So Shadow Maybe

So Shadow Maybe

“Hey I just met you
And this is crazy
But Monks are OP
So Shadow maybe.”

 

The world is officially ending.

Seriously, this is the year. Volcanoes are erupting ash into the atmosphere. Earthquakes are shattering continents. Storms are tearing up landscapes.

Why? Because the two most unlikeliest things have occurred.

I have a Horde Priest at max level. Never thought I’d get a character that high and routinely doing stuff. My friends ask me why didn’t I try a different class. It’s because I don’t feel comfortable playing another class. I just have an affinity and love for playing a Priest. However, I did decide to take her Shadow instead though she’s still quite capable of healing.

That’s the first bit of news.

The second?

It’s been clear to me after the first few weeks of raids that Holy Priests just can’t seem to match the level of other healing classes right now – Well, either that, or I can’t match the level of the other healers. That’s potentially true. The officers in my guild asked me to give Shadow a try. Since I’ve been predominantly Shadow on my Horde priest, I’ve had some practice. They were curious to see how I’d do in raids. I wasn’t the greatest Shadow player in Cataclysm but that’s largely due to my inability to maintain uptimes on DoTs (among other things).

But the Mist changes have made it a little easier for a newer Shadow player like me.

It’s fun, but I still feel wary. After playing a healer for 8 years, you still have assorted muscle memory from healing for so long. I find myself not only watching my DoTs on bosses, my timers, and my cooldowns, but I’m constantly scanning my raid frames. Burning Mana Hymns when I spot healer mana fairly low. I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for. My Resto Druid has been giving me her Symbiosis for Tranquility (which is fairly weaksauce, but not meant to stand on it’s own as a true healing CD).

I don’t know if I’ll ever play at full DPS capacity because I’m worried that something bad is going to happen. 

It’s not that I don’t trust the team, but I can read the play and “see” what’s going on.

Anyway, I apparently passed my trial so I’ll be doubleshifting as Shadow and Holy.

Things I need to work on:

  • Lining up cooldowns
  • Maintaining DoTs
  • Decision making (on spells)
  • Acquiring additional shadow gear (because I really don’t want to touch my healing gear)
  • Figuring out how to properly burst down orbs on Elegon

Dailies and Valor: Almost Out of the Woods

The seemingly universal response from bloggers across the board regarding the new daily quests?

“Dailies suck.”

I get that its not mandatory. For most of us that want to push into raiding, it sort of is.

The first raid instance has a set amount of gear and doesn’t contain drops for every slot (which is understandable since there’s two other zones coming out). It feels like that if we want to be at our best (and I guarantee you, most of us that raid want to be at their best), we have to spend time doing it.

How many hours do you think you spend per day capping out your dailies?

It takes me around 3 hours as a Shadow Priest. I’ve managed to drop that some since I hit exalted with the Order of the Cloud Serpent and Tillers. My efforts are focused on the Golden Lotus, August Celestials, and the Shado-Pan.

There’s another thing I don’t understand. Why did we have to hit a reputation milestone with one faction before we could open up the rest? Don’t give me a lore reason. I’m trying to understand the logic behind it. Is it a form of content gating that’s believed to be necessary?

I don’t get it.

On Valor Rewards

Now the issue about capping Valor, I can understand. It’s a crappy fact of our virtual life that we have to spend time outside of the raid to hit our valor for the week. But we’re undergoing a short term level of pain here. In another week and a half, we’ll gain access to Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring – Another two raids where we can get our Valor supply from. Hang in there!

I’m with you guys on this. I like having all these new sources of valor. It’s great I can get it from dungeons, scenarios, raids, and dailies. I’m delighted that Blizzard gave us multiple avenues to secure valour which we can use to purchase gear. But, I’d really like to be able to cap out doing exclusively activities I like doing. As a raider, I’d like to get my points from killing big bosses. If my schedule’s all over and I’m not able to consistently meet a raiding group’s requirements, I’m okay with doing scenarios and dungeons for a week. That seems to make the most sense to me.

What I don’t quite agree with is tying reputation requirements to valor rewards.

There was a comment made by a blue awhile ago stating that they didn’t want to tie reputation gains to tabards. They felt that players would be “double dipping” rewards from dungeons for gear and reputation.

Actually, if they gave us tabard reputations, it would give people additional incentive to run it. After hitting level 90 in 16 hours, I spent the rest of week 1 grinding out heroics as much as possible. 3 weeks later, all my item slots are filled with heroic dungeon or higher. I don’t even queue for it anymore unless a guildie needs a quick healer queue for a specific instance. But give us a tabard, and I’ll gladly brave heroics and carry a group if need be. I’d even be okay if they decided to cap reputation gains (meaning you can get an X total amount of reputation which is the sum of doing all the dailies for a faction on one day or running a few heroics until you max out that gain).

One more thing about the mandatory-ness. I don’t know about you, but I’m one of the dedicated Enchanters in the guild. Now doubt your guild has a few go-to people for professions. You know, the guy that gets the first set of recipe drops from raid. For Enchanting, bracer enchants and weapon enchants open up  at Revered for the Celestials and Shado-Pan. It’s a big time requirement.

True, I could’ve passed the buck and gotten someone else to power enchanting.

But, you know, job security.

What Priests Bring to Challenge Modes

What Priests Bring to Challenge Modes

Edit: I managed to secure all gold challenge modes as a Discipline Priest. I’ve updated this post to reflect on my experiences. I assume you already know most of the basics about playing a discipline priest like what the spells do and rotations and such.

The first time I signed on for a challenge mode, it took us almost 3 hours to get through Shado-Pan Monastary. We were bored on a Friday night and decided to give the challenge mode daily a shot thinking we’d be able to plow through it.

Yeah, we got a rude awakening.

Seriously, if you plan to go for a podium ranking, treat it with a raid mentality.

What does your class bring to challenge modes?

Imagine this.

Your GM has issued a challenge to your guild. He wants to assemble a Challenge mode roster. He doesn’t want to just challenge for the gold. He wants to be the best time on server. The game has 11 classes and 33 specs combined. Your job is to convince your GM why your class and spec is the right one for that roster slot.

The smart money is to include a Discipline Priest on that roster. You can make cases for the other healers, but a Disc Priest offers a ton of flexibility and power. They can chip in DPS while preventing incoming damage. Power Word: Barrier helps your party gets through the worst situations. Hymn of Hope spares you from having to drink (at the cost of seconds).

Talents

cmode-disc-talent

Previously, I explored talents based on their raid viability and what’s best for encounters. Evaluating them for challenge modes is a little different because now I have to think about aspects I’d normally dismiss in raids like crowd control.

Void Tendrils: Void Tendrils is a great massive crowd control ability. It’ll hold enemies in place while the rest of your party unleashes DPS. If your tank pulls a large amount of mobs and has a sizeable amount of threat, you can wade in and drop roots before withdrawing. The mobs will still want to crush the tank but won’t be able to until the tendrils expire. I’ve used Void Tendrils in key areas of Gate of the Setting Sun and Mogushan Palace to freeze mobs in place while we zipped by them. Diving onto an elevator with mobs frozen in place while the elevator is moving causes them to reset.

Body and Soul: You’ll be using shields often enough. Layering your party with speed boosts during areas with little to no resistance will help you with your time trial.

Mindbender: 5.2 introduced a new talent called Solace and Insanity. I feel that it’s a greater benefit for Shadow instead of Discipline. Mindbender’s the talent of choice in raids for the mana regen and the same is true for challenge mode.

Desperate Prayer: A self-heal on demand! This is your own emergency heal as a last ditch effort.

Divine Insight: You can make strong arguments for Divine Insight or Power Infusion. By default, I recommend Divine Insight because of that Prayer of Mending proc free Shield which has saved me a few times. You can make the case for Power Infusion and Twist of Fate depending on which challenge mode dungeon you’re pursuing. Longer ones like Scarlet Monastary might benefit from Power Infusion and I gave Twist of Fate a try for the extra healing boost (remember it triggers off of damage or healing).

Divine Star: The fact that you’re contemplating challenge modes means that you’re not an idiot and that you know how to aim Divine Star in such a way that you won’t pull. It’ll do some light damage to your enemies and heal your party (provided they’re fairly grouped up). Cascade is your secondary option in the event Divine Star does not work out in your challenge mode instance.

Glyphs

Penance: You’ll absolutely need this while healing on the move.

Power Word: Shield: Signature spells for priests and that extra healing’s going to help when your party members have taken damage.

Prayer of Mending: Most Prayer of Mending bounces will not bounce 5 times. The first one is usually the one that matters.

The above three glyphs are the main ones I used.


Psychic Scream: In the event extra CC is needed, you can fire this off and have your team focus one down fast before the fear effect expires.

Smite: Increases the damage on Smite on Holy Fire’d targets (and conversely the healing from Atonement).  You can substitute this for the Shield glyph once your group has practiced it enough.

Playstyle

Those of you with a progression oriented raiding mentality will excel here. If you put in that level of focus you do in raids towards 5-mans, then golds will easily be within reach. But if you approach challenge modes casually without bothering to look up strategy or practicing certain aspects, then you’ll be lucky if you even complete the instance.

Reforging your stats

I reforged out of Spirit until I had around 8000. I placed the points into haste, but your mileage is going to vary based on your group composition. If you have a Druid in your party, they can feed you Innervate. You should always be using Mindbender and Hymn of Hope whenever you get a chance (and if you’re low). Expect to cast interrupt your own spellcasts often as you react fluidly (or when Penance becomes available). I kept my raid gear as is. I never had to change out gems as reforging gets you most of the way there.

Don’t worry about hit or anything. You’ll automatically have 15% in Discipline.

Consumables

You use consumables for raids. But challenge modes might call for some extra stuff that you normally wouldn’t consider packing.

  • Drums of Forgotten Kings: If no one in the group can cast the buff, at least you’ll have a way to obtain it.
  • Potion of Focus: Comes in handy in case you die in combat and get a combat resurrect. Useful if your group is chain pulling and you need mana but can’t spare the seconds to sit down and drink.
  • Potion of the Jade Serpent: For the early boss encounters where you get a chance to use a pre-pot, use this.
  • Flask of Falling Leaves: You can reforge out of Spirit into other beneficial stats and use this flask to compensate …
  • Flask of the Warm Sun: … Or just get a straight Intellect boost instead. I recommend this.
  • Golden Carp Consomme: Keep multiple stacks in your bag. You’ll be chugging this for mana every moment you get in between pulls.
  • Mogu Fish Stew: As long as you get an Intellect boost, you’ll be okay. I doubt 50 Intellect is going to be the breaking factor between a silver and a gold earning anyway.
  • Invisibility Potion: Certain challenge mode gold runs require this.

Mana regen

If you see an opportunity to chow down on Golden Carps, do it. If more time is needed, tell your party to hold a moment until you drop combat, then start drinking while they pull. Get used to healing with anywhere from 25 to 50% mana. It’s not uncommon to go through 20+ Golden Carps in a run. Boss fights don’t last that long (they can’t, or else you won’t make gold). Your job is to keep your group alive just long enough that they can bring down enemies and you don’t need full mana to do this.

Actual healing

During periods of light damage, you can safely rely on Atonement to maintain the tank’s health. Your group should be adept at avoiding projectiles and assorted spells. In most cases, they shouldn’t take much avoidable damage. Your Smite and Holy Fire spam will be enough on the easier trash to help counteract some of the damage coming in and you’ll be adding your own DPS to help get past them quicker onto the harder stuff. Plus you’re setting yourself up for Archangel’s bost to healing as you dive into the more challenging pulls.

As you’re moving from trash pack to trash pack, remember the spells you can use while moving:

Ideally, you don’t want to use the last two spells. If they’re not being saved for anything, it’ll give you a little breather as you heal through those monster trash pulls that your tank manages to get. Keep your shields up on the tanks at all times. If you’re against AoE packs or anything hitting the DPS, make sure they’re shielded too. Prayer of Mending is always on cooldown. Penance should also be always on cooldown (and it can be used either defensively or offensively).

What they teach you in Discipline school is that Renew is inefficient.

That it is terrible.

That Power Word: Shield is better.

But it is one of the few healing spells you have that is both instant and not on a cooldown timer. You need every ounce of healing even if it means having to be inefficient. Your Golden Carps will help with your mana. Given the choice between being inefficient or restarting a gold run, I’d pick the former.

Group healing is fairly straight forward. Prayer of  Healing is your go to. Use Penance and shields to target specific players who are lower than the rest. Use that Spirit Shell when your group is between half to full. If they’re any lower, they run a risk of being instantly killed (depending on the trash packs or boss, but don’t take chances).

When you square off against bosses, use a pre-pot if you’re allowed to (in some cases, you can’t because of the Invisibility potion cooldown). Load up on Holy Fire and Smite to build up the Archangel stacks before burning it for the incoming tons of damage that bosses eventually ramp up to.

Cooldown use is going to vary. Your Barrier can be used for certain pulls. A skill you and your team needs to learn how to do is chaining cooldowns which can neutralize the incoming damage from an enemy. For example, my group had our Monk open with a Leg Sweep (5 seconds). Our shaman followed up with a Capacitor Totem (5 seconds). Our Death Knight tank used Remorseless Winter (6 seconds). I applied Power Word: Barrier at the end (10 seconds). That’s over 20 seconds of reduced (or zero) incoming damage giving your group free reign to AoE or kill selected mobs. DPS them if you notice stunned mobs!

Final word: Regardless of what group composition you use, practice the run first. There are many videos on Youtube with walkthroughs for each instance. Pick one that your group wants to work on and make sure everyone watches the video. Watch how it flows. Observe which trash packs are skipped or when Invisibility potions are used. Look at things like positioning of where the tank and the rest of the players are. After that, do dry runs of the instance without using feasts or flasks. Keep doing them until you get an idea of which trash to kill and the overall pacing of the instance. Once you’re ready for the gold run, use the consumables to give you that extra edge.

Be like Allen Iverson and practice!

For more, check out my challenge mode walkthroughs!

Max-Maxing: Drawing the Line

I love it when I get pushback from raiders adamantly stating that they can DPS in whatever spec they want. Heh, I counter that by saying I can fill the raid with whatever player I want.

It’s been a little over two weeks after Mists drop. I find myself keeping a stack of those talent changing reagents handy because I know I’m going to keep altering them between pulls and trying something new. Even Angelic Feather, a talent that I had previously written off, is something I’ve found useful for on Feng. I drop it strategically in front of people as they’re rushing Wildfire out of the raid.

Progression minded players are always going to look for the best choices. When leaders are looking at the roster and deciding who to take, DPS is a big component (but not the only one). They’ll take a look at player A and player B. If player A is specced different than player B but both are geared similarly and there’s a 12000 DPS difference between the two with A on top, suffice it to say we can come to the conclusion that A’s spec is far superior (or his play could be that much better).

If the raid chief comes in and asks player B to switch specializations to what A is doing, B should switch because that’s a huge benefit to the overall team.

Believe me, I’d love to see the day where all specs were created equal. Where cosmetics and rotation were what ultimately dictates what we players want to do. But we’re not quite there yet. There’s always going to be a superior spec or two among the different classes. We want these bosses dead so we can move onward to the next one. Of course, it needs to be said that different bosses means different strengths and weaknesses.

The line between talents are a little blurrier. There’s a general “theme” among them, but there’s something unique about how each talent approaches that role. Now, there may not be a right answer when it comes to selecting talents. But there’s a “righter” answer. Think to yourself how that can best be done with your talents.

I mentioned earlier the example of Angelic Feather. I noticed when using Body and Soul that there were times where people received Wildfire more than once and I couldn’t shield them again. I switched to Angelic Feather and placed it between the raid and the agreed upon Wildfire point. Feedback has indicated that those feathers are a big help in getting people out quicker.

And then there’s the food buffs.

How much are you willing to work for an extra 25 stats?

The cost/benefit for an extra 25 of your main stat just seems to be obscene. Is it really worth it? I don’t know. I figure those stats are only worth it if you’re coming across 2% wipes or phase transitions. This is, you know, assuming that you’ve already maxed out your character as best as you can elsewhere.  I’ve almost hit max cooking, but I still need to whip up more banquets.

Oh and a bit of hotfix news!

That clicking bug seems to have been resolved. That one’s been giving us fits. We’ve had to wipe a quarter on our attempts due to inabilities to interact with the object.

Priests also received a buff: 25% healing to Prayer of Healing and Prayer of Mending. Not sure when it goes live, but hopefully soon. Yay!

First impression on raiding with fixed mana in MoP

First impression on raiding with fixed mana in MoP

So we’ve just had our first raid in MoP, Mogu’shan Vaults. It was pretty interesting from a healer perspective. Fixed mana has been one of those ultimately strange concepts from the time it was announced, and to be fair we weren’t quite sure how it would play out in a regular raid. I’m here to give you my first impressions on it, and a few opinions.

Again these are just my opinions, and my observations.

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Save Those Lucky Charms, Raiders!

I chuckle slightly to myself when I get messages from players who are excited (smug) after using an Elder Charm of Good Fortune on Sha of Anger throughout the week.

For those of you not in the know, those Charms are used to give you a bonus roll on any raid boss. It has a chance of giving you flasks, gold, or an item off that bosses loot table. Using it on outdoor bosses or LFR gives you a little something extra for your efforts. You might get gear that you can use for raiding or for PvP.

However, those of you who are clever should know to actually save these when you’re raiding normal or heroic modes. If there’s something specific you want off of a boss, wait until the bonus charm UI kicks in and activate it then. In addition to the standard loot that drops for the raid, you can get a crack at a specific item off of that particular bosses loot table. You don’t want that dirty PvP gear, right?

We managed to get the Stone Guard down last night after a few hours of gruelling attempts and the charm roll sprang up. Can you guess how much bonus loot we picked up in a raid of 25?

Not 2.

Not 4.

Not 7.

Try ten extra items.

Our raid received a total of 16 usable raid items last night off of the Stone Guard.

Personally, I feel that the charm system is a godsend under the loot council system. The bonus roll fires off and the raiders receive their rewards in their bag. When we get around to distributing raid loot, a player that would’ve wanted a set of legs might’ve won some from the bonus roll and won’t need it from the main loot window allowing us to ship it over to another player that needs it.

I’m actually curious as to how EPGP and DKP and other points based guilds are going to deal with loot gotten from the charms. Are they going to be considered “under the table”? Should players contribute a minimum number of points whenever they win even though it’s their charm to be used?