cause your group to wipe; it’s to make you a better healer. After all, if you can heal Barad Guldur on-level with 7 red line traits, healing with five blue/two red or four yellow/three blue traits will be a cinch.
A couple of articles back, I mentioned that I have a specific gaming hardware set up when I play MMOs. Unfortunately, because I have become so used to my Logitech G13 gameboard and the new Mad Catz Cyborg MMO7 mouse that that I’ve been using, I literally cannot play without them.5 I’ve been running the same basic keybinding setup for so long (well over a year), and regardless of the class I’m playing, I place the same basic skills in the same slots, so my muscle memory takes over at some point, making healing (or DPS) seem like it’s second nature.
Of course, the downfall of this is that when I’m on a different computer, or lacking my usual gaming hardware, I’m basically screwed. I found this out the hard way when Mrs. Vraeden and I were traveling for work and I tried to play on her laptop without my regular mouse and gameboard. It’s a good thing I was running solo (for the game) because if I had been in a raid, everyone would have died (and not because I let them). I’ll talk more about using computer hardware to maximise your healing in the third half of the article.
So one thing I do every now and then to force myself to stay on top of my skills and powers is that I move my keybindings and hotkeys around.
I should also mention that this is a wonderful way to mess with your real life friends who play LOTRO. This actually happened to me.
One afternoon, I was over at a buddy’s house with my laptop and we were playing LOTRO with some of our mutual friends. When we used to work at a computer support company together, if you ever stepped away from your workstation, you had to make sure that you locked your computer. If you forgot, you’d later find your desktop icons hidden, a picture of Richard Simmons as your wallpaper, your keyboard layout changed to the Dvorak setup, or something similar.
There was one occasion when he did this to me. After leaving my computer unattended only long enough to walk down the hall to get something off the printer, I returned to find nothing amiss. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing full well what usually happens when people do idiotic things such as I had just done.
The remainder of the morning passed pretty uneventfully until just before lunch, when Michelle6 stopped by my cubicle. She was holding her jacket and her purse and gazing at me expectantly with her big, vacant brown eyes. Michelle worked in the same division as us, but she was on another team.
In an office full of (computer nerd) men, she was one of the few women. She is also the quintessential body type four. And she’s as dumb as a box of rocks. In fact, you could say that her IQ is inversely proportional to her cup size. And she was very, very dumb.7
Apparently, while I was at the printer, I had invited her to lunch. I also told her how I thought she was pretty (true) and smart (not true). The other guys got a good laugh out of my predicament, but that should have taught me a lesson.8
Anyway, while I was over at my friend’s house recycling some pop9 in between quest turn-ins, I left my screen up with LOTRO on. When I came back, we started out on another quest chain.
He didn’t mess with my movement keys and he didn’t move any icons around the screen. But he had changed every other keybinding on my G13 and the Razer Naga mouse I was using at the time. It took me two fights to figure out what he had done. All the while, I was cussing and yelling at my computer, thinking that it was jacked up, not my friend.10
Out of my frustration was borne the real need to make sure I knew exactly what all of my skills do and how to use them most effectively. I am very bad at this. I tend to not learn what skills’s names are. I just put them in a slot, bind them to a keystroke and go. If you change things up every now and then, you’ll become a better player.
Or you can do this to your friends and watch them blow a gasket.11
My point with this is that you can have fun with healing. Challenge yourself. Put a mirror up on the wall behind your computer desk, turn around and run the raid while watching your monitor through the mirror.12 Only use your minstrel HoTs. LOTRO is a game. You’re supposed to have fun. Even if it means your Orthanc group wipes a few times.
10 Entertaining things to randomly call out just to mess with your raid
- Don’t worry; I haven’t had any lag since last Thurs—
- Hold on; I need to go AFK for a minute. I think there are Scientologists at the door.
- Can you get herpes from someone else using your mouse?
- Dammit! Who keeps hitting orange on the CJ?
- I am completely out of power! If you have a heal pot, take it NOW!!! (Shout this one out at the beginning of the fight)
- My H key is stuck again. I guess I need a new splashguard.
- Hey, [someone who has never run the raid you're in]! What the heck13 are you doing? (Drop this just as they’re correctly doing whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing)
- Rollin’ in my five-point-oh/With the ragtop down so my hair can blow
- This is the “no-pants” raid, right?
- What does this shiney, glowing thing do? I’m going to activate it.
Section 31: What’s Your Theme Music?
Every hero (and by “hero”, I mean “healer”) has got to have some. As your party’s saviour/shining light, make sure you pick good theme music. And be sure to play it at every turn. While waiting for the group to muster. While you wait for that one person who just had to run out and go visit a vendor to repair. At the beginning of the Turtle when the DoT is low. When you hit the “sweet spot” in BD Survival, when all of the kiteable lieutenants and mobs are chasing the warden around and the rest of you don’t have anything to do other than tell bad jokes.14 While waiting for your raid leader to get through the Master Looter rolls for the Draigoch loot. Whenever you have a free moment or five, bust out a few notes of your theme music to remind your fellowship members that you’re there.
While other classes can play some instruments, you, the Minstrel, can play them all. This means you have an obligation to have the best theme music. Picking theme music is something that is intensely personal, and should not only reflect your taste in music, but also your personhood and individuality. What does your music say about you?
Maybe you pick some death metal. Or perhaps The Beatles. Or something in between.
Playing music is easy.
- Equip an instrument
- Download an .abc file to the folder: My Documents\The Lord of the Rings Online\Music
- Type /music into your chat line
- Type /play [File name]
Bam! Your theme music just started.
Since I am not musically inclined and I do not have the time, patience or energy to construct my own .abc files, I go out on the interweb to download them. I get most of my music files from The Fat Lute website. You will have to register, but you’ll have pretty much free run of their catalog. Their song selection is wide and varied, so you’re sure to find the exact theme music that befits you as a hero of Middle-Earth. If you have patience and time, you can also make music files (they’ll show you how) and upload them for everyone to enjoy your take on O Fortuna from Carmina Burana.
My usual theme music are fairly whimsical choices: either the theme from the A-Team (if I’m feeling cooperative) or the Indiana Jones Theme, which one of my friends encouraged me to use. When I was in high school, I had a girl in my class convinced that I played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Data in The Goonies. Like “Michelle” (see above), she also had very big boobs.15 In fact, I used to make fun of her in kinchat a lot. When I was trying to put together a group, often I’d say something like, “C’mon, we need 2 more for SG. We’re all over-level, so this will be like Debi Maxwell16 from 10th grade biology: fast and easy.”
Once I shared that story with my kinmates, my theme music went from something that was a little odd to a personal statement about me and my identity as a person and group healer. When I play my theme music, it is instantly recognisable to my kinmates, and that is the essence of your theme.17
Another thing that is also as important to your personal theme and identity is your choice of musical instruments. Drums, harps, bagpipes et al; each has its own unique sound, feel and tone. Some also annoy your companions more than others. This is another subject I will address in the third half of the article.
One interesting feature of the LOTRO music system is if several of you have the same song, you can sync yourselves together and play as a group. So not only will you have your own theme music, you’ll have a posse and a back-up band. Remember that when you are healing, the group revolves around you. If you die, so does the group. That makes you the most important person there. The sole job of the tank is to keep aggro off you. The job of the CC classes is to keep mobs off of you. DPS classes burn down mobs so that you can keep everyone alive.
A minstrel is the heart of the fellowship, a herald of hope and renewal. You use your knowledge of ancient songs and lore to ward against the forces of darkness and bring relief to your companions.18
Where would the Coral Reefers be without Jimmy Buffett? Or the E Street Band without the Boss? Or the Cruisers without Eddie?
Best case? Two words: Studio. Musicians.
Worse case? Three more words: Homeless. Street. Performers.
Just look at what happened to the Grateful Dead after Jerry Garcia died. A reality TV show couldn’t replace Michael Hutchence in INXS (JD Fortune? . . . Really?). Queen without Freddie Mercury is just shell of its former self.19
You are Gladys Knight and they are the Pips.20
So pick theme music that says something about you and reflects your importance to the fellowship. Your fellowship needs to pay proper homage to you. And if they don’t, make it clearly known that you need to spam your rez deed and have no qualms about letting them die to do it.
Part 4: Consoling the dead
Now that you’ve let people die, you have to realise that there are consequences. The most obvious are that you will have to rez those who need to be rezzed and play off their dread. Neither task is particularly difficult, especially now that the minstrel has an AOE rez skill and that tokens are pretty easy to come by.
However, your group members are now looking at you with a suspicious eye. After all, your sole job as the healer is to make sure no one dies. And if you’ve stuck with this article this long, either you’ve been in the restroom with your iPad/Kindle Fire/smartphone for the better part of half an hour, your day at work has been relegated to “low productivity” status, or someone in your group bought it.
And now you’ve got some splainin’ to do, either to your fellowship, your supervisor, or the person who is patiently waiting their turn on the other side of the door.
In some cases, groups can be very forgiving, especially when you’re running an instance without an optimal party configuration (ie-no true main tank). I had some kinmates run Grand Stairs on-level with five hunters and a minstrel. I think they got hard mode, but not everyone made it through unscathed. If you’re in that group and you wipe, your group will think that’s okay. Or maybe you’re in one of the new raids and can use the (perfectly plausible) excuse that you didn’t know about the big frontal AOE that just dropped on the party.
Other times, if you’re doing an instance everyone knows you’ve run before, some eyebrows will go up when you let someone die. Growing up, my mama told me: First time is an accident, second time is coincidence, third time is a problem.21
So if you’re going to let your fellowship members die, you have to get creative in the way it looks. Maybe you spread the repair bill buff around. Or maybe you let two people die at a time, preferably within just a couple of seconds of one another to make it look like you were overwhelmed.
Every now and then you can also get away with blaming your hardware or non-gaming factors when you let a party member die. If you’re like me, your spouse let you set up your computer desk in the spare bedroom (or basement) along with a TV, your action figure & Force FX lightsaber collection, a kegerator and the super-comfy chair that you have worn down into the perfect ass-crease.22 On my desk are my dual screen monitors, a TV, and about twenty of my newest/favourite action figures. Sometimes, I’ll be playing LOTRO but also have a football game/NASCAR race/Food Network/Skinemax After Dark on, and get mesmerised by the shiney on the TV.23 In this time, people have been known to die.
When that’s the case, I make it a point to call out several times in subsequent fights, “Crap, my mouse buttons are sticking!” or “Is anyone else getting lag? I effing hate Comcast!”
True or not, your fellowship members don’t know the difference. After all, they are probably halfway across the country, if not the world, and they were probably more worried about their own well-being than watching to see if you are using the most efficient healing rotation possible.
And did you see what I did with that last one? By deflecting blame from myself to an evil internet service provider with a known history of service interruptions and bandwidth capping, I not only absolve myself of responsibility for a party member’s death, but I’ve built sympathy in my companions since I am at the mercy of a heartless multi-national corporation who cares nothing for MMO gamers and only seeks to enrich itself at my expense. As far as they know, I was doing my darndest to keep everyone alive only to sabotaged by the bastards at my cable company.
It also helps if you start cursing in another (preferably made-up) language. For instance, goram, iblith or ghuy’cha’ are good places to start. Frak or smegare also easy fallback curses if you want to stick to words that are closer to English/American. You’ll appear to be smarter/nerdier than you did before, and maybe they’ll think you’re a little crazy, too. And no one questions or messes with a crazy person. Especially not when they need a healer.
Some other helpful advice: When you need an excuse for why someone died, make sure you change up the reasons. Think back to “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. His problem wasn’t the lying. His problem was telling the same lie more than once.24
I’ve also found that if you play the “wife aggro” card, that will get you out of almost any bind. Just don’t use it too often or people will think to themselves, “Self, our healer gets a lot of wife aggro; anyone who has a spouse who’s around that much would never be allowed to play an MMO” and then they’ll realise that you’re lying. If that happens, you just went from being a lousy healer to being a jerk, and they’ll stop inviting you to raids.
So there it is: Vraeden’s Guide to Really Lousy Healing.
- Have fun
- Get good theme music
- Come up with a variety of plausible excuses when your fellowship members die because you were watching a guilty pleasure, such as American Idol or Co-Ed Confidential
- By they way, when you’re not around, we try and (badly) imitate your accents. We know we sound stupid but it’s still fun; we just don’t want you to give us a virtual punch to the virtual face for saying “Shrimp on the barbie!” all the time. We also know you try out our accents, too. ↩
- My mother stopped paying my friends after high school. ↩
- Because if they’re annoying you, they’re probably annoying the captain as well. And if it’s the captain who needs to die, you should find an excuse to bail on the group and log back on in 20 minutes. Kid aggro is a usually a good excuse. Or laundry. Or tell the group that the Pope just dropped in for a visit. ↩
- Remember, my mother stopped paying mine, so I am a lot more picky now than I was in middle school. ↩
- Logitech, Mad Catz, I’ll contact you so that you can send my endorsement payments to the correct address. ↩
- Not her real name ↩
- How did she keep this job?, you might ask. Have I mentioned that her boobs are ginormous and she’s a few fries short of a value meal? Plus, she has self-esteem issues and gets frisky when she drinks. Not that I would know that first hand, but there are enough pictures of her on Facebook (and probably a couple on The Chive) that could easily lead you to those conclusions. No, I will not give you her real name so you can friend her. ↩
- I later got this friend back with a combination of two pranks: I poured half a can of Orange Crush into his hard hat right before a fire drill and when he put it on, it messed up his well-groomed combover. Then, I donated some money in his name to the blood-rivals of his favourite college sports team/alma mater and signed him up for every mailing list I could find. It’s been about six years since this incident and they’re still sending him stuff. ↩
- Yes, that’s what we call it where I come from. Deal with it. ↩
- I won’t give you the real name of this person either, but it sounds a lot like “Baron Jelly”. You know who you are. And I know you just started a Republic toon on a PVP server. I cashed in a favour and one of your “friends” ratted out your toon’s name. My bounty hunter mercenary is coming for you. Muhahahahahahaha!!!! ↩
- Yes, we wiped a couple of times, but my “friends” thought it was worth it. In return, I posted a bunch of pictures of them on Facebook showing off the super-awesome haircuts and fashions they were exhibiting in the mid-to-late eighties, and tagged them for the world to see. ↩
- If you’re going to play in the mirror universe, you need to do evil things and grow a mustache and goatee. ↩
- Where I come from, “heck” is not what we generally use as the four-letter word of choice, but this is a family site. ↩
- Two nuns walk into a bar. The third one ducks. ↩
- Now, before anyone gets their dander up at me making fun of big-chested women for being dumb, the fact of the matter is that stupidity knows no race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality or body type. I think Michelle truly is stupid, but in Debi’s case, she was more ditzy (probably the result of learned behaviour over the years), than actually dumb. I just want to see how many times I can mention boobs before GS revokes my CSTM login. (Ed. note: Goldenstar wants to delete Vraeden’s login over the body type thing, but I like boobs, so we’re going to keep him around for a while. Plus, his mom is paying us.) ↩
- Not her real name. ↩
- Because really, who else picks the Indiana Jones theme besides Indiana Jones, and I’m pretty sure the chances that Harrison Ford plays LOTRO are pretty small, although it would be way cool if he did. ↩
- “Minstrel”, page maintained by LOTRO-wiki.com, last modified on 9 December 2011, URL http://lotro-wiki.com/index.php/Minstrel, page cited on 1 April 2012. ↩
- The odyssey of Journey should serve as a cautionary tale for all would-be lousy healers. When Steve Perry’s nose left Journey, no one heard from them until they replaced him with the Filippino dude who sounds more like Steve Perry than Steve Perry does. Although a good group will center itself around the healer, you must display humility and teamwork. Otherwise, if your hubris gets the best of you, or you prove to be an incompetent healer, the rest of the group might replace you with a better option. While we’re on the subject of Journey, I’d like to mention that I had a college roommate who looks just like Arnel Pineda, right down to the Liu Kang haircut. So much so, in fact, that I can’t ever recall seeing Blobbo and Arnel in the same room at the same time. Coincidence? . . . Hmmmm . . . I think not. ↩
- Which also means you will go on to open a string of chicken and waffles restaurants. ↩
- Screw that “box of chocolates” crap. ↩
- What? You spouse didn’t let you have this setup in your house? Here’s the trick: turn your speakers up and run BD survival while your lovely bride is trying to sleep or watch her favourite TV show. I guarantee you’ll get “exiled” to another room when she gets tired of listening to your raid leader calling out targets and the Aussies singing. ↩
- Especially if what’s on TV involves some combination of Christine Nguyen, Taxicab Confessions, Kyle Busch ticking off Carl Edwards, Sage Steel, Giada’s cleavage, or my Jacksonville Jaguars. ↩
- I learned this one from Elim Garak. Who says Star Trek is useless? Of course, Lwaxana Troi also told Alexander Rozhenko, “It’s always best to tell the truth. Then you don’t have to remember what you lied about” and we know she is full of crap. ↩