Shamanism

Shamanism

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Shamanism will be a regular (as I can make it) posting comparing real world Shamanism and Shamanistic ideas to the Warcraft universe and will also point out how Shaman’s throughout the history of the Warcraft universe have been key players in many of the events that have unfolded. This will be a journey into the lore that brings us to our present class.

Shamanism has always been something that has fascinated me in real life. A shaman’s role in society was always varied and always important. They operated as Mediators, Healers, Leaders, Diviners, Warders of Spirits, agents of fertility among many other roles. We covered Shamanism in real life a little bit in the last post. I’ll recap them real quick.

From Wikipedia:

  • Spirits exist and they play important roles both in individual lives and in human society.
  • The shaman can communicate with the spirit world.
  • Spirits can be good or evil.
  • The shaman can treat sickness caused by evil spirits.
  • The shaman can employ trance inducing techniques to incite visionary ecstasy and go on “vision quests”.
  • The shaman’s spirit can leave the body to enter the supernatural world to search for answers.
  • The shaman evokes animal images as spirit guides, omens, and message-bearers.
  • The shaman can tell the future, scry, throw bones/runes, and perform other varied forms of divination

Shamanism is based on the premise that the visible world is pervaded by invisible forces or spirits which affect the lives of the living. In contrast to organized religions like animism or animatism which are led by priests and which all members of a society practice, shamanism requires individualized knowledge and special abilities. Shaman operate outside established religions, and, traditionally, they operate alone, although some take on an apprentice.

Well with that in mind, lets take a look at how blizzard blended this into Warcraft. Let’s first cast our gaze on the Orc race. We were introduced to the Horde way back in the days of Orc Vs. Human or the First War. They were a slovenly bunch of blood thirsty mongrels, but before that they were a nomadic shamanistic people who worshiped their ancestors and the spirits of nature. Lets take a look at the first major Shaman we are introduced to, Ner’zhul.

Here’s an excerpt from wow wiki:

Ner’zhul was the chieftain and elder shaman of the Shadowmoon clan and one of the most popular figures in orcish society. He was admired, respected and venerated by all for his deep connection to the spirits, and was the closest thing the orcish race had to a single leader prior to the foundation of the Horde. However, deep within, Ner’zhul craved a power he did not have…

One day, Ner’zhul was contacted by the spirit of his dead mate, Rulkan (with whom he had a regular correspondence), who warned him about the menace of the draenei, who were plotting to destroy the Orcs. After several moons, she introduced him to Kil’jaeden, the “Great One”, who began to instruct him in the ways of warlock magic and the treachery of the draenei. Though Ner’zhul was elated that he was saving his people (and finally getting the power and respect he deserved), he was puzzled why the ancestors would no longer speak to him, and why the spirits grew more distant.

Ner’zhul managed to get the rest of the clans to begin attacks on draenei settlements, supposedly by order of the ancestors, but, as he saw more and more of the draenei, he gradually became puzzled; apart from his horns, clothes, and skin tone, Kil’jaeden bore an odd resemblance to the draenei and possessed a hatred of Velen unbecoming of a divine being. Seeking answers, he attempted to commune with the ancestors in Oshu’gun, the “Mountain of the Spirits.” He was horrified when the ancestors greeted him as a monster, and the real Rulkan revealed the truth: Kil’jaeden had been lying all along.

Ner’zhul’s shamanistic ways were used against him to trick him into selling his people’s souls to the Blood Lust. His connection to the spiritual world was turned against him. He used his position to unite the Orc Clans and began the foundation work for the first Horde. He believed that he was doing what was best for his people. Without him being Shamanistic, Kil’jaeden would never have had the opportunity to manipulate Ner’zhul like he did, which would have made it much more difficult for him to create the bloodthirsty army that he wished the Orcs to become.

Ner’zhul was also panged by guilt, fueled by his sense of honor and duty to his people that he had ignored for so long. Eventually he decided to rebel against Kil’jaeden, and as a result was stripped of his Warlock powers. When he discovered the plans of the Shadow Council to make the Orc people drink the Blood of Mannoroth, his honor and duty bade him to attempt to save his people, but only one Chieftain would listen, Durotan of the Frostwolf Clan. Ner’zhul’s warning was one of many factors that lead the Chieftan to speak out against the corruption of the warlocks and attempt to bring the Orc people back to their Shamanistic roots. The actions of this leader caused him and his family to be assassinated. The only survivor was his son, who grew to be the figure known as Thrall. One Shaman set so much in motion that affected so much of the Warcraft universe.

Today’s is a brief post, but there will be more to come next time.

Till next time, happy healing!

~Lodur

Matt Answers Your Questions

As surprising as this may sound, I don’t often get a lot of email. Most of them can be easily answered with a few lines and a link. Some of them require much more detailed responses and get turned into posts. The emails that deserve more than a few lines and don’t require posts, I’ll compile together. I’ll end up doing this once a month or so with emails that either myself or the rest of the WoM team don’t get around to answering.

I got into a discussion with a friend the other day about what is easier/harder to play: a tank or a healer – specifically priests and warriors?

He’s convinced that its harder to play a priest (holy/disc hybrid) and I said playing a warrior tank is harder (I have played a disc priest and prot warrior all thru the Wrath Beta and my live priest just hit 80 a few days ago due to tank shortages). I was wondering if you could propose it out to the general community on what they think is harder to play.

Thanks :)

My gut instinct here says a tank would be harder. But then again, that’s because I’ve never really played a tank. I think if I logged around 72 hours on a Warrior or something I might be able to get the basics down. Tanking and healing are on two separate ends of the spectrum that there is just no comparison at all whatsoever. Both call upon different sets of skills. One guy has his eyes glued to his raid window while the other guy is glued to cooldowns and boss cues.

But I’m sure there’s a few players out there that can tank and heal effectively. What’s your take?

I am the Paladin class leader of my guild and main holy paladin. I have been reading the post about healing Sartharion 3-drakes. One suggestion involved having a holy paladin use righteous fury to help pull threat on whelps. It’s not something we have tried yet, as we have been using 2 add tanks and 1 drake tanks. However the idea is definitely worth investigating to see if it could work for us as well. However, I am unsure of the spec used by the paladin healer to survive the adds. I have some ideas, but i would like to see a definite spec that has worked, without gimping the healing output. I think that healing output is less, which is why it was mention, that the add tank healer will need help, but i would like to be clear on the extent at which you sacrifice healing talents, for survivability.

Also did the paladin use any pvp gear for increased stamina?

From,
Psychotaz

I can’t exactly offer much help here. All I know is that the spec did reduce healing effectiveness slightly but not enough to warrant a panic. I believe it involved picking up Divine Guardian (the bubble spec). To really make use of Righteous Fury, the Holy Paladin needs to pair up with and stand on top of the add tank. The first time we tried it, we used it with a couple of PvP pieces to see if it would help increase survivability. But we quickly found out that it was simply unnecessary. Any Paladins want to jump in?

It’s times like this I wish I had a Holy Paladin on retainer somewhere for a consult.

In our guild we have 2 raider ranks:

  • Noob
  • Raider noob

The standard for raider noob in BC used to be that if someone had 90% attendance for 2 months and solid performance in raids, they would become a raider noob. However, since the release of wrath all of our recruits have been of exceptional caliber, now probably 23 or so of our 28-29 raiders all have very good performance and 90%+ attendance. This has been wonderful but leaves us with a problem with promotions, we can either promote almost the entire core of our guild to raider noob (as almost all of them have been here for 2 months+), but that would severely alienate the few who don’t make it up to raider noob.

We could increase the duration (which is what we have been doing), but that would only be a temporary solution. The last option I can think of is to increase the standard for raider noob (only our clutch healers, top 5 dps etc), but this would require demoting some of our existing raider noobs, which hardly seems fair as well (they are all good players). Any advice you have would be much appreciated.

Well, you’re in a bind. There’s no doubt about that. There is a way but it’s going to involve a lot of heart to heart talking with your raiders. Let them know that the time has come to restructure the guild ranks. Be honest with them about it. The good ones will understand and won’t mind the change in title anyway. A rank is a rank is a rank. It’s just a label. It’s how you treat the players that count. Let your guild know what the problem is. Heck, you could make a third tier rank that says Ubernoob that’s nothing but the best and the brightest. But then you’re just adding on another layer on top of that, right?

Are you sure about the alienation problem or is that what you would feel? Remember that no WoW players are exactly alike. How one person could react to an event can be completely different to how someone else reacts. You can either axe all the ranks entirely (and set one unifying rank), set the ranks based on seniority (length of time in guild), or availability of raiding (my preference). A player that can’t make all raids is automatically a sub for me or if they’ve demonstrated inability to make all raids (or have disappeared for extended periods of time). Otherwise, everyone’s a raider. I run a tight ship with 3 other senior staff and a loot council.

At the end of the day, remind your guild about who they are and what they’re made of. You said it yourself. You have 28-29 skilled raiders with an impressive 90%+ attendance rate. A lot of guilds would kill for that. If they’re married to their rank and title to the point where they’re willing to quit over it, then maybe it’s time that they walk (which also solves your rank problem anyway since it’s one less person to worry about).

PixelatedGeek Celebrates World of Warcraft Day

PixelatedGeek is hosting a live show on March 18th, 7:30 PM (PST). I’ll be there as a guest and the entire show will be dedicated to WoW! I’ll be there with a couple of other guests:

  • Erin from ErinGames
  • Darren Allarde from WoW Headhunter

The show’ll center around the WoW playing perspectives of all of us and how we juggle WoW with real life. Don’t expect as much healing talk or anything. I suspect this will be a much more personalized look at all of us. Two projects will be talked about and debuted on the show (the WoW Headhunter and a WoW only feed aggregator).

But wait, there’s more!

They’re doing a live trivia contest where viewers can call in and compete against other viewers to win some really cool prizes!

  • 2 x WoW game cards
  • 1 x WoW: Wrath Standard edition game
  • 1 x Cardboard standup life-sized Arthas

I wonder if I can get away with calling the show at the same time. I’d love to gun for that cardboard standup. I’ll put it near the window facing the front lawn. Hopefully that’ll scare off any solicitors.

Anyway, hope to see you folks there! I’ll put up a reminder post a few hours leading up to it.

Shamans and Paladins mana buff get hit! (With edit)

Shamans and Paladins mana buff get hit! (With edit)

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I just got off of lunch here at the office and happen to see this in my blue tracker.

Click here to see!

For those of you who can’t read it at work or school here it is copied for you

From Eyonix:

We are making a change to these spells so that their benefits are exclusive in patch 3.1.0. The buffs will be equivalent, but will no longer stack. Mana Spring will affect the entire raid instead of just the shaman’s party. We felt that both paladins and shamans brought too many unique buffs to a group. Additionally, we have been trying to tone down mana regeneration in large groups, and were concerned raids would feel the need to stack paladins or especially shaman to have enough Mana Spring totems. We have also been trying to get more benefits out of the party and into the raid, and Mana Spring previously was still a party only buff. With this change, if there is only one paladin, he or she can bring Blessing of Kings while the shaman offers Mana Spring. If there are two paladins and the second offers Blessing of Wisdom, then the shaman can offer healing or cleansing with their water totem instead.

What does this mean? It means you can’t have both. They are essentially removing another source of mana regeneration from raids.  As you can imagine there is a large outcry among both Shamans and Paladins. From the shaman stand point I’m a little upset to be honest, I’m also waiting for the other shoe to drop. The comment about Shamans bringing too many unique buffs to the raid made me scoff a bit. Strength of Earth totem which combines STR and AGI buffs gets overridden by a Death Knights horn of winter, often times leading to that being used for Stone Skin which is negligible benefit to the raid at best. Flame Tongue totem gets over ridden by Demonic Pact if you have a demo warlock in the group, and the other flame choices are Frost Resist or doing dps. Which if you’re healing, you arent in range for that most of the time anyways, and taking the time to stop healing run in and drop a magma totem is normally not a good idea. You guys see where I’m going with this.

Here were some suggestions of what we can do with the slot instead, and ultimately what our totems can add to a raid.

Healing Stream Totem. It’s group only, and still has to be in range. If you’re healing, more then likely you’re going to be with the casters in the back, not taking damage. While it does have places where it can be nice, it’s largely wasted in my opinion.

Cleansing Totem. Great for fights where you need to purge Diseases and Poison, but wasted and useless any other time. With curses being more prevalent then Disease and Poison that’s another totem we’ll see situational use out of.

Wrath of Air. Yes we still offer 5% spell haste. Yes that is good, but it is also redundant. Currently two other classes also offer haste. Retribution Paladins and Balance Druids.

Blizzard is trying to simplify raids, and I can appreciate what they are trying to do… to a point. A Lot of people think they are trying to make fights harder by nerfing mana regeneration, posts like this just add weight to that argument.  Homogenize every class, and then what do you have left? I posted in my last post that one of the best things about playing a Shaman was the uniqueness of our class, and totems were right up there in that list. Slowly it seems like it’s being whittled away. Streamline don’t make obsolete!

Redundancy is good in a raid, but at what cost?

I’ll update this as time permits today and as updates are brought to my attention.

What are your thoughts?

*EDIT*

Ok, so now that my initial shock has worn off and I’ve had my cup of coffee and a chance to sit and think about it in more depth, I’m not overly concerned any longer, in fact I’m quite ok with it now. This is just another in the series of small tweaks to get everything on a level playing field. The impact to the raid shouldn’t be that big, if anything more raids will see a boost from this then any sort of detrimental outcome.

I think my biggest reaction was just it seemed like a change out of left field, I don’t think anyone saw that coming. I am curious however as to what else will change in the coming weeks. Shamans have their Heroism / Bloodlust shifted slightly to keep it as a “Shotgun” buff and now the Mana Spring totem has been adjusted just a little bit. Lets see what else they tweak.

On Min-Maxing Professions

On Min-Maxing Professions

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Ever since her creation, Sydera has been a dual crafter. She toiled not, and neither did she spin. I’ve changed the specific crafting professions a few times for one raid advantage or another, but in late BC I decided on Enchanting and Alchemy. I took on Alchemy–without an herbalist alt–then for the Alchemist’s Stone, which was a best-in-slot trinket at the time. I still love Enchanting and Alchemy for raiding. They combine a raid advantage with convenience. The self-only ring enchants continue to be strong, and I love being able to disenchant my old gear and turn it into a useful commodity. Moreover, I always raid with a flask or dual elixirs, and I enjoy the boost to those consumables when it counts. My favorite raiding advantage, though, would have to be the four-hour flasks. The psychological effect is quite positive, and I would say that the boost to morale counts more than the actual gold saved.

However, the big disadvantage to Sydera has always been that she can’t extract anything useful from the game world while she’s questing. Lately I’ve been buying herbs and selling the resultant flasks on the AH. I always make a little bit of money, mostly because of the procs from being elixir-specced, but it’s nothing fantastic. The bulk of my gold earning in Wrath has been from selling the BoE Emblem of Valor bracers. However, it wasn’t quite enough for me.

Min-maxing for raiding is always my priority, but I need money too. The primary reason has nothing to do with me. Rather, the recent discussions of relative tank health among the four classes coupled with the imminent release of a more difficult raid dungeon prompted my A#1 Tank and Significant Other, Briolante, to make a plan to level jewelcrafting to replace his herbalism. The problem? My flask business and his glyph business didn’t make enough money to support a profession change, especially with Ulduar and its higher repair bills looming. So, enter Part B of the min-maxing plan: my under-utilized, underprivileged paladin alt, Marfisa.

professional-marfi

Marfi was my second WoW character, but she was the first one to leave her starting area. I raided with her in Classic, back when I didn’t know what I was doing, and I healed through Kara with her in early BC. She’s been Retribution since mid-BC, but I didn’t really do much with her even when Ret was the Flavor of the Month (for about 10 minutes at patch 3.0). In the last three weeks, however, Briolante and I tag team-leveled her up to 77, and she has a brand-new shiny fully-leveled herbalism to go with the mining she’s had since Dire Maul was a cool new place to go. As for Brio’s jewelcrafting, the last I checked, it was at 200, so we’re moving right along.

Now, I know I could have gone about this differently, focusing on earning money through the AH to buy ore and herbs, but I chose to level an alt for gathering because it’s a solution that will work not just for now, and for this profession change, but future ones should we choose to do so. In the next expansion, Marfi might be leveling skinning instead of herbalism, but now that she’s close to max level, she’s in a good position to be a helper-gatherer over again should things change. With Crusader Aura to help out and the movement speed increase for Ret, she’s an excellent choice for a hunt-n-fetcher as well. My warlock would have been a poor choice in comparison.

For me, leveling an alt just to service my household’s two raiding mains was an extreme move. Now I’ll use Marfi to provide herbs to Syd and herbs and ore to Brio. I have to say, I’m liking the convenience of it. I’ve already made some flasks on Syd just on the herbs I used to level, and I can tell you, I’m not going to be hoarding Frost Lotus anymore. But who knows when poor Marfi will hit 80! Probably in 6 months, when she gets there purely through killing those pesky mobs that like to stand next to my Icethorn.

Here’s what I told my guild when I dinged 450 herbalism. They were teasing me about my ambition to buy a Je’Tze’s Bell, which sells for about 8,000g on my server.

I said: “Now that I’m a gatherer, money is like dirt. There’s always more lying around on the ground.”

I’m proud to say that I came up with that truly terrible pun on the fly.

My question to you, dear readers, is this:

How far will you go to min-max your character?

Introducing the LilUI Compilation

Introducing the LilUI Compilation

One of the most frequently commented upon UIs belonged to Lilitharien. After much prodding, persuasion and begging over Twitter, she graciously agreed to do a write up and explanation of her UI as a guest post due to the overwhelming amount of interest.

Last Tuesday Matticus posted 33 screenshots of Healing UIs he’s collected via the PlusHeal forums. Since then he’s gotten lot of messages about the featured UIs, including (but not limited to, I’m sure) questions about my own, and I’ve even gotten messages on the PlusHeal forums about it. And there was some speculation in the comments, too, about whether or not I am using SpartanUI (For the record, I am not!). Thus, I jokingly suggested to Matt that I could write an article about my UI… and he said go for it. So, here I am!

For the link to this entire addon compilation, click here.

I’m Lilitharien, I play on the Thorium Brotherhood server in the guild and I’m a Discipline Priest.

Layout

This is my UI, taken during a Kel’Thuzad fight last Thursday (click to enlarge):

raid25_KT

And here’s a breakdown I whipped up in Photoshop (click to enlarge):

ui-explained

Frames

Unitframes For my basic unitframes (myself, target, target’s target, focus target, pet, and pet’s target) I use Pitbull4. It’s configured to show debuffs in the center-most side of the frame and buffs on the outter-most side. I show a maximum of 4 debuffs and 8 buffs on these frames to save clutter, and I have it filtered to prioritize buffs/debuffs that are caused by me or that I can dispel. Health bars for players are colored by class, otherwise they’re colored by hostility: Red for hostile, yellow for neutral, green for friendly.

For my raid or party frames, I use Grid. Grid is a little complicated to set up, but absolutely amazing once you’ve got it tailored to your needs. I have a few addons I use along with Grid, and I indicate those in parenthesis next to their function. You can certainly find more to suit your specific class/spec.

My set-up is as follows:

Entire frame changes size depending on size of party or raid (GridAutoFrameSize), and grows up from the bottom. Health frames are colored by class.

  • First text line shows first 4 letters of player’s name.
  • Second text line (GridIndicatorText3) shows health deficit and also Readycheck status.
  • Third text line shows Feign Death, Death, or AFK status (GridStatusAFK}.
  • Mana, energy, rage or runic power bars (GridManaBars) are aligned to the bottom of the frame.
  • Border around frame is colored white to show my target, red to show Aggro, green to show Disease debuff, or purple to show Magical debuff. Bottom left indicator is red and shows Aggro.
  • Bottom right indicator is golden yellow and shows Prayer of Mending.
  • Top left indicator is white and shows Power Word: Shield.
  • Top right indicator is green and shows Renew.
  • Middle icon shows Weakened Soul debuff and remaining time on it (GridCooldownText).
  • Left side indicator (GridSideIndicators) is colored 3 different shades of blue to show Grace stack (GridStatusGrace).

There’s a dark blue, medium blue, and light blue.

Buffs/Debuffs

For my buff/debuff display, I use ElkBuffBars. Buffs display above debuffs, and everything grows down from the top. Debuffs are colored red to make them easier to see.

Castbar

For my castbar I use Quartz. I’ve customized my bar to be hot pink (only because I like the color but, really, you can choose any color you like!) and to show total cast time, remaining cast time, latency/lag in red, name of spell and who I’m casting it on. It looks something like this:

[Name of Spell --> Target time-remaining/total-cast-time]

I have it set this way because I use Clique to click-cast raid targets, and this allows me to see where my heal is going (if it’s different from my current target) and when exactly I can click or use a hotkey to start casting my next spell. Being able to see the latency/lag in your cast time is very, very important as a healer!

Bars

Actionbars For my action bars I use a combination of Dominos and ButtonFacade. I’ve paired all my healing spells on one side of my screen (the left, between my chat box and minimap) and all my offensive/misc spells on the other side. I have all my buffs in a bar that’s hidden, and my mana potion, healthstone, and out-of-combat food has it’s own vertical bar on the right-most side of my screen. Every single one of my spells (along with my mana potions and healthstones!) are hotkeyed to something on the keyboard. In addition, some spells are assigned to mouse clicks via Clique, which I have configured to only work on my Grid frame. My minibar is situated underneath my minimap. I also have OmniCC installed to show the remaining cooldown time on my spells and DrDamage to show the average amount of healing or damage on each spell so I can make split-second choices at a glance without having to do the math myself. The current ButtonFacade skin I’m using is Apathy, but I’ve used Serenity in the past.

Minimap

My minimap is placed in the bottom-center of my screen and is configured via Chinchilla. I have it set to not show anything but the north indicator, calendar, and search bubble at all times. When I have mail, the mail button appears above my calendar button. When I PVP, the battleground button appears on the left-bottom side of the map. Current coordinates appear on the bottom of the map, above the minibar. To keep my minimap free from the clutter of all those little buttons from addons, I use MBB, or “Minimap Button Bag.” This appears as the little purplish button on the top-right of my minimap. When I click on it, it expands all my minimap buttons above it in a row.

Chatbox

My chatbox is situated on the bottom left of my screen, and the only addon I use for it is Prat 3. This colors all players names by class (you’re probably noticing that I love having things colored by class), adds a time stamp to everything and allows me to shorten my channel names. I also hide the chatbox buttons and enabled mouse scrolling. There’s a ton more you can do with it, but this is all I need. For whispers I use WIM, or “WoW Instant Messenger.” This pops up all my whispers in separate IM-like windows, which helps me keep track of all my conversations. While I’m in combat, however, whispers won’t pop up. They’ll just appear in the chatbox as they normally would.

Rings

Some people put things like their tradeskills, mounts, and buff food on their action bars. I used to do this, too, but I find this take up sooooo much excess space. Instead I use an addon called OPie. OPie allows me to create “rings” of buttons that I can call up with keybindings (or mouse clicks!). I have my buff food in one ring, my mounts and hearthstone in another, and tradeskills in yet another. OPie also includes a ring for quest items, so I don’t have to go digging in my bags everytime I need to use one while doing dailies. (There’s also a ring for assigning raid targets, but as a healer I don’t use this one so much.) The ButtonFacade skin I use for this addon is DSMFade.

Tooltips

I use TipTac to reskin my tooltips and move the tooltip anchor. I have it set to show names and healthbars colored by class. (More coloring by class! I know! I like consistency.) For extra information, I rely on Informant and EnhTooltip (part of Auctioneer Advanced). They add item numbers, how much the item costs or sells for, how many in a stack, how many vendors sell it, etc. I also use Bagnon_Tooltips (part of Bagnon) which tells me which of my alts have the item, how much they have, and where it’s stored. Combat: Threat Meter A staple for any raider, my threat meter of choice is Omen. I have it placed on the bottom-right of my screen between my offensive/misc spells and my potion/healthstone/food bar. It shows the the name of the target it’s calculating threat for; the top 5 people, their threat number and percentage; and myself, so I can see exactly where I stand.

Scrolling Combat Text

I used to raid without one, but I hated going to back into my combat log to check things. I’d rather have the information on-hand, when it happens. Thus, I use MikScrollingBattleText. I have this split into 3 different parts. The center “box” displays buffs, debuffs, procs, and things like mana returns during combat; They appear in the center and scroll upward before disappearing. The left-side displays things that are happen to me, whether it’d be damage, healing, or otherwise, and who it is being done to me by. The right-side displays what I am doing; It shows heals, overheal, and damage alongside with the name of the target it’s being done to. Both the left and right sides scroll down and outward on a curve before disappearing. I really like this combat text mod, too, over the default one because it uses icons to indicate which spells are doing what. So, for instance, when I get mana returns from Rapture, I see the icon for my Rapture talent.

Boss/Fight Information

For boss timers and information, I use Deadly Boss Mods. For player statistics, I use Recount. I don’t believe further explanation is needed for either. Dispelling I use Decursive to inform me of any magical or disease debuffs that I can dispel. However, I don’t use the addon’s miniframes. Instead, I assigned my abolish disease and dispel magic spells to shift+right click and shift+left click, respecitively, using Clique. Thus, Decursive tells me who needs what removed, and I use my mouse keybinds on Grid to cast.

Loot/Gear

I use a few addons to help me with loot: EquipCompare, RatingBuster, and AtlasLoot. EquipCompare shows my currently equipped item next to whatever I’m hovering over, and RatingBuster does all the math for me; It calculates and displays health, mana, mana regen, spellpower, crit, haste, and hit gains or losses compared to what I have currently equipped. AtlasLoot allows me to check out which loot drops from which boss in-game. I also have InspectEquip, which adds the boss/instance an item comes from to the tool tip as well as displaying a list of where someone’s items have come from when I inspect them.

Making It Pretty

Textures/Art

I use a rather old addon called DiscordArt to position my graphical textures. The textures, as some people have noted, make it look like I’m using SpartanUI. In fact, I am not using SpartanUI at all! I found that UI buggy at best and crashing my game at worst. But, I still really liked the art used for the bottom of the screen. So, I downloaded SpartanUI and extracted the art from it. Then, I placed the art in-game using DiscordArt. It was really rather simple.

Information Panel

I use TitanPanel to display at-a-glance information at the top of my screen. This includes my location/coordinates, money, bag space, current loot type, fps/latency/memory usage, whispers, durability, current signed-in guild members (TitanGuild), mail (TitanMail), volume, and time.

Lining Things Up

I use an addon called Align that creates a grid on my screen so I can line all my UI elements up. Obsessive compulsive? Maybe. I’m a graphic designer instead of a healer outside of Azeroth, so I can assure that everything is purposefully and aesthetically placed.

Typography

I use ClearFont2 to change the overall fonts in my UI, and I also make sure the text selections in my addons use the same font. I have everything set to use Calibri 0.9.

Miscellaneous Addons

  • AkisRecipeList: Adds a frame to my tradeskill window that tells me what patterns I have left to learn and where I can locate them.
  • AdvancedTradeSkillWindow: Expands my tradeskill window and adds a queue and materials shopping list.
  • Bagnon: Simplifies my bag and bank into one frame. Also allows me to view the items in my bank when I’m no where near one. As I mentioned before, it also tells me which of my alts has an item, how many they have, and where it’s stored.
  • Carbonite Quest: Quest tracking, information, and map. I mostly have the map not showing and the quest tracker minimized unless I’m doing quests or dailies.
  • Cartographer: World map mod; Allows me to see areas I haven’t explored, among other things.
  • CloseUp: Allows me to zoom in on things in the Dressing Room, Inspect, and Character/Pet windows.
  • FarmIt: Let’s me see how much of an item I have total in my bags at a glance, so I don’t have to go digging or do any math. I have this hidden or disabled unless I’m farming something, obviously.
  • FriendsFacts: Adds race, sex, level, class, and guild name of my friends to my friends list.
  • FriendShare: Global friends list that syncs between characters.
  • Gatherer: Keeps track of locations of nodes, herbs, and chests.
  • GatherSage2: Adds skill-level and other information to gathering item tooltips.
  • InFlight: Flight timers.
  • MagicRunes: Since Pitbull doesn’t include Runes on their unitframes, this is what I use for my Death Knight. They display right above my minimap.
  • QuestGuru: Expands my Quest Log window. Also includes a tracker, but I don’t use it since I have Carbonite Quest.
  • RecipeKnown: Colors a recipe green if I have learned it already, even on an alt. Prevents me from buying duplicates and wasting money/tokens.
  • Reputation: Automatically switches which reputation I’m watching based on the last reputation gained.
  • SendSelf: Adds my alts to the send-to autocomplete feature at the mailbox without having them on my friends list.

Other Screenshots

Solo questing (Click to enlarge):

solo_casting

Solo questing with OPie Quest Ring (Click to enlarge):

solo_opie

Download

Now that I’ve explained to you the exhaustive list of addons I use, you may or may not like my set-up. If you do, and it seems enough people do considering the feedback I’ve gotten, I’ve decided to package everything for your convenience. I call it Lil UI

Download LilUI now!

Further Thoughts on Lifebloom Changes

Further Thoughts on Lifebloom Changes

syd-drowns-her-sorrows

Here I am, drowning my sorrows in a glass of Miracle-Gro at my favorite Dalaran tavern. Why all the tragic tree tears?

For those of you who have been under a rock for the last week, the news from the developers is that Lifebloom is about to get a heavy nerf to its healing per mana (HPM). In 3.1, Lifebloom will cost twice what it does at current and return 50% of its cost when it blooms, adjusted for the number of stacks on the target.

What does this mean, you might ask?

Ghostcrawler tells us that the intent is to end the practice of rolling Lifebloom–efficiently–on two or more tanks. Unfortunately, the nerf hits a “good” practice just as hard–rolling Lifebloom on just one tank.

I’ve been following Elitist Jerks and the official Healing Class Role forums, and amid the insane drivel and endless whining, I’ve been able to discern a few things.

What Druids Want

#1: Overwhelmingly, druids want a Lifebloom we can use.

Lifebloom has come to be a spec-defining ability, and its rolling mechanism makes it unique. My own worry, and that of many raiding druids, is that the practice of using Lifebloom as a rolling buffer on one tank will be over. We want reassurance from the developers that Lifebloom will continue to work for us.

#2: Druids want consistency in the way we time the spell.

Most druids agree on one thing: the new bloom mechanism is awkward. A reward for blooming and a punishment for refreshing contradict the mechanics we’ve grown up with. In this topsy-turvy Lifebloom world, what’s good now will soon be bad–you’ll want your Lifebloom to fall off whenever you can afford it.

#3: Druids want a raid role, and we want it to be consistent with what it has been in the past.

Every player, of course, wants to be useful. After all, we want to play the game, and rerolling isn’t a realistic option for most of us. I’ve seen priest and shaman and paladin threads about their raid role as well, and now druids are feeling that anxiety. I’ve also seen the devs reply to these anxieties in dismissive and condescending ways. They always say that they conceive of raid roles differently than the community does. To that, I’ll reply that perceptions matter. Raid invites are based on them, after all.

Druids overwhelmingly believe that their raid role is to add a buffer, a bit of insurance against disaster. Our HoTs are like the priest’s Power Word Shield or the Shaman’s Earth Shield: useless when the content is easy, but essential when the content is hard. If cushioning the MT goes the way of the dodo, many druids may start to feel like the poor man’s paladin. I think Blizzard needs to pay attention to the druid’s historical raid role and make sure it remains intact. In order for a buffer to work, it needs to stay up. Rolling LB will always be the best thing–for the tank. And that’s what we want to think about, right?

#4: Druids want to be less dependent on timers

Druid healing is already very rigid. Unlike other healers, we have a true rotation, and it’s every bit as ugly as an Affliction warlock’s. We have four different HoTs, each of which has a different duration, and one of which stacks. We’re already tied to 3rd-party mods to manage these spells, particularly Lifebloom. Right now, though, all we have to do is roll, and the penalty for refreshing early is slight. However, in a mana-constrained environment, with Lifebloom being our most expensive HoT, we absolutely will not be able to refresh early. The penalty will be huge. In addition, we’ll be having to make a decision about whether to let Lifebloom bloom every 9 seconds or so. That’s a lot of mental bandwidth dedicated to timing one spell. Many druids would rather drop Lifebloom altogether than micromanage the bloom. As it stands now, it looks like we will be more dependent on timers post 3.1 than we are now, and that’s a scary thought.

Alternate Solutions

Everyone has their pet fix for the Lifebloom problem or their favorite way to mitigate the impact of the nerf. I’m going to repeat here a couple of my favorites. I’ve seen each of these ideas posted several times by different posters in slightly different iterations, but here’s my take.

#1. Buff Lifebloom’s HoT slightly and reduce the bloom. A gain in HPS on the part of the spell that’s most useful in PvE would cushion the impact of the nerf somewhat.

#2. Limit the number of active Lifeblooms to 6 per druid. I personally love this solution, and I’d even like it if the limit were three. This would keep multiple stacks of Lifebloom from dominating the healing meters, and even though a raid could ostensibly stack druids, most probably wouldn’t. After all, Lifebloom works best as a sort of damage cushion on the main tank. This is the use of rolling Lifebloom that I’d like to protect.

#3. Remove the stacking mechanism. I’m also in favor of this solution for simplicity’s sake. Lifebloom causes a ton of problems because of its stacks. Why not buff the value for a single Lifebloom and remove the stacking capability? It’s the stacking that causes such rigidity in a druid’s rotation. I doubt many druids will be brave enough to single stack it in 3.1, but that’s looking like a mana efficient way to go. Why not make the decision for us?

I’m interested in knowing what readers think about this problem. As for me, I think I understand why Lifebloom is a target right now, and it’s not a pretty thought. I think that–correctly or no–the developers believe that the 40% nerf to OOFSR regen won’t hurt the druid enough. Right or wrong, it’s seen as a nerf that will hurt the priest more. As such, they’ve changed both the cost and the mechanics of druids’ signature spell in order to force us to run empty. My feeling from reading the comments of PTR testers is that the change is too dramatic. Combined with the new, underwhelming Innervate, the expensive rolled Lifebloom may just not be sustainable even on one target. I’m not looking forward to standing idly by mid-fight with an empty mana bar. Far better than that would be to do without Lifebloom, but I sure would miss it.

5 Reasons Why the PTR Sucks

5 Reasons Why the PTR Sucks

ptr-woes

What is the PTR? There’s all sorts of curiosity and questions about this PTR thing. One of my guildies affectionately refer to it as the patience test realm. The PTR as we know it is actually known as the public test realm. It’s several servers that contain upcoming content for players to test such as new class changes, new in game events (like the Argent tournament) and a new raid instance like Ulduar.

But my experience with it has been incredibly frustrating. Of course, there are periods where things aren’t so bad and I can try out stuff. Today’s post is going to feature a list of annoyances and possible suggestions for Blizzard in upcoming content patches.

Instance instability

During the worst of times, the instances are unplayable. I’d have half my raid group inside Ulduar and another half would be waiting outside trying to get in. They’d receive errors like “Transfer Aborted: Instance not found” or “Too many instances. Please try again later.” It was incredibly frustrating. A typical PTR test day would involve 30 minutes of actual boss time and 90 minutes of waiting for people to resolve their technical issues.

I can’t even report any bugs and such or effectively test out stuff since it’s nigh impossible.

Solution: In BC, we’ve got this major traffic artery called the Port Mann bridge. It carries hundreds of thousands of cars daily and it’s still not enough. Right now, the city engineers in are in the process of twinning the Port Mann bridge by doubling the lanes to increase the load that the bridge can carry. I wonder if that same logic is possible to apply by launching more instance servers.

No Mcweaksauce

I know. Blizzard mentioned that players should be prepared to bring their own stash of buffs. I don’t know how realistic it is to have that kind of expectation that players have bags full of flasks, enchanting mats, glyphs and what not for the entire duration of the testing phase. It would just be incredibly convenient.

Solution: Have the entire McWeaksauce family at the staging area just before the instance portal that anyone can go to. Make them slightly larger than normal to prevent mammoths from sitting on top of them.

Overcrowding

Guildies and other players I’ve spoken to explained that previous PTRs were much easier to get in to. Why? Because there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in them. Why? Because people weren’t bored and they still had stuff to do.

Think about it.

A large number of guilds have completed all that the game presently has to offer. More than usual, even. So when word comes out that there’s new stuff to play around with, a lot of players will jump at the chance. I know if I was still working on OS drakes or Malygos, I wouldn’t be as dedicated with the PTR. Most of the traffic seems to occur right around the beginning of a boss being toggled on.

Solution: Not quite sure here. Would more servers do the trick?

Lack of servers

Again, this is similar to the population control. I have players disconnect from world servers. I have players who get network connection errors. I have players who continuously error out. There’s a lot more demand from players who want to get in on the action then there are boxes that can supply that desire. Europe’s got four servers, right? North America has two. But I guess all the European ones come in various languages. It’s at the point now where I routinely pray for other players to get frustrated enough to give up their attempts to get back in so that my group has a higher chance of getting in.

Solution: See above.

Inflated prices

This is just a product of every PTR phase. This is what some players are thinking:

“Gold doesn’t mean a thing so I can charge a crapload for it! I can make a fortune of gold that will be completely and utterly useless! It’s all going to disappear within a few weeks so I can charge obscenely high prices and not give a damn!”

And this ends up being a vicious cycle. One person charges overpriced stuff for enchanting mats or glyphs. This causes everyone else to match the price to come up with the funds to pay for other overpriced stuff. And on and on it continues. Who loses? Just about everybody since they can’t get access to the tools they need to test stuff effectively. And don’t even try to raise the garbage argument that “oh they should’ve gotten their stuff enchanted before coming”. Because we all know there’s new items coming and that stuff should get polished up, too.

Solution: A really savage beating.

So why do I keep going back? Why do I continue to subject myself to hours of teeth grinding annoyances?

Because I still firmly believe that knowledge is power. Sure you can read about strategy and watch live videos of guilds attempting to do it. But the experience and feeling of accomplishment after figuring a boss out on our own? That type of feeling can’t be reduplicated. There’s already strategies and videos out. But for the brief hours I was in there with friends and guildies, the experience of undergoing trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t is unmatched. And I have a new whole level of respect for the top tier guilds and raid leaders around the world who engage in this every time new content is available.

Props to those guys. And Stratfu.

Apparently word on the street is that linking to Stratfu brings good luck and many beautiful women. I’ll have to test this theory.

Val’anyr’s Secondary Abilities Unveiled and new PTR Build

MMO Champion has reported that Val’anyr has a new effect added that lends more weight to the fact that it is a hunter healing weapon.

Val’anyr Hammer of Ancient Kings – Equip Effect — Your healing spells have a chance to cause Blessing of Ancient Kings for 15 seconds allowing your heals to shield the target absorbing damage equal to 15% of the amount healed.

This sort of sounds like Divine Aegis on a stick.

I want to stress that there’s still not a whole lot of information about the weapon yet to effectively conclude who can make the best use of it. For now, based on this one effect, it seems to be a favorite for Holy Paladins and Discipline Priests. I think more information is going to be needed like a rough proc rate. Heck, this might not be the only ability. It could be one of a multitude of effects.

I’ve got another post on the way in the future to help discuss Val’anyr and what to keep in mind among all healers when looting the shards.

Anyway, here’s the list of healer changes.

Priests

Discipline

  • Mental Agility changed from 5 to 3 Ranks. Now Reduces the mana cost of your instant cast spells by 4/7/10%. (Old – 2/4/6/8/10%)

Holy

  • Serendipity now reduces the cast time of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing spell by 4/8/12%. (Down from 6/12/20%)
  • Body and Soul *New Talent* – When you cast Power Word: Shield, you increase the target’s movement speed by 30/60% for 4 sec, and you have a 50% chance when you cast Abolish Disease on yourself to also cleanse 1 poison effect in addition to diseases.

Paladin

  • All paladins auras had their range extended from 30 yards to 40 yards.

Holy

  • Sacred Shield now cannot be on more than one target at any one time.
  • Infusion of Light no longer has a chance to reduce the casting time of Holy Light, but increases the the critical chance of your next Holy Light by 10/20% instead.

Druid

Restoration

  • Tree of Life mana cost has been changed from 28% of base mana to 13% of base mana.

Your thoughts?

The First 120 Days of Conquest

This is a quick look back at the first three months in the life of the guild. The first 120 days are usually indicative of how the guild is going to be down the road. There were a few milestone moments. Let’s see how our Loot Council is doing using Kel’Thuzad as a benchmark since he drops some of the most powerful stuff in the game presently. Specifically, we’re going to look at weapons.

We picked up:

  • 2 x Torch of Holy Fire
  • 4 x Last Laugh
  • 3 x Calamity’s Grasp
  • 5 x Journey’s End
  • 4 x Wall of Terror
  • 1 x Betrayer of Humanity
  • 3 x Envoy of Mortality
  • 3 x The Turning Tide

Pretty good on Druid staves and our tanks are well equipped. Hunter’s look like they’re in good shape. So do the casters. Our plate DPS is hurting some with only one Betrayer. Anyway, these are all the high level weapons we picked up from Kel’Thuzad.

Now of those, how many do you think this guild has lost?

Turnover is something to be expected especially in a guild as young as this one. I called it the 30% rule:

30% of loot obtained in raids will be lost.

It doesn’t really matter why it’s lost. It could happen for a multitude of reasons. Items could get disenchanted because no one in the raid wants it or is eligible for it. I’ve lost players to other guilds and real life. In such a competitive server, it’s to be expected. Let’s break down the losses, shall we?

Items lost:

  • 1 x Torch of Holy Fire
  • 2 x Turning Tide
  • 1 x Last Laugh
  • 1 x Wall of Terror

The guild has lost 5 items to players that have decided to leave the game or leave the server. I know what you’re thinking. How on earth could you have let this happen? How could you have looted items to players that were going to quit the game or the guild?

Simply put, it’s not always easy. We don’t know that players are going to leave. Even the players don’t know they’re going to leave. These decisions were made with the thought that players would stick around and commit. But I had a player declare himself inactive as he had just moved out of his house and got piled on with extra work shifts a couple of weeks after he picked up a Torch. I had another player lose interest in the game and wanted to focus more on life after we gave him a Turning Tide during the week of New Year’s. Another caster left the guild because he felt that the guild’s goals and his goals didn’t coincide taking another Turning Tide with him (he wanted more than I was prepared to offer). We lost a Last Laugh and a Wall of Terror on a tank who got hacked one day whom we never heard from again.

Is it disappointing? Yeah, I’m not going to lie. It does hurt seeing players walk out. But it’s something to be expected. If I had to do it all over again with the same information, I’m certain the council would have ruled the same way.

It could be worse. All the players who earned those could have been lost.

Attendance and demotions

In hindsight, I should’ve worked a little harder in getting an attendance tracker up and running. It took me around a month and a half before I was finally satisfied with what I had. Up to that point, most of the attendance was tracked mentally and on an excel spreadsheet. I had a pretty good idea of who was present on progression nights, who wasn’t present, and who failed to relay the fact that they were gone.

A lot of players message the GM weeks or days in advance telling them they won’t be around. But as a GM, I have so much on my mind that I often forget. This can lead to misunderstandings. I often preach to my players that if they’re going to be late or if they’re going to miss a raid, leave it on the forums. This way, there’s clear evidence that they made an attempt to sign out (we don’t use a sign in system).

A raider is a rank of privilege. If you’re a raider, you’re expected to show up to every raid. It’s assumed that you will be there on the nights and times that we raid. Obviously there are going to be things that happen in life that causes you to miss a night or two. That’s understandable. But this is the expectation. My E-Office is always open. I’m probably one of the most accessible guildmasters out there as there’s a multitude of ways to reach me. I’ve had long distance calls on my cellphone and text messages from raiders who tell me traffic’s come up or work’s keeping them busy at the last minute. If a player doesn’t login for 20 days without notice, I’m not going to fish them out and try to coax them back in. I leave it to them to come to me and explain what’s up. I’m perfectly capable of understanding and trying to work with people. But if I’m left in the dark, I don’t have a problem demoting and looking for replacements like Resto Shamans.

I’ve got another player who picked up a job recently. The job schedule varies from a week to week basis. Sometimes they might not make a raid night, sometimes they can hit all three nights no problem. But as a GM, I cannot plan raids around that sort of unpredictability. It’s situations like that which cause a loss of rank. It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to the guild. And that’s something I need to put a little more thought into going forward. But I do appreciate the fact that I was informed about the change because I can think ahead and figure out what our guild needs are.

It’s not an easy feeling. I’m friends with many players. And it’s not fun for me to demote them or tell them that they’re sitting out. Ideally, I’d have a guild with 24 other players that were capable of committing every night. But it’s virtually impossible.

I had a reader message me the other night. He was in a tough spot. He had a small 10 man guild going that all consist of friends and family. What should he do if one person can’t make it but really wants to come along? Does he try to accommodate to the chagrin of the other 9? Or does he roll without him and tell him “try again next week”?

And these kinds of decisions suck. If you decide to go, you piss off one person. If you decide to hold and end up not raiding because everyone’s schedule doesn’t work out, you piss off everybody.

I told him that it’s a tough situation to be in. I told him you can either be a good GM or a good friend. Often times, it’s difficult to be both.

I deliberately wrote this into my charter. Above all else, Conquest is a progression minded raiding guild, not a friends and family guild. When players protest about being benched, I remind them that it’s what they signed up for and it was a question on the application if they were okay with being benched from time to time.

By the way, kudos to the players that were able to find the Conquest website. I don’t exactly openly advertise the website on the blog. I can tell the really determined players because they’re able to navigate through the blog and find the places where I did link. Heck, it’s not even on the realm forums guild directory.