Archives for 2012

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).



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.


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.


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.


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.

[Read more…]

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?

Activities to Do at 90 to Ready for Raiding

Activities to Do at 90 to Ready for Raiding

Hit 90 within the first 18 hours of day 1 on a diet of Amped and pepperoni steaks. Rice never tasted so good on the second day. I celebrated my 25th birthday yesterday with nothing but heroics and scenarios! Whew! Real party’s happening on Saturday so I have some more time to gear up for raids next week.

As more and more of my guildmates and friends are hitting 90, I’m getting increasingly asked “What do I do now to get myself ready for next week when the raids open?”. You should be exploring any reasonable method you have to increase your gear, your reputation, or your professions.

Your Klaxxi reputation should be up if you cleared out a reasonable portion from Dread Wastes. Go to Niu Zao Temple, by your 450 ilevel gloves.

Go do Scenario: Arena of Annihilation

The first thing you can do is tackle the Pandaria Ring of Blood set of quests. Thankfully, this time it isn’t outdoors where it’s subject to other people stealing your kills or tagging your mobs. Open up your Scenario Finder and queue into it. Accept the quest within and you’ll get yourself a nice 450 weapon.

Do the Temple of White Tiger quest

In Kun-Lai summit, you’ll eventually run into a quest where you help out Anduin unlock the Vale of Eternal Blossoms (Temple of the White Tiger). If you’re leveling up, you can skip and bypass those for now. Once you hit 90, the only way to unlock the area is by completing that quest through.

Spec your level 90 talent

I admit, I forgot to do this.

Unlock Flying

Once you’re 90, head over to your faction foothold in the Vale. On the top floor, there should be a flying trainer next to the flightmaster.

Level up your professions

Check with your guild bank and see if there’s any open mats you can use. For tailoring, I’m seeing a ridiculously large number of cloth drops and I was able to get that out of the way quick.

BTW Enchanters, I don’t know abut you, but I’m thrilled at how easy it is to switch between dust and essences. You?

Start Golden Vale dailies

There’s many factions you can gain reputation with. But in order to unlock the meaningful ones (Like Shado-Pan), you have to start at the Golden Pagoda with the Golden Lotus in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. I believe Ruins of Guo-Lai is the first step.

Buy justice points gear

You can’t do it yet until you hit revered with a few of the factions, but you can shore up your gear some as you steadily gain reputation. The justice point vendor for all the factions is located in Niu Zao temple in Townlong Steppes. He’s on the fortifications at the back.


You need 440 item level to queue into heroics! If you need to, mix and match some gear from other specs and queue in before switching back to to your main set but only if you’re off by 1 or 2 item levels)! I found myself able to heal a DPS geared tank, even! Heroics aren’t as challenging nor as difficult as the Cataclysm initial set of heroics were so you’ll find them a little more forgiving and you can get away with it for now.

I know, I shouldn’t be encouraging it, but I’ll make an exception.

Grats to everyone that’s hit 90 and others that are about to! Can you think of anything else you should do at level 90? (Or other questions?)

Need Gear for your Fresh Level 90 Priest?

Need Gear for your Fresh Level 90 Priest?

It’s all right here in this link. I’ve included a list of items (along with some alternatives). In addition, I’ve created a few tables with relevant priest look from each of the major reputation vendors.

Remember, it’s not a best in slot list. It’s a relatively fast in slot list. The goal is to get your Priest geared up as much as possible to hit dungeons and raids for the real good stuff. I tried to minimize the RNG as much as I can, but ultimately there’s going to be a few elements involved.

Good luck and I’ll see you at 90!

EDIT: If I run into anything on the way up, I’ll add it. I’m sure there’s a few out there I may have missed. I deliberately did not select PvP gear (but you can maybe get away with 1 or 2 pieces if you need to).

My Frantic Preparations for Mists

My Frantic Preparations for Mists

It’s the final weekend before Mists drop. I’ve spent the past few nights frantically getting myself and the guild ready for next week’s expansion. Mists marks the third straight expansion where I’ve held tenure over a guild. After going through two expansions, I’ve a pretty good idea of what guilds and players should do to help get ready. There’s plenty of posts from others on that already. In this case though, I’d like to share what I’ve done personally and how the guild’s faring.

Personal preparation


  • Flask of the Draconic Mind
  • Mythical Healing Potion
  • Swiftness Potion
  • Swim Speed Potion
  • Volcanic Potion
  • Drums of Forgotten Kings
  • Severed Sagefish Head

Rearranged my bars so that they were all there for easy access in case I need to refresh.

My character

Had to readjust a ton of my stats and enchants. I’m not tackling raid bosses anymore so I’ve adjusted stuff out of hit rating. Switched my talents and glyphs to better account for leveling. I also started putting my gear into void storage that I wasn’t planning to use or banking things that I didn’t necessarily need.

Day planning

If you’re playing at midnight, make sure you rest up and crash first. Take a nice long nap. I plan to go to bed late afternoon/early evening. Also, set an alarm so you don’t oversleep. Make sure you stand up and stretch every hour or so. Jog in place or do something to keep the blood flowing. Don’t overdo it on the energy drinks. They’re a great short term burst of awareness but you’ll end up crashing after the effects wear off. I’ve got two cans of Amped waiting just in case and I plan on making a few sandwiches (and pepperoni sticks).

In fact, read this post by Serrath if you plan on undertaking a gaming marathon as the post includes tips on staying healthy and mentally alert. Hell, ignore the rest of this post and go read Serrath’s.

Guild preparation

With the help of the other leaders, we went over the guild and what needed to be done.

State of the Guild address

Collaborated with the officers on this one. The State of the Guild address is designed to look back at the previous expansion and highlight the negative along with the positive. The next part should include guild plans for the future and what the intentions are. If there’s anything new or different you’d like to focus on, this is where you specify it.

Be specific in your goals and set something that’s both tangible and realistic. Aiming for a world first might not be realistic but looking to clear out an instance on normal or hard mode before the next tier of raiding opens up can be. If there’s anything you want your guild to do, mention it (such as farming for mats).

If there’s a timeline for your raiders to hit the cap, mention that too. With us, we’re raiding the moment the instances become available be 10 or 25.

The guild bank

We engineered a massive sell-off of everything unessential. Anything that we couldn’t move was sent to our offshore guild bank. That guild bank is used to sit on older mats which aren’t as used as much. We’ve asked players to deposit any raw materials or BoE items they come across into the bank if they were willing to spare it for disenchanting and other profession levelling purposes. I’ve converted and cleared out several bank tabs for this already. There’s still a tab full of gems and food that need to a vetting out (but we’ll get to those later). Deposits will be open for people to use mobile banking to dump stuff into.

By the way, I’m glaring daggers at the guy who deposited 16 x Enchant Weapon – Avalanche.

Personnel management

We’ve been working hard at recruiting and adding players to our ranks. One of the biggest recurring problems throughout Cataclysm was raid days lost due to attendance. The final number was absolutely unacceptable to me so we’ve made a concerted effort to resolve that. Players on our PvP team have expressed interest in raiding. We’ve also been referred a few times (5 guild member referrals gets you a t-shirt, if they pan out).

Our current roster sits at:

  • 3 tanks
  • 16 melee
  • 16 ranged
  • 13 healers
That number also includes initiates. Unfortunately, not everyone on that list is going to be able to consistently make it (school, work issues, etc). So that number will eventually go down. We spoke to players to determine who was planning to stay and who wanted to move on.
Amazingly enough, no one wanted to test the waters of free agency (even though I tried hard by blasting Call Me Maybe throughout Mumble).
We also took a quick pulse on any players that wanted to switch roles or classes. A few mentioned interest in rolling monks or making an alt their main entirely and we’ll give them a crack at it.
Don’t forget about your officers. Some people might be burning out. I took stock of the officers to see who wanted to continue in their administrative roles and all have agreed to sign on for another expansion. Listen to them if they need anything extra from you.


I only made one change here. We used to have two raiding ranks: Authenticated players and unauthenticated players (this helped with bank access rights). Most members in the raid have authenticators. I changed the second rank to raid trial members instead to help track those easier. We were running into problems where we’d occasionally forget to “promote” players. The other ranks consist of officers, alts, social members, and our dedicated PvP teams.

My bad.

Revising the site and reviewing policy

One of the very first things we did was re-examine all of site documents. Anything that was outdated was immediately updated. Special care was taken on our recruiting forms. We decided to re-do it from scratch since a few of the questions that were Cataclysm specific were no longer applicable. We took a hard look at each question and asked ourselves if it was something that we really needed and managed to knock off a few that we felt could be answered elsewhere.

Most importantly, I updated the guild background with a picture of Chen Stormstout in the middle of our logo. Have to Mist-ify the guild site somewhat.

Now it’s just a matter of resting. We’re a day and some change away from a whole new continent of really fun stuff to do!

Tomorrow’s going to feel like the longest day ever. 

3.5 Hours from 85 – 86

3.5 Hours from 85 – 86

That’s a disappointing time.

I finished preparing my Priest for the leveling blitz halfway through the week. I’ve got my Swiftness Potions, Healing Potions, Drums of Forgotten Kings, assorted Flasks, and other consumables.

Decided to transfer my Priest over to the beta and clock my time. There were a couple of factors affecting my levelling speed.

  • No rested XP
  • No guild experience boost
  • Watched all the cut scenes
  • No pre-completed quests/dailies to turn in

During the Cataclysm grind, I had the Argent Tournament dailies all finished and ready for turn in. Added a decent amount of XP to it and I’ll have some other dailies ready by the time Mists opens up. I can’t remember if we had rested XP available during the 80 – 81 grind when Cataclysm opened. I goofed up on a few of the quest turn ins and pickups. If I factor in all of that stuff, I should be able to knock out 1.5 hours off that time. The new Jade Forest isn’t as super cut scene heavy as Uldum was, but there’s enough to make you go “Whoa.”

I think I’m also going to switch in Reflective Shield as a glyph.

Tonight I’ll clock my time from 86 – 87, enjoy the scenery, and (more importantly) get an idea of where all the Innkeepers are to set my hearthstone.

Thank goodness there’s no conch shell we have to all click on to be able to breathe and swim faster underwater, right guys?

If convenience store owners were savvy, they’d raise the prices of energy drinks for the weekend/Monday as people stock up. I should go pick up some Red Bull or Nos. I like the grape flavour.

Do you plan on racing to level 90 or are you going to take the time to enjoy the sights and scenery?

Tip: Remember this. If you ever get to a situation where you need to interact with a friendly NPC and they’re not on the map, log out and log back in. You’ll thank me for this. This happened to me a few times as I was leveling. I hope it’ll get resolved when it’s live, but just in case!

Is Combat Resurrection Still Needed?

I participated in a neat Twitter discussion last night about the merits of combat res. The original point started with the desire for Priests to gain access to a combat res. From a lore perspective, I can understand that. Priest are the flagship class for healing for any fantasy-based game. They embody the essence of healing. It makes sense for a Priest to be able to bring their allies back from the dead in the middle of an engagement.

But not in WoW.

Priests are extremely well rounded as it is and the addition of a combat res cooldown would tip them over the edge in desirability. Abilities to group heal, single heal, save lives, and so forth is just enough for them. Mechanically speaking, I can’t imagine why it would be necessary at all.

Actually, if I had it my way, I’d argue for the removal of all in-combat resurrection spells from the game entirely.

That’s right. No more soul stone, no more raise ally, no more rebirth.

All gone.

Individual player accountability would have no choice but to go up. Can’t really be as reckless anymore. Can’t take those risky, stand-in-fire-for-extra-DPS moves because that safety net is gone. All you need to do is ask yourself how different you would play if you knew that the only way you were coming back to life is on the next attempt. You’d play tighter, right? You’d check your threat closer. You’d watch timers better. You would do everything you could to make sure that YOU don’t die. The psychology of a combat res provides the raid with that safe comfort knowing that there’s effectively 3 extra lives in play (on 25).

This isn’t vanilla WoW anymore. We don’t need 40 people to run raids. I remember when combat res spells had no limits. Back then, those second chances were a necessity. There was only one difficulty level: Punishing. It was one of the main reasons why druids were so sought after (Read: Job security). Each combat res was another player and another chance at getting through the encounter. Burning Crusade was much the same way.

It’s certainly useful for progression. Those unsuspecting boss attacks and abilities that come out of no where can be solved with a simple combat res. If combat res spells were gone from the game, the overall amount of progression wipes needed would mostly go up across the board. It might even slow the game down overall since content would last a little bit longer. I’m inclined to believe that most guild first boss kills utilize the maximum allowable number of combat res’s.

Yet, another part of me can imagine the pain and frustration for raiding guilds dealing with players who just can’t seem to cut it. Combat res’s have that cushion. If it were out of the game, player deaths in raids would be magnified and not easily as forgiven by peers. Hell, if I kept dying to the same stupid mechanic week after week without getting any better at avoiding it, I’d be super discouraged too. But then I might come to the conclusion that the stuff I’m doing is just something I’m not currently capable of and would come back after a few more raid finders or normal modes.

What about disconnects or buggy boss mechanics? My guild has experienced countless heroic Zon’ozz wipes due to weird ball bouncing bugs. Don’t get me wrong as I’m grateful for the option to bring back the dead from unfair and undeserved deaths. We’ve also had people disconnect or crash at the wrong time and a combat res helped save the 8 minutes we would’ve lost from a wipe and having to do it all over again.

Disconnects will always happen until we level up or tech to the point where computers are crash free and we’re all hardwired to the internet without any possibility of losing a connection. Bugged mechanics? Then it’s time for additional testing or go with abilities that are proven to work. It doesn’t feel right to me to use player abilities to offset encounter errors.

So long as combat res is still in the game, I’m not going to shy away from using utilizing it. It’d be crazy not to. It helps make up for the inevitable mistakes that occur. I feel like it’s a requirement. It’s a crutch. It’s something to lean on. It’s there to give players like me hope that if I screw up, I can maybe count on something to bail me out, even though I hate it.

After a player-saving-Life Grip, Rebirth is the only other spell that says to the player “You screwed up and died. Here’s me saving your butt and giving you another go. Don’t mess it up.”

Before death knights and warlocks could revive players mid combat, I’d occasionally  join raid pickup groups on my alt that didn’t have druids. Every move, every step had a purpose. I sacrificed a little bit of DPS to move away from projectiles faster. I didn’t want to get tagged and risk getting destroyed.

Ultimately, combat res or not, you are responsible for your well being. Whatever happens, don’t be that guy whose name the raid leader puts on the “Do not Res” list. I guarantee you, most raid leaders have such a list. That list is there because they know that if they res you, you’ll most likely blow your chance and die again anyway.

Anyway, that’s my piece. What do you think? Do you believe it continues to be invaluable or should it just get cut?

Keeping 25s Alive

I was reading this post at Unwavering Sentinel with different ideas on how to keep 25 man raiding alive. It’s something I’ve been thinking on and off about both from the perspective of a GM and as a normal player.

At the heart of, we should first analyze what makes a 25s player want to raid 25s. 10s is easier to manage. It’s difficulty varies from 25 from encounter to encounter. And you’re not as likely to cancel raids because you can usually rock 10 players (although 25s is more forgiving in this regard since running shorthanded a player on 25s isn’t going to be crushing as down 1 on 10).

For me, more is fun. I love large scale engagements. I prefer working with the army as opposed to the special forces group. More macro than micro. Maybe I really like raiding with 24 friends because I don’t want to leave 15 people I know out in the dust.

I get that players like the closeness and intimacy that 10s offer. Personally, I’m not looking for nor am I really interested in that type of stuff. I figure if you get too close to someone and know them too well, you’ll get irritated or annoyed at something. More players means you don’t get personnel fatigue from being with the same select group of people over and over. But that’s not a raid size matter (it’s more leaning towards guild size anyway).

The developers have recognized that they haven’t done enough to inject enthusiasm for 25s. One of the solutions that have been implemented for Mists is that even though the loot between 10s and 25s will remain the same, 25s will gear out faster. Instead of 5 drops per boss, we’re getting 6. All things considered equal, a 25s group would theoretically have a decked out raid faster.

We’re going to examine the solutions presented by Zellviren.

Solution 1: Make 25-man have specific rewards

This is singlehandedly the absolute best solution to revitalize 25 man raiding bar none. By making 25s the main route for the best loot, those players motivated by the flashiest and most powerful gear would have no choice but to enlist in a 25s guild.

But we all know that’s not an option on the table. This was something that was done during Wrath. Separate item levels between 10 and 25.

Solution 2: Make 25-man have specific achievements.

One could take this a step further and maybe add a guild achievement for a clear on 25 in addition to a 10. Of course, the unfortunate part of this is that it wouldn’t be possible at all for a guild to obtain every guild achievement. Maybe make it an either/or thing. If you clear it on 10, you get the toast for a 10 man raid. If you clear it on 25, you get the 25 one instead. But once you get one, maybe have it set that it’s not possible to get the other.

Solution 3: Creating “guild alliances”

I don’t know about this method. From a technical stand point, it wouldn’t be difficult to modify at all. But as a GM, it can be politically difficult to entertain the idea of cross raiding with a different guild. Who gets to quarterback the raid? How is loot going to be handled? If all hell breaks loose, it’s not uncommon for fingers to start pointing at each other on blame. It’s a solid idea but my guess is that human nature would work against it.

On the other hand, I’m a cynic.

Solution 4: The 25-man raiding “pool”.

A queue of raiders presents an interesting tool for GMs and raid leaders. It helps resolve calling raids based on attendance. In addition, it gives free agents out there a chance to throw themselves out in the world and see what else is out there. Maybe their server has limited progression or there aren’t many large guilds around. It’s like a match making service that’s one grade higher than LFR. However, I feel that this is more of a bandaid solution than one that would truly revitalize 25s.

What about removing the lockout?

One thing I want to propose with regards to lockouts is to remove them entirely. Instead, use the raid finder style of loot lockouts to limit gear acquisition.

Give players the ability to run as many bosses as they want in whatever raid size they want, but limit item rewards to their first kill of that week.

Say I’m on a weekend 10 man group. We clear out all of heroic Dragon Soul. The 25s group runs during the weekday and Monday rolls around. They find out that Peter Lafleur, one of the healing priests in that group, has national dodgeball championships that Monday and isn’t able to come in. Instead of resorting to a pug or a possibly undergeared alt, I can offer up my main priest instead. I’ve cleared out all of the bosses in Dragon Soul rendering me completely ineligible for any loot but that’s okay because I can still help out my fellow guild members.

Actually, some additional icing on the cake would be to allow gold drops to keep recurring. I wouldn’t mind raiding and farming bosses as an income stream.

The possible counterpoint to this is how would achievements be handled? The achievement with the 4 platforms on Deathwing normally takes guilds 4 weeks to get. Being able to reset and re-engage Deathwing anytime means they’d be able to nail that achievement inside a day. I’m not sure how to reconcile something like that because it gives raid groups the ability to re-attempt achievements anytime they want instead of waiting out a week for everything to reset.

If the idea of unlimited lockouts is too extreme, perhaps the moderate idea of one 10 man and one 25 man would suffice. During Wrath, we ran both 10s and 25s to maximize gear drops for our characters. But if it’s restricted to only one chance on obtaining loot, we’d be able to pick and choose a raid size at our discretion.

It’s just something to think about. For you who raid 25s, what is it that motivates you to do that? Why do you think you haven’t switched or would never consider shifting down a size to 10?