Healing Crusader’s Coliseum: Faction Champions

faction-champions

Back from Blizzcon and now well rested. Got some pretty cool announcements coming up. I’m working on a very special project right now that I’ll disclose later.

Anyway, I’ve gotten several requests for tips on Faction Champions.

And it’s just going to be that: Tips. The same day I touched down at Vancouver, it was back to business in the raid machine. After blitzing through Northrend Beasts and Lord Jaraxxus, it’s time to check out Faction Champions from a healer perspective.

Not a traditional fight

This is the key. There is no such thing as aggro management or threat on this encounter. This is an extremely chaotic, fast paced, arena-esque fight. Players that dual spec into PvP may even wish to consider doing so for extra survival or abilities. Your raid group is going to be facing off against 10 champions of the opposing faction (6 on normal). They’re selected from a random pool of NPCs.

  • Death Knight
  • Balance Druid
  • Resto Druid
  • Hunter
  • Mage
  • Holy Paladin
  • Retribution Paladin
  • Healing Priest
  • Shadow Priest
  • Rogue
  • Caster/Healing Shaman
  • Enhancement Shaman
  • Warlock
  • Warrior

Ones in bold are your raid’s targets of interest. Isn’t it rather odd that they’re all healers?

Execution

It’s difficult to provide an exact outline of what your group has to do. The best I can provide is a general guideline. Go ahead and move your group under the Alliance (or Horde) section first before activating the NPC. It’s a good idea to take stock of what class combination you’re group is going to be facing so that crowd control can be used accordingly.

In most cases, our raid group initially crowd controls every NPC as much as possible other than healers. For example, this week we had a healing Priest, the caster Shaman along with the Holy Paladin. We opted to zero in on the Shaman first. Our Warrior tank started working on the Holy Paladin just by keeping him locked down and interrupted. Placing a Rogue or 3 on the Priest is also a nice idea.

Our basic mentality is that if we run down the healers first, then the other NPC’s are a cake walk. The next dangerous Champion after healers is the Rogue based on the speed at which it can kill a target.

This is an endurance fight. Expect to invest around 10 minutes from start to finish. Each NPC has around 2.4 million health (some have 1.9 million).

Communication is extremely important here. If you’re being pursued, say something. Someone might be able to jump in and snare or CC a Champion.

General class tips

  1. Keep the melee NPC’s busy as much as possible.
  2. Death Knights should defensive Death Grip Rogues, Warriors, Ret Paladins, and Death Knights away from the raid and slow them down. Minimize their movement with slows and stuns
  3. Typhoon and Thunderstorm intelligently. Again, use them defensively to keep NPCs away from your healers.
  4. Drop a Fear Bomb if multiple NPCs are closing in on someone.
  5. Crowd control incurs diminishing returns. Example, after casting 3 Polymorphs on one Champion, it’ll become immune to Polymorph. Spread that CC out.
  6. Offensive Dispels are a virtual requirement. Shamans should be Purging, Priests should be Dispelling. Things you want to get rid of are Druid HoTs and Shaman Earth Shields.
  7. If you have a PvP Trinket, consider equipping it for the fight.
  8. Heroism/Bloodlust on the initial pull. The sooner you kill an NPC or 2, the easier it becomes.

For Priests

As a Priest, my limited arena training has taught me two important skills: Running and healing. If you can manage to run and heal at the same time, you’ll be in good condition. I mainly stuck to firing off blind Mass Dispels (targeting an area with a lot of traffic and hoping it connects) and specific single target Dispels. Keep Shields active on players who get focused and are soft. Don’t bother with mana burning or mind controlling.

Use Psychic Scream everytime it’s available. Just run into a crowd and drop the fear bomb.

Your first priority is to keep yourself alive. If you have to run, drop what you’re doing and run. This isn’t exactly a fight where you can sit there and just grind heal your way through.

Use your defensive cooldowns liberally. Pain Suppression and Guardian Spirit will save lives. After I see a big spike on someone, I’ll drop a cooldown on them. If I see 3 Champions close in on a player, I’ll drop a cooldown on them. If I get death gripped, I’ll crap my pants then use a cooldown on myself (No joke. That Death Knight is a pain).

For Druids

This is just from me watching Sydera. Hopefully she’ll chime in here at some point. I’ve seen Druids use their Cyclone in between healing on various NPCs. Reserve Roots for melee NPCs if they’re chasing after people. Go cat form to put distance between you and Champions. If you’re out of tricks, it’s bear form until the Champion gets peeled off you.

For Paladins

Platewearers are usually durable in this one. Have the Hammer stun ready and use it when the cooldown is up. Hand of Sacrifice or Divine Sacrifice and follow it up with a Paladin bubble to help out the raid. The Champions are smart enough to occasionally focus fire on one target.

For Shamans

I reconfigured my totem setup to include Earthbind, Cleansing, and Grounding totem. Every so often, I’d run into a crowd and drop them all down again. Really aware Shamans will know to keep a healer focused and Wind Shear to help with the interrupting process. Bonus points if you can squeeze off Frost Shocks on a Champion who is chasing someone. Do all that while healing, and your raiding group will love you.

Hope this helps! Feel free to comment below with any extra tips or tricks in general or against specific Champions.

Good luck!

With a Little Help From My Friends…

With a Little Help From My Friends…

Thank you!

As many of you know this blog has been around for over 2 years now. We could not have done that without you, the readers. With a love for the game we all play, and your continued readership we remain one of the oldest blogs on the subject out there, and we are not showing any signs of slowing down. So I’d like to take a second and thank you, all of you for continuing to come to the site, and our sister sites of PlusHeal and NoStockUI and sharing your thoughts and offering ideas.

Now for a little announcement, as of today I am submitting the papers to be considered for the Official World of Warcraft Fan Site program. My thinking is that Matt has put so much work into not only this site, but many others, that I believe it’s about time to be added to the list. That brings me back to you, our readers. Today I have a question for you.

Since we’ve been around for over 2 years, we’ve quite an archive of posts and conversations. So I ask you the reader, What is your favorite thing about World of Matticus? This can be a post, or a series of comments, or an idea that was discussed. Did WoM help you down a boss or provide any tips or tricks that helped you out? Anything at all really, I just want to know your fond memories of this site.

Feel free to share, I look forward to seeing your comments on this one.

Sig

Image Courtesy of http://4.bp.blogspot.com

Aion Beta Review From a WoW Player’s Perspective

Aion Beta Review From a WoW Player’s Perspective

Mage

I feel like I should put a disclaimer on this article for WoW fanboys and fangirls, because I am about to shower some praise (and criticism, of course) on a different MMO. I pre-ordered the regular edition of NCsoft’s Aion a couple of months ago, and I’ve been participating in some of the closed betas. Today I’m going to share with you my impressions of the game and speculate about its future playability. I’ll say upfront that I’m not planning, at least for myself anyway, to replace WoW with Aion. I’ve promised Matticus that I’ll stick around in WoW at least long enough to kill Arthas, and I hold to that. However, if Aion is as good as I think it might be, it might become the focus of some of my “casual time.”

The Art of Aion

The number one draw of most games for me is their art. WoW has largely been an exception to this rule. I would call the WoW graphics pleasant, even charming, and I certainly appreciate the ease of running WoW on my machine, but I’d never say that the WoW visuals are breathtaking. I gravitate toward strange, beautiful, and strangely beautiful images, and I was quite pleased to find that Aion has something of the look of a Miyazaki movie. In particular, the pastel desert style landscapes in early Elyos zones recall the visuals of his film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind–a longtime favorite of mine. Below, you can see a screenshot of my character hovering over Verteron, which is an early quest hub. I like the mountains and glacial valley in this particular scene, especially as it’s punctuated with prehistoric-looking animals–it gives the world an ancient feel that I appreciate. Some zones are much more pastoral, but in general, the color palette is more muted that WoW’s–it uses more pastels and seems to prefer yellow and brown over blue and red. This look gives an overall impression of age and decadence, which fits the story quite well. After all, according to the game’s lore, we’re supposed to understand that the once-flourishing world was literally split in two by cosmic warfare. The game’s visuals, on the whole, support that claim. I have played mostly Elyos side, but poking around about in the Asmodean starting area I can say that the cooler palette of Asmodae continues the eerie feel of the game as a whole.

hovering

Character Customization

Aion’s spectacularly sensitive character generation tools have probably gotten more press than any other aspect of the game. Unlike WoW, which essentially gives a player a few pre-determined models to choose from, Aion lets the user play with proportions of face and body and minute differences in color to render truly unique player characters. I will say that I still like WoW’s character creator. I’ve logged lots of hours creating my alts and then testing their hairstyles and movements. I also spend much more gold in the barbershops than anyone ought to. However, my need to create compelling characters was not really satisfied until I found Aion. I spent at least 6 hours on character creator, making one unique face at the start of each of my beta gaming sessions. I wish I’d taken screenshots of all the characters I created and destroyed, but I was able to make a mixture of face and body types that referenced different ethnicities. I’ll show you my three favorites: my sorcereress, my cleric, and my ranger.

char creator
This is my sorceress, whose name I won’t reveal because I intend to use it when Aion goes live. I created her to look like the main character of the novel I’ve been working on for longer than I’ll admit. So what I have here is a character who’s supposed to look innocent despite a rather odd appearance–prematurely white hair and goth makeup. I couldn’t resist adding the elf ears as a nod to my favorite characters in WoW. The result is more eerie than a generic Galadriel elf type, and I’m very pleased to run around on this character. The character animations and movements have a sort of dainty quality to them that I’ve enjoyed immensely. The picture below is the resting (restoring mana) animation for my character, and I have to say, she looks a bit like Alice in Wonderland in that pose.
resting

The next character is my cleric, which is the game’s main healing class. I couldn’t resist giving her Syd’s parsley-colored hair. She may be the most beautiful of the three characters I made, but I will have to say, of the three her face is closest to the preset values and thus there are probably many others like her out there.
Cleric

My third character, a ranger, probably took the most time to create, because I used a photograph of a Civil War general to help me approximate the look I wanted. It’s possible to spend hours and hours tweaking an Aion character to look like a photograph. Not all faces can be imitated, and the basic faces do have a certain similarity to each other. I’m not sure how good a job I did with the limited options, but my ranger does have sort of an archaic look that I just love.
Ranger

Basic Gameplay

So far, so good, right? Well, if one never looked beyond the quality of the art and character customization in Aion, it would be easy to say that it’s a great game. However, the finesse of the art is not matched by smooth gameplay. I found the basic controls in Aion to be similar to WoW and pretty workable, but I also made extensive use of macros and remapped most of my basic abilities for easier reach. I’m used to dpsing with a certain set of keys in WoW, and I made similar bindings for my sorcerer. However, Aion is certainly playable out of the box. The only exception to this is that the flight controls are automatically mapped to Page Up and Page Down, which are two keys I simply can’t reach if I’m using my mouse. Other than that, the only thing that’s truly egregious about the controls is that the left mouse button is used for click-to-move. Thank goodness that’s easy to unbind. I miss holding down left click to look around as I do in WoW, but that’s a minor thing. My Razer Death Adder mouse with its two thumb buttons simply doesn’t work with Aion, and that’s a pretty big disappointment. I had planned to put my health and mana recovery functions over there. From what I’ve read on the forums, the Logitech gaming mice do work. Sigh.

There are a few other little annoyances related to moving around and doing things in the world. I’m used to WoW, which has cleaned up its interface considerably, so I get frustrated with Aion’s more primitive system. In general, I would say that the controls in Aion are slower. The global cooldown occurs after, not during, a spell’s cast time, so to a WoW player a rotation will feel slow. Gathering also takes a considerable amount of time and uses a clunky animation, as does resting. Picking up quest items can be frustrating because of the game’s phasing system. While questing, you can change channels in order to better share the space with many players. However, I think this causes problems with looting quest items on the ground, as very often your character can’t interact with an object that you can see. In addition, every time you loot a quest item, you have to click a dialog box that says its ok to loot an untradeable item. This gets very annoying while solo questing.

The other thing that bothered me during questing had to do with my character’s voice animations. My sorceress talks too much, and she utters nonsense phrases that unfortunately sound a bit like words in English. I didn’t play the last closed beta, so I have no idea what the North American/European vocals for casting, resting, and hp/mana recovery sound like, but from what I’ve read, they use the same nonsense syllables as in the Korean version, just pronounced in a less “Asian” style. I hate to say it, but I made fun of my character all throughout the betas for her gibberish. For example, when I casted a nuke, my character said something that sounded like “Kick in the PANTS!”, and when I used a bandage, she declared that she was “shittin-n-pissin.” It’s too bad that I need my game sounds to play well. Here’s hoping that the character voices were localized for the NA audience in a thoughtful manner. We’ll see when the final version of the game is released. I don’t think I can play a character that constantly needs to relieve herself (and tell me about it).

I’ll also mention a couple of minor gameplay issues that certainly aren’t game-breaking but might be off-putting to WoW players in particular. When it’s time to learn new skills in Aion, bring a notebook. They are learned on a system similar to Warlock pets’ old grimoires, using spellbooks. It’s easy to miss one or buy the same one twice. I haven’t leveled a character enough to get into the stigma system, which is analogous to specs in WoW. It seems pretty strange and exotic to me.

The other thing that might discomfit WoW healers in particular is a combination of a poor healing interface (think Vanilla WoW) and a lack of support for mods. You simply can’t modify the interface, except with macros. I think mouseover macros would work for healing, but I didn’t try them. The interface made me glad I’d decided to play ranged dps, which even in WoW is not heavily dependent on UI mods.

I’d have to say, though, that the biggest annoyance for any WoW player will probably be the chat commands. They simply aren’t the same / commands that we’re used to, and I end up doing a lot of right clicking and menu searching when I want to say something to a party member. I’m sure I’ll learn the system, but from what I’ve seen talking to others is simply not as easy as it is in WoW.

Flight

Besides the character creation engine, Aion’s biggest selling point is its flight mechanics. At level 10, your character ascends as a Daeva and receives a pair of spirit wings. The drawback is that these wings sometimes work and sometimes don’t–and mostly, they don’t. Many players will use The Lore to explain why flight is sometimes not allowed. There’s some mumbo jumbo about how I have to have pieces of aether nearby to pop my magical wings. I am highly cognizant of the arbitrary nature of The Lore, and I will tell you now that the reason that flight is so severely limited while leveling in Aion is lack of imagination. It’s simply easier to design a ground-based game than one that uses vertical space. I get it, but I end up feeling very ripped off by the limits on flight. First, you can fly for only one minute at a time, and the takeoff animation is going to take up 6-8 seconds of that. Second, gliding, which is basically flying downward with limited use of your controls, only extends this time slightly. Third, once you land, it takes another full minute to restore your flight time. One minute of flight on, one minute off.

I can tell already that flight in Aion is going to be primarily a combat technique. It’s far too limited to be used for travel purposes, even with the flight time extensions that are available in potions and upgraded wings. I wish that the developers had decided to keep combat on the ground (especially PvP combat) and let flight be used as a convenience. As it stands now, flight in Aion doesn’t feel like freedom. It’s actually more efficient to run on the ground if you’re trying to get somewhere. If you want to feel truly free in flight, there’s nothing like the druid flight form, which I’ve been enjoying in WoW for quite some time. I love to shift and reshift, falling in my elf form and catching myself in bird form. That’s just not as easy to do in Aion. I’m hoping for future changes to this aspect of gameplay as it’s one of the most common complaints from North American beta players. However, as the game is already up and running (and wildly successful) in Korea and China, I don’t expect changes before the NA release in September.

One thing I will say about flight in Aion–it’s pretty stylish. Here’s a screenshot that captures the elegance of it. My character uses her extended legs as a sort of tail when she floats, and it reminds me of Nausicaa on her glider.

nausicaa_imitation

Factions

Aion has two factions, the Elyos and the Asmodeans. Some call them angels and demons, but both groups are perfectly good and perfectly beautiful. I focused on Elyos for my own beta gameplay, but it was a difficult choice and I may revise it later. If I wanted to, say, make a character that looked just like Syd, I’d go Asmo. In the end, the choice will be mostly aesthetic. Do you prefer a white/blue wing palette or a black/purple one? Would you rather look more or less human? Elyos is kind of a vanilla choice, I admit, but I chose them primarily for their resplendent white wings. However, as I’m planning on being a casual player, I’m pretty sure I’ll check out both sides. My guess is that Elyos will be more numerous when the live servers open up, but I could always be wrong.

Classes

There are eight classes in Aion, but there are only 4 starting classes: Warrior, Mage, Priest, and Scout. Each of those classes subdivides into two specific classes at level 10. Essentially, a player’s choice of role is deferred for 10 levels.

In the beta, I’ve played Sorcerer, Cleric, and Ranger. I liked all three, though I’m going with Sorcerer for my main. None of the leveling content is going to present much difficulty for WoW veterans. There are slightly different mechanics. For example, all classes depend on chain attacks for much of their damage. A chain sequences my spells for me. When I hit one of my nukes, I have an option to follow it up with a second special attack. I find the chain attacks really useful. The special abilities are on a cooldown, and what happens over time is that the chains themselves push the player into a rotation that looks something like 1-1-2-2-1-1-1-2-2 without theorycrafting it out. It’s a very tidy way to do things.

As far as class choice goes, I’m going to try to match up Aion classes with their WoW equivalents. Be aware, though, that I’m mostly going by forum posts as I haven’t personally played everything.

Warriors

These guys are your typical buckethead plate wearers (I kid) and the tanks of Aion. The two subtypes are Templar and Gladiator. As far as I can tell, the Templar is the most like a traditional tank, like the warrior of Vanilla WoW. The Gladiator seems to be a bit more like a Fury warrior in tanking gear. However, I haven’t played either of these. The only thing I’ve learned from grouping with them is that the taunt function (called provoke I think) actually raises threat with a mob when it’s either crowd controlled or already focused on the tank. That’s pretty different from WoW.

I have a feeling tank characters will have no trouble getting PvE groups, but I will warn that PvE is not the focus of Aion. Tanks may be fairly strong in PvP, but they’re not widely considered OP in that capacity at the moment.

Mages

The mages divide into Sorcerer and Spiritmaster at lvl 10, which seems to correspond pretty well to WoW’s mage and warlock. I love my sorceress. She is a true glass cannon and comes equipped with multiple means of crowd control and several heavy nukes. I will warn that magical damage can’t crit, so sorcerers should expect to do heavy sustained damage without any spectacular bursts. Sorcerers are strong in all aspects of the game, but they are also delicate. In PvP, they are heavily dependent on getting the jump on opponents, and in PvE groups, they will pull aggro early and often with their CC spells. Only play this class if you’re good at making money and patient when you die.

Spiritmasters are much more durable than Sorcerers and thanks to the cute pets, probably better at soloing. I also hear they’re strong in PvP. I’m not interested in this class myself because I detest controlling my warlock pet in WoW, and from what I read, the Spiritmaster pets take even more micromanagement.

Scouts

Scouts divide into Assassin and Ranger, roughly correspondent to WoW Rogues and Hunters. Assassins (surprise, surprise) are strong in PvE solo content and downright dominant against some classes in PvP. From what I read, good assassins are pretty much a hard counter to the sorcerer. Like any other class, they are dependent on surprise for an easy kill. Rangers are far more delicate than the WoW hunter, but they have the potential to be great in PvP. They are less desired in PvE groups than the Sorcerer, and they also tend to be a bit of a glass cannon in that environment–but this game isn’t really about PvE. The Ranger can stealth, and the ranger can crit–so he or she is a force to be reckoned with in PvP. I’ve played a ranger a bit, and I will say that the one thing that will keep me from making one my main is the movement buffs and debuffs. The ranger doesn’t kite in quite the same way as a WoW hunter. Moving forward will give me a damage bonus, while backing up or strafing will give me a speed/damage debuff. A ranger also can’t really toggle autoattack to weave between shots–I keep having to spam it, resulting in a sore left wrist. I would say that sorcerer and ranger are very similar, but sorcerer is a bit easier (for me anyway) to learn.

Priests

I bet you thought I’d play a priest, didn’t you? So did I. I have to say that I like both the Cleric and the Chanter, the two flavors of priest, pretty well, but I need a change. Cleric reminds me of a holy paladin, which chanter could best be compared to enhancement shaman. The Cleric has a smite spell, which I find pretty funny, and they do low damage while being very survivable. My fiance played a cleric in beta, and paired with a sorcerer, a cleric is definitely a force to be reckoned with. However, he got a little frustrated at the slow pace of soloing. The chanter is quite different from other classes in that it’s primarily styled as a buffer. Now, that’s supposed to make a chanter very desired in groups, but there’s not that many of them around and I’ve never played with one. I’d say the chanter is the closest thing Aion has right now to an underpowered class. If healing floats your boat, go with the cleric. From what I’ve read it seems like playing a chanter would be somewhat like leveling a druid in Vanilla WoW–cast Rejuv, and then melee stuff in cat form. I hope it would be more fun than that, but I’m pretty sure it’s not for me.

Professions and Gear Augmentation

Unlike WoW, Aion lets players level up all the crafting professions, which run the usual gamut of armor and consumable making, almost to full. You can only Master (i.e. max out) one profession. Leveling a crafting profession is quite costly, and the economy is harder to “read” than WoW’s because the currency, Kinah, is exchanged in such high numbers. A calculator is necessary for would-be crafters and Auction House speculators. I think the AH is called the Broker in Aion, but I have trouble remembering. In any case, Aion crafting will be slow to level, because all crafts have chance to fail–and if they do, you lose your materials. I’m a very patient person when it comes to grinds, so I’m looking forward to tougher profession leveling–but I am going to bar my hot-tempered fiance from going near the crafting district. Oh, and you can fail at socketing gems as well, destroying millions of Kinah-worth of mana stones. . . and from all reports, chances of failure actually increase with higher-level items. This is a very hardcore crafting and item enhancement system, folks, so be patient with it.

PvPvE

As I’ve said at least twice, this is not a PvE game. The whole purpose of leveling is to get to the Abyss, where you can earn Abyss Points for participating in kills on enemy players. The best armor in the game is earned exclusively through Abyss points–so you tell me where the focus is. From what I’ve read, the Abyss is less like a formal battleground and more like the old epic battles at Southshore. Opposing armies zerg each other, and strength in numbers is the way to win. Aion’s neutral faction, the NPC demon Balaur, always come to the assistance of the outnumbered side. I’m reserving judgment on this one until I see how it works. It could either be great fun, or it could be buggy and easy to exploit. In any case, if I play Aion for any length of time, even I will have to PvP.

Game Economy

It seems to me that most things in game–from great craftable gear to mana potions–can be bought pretty easily either from the Broker or from player stores (the equivalent of trade chat). The values for Kinah seem really inflated to someone used to either United States currency or WoW currency. It wouldn’t be strange to see an item sell for, say, 10 million Kinah. I think the choice of “Kinah” is unfortunate because of the ambiguity with the abbreviation K for thousand. We’ll see how the game and game terminology shakes out. Players may end up abbreviating Kinah KI or KN to disambiguate.

There are certainly gold sinks in the current game. Crafting is probably #1. I am planning on mastering alchemy, as sorcerers are really dependent on mana potions, and I’m usually good at selling things. However, it’s unclear whether selling will ever be profitable in Aion as, over time, players can become self-sufficient by leveling all the consumable professions almost to the max. We’ll see. My darker prediction is that with high prices and few ways to earn, gold buying will become really common.

The other gold sink is death–analogous to repairs in WoW. Each time a player dies in PvE, experience is lost unless you’re willing to pay…and I always am. As a sorcereress, I die a lot. I’m just going to have to find a way to make the Broker system work for me because I’m simply not going to either buy gold or stop dying so much.

Conclusions

Aion is not a perfect game. Neither is WoW. I’d say on the whole that WoW suits me more as a player–large scale PvE raiding is just something that Aion doesn’t offer. I’d also say that I vastly prefer WoW’s interface and mod-using capability. But for PvP or leveling content I might go with Aion. It feels like time for a change, at least for a couple hours a week.

New Poll: What about Cataclysm excites you the most?

What about Cataclysm excites you the most?

  • The New "Old" World (51%, 672 Votes)
  • Guild Leveling (16%, 213 Votes)
  • Goblins and Worgen (13%, 166 Votes)
  • The New Story Line(s) and Lore for Azeroth (12%, 162 Votes)
  • I'm still enjoying Wrath too much to care (8%, 94 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,307

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Priest Guide: Part 3 – How to Build Discipline

Building-your-spec

Okay, you waited patiently for this, and a few of you kept poking me to make sure it got done. I hope I made you proud!

Part 1 gave a brief overview of each talent.

Part 2 went through my Holy spec, and how you can customize it for your needs.

This installment will review my Discipline spec, which is NOT a cookie-cutter build.

Step 1:14-mandatory-points

To start, plug in those mandatory 14 points:

  • Twin Disciplines – 5
  • Improved Inner Fire – 3
  • Improved Power Word: Fortitude – 2* **
  • Meditation – 3
  • Inner Focus – 1

*PvEers: If you are 100% certain that another Priest in your raid will have Imp:Fort, and not mind buffing, and you REALLY feel the need for threat reduction, you can move these two points into Silent Resolve. I don’t think it’s worth it, but it is an option.

**PvPers: Choose Martyrdom rather than Imp:Fort.

Step 2:

Decide whether this is a Holy build, or a Discipline build. For this example, I’ll walk you through my Disc spec and my reasons for each point. This will be a bit different: because I usually raid Holy, my Holy build is very utilitarian. My Disc build, on the other hand, is specifically for General Vezax Hardmode – the only 25-man fight where I use it. (I do use it in 10 man content for things like Iron Council hardmode, but due to gearing levels, the spec doesn’t need to be perfect to handle the fight.)

Step 3:

Inspiration-done Because this is a Disc build, and Disc builds focus on single target or tank healing, after plugging in the mandatory points in the Disc tree, we should flip over to Holy, since we KNOW that we will want Inspiration, and get those points out of the way. This will give a better idea of how many points we have to work with when we are making either-or decisions deep in the Disc tree itself.

The first step is to max out Holy Specialization – I do this in Holy to allow more Haste on my gear, but in Discipline because of how Crit is heavily favored by deeper Discipline talents. Next, because I personally use Renew rather heavily to even out spiking tank damage, I max out Improved Renew.

I do not use Greater Heal often, so I only put 2 points in Divine Fury for now – I prefer that my Greater Heals be slightly faster when I DO need them (and, remember, I’m very used to a LOT of haste – I generally have over 15%). I have considered removing these points from Divine Fury altogether and moving them into Healing Focus – But, again, because this build is specifically for General Vezax, none of the damage causes spell pushback. You could make a case for putting these points into Spell Warding, but because of how Saronite Vapors works, as you decrease your taken damage, you will also decrease your mana received. (Note: Saronite Vapors are only available on regular mode) If you have trouble getting out of the vapors before the 8th tick, or want some cushion for the 7th, 2 points in Spell Warding might be a great idea. Whether you decide to put these points into Healing Focus, Divine Fury, or Spell Warding, leave it at two – that’s all you need to get to the next tier. If you find yourself with extra points after we’re done on the Disc side, you can always come back and plug them in.

Getting to the next tier is critical, since that’s where Inspiration is. Max it out, and go back to the Disc tree.

Step 4:

Tier-5-DiscSo far, with the exception of limiting the points in Divine Fury to two, this looks exactly like a Holy build. Which makes it time to plug points in down the Disc tree. We already took the Mandatory 14 points in  Step 1, so we’ll move forward from the 3rd tier. We already maxed out Meditation and Inner Focus, so just pick up all 3 points in Improved Power Word: Shield - the bread & butter spell of a Disc Priest – now even better!

In the 4th tier, 3 points in Mental Agility is all you need to move on to the 5th tier. Many, many Priests who take Disc as a career option will also want to pick up Absolution - invaluable on fights that involve crazy amounts of dispelling like Hodir Hardmode, Thorim Hardmode, and Yogg Saron. Because my disc build is for General Vezax specifically, and Vezax involves zero dispelling, I skip it.  You do not, for any reason, need Improved Mana Burn in a PvE build.

Tier 5 gives us Mental Strength, a must not only for better mana pool and increased regen from replenishment, but you have to max this out in order to access Power Infusion. To the right is Soul Warding, your reward for maxing out Improved Power Word: Shield. Since Reflective Shield, on the left, only causes damage to those attacking you, the Priest, it’s pretty much useless for PvE. (It reminds me a bit of the old Human Priest racial Feedback – I never used that, either, but at least this doesn’t cost extra mana and only last for 10 seconds.)

Next, max out both Focused Power (to increase your healing done), and Enlightenment. For Vezax, you could actually skip Elnlightenment – the Spirit isn’t going to give you any regen, and without Spiritual Guidance from the Holy tree, you won’t see a bonus to your spell power, either. But, personally, I appreciate the increase to haste, so I take it. (You have to have these points somewhere, anyway, to be able to unlock the next tiers.)

Tier-8-DiscTier 7 allows you to skip Focused will – the increased crit chance notwithstanding, this is primarily a PvP talent, and the bulk of it is useless for PvE. Power Infusion, on the other hand, is a brilliant talent. I don’t use it on myself on Vezax HM, since the mana cost isn’t offset by my own casts (I’m not chain casting.), but I’ll toss it on a Mage or Ele Shaman if I have spare mana. Having this talent allows my very specialized spec to do double duty in 10 mans. I do max out Improved Flash Heal – especially now that they cooldown on Penance is longer, I find I sometimes need Flash Heals to top off the tank.

Tier 8 gives us one of the greatest talents in the Disc Priest arsenal – Renewed Hope. I had a Disc Priest try to tell me that PW:S wasn’t worth the mana on Vezax – that it didn’t absorb enough. (I know, right?) Even if it didn’t, the increased crit to Penance, Flash, and Greater Heal, and the chance to reduce damage on this tank by 3% is unbelievable.  Rapture is where my spec gets a little strange. I only take 2 points here. 1 of them is to open the next tier, and the other could be moved somewhere else. The thing is that Rapture, while amazing on fights that actually allow regen, doesn’t work on Vezax. I’ve heard conflicting reports that it DOES work on your target, but not you, the caster. Either way, my tank is far, far, far from rage /runic power starved, and if I can’t get any mana back, who cares. I’ll show you what I do with the extra point later.  Aspiration is useful for lowering the cooldown not only of Penance, but of Inner Focus. Max max max.

Tier-9-10-11-DiscMax out the whole of Tiers 9, 10, and 11. Not that you need specific reasons, but on tank-damage-heavy fights like Vezax, an additional shield, external, tank-saving  cooldown, and additional healing received are HUGE. Ditto for a 40%-of-your-spellpower-bigger PW:S, spellhaste, and the grandaddy Disc Healing spell of them all, Penance. Nom, Nom, Nom.

Okay, so you can see that we now have 53 points in Disc, and if you’ve been following along in the holy tree, you’ll have 13 spent there. This leaves 5 points. Go over to the Holy Tree. In the middle of tier 4 is Improved Healing, which reduces the mana cost of Greater Heal, Divine Hymn, Penance, and some junk we don’t care about. For a fight like Vezax, this is huge. To get there, I take Desperate Prayer, mostly because I’m so used to having it (and bad things seem to happen to me when I don’t.) and I add one more point into Divine Fury. Again, these are purely based on my personal playstyle, and you could pack those two points into Healing Focus or Spell Warding – I just haven’t found either of those talents as useful as extra haste for my biggest heal, and an “Oh Sh**!!” button for myself.

Once those points are assigned, traipse down to Improved Healing and max it out – this reduces the mana cost of your Penance by 15% – roughly 93 mana saved, per cast. THIS is why I shaved the point out of Rapture, and why my Disc spec is considered pretty unorthodox. I wouldn’t spec this way if Disc were my primary spec, but for Vezax, Vezax HM, and any 10 man content (where my gear can compensate for a non-ideal spec), it’s brilliant.

This is my completed spec:

Disc-Complete

Which, again, is very, very specialized, and not at all what I would call a “typical” Disc spec. Part of my hesitation in writing this post is that I know most of our commenters and community are very vigilant about watching for things to be “best” and also about making a very strong case for their own quirks – but that’s the thing about WoW as it stands currently – “best” is dependent upon playstyle, which is itself dependent upon available content/equipment. That said, sometimes there really IS a “better” if not a “best” way to do something, and the fastest way to figure out what that is is to throw yourself into the lovely group of people that make the healer community.

I hope this look at a non-standard build helps you feel more comfortable stepping outside the box and tailoring your own spec to your specific needs – feel free to discuss what you’ve found helpful in the comments.

Next Post: Helpful Macros (keep me honest on this one – I’m terrible about posting most of the time, but I always read your emails, and your encouragement makes a huge difference!)

Luv,
Wyn

Blizzcon – Open Q&A with Wynthea

Matticus is still finishing up his epic vacation in lovely southern California, and so you’re stuck with me providing as much content as I possibly can for the next couple of days!

(Yes, that means the how-to Disc piece will definitely finally go up. I’m sorry it’s taken so long.)

Meanwhile, the thing on the top of my mind is still Blizzcon, and more specifically Cataclysm. I’m sure you’ve already read all about my adventures, but if you have more specific questions, either about the con in general, or the xpac specifically, I’d love to answer them as best I can. To that end, this post is an Open Thread – you ask your questions; I’ll answer them! Talk to you soon!

Luv,
Wyn

Wynthea’s Tales from Blizzcon: Part 4

…..Continued from Part 3

Here’s the thing about an event like Blizzcon – there is SO MUCH going on that it overwhelms your senses and strips you of your faculties. You may have all the best intentions of blogging about every little detail, but what you end up coming away with is a jumble of emotions mixed with images…. and ringing in your ears if you stayed for Ozzy.

If you want coverage of Cataclysm, specific panels, or any other information, you can find the info on the official site, WoW.com, and even You Tube. If you want to hear about this Troll’s experience, keep reading!

Day 3 – a.m.

So getting up the next morning was tricky, but we still hauled our buns to the convention center by 10am. Why? I think I mentioned that my boyfriend is a huge Starcraft fan. We got there to see the final rounds of the RTS tournaments.

I have to say, I never really understood why these games were so popular, even 10 years after their release…. but now, I know. These matches were like chess, but with more pieces, better graphics, no taking turns, and now a room full of spectators. Every great play was greeted with cheers, and every killing blow with applause and whistles. The sheer speed of the players was like nothing I’d ever seen – spending less than a second on each view of the screen, just enough to click on their troops and direct them, then zoom back to another critical area of the map.

The video archive will be up soon on Blizzard’s site, and I highly recommend taking a look at it.

After yesterday’s issues getting back to the con from lunch, we decided to eat in the center that day – which wasn’t a bad idea at all. The food was quite good, and since prices already included the Anaheim area’s 9% tax, not much more expensive than what you’d find in the area. I don’t think I can say enough that the venue was perfect for Blizzcon. Most conventions sell nasty pizza and soggy french fries. I had a portabella mushroom wrap and a brownie. There was fresh fruit everywhere, and surprising things like frozen yogurt, candy apples, grilled-outside hamburgers, and chickpea salads. Seriously, next year, I don’t think I’ll bother to leave the center at all.

In between match-ups, the screens broadcast all the WoW panels I was interested in seeing – from better seats. The timing of the panels was well orchestrated, and used as entertainment for crowds that might be waiting in line for demos, or, like we were, for the tournaments to start. I’ll sum up my thoughts on all the news about Cataclsym later.

Day 3 – p.m.

After the tournaments, we meandered around the con, visiting vendor booths and exhibits we’d skipped the day before. My GM called to let me know that they’d saved seats for us in the main stage area, and we headed over for the closing ceremony.

The first band that played was Blizzard’s in-house metal band, Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftan. Say what you want about them, the idea that a bunch of video game nerds get a chance to live out their rockstar fantasies is pretty awesome. I know I’d do it if I could. I’d heard mixed reviews beforehand, but was pleasantly surprised by their live performance – who knew Mike Morhaime, Blizzard CEO, could rock a bass like that?  Lead vocals are provided by Samwise Didier – the same guy whose face appears when there’s no default icon for a spell in WoW. But all of this was just a prelude to the obvious headliner – Ozzy “The Prince of Darkness” Osbourne.

Confessional: I enjoy good music no matter the genre, so Black Sabbath and Ozzy have made their way into my iPod – although when I listen to metal it’s usually more along the lines of Theatre of Tragedy or Finntroll. That said, I was skeptical about Ozzy’s ability to perform. We’ve all watched him age, and witnessed the effects of a Rockstar lifestyle. I wondered would he be worth the hype live?

I shouldn’t have worried.

Ozzy gave, hands down, one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen.

That’s the footage I took of Ironman; there is SCADS more on YouTube. I especially recommend watching this:

The only thing is that to keep the audio levels appropriate so that those watching the DirectTV stream could hear the band, you can’t quite hear the crowd. Several of my guildies even asked me why the audience didn’t seem too enthusiastic….. on the contrary, it’s Tuesday, and my voice still isn’t back from the Saturday night concert. Apparently, it was also the first instance of crowd surfing at a Blizzcon.

We followed up the concert with a last dinner with the whole guild together, and that was it. Blizzcon was over. Only spanning two days, we felt like we’d been there for at least four – the days so long and packed with a million unique experiences.

The thing I’m most certain of is that I cannot WAIT to go again next year!

I’ll wrap this up soon with my thoughts on Cataclysm and the future of WoW.

Luv,
Wyn

Finally, a Worthy Idol!

It’s no secret that I’ve been less than pleased with patch 3.2. However, last night I finally found something worth cheering over. I realized mid-raid that I had enough Emblems of Triumph to purchase my very own Idol of Flaring Growth. I bought it just before we engaged Faction Champions, and my my. How did I live without this thing?

You see, I’ve always wanted to be able to equip wands like priests do. The druid idols have always been somewhat useful, but much less valuable overall than wands. In general, resto druid spellpower numbers lag a little bit behind priests, and that’s partly due to the wand slot. Gearwise, resto druids and holy priests have become identical in terms of stat allocation on our primary items, and in my mind that’s a good thing. It makes me much less likely to lust over a cloth item, except when no leather equivalent exists.

And now, we get a shiny new idol that gives actual spellpower. The one thing my druid lacks, this idol delivers. How do I feel about more spellpower? Pleased would be an understatement.

This thing pretty much blows my favorite past idols, Emerald Queen and Lush Moss, which gave spellpower bonuses to Lifebloom only, out of the water. I have to say, I enjoy this thing much more even than my days of idol swapping between Regrowth and Lifebloom idols (back when that didn’t incur an extra global cooldown). I’m keeping around my Rejuvenation-oriented idol just in case we ever do Vexaz hardmode, but I plan to make Flaring Growth a permanent part of my healing set.

Let me explain how the idol works. The bonus spellpower effect procs from used or unused tics of Rejuvenation, and it appears to have both a very high proc rate and no internal cooldown. I would compare its uptime to Illustration of the Dragon Soul–which means the item is awesome. Consider it a near-permanent boost. Even if I’m tank healing, I am keeping up one or more Rejuvenations, so I find that the effect is active most of the time. Even in the Faction Champions fight, where I was relying mostly on Nourish, I was able to put out enough Rejuvenations to keep the effect up.

And what, my friends, is the best thing about this idol? Anyone can get it–no raiding required. Just do your heroic daily, collect your modest 25 emblems of Triumph, and get thee to the vendor.

Wynthea’s Tales from Blizzcon: Part 3

…..Continued from Part 2

Here’s the thing about an event like Blizzcon – there is SO MUCH going on that it overwhelms your senses and strips you of your faculties. You may have all the best intentions of blogging about every little detail, but what you end up coming away with is a jumble of emotions mixed with images…. and ringing in your ears if you stayed for Ozzy.

If you want coverage of Cataclysm, specific panels, or any other information, you can find the info on the official site, WoW.com, and even You Tube. If you want to hear about this Troll’s experience, keep reading!

Day 2 – p.m.

We returned from lunch, too late to grab seats for the panels, but with plenty of time to get in a quick game of Starcraft II before the costume contest. Not being a Starcraft player, I checked out the line for Cataclysm, to see if I could take a second crack at it, and maybe play Goblin (okay, I’m lying, I just wanted to play more Worgen) but the line was insane, so I just wandered over to an un-crowded spot and sat on a table.

Suddenly, it got very, very cold, and I heard a sinister voice whisper in my ear “How are you enjoying Blizzcon?”  I turned around, and before me stood The Lich King Arthas himself, staring intently at my very soul.

Okay, that might be a bit of exaggeration, but I did quite suddenly find myself having a conversation with Rob, the Rockstar Con-goer cosplaying Arthas. At least, we were trying to have a conversation, but were interrupted every 30 seconds by people who, quite understandably, wanted to take his photo. In between camera flashes, he revealed his terrible secret – when you’re in a costume, you can’t possibly go stand in line for a drink, and maille  gauntlets make it tricky to get your wallet out of your pocket!

That’s right, I, Wynthea, entered into the service of the Lich King. I managed his wallet, and got him a couple of much-needed bottles of water and a straw. I think it would’ve been a lot less humorous if it had been anyone else – there aren’t too many terrible jokes you can make about helping a moonkin, or your average draenei….. But a conversation with Arthas? Priceless.

For some reason, the polite thing to do seemed to be to NOT ask him for yet another picture, so I didn’t take one with him, but I did find one of him on stage for the Costume contest over at Ten Ton Hammer.

Arthas 

He made the entire thing from scratch, over the course of several months. The “plate” is really a very stiff leather, to keep the weight down. He had to ship it to and from his hotel to be able to wear it! That’s dedication. (And, I have to say, he’s the most polite possessed, butchering, vengeful former prince of Lordaeron I’ve ever met.)

The caliber of the costumes was amazing this year – here’s a few of the snaps I took:

DSCF0325 

DSCF0341

DSCF0342

After taking my leave from Arthas, it was time to make my way over to the main stage so that we could try to get seats for the costume contest.

Jay Mohr was back as Master of Ceremonies, and although rambling, he was hysterically improving the entire ordeal.

We were sitting far enough back that I couldn’t get pictures of each costume (and pictures don’t do the dances justice) but the Grand Winner was as amazing as last year’s. I give you Mistress of Pain from Diablo II, by Lorraine Torres:

blizzcon_790screen175

Tyler Winegarner from Game Spot put together the best, in my opinion, gallery of the Costume Contest, so head over there to check them out!

If you want to see the dance Contest, I found some video uploaded b y Bizman & Hatty of Dreadmaul:

 

I was very disappointed that Audrey Yeager, who did the Troll Female two years ago, and Draenei Female last year didn’t make an appearance. Katie, from Miami, who won last year with an awe-inspiring Female Undead, got cut off before the part of the music she was working up to, which was unfortunate.

This year’s winner was quite good, though, and it’s nice to see the under-appreciated Dwarf Females get some love.

After the contest was over, we walked to a local hotel bar for the Twisted Nether meet up, to hang out and drink with Saresa, and a lot of the rest of the Blog Azeroth crew.  My guild showed up, and decided it was a good night to buy me shots, so I don’t actually remember taking my favorite picture from the night:

DSCF0355

Which is Lodur and @kikirowr from twitter.

There may have been Tequila involved for the rest of the night… I’m not sure.

To Be Continued…..

Luv,
Wyn

Happy 2nd (belated) bloggaversary!

I absolutely, completely forgot to mention this. But on day 1 of the convention (August 20th), World of Matticus turns 2 years old. We may be one of the oldest blogs around, but we’re still going strong!

Thanks for your support and reading… ness. I’ll be back on schedule soon enough. I’m trying to exploit and enjoy California as much as I can. Gosh, I wish I could live down here and find a career here as well. It’s so beautiful. Hardly no snow, no rain.

On the other hand, I encountered this “Socal” traffic on the 5 on the way home. I’ll never understand it. Some times we speed along just fine and then we’ll hit a stop where it slows to a crawl and then we speed back up again.

Also, meeting real people who read blogs especially this one? Completely surreal experience. Difference between commenting, tweeting and actually shaking hands, hugging, and chilling around a table with beers. I am always willing to do more of the latter.