Case Study: When to Use Fast Heals

This case study comes from yours truly. During the first week of the expansion, the heroic group I healed consisting of my own guildies random’d into Halls of Origination (which offers the best Justice Points:time ratio with 7 encounters, I personally think). After clearing out the first 6 bosses, we ran into Setesh (or Set or Seth or god of chaos, if I recall my SG:1 mythology correctly).

Now Seth likes to do a series of annoying abilities reminiscent of bosses we encountered in Wrath:

  • Shadow Crash – Care of General Vezax
  • Portal summoning – Jaraxxus
  • Green bubble things – That one gnome boss in Pit of Saron

There is a moment in the Setesh demo where I lose the tank. I had about 20% mana left in my pool. The tank’s health was dangerously low. I screwed up here because I thought Heal was enough to catch him, but it wasn’t. You’ll notice I already blew my Guardian Spirit earlier on in the video. I wasn’t thinking properly because I a few outs left.

Flash Heal spam – Even though my mana was low, I still had enough to unload Flash Heal and get our druid tank up to a safe level. I could have followed up 2 Flash Heals with a faster Greater Heal.

Leap of Faith – I was far enough away that I think Leap of Faith would have bought a few extra seconds of kiting (where the mobs weren’t beating on him).

Psychic Scream – Dropping a Fear Bomb would have shut out enough of the mobs to buy time for the tank to get clear or for me to use any of my healing spells to get his health up to a safer level.

So what’s the lesson?

If you need to ask yourself whether or no it’s a good time to use your fast heal, it’s a good time to use your fast heal. Since this encounter, I’ve instilled in myself that the moment the tank goes below 40% health, I would use Flash Heal to push him back above 50 before switching back to a normal Heal.

Luckily, we still killed him because of overpowered Warlocks.

Dual Unto Others

In a perfect world, we would all be fortunate enough to run with only our guildmates in Heroics and find that perfect unison of one tank, three DPS and one healer that could create that magic and that would ensure those hours of farming gear and Justice Points are nothing short of a blissful experience.

In reality, some have an easier go of it than others. Depending on who is online and who is already spoken for, you may find yourself being one of those stragglers who is forced to throw your lot in with the Dungeon Finder to get what you need. As DPS, the queue times can be unbearable. Not to mention the fact that PuG Heroics already have such a small chance of success that just downing the first boss can be seen as a huge victory.

Some enterprising DPS have decided to use their dual specs to become something that would allow them a much easier time of finding random groups to farm Heroics with – those of tanks and healers. Unfortunately, if not done correctly, this can create an even more painful experience for all involved. So, without further ado, here are my tips on how to use your dual spec to the fullest while trying to do Heroics.

Lesson #1:  Do Your Homework

If you’re planning on playing the part of a tank, healer or even DPS, when that’s not your natural role, you need to at least make sure that you can at least perform said role at an adequate level for the content that you are about to do. You won’t get very far if you can’t generate or hold aggro, if you can’t keep 4 other people and yourself alive or if you are not putting out the DPS to kill things fast enough.

Take a look at what others of your desired class/spec are doing, in terms of talents and rotations. Understand the mechanics and what the abilities associated with that spec are used for. I would put in just as much time learning your dual spec as you would put into your main spec, for something like this. If you’re not going to do it well enough to help your group succeed, then you’re basically doing all of this for nothing and that’s not good!

Lesson #2:  Look The Part

Once you have gotten into the right mindset to really understand the role that you’re trying to become, you then need to make sure that you are just as convincing on the outside as you are on the inside.

If you’re planning on becoming a temporary tank, make sure you have pieces that are fitting for a tank and that you have a generous amount of health and other attributes (like dodge and parry) to be able to take some hits.

If you’re aiming to become a healer, make sure you have pieces that a healer would wear. Anything with Spirit on it is going to be assumed as something that a healer would want, so make sure you have plenty of that on you. Make sure you’re not wearing any trinkets or using any meta gems that would be terribly obvious as DPS caster only.

If you’re in the rare bind of being a tank or healer attempting to DPS, possibly due to too many others like yourself in the guild needing upgrades and not enough runs to support them, make sure you are hit capped or as close to it as possible. If you play a class with CC capabilities, get comfortable using those abilities and become familiar with the symbol assigned to you for marking purposes. Watch your aggro and focus fire the correct mobs down, when it’s time to do that.

Lastly, make sure your gems and enchants go with the role that you are trying to perform, too.

Lesson #3:  Stick to the Script

It can be mighty tempting to want to fall back into your normal mindset in a group. You see that death knight made some strange talent choices or that the feral druid is letting his bleeds fall off too soon. You have experience. You know these things!

Except you’re there to tank. A little advice or a friendly suggestion is fine. Getting into blow by blow explanations and possibly even arguing with them over how things are done is purely bad form.

This rule seems exceptionally true for healers that place themselves into a DPS role. It can be tempting when you see life bars going down to stop what you’re doing and throw heals in rapid succession to save the day. That’s not why you’re there, though. Granted, if the run is on the unmistakable path to a wipe and you feel that you can possibly help save the day, by all means. I would expect any DPS to do the same thing. That should be a rare occurance and not a habit.  However, if you can cleanse something (such as a curse, poison or disease) that your healer cannot cleanse, then by all means, cleanse away!

Things not dying fast enough means the fights go on longer than they need to, which taxes the healing and can cause other problems. In short, do what you came to do, unless the situation absolutely calls for it.

Lesson #4:  Come Clean

There are some professions where you’re not immediately panicked by seeing someone wearing a trainee tag. The cashier at the grocery store. The busboy at a restaurant. That kind of thing.

Then there are those where you really don’t want to know that this is somebody’s first time doing a particular task. The person drawing your blood at the doctor’s office. The pilot flying the airplane you are on. The minute you discover they may not have that much experience is exactly when you start to doubt you’re in good hands.

With that in mind, feel free to state that this may not be your primary spec, but that you do feel confident enough to play it and don’t be afraid to ask for pointers.  This will go over a lot better than people assuming that you are a main spec tank, healer or DPS when you clearly are not.

Lesson #5:  Don’t Quit Your Day Job

At the end of the day, you’re doing this because you have to. You may enjoy what you’re doing, out of necessity or because it started to grow on you. But, remember why you’re really there. You’re there to get a shot at some gear that nobody else can use or to farm the Justice Points you need to buy better gear, so you can be ready to raid that much faster.

Do not get so attached to your dual spec that you start insisting on doing it in your actual raids. Do not think that because you made the most of your dual spec to get through a difficult time that you automatically know more about that class/spec than those that have been doing it since a previous expansion.

In closing, the journey towards becoming the best you can be so that you’re ready to raid should be an enjoyable one. You should be looking forward to watching your stats grow and your abilities hit harder or heal for more and it shouldn’t be something that you dread doing.

Slipping into a role that you don’t normally perform is not for everyone. Some people would rather deal with longer queue times than put themselves in a situation they’re not entirely comfortable with. Listen to your gut. If you know deep down that you don’t feel confident in the idea of tanking or healing (or even DPSing) or you know you don’t have the desire to put in the work to really give it your best shot, don’t do it.

Stick to what you know and what you enjoy. If you can still do that, while ensuring you are on the right path to being the best you can be, then you’re doing the right thing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Thanks for reading and happy hunting!

Were the Priest Buffs Needed?

Yeah, probably. I didn’t realize that Priests were a little underpowered in the regen department. That’s one of the benefits of doing stuff in guild groups. I was getting the encounters down, but they weren’t exactly the prettiest kills. Over the previous weekend when we were grinding out the heroics, I would almost get to the of end fights with zero mana. Actually, it wasn’t uncommon for me to hit 0 mana at 10% of encounters and just tell the rest of the DPS they’re on their own because I had to dump all my spells on the tank.

I haven’t had a go with Discipline yet, but I understand there’s a few challenges with it on the heroic side of things. I want to try it out sometime on the weekend. 

  • Blessed Resilience now increases healing received by 15/30%, up from 5/10%.
  • Focused Will now reduces damage taken by 5/10% and 10/20%, up from 4/8% and 6/12%.
  • Healing done by Glyph of Dispel Magic no longer improperly caps out at a certain health pool range.
  • Holy Concentration’s mana regeneration component has been increased from 10/20% to 20/40%.
  • Player-controlled vehicles return an Invalid Target error when attempting to use Leap of Faith on them.
  • Rapture’s mana regeneration component has been increased from 1.5/2/2.5 to 2/4/6%.

On the raiding side of things, we’ve started entering 25s and put in several legitimate shots on Halfus. Him and his drake buddies are kicking our butt. The current progression focus is going to be on him but I’ve authorized guild groups to take charge and set up their own 10 mans if they wanted to try to push for Throne of the Four Winds or Blackwing Depths. With the logs data from Argaloth and the observations on the Halfus attempts, the leadership team’s going to try to split the top 20 performing players so they can  head back in on monday. I want that sucker down before Christmas. I had no illusions that were going to be able to get him down on 25 largely due to gear, inexperience and other factors. That fight changed since beta and it’s incredibly front end loaded. I think we if can just time our cooldowns a little better (we’re able to get the first drake down) and really shut down the interrupts, we should be able to get him. Nether Scion and Storm Drake are tough cookies though. Our current approach is unlocking both Nether Scion and the Emerald whelps simultaneously. The whelps are split between both tanks but they’re still getting almost insta-gibbed.

By the way, if you’re having trouble healing heroics (as in you’re not sure what to do from the healer side of things), check the YouTube channel. I’ve been trying to upload a video a day of a boss on heroic from my viewpoint and narrating what I do. Wasn’t able to get to one yesterday night since it was a raid night.

If there’s any specific ones you want to see, give me a shout here. I’ve done just about all of them except for that Lord Commander guy in Shadowfang Keep (third boss). He just keeps stoning my group.

It came from the PUG: Tanks but no tanks.

The life of a healer in Cataclysm is new, exciting, and often times terrifying. The new expansion does something quite well, it makes healing really really hard. Since hitting level 85, I quickly geared up for healing and DPS just in case a guild group had a DPS slot available. Guild groups have been an absolute delight. Coordinating CC, figuring out new mechanics, and having a blast in new content and trying for achievements. Random groups however have been, to be honest here, full of suck.

This is mostly due not to the new healing mechanics, but to the new requirements in CC management and smart tanking. Over the course of the last week, I have queued for random heroics as a healer at least three times a day. This endeavor has met with slightly less mixed results than I would have anticipated. In the vast majority of cases the tank has been the problem. Not waiting for CC assignments or for the CC to go off. Breaking CC early, or to be perfectly honest here, pulling like a jack-ass. Now what I mean by this is that the tank is either pulling multiple groups, not waiting for the healer to have mana, not conserving mitigation cooldowns for when they are needed and generally ignoring any sort of logic or strategic approach. This is what I like to call the “Wrath Tanking Mentality”, which will be referred to from this point on in the post as WTM.

What is WTM you may be asking. Well, it’s the idea that heroics are stupidly easy, and require no forward thinking. That as soon as you reach maximum level, you are ENTITLED to the loot contained therein, and the actual running of the dungeon is merely a formality. This honestly wasn’t a problem the first few days as Blizzard instituted a gear requirement before even allowing people to queue randomly for the dungeons, but as players figured out how to raise their GS early the queues began to get worse and worse. In Wrath it wasn’t uncommon for a healer to just say “go ahead and pull 1/2 of the zone, I’ll be just fine.” or some variation therein. Honestly as a fresh 80 running heroics, very few reports of having difficulty healing existed. In Cataclysm though, it’s all about conserving mana, using the right heal for the job, and having a group that avoids all unnecessary damage while following CC assignments. As a healer you may have experienced this, but WTM is very very strong right now. I fear that the learning curve may actually be too steep for some people. I fear this, because inevitably what these people do is cry the loudest for dungeons to be nerfed, and they are very very quick to blame healers. Let me share with you some lovely examples from this week.

Day 1 of heroic ready healer

Throne of Tides: First boss

The tank was a warrior with LESS hit-points than my healer. My healer clocks in at 106k health right now, the tank only had 105k This was red flag number 1. I would have vote kicked him on the spot for that, but he had a voting block with two other guildies with him. We make it to the first boss through all the trash and it feels like a miracle. The tank seems to be made of paper, until I inspect them and see they are still wearing some ilvl 251 gear mixed in with sub-par greens. How this person got into the instance is a mystery to me at the time, but I go along with it. After all I’m a shaman and made of infinite win right? The first boss has a couple abilities that will tax a healer, and outright kill a stupid DPS. One of these abilities is a geyser that she casts beneath a player. You have ample time to move out of it, but if you don’t it will deal enough damage that it will one shot you. Funny thing here is, the first time she casts it even after being warned what it was, the tank does NOT move out of it and dies. That’s right folks, the tank. His comment “You suck healer you should have healed me through that.” I calmly explain that it is an instant kill and he needs to move off of it, and luckily one of his guildies backs me up on this. He drops the matter. The boss also has a phase where she summons three adds, two casters and a melee. The mage polymorphs one caster and I hex the other, which is pretty much standard operating procedure at this point. The tank, tags ALL three adds breaking the polymorph and the hex. The tank proceeds to die, and I am promptly vote-kicked from the group. Clearly both wipes were my fault. I write it off, tack myself to a guild group and a call it a night.

Day 2 of heroic ready healer

Halls of Origination: First Pull

The tank was much better off than the first one. Also a warrior he had a considerably larger health total, and his gear looked to be on par for heroic content. I was feeling optimistic about this run right until the first pull. This pull consists of five mobs that all do many different things. Usually the group marks 2-3 for CC and burns down the two biggest threats fast while pulling out of line of sight. The tank for this run however, rushed blindly in. No CC went out, and we had none besides my hex that could withstand damage so it was a wipe. Second attempt, someone in the group explains what we need to do, and this time we get our CC’s off . The tank however goes rushing in and dies a fiery death as he runs out of my healing range. Third attempt, the tank rushes in, and drops group as soon as everything is angry with us. Right gear, wrong mentality. I do some random heroics with guildies, call it a night.

Day 3 of heroic ready healer

Grim Batol: First boss

Interestingly enough, I got in this one as DPS. I forgot to uncheck DPS from the previous night’s heroic runs with the guild. We get to the first boss easy enough, I explain the fight on heroic and we engage. The healer, a holy priest, is doing a kick ass job and things are going great. Umbriss kicks into high gear and smears the tank pretty good. We wipe, go back in, tank drops group. We get a second tank and the same thing happens. I ask if he’s saving mitigation cooldowns (which I already know the answer to thanks to oRA3) and the only response I get is that the tank drops group. We get a third tank and the same thing happens. oRA3 in all cases shows me that the tank is just blowing tanking cooldowns at odd times. Times when healing isn’t tight and damage is manageable. This bothers me quite a bit and after three more failed tanks all doing the same exact thing I just call it a night and go to bed.

This continues on for what seems like many, many days. Now, not every experience was bad and there was some shinning hope here.

Day 5 of heroic ready healer

Heroic Deadmines

This was the first time that the group was all from random servers and guilds. No repeats of anything. The composition was a druid tank, me healing, a hunter a mage and a warlock for DPS. A lot of viable CC in this group, and best of all, they all listened. We worked together through the whole instance. For every one of us it was the first time setting foot in it since the change. We looked up encounters, made up our own strategies and fought all the way to the end. The druid was an amazing tank watching my mana closely and knowing when it was safe to pull and when it was time to sit back and take a break. Honestly I was impressed with the way the group was communicating without voice chat and getting along. Through normal conversation I find out that the group is made up entirely of players from the vanilla days who used to raid 40 man content. This is new and exciting to me as recently I’ve been running with “wrath babies” so it was good to reminisce about the good old days. We get to the end, figure out the cookie fight without looking it up, earn a few achievements and then begin the VanCleef event. I call it an event because, well, it is very much so an event and not a boss fight (coincidently, Kudos to you on this one Blizzard, A plus all the way on this fight). We get through a few wipes and then we realize it’s already 5 am and we just can’t keep going anymore. We drop group, but it was seriously the best healing experience I’ve had so far in a heroic, and one that hasn’t been replicated yet.

Long journey, but here’s the short of it. Healing is much harder than it was before. Most healers in my experience are making the transition pretty well thanks to the strong healing community feeding information into the media. Tanking and smart DPS is an entirely different story now. I don’t say this a lot, but right now the fail boat has a lot of passengers. I know there will always be a string of bad runs, or players that haven’t been keeping up on every change, but it feels as though we really do have a lot of players behind the curve.

Is the tanking learning curve too steep? Is WTM too strong after having used it for two years? What experiences have you had as a healer in the LFG system? Have you encountered the WTM a

That’s it for now, I’m going to head back in to the LFD tool with my head up and my mana potions stacked high. I’ll be sure to bring you back some awesome, and awful stories. Until next time, happy healing and may your mana be plentiful.

Interview: Blacksen

I conducted this interview about two weeks ago with Blacksen of Blacksen’s End. He is both a GM and a blogger. I picked up several neat ideas as we discussed the raiding environment and guild management tips.

Hey Blacksen, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me and answer a few questions. I understand you’re a guild leader yourself. Could you tell me more about you, your guild and how that organization came about?

Back in early December 2009, a few of my RL friends (Faux, Rissara, Krisys, and Dez) and I transferred to Zul’jin with the intent of PvP’ing together. After reading more about rated battlegrounds, we decided to start a guild doing battlegrounds on Sunday/Monday and raiding on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.

We knew from the beginning that our primary guild value would be performance. All of us were excellent gamers who wanted to excel in the content given. Recruitment was kicked into overdrive over the Holidays and our first 25man raid was January 4th.

It’s funny to look back on it all since we specifically told people in our February, March, and April interviews that “we are not a server first guild. We can’t get server firsts raiding 3 nights per week on a very competitive PvE realm.” Now, we’re recruiting and driving for national competition while staying on our limited schedule. We’re the #3 3 night/wk guild in the United States, behind Surprise Mutiny and Arathian Knights. We’re hoping to become #1 with Cataclysm.

Over the past few months, we’ve actually split the guild into two separate “teams” under the same guild tag. I’m the main coordinator of Critical, our PvE progression team. One of my officers, Faux, is the main coordinator of Vital, our Rated Battlegrounds team. We want both teams to be able to compete at a national level while still accruing the same guild achievement, experience, and reputation benefits. This system allows the two teams to achieve that while operating completely independently.

As a guild leader myself, I’m always interested in learning about the management techniques of other guilds. Have any trade secrets?

There are a few things we learned pretty early on that helped us out, the first of which was making value-based recruitment decisions. We told people that we valued performance above everything else, and we accepted anyone who came to us saying “I also value performance.” We accepted several undergeared and underqualified applicants simply because they said “I know I’m a good player” – Toragon, Annaleise, and Anosh, to name a few.

Another thing we learned was how to specialize the trade chat macro. I still have a few examples:

  • A horse walked into a bar and the bartender asked “Why the long face” and the horse said “Because I’m not in Imperative.” Imperative is recruiting! Join now!
  • You can pwn if you wanna. You can leave your guild behind. Cus your guild don’t pwn and if it don’t pwn then it ain’t no guild of mine. Imperative is recruiting!
  • Just a city dwarf, born n’ raised in south IF! He took the midnight train going to Imperative, with a light raid schedule and 8/12 in ICC-25! Spots open, join now!
  • Apolo Ohno? More like Apollo Fail-o! Why? Because he’s not in Imperative.

These macros were essentially designed to grab attention. Most people just completely zone-out when it comes to advertisements in real life, and trade-chat advertisements are no different. These macros were designed purely to get people talking about our guild and what we were about.

Another successful idea that we implemented were guild meetings. We hold an officer meeting at the end of every raid week to discuss recruitment, member concerns, and anything else that we want. In addition, we also hold a guild meeting on the last Monday of each month. Our guild meetings serve as a reminder to individual players that we’re focused on both short-term and long-term goals. It’s easy for a lot of guilds to get so wrapped up in each progression cycle, so we created our guild meetings to reinforce long-term guild goals.

One final policy is officer chat. Anyone in the guild can talk in officer chat at any time, but only officers can read officer chat. At first, this might seem a bit strange – members type something in /o but they can’t even see their own message. Overall, it has provided an excellent flow of information. It allows members to talk to all officers simultaneously without pulling us aside. If a member has a problem with another member, an emergency afk, a strategy suggestion, or anything else that officers should be aware of, they can simply say something in officer chat. This policy ensures that some officer will see it and that all officers are aware of it, rather than just the “favorite officer.”

With regards to Cataclysm, how is your guild preparing for the expansion in the opening weeks?

We’re going to take it easy. We’ve set out first “official” 25man raid for January 4th. Between Cataclysm’s release and that date, we’ve set out some expectations for our members such as 40 heroics minimum completed, all of the good gems/enchants (including reputation ones), tradeskills high enough to incur personal raiding benefits, and strong familiarity with your class mechanics and all introductory fights. However, I’m sure we’ll end up doing some 10man raiding to start getting familiar with the fights. We might end up raiding on December 21st.

Right now, Cataclysm is looking like you cannot “skip over” heroic dungeons. WotLK had players walking into Naxxaramas with essentially quest greens, and the raid instance itself was extremely easy. Blizzard seems to be overcorrecting for that mistake, making most of the introductory encounters complete gear checks.

Our rated Battlegrounds team, Vital, is likely starting December 18th or 19th. We now know that it will be a 15v15 weekend, and we’re all very excited to dive headfirst into the competition. It’ll be interesting to see what teams show up that early and how the season scales with resilience.

How do you utilize your guild bank? How are the resources being used?

Right now, the guild bank pays for all repairs during raiding hours and provides fish feasts for all raiders. We’ve accumulated a static 225k to “sit on” going into Cataclysm. Anything over 225k is split among all active raiders at the end of the month. We sell Light of Dawn for 40k each week to two players, in addition to selling heroic run-throughs and gear.

We’re hoping to be able to provide Flask Cauldrons, but, with the changes to 10 and 25man raiding, that may not be sustainable. With the merger of 10man and 25man lockouts, it’s become difficult to sell both gear and raid spots. However, the guild leveling “perks” that deposit gold into the guild bank in addition to BoE items might transfer things over.

About raiding

Let’s talk about your raid environment for a moment. I’ve heard from a variety of raiders at upper levels that a top 100 guild is different from a top 50 guild which is different from a top 20 guild (and a top 10 guild). Do you know what I mean? Do you think you can explain that a bit? What kind of mindset or mental state is the raid in when on a progression run?

I think the main thing that varies is the collective view of the most brutal progression fights. For the most part, we were nowhere close to competing for US until we seriously pushed heroic Lich King. In fact, we spent the entire month of January competing to get on the front page of WoWProgress on Zul’jin. When we got out first heroic Sindragosa and Putricide kills, we were just under the “top 250” cutoff. We were a guild that was 4/12 heroic until the next zone-wide buff, and we’d jump 4 more bosses.

We raid three nights per week and strictly adhere to our schedule. We’ve never raided past 12:20am and never raided on a non-raid night. Most of us felt that, with 10 hours of raiding each week, things like server firsts were beyond us. We told people in interviews up front that we likely wouldn’t be getting server firsts just due to time constraints.

Our mindset changed drastically at heroic Lich King. When we learned that other guilds on the server were making limited progress, we saw an opportunity to actually seize a server first. Our raid environment went from joking-fun raiding to semi-serious and professional attitudes. Whenever the officers elected not to attempt heroic Lich King, people became extremely agitated.

There are a lot of different “modes” that raids can enter when pushing progression. There’s an “unfocused” mode where people crack up at Shadow Trap wipes. There’s a “bad luck” mode where people start feeling that elements are out of the raid’s control (disconnects, for example). There’s “rapid fire” mode where you’re literally just throwing bodies at the boss and trying to get as many attempts as you can (Quedar hates this mode. I love it). These modes are all fairly detrimental, but all difficult to control. It’s hard to make sure that people are both focused and having a good time. The worst thing that I can ever hear as a raid leader is one of my officers saying “this is miserable” – you’ve gotta keep morale up.
The one thing that all top-level guilds have in common is the high emphasis placed on performance. I’ve been playing WoW for over 4 years, and I know how challenging it can be to be an awesome player surrounded by bad ones in a terrible guild. So, in case there is any doubt, there are guilds out there where everyone is an excellent player and no one is getting carried. You just need to find them.

Can you summarize the recruiting process after the initial application? You probably have a trial portion of some sort. What does that involve? What happens when a raider passes it? What happens when they fail?

Once you submit an application, you’ll get assigned a unique application ID number that gives you and only you access to your application. The application also gets posted on our private forums so that members can post questions and comments for the applicant to see. I firmly believe that all applications should be private for both the applicant and guild, but I also wanted applicants to be able to engage in a dialogue about their application – this system allows them to do that.

After you submit an application, we usually get comments posted about it within 18-24 hours. If we like your application, you’ll get flagged for an “interview” by one of our officers. Interviews, for us, usually consist of no questions. Instead, we just lay out how we operate and what our expectations are. It’s then the burden of the applicant to evaluate themselves and critically analyze if they can meet our expectations. Nearly every applicant who gets to the interview stage is accepted.

We don’t have any “initiate” or “trial” status. Once you’re in, you’re in. You’re held to the same expectations as every other member. We do not allow “I’m new” as an excuse for poor performance. We expect everyone to get things correct on their first try, even if they’ve never seen it before.

What type of players are you looking for when you’re recruiting? Are there any specific or shared traits among the players in your raid group?
Simply put, we recruit “skilled players.” If anything, the past year has proven to us that skill drives progression – not time input. We want players who are world-class record setters and don’t need to make mistakes in order to learn the lessons.

However, there are several other elements that go into our ideal applicant. Applicants for either team are expected to be team players. We frequently call upon individuals to set aside their personal goals for a larger team goal. We had three rogues and three hunters when pushing heroic Lich King, but we only brought one rogue and one hunter due to their weak classes. In the 10-weeks prior to heroic Lich King, we received 40 heroic tier tokens in which every single one went to a DPS. We asked our healers to set aside their personal healing goals so that we could gear for the fight (heroic Lich King being a pure DPS race).

To screen for team players, we usually look at guild history. Players who are essentially “guild hoppers” usually hop whenever asked to set aside some personal goal, while players who’ve been in a single guild for 6 months or more have inevitably been asked to do something they didn’t want to do, but did it anyway for the team.

Another strong element is cultural “fit.” Imperative’s culture largely emanates a feeling of “professional college gamers.” 90% of the guild is between ages 20 and 25, and 96% of the guild either already has or is currently pursuing a 4-year Bachelor’s degree. Culturally, the majority of our members are extremely professional – no one would greet their friends like “gangstaz”. We want players who fit well with our raid environment. To do that, you need to be a generally nice person who doesn’t screw around in raids and enjoys being around other people. In the past, we removed two main tanks for extreme personality clashes (and generally being assholes).

What immediately happens after a wipe? What is the leadership approach to players who aren’t “getting it”?

Immediately after any wipe, every officer writes down what they interpreted as the cause of the wipe in addition to any mistakes that were made in the previous attempt. This data is then compiled later in our officer forums for analysis. We then explain what we interpreted as the cause of the wipe and what we need to do to improve.

If individual players just “aren’t getting it,” their raid spot will immediately be called into question in both the short-term and long-term. If someone is simply having an off-night, they’ll get replaced for the remainder of the evening. However, if someone is sincerely struggling at learning an individual boss mechanic, their long-term raid spot will also be questioned (sometimes publicly).

We are a guild of rising standards, and, to us, WoW is an easy game. At one point in time, we recruited based on the ability to run out of normal-mode Sindragosa’s Icy Grip. We later (much later) recruited off the ability to down heroic Lich King and heroic Halion. For the past two months, we’ve been recruiting off the ability to farm heroic Lich King. When Cataclysm hits, we expect all of our members to rapidly learn and perfect fight execution. With each fight, there’s a new performance standard set. If they fall significantly behind, we’ll open recruitment for someone who can meet the new standards.

Rumor has it you instituted a “bottom 3” policy at some point in time. What was that about?

The “bottom 3” policy was in effect until September earlier this year. Essentially, the policy states that we’re always seeking to replace the “bottom 3” players in the guild. At the end of each week, officers meet to discuss who were the three least skilled players in the guild. We then inform those three that they were in the bottom 3, and, if they do not significantly improve, we recruit over them. Being in the bottom 3 also removes all loot privileges until we see an improvement. When it comes time to critically analyze an individual raid spot, we look at how often that player appears in the bottom 3 and if we believe their performance level can change. Once we receive an application from someone that we are convinced is better than someone in our bottom 3, we replace them. Once that recruit proves to be actually better than the player in the bottom 3, we remove the player.

At first glance, it sounds brutally harsh, but it has proved extremely effective for us in the past. First, it’s worth noting that no one who was meeting raid standards has ever appeared in the bottom 3. Second, it’s generally hard to “convince us that you’re better.” We need to see long-term attendance levels and performance levels that are better than our current players. One single raid-night parse doesn’t cut it here.
Finally, the policy doesn’t really do anything different than most other raiding guilds. Most guilds look to replace their weaker players with stronger players, and the weakest players tend to get more urgency attached onto them. It’s nothing new to say that we “remove our bad players.” The bottom-3 policy forced us to focus on only 3 bad players rather than a potential 10 that were on our roster early on.
What type of loot distribution system do you run and what was the thought process that led you to it?

Ironically, I was a DKP-addict throughout all of Burning Crusade. I spent countless hours trying to create the perfect system that would give the correct incentives for showing up and performing. It wasn’t until I joined Aftermath on Lightning’s Blade that I was enlightened to the brilliance of loot council. Aftermath had a perfect loot council that made decisions purely based on progression and performance. To them, gear was a means to an end. When starting Imperative, I attempted to copy several of their policies.

Early on, loot council made sense for us. We wanted to ensure that our best players got all the gear they wanted, while our weakest players got absolutely no gear at all. Point-based systems tend to over-emphasize attendance and downplay performance, so they weren’t an option.
Loot council is the optimal form of loot distribution at high-end progression raiding. For us, “fairness” is completely irrelevant. Gear is allocated purely for whatever is going to get us the most progression the fastest. As mentioned earlier, the 40 tier tokens that dropped prior to downing heroic Lich King went to DPS’ers. Stronger AoE classes were given preference on the tokens over weaker AoE classes. We were gearing to down heroic Lich King, not to be “fair.”

Now, I consider myself an expert in loot councils. I’m the author of the #1 Loot Council mod, LootCouncil_Lite. The mod gives loot councils a solid voting interface with the ability to quickly compare upgrade sizes. It has become a critical part of our loot council procedures.

*Edit: I personally use Loot Council Lite and I love it.

What you did for the red shirt guy was touching. What made you decide to offer that gesture? How did the rest of your guild take it?

After BlizzCon and reading the horrific comments on the forums and YouTube, I went to track down the red shirt guy. After learning his identity, we extended him the offer to come to a 12/12 heroic clear, getting all gear that he could use including heroic tier tokens and Lich King weapons.
We felt that, out of everyone in the United States, he would get the most enjoyment being a part of the most epic battle that has ever been made within any MMO. He genuinely appreciated the meaning and lore behind Invincible – it wasn’t just a “cool mount” to ride around. A lot of people have tried to make him feel bad or feel like a nerd, so we thought he should get the gear to feel totally badass.

We did not reveal the identity of the red shirt guy until after the raid, so most had no idea what was going on. We didn’t want him being harassed by individuals in the guild or on the server. We instead told the guild that I had a “personal friend” transferring over, and that he would get any and all gear that he wanted during our 12/12 heroic Icecrown clear. He walked out with two heroic Tier Tokens, the heroic Deathwhisperer dagger, the heroic Lich King axe, and a few other pieces.

Most notably, we gave the red shirt guy Invincible. One of my officers (Faux) won the roll and elected to give it to him, sacrificing his vanity item eligibility for a few months. After revealing his identity, a few members outright didn’t believe us and were a little disgruntled that we gave Invincible to “some friend of Blacksen.” After the red shirt guy made the YouTube video, however, everyone was happy and warm inside.

About the blogs

What’s Blacksen.com about? Are there any projects you’re apart of?

Blacksen.com is about a wide range of topics, from guild and raid leadership to zone critiques to game design suggestions. I originally started it as a feeble attempt to improve my chances of getting into the gaming industry. Once I really got going and Imperative started making significant long-term progress, blogging became more of an hobby.

The majority of the blog focuses on guild and raid leadership within World of Warcraft, but there are a few other things I’ve tossed in. A lot of my guildmates have recently become enthralled with League of Legends, so I’ve written a couple of entries on that. A significant number of us also participated in the Cataclysm beta.

I’ve also been a part of the MMOLeader.com launch. The title pretty much explains what it is – a place for leaders within MMO’s to congregate to discuss various strategies and issues that they’ve experienced.

Thanks again to Blacksen for taking the time to participate in this interview!

Post-Cataclysm Survival Roundup For Healers, Leaders and Guilds

So, Cataclysm hit this week. We all know what that means: most of us got less sleep than we should have and consumed our body weight in caffeine. And around now you might be starting to look at the actual playstyle of the game rather than all the pretty shiny quests and graphics and going “so wait, what? How do I do…. ahhhh!”

Well, the blogosphere has some answers. The blogosphere itself has been a bit quiet this week – not a huge surprise, given that everyone’s been playing their hearts out. But over at MMO Melting Pot I’ve been doing special Cataclysm posts rounding up all the interesting post-Cataclysm articles from the blogosphere, and am rounding the week off doing just the same sort of post for you guys. Holy priests are really well spoken for this week, and the rest of us don’t have it too bad either. So, get a chunk of caek and a brandy (it’s the time of year dontchaknow) and have a gander while your WoW loads up in the background.

  • 10 Tips For Cata Healing on a Pally – an absolutely fantastic post for holy paladins in 5 mans by Aunna over at Bandage Spec. She’s got ten top tips on how to heal as a holy paladin in Heroics – and each of them sounds like a lifesaver. Whether you’re having trouble in dungeons or not, her post might well give you an extra edge. It’s certainly prodding me towards my holy pally.
  • Getting ready for… – if you’re heading into raids this may well be useful for you whether or not you use Grid. Beruthiel’s guides on getting Grid ready for the Throne of the Four Winds, Twilight Bastion and Blackwing Descent are all detailed posts on what debuffs go around during boss fights in each raid instance. These posts may have a slight lean towards those using Grid but they’re useful for any healer preparing themselves for the raid challenges ahead! As an added bonus if you’re a resto druid you might also check out her pre-raid gear post.
  • New Tools In The Priestly Arsenal – Harpy’s taking a look at the new spells you’re likely to pick up as a healing priestie in Cataclysm. She’s looking at it mostly from a holy perspective but I’m betting disc can get some thoughts from it too. A useful post, and I was impressed with her thoughts on the usefulness of your latest DPS spell.
  • Constructive Criticism – are you in a guild getting ready for raiding? Well, it’s new content. Harder. Faster. More fun. Well, maybe – anyway, it’s common for some players to get to grips with the new stuff more slowly. So if you see that happen in your guild and figure that someone needs to help or talk to those players, have a read of Malevica’s post: it’s a great resource for knowing how best to approach someone constructively, and aim for a solution that everyone’s happy with. She also has some musings on how a guild’s leadership setup can subconsciously affect the rest of the guild for better – or worse.
  • Choices in the Holy Tree or Lack Thereof – Zelmaru’s taking a look at the holy tree and deflating a little. She says holy’s excellent to play now, but the talents are a bit lacklustre. Which ones? Well, she says what she’s not taken and what went right out the window on day one. She also has a look ahead to 85 and her possible spec then. Holy priests have it really good this week, as Zinn over at Jinxed Thoughts has also gone through the holy priest talent tree and looked at the main talents each in turn.
  • Guild Leveling – Numbers – a really useful introduction to the whole guilds-can-now-level shenanigans for anyone. If you’re not new to the concept it’s worth a read anyway, as Psynister has done the maths and worked out roughly how long it’ll take a fairly active guild to hit the maximum guild level. He also explains what activities count towards getting your guild experience.

And with that there’s not much more to be said by this owl other than “squaaaaaawk!” Which roughly translates to HAPPY HOLIDAYS! I know it’s a little early but due to complicated Christmas plans this will be my last post here at WoM until the New Year. So have a good one, folks – see you when we’ve all recovered from eating too much turkey and mince pies.

But for the meantime, the whole crew at WoM would really like to know one thing. What do you want for Yuletide? That is – what would you like to read from us during the holidays?

Guild Heroic Imbalance and Raid Plans

I’m sorry to say that I did a bit of a poor job planning out the gearing process. We have an extremely limited number of tanks which bottlenecks us on guild only heroic runs. What this means is that there are going to be a number of DPS and healers on the outside looking in who won’t be able to benefit from acquiring justice points or precious loot. I personally don’t mind hitting the dungeon finder on my own since I have a higher frustration tolerance level compared to some of our other healers, so I’ll allow them to get picked first.

But this is where dual specs come heavily into play. I asked our hybrid classes like druids and paladins if they were willing to acquire tanking gear on the way up. This way, when they reach a sufficient amount of gear to tank heroics, we can set them up with classes that don’t need their type of armor. For example, if I have a raiding holy paladin with access to tank gear, we can ensure there isn’t another holy paladin in that group. This way, they can win both protection and holy gear while the actual healer in there can score healing leather, mail or cloth drops.

In the end though, it’s one of those things that’s really up to the individual player and how much time they are willing to invest and dedicate.

Sometimes, I wish I had a tanking blogger around. I appear to have this uncanny ability of attracting healers. As much as I want to recruit pure tanks, the downside is that having multiple pure tanks around will decrease in usefulness as time goes on. Right now, things are great because everyone wants a tank. But as we transition from heroics to raids, the need for having a large amount of tanks will decrease. Best case scenario is to have DPS players who are completely cool with tanking so they can make that switch as well.

I myself have really come to appreciate the value of dual spec as holy and shadow. I can easily pitch in and help DPS in a group run if the need to gear up a healer arises. Or I can remain in a healing role and play the pioneer healer (or better known as wipe about 8 times a boss and sharing the secrets with the rest before they go in so they can 1 shot it later).

The raid roster

Officially, formal 25s will begin in early January. Unofficially, we have something like 30+ 85s already in the guild that are gradually acquiring gear. My plan is to see if we can set up a 25 man raid on monday. We’ll spend a few hours in there just to get a feel of actually raiding at the 85 level and get some practice time in. If we don’t get any kills, it’s unfortunate but I suspect the exposure to the encounters will be beneficial either way. It’ll most likely be an open raid with mostly veterans and newer recruits who joined for the expansion. This will be a chance for the newer players to really gain an understanding of the team’s raiding environment and to see if it’s something for them. I really don’t want to waste anyone’s time if I can help it and if they don’t mesh here in the raid, then I’m better off just letting them go.

But Matt, aren’t you leaving some people out?

Unfortunately yes. That’s the way it goes though. But it’s not like there’s any shortage of things to do in the game to progress one’s character. Selection’s going to be tough since it’s based on raid composition, gear level (and yes, it actually matters right now) and who is available. It’ll be a good time to evaluate what weaknesses need to be shored up overall. I can’t fit 35 players in a 25 man raid anyway.

Short Term Guild Goals

I forgot how overwhelming and demanding being a GM in the opening weeks of an expansion can be. In Wrath, we were stockpiling all sorts of mats as we were leveling (Green items to DE, cloth, gems, ore, herbs, and so forth).

Managed to top out at 85 in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Sadly, I lost my guild first 80 title to our raid leading warlock. I think time spent was about the same. He did it in 20 hours and it took me about 20-21 hours or so. I was fourth overall.

Now in addition to that, I need to factor in stuff like guild achievements and which one we can target as a guild that can best help us.

The list (In no particular order)

  • Gain access to the feasts
  • Power level our enchanters to a minimum of 500 so they can disenchant stuff in dungeons
  • Power level our tailors so they can start their cloth cooldowns
  • Level our engineers and blacksmiths for access to feasts and buckles

Weekend will be used to develop professions to a reasonable level as well as gearing as much as possible via dungeons and heroics.

On a side note, I’d love to have a few more tanks around to run 5 mans with. Our tanks are slowly getting there. More on this tomorrow about the the healer:tank:DPS ratio and how I’m planning on handling it. Any tanks looking for a guild to chill in?

If our players continue leveling and gearing at this pace now, I think we’ll be raid ready by monday night. Heroics are extremely brutal right now since everyone’s undergeared like crazy. I’m debating recording some heroic videos along with a narrative just to outline some basic strategies and principles.

I’ve noticed a number of 10 man and newer 25 man guilds have already folded during the opening days of the expansion. Being a GM in the opening weeks is some serious business. My attention’s not only focused on taking care of guild affairs overall, but I also need to work on my own character as well.

Oh podcast remarks, I’ve narrowed the list down. Going to record a few mock episodes at some point just to see how it goes. More on this later as well.

Also, whoever the quest designer was that decided that the first quest in Vashjir should be looting a single conch shell that can’t be looted by everyone at the time needs to be re-evaluated.

Anyway, how’s your initial experiences been so far? What’s on your guild list of short term priorities?

Leveling, Holy and Discipline Priest specs

Here’s a quick glance at my healing and questing specs on the grind from 80 to 85. My mentality behind this was to select talents that would give me an edge in either survivability or efficiency. I went for talents that helped reduce mana costs or gave me mana back. I also opted for talents that made me a little bit tougher to kill.

Starting from level 80

As Shadow (Link to talent calculator)

Notes

Improved Psychic Scream – In case things get dicey with an overpull, I can couple this talent with Glyph of Psychic Scream. I don’t send mobs flying every where and pulling even more stuff. But it might buy me the precious seconds I need to DPS something down and heal up.

Mental Agility – Cheaper dots. ‘Nuff said.

Veiled Shadows – Wishbone gets to come out more often. … What, don’t you guys name your Shadowfiends?

As Holy (Link to talent calculator)

I chose holy as my dungeon healing offspec. Mana won’t be a terribly challenging issue with the opening instances like Blackrock Caverns or Throne of the Tides. But you’ll want to consider grabbing Mental Agility on the way up.

Notes

Desperate Prayer – Yeah, yeah, not many people would choose this. But I personally like having a safety net in dungeons in case I pull something.

As Discipline (Link to talent calculator)

Notes

Chose Empowered Healing over Divine Fury. Cast time isn’t as big a factor when you’re leveling up via dungeons, I found. Still going to be using a combination of shields and Flash Heal to get over the top.

Raiding

As Shadow (Link to talent calculator)

Sorry guys, I can’t say this is the final form of the raid spec I plan to use as shadow. I’ll use this as a baseline to work with though at least.

As Holy (Link to talent calculator)

Yup, I kept Desperate Prayer and Inspiration for raiding. Darkness is another option when your mana regeneration hits a point where it isn’t a big a factor. I won’t be switching to it until I accumulate more potent gear.

As Discipline (Link to talent calculator)

So many options here. You can take out the points from Veiled Shadows and place them into Surge of Light or Inspiration (In case your party doesn’t already have one with it). But Disc by far seems to offer the most variety when it comes to talent placement.

Quick Priest Gear for Holy and Discipline at 85

This is not a gear guide for your best in slot list.

This is a gear guide which lists how to fill in your gear slots as fast as possible via reputations, crafting or quest rewards. You’ll notice each gear slot has a number of items. The fact is, I can’t tell you what’s the best stat to stack up on. Heck, you don’t need the best possible gear to start doing heroics or raids. Your character just needs to be geared enough to bypass the healing checks that are in place (for instance, if your priest can heal X amount of damage, then you’re good to go). Therefore, I’ve provided numerous options for each slot.

If you get a piece of equal or greater stat value, you can methodically move on from that. For example, if I get a solid helm from a dungeon I just ran, then I won’t need to blow justice points on the Mask of New Snow. I can use the points on another slot where the item is still weaker and bring it up that way.

Further notes on reputations, stat allocation and gemming on the bottom.

Helms

There are a few options available here.

Arcanum of Hyjal – Guardians of Hyjal Quartermaster, Revered

Mask of New Snow – JP vendor (2200), 346
Spiritmend Cowl – Tailoring, 333
Helm of Temperance – Earthen Ring Quartermaster, Honored, 333
Lightweight Bio-Optic Killshades – BoP, Engineering, 359

Necks

Celadon Pendant – JP vendor (346), 346
Eye of Many Deaths – JC, 346
Pendant of Elemental Balance – Earthen Ring Quartermaster, Honored, 333

Shoulders

Lesser Inscription of Charged Lodestone – Therazane Quartermaster, Honored
Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone –  Therazane Quartermaster, Exalted

Summer Song Shoulderwraps – JP vendor (1650), 346
Blight-Lifter’s Mantle – Quest reward: The Source of Their Power, 333
Emberfire Shoulders – Tailoring, 339 (PvP)

Cloaks

Enchant Cloak – Greater Critical Strike
Enchant Cloak – Greater Intellect
Darkglow Embroidery (Tailors only)

Cloak of Ancient Wisdom – Earthen Ring Quartermaster, Revered, 346
Cloak of the Dryads – Guardians of Hyjal, 333

Chest

Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Spirit (Thinking this one)

Musk Rose Robes – JP vendor (2200), 346
Overly Intelligent Robes – Quest reward: Skullcrushter the Mountain, 333
Emberfire Robe – Tailoring, 339 (PvP)

Wrists

There’s like no easy way to get wrists. Pull the wrists from the Halls of Origination Quest reward and reforge the hit out to something more useful like spirit. Emberfire Bracers are another option, but you’ll need to reforge out the resilience. Forgot. You can’t reforge out resilience. Oh well. Otherwise, pray for some drops.

Enchant Bracer – Greater Speed
Enchant Bracer – Greater Critical Strike
Enchant Bracer – Exceptional Spirit
Draconic Embossment – Intellect (Leatherworking only)

True Archaeologist’s Bracers – Quest reward: Doing it the Hard Way, Halls of Origination, 333
Emberfire Bracers – Tailoring, 339
Crimsonborne Bracers – Drop, Dragha Shadowburner, Grim Batol 333

Gloves

Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery

Flamebloom Gloves – Earthen Ring vendor, exalted, 359
Gloves of Purification – JP vendor (1650), 346
Roffle’s Ruffly Gloves – BoE, 333

Belt

Ebonsteel Belt Buckle

I can either score a new belt with the tailoring cooldowns or jet for the pants. Since there is already an epic level belt offered from the Guardians of Hyjal, I’ll probably skip the tailoring belt and buy the one from the Hyjal folks.

Belt of the Depths – Tailoring, 359
Cord of Raven Queen – Guardians of Hyjal, exalted, 359
Belt of the Falling Rain – JP vendor (1650), 346
Truth-Seeker Belt – Quest Reward: A Villain Unmasked, 333

Pants

Ghostly Spellthread (Tailoring)
Powerful Ghostly Spellthread (Tailoring)

Leggings of Charity – JP vendor (2200), 346
Breeches of Mended Nightmares – Tailoring, 359
Flame-Ascended Pantaloons – Tailoring, 359

Boots

Enchant Boots – Lavawalker

Slippers of Moving Waters – BoE, Valorous Quartermaster, 359
Gogarok’s Tenderized Treads – BoE, 333
Hekatic Slippers – BoP, Rajh, Halls of Origination, 333

Rings

Enchant Ring – Intellect (Enchanters only)

Ring of the Boy Emperor – Archaeology, 359
Ring of Warring Elements – JC, 346
Diamant’s Ring of Temperance – Therazane, Revered, 346
Ammunae’s Blessing – Ramkahen, Honored, 333

Trinkets

Plenty of options when it comes to trinkets. I didn’t list trinkets obtainable only in dungeons.

Mandala of Stirring Patterns – Baradin’s Wardens, Exalted, 359
Soul Casket – Valorous Quartermaster 1650, 359
Core of Ripeness – Valorous Quartermaster 1650 , 359
Darkmoon Card: Tsunami – Darkmoon cards, 359
Tyrande’s Favorite Doll – Archaeology, 359
Baradin Footman’s Tags – Baradin’s Wardens, Honored, 333
Talisman of Sinister Order – Quest Reward: Firing Squad, 325
Electrospark Heartstarter – BoE, 316

* In depth trinket analysis to be done later on in the week.

1H

Enchant Weapon – Heartsong

Shimmering Morningstar – Baradin’s Wardens, Revered, 346
Elementium Hammer – Blacksmithing, 346
Gurgthock’s Garish Gorebat – Quest Reward: Crucible of Carnage: The Twilight Terror! , 333

OH

Enchant Off-Hand – Superior Intellect

Apple-Bent Bough – JP vendor (950), 346
Divine Companion – Inscription, 346
Skyflight Beacon – Quest Reward:Doing It Like a Dunwald, 333

Staff

Enchant Weapon – Heartsong

Staff of Ammunae – Archaeology, 359
Insidious Staff – Baradin’s Wardens, Revered, 346
Very Manly Staff – Quest Reward: Crucible of Carnage: The Twilight Terror! , 333

Wand

Wand of Untainted Power – Drop: Forgemaster Throngus, 333
Wand of Dark Worship – BoE Drop: The Stonecore
Beach-Sweeper Wand – Quest Reward: Landgrab, 318

Reputation

Whew! That’s quite the selection isn’t it? Which faction offers the most bang for the buck? At first glance, it looks like Earthen Ring will be the one I choose to get reputation for first. They offer a helm, neck, cloak and epic gloves. Not bad. I’ll be representin’ them when I go dungeon diving. If I can’t score any drops for those slots in that department, then a quick visit to them. When Deepholm is unlocked and you’ve cleared out the zones, start working on Therazane reputation so you can eventually grab the shoulder enchants. Once you’re done with Earthen Ring, pick up the Guardians of Hyjal tabard and shoot for the helm enchant.

While Baradin’s Wardens also offer numerous and appealing rewards, those should be done on the side when there’s battles going on. It will take a little longer for you to get there as it’s going to depend on your server. I think the daily quests contribute to the reputation so work on those when your faction has control of Tol Barad.

Quick note on allocating stats

REMEMBER THAT ALL YOUR GEAR HAS BEEN RESET!

Focus on your basics first. In the start of Wrath, we concentrated on throughput and and regeneration. We didn’t have the luxury to go nuts with crit or haste like we do now because we actually had to worry about mana regen. Guess what? We’re repeating that stage again. So don’t go nuts with haste, crit or mastery yet. Accumulate a solid amount of spirit and intellect. Holy priests may wish to favor spirit a little more while discipline priests will want to aim for additional intellect. Let the rest of your gear build up secondary stats over time. There is no point in having astronomical amounts of haste, crit or mastery if you don’t have the mana to cast them or the spellpower for it to be worthwhile.

Once we hit the upper raiding tiers of the initial content, I suspect that’s when we can slowly reforge and adjust our stats.

Gem selection

Meta gem

Revitalizing Shadowspirit Diamond

Red

Brilliant Inferno Ruby
Purified Demonseye
Artful Ember Topaz
Potent Ember Topaz

Yellow

Fractured Amberjewel
Quick Amberjewel
Smooth Amberjewel
Zen Dream Emerald

Artful Ember Topaz
Potent Ember Topaz

Blue

Sparkling Ocean Sapphire
Purified Demonseye
Zen Dream Emerald

Gear strategy

Since I can get the epic belt (Cord of Raven Queen) by gaining reputation with the Hyjal guardians, the Dreamcloth I’ll be self-manufacturing would be better spent on the pants (Breeches of Mended Nightmares). For weapons, I’ll most likely need to get one of our blacksmiths to create an Elementium Hammer and a Scribe to create a Divine Companion. In the long run, I’ll stick to staves. With regards to trinkets, I may just set a long term goal of the Valorous trinkets. I’m not sure yet, I need to really look into them further. I’m hoping I can buy some of the BoE blue stuff. Several of the quests offer some decent rewards that will tide me over (See the wrists, shoulders and the chest).

Did I miss something? Let me know, and I’ll try to work it in. Remember I tried to avoid relying on dungeon drops or RNG stuff simply because it isn’t a 100% guarantee that you’ll get it.