Sartharion 3D Healing Assignments

Sartharion 3D Healing Assignments

sarth-dead

I realize that Matticus has done a nice job of keeping readers posted on Conquest’s progress through this fight, but I thought it might be nice for the community if I posted our specific, final draft healing assignments along with a narrative of how we got there. I know that when I was a new healing coordinator for Collateral Damage back in Tier 5 that I used to scour WoW blogs for their specific healing assignments on Vashj, Kael, and beyond. With that experience behind me, I don’t expect that readers will be able to use my precise assignments, but perhaps once I explain the process a bit, healing leaders will be able to identify techniques that will help their particular groups.

Before the First Attempt

The Sunday night before our first attempt at Sarth 3D, Mallet and I, along with Kimboslicé, our raid leader, and Archdrood and Brio, our main tanks, Crazymexican, our puller, and a few various and sundry raid members, went into our cleared Obsidian Sanctum instance to block out positioning. More than anything else, this step may have led to our early success. In the calm of a cleared instance, we were able to identify marks for each person to stand on. Mallet, who would be solo-healing Archdrood, was able to learn exactly where the head and feet of the dragon would be ahead of time, in a calm environment. I paced out where our drake tank healers, whelp tank healers, and add tank healers would stand. We imagined where the firewalls would come and planned what direction different players would run to avoid them. We strategized how to position the drakes to best protect both tank and raid.

The positioning I’m sharing with you now is our “final draft,” but if you block out your own positioning in a cleared OS, our work might give you something to start with.
sarth-diagram

In my diagram, bubbles represent eeeevil nasssty dragonses, and squares represent players. You’ll notice that I’ve used class colors to show which specific players we used for different tasks. If you need a recap, orange is for druid, brown for warrior, fuchsia for death knight, pink for paladin, white for priest, dark blue for shaman. This class distribution is by no means obligatory and will vary based on the players available in your guild.

The diagram might just tell you everything to know, but in my typically verbose fashion, I’m going to give you some notes anyway.

Main Tank Healing

This is the most difficult job available in this fight, so make sure you assign someone who excels both at throughput and at situational awareness. One of the biggest parts of the learning curve in this fight has to do with this healer’s positioning. He or she has to learn how to avoid the firewalls without going out of range of the main tank. Every bit of this player’s healing goes on the main tank, and he or she has to be able to keep him up entirely alone. Based on the changes to Twilight Torment (the main tank can no longer remove it himself), your main tank healer is going to be the first in a line of “saves” on the MT. In order to survive one of Shadron’s breaths, a non-DK tank must have outside help. These breaths can occur in rapid succession, and you must set up a rotation of “saves” so that your tank can survive multiple rounds. On our druid tank, we used a rotation of 1)Pain Suppression 2)Guardian Spirit 3)Barkskin + Survival Instincts and 4) Hand of Sacrifice + Priest Bubble. On our successful attempt, four abilities were enough. I suggest assigning a player who can perform save #1, which can be any of these techniques, to main tank heal. In practice, this player will probably end up being either a discipline or holy priest.

Drake Tank Healing

We used a team of two healers to take care of the two tanks assigned to Tenebron, Shadron, and Vesperon. We staggered our tanking such that each tank only had one drake at a time. I am H2, and I healed Briolante for Tenebron and Vesperon, helping out on Shadron’s tank in the few moments where Briolante’s first target was down and second had not yet landed. Both H2 and H4, the drake tank healers, will have to move around quite a bit to stay with their targets. H4 in my scheme is a pally healer, and his target, the Shadron tank, will be helping out with whelps and elemental adds for much of the fight. It is important for H4 to keep a watch on this person, as he absolutely has to live to tank his drake. It’s also worth noting that H2 and H4 will be completely out of range of the main tank for most of the fight–any extra healing they can spare goes on the raid.

Whelp Tank Healing

I assigned my strongest paladin to heal the death knight whelp tank. Krinan, the paladin, turns on righteous fury and draws some of the whelps to her through healing aggro. Note: she is specced in a particular way to let her survive this. Perhaps she’ll tell you all about it in a guest post. Krinan and Lloth, our death knight tank, work together to gather up the whelps and the elemental adds while others AoE them down. Usually H3, the whelps/adds healer, will need some help. The whelps and elementals are the most annoying part of the fight, and they can just eat dps and healers for breakfast. Whenever I can, I HoT up Lloth or the AoE’ers. Raid healers, and even drake tank healers when possible, should try to stay close to the adds tank so that any strays can be peeled off.

Raid Healing

This fight can get a little crazy, so I assign three very strong players to raid healing. The challenge increases when raid healers, like our holy priest for example, have to position themselves such that they can take a spot in the save rotation on the main tank during Twilight Torment. I’ve put Kaldora (H5) on the side closest to the main tank to show how a raid healer in the save rotation has to edge toward Sarth at the appropriate moment. Note that raid healing gets completely, entirely insane when Twilight Torment is up on the raid. In order to dampen the effects, we call out for paladins to bubble and help soak some of the damage that way. In order for the raid healing to work in this fight, the dps/healers/add team need to stay close together.

Into the Portal

When Shadron goes down, we send players into the portal to take care of the Guardian. Epiks, our resto shaman, follows dps into the portal and works his healing magic. If you have players taking portals, DON’T forget to assign a healer to go with them. Believe me, the result is not good.

Last Words

This fight recalls Vashj, Kael, and Illidan in the amount of teamwork that it demands. As a healer, you simply cannot ignore assignments and snipe heals. You cannot save other people’s targets. Yes, a drake tank healer might assist the raid healers with a Wild Growth or two, but everyone will always keep a watch on his or her primary target. You are not a hero. You are a small piece of the puzzle. As a healer, you perform the tiny set of tasks assigned to you and nothing more. There may be moments where you feel less effective, but you need to stay in your spot and watch your assignments. You must watch around you–there is no excuse for a healer to be trapped by firewall or void zone. Even though healing is very difficult in this fight, if you set it up like I did, it is also very regimented. Each of the individual tasks is manageable. Just pace your tiny portion of the stage and do not worry about what others are doing. Let them make their own mistakes as you learn. And then, when all is said and done, the healing meter will not tell the whole story on this fight–in this case, the encounter is hard enough at the current available gear level so that if you win, every healer in the team deserves the gold medal.

Blank Sartharion Map: This is a few screenshots of the cleared island that Sartharion is on which Matt stitched together. Feel free to use this for planning. You can overlay Syd’s diagram on top of this and you can get a better idea.

WoW Insider’s Raid Rx Makes a Return

I’m in class right now so I don’t have much to add (Learning about policing and media perceptions and stuff, good lecture, contrasting police forces all over the world. Did you know Canada doesn’t have water cannons to deal with riots or protests?). Just wanted to raise awareness and shamelessly promote it. You can find it on WoW Insider. This week’s post is about the raid healer leader. Here’s an excerpt:

In the past, I didn’t become the healing lead because I was asked to. I saw the disarray of healers we had. I knew how disheveled we were as a unit. Because of my dissatisfaction, I decided to do something about it. I know some of you are thinking along the same lines. Maybe you feel there is no direction or order or structure. Perhaps your raid leaders aren’t taking it seriously or are even ignoring the healers entirely expecting them to sort things out amongst themselves.

If you don’t see anyone else doing it, take charge of it yourself. You’re going to feel overwhelmed at first. I know I did. It’s up to you to turn your ragtag group of healers into a lean, mean life-saving machine.

6 Influential Factors in Loot Council Decisions

6 Influential Factors in Loot Council Decisions

This is a behind the scenes look on the Conquest forums detailing loot factors that are taken into account during loot council disputes. Some readers expressed interest in learning more about the specifics and here they are.

Loot is the single biggest headache involved with raiding. If you are a person that values yourself over the guild, then you want to reassess why you are in this guild, or why you want to join this guild. Ask yourself “do I want gear to raid or do I want to raid for gear?” Hopefully, you are a person who will choose the first option. If all you want is to raid for gear, then Conquest is probably not for you.

Nothing can avoid disagreements over gear. The Loot Council itself has an odd number of members specifically to avoid a deadlock on a piece of gear. Please keep in mind; we will do it as fairly as possible. If you felt you were treated unfairly and made a mistake, place yourself in an officer’s position and look at it from that angle.

If you still feel we error, please get in touch with Mallet and discuss it with him. Unfortunately, we cannot reverse decisions unless the item was erroneously awarded (as in mislooted, which can only be fixed via tickets). But your thoughts will be taken into account for the future.

How to express interest

Say Interested – If the item is a significant upgrade for you in your current spec and role. Best in slot also applies.
Say Pass – If the item is a minor upgrade or you’d like it for an off spec.
Say nothing – If you have zero interest at all in the item.

A countdown will be applied. At the end of it, there will be a dash (-). Interest expressed well after the dash will not be factored into account (unless there was no one interested at all during the countdown).

Note: If you equip a green to ninja gear and attempt to influence the council, you will be gkicked.

The gear reward process

5 members consists of the Loot Council. They each have their own individual personality and are 5 different players. Each council member has 1 vote used to decide who receives an item if there are multiple players interested in an item.

6 Influential factors

Current rank and position: Initiates and Subs will not get loot assigned to them if there are members in the raid with Raider status that has interest. This is to prevent people from joining, getting a few pieces of loot, and then leaving. It is basically a form of DKP. It forces people to have a vested interest in the guild to receive gear. This may be overlooked based on performance, attendance, or the amount of loot already received during that raid. To attain Raider status a person must be a member for a few weeks and attended (or been on vent and available) a minimum of three raids per week.

Attendance: Raid attendance is extremely important. If players aren’t here to raid, they’re not going to be able to contribute. Remember that loot drops will be awarded in order to be as effective as possible. This means there is a higher chance that a player who attends 3-5 times a week will get an item over a player who only shows up once a week.

Effectiveness: Is it effective for the guild as a whole? Will you be able to utilize it and ensure that it does not become useless? We want to ensure that items aren’t going to be wasted by being awarded to alts or off specs unless there is no main interest. Paladins looking to obtain DPS Plate gear aren’t going to get it if they’re in raids to heal. It does not maximize the effectiveness of the item if it is not being used.

Current items: A player still wearing Heroic or Normal Naxx level gear is going to have a higher chance of being awarded an item. Keep in mind that this will not always be the case. In certain situations, while the item in question may be a larger upgrade for a newer player, it could be awarded to a veteran player who has been in there for weeks or months on end trying to get the item.

Equal distribution: Loot will be distributed as equally as possible to the appropriate classes that need them (at least, we’ll attempt to). It is unlikely for players to receive more than one item from a boss. But it is entirely possible for players to receive multiple items in one run. We cannot control what items a boss drops. The last thing we want to do is shard a piece.

Set bonuses: With certain classes, some T7.5 bonuses are just plain awesome to have. If you have an odd number of set pieces (like 1 or 3 set pieces), we want nothing more than to help activate them.

Self improvement and teamwork

The main tanks in the guild are able to talk amongst themselves and figure out who needs upgrades over the other first. They do this purely through communication and cooperation by figuring out their weaknesses and identifying the items that benefit them the most. When tank items drop, they are able to compromise.

I encourage other players to do the same with the other classes or other players wearing similar armor types. As an example, I try to work with the other Priest and clothies to see who can benefit more.

90% of loot drops is handled informally among our members. They all take turns passing and are aware who can benefit items the most. It’s the 10% where loot council has to step in and make a decision. The trend here is that it ends up mostly being trinkets, rings, or weapons.

* Note: Anyone is free to take this post and modify or use accordingly for their own guild. Yes, you have permission. Don’t have to email and ask.

For the Resto Shaman: Settling the Crit vs Haste Discussion

For the Resto Shaman: Settling the Crit vs Haste Discussion

sham-crit-haste

This is a guest post from Lodur, a Resto Shaman who set up an experiment to determine what is better: Haste or Crit. The experiment consisted of two relatively equally geared Resto Shamans with slight variances in haste and crit thrown into a full clear Heroic Naxxramas.

Round 1

Lodur from Zul’jin here again. Today I’d like to talk a little bit on the topic of Crit versus Haste. This has been a hotly debated topic among the shaman community since patch 3.0 dropped on us giving us all kinds of goodies. Specs have been proposed and gear has been compared using every measuring stick imaginable. The arguments are all over the Internet, and you can find them on all sorts of forums and websites. Right now though I’d like to take a look at some key points for each camp that have recently been brought up in my guild’s Shaman Class forums.

Pro Crit:

  • Bigger heals = less heals needed

  • Allows for increased rate in procs in key talents such as Improved Water Shield,and Ancestral Awakening.

  • Takes full advantage of the fix to Earth Shield which now has a crit change equal to the caster and not the recipient of the shield

  • Allows for Increased performance of preventative healing

  • Allows for greater single target healing efficiency

Pro Haste:

  • Allows for lower casting time for Chain Heal which is a shamans most efficient heal (5.23 heal per mana)

  • Allows for a greater number of spell casts which will allow key talents such as, Ancestral Awakening, Tidal Waves, and Healing Way to proc more often on more targets

  • Allows for Increased performance in "twitch" or reactive healing

  • Allows for greater group healing efficiency, while giving the passive regen of a Glyphed Water Shield time to restore mana. 

  • Allows for quicker application of Earth Living Weapon so as to proc to more targets

To further understand these points we can look at the talents and abilities so you can begin to see where each is coming from.

Talents / abilities Described:

  • Ancestral Awakening: When you critically heal with your Healing Wave, Lesser Healing Wave or Riptide you summon an Ancestral spirit to aid you, instantly healing the lowest percentage health friendly party or raid target within 40 yards for 30% of the amount healed. This may not seem like much but this adds up over time. It normally clocks in at around 1% of your total healing output.

  • Improved Water Shield: You have a 100% chance to instantly consume a Water Shield Orb when you gain a critical effect from your Healing Wave or Riptide spells, and a 60% chance when you gain a critical effect from your Lesser Healing Wave spell. This is helpful with mana regen especially if your find your MP5 or raid replenishment lacking.

  • Healing Way:Your Healing Wave spells have a 100% chance to increase the effect of subsequent Healing Wave spells on that target by 18% for 15 sec. This turns your 15,000 Healing Wave crit into something that creeps up to around 20,000 and with the change to the talent applying the full bonus on once cast of Healing Wave, it has found it’s way into many rotation.

  • Earthliving:Imbue the Shaman’s weapon with earthen life. Increases healing done by 150 and each heal has a 20% chance to proc Earthliving on the target, healing an additional 652 over 12 sec. Lasts 30 minutes. 20% meaning 1 out of every 5 heals will land a hot on a target. Using a Glyphed Chain Heal means 4 targets per heal. A 652 HoT doesn’t seem like much but it adds up over time. 

Practical Application:

Someone once said me to "Lodur, I hear what you’re saying but I need to see the numbers." So after a lengthy discussion with another shaman in our guild we decided to give it a go. I would continue to stack haste (Hello, My name’s Lodur, and I’m a haste junkie) and they (I wont use their name simply because I don’t exactly have their permission to post their toon details on the interwebs and I’m respectful like that) would stack crit and change spec and see what numbers we got.

All numbers are without totems or self buffs, and not including Earthliving Weapon. These also do not take into account trinkets like Egg of Mortal Essence . Both of us were present for all four wings of Naxx and we were both tasked with Raid / OT healing at the same time in order to keep things as consistent as possible.

(And before anyone says quality of player or anything silly like that it should be noted that me and Shaman 2 are consistently within a stones throw of eachother every raid and both have been doing this for a long time!)

Let’s look at what some numbers produce, looking at builds and stats first. All gear is at the item level of i200 and i213. This is without totems, weapon buffs, food or raid buffs. Both shamans used the same Glyphs for the run. Glyph of Chain heal, Glyph of Water Mastery, Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave and Glyph of Water Shield

The Stats

  Lodur Shaman 2
Spec Spec here (Excludes Improved Water Shield in favor of Healing Way) Spec here (Inclusion of Thundering Strikes over Enhancing Totems )
Intellect 1010 983
Haste 419 (14%) 262 (8%)
Crit 19% 31%
Spellpower 1952 1936

As you can see the stats are fairly close, differing mainly in their haste and crit rating. So lets take a look and see what the end result of the run was number wise.

The Results

  Lodur Shaman 2
Total Healing 5328335 5089956
Water Shield 60813 64400
Earthliving 444686 311665
Ancestral Awakening 75251 67245
Average Crit 24% 34%
Overhealing 40% 40%

Wow. Pretty close there! Now that’s overall for the entire raid night. So as everything averages out at the end they wind up being pretty similar. We can break this down a bit further and look at some of the individual fights to look for strenghts and weaknesses for each. Lets pull out two boss kills here.

Maxxena:

Lodur: Total Healing Done: 68,068
Shaman 2: Total Healing Done: 123,953

Damn, got almost doubled on that fight! The strong single target heals allowed for Shaman 2 to top off tanks and webbed people in one gulp causing my quicker heals to move on over into overhealing.

Heigan the Unclean:

Lodur: Total Healing Done: 222,257
Shaman 2: Total Healing Done: 109,780

Haste won that round! The faster group heals and lesser healing waves allowed for me to top people off quicker while diseases were cleansed.

The trade off between bosses carries on from there with Crit winning on Loatheb and Haste winning on Patchwerk. The two have fights where they will always shine slightly brighter then the other, but overall they perform to roughly the same output.

The Conclusion

It is, in the opinion of this shaman, so close that the difference really boils down to playstyle.

Both ways work! If you have a preference roll with it. Gearing for both is very easy. There’s haste on just about everything and what mail spell power pieces don’t have haste normally have a ton of crit (yes I know it can be argued that its elemental gear but it still works for healing all the same).

There will always be fights that are slightly tougher for your then if you had more haste rather then a ton of crit, but thats true about everything in the game. The synergy between the two is also noticeable. Fights where a hastened Healing Wave can keep Healing Way up so that the crit spec can land a huge, huge heal will always be there.

Well that’s it for round one of haste vs crit. Round 2 will be after 3.1 drops and Ulduar is available. Until next time, happy healing.

Image courtesy of Aurik

Heroic Sartharion 3D Conquered

Heroic Sartharion 3D Conquered

matts-drake

It is done. Approximately 24 hours since the experience and epiphany I had last night, it all paid off.

Sarth and his 3 drakes are down.

Twilight Drake

A big thank you goes to everyone in the guild. Without their efforts of them, the assistance of the Plus Heal Community, and the various bloggers who’ve written about their experiences, this post would not be here right now.

The handling of the Drake was flattering. The officers and an overwhelming majority of the guild felt that I should have gotten the first one.

Needless to say, I double checked to make sure.

The last thing I want on my hands is a riot because the GM gets awarded the first Drake. I’m not one for mounts. Even though I made a Flying Carpet, I still ride on my purple Gryphon. But I guess the Gryphon will get rested for a while.

Subsequent mount drops will be handled with interested members rolling instead of the loot master doing a raid roll. This gives players a measure of control and it allows players who don’t care about the mount to opt out of rolling for the ones that do.

My hands were shaking once we got that Shadron down. It was the first time we hit that plateau and after that, it just felt like smooth sailing from there.

Total time spent: ~8 hours on just 3 Drakes alone
Time of death: 7:04 PM PST, January 28

  • Worked on the pull
  • Worked on the Drake positioning
  • Worked on Whelp and Elemental tanking (We used a Death Knight)
  • Worked on healing the ad tanks and the Drake tanks
  • Worked on surviving Fissures and Firewalls
  • Worked on timing Main Tank “saves” (Pain Suppression, Barksin + Survival Instincts combo, and Guardian Spirit)

Extra things

These points may be minor, but they might help you. We increased the healing from 6 to 7. This gave us 2 Paladins. The fight took slightly longer, but it paid off.

Now what these Paladins did was they spent 17 points into Protection to pick up Divine Guardian.

The moment I used my Pain Suppression on the first breath, I’d pick one Paladin and tell them to bubble. Since a majority of the raid members are standing together, this helps mitigate raid damage during that period. On the second save, the Druid tank on Sarth popped his Barksin and Survival Instincts to outlive that breath hit. At this point, if it goes off, I alert the Holy Priest to get into position because his Guardian Spirit is up next.

Reader Rivendael brought up a great comment that I wanted to reiterate:

Hi Matt, I’m surprised that you have to watch the animations at all :)

It’s very responsible of you, considering that most healers need to/are very used to watching mainly health bars, but in the end, I’d say that the job of watching for breath cooldowns should in fact fall on the tank.

As my guild’s druid tank on Sarth (we’ve downed 3D), even before the fight, I establish player orders for the cooldowns we’re using. When Vesp lands, I call for the first cd-user to “prep” (usually all my healing pallies and priests). When I see the breath animation, I call for the prepped player to use his cd. Then I call for the next player to prepare. And so forth.

My healers just need to macro their cd to me and be in range, that’s all, and I take the burden off them so they can -visually- focus on their heals, while dodging lava walls and void zones. As the one player facing Sarth’s bigass head all the time, it’s the least I can do. Since your Sarth tank obviously has a mic, why not suggest that he do the same?

The answer to that is we both do it. The Sarth tank and I are able to watch for his head. As a healer, I like to use IceHUD so that I can see the health bar of my target, the health bar of myself, and the action that’s going around. This goes hand in hand with my heads up technique of healing.

The “double affirmative” from the Sarth tank and myself strengthens our judgment. It’s better to have two pairs of eyes on it if possible. It helps confirm that it is the right time to use a save when two players are saying the same thing. While there’s nothing wrong with allowing Sarth’s tank to call out when to use the save, I prefer keeping my head up instead of relying on reflexes to hit the tank.

Either we’re both right or we’re both wrong.

I do have a video from a DPS perspective. Just need to find a suitable host. Any ideas of a Youtube or Filefront alternatives?

Also: Ner’Zhul is ridiculously PvE competitive. We’re in the top 20 of guilds that have successfully killed Sarth 3D.

10 Seconds with Sartharion 3 Drakes

I’m the type of player that likes to relentlessly playback previous events (or wipes) in my head. I try to see if there’s anything I can do better from my perspective or anything I should have done differently. Here’s a 10 second mentally recalled highlight reel moment of a time that happened all too often.

We run a 6 healer setup and I’m the only one on the Sarth tank.

0:00

Vent call: Firewall, move!

*Casts Shield, Renew, and dives narrowly avoiding a wall*

0:02

Vent call: Vesperon landing!

*Casts Penance*

0:04

Sarth tank: I have the debuff!

*Casts Flash Heal*

0:06

*Casts another Flash Heal*

0:08

His attack animation stopped and he’s raising his head.

WAIT! HIS HEAD IS RAIS-!

0:10

Sarth tank: I’m down!

Reflections

Thankfully, that was just earlier on in the night. After I settled in more and got into the groove, I was able to get my timing down perfectly. The problem with me was that I ended up being off in my timing.

The timing was off enough to get our tank 1 shot.

But I managed to fix it. I figured that I was zoomed in too close on my character that I had to adjust my camera more to keep my sights on Sarth. That took up precious time and added increased risk.

I managed to solve it by maxing out my camera distance so that no matter where I ran, I’d still be able to keep an eye on his head.

FYI

I use his head as an indicator for when he’s about to breathe. When he tilts back, that’s the time to use the Pain Suppression.

What’s killing us

We lose 1 or 2 people to void zones in the beginning or to a Firewall. There is a bit of inconsistency. Some attempts, the raid group is able to blast through the first drake with no problem. In other cases, people are just getting sloppy or we have bad lag luck (like a player dying to a void even though they’re 15 yards away from it).

The second problem occurs when the third drake lands. Players are killing themselves. Going to see if that can be fixed by having Paladins “tactically bubble” at certain times to lessen the overall raid damage with that Shield talent thingy.

As for me, the 10 attempts where the raid lived long enough for Vesperon to touch down, I was able to squeeze off Pain Suppression fast enough for 7 of them.

That’s a 70% save percentage.

Not good enough Matt. Not good enough.

Healing Assignments for Resto Druids

Healing Assignments for Resto Druids

broccoli-banner

Perhaps more than any other healing class, Wrath of the Lich King has revolutionized the way druids heal. I’m going to take a bit of a look back to where we came from as a way to help understand any troubles druid healers might face at present when we try to figure out what our role in raids should be.

Back in the “Good” Old Days

I came of age as a healer during the BC raid content, and I think part of me will always missing rolling Lifebloom stacks on four different tanks during the Hyjal trash waves. Lifebloom spam may have been widely criticized, but at the time it was effective and felt very dynamic for the player. The timing was tight enough to require tank-specific macros, which I miss, because I could always change their icons to a pig whenever I got mad at them (sorry, Brio). However, when healers argue now that they don’t want to be locked into a rotation, they’re probably thinking of something like old-school LB rolling with horror. That was a rotation, all right–but it left me dizzy. I had to keybind Lifebloom twice–both to my mouse clickwheel and to F. The “F” was for when I needed to refresh while turning with the mouse. At the time, there was no way to increase the 7 sec Lifebloom rotation, and the penalty for letting the stack fall off was fairly severe. I never ran into mana problems, but sometimes the tank would take more damage than I liked if their stack slipped off, and I had few ways to play catch-up. If one tank’s stack went, then most likely all four would.

Even some boss fights made Lifebloom spam worthwhile. On Illidari Council, I used to assign Bonkers to roll LB on three tanks, giving him 1 GCD per cycle free to do “whatever he wanted.” Let me add that the healing buffer Bonkers provided to three of the tanks won the fight for us on more than one occasion. Why did I give the assignment to Bonkers and not myself? Because Bonkers is quicker than me. My assignment, keeping up the group on Malande, was a lot easier. The odd thing is, these kinds of assignments seemed great to Resto Druids at the time–1 GCD free? That’s amazing.

Now that I think about it, the Good Old Days don’t seem so great after all.

Broccoli, v. 3.0

Patch 3.0 brought new tools for the druid healer, offering flexibility where before we had none. However, it strikes me that many Broccoli Stalks might be a little bewildered by all our new toys. And if we’re confused, imagine what it’s like to do healing assignments for a resto druid these days. A few days ago I came across this topic on PlusHeal forums, posted by Siha of Banana Shoulders:

So, I’m the healing lead for my guild, and it usually falls to me to do healing assignments.

I’m having some trouble deciding how best to make use of resto druids. I know in TBC I always used to use them for a multi-tank assignment, keeping a bunch of people hotted up with Lifebloom, but I’m not really on top of all the resto druid changes in WotLK yet.

The talented Siha, as always, gets right to the point with her post. I replied in the topic, but I think that the question has enough merit to warrant a full-length post.

So, what do we do with the newly-versatile druid? After looking at my own performance and those of my Cruciferous Vegetable buddies in Conquest, I am convinced that Resto Druids can be assigned in two different ways for Wrath content. I’m going to showcase a couple of meters-topping druid performances to show just how versatile trees are these days

Raid Healing

This assignment is the most obvious for a resto druid. Wild Growth, due to its higher total healing and it’s status as a heal over time spell, suffered less from the recent nerf than Circle of Healing did. With Rejuvenation, Wild Growth, and perhaps a glyphed Healing Touch in the mix, druids have a powerful toolkit to deal with raid damage.

Let’s take a look at the meter breakdown from an expert druid healer on Gluth, which features heavy raid damage:
s13-meter

Now, the meter % alone might not mean much, but let’s factor in healing assignment. Both S13 and I were assigned to heal the kiters on Gluth, and we have similar gear. Why did he outperform me? Let’s take a look at the abilities breakdown.
s13-breakdown

Take a look at S13’s Healing Touch percentage and the amount it hits for on average. That tells me–even if I didn’t already know–that he’s using the Healing Touch glyph. The fact that he’s able to get so much healing out of a direct healing spell also tells me that S13 is fast. He’s really great at reacting to situations. Notice here that he’s also made a lot of use of Lifebloom–nerfed it maybe, but useless it is not. This WWS report is post-WG nerf, by the way. S13’s performance shows how little a healer has to rely on Wild Growth to be effective (and to post good numbers while doing so). If I were to take a look at S13’s targets, I would see a lot of healing on the 5 kiters, but also a decent amount on other members of the raid. S13 is a great raid healer because he’s able to pay attention to a lot of things at once and to accurately judge when he can go a bit beyond the boundaries of his assignment.

Tank Healing

Yes, I know druids have an AoE heal now. That doesn’t mean that we’re not still good at our old role, healing the main tank. I’ve just shown you the WWS from a druid who excels at raid healing. Now, I’m going to show you my own meter performance. I am a tank healer. That’s what I like, and that’s what I’m good at. I’ve been healing a warrior MT so long that I know how the damage hits and what I can do to fix it. I don’t pretend to be the best at anything, but if I’m in charge of healing assignments, I’m going to stick myself to a tank. It’s not usually very showy on the meters, but I’m going to give you a peep at the one fight in Naxx that does let tank healers show off–Patchwerk.
syd-meter

To understand this image properly, you should probably know that Silvia and I were assigned to heal the offtank, a druid, while S13 and Arktos were assigned to the main tank, a warrior. For the life of me, I can’t remember what Kaldora, our holy priest, was assigned to that day. The nature of the fight dictates that there is simply more healing to do on the off tank(s) than on the main tank, so an off-tank healer is going to post higher numbers. Be that as it may, this is nonetheless a good performance from me personally. Let’s look at the breakdown of what I did.
syd-breakdown

First of all, notice the presence of Regrowth. I use the Regrowth glyph, and a fight with heavy tank damage also shows it off. Meanwhile, I keep Lifebloom rolling on the primary off-tank. As for Rejuvenation, I keep it on both the primary off-tank and the backup. At higher gear levels, your raid is less likely to need two offtanks for Patchwerk. I used to post even more impressive numbers when two off-tanks took heavy hits. I would keep up my full hot rotation on the druid and use Rejuvenation, Swiftmend, and a Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch on the secondary off-tank. I always say that Resto Druids can heal two tanks as well as one, and it’s very nearly true. This is a lesson I learned in Zul’Aman, and it still serves me well on a multi-tank fight like Patchwerk. One thing an MT healer can never forget is the power of Swiftmend–it’s easy to ignore, but make yourself use it whenever you can. You’ll notice that Nourish is missing from my rotation, even though I have the 4pc T7 bonus. Regrowth is simply better if the damage is high. I will use Nourish on fights where Regrowth might be overheal, or on long fights that might stress my mana.

My message to healing leads is this: resto druids can tank heal. You might think that only a paladin or discipline priest will work, but don’t discount the resto druid, particularly one who’s used to this job. We may have a discipline priest solo-healing the MT on Sarth 3D, but that doesn’t mean a resto druid cannot be assigned to the task. In fact, some days I want to arm-wrestle Mallet for the job.

Glyphs and Talents

As you can see from our performances, S13 and I, despite having almost the same gear, are very different healers. There are slight differences in talents and glyphs that support each of our preferred roles. Here are my thoughts on how to set up a resto druid to excel at either raid healing or tank healing.

Raid Healing

In terms of talents, I suggest Tranquil Spirit to make Healing Touch and Nourish more efficient, a fully talented Gift of the Earth Mother, and perhaps Naturalist for the shortest Healing Touch cast time. As an alternative, you might put either 1 or 2 points into Improved Tranquility. I find this spell very useful when I can remember to use it. It shines on any fight where the raid is fairly close together and AoE damage as high–I’ve used Tranquility to good effect on Loatheb, Sapphiron, and OS3.

To heal S13-style, you will absolutely need to glyph Healing Touch. I am extremely impressed with the HPS of this spell, and it only gets better as your gear scales. In addition, we can all afford the mana at this point. S13 doesn’t run OOM any more than I do. The raid healer has some amount of choice in the other glyph slots. I suggest Swiftmend and Innervate, but if you find that you never use Swiftmend, Lifebloom will also work. The Regrowth glyph, while good in and of itself, won’t do much for you if you’re never assigned to tanks.

Tank Healing

In terms of tank healing talents, the most important one to have is Nature’s Splendor from the Balance tree to extend HoT duration. However, all raiding restos should have this talent. I also use Tranquil Spirit to support my Nourish (in case I ever use it), a fully maxed Improved Regrowth, and Gift of the Earthmother for easier HoT refreshes. I do not have Living Seed at the current moment. It accounted for less that 1% of my total healing when I had it. If I get enough haste to remove points from Gift of the Earthmother, I may try it again. I have a feeling that either 1) Living Seed will do more healing in Ulduar or 2) it will get some sort of buff in the future. As for Replenish, either build should skip it because it’s endlessly terrible, but the tank healer especially does not need it.

In terms of glyphs, I use Swiftmend, Regrowth, and Innervate for main tank healing. The only debateble choice here is Innervate. I prefer it over Lifebloom, but Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket, who also main tank heals often, writes very convincingly in favor of the LB glyph in this recent post. A main tank healer should not glyph Healing Touch. It’s more useful in the large version paired with Nature’s Swiftness.

Conclusions

We’ve come a long way from Lifebloom spam. Whether we’re set to healing tanks or the raid, druids have a variety of techniques now to support their chosen role. We can do it all–just not all at once. If you’re a healing lead, it’s important to get to know your healers. With the new diversity of the druid class, skill and preference start to weigh heavily on how you should assign your druids. So, why not ask them what they like, and what they are good at?

The No Asshole Rule: Constructing a Civilized Guild

The No Asshole Rule: Constructing a Civilized Guild

This is one of the tougher pieces I’ve written. I had to wrestle with my internal conscience about how to properly word it. I couldn’t think of anything else better than asshole. I’ll probably end up turning away a few readers as a result, but this is something that has to be written.

Every time we play WoW, we interact with various people. We interact with people in partys. We interact with players in trade chat or out in the world. And there is no place we interact more then in our own guild. Whether you care to admit it or not, most guilds have an asshole. I’m not talking about the jerk who likes to get on his fat mount and block the quest turn in guy. Or the jackass who likes to hop up and down on your fishing bobber.

No, the assholes I’m talking about represent a type of cancer in your guild. You might be aware of it but most of you might not be.

This post is intended to be a wakeup call.

Several years ago when I was just a sophomore Priest, I went into a raid instance called Blackwing Lair. Throughout those weeks, I battle hard through every aspect of the zone. I pulled off the suppression room, mopped the floor with Vaelastrasz, Broodlord, and Firemaw. Spent hours practicing and then defeating Chromaggus until I came upon Nefarian before he fell.

A piece of Transcendence dropped and I was in line for it next. It was awarded to me and the elated feeling that players received after killing a boss and getting upgrades swept over me. Then another healer in the group sent me a whisper.

“Grats on the robe. Nice to be in a guild that awards loot to undeserving players.”

The feelings of joy vanished in an instant. I went from feeling the best to feeling like complete crap.

The Two Tests

Dr. Robert Sutton came up with two tests to determine when a person is acting like an asshole.

  1. After talking to the alleged asshole, does the ““target” feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled by the person? In particular, does the target feel worse about him- or herself?
  2. Does the alleged asshole aim his crap at people who are less powerful rather than those who are more powerful?

While some assholes are fully capable of doing damage publicly through guild chat, forums or ventrilo in front of your guild, there are some who are able to do their dirty work in private and are much tougher to catch.

12 Common Everyday Actions that Assholes Use

I’ll bold the ones that I believe are possibly relevant to you and your guild. This list is right out of Sutton’s book as well.

  1. Personal insults
  2. Invading one’s personal territory
  3. Uninvited physical contact
  4. Threats and intimidation, both verbal and nonverbal
  5. Sarcastic jokes and teasing used as insult delivery systems
  6. Withering e-mail flames
  7. Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims
  8. Public shaming or status degradation rituals
  9. Rude interruptions
  10. Two-faced attacks
  11. Dirty looks
  12. Treating people as if they’re invisible

All of us have acted like assholes at one point or another. Some days we lose our cool. It happens. We just have to do a better job of trying to control. I’ve lost my temper before and I’ve said things that I regretted immediately.

But the certified guild asshole? He has a level of persistence around him. He has a history of the consistently results in one person after another feeling like crap. They feel humiliated. Disrespected. De-energized. Constricted. Suffocated. In the end, they just feel really bad about how they are.

In short, the certified asshole gets the title because they are always treating people like crap around them.

Do you realize that you spend 15 bucks a month to play WoW? Where does it say you have to spend those 15 bucks playing alongside assholes who do nothing but treat you like garbage everytime you’re on? You deserve a lot better than that. There have even been studies that have shown that interacting with assholes often can lead to physical health problems like anxiety, fatigue, anger and depression.

An asshole can have a serious negative effect in your guild because they suck the life and energy out of people through smaller and seemingly insignificant act as opposed to one or two flareups. Consider the officer who reminds a healer that “he sucks” at healing every chance he gets. Or continues to belittle them with questions like “Why are you so bad?” It’s annoying and its utterly stupid.

The human brain perceives negative interactions in a bigger way than positive interactions. Sutton states that negativity can have an effect that’s five times more powerful than a positive statement. It takes a lot of support from positive people to help counteract the energy drained by one asshole.

The No Asshole Rule

If only it were unnecessary for guilds to not need the no asshole rule. Its quite simple.

It is entirely possible to have a productive and constructive guild without resorting to destructive methods.

Set clear expectations and standards of your players. How they should act and how they should conduct themselves. The moment any one of them pushes the line or crosses it, you have to take action. If they treat people like dirt in a pickup group or master loot themselves a trinket in a run they organize, there is no place for such behavior.

You don’t have to be an asshole to get the message across to someone. It can be done critically and it can be done firmly. More importantly, it can be done in a civil fashion.

Enforce the rule or don’t have it at all

You know what’s worse then having an asshole in the guild? Not doing anything about it when the rules specifically state that such assholeish behavior isn’t allowed.

It ends up being nothing more then a paper tiger.

Why do guilds put up with it?

There’s a belief in that having negative outbursts are character flaws that become tolerated if people are talented, intelligent and harder to replace. Talent can justify guilds looting items to these douchebags and we end up sending this message:

If you’re really good at what you do, you can get away with being a really big asshole. Actually this isnt just limited to guilds as it applies anywhere you go, really. Whether its at work or at school, the philosophy appears to be the same.

If you display words about treating people with respect but allow or even encourage the opposite behavior, it becomes useless. You end up being seen as a hypocrite and as a cynic. Players will lose faith in you and in the guild itself. Assholes multiply. When players see a person acting like one and is left unchecked, they’ll give in to their own inner rage and start doing the same thing.

Either enforce the rule or don’t implement it at all.

Life is too short for you to work and play among assholes.

 

I do want to encourage you to pick up this book if you’re into management or leadership. Heck, even if you’re just looking for a good book to read. Maybe you’re a teacher or you work in an office. There’s a chapter on how to deal and cope with assholes. It’s called the The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Dr. Robert Sutton.

Welcome to the Year of the Tauren

Welcome to the Year of the Tauren

Lunar_festival_2

The Lunar Festival is well under way in Azeroth. But you might be wondering which animal this year belongs to.

Well my friends, I proclaim this the Year of the Tauren (or Ox)

Great! What’s that mean?

Characters created during the Year of the Tauren tend to evolve into strong leaders. The Tauren is a symbol of reward through perseverance and hard work. Such characters are dependant and level headed. They are able to endure through many wipes knowing full well that is what it takes to achieve their goal. Taurens do not complain. They are calm and collected under pressure.

When coming up with strategy, Taurens tend to work best when they are at peace. Every thought and every action is methodical and systematic often revolving around logic. They are often quiet. But when they speak, everyone listens.

The Tauren does not like to borrow gold because they abhor being in debt. They don’t like obtaining lots of epic mounts or other such status symbols. They prefer the security and stability of being in a guild.

Taurens are honest people. They do not like undercutting or being competitively nasty. When it comes to loot, they are not driven by the prospect of singular or material gain.

When interacting with Taurens, don’t forget that they are social when there is nothing for them to worry about or if they feel unthreatened. Taurens care and love all of their friends but if they become annoyed, they will whip out the Totem of Whupass in anger.

Image courtesy of Cadistra

Healing Rotation: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Look at this blue post below. It appears that Priests are about to get additional sweeping changes to the class.

We have some exciting changes planned for priests. Many of them will make it in 3.1 (Ulduar). We hope to have them finalized enough to be able to announce some in the next couple of weeks, but that date might not work out for a number of reasons. The community has a way of overlooking all those caveats such as “at this time” or “assuming nothing changes” and suddenly we are “breaking promises.”

Source: Two Non-QQ QUestions for the Devs

I don’t plan on being a cynic. I am not particularly good at being a cynic. I’m far too hopeful and optimistic for my own good. Other bloggers are way better at that than I am. All I can say is that I’m really looking forward to see what these changes are.

Despite all the improvements and changes made to the Discipline tree, I can tell from the amount of emails I read, tweets I get, and forum posts I peruse that there is a significant number of players who remain skeptical about the healing capability of Discipline.

A change like that doesn’t occur overnight. A change happens like that from player to player. All it takes is for one Discipline Priest to heal a Heroic expertly. Then those 4 players that partner with them will spread the word allowing that Priest to heal for other players. Then he gets invited to raids and so forth. Being accepted as Discipline takes time.

Even I was skeptical until I tried it out myself.

I asked everyone around the table if they would feel comfortable having a Disc priest on main tank duty even with no paladin. Every one of them said yes.

Source: 8 Reasons

Healer Rotations

Here’s another forum post located in the same thread as the last one.

When I say we want healers to have rotations, that doesn’t necessarily mean you always press 112311231123 forever and install cooldown timers so that you don’t go insane. Some dps classes are closer to that, but dps classes in general don’t have to be as reactive to situations as do healers, so they can handle it.

What I am really getting at are things like Swiftmend and Riptide. Swiftmend is a very fun spell — IMO one of the best ones in the game. But you can’t spam Swiftmend. In fact, you have to be pretty smart about when you set it up and when you use it. And yes it has a cooldown. Riptide has a similar mechanic where you want to X when Y happens and you can come up with a lot of other examples. Riptide is fun. Swiftmend is fun. Greater Heal… eh, it does the job. But it’s not a particularly fun button to use.

Disc gets this vibe with some of their shield mechanics, Grace and Penance. I do think that Holy could use a lot more of it though. The main "interesting thing" that happens with Holy is Holy Concentration and its Improved version. That’s not bad, but we’re not sure it’s enough. I don’t think we would actually use this specific example, but imagine a talent that sped up Greater Heal’s cast time when you cast enough Flash Heals. Now you have a reason to "weave." You have a mechanic that rewards you (but doesn’t require you) to switch from one thing to another. Another idea (off the top of my head) is that CoH healed more on targets with Renew on them (this steals too much from the Resto playbooks IMO). These don’t necessarily have to be random procs or cooldowns, though sometimes these systems end up using those specific mechanics.

This is the kind of thing we’d like to do to Holy.

This is an approach that has merit. I admit I have not played my Shaman as Resto yet. Therefore, I don’t know what it’s like to use Riptide with its bonus effect.

I know for me when it comes to healing, I will make whatever move necessary to keep my players from dying. I’d call it the Dominik Hasek approach since he was known for doing whatever was necessary in keeping pucks out of the net.

And the same thing applies here. As a healer, it’s your role to do everything in your power to save. Calling it a healing rotation though implies that there should be a specific sequence of spells you should cast to best “optimize” healing done. By doing that, you’d gain additional bonus effects of some sort if you can combo 3 Flash Heals and a Greater (as an example).

Unlike DPS players, it is not always possible for healers to to stick to a specific sequence. On my Elemental Shaman, it’s Flame Shock, Lava Burst, and about 5 Lightning Bolts before I start it all over again (Single mob, will throw in Chain Lightning for multiple ones).

We’re not going to constantly use up our Global Cooldown because we might need it (although to be fair that is encounter specific).

On the other hand, I have a feeling that by implementing a change like this into the game, it may slow down some healers. I’m referring to the decision making aspect.

“I could use this Instant heal now, or I could cast my big heal which activates my other healing increase bonus to my lesser heal but if I do that he might di- Oh crap he’s dead.”

The point

I am totally in favor of more changes to the Priest class to add in bonuses for using specific spells after certain conditions. But I won’t always exercise the option to use them because of how the nature of healing is.

When I was Holy, I’d often get Surge of Light procs. I’d wait and watch for players to heal before I converted it to a free Smite instead. Sometimes we just don’t have an occasion to use spells.

This is especially true when tanks have a hard time taking damage.

The Question

Do you think added bonuses from using spells at specific times is going to help you or hinder you? (Don’t worry about the class you play. It’s directed to all healers).