Hard Decisions

I’ve always thought about forming my own raiding guild. I’ve always talked the talk. But can I walk the walk? It’s still something I’m mulling over. The expansion is nearly here. It’s time for players to re-evaluate their guild, their goals, and their environment. Are you happy where you are? Are you going to achieve your goal where you are? If you answer no, then it just might be time to do some soul searching.

That’s what I’m doing right now. Raiding with Carnage has been a major blast and one of the best WoW experiences I’ve had. I had my own reasons for joining Carnage because my goals coincided with their goals. Now my goals have changed.

I’m still mulling things over. But I’m more or less committed at this point. Talks with friends have helped me orient myself and I’ve come to realize that the only way I can be satisfied playing this game is to do it in a way where I’m doing what I want. Along the way, I’m going to have to find 24 other players that want to do the same thing as I do. It’s going to be a tough sell. Will they buy into the Matticus system and philosophy? Who knows? But I have the support of around 12 players on the same server and off the server.

Who else out there is changing guilds or is thinking about leaving? What’s holding you back? What’s making you consider pulling the trigger?

Wish I had the title of General Manager Matticus. Anyone in the market for a raiding progression guild?

*Over* Matticus on the WoW Insider Show

I should’ve wrote this sooner. I fail. This is a cool edition of the show as it’s one of the rare ones that’s going to boast an all healer crew of myself, Mike Schramm (Resto Shaman), Elizabeth Harper (Holy Paladin), and Phaelia (Resto Druid). I’ll post the link up to the show later on. It’ll be around noon-ish (or 1230) PST. Expect a bunch of healer talk, some raid talk, and me loudly proclaiming the superiority of the Priest class (or at least, try to ^^).

It’ll be live on uStream. Here’s the link to the channel.

(worldofmatticus is my name)

PS, Phae my last name has no e :(.

In case that above embed doesn’t work, use the direct link to the channel.

2:00 PM: Shows over! Thanks for listening!

Circle of Healing Redux

As you may or may not have heard, Blizzard is revisiting the idea of bringing in the CoH cooldown. I’m not sure where to start on this or how to begin.

Something that I feel has been overlooked is that there seems to be a feeling that raid instances right now at 70 (post nerf) are representative of what raid instances are like at level 80. A lot of players, right now, are a little overgeared for the content that they’re doing (again, due to the nerf).

Path of least resistance (or effort)

I was first exposed to this idea in my first year of psychology. The general premise here is that people, animals, or even machines will choose the path of least resistance or effort in order to get to their goal. Applying this to healing, we’ll see one person taking a shot for 2000 damage for whatever reason. I myself have been known to tap CoH once or twice to bring that one person’s health back up. Is that a loss of mana efficiency? You bet it is. But efficiency goes out the door if your mana regeneration is able to offset the mana loss within seconds.

Could I have used a Flash Heal? Yeah but it takes casting time.
How about a Renew? Yeah but it takes about 15 seconds for the full duration to kick in
Circle of Healing heals that minor damage extremely quickly and leaves me open for spell options without causing me to wait for the spell to go off or eat a channel or something.

This is partly the case because of current nerfed raid content and the way our spells work. It’s a smart heal, it’s the fastest heal, and it’s brain dead easy. I’m sure we can all agree on that.

With the complete gear reset at 80, I strongly doubt we’re going to be able to get away with non-stop CoH casting. I know I couldn’t. I was extremely limited with my mana regen and my overall mana pool. I confess I did start with PvP gear and I encountered some difficulty then. Yet, after daily Naxx and OS runs on 10s and 25s, I amassed a decent collection of PvE healing gear. I still found it difficult and strenuous. As this was largely a pickup group, maybe I was overcompensating in some areas.

The benefit of Circle of Healing is that it can heal a lot of players really fast.
The cost of Circle of Healing should be the fact that it taxes your mana pool.

I’m not quite sure if that’s possible. I can see why they want to include the 6s cooldown because there are a staggering number of players using it (at 70 and at 80 when I played). Maybe if they included a scaling cost with the spell it would be acceptable. The ability to heal a lot of raid damage really fast is an excellent tool to have. But it should come with a severe price or penalty. I don’t think time, a wonderful resource that it is, should be the case. Perhaps base cost + a percentage of healing done in that one cast? I don’t know. I’m not a game developer.

Regardless of what they do, Priests will easily remain the most diverse class. I’ll continue to play mine well into Wrath. Even if they do bring in the CoH cooldown, we still have Holy Nova and Prayer of Healing. Zusterke, on Plusheal, started some preliminary work on Holy Nova and it’s effectiveness.

By adding the glyph of holy nova, the spell has become quite a powerful healing spell. It is able to output more healing than circle of healing, up to a point where it rivals prayer of healing. The recent mana cost reduction boosted this spell even further where it has become a mana efficient spell, in comparison to the priest’s other AoE spells.

He might shoot me if he feels it’s a little outdated. But not much has changed yet so I think he’s definitely in the ballpark (or ice rink).

Plusheal has more great discussion about this.

A Burning Crusade Retrospective

A Burning Crusade Retrospective

Ah, the Burning Crusade, how I loved thee. On the eve of the expansion, I think it’s time to take a look back at some of the high points of BC. Mind you, I can only speak for myself, and my personal journey. I’m sure there are players out there–and probably even better players than me–who found their glory days in Classic. However, the expansion was where I, and Syd of course, made the difficult transition from total noob to raider. I’m proud of my progress, but I couldn’t have done it without the support structures that the game itself put in place.

Leveling

Perhaps the most dramatic difference between Classic and BC had to do with the leveling content. Once I stepped through the dark portal, I knew that I had entered an entirely new world (and it had nothing to do with the two moons and the streak of interstellar dust hanging overhead). Quests were conveniently grouped, and most could be done quickly. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I ought to tell you that I bought the expansion two weeks late, and that when BC was actually released, Syd was only level 40. I probably hit Hellfire three weeks after the crowd, so it truly was an open world and I was able to blaze through.

However, I leveled Syd with the Vanilla WoW mindset. I did every quest in the zone that was appropriate for my level, assuming that in order to get enough XP to level up, I’d have to shift between, say, Hellfire and Zangarmarsh, like players had to do between Alterac, Stranglethorn Vale, and the Badlands. Imagine my surprise when Syd hit 70 after finishing less than half of Nagrand. On the whole, the leveling experience was quick and convenient.

Preparing for Karazhan

The old Karazhan attunement required an extended tour of level 70 dungeons. At minimum, players had to complete a full run of Shadowlabs (minus Murmur if you just couldn’t get him), a partial run of Steamvaults, a partial run of Arcatraz, and full runs of Old Hillsbrad Foothills and Black Morass. For the first few players in a guild to reach 70, runs of Sethekk Halls, Mechanar, and Botanica were needed for the keys to some of these lovely places.

The Karazhan attunement was the first thing I ever did in WoW in a businesslike, logical manner. I had raided a bit at 60, but let’s just say that I didn’t take ZG or MC as seriously as I could have. In order to get myself into Karazhan, I organized groups–who sometimes couldn’t clear the whole instance–and somehow pulled myself through it in greens and a Dreamstate spec. And then, all dimensions were open to me–I could get in the door to Karazhan.

Noob vs. Karazhan

I still remember my first Karazhan raid. It was led by a relatively experienced holy paladin, who shortly thereafter moved on to a raiding guild on another server. I managed to be Karazhan attuned right around the time that the leading players in my casual guild killed Prince for the first time. I started in my guild’s “B-team” Karazhan, and boy, did we deserve that distinction. I had 700 +healing when I walked into Attumen’s room for the first time, most of it “of Healing” greens (and cloth, at that). We did clear Attumen, but Moroes was a disaster. I realized that I needed to go back to the drawing board–way back. Even though I continued to run Kara when I could, I started running level 70 instances and the easiest heroics. I also leveled my tailoring and put myself in the PMC set.

14 Runs of Heroic Mech

Briolante decided that, in order to tank in Karazhan, he was going to need a Sun-Eater. We were clearing at least to chess around this time, and he had decided that the King’s Defender was in fact cursed and was never going to drop (turns out he was right, and it would be another 6 months before he’d see one of those–incidentally, a week before he’d get the Mallet of the Tides off Lurker). The Sun-Eater likewise suffered from the Curse of Tanking Drops, and it took us 14 runs over about 16 days to get the thing. In the process, I became a better healer. Heroic Mech was a little too hard for us in our blues–no one in our typical groups had gotten much out of Karazhan yet. I had to drop tree form to Healing Touch Brio through the Arcane Protectors’ Charged Fist effect, and I had to actively manage my mana to make it through the gauntlet. Pathaleon, who can still give a healer problems with his adds, taught me that NOT healing at the right moment can be just as important as healing. I waited until Pathaleon’s adds were targeting someone else, and then I followed with a Nature’s Swiftness-Healing Touch on Brio. I still usually died during the fight, and if we had a warlock, died more than once. However, we did get that Sun-Eater, Boots of the Pious for me, and a lot of primal nethers. I still have two nethers in my bank from those runs, because I never needed to roll on any after that.

Guild Master Syd

Right after Brio ended up with the Sun-Eater, our casual guild got dropped into my lap. Most of our best players had departed, and I was left with a motley assortment of some good and some mediocre players. I’m still not sure why I volunteered to lead them, but I remember agonizing over what to do with a casual guild who could reliably kill Prince Malchezzar but not go beyond. We ended up merging with our friends from another guild, forming Collateral Damage. The merger plans were successful beyond my wildest dreams. When we formed up CD, my goal was just to see the inside of Hyjal. Below, you’ll find Brio and me completing that goal. We’re chilling in Hyjal. . . but wearing our T6 while doing it.

Progression

When Collateral Damage started SSC, I was a total noob. So were most other people! The one thing that was unique about what we did was that we coached each other, with the most experienced leading the way, and the guild as a whole really taught casuals to raid. Most successful raiding guilds start out with a corps of players who already know how to raid; in contrast, we had to build from the ground up. During SSC, we were all reading up like mad on our class mechanics and on the fights. Looking back, I have to say that SSC was a really well-designed instance, much better than, say, TK, where we didn’t spend quite as much of our time. Each fight in SSC formed a piece of the raiding skills primer. Sure, they are all relatively easy, but the basic lessons carried over even into Sunwell. Lurker and, to a greater extent, Vashj, taught players to move out of the bad stuff. Hydross taught us the finer points of not pulling aggro at the wrong time. Morogrim introduced us to dealing with adds AND a hard-hitting boss at once, and with some healers incapacitated at that. Karathress really tested our ability to perform specific assignments, and Leotheras taught us to multitask. There’s a reason I still love SSC.

Once Vashj died, CD was able to progress smoothly through BT and Hyjal in a lot less weeks than it took us to conquer T5. Attunements got removed between our kills of Vashj and Kael, and the badge gear we were able to access gave us a gear buffer that let us clear the end bosses of SSC and TK less times than guilds that went through earlier would have had to. We were–and still are, really–great at progression but laughably bad at farming. Somehow the excitement just isn’t there, and our players tend to be really sloppy once we’ve killed something once. This is the one flaw of CD that I hope to correct for the expansion. I want fast, fun, efficient, happy clears of farm content.

Tier 6

And there we were, in Tier 6. And, I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. While most of the fights of Hyjal and BT were less difficult than Vashj and Kael, many of them are unique and interesting. Of course, I didn’t love the Hyjal trash, but we progressed so quickly in there that we only rarely had to re-clear it. If there had been trash before Archimonde, well, I would have written some nasty letters. Regarding BT, I like to think of it as Karazhan Part II with more inventive boss fights. To my mind, the best-designed fights of Karazhan are Shade of Aran and Netherspite. I love fights that get raiders thinking outside the box. In that vein, Teron Gorefiend, Reliquary of Souls, and Illidan himself are very enjoyable bosses to learn and master. I think my least favorite encounter in the dungeon is Bloodboil, as it’s so insistent on AoE healing, and at the time, I couldn’t do that. But I do enjoy hopping in the water to take my Bloodboil on schedule.

Quel’Danas and the Sunwell

I have to applaud Blizzard for the mechanisms they used to introduce the isle of Quel’Danas and the Sunwell. The progressive reveal created a very real sense of excitement and anticipation. I was eager to do my part to unlock the Badge Vendor, and I took Syd and two alts through the QD quests almost daily. I loved the sense of a server-wide effort. In addition, QD became the place to see and be seen, and I liked running into raiders from other guilds out in the world. As for the Sunwell, I have to admit that it was never part of my ambitions for CD. I knew we didn’t have time to get there ahead of the 3.0 patch. We did, however, kill Archimonde and Illidan in their original form. Going into Sunwell now just for fun, I realize that it’s a different place. We killed Kalecgos and Brutallus easily, and they’re not meant to be simple fights. However, I appreciate the beauty and grace of the instance–it’s nice to see a dungeon that isn’t gloomy, but rather permeated with light and beautiful colors. And hey, Felmyst is still hard–we haven’t killed her yet. I think we’ll continue to work on it just so we see the bosses and get that Kil-Jaeden achievement–even if we have to do it at 80.

Patch 3.0

Maybe I just didn’t care much, but when patch 2.0 hit, nothing changed for me. I continued to play my sometimes holy, sometimes ret paladin the same way I always did. However, 3.0 was something I anticipated, read about, and alternately wished for and dreaded. I have been obsessively following the continuing blue posts in the class and raid role forums, and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. I like the level of communication players are getting, especially from Ghostcrawler, but I’m getting the feeling that the expansion is being rushed out before it’s actually ready. Sure, the content is all there, but class balance is a mess. And that, my friends, is a shame. I, for one, don’t think I should be worried about a major nerf at this point, as it looks like, with no more time to test or gather data, a 6-second cooldown will be applied to Circle of Healing and Wild Growth. Now, I do have to say, that of possible nerfs, the cooldown menaces Wild Growth the least, but it does leave me wondering what I’m supposed to be casting in a raid, now that Lifebloom is more or less off the table as well. But I digress. This little anecdote was meant to illustrate my sneaking suspicion that Wrath isn’t really ready for retail yet. This change, and others, make me think that the end-game has actually been designed to be too easy, and that they are scrambling to nerf healers or other strong classes to slow players down.

The Last Days of Waiting

We’re down to the wire now, so to speak. I actually spent some of my usual play time writing this article. Aside from a little EZ-mode raiding, it’s hard to play right now with any enthusiasm. Somehow, waiting for Thursday becomes a little more difficult when I interact with others who are doing the same thing. And what will I, and Syd, be like in the expansion? Will I build on my successes, or should I enshrine my T6 jersey as my greatest in-game accomplishment? The answer? I don’t really know yet.

Random Plug: Traits of WoW Officers

Kreeoni wrote a list post disguised as a non-list post about the traits of WoW Officers. Those of you unfamiliar with him and his work, he’s another blogging Guild leader. I randomly stumbled across him one day on Twitter. I was intrigued and started following him.

Now if it were me, I would’ve titled it something like “7 Universal Traits of WoW Officers”. Number + Catchy line = Eyebrow raising interest.

A good post by a good blogger! We could use more GM blogs around.

Virtual Race Relations Part 1: Elves

Virtual Race Relations Part 1: Elves

So, why is it that World of Warcraft players love elves so much? What is the mysterious attraction of these slender, blank-eyed character models? Whether we’re playing the characters ourselves, or just watching level one Night Elf chicks dance naked on the mailbox, World of Warcraft players seem extraordinarily little resistance to the charms of pointy-eared humanoids.

This post is the first in a series of features on the different playable races of World of Warcraft. In each post, I speculate about why we make the choices we make, and what social meanings our preferences might have. After all, I’m not the first to suggest that our actions in the virtual world reflect our real-life identities.

The Elves of Warcraft

Elven-folk in the World of Warcraft divide into two playable categories, Night Elves and Blood Elves. Even though their artistic style and character models differ somewhat, I find it most convenient to talk about them together. In the end of the article, I will speculate about the reasoning behind the difference in look, but first I’d like to talk about elves–and their magical appeal–more generally.

Elves in folklore

The elves, like many other stock personae of folklore, vary greatly from culture to culture. Generally of northern and western European extraction, the elves of folklore can be very small or human-sized, good or evil, ugly or beautiful. Elves are, at times, indistinguishable from fairies or other strange, supernatural creatures. All tales of elves have a common thread–their difference from humans. While they to some degree look and act human, and can even interbreed with them, elves have a different psychological makeup, different capabilities, and different values. To the ordinary human being, elves are all but unfathomable.

The debt to Tolkien

Most players of World of Warcraft could probably tell you that elves in-game descend more or less directly from J.R.R Tolkien’s elves. The elves of Middle-Earth are beautiful, powerful, benevolent beings, who despite their wisdom and good intentions, never seem to fully engage in the actions of the plot. The elves of Middle Earth–as both the book and the film poignantly depict–progressively abandon the continent in the midst of the conflict over the ring. As a first-time Tolkien reader, at age 16 or so, I was fascinated by Elrond, Galadriel, and Arwen. The sense of melancholy, of loss that haunts the elves is rather poignant, especially to the overly emotional teenage mind. However, ten years later, re-reading the novels makes me want to shake the elves for being so passive.

I think Peter Jackson must have agreed with me. In his film, the elves are much more involved in the conflict. My favorite moment in the films departs entirely from the books–Galadriel sends a company of elves to help defend Helm’s Deep. Tolkien’s Galadriel never would have done so, because Tolkien’s elves are always constrained by tradition and practice. An elf-queen would never have done anything out of the ordinary. With a few exceptions, Tolkien’s elves simply lack the passions that would drive them to action. These exceptions almost certainly include tragic princesses Luthien and Arwen. However, I will say that I’ve never found Arwen a compelling character–in fact, as a longtime reader (and Eowyn fan), I find her love for Aragorn to be rather shallow. She and Aragorn allow themselves to be caught up in the imitation of legendary figures–Luthien and Beren–and in my mind, their love affair is more about copying their ancestor’s actions than following their own desires. In short, Tolkien’s elves experience emotion differently than human beings. Nostalgia and melancholy permeate their personalities, but their passivity constantly frustrates the (human) readers.

Elves in contemporary fantasy

Of course, the developers of World of Warcraft weren’t necessarily reading Tolkien directly–or at least, not just Tolkien. I am a fairly avid consumer of fantasy novels, and elves, while infrequent, do appear from time to time. Most authors consciously imitate or parody Tolkien–such is the appeal of the master. On my elf reading list are Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies, and relatively unknown Australian author Cecilia Dart-Thorton’s The Ill-Made Mute. The common thread of all of these works? To quote Pratchett: “Elves are bad.” I love the contrast with Tolkien, achieved in all of these cases through a return to folklore.

Back to Warcraft–Night Elves

What can literature teach us about video game elves, you ask? Plenty. Elves in WoW, most particularly the Night Elves, borrow liberally from Tolkien. Most of the Night Elf art was probably created before Peter Jackson’s film trilogy The Lord of the Rings was released, and it represents an independent rendering of some of Tolkien’s motifs. Darnassus might be one design team’s version of Lothlorien–the Night Elf city has a ruined, decadent feel, and it denizens live and work in buildings carved from enormous trees. Moreover, their spiritual leader is Tyrande, a distant, odd priestess. However, some of the Night Elf mannerisms indicate that the elves of WoW take themselves a little less seriously than Elrond and Galadriel do. Have you seen Night Elf women bouncing, and Night Elf men shrugging their overly-developed shoulders? Don’t even get me started on the dances–but seriously, do you think Arwen would have the moves to work in a strip club? Moreover, WoW has done a skillful job of blending the European elf with elements of Asian culture. The Lunar festival and the vaguely Japanese style of some of the buildings in Darnassus are my favorite aspects of Night Elf life. They bring something unique to the otherwise stylized image of the elf.

Blood Elves

Blood Elves to me do not seem to be a distinct culture of their own, but rather a version of the Night Elves adapted to Peter Jackson’s vision. Their models are the most beautiful in the game, but I miss the strangeness of the green-and-purple Night Elves. In addition, Blood Elves are really, really white. It’s hard to find any non-European references in their culture. Rather, most people compare Silvermoon City to Disney World. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the art–I envy the beauty of all of the blood elf mobs even as I destroy them.

Why Play an Elf?

Elves are extraordinarily popular player races, particularly among female gamers. To me, their appeal goes beyond their beauty. Elves are everything that gamers are not. Their appeal is the pull of the strange, the unknown, and the unfathomable. Who knows what emotions lie hidden behind their blank, glowing eyes? Elves are friends of wild things, at home with nature. Gamers, on the other hand, have what Tolkien would call minds of metal–we are civilized folk, city-dwellers who are dependent on technology for our fun. In addition, elves are placid, even passive, and they measure time in centuries. For gamers, passions run high (hence all the drama!), and the constantly-shifting game environment seems to compress time itself. Elves are solitary–they can wander the woods and wilds, the forgotten places of the earth, for centuries at a time. Gamers, on the other hand, are forced into alliances of either friendship or convenience–in the competitive world of the MMO, it’s almost impossible to achieve much on your own. Elves are scholarly–they have the span of many human lifetimes in which to read, write poetry, play music, and learn impossibly sad ballads by heart. Gamers, on the other hand, rarely have time between work or school and their online hobby to read a magazine every week.

The basic principle here is that we all want what we cannot have, and we all want to be what we are not. Maybe what we desire, truly, is not to be a supernatural being, but to imitate them–to be closer to nature, to read more, or to simply be more calm. So, the next time you /pant at a player named Leafspindle, Moondancer, or even HotBludElfChik, take a moment to think about all the things you might be missing in your own life.

Priest CoH Cooldown Returns?

Matticus has no comment at this time. But, I felt that the readers should be aware of this thread. It was tried before in the summer but they removed the cooldown. They’re thinking about bringing it back again (note the dates).

We’ve tried to keep up with all of the several threads that spawned as a result of my last comments. People have made some really good points.
Based on feedback from this forum, elsewhere and our own brainstorming, what we are thinking about right now is something like a 6 sec cooldown for Circle of Healing and Wild Growth.

We’re less concerned about Chain Heal, in part because it’s not instant, prevents movement, falls off with multiple targets, and is the spell that shamans are supposed to be hitting, while priests and druids have many other spells.

At 6 seconds, you would still want to use CoH/WG in the right situations (though hopefully not *every* time they are up), but you’d also want to use other spells during the cooldown. To be fair, a lot of priests and druids are asking to push other buttons. :)

This sounds like a potentially scary change because it has a lot of ramifications — one of the reasons we are mentioning it so early is to get feedback. We don’t want Resto shammies to push other healers out of raids. We would change some of the encounters knowing that CoH spam was no longer possible.

And

Yeah, we did. We thought it would feel like a big nerf and changed our minds. But seeing the state of healing at 80 makes us think it might be the right call again. When AE healing is so prominent, it also makes specs without great AE heals (Holy paladins and Disc priests) feel useless.

Assume that we would lower Wild Growth by the same proportion as Circle of Healing. The exact numbers aren’t as important to this discussion as the concept that you can’t hit the button whenever you want.

Reactions?

Guest Post: 3.0 Professions for the Priest (and Clothies)

This is a guest post written by Galadria.

Hello Matt’s Readers!  For those of you who remember me, I’m back playing WoW and writing my blog again.  For those of you who don’t, I’m Galadria and I write Galadria’s Corner (yes I renamed it… again) formerly The Light and The Dark formerly The Holy Light.  I’ve got raiding experience on 2 level 70 Priests, one Holy and one Shadow, and I’m now rolling new toons on a new server, another Priest and now a Warlock (they’re both 40ish at the moment).  Without further ado, here’s my thoughts on Professions in Wrath!

Professions have taken a slightly different flavor in WotLK. Each has its own unique benefits, even the gathering professions. It seems to me that Blizz decided to balance not only classes, but professions. Tailoring was so incredibly OP for casters that I felt I didn’t have a choice but to learn Tailoring or be horribly gimped in raid.  With each profession having something special, the selection of your professions requires a little more thought (especially if you’re leveling new toons like I am!). The information included is from the Beta and WoWHead’s WotLK site. Since WotLK isn’t live yet this data isn’t set in stone there are likely to be a few changes. When the expansion goes live I’ll let you know what changed and how (over at my blog, or course, so add me to your reader if you haven’t already!  /shameless plug off). With the disclaimers out of the way, here we go!

Alchemy

  • Double duration on Flasks and Elixirs
  • Increased effects of Flasks & Elixirs (it appears that the increased effects are 37 spellpower for flasks and 19 spellpower for Battle Elixirs, not sure about Guardian Elixirs)
  • BoP trinket (Mercurial Alchemist Stone) that will increase effects of Pots by 40%. The highest mana potion grants 4200 to 4400 and we’ll assume that the average is in the middle. Adding 40% gives 6020 mana.  Let’s assume for simplicity’s sake that boss fights are 5 mins (I’ve heard as low a 3 and up to 8).  Over a 5 min boss fight, the unbuffed mana pot gives 71.5 MP5, the buffed is 100.3 MP5.  Using the same logic for health pots, with the largest being about 3600 plus 40% gives 5040, giving 12 HPS unbuffed and 16.8 HPS buffed (I’m not sure how meaningful that statistic is, but there you go… I did the math for you!)
  • If PvP is your thing, there are also craftable Arena potions.

The Bottom Line: Alchemy can be a great profession for anyone. The double duration will save you money and I think the Alchemy stone will be very valuable with the potion changes (my gut is telling me that this is going to be one of the more powerful profession benefits available, but nothing is set in stone yet).  It can also be a money maker if you can get your hands on some of the rare or discovered recipes.  If you are going to be an Alchemist I highly recommend Herbalism to go with it so you don’t have to purchase Herbs.

Blacksmithing

  • Extra Socket for Bracers and Gloves
  • Entry level BoP Epic Weapon

The Bottom Line: I can’t recommend Blacksmithing for any caster since we can’t use the majority of the crafted products.

Enchanting

  • Enchanter only Ring enchants that give 19 spell power or 24 stamina

The Bottom Line: I think we’ll find Enchanting to be less tedious to level and make money off of than it used to be with the introduction of scrolls.  A friend told me that she was actually able to make a little money selling the enchanted scrolls that she made while leveling Enchanting.  While it’s a pain to level, Enchanting requires no gathering profession and therefore pairs well with Tailoring or any gathering profession for money making.  To me the ring enchants aren’t enough to make me level the profession, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good option for any caster (as it has always been!)

Engineering

  • Mounts
  • Utility enchants for gloves (rocket launcher, haste)
  • Portable Mailbox and Vendor
  • Epic Helmets – This is a level 72 helmet, I’m sure there will be a level 80 one but I can’t anything on WoWHead right now.

The Bottom Line: I’m not sure Engineering is a great choice for a caster… but I don’t think it’s a bad one either.  The Repair Bot brings a lot of utility to raid and there’s no denying the mounts are really cool.  If Engineering is your thing I can’t knock you for it.

Herbalism

  • Lifeblood: a self HoT that scales with Herbalism level, costs no mana, and does not trigger the GCD. At it’s current incarnation Rank 6, available at 450 Herbalism grants 2000 health over 5 seconds with a 3 min cooldown. If used every time it’s available it averages out to 11 HPS.
  • Fire Seed: increases spellpower by 200 for 10 seconds with a 1 min cooldown. It also increases damage taken by 10% and reduces all resistances to zero. Shares a cooldown with other crafted consumables (Drums and Grenades but not Pots, Healthstones, or Mana Gems)
  • Herbalism provides the raw materials for the crafting professions of Alchemy and Inscription

The Bottom Line: As far as gathering professions go, Herbalism is my favorite and the 2 crafting professions Herbalism benefits are both useful to a caster. If you need a profession to make money for you Herbalism can be a good choice, especially since there are now 2 crafting professions that benefit from it and therefore more demand.  Also, Lifeblood has saved my tail more than once!!

Inscription

  • Scroll of Recall – consumable hearthstone with a 20 min cooldown that is separate from regular hearthstone
  • BoP Off-Hands – There’s a PvP oriented one (or Lock tank) and a general caster one.  Both look to be pretty good.
  • Scribe only Shoulder enchants – these are MUCH better than the reputation versions
  • The extra Glyph slot was taken out.

The Bottom Line: I can tell you from personal experience that the Scroll of Recall is HIGHLY useful, but it’s not a raid benefit.  The shoulder enchants are much better than the reputation versions and don’t require a rep grind on top of it. I’m leveling Inscription on my Priest and really liking it!  If you are going to have Inscription for a profession I recommend Herbalism to go with it so you will have easy access to the raw materials for Milling.

Jewelcrafting

  • Slightly better epic gemsyou can equip up to 3 and they are prismatic to match any socket color.  The JC only gems have 7 crit, haste, or hit, 3 MP5, 11 sta, or 9 sp more than their counterparts.  These are epic gems so to see this benefit you’ll need gear you’re willing to put epic gems in!
  • Entry level BoP trinketsHealer, or Caster DPS

The Bottom Line: Jewelcrafting can be a money maker if you can get the high-end patterns, though it is very expensive to level (second only to Blacksmithing).  If you are going to have this as a profession I would recommend Mining to go with it so you have easy access to the ore for Prospecting.

Leatherworking

The Bottom Line: Leatherworking is like Blacksmithing, I can’t recommend it for a caster

Mining

  • Health bonus that scales with mining level
  • Mining provides the raw materials for the crafting professions of Blacksmithing and Jewlecrafting and is recommended for Engineering.

The Bottom Line: If you are a Jewelcrafter, Mining is a good choice for your second profession.  Also not a bad idea to accompany Engineering.  I also know several people that have paired it with Enchanting to make money

Skinning

  • Bonus to Crit rating (now that Crit is a uniform stat this will benefit melee as well as casters)
  • Skinning provides the raw materials for the crafting profession Leatherworking.

The Bottom Line: If you need money Mining or Herbalism will make you a lot more money and Leatherworking just doesn’t benefit us.  However, if you are going to have 2 gathering professions for leveling or on an alt skinning pairs well with the others since you can’t track herbs and mineral nodes at the same time.

Tailoring

The Bottom Line: It appears that Tailoring won’t be practically necessary for clothies this time around. Yay! I have never really liked Tailoring, the only reason I had it was to get the gear. That said, Tailoring is nice because it requires no gathering profession and can be easy to level while you level your toon since you are always picking up cloth. Bags can be a money maker on some servers (my experience is that it will be more profitable on low-pop servers).

There you have it!  You can look at the BOP benefits of each and see which suits your playstyle best.  I think we’ll see a lot more variety in professions this time around.  I’m really looking forward to seeing where the expansion takes us.

Build Your Own Guild Part 10: Making Changes

Build Your Own Guild Part 10: Making Changes

New guilds tend to start out in an idealistic mode. Guild masters and officers alike make ambitious plans–possibly including world and server domination–and they put in the kind of policies that they believe will get them to their goal.

However, sometimes plans go awry. In my experience, guild rules fail for two primary reasons.

1. Rules Have Unforeseen Consequences.

Despite the officers’ and guild master’s good intentions, new policies sometimes have unintended effects. A clause that was meant to help and support potential members may end up alienating them. Collateral Damage has make several mistakes in policy over the past few months, and it was always with the best intentions. To offer one very recent example, at the outset of our planning sessions for Wrath, CD’s officers talked about putting in a Raider Status. At the current moment, we don’t have a guild rank that corresponds to raid eligibility. While we thought it might be a good thing for organizing purposes, as it would let both infrequent and regular players know clearly how often they might expect to raid, our members did not. Most players were vehemently against having any kind of rank associated with raiding, and so this policy never made it to live, if you will. The reason? The mere suggestion of a special designation for raiders felt divisive to our members. Ironically, the very players who would exceed the standard we put forth were the ones who argued most passionately against it. The label “raider” was unwelcome, and as such, we’ve jettisoned it entirely.

2. The Guild Identity Evolves.

Guilds are organic entities, and they do not remain static for long. Part of the reason for this has to do with personnel. In the virtual environment, turnover is high, and the identity of a virtual organization depends heavily on the personality of its members. In addition, the guild’s successes or failures can determine its direction. In Collateral Damage’s case, we progressed farther and more quickly than we thought we would, and as a result, we became a more hardcore guild than our original design envisioned. Gradual change can also alter power structures. Guilds that start with lofty goals and a strict hierarchy may find that, over time, they can loosen up. What starts out as a totalitarian state led by a benevolent philosopher-king may end as an association of friends and equals. It is my belief that healthy guilds shift towards this model over time as they develop trust among members. In the case of gradual institutional change, you may find that the initial policies you wrote may have very little correspondence to guild reality.

How Can I Change Things?

When something isn’t working, it tends to be pretty clear. You will hear little grumbles here and there. This is normal for a guild, as QQ is eternal, but pay attention when you start to hear the same thing from many different parties. When that happens, make a new item on your officer meeting agenda and do something about it. If a policy is bad, get rid of it as soon as you can. Sure, you’ll look inconsistent to your members, but in the end, no one wins a prize for persisting with a bad strategy. However, in order to set your organization up to be able to change with the times, or with your better judgment, certain structures have to be in place.

1. Give yourself an out.
Sometimes a guild’s charter seems graven in stone, when in fact it’s a functional document that should always be changing. Let your members observe a tradition of keeping the charter up to date. That way, if a big change needs to be made, they won’t say: “You can’t do that because it’s not in the charter.” Believe me, CD made the mistake of having a static charter and rule set. Members will read the charter like a Blue Post, and we all know what happens whenever Ghostcrawler appears to change his mind.

2. Have a Decision-Making Structure
Make sure that your guild rules set up a procedure for proposing and ratifying changes to policies. For some guilds, it may work best for the GM to have final decision-making power in all cases, but in others, a vote among the officers will guarantee better support for the decision. The worst thing you can do is poll your members and let them vote on guild policies. People tend to vote their fears. You’ve selected your officers (hopefully) because they’re capable of thinking through problems logically. Polls are useful for information-gathering, but leave the decision-making power in the hands of a few well-informed individuals.

3. Have a System for Reporting to the Members
Transparency is a good thing. I believe that the GMs and officers should be making the decisions, but I also believe that they should explain any major policy change to the members. Document the reasons for the change carefully. It’s very common for disgruntled guild members to accuse the GM of making arbitrary decisions. Don’t give them ammunition.

Sweeping Changes

The advice in this article should enable a new guild to make the small adjustments that are necessary to keep an active organization healthy. These kinds of changes are usually acceptable to all members with a little explanation. However, what happens if you want to radically change your guild’s identity? Is it possible, for example, to mold a casual guild into a hardcore raiding team?

Yes and no. In order to explain how a gradual shift might work, I am going to borrow the rather disgusting metaphor that my fellow CD officer, Bruug, used in our last officer meeting. Imagine that your guild is a cute little froggy, and you’d like to boil him up for dinner so you can snack on some delicious frog legs. If you drop Mr. Croaky into a pot full of boiling water, he’ll jump right back out. However, if you stick him in room-temperature water and turn up the heat a few degrees per minute, he’ll be perfectly happy to sit in his nice warm bath and cook.

Gross, huh? I’m not suggesting that you eat your guildmates. However, if you think that your guild has the potential to grow in a certain direction, take gradual steps to get there. Members tend to resist change. They like what’s comfortable and what works. Many people would say that you can’t take a casual guild and turn it into a hardcore one, and they’d be right in principle. Yet, CD has done that in practice, and without consciously trying (apparently we figured out how to poach a frog all on our own). If the will to be more competitive is already out there among your membership, you can help that along. Change will occur organically, but it will do so more surely and effectively if the hand of leadership gives it a nudge or two. Like a careful gardener, you can influence your guild to grow in certain directions. However subtle the changes, I do urge Guild Masters to be as transparent as possible about their vision for the guild. This is only fair to your members who, after all, did not sign their guild contracts in blood. Well, all except the warlocks anyway, and that was because their other pen ran out of ink.

Will You Be Dual Spec-tacular?

Will You Be Dual Spec-tacular?

Duality by vladstudio

Duality by vladstudio

Less than two weeks out from the Wrath of the Lich King release, I find that one of the upcoming changes I am most excited about will hit not with the expansion itself, but with an upcoming content patch. At some future point, many of us–particularly hybrid classes–will have the flexibility we’ve always dreamed of. The promise is that each character will be able to maintain two stored specs and switch between them easily. You won’t be switching during combat (imagine the exploits) but in a complicated dungeon, for one fight you could be the healer, and the very next you could be the tank or even (gasp!) dps.


There is every chance that this change will revolutionize gameplay, particularly for healers. Most of us would jump at the chance to heal for a 25-person raid and then tear through our daily quests as a long-feathered, wide-hipped, booty-shaking, snuffle-hooting Owlbeast. I know I would. However, I’m even more interested in the long-term effects of dual spec capability on the raid environment.

Of course, even with Matticus’ fascinating insights into raiding Naxx on the Beta, we still don’t have quite enough information to make fully-fledged (get it, a feather joke) healing strategies. However, that doesn’t mean that my evil little tree-brain isn’t working. As the healing lead for my guild, the following is my diabolical plan to take the fullest possible advantage of dual specs.

1. All healers will maintain a raid-viable dps spec and a raid-viable healing spec.
2. All healers will take appropriate dps gear at the off-spec dkp price and appropriate healing gear at the on-spec price.
3. All healers will practice both play styles in a raid environment.

Why is this plan such a winner? Read on to find out how the dual spec system will save your raid–and the world!–from much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

1. I can adjust the number of healers for each fight.

Based on what I’ve read on Matticus and elsewhere, it seems that Wrath of the Lich King raid encounters require, on the whole, less healers than Black Temple or Sunwell. My guild–and probably many others–recruited its healing corps with the latter two instances in mind. At the moment, we have at least 12 healers who raid on a semi-regular basis. Our healer retention has been excellent, and many of these players have switched part or full-time to alts for raiding in order to keep their spots. However, even with this partial solution, we sometimes have 10 great healers sign up to raid. My solution for Wrath? I’m not about to force people to respec dps or to reroll warlocks and enhancement shammies. Instead, we’ll share the dps and healing roles, and everyone will get to play what they want at least some of the time. In addition, I don’t fully trust the developers not to put in some fights that require 5 healers and others that require 8 in the same instance. With dual specs in place, it will just be too tempting.

2. My healers will become better players.

Yes, this belongs to the category of what I like to refer to as “L2P Raiding Solutions.” It’s going to be hard to switch from doing what Ghostcrawler referred to as “playing the UI, not the game,” to actually targeting a boss or, even more incredibly, assisting off a designated player. I look forward to this process. I need to go through the learning as much or more than anybody. An expansion, as I see it, is a great opportunity to get better at the game, and I know there’s going to be a learning curve. By, let’s say, next February, I want to be that player that people trust to do whichever task, dps or healing, is most necessary. Those players already exist, but I’ve had too much tunnel-vision to be one myself.

3. No one will feel stuck.

Sometimes all of us need a little change, a little breath of fresh air. I think that dual specs are going to help ward off healer burnout, and to demonstrate that, I’m going to resort to a very mundane metaphor. Let’s compare two real life humans–Level 30 Scholars, let’s say, and for the sake of argument, we’ll call them Sydera and Briolante. Now, Syd owns about 10 pairs of shoes she can wear to work, and she never wears the same pair twice in a row. Brio wears the same pair of admittedly very nice dress shoes every day. At the end of six months, whose footwear is in better shape? Variety is the spice of many things, my friends. If I know that I can cast gigantic Starfires on one of the bosses on a given evening, all the while hooting to myself in owlish glee, I’m likely to heal for the rest of them with good grace. Many healers feel victimized and put upon–our job is rather stressful, and blame sticks to us like cat hair on cashmere. What a nice relief it will be to sometimes focus on the boss instead of the little boxes on my Grid!

Dual Specs are Wonderful! But Why Do We Have Them?

I’d like to spend a few moments speculating about the underlying reasoning behind the dual spec change. It goes against many of the trends laid in place during Classic WoW and BC. First, WoW has always made players pay for flexibility. As we all know, the Vanilla WoW design for hybrids could be summed up by the hackneyed refrain “jack of all trades and master of none.” Moreover, gold costs for respecs–used more by hybrids than other classes–used to climb to obscene levels in Classic.

In BC, the fate of hybrids improved somewhat. Aside from a few broken specs (notably Moonkin and Retribution Paladin), hybrids became raid viable, but also just as limited to one role as any “pure” class. Respecs were of course possible, and in BC they top out at 50 gold, which still cannot be considered a reasonable price for mid-raid respecs.

Maybe it’s my own selfish featherbrain, but I think that the changes we’re seeing to how respeccing works–which is basically the removal of the penalty for changing your mind–have a lot to do with the perceived fun of playing hybrids–bringing us closer to the jack of all trades model again. I think this change might even have more to do with healers than other classes. We know that, my own freakishly healer-heavy guild aside, healers are often in short supply. For Wrath, Ghostcrawler has laid out the possibility that raid healing might be overhauled entirely, just as was done with tanking. The idea, in general terms, is to make raiding “more fun.”

What is more fun, in the developers’ minds? Based on the druid class changes for 3.0, I can take a guess. Despite what some healers find entertaining, Blizzard doesn’t want us to be tied too closely to timers or set-in-stone rotations. Pre-3.0, I used to cast something–usually an instant, and many times Lifebloom–every time the GCD was up. This means that I can spare about half an eyeball for the raid environment, and I haven’t even seen many raid bosses. I spend too much time looking at Grid with one eye and the ground–for nasty AoE effects–with the other. To a certain extent, this is necessary for proper focus–I’m not sure that Briolante spends much time gazing longingly on, say, Archimonde’s face either, even though he’s up there tanking. Here’s a quote: “Demon crotches get old after a while.” The developers want play to be variable, engaging, movement heavy, and reactive rather than proactive. As a druid healer at the moment, I feel that I’m supposed to entirely change my playstyle, and old habits–like maintaining Lifebloom rotations–die hard.

At least dual specs are actually fun! Many times, the developers seem to design away from fun by putting arbitrary limitations on things–the recently removed movement speed reduction for trees comes to mind, as does the prohibition on flying in Northrend until level 77. It is my hope that, whatever they do to healing, the dual spec possibility keeps me from entirely losing my mind, or, should I say, my feathers.