I’m on the WoW Insider Show (Update: Over)

I’ll be on the WoW Insider show in about 50 minutes (12:30 PST). We’ll be chatting about the most recent PTR stuff, Battle.net changes and the ability to send BoA stuff between factions.

I’m chilling in the chatroom right now conversing with some listeners, so feel free to jump in. I’ll try to embed the stream in here when we’re on the air.

EDIT: Live

EDIT 2: Shows over!

3.3 PTR update

3.3 PTR update

Just a quick post today on the recent changes to the PTR.

Patch 3.3 Build 10596 is up and here are some of the changes you can look forward to right now

Reputation

* The following reputations have been sped up by roughly 30%:

  • Argent Crusade
  • Alliance Vanguard
  • Horde Expedition
  • Kirin Tor
  • Knights of the Ebon Blade
  • Sons of Hodir
  • Wyrmrest Accord

* Sons of Hodir quests now give more reputation overall.

* Top-level helm and shoulder faction-related enchants are now available as Bind-on-Account items that do not require any faction to use once purchased (they still require the appropriate faction level to purchase).

* Reputation commendations can now be purchased for 1 Emblem of Triumph each.

This is a fairly sizable upgrade for us. Not only is rep grinding reduced greatly but once you get someone exalted with sons for example they can buy the shoulder enchant and send it to another character of yours. As an alt-aholic I love this idea.

Spells and Talents

Druid

  • Rejuvenation: The base duration on all ranks of this spell is now 15 seconds.

Shaman

  • Reincarnation: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 60 minutes down to 30 minutes.Restoration
  • Improved Reincarnation: This talent now reduces the cooldown of Reincarnation by 7/15 minutes, down from 10/20 minutes. Reincarnation cannot be used in Arenas.

The change to rejuvenation is great for players who are leveling. It adds 3 seconds pretty much across the board. The Shaman changes to reincarnation and the improved reincarnation talent make me very, very happy. I might actually find 2 points to put in it. Being able to self resurrect every 15 minutes is a great boon for progression night raids as well as just leveling. Toss in a Glyph of Renewed Life and you’re pretty much gtg.

Glyphs
Druid

  • Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation: This glyph allows for the druid’s haste to reduce the time between the periodic healing effects of Rejuvenation.

This is interesting to me because they announced they were looking at allowing haste to affect HoTs and DoTs. Link here for forums. So I’m curious if this is some form of experimentation on a smaller scale to see the effect of adding haste to HoT’s

General / UI

Interface

  • Any party member may mark targets (this does not apply to raid groups).

I can’t thank them enough for this. I was terrified that this would apply to raid groups. I run 25 mans mainly with my guild and last thing I needed was someone freely moving markers around on a trash pull *shudder*

That’s some of the major changes this build. Hope you get a chance to play with the PTR a little bit.

What are your thought’s on the PTR so far? How do you think patch 3.3 is shaping up?

Until next time.

Sig

Also be sure to follow me on Twitter for up to the minute updates as they filter through.

Trophy vs Token

Trophy vs Token

manu-champions-cup2

When Burning Crusade touched down we received a token system. The system tied multiple classes to a single drop from a boss. This allowed for less loot being sharded or discarded and allowed for quicker gearing as a guild. The tokens could then be turned in for your tier set pieces. A lot of people were afraid of this method, but it worked out really really well. Guilds were able to gear out their raiders quickly and efficiently and very little loot was left to rot. We began to see the starting of this in Vanilla WoW in Naxxramas and the tier 3 raid sets and AQ40 with the 2.5 pieces. “Token” bosses dropped two tokens a piece and everyone was generally happy.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, it was more of the same. Naxxramas and Ulduar continued the token system along, but added with it two levels. A 10 man level and a 25 man level that we affectionately refer to as tier x and tier x.5. The system continued to work well. Bosses that were token droppers continued to drop two of them and it was even made so that we could purchase tokens with badges for two of the slots. Gearing was a bit faster now thanks to the addition of two purchasable tokens and content flew by for a lot of people.

Then patch 3.2 hit, and brought with it Tier 9 content. Trial of the Crusader distributed loot in a very, very strange manner. First of all the Tier 9 gear was split into three item levels of quality. We’ve been referring to them as Tier 9, Tier 9.25 and Tier 9.5. Tier 9 can be bough fairly cheaply with Badges of Triumph, the next level up 9.25 requires an amount of badges and a Trophy of the Crusade which can only be obtained in the 25 man version. The tier costs can better be broken down by this:

Tier 9 = ilvl 232 Tier 9.25 = ilvl 245  Tier 9.5 = ilvl 258

Head: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Confused yet? Most people are. The stat difference between ilvl 226 gear (25 man uld) and ilvl 232 gear is not that big of a jump. going from 226 up to 245 is a big jump for most people. Enough of a gap that most pieces are clear upgrades. So why is this a problem? Trophies only drop from 25 man ToC. You get 1 per boss and a variable amount per tribute chest based on how many wipes you have. There are only five bosses in the instance. (Beasts, Jaraxxus, Champs, Twins and Anub). We’ll go with the model of running 25 man raids. You have 25 people, who all want that trophy. Being only 5 in total that means only roughly 20% of your raid a week can get them and upgrade. Lets look at Ulduar Five bosses drop token pieces, and two tokens per boss which is a theoretical 40% upgrade rate for your raid. The trophy system slowed gearing up way down because most people, especially those progression minded will be focusing on upgrades that can be obtained with Regalia (and it’s like tokens) from Trial of the Grand Crusader or Trophies and badges from Trial of the Crusader.

You can argue that with the drop increases from the tribute chest that better raids are rewarded based on performance, and that is true, but it does not really have any room for guilds that are done with Ulduar but not quite at Trial of the Grand Crusader (example would be guilds that just got a series of new recruits that need to be geared up before ToGC). This however can be chalked up to time spent in a normal version to gear people up, and get them used to the fights before heading into ToGC.

My main problem is the level of competition this generates in a raid. Right now in Ulduar if Gloves the the Wayware Protector drops, you know it’s going to a Warrior,  a Hunter or a Shaman. When a Trophy of the Crusade drops, everyone in the raid is sending tells. Everyone wants them over just regular tier 9 badge gear. I’ve seen this cause resentment and bitterness already in a couple people, and it can lead to bigger problems down the line. How do you distribute loot fairly? What is considered fair?

It’s for this reason I’m not a fan of the trophy system. I’m ok with working on harder content for a bigger reward. That is fine and dandy, but when I see an entire raid of people sitting, waiting, wondering if they’ll get the item it becomes a problem. I never saw this problem with a token system. Players might be mad at the game for dropping Vanquisher over Protector but it was RNG and nothing could be done about it. It’s a different story when you’re eligible for the item and watch other people get it over you. It’s a lot easier to accept something out of immediate control like RNG.

It’s not a bad idea in theory. It allows you to select the item you’re upgrading, it allows you to make sure anyone and everyone can use the items instead of seeing them rot due to RNG but I personally feel the token system is the way to go. While loot distribution is always an issue for any guild, I think the trophy system has too much potential to cause harm and additional stress that is unneeded in a raid / guild environment. I asked a question on Twitter about what people thought about the Trophy system. I got a surprising number of replies with people who just won’t run the content or have all together stopped raiding as  a result. I’ve also heard reports of guilds having to re work their entire loot system and policy because of this tier content, and that’s not good.

What do you think? Do you like the trophy / badge / three levels to the tier set? Do you hate it? Have you had any interesting stories revolving around loot distribution in tier 9 content?

Well, that’s my two cents on the subject until next time Happy Healing

Sig

Head 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Why Play a Healer?

why-play-healer

This is a guest post by Professor Beej who describes his healing epiphany.

Being the guy or gal standing in the back of the raid, tossing heals, mezzing, fearing, buffing, shielding, and just doing everything we can to keep people alive and the raid moving smoothly is a thankless job.  The battle-cry of "blame the healer" is our bane, yet also our motivation; it keeps us on our toes.  Our gameplay consists of clicking on colored bars whenever they turn not-green and never getting to look directly at the dragon we are told we are killing.  We know that going in, and we accept it.  In fact, we thrive on it and love it.

But why?

Are we gluttons for punishment?  Masochists who just love having less fun than the people we play with? Do we feel some sick need for penance (even those of us who aren’t Priests) that we voluntarily play the MMO whipping boy?

I don’t think so.  I think we do what we do because it is, far and above, the most fulfilling role in MMO gaming.  Unlike DPS and tanks, healers get to directly interact with those whom they play with.  Sure, tanks taunt off silly DPSers or enthusiastic healers, and DPS help out by blowing things up, snaring the occasional runaway, or tossing occasional buffs around, but healers are the only archetype in gaming where the vast majority of our time is spent interacting directly with our friends and teammates rather than through an intermediary.

I didn’t realize it when I started, but I have always played a support character, if not a healer, in MMOs.  In Ultima Online, I was never the duelist my friends were.  Instead, I had Grandmaster Hiding and would pop out unexpectedly from the shadows to throw my allies a heal or cure or cast Wall of Stone between them and their pursuers for some breathing room.  In Star Wars Galaxies, I did everything I could to work my Jedi Holocron grind around maintaining the Doctor (or at least Medic) tree in my template for as long as possible.  I even toyed with a high elf Paladin in EverQuest.

Then came Warcraft.

WoW made me aware of this tendency.  I had rolled a Warlock during release week, thinking DoTs and demons were my flavor.  I pushed hard to get him to 40 just to get his free mount (remember, 100g was an absurd price to pay in November 2004) and promptly got bored. I couldn’t decide what class I wanted to play next, so I rolled a Druid because he would be able to fill any role he needed to.  I leveled Balance and around level 42, I did Uldaman for the first time, and my group needed a healer.  Not even having a single point in Restoration, I healed my group through Archaedas and was given the compliment of "you’re the best healer I’ve ever grouped with" from all 4 other people.  And thus my career as an MMO healer was solidified.  While I eventually switched from the Druid to a Priest to a Shaman and back to the Priest, I have always been most comfortable playing a class that could heal.

To me, the reason the healing role stuck was three-fold:

  • I was good at it.  Very good at it, from what I was told.  And I’m the kind of person who avoids doing things I’m bad at.  So finding something I excelled at made me want to keep doing it.  I think that applies to everyone.  I know some healers who only heal for the prestige, but I know many more who do so for the love of the game and because they try their hardest to be their best.  
  • It made me feel important.  Let’s face it–DPSers are a dime a dozen.  Good DPS is harder to find and exceptional DPS might as well be mythical, but just finding someone to pewpew a Heroic is simple.  Being a healer and thus always being in demand was part of the ego boost, but it was also the idea of "these people’s [virtual] lives are in my hands and mine alone.  I’m responsible for them."  It made me feel good to know I was, in many ways, the most pivotal person in the group. Most healers can pretty easily keep the group alive if the tank loses aggro or CC breaks, but it’s much harder to keep things going smoothly if the healer drops and things go haywire.
  • The focus was not on me.  Healers get to stand in the back, do their thing, and rarely be bothered.  For the hardcore introvert like me, there is no purer gaming bliss. I don’t play games for drama; I play games to unwind and have fun. I don’t care if I get top 5 on a meter, nor do I have any urge to yell "BOOM HEADSHOT!" on vent every time I a spell crits.  Even though we occasionally deal with "blame the healer" drama, most of a healer’s life is spent in the background being ignored.  And that’s just fine by us.  Sure, every guild has their token prima donna healer, but most of us are content to sit a few rows back and let the extroverts have their spotlight while we do some real good.

The Mistake and the Revelation

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, I tried to switch from healing to DPS.  I leveled my Death Knight to 80 first and realized within a few raids that it was not for me and finished my Shaman’s grind to 80.  So now, whenever I try out a new game or start a new MMO, I always go for the Priest/healer archetype first.  I know it is what I’ll end up playing anyway, so why should I delude myself and think I will play any other archetype as anything but an alt?

So what about y’all?  Is there a particular reason you play a healer (or a reason why you don’t)?  Is it simply preference, a guild need, or something more?

Image courtesy of Crafts N Things

Give Me Patch Notes and I’ll Give You Totems!

Give Me Patch Notes and I’ll Give You Totems!

thehammer

As I’m sure many of you know by now, the PTR is live bringing with it a wonderous amount of changes to pretty much everyone. I’m going to focus today on a few things, Shaman changes and tier 10 set bonus for Restoration Shaman. First let’s take a look at the set bonuses for tier 10 Restoration shall we?

Shaman T10 Restoration 2P Bonus – Your Riptide spell grants 20% spell haste for your next spellcast.

Shaman T10 Restoration 4P Bonus – Your Chain Heal critical strikes cause the target to heal for 25% of the healed amount over until cancelled.

Hmmm, interesting set bonus. Two piece gives you more haste very much like how Tidal Waves reduces the cast time of your Healing Wave by 30%. Personally I love haste, and rolling Riptide should be a part of any Shaman’s normal healing arsenal so this set bonus really appeals to me. The four piece bonus is also very intriguing. The wording is a little weird and so it will have room for interpretation. Is it placing a HoT on a target for 25% of the amount healed similar to how Earthliving Weapon places a HoT on the target? Will it give an instant heal for 25% of the total? My moneys on a HoT. Personally I like these set bonuses. I think they are solid additions to our repertoire. Looking at them though we can take a guess at what type of damage we’re going to be seeing… I’m guessing lots of raid damage. Giving us haste, adding an additional heal component to our chain heal this just screams to me tons of raid wide damage (thoughts of Sun Well suddenly jump to mind). Now I’m looking forward to the aesthetics of the set. Hopefully we wont look like a mix between bugs and sand people.

So our set bonuses are shaping up nicely (which is pretty par for the course for us at this point). Lets swing our attention over to the patch notes shall we?

Not much is changing as of yet, of course as you know that may or may not change. For now though here are the bits though.

Orc and troll shamans now have their own unique totem art.

Shamans

* Fire Nova Totem: This totem has been replaced with a new spell, Fire Nova, which is available at the same ranks as the old Fire Nova Totem. Existing characters will automatically learn this new spell in place of the totem. With a Fire Totem active, shamans will be able to use Fire Nova (fire magic) to emit the same area-of-effect damage as the old Fire Nova Totem from the active Fire Totem, not consuming the totem in the process. Fire Nova will activate a 1.5-second global cooldown when used and has a 10-second spell cooldown. The caster must be within 30 yards of the totem to use this ability, but does not need to be within line of sight of the totem.

I’ll leave the totem art aside for a second, first lets talk about Fire Nova.

This one is… interesting. Basically getting rid of a totem that some of us were using to help with AE damage in fights like Thorim’s arena. It lets us not have to cast a different totem, but instead we can center an AE spell off our current fire totem. This still requires you to run into melee and drop said totem, but it’s a nice touch. I can run in set my totems and then when needed blast out some AE damage to help thing the gaggle of bad guys we’re killing. I’ll have to play with it more, but so far so good.

Now, onto totem art. Orcs and Trolls it has been long overdue that you guys get your own. Lets take a look at them real fast

3.3-orc-totems

The Orc one is pretty gnarly. Not only is it a totem but it can double as an axe! It seems to fit to me.

3.3-troll-earth-totem

Trolls are pretty cool too. Troll fetish hung from the totems looks like the shadow hunter’s totems in WC3.

All in all pretty good job. Now if I may I’d like to take a second to rage about another set of totems. The Dwarf Shaman Totems. Now I know that Cataclysm (or at least 4.0) is a while away, they… bother me.

3.3-dwarf-totem

I understand the concept behind it. It’s a hammer with Gryphon feathers. I’ll be honest though, as someone who is going to race change into a Dwarf Shaman I’m a little disappointed. I mean I can see the correlation between axes and Orcs, fetish masks and Trolls and I can understand the correlation of hammers and Dwarves… kinda. When I was at blizzcon and they were talking about bringing Dwarves into the fold of Shamanism, they mentioned making sure they had unique totems. They said they wouldn’t be kegs (which made us all sad) but that they were looking at maybe rune stones. I look at the above totems and that doesn’t scream Dwarf to me. Had they been chunks of stone with glowing colored runes in them I’d have been content. I mean look at the Draenei’s totems

1701

They pretty well scream Draenei. They have holographic rings around oddly shaped stone with the element present above it. Even the *Now* Tauren Totems fit their race

totems

So… why can’t Dwarves get something stone related? I mean think about it. They live in the mountains, they have a racial ability called Stoneform, they are known for their Gryphons, but only one clan (Wildhammer) and they aren’t playable, but we hear about is how they are awesome miners. Sure we hear about their forges and smithy’s but I think the totems could be a bit better suited to the race (read more metal/stone and less wood please).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy I can finally be a Dwarf Shaman. I’ve wanted to be a Dwarf Shaman for a long long time. I thank Blizzard for that, but that doesn’t mean I won’t weep a little bit every time I drop a set of hammers on the ground. Trolls and Orcs won out with some pretty good totem design and Tauren get to be unique snowflakes again with theirs. Overall I’m happy with it. Giving each race’s Shaman’s a unique totem is a good step. But if Goblin Shaman get cool looking gear totems, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe throw my hammer at them. Maybe cast Wrath of Carpentry.

Although maybe I can rename myself Captain Hammer and invite people back to my Hammer Cave to show them my Hammer….

So what do you guys think so far? Like the new totems, dislike the new totems? Like the set bonuses?

Until next time, Happy Healing

Sig

Images courtesy of Dr. Horrible sing along blog, WoW.com, and WoW guru

Interview with Epic Advice

epic-advice

There’s a new Warcraft side to the community. It’s not really a Wiki. It’s not a directory. It’s not a news site or a blog. It’s nothing like those.

Welcome to Epic Advice! The premise is simple.

You ask questions and you receive answers from other players who might know. It’s entirely peer driven. There isn’t a single “authority” that has all the answers. Everyone pools their knowledge into answering questions. Sometimes it can be much more straightforward than browsing forums or wading through database sites to get a simple answer.

I managed to catch the team behind Epic Advice in a brief email interview to shed further light on their unique project.

So before we get on to talking about Epic Advice, I’m sure the community would love to hear more about you guys. Why don’t you introduce yourselves?

Corey: Introductions always seem so boring.  I’m Corey – I own my own web development company, and do a lot of freelance programming/system administration.

Aaron: My name is Aaron, I work for an international association as their lead web developer developing and managing about 7 websites. I also work with Corey on the side, doing programming and design work.

I’m guessing you guys play WoW as well. What kind of characters do you play and what do you do in game?

Corey: I started playing WoW shortly after the beta, raided molten core with my friends, saw naxx at level 60, wrote the original PallyPower – and find it awesome that they still use my "buff grid", although my code was horrible and the new guy maintains it better. I did it all again towards the end of Burning Crusade. I haven’t been playing during WoTLK, I started my own company and needed all the time I could find. I hope that someday I can make enough money to pay myself to play this game again.   I played many characters, but the best fun I ever had was being a 39 feral tauren druid pvp twink named ‘Cowbellie’. She eventually became quite the DPS cat.

Aaron: Many old school priests probably know me best by my priest, Jesta. I used to write a lot of shadow priest articles, before shadow priests were truly embraced. I am currently one of the GMs of a guild on Lightning’s Blade (US) called Untamed, we’ve cleared everything but Heroic Anub’arak, which were hoping to get this weekend! I also was the author of "VampWatch", which was a popular shadowpriest mod used to track how much mana restoration you were causing (back before Replenishment existed). Currently I am raiding on a DK named Jadra in my guild.

epic-advice-1

What exactly is Epic Advice about? It’s slipped under the radar for a while. When did it launch even?

Corey: You cheated – thats two questions.  :)

Epic Advice is about World of Warcraft.  It is a Question and Answer site, a knowledge exchange as it seems to have been dubbed.  We hope to provide the community with a place to help ask and answer questions about World of Warcraft, from the early leveling process, to the cutting edge raiding instances.

It launched about 24 hours before you found us- It seems you’ve scooped everyone on this one.  It hasn’t really been under the radar for long.  We had been talking about the concept of doing a ‘Stack Overflow’ for WoW, have been playing with the idea of writing our own software to handle it.  An opportunity occurred when Stack Exchange hit its beta.  We could launch the site using their engine to see if it was something that the players even want us to work on.

Aaron: Yeah we launched on the night of the 6th, sorta told a few friends who told more friends, and um, this is where we are now. EpicAdvice’s goal is to try to create a centralized location to find answers about the game itself, and hopefully organize it so you can find what you need. The rest of it, corey seems to have summed up perfectly.

epic-advice-3

Who came up with the idea and how did the team get formed?

Corey: I can’t remember which of us mentioned it first, but I remember being instantly in love with the idea.  I’d also like to say that the team has not fully formed yet.  We will need more moderators, and hope to find a few good ones during this beta phase.

Aaron: I’ve known Corey for a long time, we’ve been friends for like, 8 years? Over the past year and a half or so, we’ve been doing work together and just advancing ourselves as programmers. We have a lot of pow-wows brainstorming web-application ideas and this happened to be one of them. I have a passion for WoW, just like I have a passion for programming, and this was the perfect project to get involved with to play off both sides of what I enjoy doing.

Where did the inspiration behind the site come from?

Corey: The amount of time we spend on Stack Overflow basically started the concept rolling.

Aaron: Couldn’t of said it better. Also the fact that the WoW forums are so unorganized and hard to find information in, which is the same problem that plagues a lot of programming forums. Since the release of StackOverflow, its been a lot easier to find programming related material. So, we took that concept and decided it would be an amazing fit for WoW.

The WoW forums generally aren’t known to be the best place to go to for help or advice without some guy coming along with a smartass remark. How do you plan to control trolls and the like?

Corey: Well, the cop-out answer is "we don’t".  The idea behind the site is that the community will reward the positive, and punish the negative on its own.  This site isn’t really for me to control, it is for the community to control.  I just want to lay down a few basic rules and let the community decide from there.  You build up reputation by providing good questions, or good answers.  Hopefully the trolls and flames will get ignored or downvoted, while the informative and well-thought gain good reputation.  We are not here to flame, we are here to answer and ask questions.

Aaron: He’s nailed it on the head, its up to the community to "down-vote" those trolls, which will cause them to lose reputation, and in-turn, lose privileges they may have on the site. It self-polices itself pretty well, and we will look hard at the system rules we have in place to see if we could tweak it more to fight the trolls. But for the time being, I think the community will police itself just fine.

epic-advice-2

What the current plans for the site? What kind of features can we look forward to in the future?

Corey: Right now – We are in a very early concept beta.  We aren’t sure we are going to stick to the current engine behind the site – there are a few features we want to add that may not be possible within the Stack Exchange system, but we want to start asking/answering questions now to build up a good user base and community.

As far as what kind of features we plan on implementing.  Thats where we want some of your input.   There is already a question on epic advice about just that.  Perhaps you should sign in and post an answer.  We can also be reached via e-mail: team@epicadvice.com

Aaron: We also have some amazing ideas written up in our todo list for new features to implement, its just a matter of time before we can get to them. We both have real jobs, this is just a hobby right now more or less. We want to make it as easy as possible to talk, show, link and organize answers as possible. A rough "item linking" system is already in place (thanks WoWhead!), but we’d also like for people to be able to link characters from the armory, spell ranks, tag a question with a specific "patch version" and so forth.

There are a ton of ideas we have floating around and we will take the best approach possible to try to implement them.

Bonus stuff with Corey:

Favourite drink: Coffee (mountain dew a close second)

Favourite movie: Too many to mention.

If you had a million dollars, the first thing you would do is: Laugh

If you weren’t doing your current job, you would be a: WoW Player

Top 3 sites you frequent the most for fun:

1: Stack Overflow (http://stackoverflow.com/users/91914/gnarf – its my crossword puzzle collection)
2:
XKCD
3: this space intentionally left blank

Your personal hero is: Underdog

Warcraft is like: Crack?

Any shoutouts? They know who they are.

Thanks for your time guys!

So if you have any burning questions or the desire to help, head over to Epic Advice! You may wish to check out the FAQ before doing anything.

Be a Healer by Nature

matrix_dojo

This is a guest post by Thespius, a raiding Priest

As I stated in my last post here, the first incarnation of Thespius was a Human Warlock. Raided SSC/TK and was usually top of the DPS meters. I did whatever I could to crank out the biggest numbers; I was a victim of constant competition. Usually, I couldn’t Soul Shatter fast enough to keep from pulling aggro. "But that’s what taunts are for, right?" (Since my days as a healer, I’ve learned to loathe that excuse.)

I liked DPSing, but I wanted a change. In the raiding guild I was in, we had what was called the "Holy Trinity" of our guild. Three priests. They knew their stuff, and they were GOOD. As Matticus has illustrated on this site before, they used what he calls Heads Up Healing to predict what was going to happen and when. I wanted to be able to play my character as well as them. I daydreamed of raid leaders calling my name, saying I was essential to any raid (still working on that part).

I took it upon myself to start a priest. I wanted to dive into the realm of healing. It seemed like since they were the ones directly responsible to a full health bar, they had to be the ones most in tune. Euripidus (now the second "Thespius") was born.
Once I actually started healing dungeons in Outlands, I realized how much fun being the healer was. Always easy to get a group (even if sometimes it was "Epic FAIL"), and it always seemed more of my style to help out the group in that capacity. I enabled the tank to keep taking the hits, and saved the DPS should something go wrong. That’s a cool responsibility.

Even though I was having a blast firing off Flash Heals, Shields and Prayer of Mendings, I appreciated when I wasn’t in a mad panic to keep everyone up the whole time. I do love the momentary bursts of crisis, however–finishing off a pull or fight with my hands shaking and my breath panting. I specifically remember my first time downing the Halls of Stone event and collapsing on my desk. Most of the group was at about 20% when we finished it. I was undergeared and still learning. Having an entire raid or dungeon that tense? No thanks. The less there is to heal, the better off everyone does.

While I was experiencing the perils of being a new healer, I realized something. I was playing my alts better. I was more aware, more responsive. I used more abilities and spells that I never used before. Since I had known the panic and frustrations of being a healer, I played each of my alts as though I was trying to make the group’s experience as painless as possible. Let me lay out a couple examples.

DPS

Problem: "Ganking Aggro" – What is the standard response to this? Especially in a PUG, I hear a lot of "Well, the tank should get more aggro faster." Or, "It’s not my fault you can’t keep up with my awesome DPS." /facepalm

Solution: Having the ability to throw up huge numbers is awesome. The difference between an amazing player and a horrible one is knowing when to use it. Congrats, you can push your buttons in the right order. Now, here’s your challenge: see if you can time it correctly, and on the correct target.

From the Healer’s eyes: In most circumstances, there are multiple mobs involved. If you pull one of them off, then I have to divert my attention from the tank to keep you alive. Therefore, the tank’s not getting heals. That’s the simple version. If the tank dies, we all die. And you just lost your spot in any of my future raids/groups.

Problem: DPS Meters – These are the bane of my existence. I once fell victim to them, and it wasn’t pretty. Yes, they’re awesome bragging rights. However, if you’re standing in a fire so you can get that one last cast in, or holding your ground in a whirlwind, then you’re just not being smart.

Solution: There’s a reason it’s called avoidable damage. If it’s a fire, a whirlwind, a blizzard, it’s your responsibility to move. It is not the healer’s responsibility to "heal you through it".

From the Healer’s eyes: Same reasoning as above. If we have to divert our attention to someone like that, the heals aren’t going where they’re needed the most.

Tanks

Problem: Tunnel vision – I’ve seen this not only caused by laziness, but also by tanks that try to up their own DPS on the boss as well. If you have high DPS as a by-product, then great. If you’re losing aggro on other adds, then it’s a problem.

Solution: Make sure you’re totally aware of what’s going on around you. The tanks primary job is to keep all the mobs’ attention on him/her.

From a Healer’s eyes: If an add gets loose due to healing aggro, I have to go into self-healing mode, which means heals are not on you.

Problem: The "wanna-be" Tank – This basically equates to any tank that doesn’t do everything they can to soften the blow.

Solution: Make sure your gear has the necessary caps needed. The necessary defense cap (if applicable); the right gear in general. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a healer to heal you in nearly all resilience gear. Make sure you’re using shouts/roars/etc to keep the mobs attack speed slow and their strength/AP low. If you have minor cooldowns (e.g., a warrior’s Shield Block), use it often. Save your big cooldowns for when needed, however.

From a Healer’s eyes: If you’ve ever healed a tank that’s not defense capped, or isn’t using the necessary skills available, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re healing in constant panic mode, which isn’t fun. If you use your mitigation abilities when you can, it means I have mana to use my abilities when you need it most.

As a continuation of the "Team Sport" idea, keep in mind who else is involved when you’re raiding. Always be on the lookout for opportunities that can hugely benefit the raid based on your contribution. Have a DoT or debuff to throw on the boss that will make it easier for the rogues to kick a spell-cast? Maybe a debuff that will decrease the damage output from the boss. Even if you have to lower your personal dps an inch, in order to up the whole raid’s dps a mile, you just made everyone’s life a little bit easier. Remember, it’s a team sport.

3 Proper Steps to Switching Mains

Throughout my tenure as GM, I’ve had to address a variety of challenging situations. One of the questions that GMs will undoubtedly face in their reign is the topic of switching mains.

Allow me to provide a scenario.

BarryManaLow is an Arcane Mage. He’s one of the main staples in the DPS lineup. Barry routinely comes in consistently as top 5. For his efforts, the council of Elrandom rewards him with the items necessary to contribute.

And then it happens.

Tragedy strikes.

Barry needs to take a 3 week leave of absence. Let’s say he’s got some real life issues and it’s the time of year where school exams are going to strike and he needs to focus and get it out of the way. He’s also getting slightly bored with the game and wants to recharge a little.

The boss signs off on it and brings a call up from the lower ranks to substitute in for good ol’ Barry. MissilesMcGee does an admirable job. He’s not quite top 5, but he’s coming in at a respectable top 10 placement.

Fast forward 3 weeks and Barry returns from leave. He discloses that he wants to switch mains. He’s not satisfied or happy playing on his mage. Barry has an alt Death Knight that he’d like to raid with instead.

Now it’s perfectly normal for any GM to be annoyed at this point. After all, you’ve spent time gearing the player up only to find that gear is going to go to waste and isn’t going to be contributing anymore.

So before you flip out and completely lose your cool, stop for a moment and breathe.

Step 1: Determine if there is a need

Is there a current need in the guild that needs to be fulfilled? Are you missing a tank or a melee DPS? Maybe you’re low on a healers. At this time, Conquest was lacking a solid third tank. We knew we would need one heading into the recent patch and we were doing what we could to find potential players to come in. Not many players responded because they didn’t meet our tanking requirements or just couldn’t fit our raiding schedule.

Barry provided an alternative as a Death Knight tank. He already knew the fights and our procedures. That solved that question. Chemistry wouldn’t be an issue since he knew how the guild operated. We wouldn’t have to worry about his in game smarts. This would bring up two more concerns.

Step 2: Can she hold her own?

Does the player demonstrate that they know what the heck they’re doing? If I were to switch from healing to tanking, I’d fail pretty hard at it because I wouldn’t know what the heck to do. When dealing with main switches, find out if the player has done the job before. An agreement was made where Barry had to work his way through a few lower level raids to prove his ability to tank.

You can think of it as a modified trial run. After all, Barry was re-applying to the guild with a new character after all.

Step 3: Is their gear on par with the content we’re doing?

Bite back the urge to say gear doesn’t matter.

Because when you’re a tank, it does. A Naxx level tank is going to have a tough time working on Trial of the Grand Crusader. I stipulated to Barry that if he wanted to get into our raids, he’d have to work on gear himself which meant pugging what raids he could and crafting any other pieces necessary. Emblems of Conquest allowed him to purchase items he didn’t win from pickup groups. The condition was that Barry had to bring his own character up to an acceptable raiding standard before we’d insert him into our primary lineup.

And he did. He got into as many heroics as he could to farm badges. He transferred money to purchase mats to craft tanking items and augments.

After about 3 weeks of solid gear acquisition, Barry was ready to rock. We gradually threw him in our 10 mans and kept a close eye on him before bumping him up to the 25s. He’s just about ready to tackle Trial of the Grand Crusader.

Final thoughts

There’s nothing inherently wrong with main switching. Players do get bored from time to time or maybe they undergo the grass-is-greener complex. View this as an opportunity for them contribute in a different capacity. To raiders, there’s nothing wrong with switching mains as long as long as you keep these 3 things in mind:

  • See if the guild has a need: If they don’t, you’re going to have to leave and go elsewhere. If the guild has 9 healers to select from, it’s not likely you’re going to see any action as a healer. There’s simply too many. You’re better off playing a role that a guild is lacking. The leadership will be much more receptive.
  • Prove your skills: Show that you know how to play the class and role. Prove that you’ve done your research. Take the time to be familiar with how your role might be different in certain fights. DPSing Freya is certainly different than tanking Freya.
  • Get your own gear: Different guilds handle this differently. But under my watch, if you’re going to switch mains, you better be willing to get your own gear. The guild might contribute a few BoEs or enchants for a discounted price or something, but it’s up to the individual to put in the effort. Show your willingness and passion for the class. It also proves you know what you’re doing. What kind of message does it send if Barry the Death Knight did nothing but pick up gear with shield block on it?

Tier 10 Healing Bonuses

The new Tier 10 bonuses are available for preview. Note that none of them are finalized yet but these are some serious bonuses. Check them out:

Druids

  • 2 piece: The healing granted by your Wild Growth spell reduces 0% less over time.
  • 4 piece: Each time your Rejuvenation spell heals a target, it has a 2% chance to jump to a new target at full duration.
  • Paladin

  • 2 piece: The cooldown on your Divine Favor talent is reduced by 60 sec.
  • 4 piece: Your Holy Shock spell causes the next Holy Light you cast within 10 sec to have 0.3 sec reduced cast time.
  • Priest

  • 2 piece: After your Pain Suppression and Guardian Spirit talents expire on your target, they grant your target 10% increased healing received for 10 sec.
  • 4 piece: Your Flash Heal spell has a 15% chance to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance Spells.
  • Shaman

  • 2 piece: Your Riptide spell grants 20% spell haste for your next spellcast.
  • 4 piece: Your Chain Heal critical strikes cause the target to heal for 25% of the healed amount over until cancelled.
  • If I were to rank these bonuses, I would have to say the 2 piece for Druids is a clear winner. Wild Growth without the reduction in healing strength as a constant bonus? That’s a strong bonus. The 4 piece translates to 1 in every 50 Rejuvenations will switch to a new target with a full duration a chance for Rejuv to jump per tick application.

    For Paladins, I’m really liking the 4 piece myself. Holy Light’s going to see some even heavier use. But that 2 piece basically means a 1 minute cooldown on Divine Favor. That’s pretty darn sick.

    The Priest 2 piece seems okay at first glance. It’s going to take Pain Suppression talents and the Guardian Spirit glyph to make it truly stand out. Remember how long their cooldowns are. I have to give the edge to Guardian Spirit especially if you have the glyph. The 4 piece one looks really good to me no matter what spec you are. I don’t think we’re going back to the days of the Circle of Healing spamming Holy Priest or anything.

    And as for Shamans, they seem to consistently rank high on the tier bonuses. Riptide giving haste? Chain Heal crits doing even more healing?

    How are you liking the upcoming tier 10 bonuses?

    Officers: Who Watches the Watchmen?

    watchmen

    “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

    I realize not many readers understand Latin. It basically translates to “Who guards the guards themselves?”.

    During one of my earlier years in university, we studied up a bit on Plato’s The Republic (ethics and government stuff). Who protects the people against the protectors? Plato responds by saying they have to guard themselves against themselves. Ideally your officers are going to be just individuals who won’t become greedy or evil.

    Your officers

    In a majority of cases, your officers are simply normal people who have invested their time (and perhaps money) to handle guild tech or infrastructure. They’re busy tackling things that no one wants to deal with like personnel, scheduling, and what raid operations to carry out. Policy has to be continually updated. Loot has to be awarded and DKP systems have to be managed.

    To be frank, the officers are the overseers of the guild and possess the power along with the responsibility.

    The level headed ones have no desire to go all political. They’re leaders of a loose organization of gamers, not the mafia. There’s no backroom deals going on. With luck, there is no maneuvering or behind-the-scenes backstabbing.

    Red alert!

    Now something has happened. Maybe one of your leaders committed some kind of grievous offense. You, Joe raider, happen to take exception. You don’t agree with whatever they did. Maybe they completely screwed over a pug in loot. Or they might have completely dished it out to a raider one day who was undeserving. The reasons could number beyond infinity.

    In any case, whatever the reason, you’re upset enough to the point where you want to do something about it.

    Your options

    Now here’s a list of things you can do and what might possibly happen if you go down these roads.

    • Do nothing. It’s the easiest choice. Keep it to yourself. Don’t say anything. You don’t want to rock the boat. This is something I’ve observed most players doing because they perceive there is too much at risk by doing anything else.
    • Speak to your GM. Have a chat with the boss and see what she says. Perhaps they don’t realize it’s an issue and maybe they can talk to the officer and try to resolve what happened.
    • Speak to the officer in question. Directly confront the officer in question and let them know what they did wasn’t cool. I don’t advise doing this publically. Do it privately in whispers. When I was just a grunt, I preferred taking the direct route and telling officers personally that I thought they did something wrong. It has a stronger effect then you might think.
    • Change your reaction. This option isn’t quite the same as the first. This involves a complete philosophy change on your end. Is their offense that serious? Does it really matter that much? What if you changed your reaction to the point where you could tolerate it and ignore it? The guild my alt is in has a raid leader who randomly calls people morons. I get called it myself once in a while because I can be a touch slow getting out of fires periodically. I don’t take it personally because I simply don’t care enough (It’s my alt’s guild for one).
    • Leave the guild. It’s fairly self explanatory. Be prepared to leave the guild. If you cannot accept what the guild is doing or if speaking to the GM and the officer prove to be futile, then the last option you have is to change your environment entirely. Not every guild is suited for every personality.