Where’s the Drama? And MTG Goodness

Ever since Mike left WoW.com, the Guildwatch column was on a temporary hiatus. Today it came back into business and to the surprise (and vehement displeasure) of many, the drama section was removed!

Many readers are screaming to bring it back.

How come?

I’m curious as to why. Why do people care about the mishappenings and horrors that happen to other WoW players or guilds? Is it just sheer entertainment to read about some guy who got the Legendary bow intentionally looted to someone else? Or that this person saved everyone to raid but then gkicked the entire guild and stole the bank? Or that a top guild stole the raid ID of another lesser guild because they couldn’t do it? But then I stopped and thought further. There’s a reason why TMZ and Perez Hilton are so popular. There’s a reason why newspapers have celebrity gossip columns because people happen to find this stuff interesting! The Tiger Woods incident? Now the thing with Conan and NBC? Its all celebrity news and when interesting stuff happens to high profile people, its like whoa!

Personally, I do pay attention to the drama sections. Its nice to know at what length players will go to achieve some kind of goal. Its nice to know what those goals could be. As a GM, I pay close attention to the mistakes that other guilds and players make. Why? So that in the event something similar happens to me or my organization, I already have a response or plan of action in place. I’ll read a particular story and just get blown away the events. Then I’ll think to myself "Man, if I were the GM or if that were me in that person’s place, what would I have done? Would I have reacted the same way or would I have done something else?"

So, do you guys care about that stuff? What about it makes it so appealing for you?

A Drama blog

Now, if I were an aspiring WoW blogger looking to carve a niche for myself, I think WoW drama would be where its at. I’ve actually made plans and thoughts about starting another WoW blog that would just be nothing more than a place that links to certain drama threads or summarize different stories and events.

Do you know of any WoW blogs that center primarily on WoW drama? I sure as heck don’t. And there certainly seems to be a high demand for it.

Anyway, those plans were abandoned pretty quickly.

For one, I’d probably have to do it anonymously. I don’t imagine a lot of friends would be made going that route.

Two, there’s a lot of research and compilation that would need to be done. You gotta find a story first. Then you gotta gather the facts. You gotta figure out who is or isn’t legit, who’s telling the truth, and what’s actually going on. Lots of realm browsing to do, that’s for sure.

Three, its dependant on other guilds or people. You can’t really make stuff up. Thats kinda lame. I mean I suppose you could. A fictitious WoW drama blog? Probably more satire or creative writing than anything else.

Anyway, its not exactly a niche I’d want to get involved with. Too "hot", if you know what I mean. Plus I’m already involved with my blog, Plus Heal, NSUI, and WoW.com. I have to run a guild too. And there’s school.

If blogitus were real, I’d be chronically affected my desire to start blogs. My friends (real and online) would be unanimous in tying me down in order to make sure I don’t begin another blogging project. I simply don’t have the time for it. 

But the demand for WoW guild drama appears to be there. Classifieds won’t be there to satiate your appetite for it unfortunately.

Speaking of lack of time…

In an effort to curb my WoW time, I got back into playing Magic: The Gathering again. Oh man, I’m weak :(. I blame all my friends. They started getting involved with FNMs (Friday Night Magic tournaments) and pushed me to join them.

Damn you peer pressure.

Any MTG types out there that actively play? Wouldn’t mind chatting a bit. Also, if you play online with Magic Workstation, I’m up for a game if I have time.

I’ll be piloting this.

Red Deck Wins

4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Teetering Peaks
12 Mountain
4 Goblin Guide
4 Plated Geopede
4 Hellspark Elemental
4 Hell’s Thunder
4 Ball Lightning
4 Earthquake
4 Burst Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Quenchable Fire

SB

4 Goblin Ruinblaster
4 Dragon’s Claw
4 Magma Rift
3 Manabarbs

(Might run Punishing Fire in sideboard instead)

Two of my friends are running Valakut ramp, one is running Vampires, another two are using mono white soldiers or something. Managed to go 5-1 pre-sideboard against Valakut, but ugh, Valakut has some serious burst.

Anyway, now that I’ve effectively cemented myself as uber geek of the week, I’ll stop for now. Depending on how often I play, I just might set up a smaller scale MTG blog or something.

There I go with the blogitus again…

Healing Icecrown from a Druid’s Perspective – Part 2

Healing Icecrown from a Druid’s Perspective – Part 2

This is a guest post by Epiphanize, a Resto Druid, and co-host of Raid Warning.

Now that we got all that out of the way, it is time to get down to business. You didn’t really show up just to listen to me go on about glyphs, did you? No, you came to heal your branches off! One quick thing: Be sure to check out the comments in my previous article; there were some good suggestions for alternative point distribution.

Lord Marrowgar

So here we are, Lord Marrowgar, a very interesting challenge for healers. However, it does give Druids a chance to show off their ability to heal on the run. This can be a relatively hectic fight, so regardless of whether you are tank or raid healing, you will need to be tossing HoTs at some points during the fight.

Tank Healing

This is the easier of two roles against Marrowgar.  During his initial phase and all the ones where he is not spinning all over the place, it is essentially a one tank fight. Since the nerf, Marrowgar does quit a bit less melee damage. So the damage your meat shield will be taking will be fairly minimal. This is pretty manageable for Trees, as we can keep the tank pretty well topped off with our HoTs.

One ability you need to be prepared for though is Saber Lash.  Saber Lash is an ability similar to Koralon’s Meteor Fists, in which two tanks will need to stack in order to distribute the damage. Your healing priority will be the Main Tank followed by the Off-Tank after a Saber Lash. As a tree, you have the added benefit of hitting both with Wild Growth before topping off the Main Tank. Other than dodging the occasional slow-motion blue flames, there is not much to deal with during this phase.

Raid Healing

As stated above, this fight can be quite hectic for a raid healer. During the first phase you will have quite a bit to manage. In 10-player, one random player will be Bone Spiked. DPS will be turning to focus on getting the player down as quickly as possible. This presents two things for you as a raid healer. You obviously will need to be focusing on healing the spiked player. I’ve managed to safely keep them up with Rejuvenation and Swiftmend, though this can also be accomplished with a few Nourishes as well. The other thing is people taking Coldflame damage, as they will often be ignoring the flames to get the person off the spike. Again this is usually handled by tossing some Rejuvenations and Wild Growth, saving Swiftmend for anyone who stands in the fire just a bit too long.

The last thing you will be concerned with during the pre-Bone Storm phases is the aforementioned Coldflame. As the raid healer, you will be responsible for topping off anyone who doesn’t get out of the way of the flames quick enough. The damage it does is not too horrible as long as no one just stands there. Its actually more of a nuisance avoiding it yourself, as you will often need to decide between standing their long enough to finish casting a heal, or cutting it short to avoid taking too much damage yourself.

Bone Storm

This phase is pretty similar for Druids regardless of your role. Marrowgar will become untauntable and spin around the room doing relatively minor AOE damage. It is still good to avoid him if possible, as it makes life a bit easier on all the healers. The big thing you will be dealing with is blue flames (of ice?) again. Only this time he drops 4 at a time. This phase is all about survival. Since you will be on the move during this, Druids will be arguably the best healer for this phase. This is where glyphs like Rapid Rejuvenation and Wild Growth start to shine in ICC. Just keep HoTs on everyone and toss Wild Growth on cooldown and you should be fine. Make sure to keep Swiftmend and your NS-HT macro at the ready in case anyone gets into trouble.

One last thing that the Tank Healer needs to consider is the position of the tanks during all chaos. The tanks will be sticking close to Marrowgar during Bone Storm in order to pick him up at the end of the phase. Not only will the tanks be taking a bit extra damage, but you will want to be nearby to keep the Main Tank healed up while everyone gets back to some semblance of order.

Lady Deathwhisper

The next boss in The Citadel is quite a bit easier on the healers than Marrowgar. If your group is good about staying out of Death and Decay and interrupting Frost Bolts, you won’t have to mash the keyboard nearly as much. For Druids, this fight is all about situational awareness and keeping in range of the players taking damage.

Phase 1

The key to Lady Deathwhisper is getting through her first phase. During this phase she will be behind a mana shield that DPS will need to burn through in between dealing with adds that spawn from either side of the room. After that, the fight is pretty much tank and spank. In my experience, this is the fight where you are most likely to only use 2 healers.

The mechanics of the adds are pretty complicated at times, so it is good to familiarize yourself with them. There will be times the tank and raid will be taking increased damage based on these mechanics. There is a lot of movement involved, so there will often be times you will have to drag your stump across the room to toss a heal or two.

There are a few other considerations during this phase. First,  Adherents will place Curse of Torpor on random raid members that increases the cooldown of their abilities, so you will want to make sure you are decursing as often as possible. There will be a bit of randomness from the Death and Decay and Shadow Bolts, so be on the look out. Again, there is going to be some bouncing back and forth because of adds, so communicate with the other healer(s) to make sure you have all your bases covered.

Phase 2

Congratulations, you have made it through the hard part. After her shield is down she becomes tauntable, only has 3 million hit points, and the adds stop spawning. Since this is often 2-healed, you will more than likely be both on raid duty and tank duty. While this phase is pretty much tank and spank, there are some things going on that affect the healers.

The tanks will be swapping as Deathwhisper places a stacking debuff on the tank that reduces their threat. So you will want to keep an ear out for who is tanking her and focus your healing accordingly. She will still be dropping Death and Decay, as well as random frost bolts that should be interrupted. Finally, she will summon on non-targetable Vengeful Shade that will follow a player around and explode if it catches them. You will need to do your best to avoid them if they follow you, and be prepared to heal someone if they get caught (if they don’t get one-shotted).  It’s a pretty quick phase though, and you will be on your way up the elevator in no time.

Gunship Battle

This is a gimmick fight through and through and is a lot of fun. There aren’t really a lot of important mechanics here for healers. Your gunship has two guns that you use to attack the enemy’s gunship.  Occasionally, the opposing ship will summon a mage/sorcerer that will freeze your guns. You will then need to send some raid members over to kill it in order free up your cannons. Back on your own ship, mobs will appear through a portal that will need to be killed, while avoiding incoming rockets and axe-throwers.

Defenders

This is the easier of the two healing roles. Usually one tank and some ranged DPS will stay behind to deal with the enemy boarding party.  The portal will spawn a Sergeant and some Marines. The Sergeant is the only one that really poses any threat, as he has pretty nasty Bladestorm and Wounding Strike abilities. Most of your healing will be focused on the tank, especially if you only have ranged DPS defending. Just be prepared to work a bit extra to overcome the -25% healing debuff.

Two other items of note: First, stay out of shinnies! Rockets will be coming over to your side and the big shiny circle on the ground is an indicator your in the path of said rocket. Be prepared to heal anyone who has yet to learn this golden rule of Warcraft. Second, keep an eye on your boarding party tank. They will be taking damage as they fly back over to your ship, and not every healer is as equipped to heal in the air as us Trees. I have seen quite a few tanks bite it on their way back over as they still have the aggro from the ranged mobs on the enemy ship. A well timed heal from you can be the thing that saves them.

Boarding Party

As the boarding party healer you got the short end of the branch (no, the bad tree jokes will not stop). You will be heading over to the enemy ship with most of the DPS and a Tank to take down the mage/sorcerer while fending off the general and adds. On your way over it will be a good idea to HoT up the tank, as things will be a bit chaotic when you first get over there.

The tank will be keeping the enemy commander busy why DPS take down the mage/sorcerer. Keep an eye out because the longer you are over there the stronger the enemy gets. This will cause everyone to take quite a bit of damage. As mentioned earlier, you will need to keep some heals on the tank as he will take some damage on his way back over. Probably a good idea to leave a Rejuvenation in case you need to toss an emergency Swiftmend on the return flight. Again, a fairly straightforward fight for healers.

Deathbringer Saurfang

Phew, here we are, the final encounter of the entrance to the Citadel. This is probably the most interesting fight so far. A lot of what you need to do as a healer will be determined by your groups strategy, but Druids have a few things to keep in mind both as a tank or raid healer, regardless of how you handle Mark of the Fallen Champion.

Raid Healing

First, you do not have any way to stop the damage people will be taking like priests do. So your main role will be to heal up the damage that does get through. There are three mechanics that will be causing you trouble: Boiling Blood, Blood Nova and Mark of the Fallen Champion.

The first ability, Boiling Blood, will be case on a random raid target. If you have a Priest, they will mitigate a lot of the damage to avoid Saurfang building Blood Power. Its still a good idea, whether you have a Priest or not, to toss Rejuvenation on the Boiling Blood target to keep them topped off. The damage isn’t too bad, and one HoT should be enough to keep them safe.

Blood Nova can be more troublesome depending on how much melee you have. If this gets cast on one, a good amount of people will be taking damage. The player that get Blood Nova should run out of the raid to minimize damage and blood power gain. However, if they don’t get out in time, be prepared to throw out Wild Growth and a couple single target heals.

Finally, there is Mark of the Fallen Champion. How you handle this (if at all) is going to depend on your raid strategy. A lot of guilds, mine included, will just let that player die. This minimizes the buildup of blood power and puts a lot less stress on the healers. If you do decide to keep that person alive you will want to give them full HoTs. Yes, you may have to dust off Lifebloom for this one. I usually put up Rejuvenation and Regrowth, with a Swiftmend if needed.

Tank Healing

There is not nearly as much to deal with as a tank healer. The tanks will be switching when they gain the Rune of Blood debuff, so as per most two tank fights you will need to be paying attention. You will also need to be concerned if a player gets Blood Nova near the tank, which could cause a nasty damage spike. Your final obstacle is at 30%, where Saurfang will Frenzy. This means you need to get your stump in gear and heal faster! Other than that, he is business as usual for a tank healer.

—–

And that’s it! You’ve Stormed the Citadel. Just in time for the Plague Works to open. Thus is the life of a WoW player. In the next installment we will be covering healing Rotface, Festergut, and Putricide, all while avoiding getting any goo on your leaves.

Looking at the Holy Priest Renew Spec

Looking at the Holy Priest Renew Spec

There is a discussion that has spawned on Plus Heal about the high use of Renew in T9 and T10 raids. Some players were asking about it and I felt it was enough to touch on and elaborate further about here.

What is it?

The Renew heavy spec: Take a look.

holy-renew-spec

It’s essentially a 14/57/0 Holy priest build but there are a few key talents that are missing. Almost all direct healing spells do not get talented. Talent staples such as Empowered Healing, Divine Fury, and Improved Healing are skipped over entirely. Instead, Blessed Resilience, Empowered Renew and Test of Faith are all taken and maxed out for amplified Renew… age.

Single target healing spells aren’t used much.

Flash Heal would mostly be used during Surge of Light procs (when they’re free). When looking at spell usages, it’ll be a mixture of Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending and lots of Renews until the cooldowns are available. Prayer of Healing is another option when strong AoE heals are needed.

For glyphs, it would consist largely of:

A case could be made to include glyph of Renew in lieu of Guardian Spirit but that’s assuming that cooldowns might not be needed. I don’t know, the ability to boost healing received every minute is like a reverse 2 minute DPS cooldown, you know?

You can expect a really high amount of overhealing to come from this style of play especially when you are paired with multiple Druids. The line of thinking here though is to sustain your raiders and "slow down" whatever damage ticks they are taking long enough for a Chain Heal, or a Holy Light to bring them back up to the green zone.

What are the benefits?

Master of Priestcrafting, Zusterke, points out that:

  • A glyphed Flash Heal costs roughly the same as Renew
  • Both spells can trigger Holy Concentration
  • An Empowered Renew can hit with an instant heal in the 2-3k range (Flash Heal takes 1.5s to produce a 5k-6k heal)
  • Renew is a HoT and still produces healing after it is applied
  • It doesn’t require a glyph (although the glyph is handy)

Where could I apply it?

In Icecrown, I can think of several instances where a heavy Renew style would be very beneficial. Against Lord Marrowgar, Bone Spike Graveyards can be cushioned quite easily. Lady Deathwhisper, jus about every player would benefit and those caught in death and decay have an extra second or two to bail out. On Saurfang, players suffering from Mark of the Champion would have some increased insurance.

In the Plagueworks when fighting Festergut, the gases that damage the entire raid can be mitigated with a whole bunch of Renews. Against Rotface, even though the healing is halved, those affected by the slime debuff when they have to run out could move a bit further before a dispel is necessary. It’s also great for stabilizing the raid after one of those Oozes explode. When engaging Professor Putricide, preemptively Renewing the raid just before a green ooze makes contact or on any number of other aspects of the fight can grant a slight edge.

To finalize

I’m going to give this a shot this week and see how it works out. It’s not quite the same as dropping shields all over the place, but you can see the similarity when it comes to "blanketing the raid".

Anyway, it’s a style and spec to consider so keep an open mind.

Disc Priest Tip: Professor Putricide

Disc Priest Tip: Professor Putricide

You know how on Professor Putricide, a player needs to inhale a potion and they turn into this Abomination thing which controls all the slimes, oozes and crap? In order for Abominations to do that, they run on something called Ooze energy (It’s basically like energy). The only way to get such Ooze energy is by (you guessed it) consuming Mutated Slimes nearby.

Actually, that’s not quite the only way.

You know that Discipline Priests have this talent called Rapture which feeds energy, rage, or mana back to the target if the shield wears off.

It turns out the Abomination works the same way.

In other words, if your Abomination needs a quick burst of energy, have a Disc Priest shield them and the Abom can just sit and chill in a slime pool for a second or two in order to trigger the effect before eating it for more energy.

putricide-shield

Note: This actually isn’t my parse. Someone sent this in anonymously.

As you can see, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t offer much. But it’s nice to have for an initial energy boost when starting out.

If Druids have that Revitalize talent, it also provides a really strong energy boost as well.

Conquest will be taking cracks at him later tonight once we take down Rotface on 25.

Matticus Reimagined

Matticus Reimagined

It’s Friday, and the first week of 2010 is about to end. One of my honorary guildies drew my Priest. I like it. She’s got the shoulders right and Vala’nyr looks good.

She caught my pose when I was deep in thought about something. I wish she’d done it when I had a scowl or a frown on my face.

The next question? What the heck is up with my belt?

matticus

Shutout by Rotface

Last night, 3 Conquest ICC 10 teams dove in with the goal of reaching the new wing. All of us were successful even though we went at slightly different paces.

Gluth’s mini brothers, Precious and Stinky, represent a serious trash wakeup call. Getting a little better at handling it but I’m still suffering 2-3 casualties in the raid. The priority is to get the current dog tank topped up fast. That isn’t the problem as we don’t seem to be quick enough in reaching everyone else. My current thinking is to bubble spam soft targets like clothwearers (players with overall low health) before dropping the raid healing bombs. The chomp doesn’t kill us, its Stinky’s fart that seems to do it. When taking care of Precious, be careful with the zombies and don’t stand next to them when they get trapped or rooted in place.

Since most of the players had worked on Festergut on the raid night before, he fell over fairly easily within 1-2 shots as we knew what to expect and how to handle it.

Now Rotface completely stoned us. He stopped all the shots the various groups had taken on him. After multiple attempts, it had gotten to the point where groups were wrestling with the increased disease spawn time (the 30% mark or so) or had proximity issues with the uber big ooze. The Ooze explosions were easy to manage.

What’s going to haunt me over the weekend is the fact that my guys wiped on Rotface with 10k health left.

Rotface juts got nerfed, by the way.

On a side note, I have to share something. Spring semester started this week and I sometimes end up getting in classes with professors with intriguing accents. In math classes or stats, I end up getting the stereotypical Asian prof (from Hong Kong or Taiwan or something) who are difficult to understand. I was pleased to discover that this prof had an eastern European accent.

In other words, he sounds like Borat.

And this is a class on International Studies.

“This u-ni-vehr-sity cam-pus is velly’ nice. Be sure to read journal article by Robert Bates for next week, yes?”

Anyway, how are you guys tackling Festergut and Rotface thus far? Problems? Can’t wait for the Professor myself.

Guest Post: Tanks and Healers Should Get The Biggest Rewards

This is a guest post from We Fly Spitfires.

Tanks and healers are the most important classes for any group. Tanks set the pace of the group, the flow of experience and man the vanguard as they lead the team into battle. Healers mend the broken bones of their companions and keep the tanks a live – without the healers there could be no tanks and there could be no group. These are the two most important classes that exist in any MMORPG. But the DPS? They’re just meat in the room.

Look at it in terms of supply and demand and stress and responsibility. Tanks and healers are in consistent short supply whereas DPS are a dime a dozen. And there’s a reason for that. Tanking isn’t easy and it comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility. Do it right and the group will sing your praises for days to come yet do it badly and you’re on the receiving end of every criticism and jibe. Healing is much the same and also comes with it’s own set of stresses and strains. If the tank dies who gets the blame? Not the DPS classes that didn’t burn the mob down fast enough but the healer who didn’t heal well enough. They carry the heart and soul of the party on their shoulders and all of the difficulties that come with that.

And raiding? That’s even more stressful. Not only do we even already acknowledge the importance of tanks and healers in this situation. We have Main Tanks and even Main Healers but who’s ever heard of a Main DPS before? There’s a huge amount of pressure to do these jobs right. Sub-par DPS can join a raid (even if it’s not desirable) but sub-par tanks cannot tank one and poor healers cannot heal one.

All of this stands to reason that tanks and healers should get bigger rewards than anyone else. I mean, it’s in our culture to reward those that do the most and work the hardest, right? Call it a Tank or Healer Bonus, and a well deserved one at that. They are more important and necessary than anyone else, rarer to find, and they’re jobs are a lot tougher and far more stressful. They’re like the mommas and papas of any group, bringing the necessary order and structure. Without a tank there is no group, without a healer there is no group. DPS can just be picked up randomly as required.

I’ve got nothing against DPS. It’s fun and there’s nothing wrong with that but they simply don’t deserve the equality of rewards. Tanks and healer should get a little something extra on the side (maybe a nice ‘Thank You Drop’ from the boss mobs they fell) because they have the hardest and most demanding jobs and are traditionally the slowest to level up (unless you turn them into DPS). They require the most effort and who can argue that as a result they should get the biggest rewards?

Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

Hello 2010

Hello 2010

dawn-2010

First, congratulations to the US team for beating the Canadian team. We’ll get you back in the Olympics (seriously, that Canadian roster looks stacked with the top line from San Jose and with others).

As with every year on the blog, I try to make an annual thing out of reviewing the resolutions from last year for myself personally, the game, and the blog.

Let’s start with that. Did I meet the goals I set out to do last year?

2009 resolutions

Blog

Resolution: 3000 subscribers – Thanks to your readership, I have exceeded that and have managed to entertain 5000 bored players at work or school.

Resolution: 1.5 posts per day – Nope, not quite. My responsibilities have increased and I have not been able to fulfill that resolution. I’m working with a great crew that’s as diverse as it can get. With Lodur, Thespius and Mimetir, the blog provides a variety of insights.

Still could use that elusive Holy Pally contributor.

Game

Resolution: Top 10 server – Nope, Ner’zhul is a ridiculously competitive server. We’re barely breaking into the top 20 overall. According to Guld Ox, we’re exactly 10th Alliance side.

Resolution: Avoiding Burnout – Still here and I’m still not close to feeling any burnout. Thank goodness for cheap steam games in keeping me occupied.

Resolution: Raid achievements – Managed to pull off some of them but not as many as I’d like. The focus continues to be on progression. We’ll look at some of the other stuff later on.

Personal

Resolution: Let things go – Yep, I’ve learned to keep my distance on topics that I would have commented on in the past. Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it.

Resolution: GPA to 2.5 – Nope, holding at around 2.2. I learned that distance education courses and myself just don’t agree with each other. I lack the discipline on my own. I need to actually be in a classroom where I can directly ask for clarification on stuff that just doesn’t make sense to me.

2010 resolutions

Time to set some goals and tasks for this year.

Blog

Resolution: 10000 subscribers – A bit ambitious and it will be double the current amount. It’s how I measure the progress of my blog. Page views have remained increased slightly (not in the same ratio). I’m more concerned about being read then I am with just page views.

Resolution: Consistency with NSUI – It’s a great blog and a great idea. I just wish I had more time I could devote to it. I blog about different addons and ways to help players when I can. I’ll try to start with a consistent update time on a weekly basis.

Game

Resolution: 8000 achievement points – Slowly but surely, I am getting there.

Resolution: Arthas hard mode (25) – That’s my ultimate goal.

Personal

I’m not quite sure what to do at the moment. I feel rather lost. Undecided about Crim and Communications (or Journalism) is unavailable to me. Maybe I should just finish with a BA and get out of here and start working.

Get the heck out of school would be a great resolution but I won’t be able to pull it off this year.

Poll results

Last week, I ran a poll asking if you cleared out all bosses when running heroics. Here are the results:

poll-heroics

I resounding 47% of you do go after each and every boss in the instance. The next chunk of players are indifferent and go with the flow. A staunch 16% won’t knock out all bosses if they can get away with it. I suspect those might be the players where nothing attractive remains in current heroics or from Triumph badge vendors.

Guest posts

I promised I’d write them and they’re on the way. Bear with me. If it takes me a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, I will get them finished.

WoW.com is hiring again

I stepped down from handling Spiritual Guidance to focus on more general work and Raid Rx on wow.com. The site is expanding. A healing priest and a shadow priest have been brought on for twice the priestiness.

Yes, our class is so awesome, we get two columns featured.

They’re also looking to expand again. A Resto Druid, a Holy Paladin, an addon specialist, and a lore specialist.

More healers would indeed be awesome. Now they can heal me through the various PTR runs!

Quick application tip: I’m just going to use an example on the blog here when I look over contributors who want to work with me. Don’t bite the hand that feeds. If you’re applying for a position, don’t talk trash about the employer and then apply to them expecting to be successful in your application. I’ve seen people trash my blog and the work I invest into it on their twitter or their blog  and then they get in touch with me asking why I never link to them or highlight their work.

Like, seriously? I didn’t realize there were people that dense that were out there. Blogs are google-able. Everything is accessible. Nothing is hidden.

There is a line between constructive critique and being a dumb troll. Dumb trolls don’t get very far and they never will because they just don’t learn.

In any case, if you’re even remotely thinking about applying, just give it a shot. If you read the blog on RSS, you’ll notice I insert a quote by Wayne Gretzky:

“I miss 100% of the shots I never take.”

So take chances and shoot more. You just might score one. If you’re unsure or have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. There are some questions I won’t be able to answer but I can try.

It doesn’t hurt to know every pop culture reference and cult classic known to man. I was ridiculed for the longest time when I didn’t understand the Monty Python and Princess Bride references.

Which by the way, I finally watched. To be honest, I didn’t understand much of the humour. Probably a generation gap thing though.

The Issue with Discipline Raid Healing

The Issue with Discipline Raid Healing

As Priests, we exist in two healing realms: Holy and Discipline.  Discipline and Holy.  I say that because one is not superior or inferior to its counterpart.  Each specialization has its own tree.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

We were told way back before Wrath of the Lich King that these two trees were going to serve different fundamental purposes: Tank-Healing or Raid-Healing.  Seems simple enough, right?  Once Discipline Priests got past the backlash of “Disc is PvP lol” malarkey, people started learning that Discipline Priests can actually function as Tank healers.  If all of our tools are used in concert with each other, we can be a damn good single-target healer.

Is Discipline, though, viable as a Raid-Healing spec?  That’s debatable.

As with most aspects of this game, everything is going to be viable as something other than it was intended, depending on the situation.  For Discipline, Loatheb is an awesome example.  Although our talents are angled towards single-target healing, a combination of PW:S, Prayer of Healing, Penance, and quick Flash Heals (all powered by Fungal Creep) make us a formidable Raid Healer in a short amount of time. 

Another example is Deathbringer Saurfang, the last boss in the first wing of Icecrown Citadel.  It seems widely accepted now that a Discipline Priest shielding the raid helps reduce the amount of Blood Power that Saurfang gets via Blood Link.  The sooner Saurfang’s energy reaches 100, the sooner a Mark of the Fallen Champion gets put on a random raid member.  Absorbs from PW:S, as well as Divine Aegis, reduce the amount of Blood Power he receives.  Thus, fewer Marks on the raid, which means you can obtain I’ve Gone and Made a Mess with ease.  Not to mention, you get the boss down faster and easier.

Beyond the Situational Awesomeness

I’ve seen a trend of Discipline Priests insisting that they only raid heal.  They seem to hate the idea of being locked onto one or two tanks and will choose to “bubble spam” the raid.  An occasional spell other than PW:S might be used, but it tends to be a one-button spam from players like this.

I have no problem with people trying something different or off the beaten path, just so long as they’re smart about it and demonstrate a mastery of their choice.  I’m sorry to say, but playing Whack-a-Mole with Weakened Soul hardly shows mastery.  In cases like Saurfang, it’s a conscious and strategic choice.  In other cases, it’s a waste of mana.

Power Word: Shield / Rapture – Through Borrowed Time, we’ve received a nice scaling talent as a Discipline Priest.  It’s a valuable spell to the Discipline Priest, but it’s not the only spell we have available.  Since Rapture returns mana to you (ideally equal to or greater than the cost of PW:S), it increases your longevity as a healer, making PW:S one of the front-runners in our arsenal.  Notice, though, that Rapture only triggers when a shield is “completely absorbed or dispelled.”  Yes, partial absorbs are better than no absorbs at all.  However, in quite a few cases, the raid won’t take damage for a while.  Any shields that are put up on raid members that aren’t even touched is a total sacrifice of that mana.  Let’s say your PW:S costs 666 mana (yes, mine does).  If you cast it consistently, and 10 of them don’t even get touched, you just threw away 6,660 mana.  How much damage did you prevent?  Zero.  If you’re casting PW:S consistently, Renewed Hope will be up the whole time.  Since it doesn’t stack, those 10 shields mitigated no extra damage.

Grace – This fun talent, at the start of WotLK, used to be allowed on more than one target at a time.  Once Blizzard thought that was a little bit overpowered and was steering Discipline away from it’s original intent, they restricted Grace to one target at a time.  As a single-target healer, Grace is a great tool to have (though I wish it could be on up to three targets for fights like Marrowgar and Goremaw).  As a raid healer, it’s a wasted three talent points.  I find it particularly hard to assist with raid healing without using either Flash Heal or Penance (or the occasional hasted Greater Heal – all three of which activate Grace).  In most cases, you’ll be snipe-healing multiple targets.  If not, you’ll use a couple heals to top someone off, then off to the next target.  Grace isn’t given the chance to shine.

Where To Go From Here

Spec – I currently rock out a 57/14/0 spec.  I’ve tried various versions of it, but this spec just seems to work really well with the way I play.  I like to use Renew to help pad the tanks, or throw some on the raid to help out.

Given what I wrote above about Grace, I would choose to sacrifice those points and put them elsewhere.  I threw together a 52/19/0 spec if I were to try to re-work myself into a raid-healing Discipline mode.  I also took the points out of Focused Will (sacrifice some crit) and switched Spell Warding to Divine Fury.  I topped out Divine Fury (taking one point from Inspiration), and grabbed all three points of Improved Healing.  The goal is to hopefully rotate Greater Heal more into your rotation and make it (and Penance) cheaper to cast.  You still get powerful shields and good utility, but it’s not the end of the world trying to keep Grace up. 

Spells – As I pointed out above, I’m not a big fan of the “bubble spam”.  Sure it may look good on World of Logs or the estimated “absorption meter”, but I think it’s impractical.  I’m not in a raid to top a meter, I’m there to keep the whole raid alive.  With the alternate spec I suggested above, sniping Flash Heals and Penances is a great way to keep the raid up, as long as you’re also utilizing Prayer of Mending, Renew, and Prayer of Healing as well. 

If you choose to keep a variation of the first spec, then keep in mind the benefit of keeping Grace on your primary target.  You’re not going to be the most amazing raid healer, but you can certainly help out:

Prayer of Mending – I always keep this bouncing.  There are addons available to let you know when your charges have run out.  I tend to cast mine whenever it’s up.

Renew – If you put the points into Improved Renew, you can help out the other raid healers with this one.

Prayer of Healing – Although a bit of a mana drain, it’s amazing when it crits and each member gets his/her own Divine Aegis shield.

Binding Heal – ?!?!?! you say? I use this spell when I just need to single target someone.  Yes, it heals me at the same time.  Higher mana cost, the self-heal may be worth it, and I can keep the Grace stack on the tank.  I’ve tried both ways, and using Binding Heal has seemed worth it to me.

So there you have it!  I’ve always felt that Priests are incredibly versatile healers.  I don’t enjoy one-button spams or anything proved to be “easy-mode casting”.  We have an amazing arsenal of spells available, and using all of them can make us unstoppable.  There’s no reason you can’t take the intricacies of our class and harness them to do what you need them to.

My point is that if you’re going to go off the beaten path, think about what you’re doing before you take that step.

How do you feel about Discipline raid healing?  What other tricks have you figured out over time?

**Image credited to the Elitist Jerks forums**

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

It Came From The P.U.G. : The Val’anyr Curse!

It Came From The P.U.G. : The Val’anyr Curse!

Every night at 3am server time I log back into game and queue up for my daily random heroic. Normally it’s amusing when people inspect me as the healer and see that I have Val’anyr equipped. They normally make comments about feeling more at ease especially when the random is heroic Halls of Reflection.

But recently two events have occurred and seem to be reoccurring since. I’m referring to it as the Val’anyr curse.

About two weeks ago I was doing a PUG heroic on a Monday in the early afternoon. A decent chunk of my guildies were on, and it was a rather enjoyable day. I queue up to do my random of the day and like any healer will tell you 20 seconds went by before there was a group ready and waiting. The random instance it selected was Halls of Lightning. Not a bad instance, all things considered it’s fairly easy. I look at the people in my group, Full i245 lock, hunter mage and paladin. We all inspect each other which seems to be the custom of the pug tool when the paladin exclaims;

“HOLY SHIT! Wet got ourselves a [Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings] !!!! That means I can do this!”

and then he takes off running. He hits the first group, tags them both, and keeps going down the ramp for the second group. Ok, that’s pretty normal, I’ve had a lot of tanks do that no big deal. After a couple seconds of Consecrate being down he moves on to the group on the right, dragging everything with him. Ok healing gets a little more difficult but still bearable, dudes got some good gear and can take the abuse. Again though after a  couple seconds he drags EVERYTHING with him to the next set of adds. Oh, and the boss was there fully lightning charged too. At this point healing is ridiculous. To the tanks credit he manages to hold aggro on it all and the mage and lock are happily AEing to their hearts content, meanwhile I’m playing Yo-Yo with the tanks health as he’s taking a ton of hits all at once. We get through it somehow and he goes

“That was awesome! Lets do that again!”

and before I can even sit to drink he’s off pulling mobs leading up to the gauntlet room and through. At this point I sit down and drink. The dps is smart enough to stay with me and when the tank does die I see in chat from the tank

“too much huh?…. sorry =( I’ll be good now”

the rest of the run was smooth but I’ve seen this behavior become more and more common in the last couple weeks. I’ve had 9 out of 14 tanks see the hammer and just go careening off. I know it’s the hammer because they ALL said something about the hammer before trying to pull half the instance. I asked in guild chat and none of the other healers had seen this behavior either.

The second event was just a few nights ago. I was in a pug Forge of Souls rolling heroic, we were going to do FoS, PoS and finish with HoR, after the first boss is down the tank gives me a compliment on heals, one of the DPS in the group, a Feral Druid, says

“He’s only good because of the hammer, Shaman can’t heal this shit otherwise”

I laughed at first but then the following statement was uttered

“I’m not kidding, I have a Resto Shaman, I know you can’t heal this shit without that mace”

obviously I’m using better grammar than he did but you get the point. So I relay this to guild, I get a tell from one of the newbies

“So… un-equip the hammer, do it without it you got another caster weapon right? Maybe just do it without a weapon I know you can do it and that will stick in his craw for sure.”

I thought it over for a second, and then off came the mace. Second boss went down, the druid made another comment about

“you must be really thankful for that mace”

I casually reply,

“Oh, that. I haven’t had it equipped since you made the first comment. Don’t plan on putting it back on either, matter of fact bet I can do all the rest of the two without a weapon at all.”

Druid tried to call bullshit, but kept inspecting me. A successful (and flawless) PoS and HoR run later the Druid apologizes and leaves the group. So I asked around to some of my friends on the server that have the mace, and sure enough they all said they had similar experiences. The mace is a fantastic healing weapon, it really is. It’s a great lore piece and a sign that a guild is willing to put in the work necessary to construct it, but the general mentality of non healers that it is a godly healing weapon seems to be rather prevalent. So my New Years resolution in wow has been born as a result of this. When using the LFG tool I will no longer equip the mace. I’ve dubbed this the Val’anyr curse, it gives some people false expectations of your abilities.

So how about you out there? Have you noticed people being treated different in PUGs when they have the mace? Do you have the mace and noticed it as well?

well, that’s it for today, Until next time, Happy Healing

Image courtesy of MMO-Champion