Spirit Shell, Will We Find a Use For You?

Spirit Shell, Will We Find a Use For You?

Gryphonheart posted an awesome idea for Spirit Shell. Have Spirit Shell trigger the original Spirit hell’s healing component when it lands.

Honestly, I don’t really get why Blizzard is opting to cap Spirit Shell stacking when it’s mechanics seem to better lend themselves towards making new Spirit Shell casts on a target force the previous shield to expire (and thereby instantly trigger its healing effect) instead. That kind of system just makes more sense to me, since it would effectively cap the absorption numbers while allowing Disc Priests to more effectively use Spirit Shell as a direct analogue to Greater Heal.

At present, the current beta build has Spirit Shell replace Greater Heal. What I’ve been doing is dropping Spirit Shell on tanks before following it up with Heal and Flash Heal to get their health up. Forgot to weave in Penance.

Whoops.

Some of the difficulties you’ll find with Spirit Shell is that the time it takes for the heal to kick in is too long. 8 Seconds? Feels like an eternity. Cut duration down and give that a go or give us a way to detonate the shell at will to trigger the healing component whenever we want.

Besides that, we should be seeing another Spirit Shell change kicking in soon it seems.

In the (hopefully) next build you receive, Discipline again has Greater Heal, Strength of Soul, and Power Word: Shield with no cooldown. We are also trying something really different with Spirit Shell. Let us know how it feels.

Discipline Feedback

Does Your Blog’s About Page Answer These 7 Questions?

Does Your Blog’s About Page Answer These 7 Questions?

Bloggers who are just starting out tend to either write one of these About Pages hastily or outright forget them entirely. Some of the reasons I’ve seen include this type of thinking:

“Readers are smart! They can figure out what kind of person I am by reading all of my posts if they want to.”

The problem with that line of logic? You run the risk of readers not caring or not interested in you long enough to read your posts in the first place. Having an informative about page can go a long way. It gives you a chance to be transparent about your intentions and let your players know a little more about you.

Who are you?

Include the online handle you’d like to be addressed by. Unless your name is actually admin, you’ll want to reflect an identity that you wish to use. Some people like to use their real names. If you’re a gamer (and I bet you are), add a little information on the games you play and the classes or roles that you stick with. If you’re a part of a guild, tell us a little bit about them.

What’s your gender?

Now before you pounce on me, I’m not saying that it’s significant. Being a dude or a woman isn’t going to affect your blogging skill. But, I’ve been burned before in the past because I used the wrong noun when I’ve linked to or wrote about other bloggers. You can ask Cynwise and Lilpeanut. Otherwise, you may end up being referred to as an it!

Have any social media pages?

If you use Twitter or have a Facebook page for your blog, consider including those. Other solid choices could be your Pinterest, Google+, or your stream page (Own3d or Twitch, for example).

What is your blog about?

Lay out your primary focus. It’s not a problem to deviate once in a while and add a personal post or two that isn’t related to your main niche. But if you have a home and garden blog, I expect to see more posts about that instead of fashion related topics. You don’t necessarily have to restrict yourself. But if your best friend asks you what your blog is about and you can’t explain to them in 10 seconds, then you might want to refine that some.

Why should we read it?

It’s a similar thought process to the above question. You can say you write for entertainment. You can say you write to teach others. It can be as something simple as offering your personal insight or perspective about a game or something structured like full guides and tutorials on accomplishing a specific goal.

What are your interests?

Add a bit of personality! If you’re comfortable with it, share a few interesting things about yourself. It’s cool to find out that both you and a blogger share an interest and a similar past time. Do you play Magic? Do you watch Community? Own a Mac? You get the idea.

Do you have a picture?

For privacy reasons, I don’t suggest sharing your own photo unless you’re really comfortable with the idea. But since you’re on this blog with an interest in blogging, I’m going to make the presumption that you’re interested in some form of gaming. Consider using a digital avatar of your main character in your game in a wicked pose. It’s not a necessity, but don’t underestimate the little things.

Going to cap off the post with a few examples of excellent About pages.

Examples

forthelore

 

healbot

 

bossypally

 

pon-about

 

about-jared

New Blogger Initiative

New Blogger Initiative

Welcome to a special edition of this week’s The Herald.

The New Blogger Initiative, run by one Sypster of Biobreak, aims to help teach and cultivate bloggers looking to improve their craft. Looks like it’s been picking up some steam as there’s a large number of sponsors (veterans) and new guys. Poking around, you can find some quality tutorial links on best practices and ideas when working with your blog.

You can find all of the published articles in one thread here (Personally, I would’ve suggested making each reply it’s own post for easier scannability or condensing similar topics into it’s own thread).

If you’re not sure where to start, let me pick out the ones you should begin with.

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Screenshots Make Your Blog Interesting

Eva’s post has excellent tips on laying out your screenshots and maximizing the art of in game photography. If you’re in an area where you’re not able to snag a screenshot, then any visual appeal helps. If you’re stuck at work and want to publish a post, see if you can generate a graph or a pie chart. Worse case scenario, you can snag some stock images from a large image service that allows it (I recommend Stock Exchange). I’m amazed at what kind of impact a 48 point white text on a black image background can make on a blog that’s predominantly light colored.

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Figure out why you want to blog

Paeroka asks you to dig deep down inside and figure out why you want to blog. Once you get that part squared away, you can move on from there. Think of blogging as a type of sub-gaming activity (Raiding, PvPing, etc). If you can figure out what you want to do within the game, you’ll have a stress-free time mapping out your activities.

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So you Wanna Be a Blogger

Similar to Paeroka, Windsoar expands further on Paeroka’s topic about getting started. You have to factor in time. You don’t need to cram your blogging on the bus or train on the way to work but how much time you set aside is going to dictate your quality and quantity. There’s no real wrong answer on things to write about. You can review different aspects of a game. Help players by writing guides. Lay down your experiences and comment on your own activities.

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Pros and Cons of Self Hosting

If you’re looking to compare the pros and cons of self hosting, Stropp has you covered. By aiming for self-hosting, you are making a commitment to yourself. It’s like signing up for a club membership at the gym. You’ve already pre-paid that one year and you don’t want to lose on that investment, so you keep going. That being said, if you’re unsure about handling the demands of blogging, you should start with a free one first. Get your feet wet. If all you care about is getting your words and thoughts out there, you can do some practice runs on the WordPress hosted plan. If you want to see how you would react to the opinions of readers, find a blogger you admire, and email them to see if they’re willing to publish your piece.

If you’re only going to listen to one piece of advice, then listen to this one:

Writers who don’t write aren’t writers.

That’s advice from my old English 12 teacher. Kindly old man. Passed away a few years ago. Always thought of him as Gandalf with glasses who used a pen instead of a wand.

I miss him.

As an aside, I’m looking to take on a blogging padawan. Any takers?

Guest Post: Resto Druid Symbiotics

Guest Post: Resto Druid Symbiotics

This is a guest post by Arajal about a more in-depth look at Symbiosis.

The WoW blogosphere has been abuzz with talk about druids’ new spell, Symbiosis. Needless to say, it’s something that has many druids excited. I’m no exception to this; as both a resto druid and a healing coordinator, I’m especially interested in Symbiosis’ possibilities. I figured I’d throw up another guest post that looks at the practicality of each synergy a resto druid has available to them through this spell.
Note: We’re still in early beta, and these spells are more than likely to change. I’ll re-evaluate new combinations as they come up, but for the time being, this is what I have to work with.

Death Knights

Linking Symbiosis with our disease-wielding undead friends will yield Icebound Fortitude for a resto druid. This is a link I could see having strong benefits in both PvE and PvP, moreso for the latter.

In PvE, I wouldn’t be surprised to see bosses equipped with a random single-target or group stun ability, in which case using Icebound Fortitude would open a window for healing that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Plus, the 20% damage reduction is like a second Ironbark (albeit on a slightly longer cooldown and only self-cast like Barkskin).

In PvP, this link’s benefit shines far more brightly. Having a cooldown to make yourself  immune to stuns and drop incoming damage by 20% would help immensely while being focused, something resto druids are likely to be the victims of. Even while not being focused, being immune to stuns during clutch healing situations can be the difference between a win and a loss.

As for what our death knight friends get out of the link, Wild Mushroom: Plague is a very nice ability for spreading diseases without expending runes, freeing them up for more DPS abilities. Looking over at Blood’s spell, they get a very nice health cooldown through Might of Ursoc that not only increases total health by 15% (similar to Vampiric Blood), but also brings their health up to 15% should they need it.

Hunter

Linking with a hunter gives a resto druid Deterrence. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the better Symbiosis links if you’re concerned with both self-preservation and mobility. While it won’t clear any debuffs you have, it will prevent any incoming damage and suppress any damage you are taking by 30%, giving other healers some breathing room to help you out. Unfortunately, it currently does prevent you from casting any heals of your own, but being able to gain temporary immunity to damage while still retaining the ability to move is worth the trade off in my eyes.

Deterrence in PvP will definitely be a boon to any healing druid should they find themself there. Being able to “deter” (see what I did there?) any DPS trying to focus you down can have a huge impact on the tide of battle. Even if it’s only for a few seconds, it will still give you some breathing time to figure out your next move. Heck, you could just use it for a few seconds to keep the pressure off, then cancel the buff and go back to healing.

Hunters get Dash out of the deal, and while they already have spells like Disengage and Aspect of the Cheetah or Aspect of the Pack, it still gives them one more tool to get from point A to point B in critical situations. I know the hunter in my normal raid group would love a new way to get around the field quickly.

Mage

If total self-preservation is your cup of tea, link with a mage. A resto druid gets Ice Block from using Symbiosis on a mage, and aside from Divine Shield (which our fellow kitties get from linking with a paladin), Ice Block is the best way to survive in clutch situations. The number of times an Ice Block could have saved our raid or at least helped in wipe recovery are innumerable.

Much like Deterrence from hunters, Ice Block is a very useful spell to use when healing is at a premium in PvE or you’re getting focused in PvP. The benefit of taking Ice Block over Deterrence is the removal of all debuffs and total immunity to all harmful effects, but at the cost of mobility. While popping Ice Block in a circle of fire may save your life, not being able to move out of it while suppressing the damage may cause you some issues a few seconds later. That being said, being able to become completely immune to all incoming damage and effects for a few seconds is nothing to turn your nose up at.

As for the mage, Healing Touch is something they may or may not get any benefit out of. It all depends on if they decide to use it or not. In PvE, being able to heal and otherwise take some pressure off the healers is something both our raid leader and myself stress the DPS to consider. In PvP, casting Healing Touch is a very good way to keep afloat in chaotic free-for-alls or to eat a spell interrupt (since Healing Touch is the only nature school spell they’ll have, they’ll be free to cast other spells unhindered).

Monk

Unfortunately, linking with a monk yields nothing for the druid right now. It’ll be interesting to see what Blizzard decides to give us in future beta builds.

On the other side of the link, Monks get some fairly nice abilities from our arsenal. Brewmaster tanks enjoy Survival Instincts for a 25% reduction of incoming damage for a few seconds, adding to their already formidable array of mitigation and avoidance abilities. Windwalker Monks get to have fun with a mini-Evasion in the form of Savage Defense; something that will undoubtedly be more prevalent in PvP, but I could see PvE applications as well, mainly in the form of emergency off-tanking through Provoke and evasive spells. Our fellow healing monks gain Cyclone, perfect for CC emergencies in PvE or controlling opponents in PvP.

Paladin

The dispel-happy healer in me gets giddy over this one. Casting Symbiosis on a paladin gives a resto druid Cleanse, making our debuff-removal power absolute (I’m not counting bleeds as removable debuffs, since that power is limited to Monks at the moment). The ability to remove all debuffs of any type on a target is immensely useful in both PvE and PvP. While I haven’t yet had the chance to check whether or not Cleanse and Nature’s Cure share a cooldown, even having the ability to clear any debuff type on a whim is incredibly powerful. Just imagine using the combination of debuff-removal spells on a flag carrier in a battleground. That’d be a tide-changer without question.

Holy paladins get Rebirth through Symbiosis, a benefit that depends largely on your raid composition and size. That being said, having another battle rez at your raid’s disposal is never a bad thing. Protection paladins get another defensive cooldown in the form of Barkskin. 10% damage reduction on a one-minute wait time doesn’t sound all that bad.

Retribution paladins currently don’t get anything out of Symbiosis, but that’ll change in future builds.

Priest

It’s payback time indeed, Matt. Resto druids get Leap of Faith (a.k.a. Life Grip) through linking with a priest. All griefing and tomfoolery aside, Leap of Faith will be an incredible tool to add to a mobility-minded healing druid’s toolkit. Pulling a melee out of a nasty cleave or a ranged player away from a void zone are both very pertinent situations for Leap of Faith in PvE. In PvP, ripping your teammates out of harm’s way in arenas or yanking the flag carrier closer to your side of the field in CTF battlegrounds can make a very large impact on the battle at hand. Add the Wild Charge talent into the mix with Leap of Faith and you’ll have a lot of control over the flow of a battle.

While I can get behind shadow priests getting Tranquility, the spell the other two priest specs get is one that leaves me scratching my head a little. I can see a few merits to disc and holy priests being able to use Entangling Roots to stop melee attackers in their tracks, but in the fray of PvP, where damage is flying around and any CC that isn’t a stun or knockdown tends to break, I don’t see roots being used very much, and on the off chance they do get used, they won’t last very long. In PvE, I could see some use for the roots on large trash pulls with melee mobs, but that remains to be seen.

Rogue

Linking with a rogue gives us Evasion, something that I think will go hand-in-hand with our Heart of the Wild level 90 talent. Any healing druid in the “jack-of-all-trades” mindset that intends to be an off-tank for short periods of time will benefit greatly from linking with a rogue. Evasion for a resto druid is like a slightly better version of the Guardian-spec-only ability Savage Defense. This all goes without saying of the benefits in PvP, of course. Using Evasion against a group of melee players trying to focus you down gives you 15 seconds to breath a little and throw heals on yourself.

Similarly to what I mentioned for the Windwalker monk earlier, a rogue with Growl (their Symbiosis spell) can fill the clutch off-tank role through evasion skills, such as Evasion (duh) and Cloak of Shadows, if need be.

Shaman

A resto druid linked with a shaman gains Spiritwalker’s Grace. While it may seem counter-intuitive for a class that relies mainly on instant-cast heals, there are benefits to being able to cast on the move. Anyone who has grabbed feathers while healing during Alysrazor in Firelands will know what I’m talking about. Being able to cast Healing Touch, Regrowth, or even Nourish while on the move can be a deal-breaker in many a situation, be it PvE or PvP. Need to move alongside the tank while he kites the boss? No worries! Flag carrier needs healing heavy healing for all the DoTs stacked on them? Problem solved!

Enhancement and elemental spec shaman get Solar Beam from Symbiosis. Locking down a caster target underneath a Solar Beam can be incredibly useful, especially if they can’t move. Giving this spell to a class that already has a number of slowing and snaring tools at its disposal is icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned. Also, it gives these specs another interrupt spell as well, should a situation call for it. Flipping over to restoration shaman, Symbiosis gives them Prowl. I haven’t been able to find a shaman to test this with on the beta yet, but if it can be cast while in combat like Vanish, it’ll make a very nice wipe-prevention and/or focus-prevention ability.

Warlock

Linking with a warlock gives a resto druid the neat ability to remove all snares and teleport to their new warlock friend’s Demonic Circle. Of all the current Symbiosis spells healing druids get, this one is my favorite. The entire concept of the Demonic Circle for warlocks has always been appealing to me, and being able to finally play around with the mechanic makes me a very happy druid. In terms of practicality, it’s very similar to the Wild Charge talent while in humanoid form, but with a longer range and snare-breaking capability.

The usefulness of giving a warlock Rejuvenation is no different than the usefulness of giving a mage Healing Touch. Like I said earlier in this post, it all depends on whether your warlock chooses to use the spell or not.

Warrior

Casting Symbiosis on a warrior yields Intimidating Roar. In essence, this gives us a second, slightly different version of one of our level 75 talents, Disorienting Roar, with the disorient effect being replaced by a fear. If you’re a druid that didn’t take the Disorienting Roar talent, this gives you a tool you otherwise don’t have. If you did take Disorienting Roar, this gives you a second defensive AoE spell to play around with. Either way, the spell will be immensely useful in situations where many small adds are spawning faster than the tank can round them up. Resto druids, at least currently, tend to draw a lot of threat during healing-intensive situations where many adds are spawning in quick succession (I’m looking at you, Heroic Spine of Deathwing). Having Intimidating Roar in both PvE and PvP is a great way to keep attackers off for a few seconds while you heal yourself back into good health. Granted, if your attackers are immune to fear, you may run into some issues with this spell.

On the flip side of the link, warriors get some nice tools added to their kits. Arms and fury specs get Stampeding Roar, which is an amazing mobility spell for both themselves and others, no matter the situation. Protection warriors get Frenzied Regeneration, instantly convert the rage cost into health.

That wraps up my post. Thanks for reading!

7 Fun Activities to do on the Bench

7 Fun Activities to do on the Bench

6 PM rolls around which means it’s time to raid.

Potions? Check.

Buff food? Check.

Drinks? Ginger Ale for me, not sure what the rest of you go with.

You get the invite to raid and glance at your party frames before doing a double take. Your name isn’t anywhere in the first five groups. Guess what? You’re in the ever elusive group 6. Your WoW Instant Messenger springs to life with a message from the boss. Looks like they’re going for a new composition which means you need to take a seat on the bench for the first few encounters.

At this stage in the expansion, compositions vary wildly based on bosses, who needs what, and number of trial players (if any). It’s pretty darn dejecting to warm the seats. It’s not done out of malice or hate. Your guild has decided on that specific configuration to get them through that specific challenge (or if it’s a farm boss, it’s they need to grab someone specifically for loot or trial reasons).

Hey, your guild is counting on you, too!

Even I, thee Matticus, gets called upon to sit. On the evenings I do sit, I have a myriad of activities at my disposal.

  • Reading: It seems as if there’s not enough time for people to read as much as they want. Right now, I’m working on the third book in the Kane Chronicles (The Serpent’s Shadow). If not books, I’ll catch up on various blogs around the internet via Google Reader.
  • Gaming: I don’t think I’ll be get in a full League of Legends match, but I can squeeze in a game of Draw Something or Scramble with Friends on my iPhone. On the computer, I’ll pounce onto the guild Minecraft server (I’m working on a personal fortress but I need more cobblestone).
  • Alts: Great time to work on some questing or getting in some leveling time on an alt. Don’t have an alt? Great time to start one!
  • Watch a movie or a TV show: Netflix anyone? Been rewatching a few episodes of Family Guy (Be a banana!). If the raiding group needs me, they can just holler. Enough time for me to pause and switch back to the game.
  • Writing: So many post ideas and so many things to write, just not enough time to do it all! Great time for me to work on a post like what I do when I’m chilling on the side.
  • Raiding: Raid Finder on an alt? Working on my 5th Priest now.
  • Watching the livestream: The guild has several streamers now. I’ll usually have a monitor up to keep track of progress while doing one of the other activities above.

What if you need gear?

No problem! Send a tell to your raid leader letting them know that you’re really interested in coming in for a future attempt.

Here, let me write you a template. Use the terms appropriate to your guild’s atmosphere.

Dear [boss/captain/fearless leader/a**hole]

This is just a tell to let you know that I would really like to come in for the next boss. There’s an item that I want because it [upgrades an item/is off spec/is for transmog/makes my character look 5 pounds lighter than I actually am]. Could you find it in your [heart/soul/noggin’] to bring me in so that I might benefit from the spoils?

Sincerely,

Your favourite [player/monkey/badass/<class> of all time]

Anyway, tell me about your bench experiences. You cool with watching from the side? What do you like to do or work on when you’re on the bench?

Oh Chakra, How You’ve Changed

Oh Chakra, How You’ve Changed

Keybinds.

So many keybinds.

Another expansion means more new spells and abilities and we’re gradually running out of keys to use. Chakra’s been split three ways now. As you know, the corresponding bonus you get from Chakra is decided base on what spell you use immediately after Chakra has activated.

Now you can just activate whichever Chakra you want by hitting a button.

So on the one hand, that’s nice because you don’t have to rely on spell selection anymore to get the Chakra you want.

Question: No more fat fingering the wrong spell and being in the wrong Chakra stance. Hands up! How many times did mistakenly  you hit Prayer of Mending after casting Chakra and being in Chakra: Sanctuary instead of being in Chakra: Serenity specifically for a phase?

On the other hand, now I have to find a way to free up more keys for the individual Chakra bonuses. I figure I can just stick to Chakra: Serenity and Chakra: Sanctuary. Not sure how often I’d use Chakra: Chastise unless I’m leveling.

The Killer Instinct of Healing

The Killer Instinct of Healing

Aunaka wrote a nifty post wondering if great healers could be taught. Not quite sure if a truly great healer can be. How would you even start defining that? Someone who shows up all the time? A player capable of carrying the raid? A Druid who’s able to solo heal the last 10% of a raid boss? I’d classify a great healer as a player who is not only technically sound, but results-oriented. They’re the players who put aside everything and find ways to win.

Would you have thought to Life Grip the tank away from the boss to buy time for them to live?

What about using Pain Suppression on a DPS player so that it was one less player to worry about when healing your group?

You did the research. You read the forums. You followed along with the discussion. You gained the technical knowledge on the best times and best targets to use your spells on. What you’re not taught is that there’s multiple right answers to the same problems and different degrees of success.

This is where the killer instinct of healing comes into play.

There’s a marked difference in approach between an alt healer that has played for years versus a healer that’s done nothing but heal. It’s easy to teach a new healer the basics about their spells, resource management, and so on. However, I don’t believe it’s possible to instil that survival instinct of healing. That alt healer guy mains a Retribution Paladin, perhaps. All they’re interested in is unloading the DPS and only comes in to relief heal as a break from DPS or because there isn’t enough healers for that day.Having a killer instinct is an approach that needs to be embraced and can’t be taught. You start making your own decisions and throw “the book” out the window because “the book” didn’t cover the situation you were in.

Case study

Hard mode Yor’sahj calls for two Paladins to help heal during the purple phases. Guess what? You might not have two Paladins. Find a work around. Sometimes that means letting the tank die on one occasion and using the Battle Res. I struggled when I didn’t have two Paladins to work with. 1 Paladin healed the first tank and I took the second one. We ended up using 3 Rebirths because I struggled like crazy to keep my tank alive during the various purple oozes. Relied endlessly on Prayer of Mending so as to not detonate our tank and really strategic cooldowns.

Listen, as much I want to, I can’t teach you to be desperate.

I can’t teach you how to be hungry.

I can’t teach you to want a boss kill badly enough that you’ll consider using unorthodox specs, weird spells, and what-the-hell inducing plays.

One thing I learned when playing hockey is that you play hard every shift between the whistle. In WoW terms, you don’t stop what you’re doing until the raid leader says “Wipe it up”. If you’re busting your ass healing, you better expect everyone in your raid to be right there with you. This isn’t a casual philosophy in any aspect.

As my uncle Freudicus, a psychologist, once told me, “It’s all in the id, kid!”.

You’ll be a good healer by reading, asking, and watching other healers play. Being a great healer requires the attitude, the work ethic, and the burning desire. It can’t be taught but maybe it can be learned.