Lodur’s Epic Journey to PaxEast 2011

If you didn’t know, for the last several months I’ve been the third seat on the RaidWarning podcast. This comes after the BDTU podcast came to a close. Since then I’ve dove back into podcasting pretty hard as it’s something I really love. We were invited back this year to do a Live Podcast at PAX East 2011. I was excited because though I’ve attended Blizzcon and other conventions, this was the first time I would be attending a convention as both Media and as a Speaker. My excitement only escalated further when I saw this little snippet posted on their site;

TypeFrag Presents: Raid Warning Live!
Manticore Theatre
Sunday, 12:30pm – 1:30pm
It happened at PAX Prime and it’s happening here. Seven, David, and Joe, hosts of the ill-humored World of Warcraft podcast, Raid Warning, step out from behind their Brewfest steins for a live broadcast show. Expect the latest in WoW community news, prizes, and Cataclysm information while the hosts and their guests attempt to do what their fans have requested: be funny live. Guest Lineup: Dustin Blackwell (MMOMFG.com) and more! 

 

Panelists include: Seven DeBord [Host, Raid Warning], David Morrison [Co-Host, Raid Warning], Joe Perez [Co-Host, Raid Warning], Dustin Blackwell [guest, MMOMFG.com], Jeff Cannata [guest, Weekend Confirmed]

It’s pretty exciting even still, and now that I’m home from PAX I’m going to frame the page from the convention book. So, back to the epic journey story part right? right!

Well anyways, I begin to make my plans to get to Boston, MA in time for the con. I start looking at train tickets and plane tickets and then notice that it’s only a 7 hour drive from my hometown to Boston. I ask the significant other and we decide that we’ll make the drive. Preparations are made, and the day of the journey arrives. I leave work at 5pm EST and Tart and I begin our long drive to Boston. Everything is going great and I doze off in the passenger seat. I wake up a couple hours later and we stop for gas and some food. We pile back into the car and start on our way again. We make it a few miles down the road, and all of a sudden the RPM gauge drops to zero. The car is still running, but the lights are getting dimmer, the radio is freaking out a little bit, the speedometer stops tracking speed and the odometer stops tracking mileage.We pull off into the next rest stop, and turn the car off  as the lights are continuing to dim.

We get out check the engine and everything on the surface looks good, so we get back in and the car wont start up. We begin looking for a jump, thinking the battery may just be dead. We find a couple willing people, but when we remove the jumper cables, the car just dies out. We call Triple A and they give us a hard time about sending someone out. Over two hours later someone finally arrives, and starts by trying to give us a jump from the truck. The jump starts the car, but again once the power is removed the car dies out. So we get a tow to the nearest WalMart thinking we can just replace the battery. $200 tow later, we swap the battery out, start the car and head off into the night. We get about another 100 miles or so and the battery dies. Clearly at this point it’s the alternator, but it’s super late and there are no shops we can go to at this point to get it fixed. We wind up having to spend the night at the rest stop and waiting until morning. Let me tell you, sleeping in the car when it’s bloody cold is not fun.

Morning comes, we get a tow to a local shop. $374 and a new alternator later, we’re on the road again. We get to about 20 miles outside of Boston, and the car, yet again, dies. Same as before too. The RPM gauge drops to zero, followed by the speedometer and the odometer. We manage to get a tow into Watertown, and it turns out the alternator is dead again. That’s right the second one was bad as well. We get a cab and head to the hotel from the repair shop, and get ready to try and hit PAX. What should have been a 7 hour drive turned into a 25 hour excursion! Next time I go, I’m flying and being done with it!

While at PAX though, it was a truly great time. I got to hang out with the amazing people at Cryptozoic, the company that makes the WoW TCG, got to play Star Wars the Old Republic, Guild Wars 2 and Duke Nukem Forever (yes it exists and it is pretty damn sweet). I got to meet a lot of game developers and really get to know the people behind some of our favorite games.  It was quite an experience honestly, and one I really enjoyed. And on Sunday, despite all the hurdles we had getting there, the live show was a huge success. People had a good time, we handed out lots of loot and had some great conversations about WoW and the upcoming patch 4.1. We even got to drink some nice home-crafted beer while doing so. Most of all,  I really enjoyed meeting some of my readers and listeners face-to-face. Being able to shake hands with you guys and say hello was a great experience and one that I’m hoping I get to repeat often.

Is Blizzard keeping you in guild by threat of rep?

Is Blizzard keeping you in guild by threat of rep?

Last time I posted, I broke the news that I left my guild and home of 6 years on Zul’jin, Unpossible. I actually wound up moving servers completely, and now reside on Ner’zhul a US PvP server located in the bloodlust battlegroup. I am now a member of the Conquest guild, and attempt to harass Matt (otherwise known as Russelcus) daily. Making the transition was quite daunting. It involved leaving everything I knew behind, transferring servers from PvE to PvP, getting used to new guild structure, raiding roles, other healers, loot system differences and generally getting adjusted. I can say to that effect that the players in Conquest have been nothing but top notch, and really welcoming. They’ve done a damn good job of making this displaced shaman feel welcome while I adjust to my new environment. While on that topic, I’d like to give a big shout-out to all the crew, thanks for helping to make the transition a little bit easier. I’m having a blast raiding with them, and I’m looking forward to seeing a large group of them again this year at Blizzcon 2011.

Now to the meat and potatoes of today. When I transferred I went from being exalted with a guild, to starting back at scratch. That means I lost the ability to purchase any of the guild vendor items that required any sort of rep at all. At first I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but then I rolled an alt and really could use that heirloom helmet to speed up the leveling process, but I can’t buy it yet because I don’t have the rep. Or the fact that while our guild got the achievement Guild Glory of the Raider, I can’t cash in on the sweet sweet Dark Phoenix quite yet. It’s sort of this constant nagging reminder telling me that I haven’t really earned my keep yet. Having hit maximum level and completed all the quests besides dailies and a handful of quests in Vash’jir, I’m climbing up a pretty steep hill right now.

So I got to thinking, is this a deliberate design mechanic to keep people in their guilds? Before Cataclysm, recruitment was pretty steady. You could post on various sites and forums, send out twitter messages or put out a new video and you’d get at least a few nibbles. Now though, recruitment is pretty arduous. I know plenty of guilds that are having a hard time filling in certain classes or rolls, and others that would have to beat away applicants with a stick now are seeing a steady slowing in the trickle of new applicants. So I have to wonder how many people are staying in their current guilds based on their guild rep and the level bonuses? By adding in guild bonuses and guild rep, they’ve bread in a certain brand loyalty based around personal desire. Sure you can leave your guild and join another one, but you’ll have to grind that rep out all over again! Sure you can join that other guild, but they’re lower level than your current guild so you’ll loose all those nifty bonus abilities!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not all about guild hopping or anything like that. But from where I’m sitting, we used to get a ton of emails about finding the right guild, questioning if the guild you’re in suits your needs, things like that. Those emails have dwindled quite a bit since Cataclysm was released. I know a couple of people, who the idea of doing the grind all over again was just the last straw, and instead of switching to a new guild and maybe having their love of the game renewed with a different group of people, they just stopped playing all together.

I think Blizzard recognizes this a little bit and in Patch 4.1 we’ll be getting Heirloom Tabards. The Illustrious Guild Tabard allows you to gain an additional 60% guild reputation from your questing and tasks, while the Renowned Guild Tabard grants an additional 100%. I’m fairly confident that the Renowned Guild Tabard will be something you can pickup at exalted for alts, and the illustrious tabard might almost be enough to ease the burden. It just depends on what rep level you’re required to have before you can purchase it. Both tabards have the added bonus of being bind on account items and can then be used for your various alts as you level them up to help cushion the rep crunch.

The question still remains though, with all these new perks and bonuses coming out for being in a guild, and the things like guild rep being a factor now, do you think that this has contributed to the dwindling returns on recruitment? Are these incentives enough that they keep people in their current guild rather than potentially finding a guild that may be a better fit for them? So what are your opinions on the topic?

By the time you read this I will be heading to PAX East in Boston. If you happen to be heading there as well, or will be in the area, feel free to contact me here or through Twitter. There are no formal meet-ups at the moment, but I will be partaking in a Live Podcast on Sunday March 13th at PAX, tentatively scheduled for 12:30 in the Manticore room. Be sure to stop by and say hello!

Breaking Up is Hard to do

Things change. This is one of the only true universal things that will remain constant. Every day you log into the game there is always something changing. Whether it is your gold totals, your gear or just what content is active at the time. Things change from an administration perspective as well.

These last few weeks I went through a large series of changes. It started with me stepping back from raiding for a bit due to personal reasons, and has culminated with me now leaving my former home on Zul’jin, Unpossible. That’s right folks, I am no longer a member of Unpossible, a place where I have done everything from dinging 60 and killing Ragnaros with all the way up to the current content. It was not an easy decision, in fact it was one that I dreaded and hemmed and hawed about. I’m not too ashamed to say I lost sleep over it. At the end of the day though I had to do what was right for me, and so I’ve moved Lodur to a new home.

Over time things will change in a guild. As people drop out of the game, or come back, or new people take charge as officers and old ones drop away. Over time the climate can change, and you may find yourself in a position where you don’t feel you fit 100% anymore. This is something we get contacted about quite a bit through email, about how you gracefully quit. Well, I recently have first hand knowledge of this and figured I would share my insight.

Take time making your decision

Before you make the decision to quit, be absolutely sure that this is the right decision. Weigh the pros and cons. Think about why you are considering leaving your current position and guild. Are you leaving to take up a position with another guild? If you consider the environment you’re about to join. Why are you considering them? Before making your final decision, see if you can maybe make an alt in the potential guild to see how everyone is. Maybe see if you can hang out on their vent or mumble servers.

The key here is to really not do anything brash. Take your time and evaluate all the angles before you hit that /gquit. The last thing you want to do is quit only to go somewhere else and realize that you didn’t want to quit in the first place. It’s never an easy decision, and honestly it shouldn’t be. It’s a big decision, especially now that there are other things to consider like guild level, perks and reputation.

You’ve decided to quit after all, now what?

Assuming you want to leave on good terms, give notice. A heads up, a forum post, even a notice to the officers or gm is nice.  It’s also good for you to get a goodbye post if your guild has forums. This gives you a chance to say goodbye to your friends, and also to make sure everyone knows what is up. Without notification, a guild quit can cause quite a stir, and one of the last things you want to do is cause a stir.

When contacting guild leadership about your pending gquit, there are a few things that you need to do.

1.) Be clear about when you are expecting to be gone by

2.) Be clear about why you are leaving. If there are things that need to be addressed or concerns that are causing you to leave, be sure to inform them. Even if it’s something as simple as a shift in playstyle and times. Management will usually be interested in why anyone is leaving so that they can fix any problems they come across.

3.)  Be respectful. Again if you want to leave on good terms, try to keep that in mind while you’re writing your resignation letter to the leadership and any farewell posts.

Sounds like leaving or resigning from a job right? Well, in many cases it is just like that. When you’re in a guild you tend to spend a lot of time with these people. If you’re a raider, it can be as many hours as a full time job. It may sound silly, but in the world of MMOs that’s something very true.

Personal note from Lodur

Leaving Unposssible was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. When I hit the send and submit buttons on my PMs  and forum posts it was honestly quite an emotional thing. Having spent the vast majority of my WoW career with this group of people, drinking with them, gaming with them, sharing personal support with one another, it was like leaving a family. My decision to leave was based entirely upon my own personal issues, and it was the best of a series of bad options available to me. My departure was in not the result of failure on the part of leadership or anything else like that. I still have the utmost respect for all my friends, former raiders and former officers from Unpossible, and I never had, nor will, have a bad thing to say about them. If you’re on Zul’jin looking for a home, look them up. So for anyone from Unpossible that I didn’t get to say goodbye to, I will still be around and you better not be strangers. We’ll cross paths again soon, you have my word on that.

So how about you folks? Have you ever had an emotional moment leaving a guild or stepping back from the game? How have you left guilds before if you’ve done so? Why did you leave?

Weighing in on the Purification buff and future cooldowns

Shaman healing has been a bit… rough for most people. Our numbers haven’t been much in the way of competition compared to holy priests, holy paladins and now disc priests along side druids. We’ve got a lot of tools, but were lacking some necessary power when compared to other classes. As I’ve proven you can post good numbers and be competitive in certain environments, but it’s a lot of hard work and takes a lot of coordination. The devs over at Blizzard have definitely noticed this and have issued a response.

Shaman

We are also applying a hot-fix for Purification for the Restoration shaman passive from 10% to 25%. We think that shaman healing per second is not as competitive with other healers and while we hoped to bring down Holy priest and Holy paladins (in particular) in 4.0.6, which we did, shaman still appear to be behind. In this case, it is simply easier to buff Restoration shaman rather than nerf everyone else or re-balance the encounters.

In Addition – Restoration Druids and Restoration Shaman

We agree with the sentiment among some players that Restoration druids and Restoration shaman are lacking in the healing cooldown department. The shaman buff and Power Word: Shield adjustment above should bring all healers reasonably close in terms of throughput. The decision on who to bring then might end up being dictated by the strong cooldowns offered by paladins or priests. This isn’t the kind of thing we can address via a hot-fix, but it is something we are looking at for the next major content patch.

As always, we appreciate your continued constructive feedback and will do our best to keep you informed of ongoing developments.

First off all, the buff to purification is more than I could have hoped for. Some napkin math shows that the 15% increase, pushing it to 25% will give us a large and much needed throughput boost. This boost, if my math is right, will make us competitive with those pesky priests and paladins. While shaman everywhere (including myself) are rejoicing at this change which will be implemented in a HOT FIX (that’s right folks we really don’t have to wait for a content update for this), this isn’t the best of the news.

So if you’ve been reading anything I’ve written for the last year, you know that I’ve had this sort of strange addiction to a spell that went away back in the days of early Wrath beta, Spirit Link. The devs talked about bringing it back for Cataclysm, but sadly it was was scrapped, and I shed a long and lonely tear for the death of my beloved. That however did not keep me from bringing up almost a year ago that we quite possibly needed a defensive cooldown. It would seem that this time around, Blizzard agrees. They’ve already stated that they are looking for this in the next major content patch. To me this seems to smack of the fact that it is likely we will actually get that cooldown. So, on the off chance that Blizzard reads this, I’d like to offer once again some ideas on how to make it work.

First of all, Riptide should likely be removed as a talent. Every, single, restoration shaman takes the talent. With it being that, well for lack of  a better word here, required shouldn’t it be made a base-line bonus for choosing restoration? At least two of the three other healing classes have similar spells as baseline spells, so why should ours require the use of a talent point? I suggest making the new top tier resto talent a cooldown. Here’s some ideas on that

Spirit Link

20% of base mana 40 yd range

3 min cooldown

The shaman calls upon the spirits of their ancestors to watch over their companions and help ease their burdens and suffering

30% of all damage taken by party members within 40 yards is redirected to the Shaman (up to a maximum of 50% of the Shaman’s health times the number of party members).  Damage which reduces the Shaman below 20% health will break the effect.  Lasts 15 sec.

I still really like this idea. It’s like a hand of sacrifice, and it plays to the whole idiom of shaman being about the group healing, and in this case group mitigation. Big cooldown, big cost.

Ancestral Guidance

8% of base mana 40 yard range

3 min cooldown

Calls upon the spirits of the targets ancestors  to watch over and guide the friendly target. The guardian increases the healing received by the target by 30%, and also prevents the target from dying by sacrificing itself. This sacrifice terminates the effect but heals the target of 50% of their maximum health. Lasts 10 sec.

Very similar to Guardian Spirit, but again right up the shaman’s alley. Think about it, shaman are the spiritual stewards of their communities. Often communing with the deceased for guidance, luck, a good harvest or safety. In the real world, in times of war there are accounts of shaman calling forth the spirits of their ancestors to inhabit their body for a short time, giving their actions and abilities that supernatural edge that only the departed could grant. They could also bestow this gift upon others. So this could fit as well.

Embrace of the Earth

10% of base mana 40 yd range

3 min cooldown

The shaman calls forth the spirits of the earth to imbue the target with a supernatural resilience, reducing all damage taken by 50% for 8 sec.

This one is a lot like Pain Supression, slightly elevated mana cost, slightly more damage reduction, without the threat reduction. It fits with our lore, calls forth the element of earth which is traditionally the element we call on for survival.

Aegis of the Tempest

15% of base mana 40 yd range

3 min cooldown

The shaman summons the spirits of the very air to protect a friendly target in the form of circling cyclones. Increases dodge rate by 80% and reduces incoming damage by 50% for 10 seconds.

Air is the one element that is wildly under represented in our arsenal. We get Wind Shear, and a few air totems but that’s really it. This cooldown could be a great way to work that into the game for us. A cooldown that allows us to use the air to protect the tank, seems pretty fitting. I’m thinking something like a deterrence for the tank we can pop on them would work pretty well, just can’t make it a 100%.

Now, these aren’t perfect. Not by any means really, but it’s a start. I actually have a notebook full of ideas. I mean, it’s no surprise I’m addicted to shaman in and out of game, so I’ve been jotting down ideas for well over 2 years now.

So while I’m excited at the idea of getting a cooldown and my mind is all aflutter with ideas, I’m curious as to what you would want for a cooldown. What type of cooldown would you like? damage reduction? instant save from death?

No player is an island

The phrase “no man is an island” may be something you’ve heard before. It originates from a poem or meditation from John Donne, an English poet, priest and a major representative of the metaphysical poets of the time. Here’s the original poem;

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Now the saying is a little bit outdated and now should read no person is an island, but it was on point for the time that married two important ideas. The first is that people are not isolated from one another, but that mankind is interconnected. Essentially, there is something that connects us to each other that is inherent to being human. The second is the concept of mortality which was all the rage at the time. The two together tell us that the death of anyone person affects the entire world. Over time this has evolved from that original meaning to one that no person can really stand all on their own without support. And that is exactly the lesson we’re going to talk about today.

In order to make a guild and a raid run, it doesn’t all fall to one player. It takes multiple people to manage anything more than a small group of folks. I hear a lot of people say that they could run a raid or a guild single-handed.  After the events of the past two weeks I can tell you with certainty that it is a lot harder than you may think.

The last month and change has been pretty tough on Unpossible, not going to lie. It’s one of those period where real life hit everyone pretty hard right around the same time. Things like this happen. Two of the core officers had to step away from the game because of work related issues, and a third because of school. This left four of us still around, and things were going alright. Raids were still going and people were leveling and progressing. Then a couple weeks ago one of the leadership was gifted with the birth of their first child. For obvious reasons they had to step away from the game to handle RL as well. Another event took place that caused one of the remaining three officers to be absent for a week, unfortunately leaving just two of us to run the guild and raids for the time being.

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t fun. Raid signups, restocking the guild bank, hunting down missing raiders, running the raids, handling new recruits waiting for guild invites basically everything. It was stressful, lead to a lot of confusion and to speak frankly, it sucked. I’d find myself logging in before work to double check the Gbank, remote accessing my computer at home on my lunch in an attempt to log into the game and check status’, pouring over forums between work assignments and then rushing home to get things started on time. All the while handling raider complaints, DKP and other various factors. It was exhausting. At the end of the day all I wanted was a cold glass of beer, a dark room and some earplugs.  Even with two people trying to handle it, it was just simply too much. As a result of our stress, the guild became slightly stressed as well. Things weren’t running with their customary smoothness and adjustments were made to handle things as best as they could be handled at the time.

This persisted for two weeks of basically trying to keep things together and smooth, and at the end of those two weeks I honestly didn’t even want to touch the game for a bit. It was that stressful. Then three of the officers returned, and now things are going back to normal. While I’ve always been a strong proponent of sharing responsibility and delegating responsibility, this did nothing but highlight how very true that is. There’s too much involved when running a guild, let alone one that raids, for one person to effectively keep track and handle all aspects of it.

This is why when you come into a guild there may be multiple officers. In our case we have a DKP officer, healing officer, Ranged DPS officer, Melee DPS officer, Tank Officer, and Recruitment officers / membership officers. Responsibility is divided so that whenever a question or concern is raised it can be dealt with with a certain specialty. Each aspect gets the time and care only a person not trying to do everything can do.

So when someone comments to you that they could run a raiding guild single handed, remind them that no player is an island.

How about you out there? Ever try to run a massive group by yourself without help? Were you ever a part of a raid or guild where one person tried to manage everything? How did that work out?


Lodur’s Response to the “Paragon Shaman Scare”

Lodur’s Response to the “Paragon Shaman Scare”

Following the recent world first heroic Sinestra kill by Paragon, players have been pouring over their logs determining their raid composition and the numbers necessary to succeed in such an encounter. One thing of note is that the raid Paragon took was assembled without any shaman of any spec or flavor. This has caused a bit of a stir across the Internet as players begin to question the viability of the entire class as a whole. People are calling for buffs, for other players to be nerfed, or just randomly QQing about how under powered all of the classes are and jumping ship to roll paladins. Today I’d like to break down what the problems actually are, what fixes could be proposed and dispel some of the anger, fear and angst surrounding our class in the last couple weeks. I will preface this post by saying that this is not a shot at Paragon or any other top tier raiding guild. I appreciate all your hard work and your accomplishments. This post is for the rest of us out there, who aren’t quite at their level.

Throwing Lightning and Swinging Axes

The DPS of the shaman class has always been a wobbly wooden seat in a room full of steelchairs. Ever since the days of Vanilla WoW, our Viability as DPS has sort of teetered. I’m not going to pontificate on it too much,  as I’m really a healer, but I started my WoW career throwing lightning on my magnificent Tauren Shaman and still do it now for fun and a change of pace. In BC and much of Wrath I took it away from elemental and smacked things with sharp objects and big sticks for entertainment, so suffice to say I’ve spent at least some time DPSing (yes this includes raids and hard mode raids when it was necessary).

Right now the big argument is that scaling is the issue. I can see why, and maybe there is a valid concern here. Right now at “Blue level gear” a shaman is capable of toping charts and blowing away everything that stands in front of them. The logical assumption is that scaling is the issue, that we don’t’ scale well compared to other classes as higher gear becomes available.  Maybe part of that is true, but managing spellpower coefficients is a tricky science and one that Blizzard is already looking at. If you tweak it too high you can break the system, tweak it too low and the class becomes useless. When you see them say they are increasing a spell’s power by 10%, they really mean they are adjusting the coefficient. We’ll get into that a little more later on here in the post, but just keep that in the back of your mind for now. Personally I feel that scaling is the lesser of the issues for damage.

I contend that movement has always been the greater bane  of the shaman in all aspects of life. We’re turrets, we’ve always been turrets, and anything we get to help us do our job on the move is only a stop-gap to tide us over until we can sit still and go back to work. I’ve done fights where I’ve out DPSd an equal-gear equal-skill hunter because I was able to sit in one place and just cast Lightning Bolt after Lightning Bolt (metaphorically speaking, I did use other spells), but on a very movement heavy fight I was crushed by an under-geared affliction lock. Literally the only difference was movement. While I agree that some of the spells need a little tweaking to make them a little less RNG dependent and help with minor scaling issues, I would have loved to have seen something that elemental and enhancement shaman could have grabbed to either extend the period of use for Spiritwalker’s Grace or shorten its cooldown. I think that overall would be a better, more utilitarian fix. Either a talent stuck somewhere or attached to something else. I could easily see it being an additional effect of  Ancestral Swiftness. Now this is just an idea, and maybe it’s not the best one, but I think it goes a little further to solving the real problem. This goes for both elemental and enhancement. While our mobility has improved, at any point in time we have to move, it takes us the longest to recover and start back in to try and maintain our offense.

I throw magic water on it, BE HEALED!

Lets get into the topic that is a little bit hotter of a debate, and more in my area of expertise. Right now the debate is that shaman healing is way too low when compared to other healers. While our numbers are seemingly low when compared to priests and paladins, our numbers seem to line up pretty closely to restoration druids. I think this happens for a few reasons. Shaman are the healing model for Cataclysm, or so we’ve been told since day one of the healing change discussions. I still feel this to be very true. I’ve not encountered a fight I haven’t been able to heal through with hard work, determination and communication with my group. Sure some fights are harder on us than others, but that boils down to a few reasons.

First of all shaman have slightly different mechanics than, say, a discipline priest. We don’t really mitigate damage, we stabilize and then bring everything back to whole. Healing Rains, Healing Stream Totem, Riptide, Earthliving and even Earth Shield all lend themselves to helping us stabilize players so we can either edge their health up with Healing Wave, drop a nuke like Healing Surge and Greater Healing Wave or use Chain Heal to quickly bring a group from the brink. Our job isn’t to keep everyone topped off anymore, it’s to keep them stable and alive.

The difference in healing tactics  is something we should be used to by now. In Vanilla you basically spot healed when you needed to while making sure your totems were optimally placed. In Burning Crusade you down-ranked Chain Heal and just spammed it regardless of content size and things were good as we stacked haste and MP5. In Wrath things got a little more complicated. With down-ranking of spells rendered ineffective, and the addition of a new spell, Riptide, we basically had to relearn how to heal right. We did hit a patch of trouble at the Ulduar phase of the expansion where players discovered Riptide and Lesser Healing Wave did so much healing that our other spells could be all but forgotten. This was balanced out by Blizzard at the time, but it still meant that through the life of Wrath we constantly adjusted our healing style and strategies right up until ICC dropped. Before our job was always to restore everyone to full, or as someone aptly put it on twitter, to “HEAL ALL THE THINGS!”. A lot of shaman are having trouble making the adjustment, especially those that are rolling one for the first time after playing a paladin, priest or druid. So part of our problem is there is a rather steep learning curve right now.

Secondly, just like our DPS brethren, movement is always an issue. Anytime we are forced to move our HPS drops like a rock. While we have tools to help us out in that regard, we still lack things like a multiple person HoT that we can control where it goes and can cast at the rate of a GCD between them.  Once we get into position it can sometimes take us a few moments to play “catch up” with healing. The same fix for DPS could in theory be applied here. Give us something to extend SwG out or reduce the cooldown and that will go a long way to helping through put. Although at that point, since all three specs would benefit from it, it would basically be a redesign of the spell. Point is though, movement fights (which Cataclysm has many of) are doable, but we still suffer for it.

Lastly, some of our spellpower coefficients feel off. Not massively so, but just enough to notice it. Particularlly with Chain Heal, Greater Healing Wave and Earthliving. Right now on the PTR 4.0.6 build, Chain Heal is getting a 10% buff. While most would assume this means that it will heal for 10% more, this isn’t exactly the case. Remember what we talked about before with spellpower coefficients? Here’s how the buffing really works. Right now on live, Chain Heal has a spellpower coefficient of 0.32 or 32%. This means that 32% of your spellpower directly affects the amount you heal for when using that spell. On the PTR this has been increased to 0.35 or 35%. Now you may say that this is a 3% increase not a 10% increase, but look again. What got the 10% buff was the coefficient as 10% of 32 is roughly 3. This is a lot better than it seems really. As the game progresses, we will mass more and more int, and as a result our spellpower will grow. That 35% coefficient will go further to scale us better with gear as we get “older” in the content. Same goes for Greater Healing Wave which has an estimated spellpower coefficient of 80%. It is getting a 20% bump, but that means on the PTR it has a coefficient of almost 96% if my math is right.  Again, see where this is going?

Sadly, though, Earthliving is not getting any attention yet, and I think it really should. For something we can’t control where it goes and who it heals, it feels weak. When it does proc you don’t control who gets the healing effect, and a lot of healing can be wasted this way on targets that you bring to full health only to watch the HoT keep ticking away. It is something I think could stand to be tweaked just a little bit. Haste certainly gives it a little boost by allowing it an extra tick of healing, but it is still spread out over 12 seconds. I can’t help but feel raising it to a 25% sp-coefficient from 23% would go a long way to help alleviate some of concern with it, and make it count on those it lands on that need the healing. It’s not a perfect solution, but I could see it being beneficial.

But why the hell are paladins and priests pulling so far ahead?

Short answer, they’re a little bit broken right now. True priests are complaining about mana issues, but Prayer of Healing is really strong right now, currently stronger than Chain Heal by a sufficient margin. It is also spammable to a degree, while we are forced to move away from Chain Heal spam. Little things like this are what allow priests to pull ahead by such a large margin. Paladins are just, well, in a word ridiculous. The amount of free healing a paladin gets is honestly quite staggering. While I’m certainly not saying that paladin healers aren’t talented, it’s worth it to note that our big heal at a raid ready gear level will be somewhere between 23 – 32k on a crit. Paladins? Well for that same GCD that paladin with equal gear will hit the same amount. Then you get the free heal from beacon of light which will then heal for 50% of whatever the primary target was healed for. That’s a huge chunk of healing right there. Combine that with the free healing a paladin gets to do with Light of Dawn and you can start to see some of the disparity.

So right now things aren’t very balanced. That’s OK. We’re not paladins or priests. We’ll never be paladins or priests, and that’s OK too. The new patch being tested on the PTR right now will be the first step to balancing out healing. Our heals are getting stronger, and paladins and priests are getting fine tuned. This should bring all four classes back in line with one another, leaving shaman for the most part untouched except for some much needed tweaks in the positive direction.

But Paragon didn’t use ANY shaman! Method only used ONE!!! That means I won’t have a raid spot!

You realize not everyone is Paragon or Method right? These are top-tier guilds that push through content as fast as possible using every little advantage they can to get the kill and be number 1. Let’s take a trip in our time machine back to the release of Black Temple. Nihilum got the first Illidan kill, and do you know how they were geared? They didn’t farm BT for weeks gaining gear to increase power levels. No, they charged through the content and pushed right up to him as fast as possible to down him. Most of their raiders were in the previous tier’s gear or lower. They pushed through the hardest content with a lot less gear than a normal guild doing the fight would have had.

Fast forward to Cataclysm and the trend continues. If you want to be bleeding edge, right there at the forefront of the digital war for number 1, you don’t stop to farm gear. You grab what you get along the way, and keep pushing. Class imbalances play a huge roll in this. If you have four healing classes, and two of them are pushing 30% more healing than the other two, you’re going to stack them. Why? Because that extra advantage compensates for lack of gear, and helps you push through the content. The same goes for DPS and tanks. I can’t remember which guild or which fight it was, but recently a group stacked a ton of druid bears to push through the fight. Does that mean every guild should stack nothing but druids? No, not really.

Truth is that for the average guild (and I mean literally if you would take all the guilds in the world and plot where everyone falls in composition and progression), you won’t have to worry about this. As you defeat bosses and gather gear every week, you’ll do nothing but improve. Keep in mind too that this was a heroic raid boss that was completely untested before anyone actually engaged her. By the time you manage to get there, you’ll likely have geared up quite a bit, and chances are good there will be at least one or two hot fixes in that affect you or the other healers, maybe even the encounters. Any good raid leader worth their salt will know that guilds like Paragon are the exception, not the rule. If you’re in a guild that the raid leader is pushing to have the same composition, well, maybe it isn’t the best place for you.

Really, the moral of the story here is that you shouldn’t let what one guild does on one fight dictate how you play or how you compose your raids. Classes and abilities will sometimes be imbalanced, trust in the developers to notice and balance it out in the end, after-all that is what they get paid to do. Expect and prepare for change. Remember Ulduar? In wrath, shaman at the tier 8 content level were falling behind in AoE healing by a considerable margin. Players were forced to stand apart further than chain heal could jump, and we were forced to rely on alternate healing methods. This was brought to the developer’s attention, and chain heal was buffed to cover longer distances between players. During the time of this crisis, we heard much of the same concerns as we are hearing now about healing. Hang in there, don’t get discouraged, it really isn’t that bad. The things that are bad? Well those are being looked at right now.

How to be a Purple Kodo

How to be a Purple Kodo

Making the decision to become a blogger about your favorite game can be a daunting task. There are a lot of things to consider before jumping into the project. Even then when you enter into the race, it can sometimes be hard to stand apart from the pack. Matt and Joe will teach you how to be the Purple Kodo in the herd.

Starting a blog, website or forum is a big task. Let no one tell you differently. You shouldn’t be afraid of it though, it’s a rewarding experience. It is something though that you should not be afraid to ask for help or advice from the community. To that endeavour Matt and I have decided that we’re going to be offering our assistance for those looking to get started in blogging, forums or just generally joining the community. Crafting a successful site and becoming a part of the WoW Healing Community can bring with it a lot of questions, and being people of the community we like to help out. So here is our first official post to help you become the fabled Purple Kodo.

Questions For the Pros

Hi,

After being promoted to healing officer for my guild, a lot of people, not only in my guild, but in the community on the server have been asking tips of me of late. So, in my mind, I decided to make a website to help these people by making guides, writing blogs, etc. Thinking that this would be relatively easy, I began looking for the materials that I would need, get ideas from other sites, like yours. After deciding that I was crazy and I would need help, I would like to ask for any advice that you guys may have in this be it free video editing software that is pretty solid, how to get my site out there, etc. Thanks guys, and keep up the good work.

Sincerely,
Mylindara
Resto Shaman

Mylindara,

Writing blogs and creating a website is a great way to consolidate your tips, tricks and information for healing. Your story is pretty much exactly what prompted me to start blogging. I had recently been promoted to a healing officer position and people from within the guild, and around the server, started asking for advice. Before I get started with offering up some advice on pulling it all together I need to issue a warning here.

Starting, maintaining and producing a website or blog is a lot of work. By undergoing this you are basically inviting yourself to another part-time job at a minimum. Take it from someone who has started quite a few forums, websites and blogs. You have to ask yourself if you’re willing to put in the work that it will require in order to not only consolidate the information, but keep it up to date, accessible and clean from spam and flame. You’ll also want to make sure that content is updated at much as possible to keep it fresh in people’s RSS feeds.

Still with us?

Matt’s comments in blue while mine will be normal.

Getting started

OK here are some pointers on getting started. WordPress.com does free hosting for blogs, as does Blogger. WordPress.com and WordPress.org give you a little more choice for themes, and offers some pretty good tutorials on the basics of blogging and setting it all up. For video editing tools, your cheapest bets are pretty good. The free windows live moviemaker is pretty darn good for simple editing of videos, as is iMovie that comes with an apple computer. If you want to get any fancier than that you’ll have to spend some cash, but those should do just fine. Also pick a name for the site that is both catchy and sums up what you’re all about (World of Matticus, TotemSpot, Way of the Totem for example).

Don’t make the jump to self-hosted right away. It requires a little advanced technical knowledge on your part when it comes to websites and site design. My first advice to you is to see if blogging is something you actually want to do. I’m not referring to intention here. Actually write it and see if you like. I can’t emphasize how much work is involved at times. In fact, as I’m finishing my side of this post up, it’s almost 1 AM here in the west coast. Don’t expect this to be an easy, overnight project. It’s taken me 3 years and I don’t think I’m done yet.

Be patient when it comes to results. Let me show you a screenshot of the first year.

analytics-0708

This site was getting an average of 200-300 hits a day. It wasn’t until about a year later before traffic exploded and the numbers became fairly consistent. Hey, if you’re not in it for the views, no problem. If you are in it for the views, then you’re going to be in for a long rep grind with the internet.

“Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.”

- Ross Perot

Getting out there

As far as getting your site out there, get active in the greater healing community. I earned a reputation through posting frequently on forums like Elitist Jerks and PlusHeal. Add your site to your signature, post often, and participate in the community. You represent your site in all facets, and the more people think of you, the more they’ll think of your site. If you don’t have a twitter account, get one. Matt pushed me into it a while ago, and it’s still very true. Twitter is a great way to get your posts out there on the web and let people know when new posts are active. There is a strong healing community present there, and a strong WoW community in general. I know that I’ve gotten into plenty of healthy debates over twitter and gotten a lot of great information through it as well. In the end it’s the writer that makes the site. Not just through the content they produce, but how they represent and conduct themselves in the community. Keep the word community in mind, I’ve seen good sites with great information die because the person wasn’t present in the rest of the community. Also remember that it is OK to ask for help from the community. I’ve had another healing blogger help me with my own private hosting, and I wouldn’t be writing on WoM alongside Matt if he didn’t make a call out for help with blogging and content. You should still keep your content up to date, and try to post on a regular schedule. If you’re writing alone, once or twice a week is a good pacing to make sure you always have fresh content, without letting yourself get burned out on it.

Link out. I cannot emphasize this enough. Find ways to link to other bloggers. I know it defies logic, but other bloggers do look at who links to them (there’s some blogging code and mumbo jumbo built into most major blogging platforms that show this). The point is to catch and attract their attention. Your goal is to develop readers first and that’s one way to start. Write a fantastic blog post? Chances are, it’ll get linked to as well. Blog Azeroth is another excellent resource to turn to in order to get started. Check out this post at Disciplinary Action for additional pointers.

This has gotten a little long winded, so I’ll round it up here. It’s a lot of work to put it together, but if you’re willing to put in that hard work it can be a very rewarding experience. I know for me every person who tells me my post helped them down a boss, or top the healing charts or even just get their guild a little further along, I count each of those as a victory in and of itself.

We all blog for different reasons. Your goals are going to be different from that of others. Blogging is like playing WoW: There’s multiple ways to go about it. If you’re trying to achieve something specific, then it takes a certain mindset and methodology to go about it. Larisa at the Pink Pigtail Inn uses different measurements and has different goals than I do, but that doesn’t make it any less valid in any way. She writes about life for her in Azeroth and her personal views about WoW and the community. We write about how to kick ass healing along with raiding and guild management tips. Although we may not see eye to eye, that doesn’t change my deep respect for her and her work.

Some people just find pink pony tailed gnomes more appealing then grey bearded dwarves, I suppose.

Good luck in making your new site, and if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask!

~Joe and Matt

There you have it folks. If you have any questions at all about blogging, feel free to contact us here at the site. We’d love to get your questions, and to help you out!

It Came from the P.U.G.: The Teacher

It Came from the P.U.G.: The Teacher

We’ve all been in this situation at least once. You get the queue for the LFD to pop, hit the button and are invited to a group that is already in progress. You see them corpse running back to the instance without even the first boss down. What do you do? Do you bail, leaving them at the mercy of the LFD tool to find another healer while you just eat the 15 minute timer on the queue? Do you ask what happened and then if you don’t like the answer bounce? Maybe you roll your sleeves up and try to get them through the dungeon?

I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for ever.” or a similar saying. I find the statement to be true in just about anything, granted that the “man” actually wants to learn to “fish”. For our purposes “man” is players and “fish” are instances. For me, I’m a teacher by nature. Honestly I am. I like giving knowledge and helping people out. That’s one of the main reasons I got into blogging in the first place 4 years ago, every person I help I count as a victory.

Almost a week  ago I was running a random heroic with my friend Hod (fun fact: In norse mythology, Hod is the son of Odin. A blind god who accidentally killed his brother Balder after being tricked by Loki), and we zoned into Throne of Tides already in progress. three out of the four bosses had been defeated with only the last event left to handle. The group we joined had a mage, a hunter and a boomkin all from the same guild. Now, on vent me and Hod both say at the about the same time “this is either going to be bad, or good”. We buck up, and the mage asks if we know the fight. I tell him yes, and that I’ve done it many times. The mage says something along the lines of “thank god, because we don’t” and then asks if I can explain the fight to him and the others. They listen and we attempted the encounter.

First try went well, but we did wipe when DPS got split. We made it back in and I asked if it would help if I marked the adds to kill for them. They said yes, so I broke out the old marking addon and went to town. The event went without a hitch and all three of our puggers got their heroic Throne of Tides achievement. We cheered for them and congratulated them and they thanks us in return. We parted ways, and off I went to do dailies until the reset. It was a good example of a group of players actually wanting to learn the encounter and be better. A few nights later roughly around the same time I do my random LFD queue and I wind up grouped with the mage from that Throne of Tides random. He’s happy to see me and thanks me again for taking the time to explain the fight. He tells me his group never wiped on it again, and since then he’s helped a few people understand how to do the encounter. I’m really quite happy about this and I hope that we start to see more and more of this happen. People asking questions, learning and then passing that knowledge on.

Now this doesn’t always work, the person after all has to be open to the idea of help or suggestion. That same night I re-queued at the daily switch over with two guildies. We get the Lost city of Tol’vir. In the group is a shadow priest and a ret paladin who have never been to the instance before. Before the tank can even set marks and hand out cc assignments, they dive headfirst into the first pack of mobs they see and die. We zone out, wait for the reset and zone back in. I ask them if they’ve been here before and both admit that it is their first heroic. I explain the importance of CC in a heroic now, and that they can’t just pull like it’s Wrath anymore.

I’m honestly quite nice about it. Their response is to ignore that and dive right back in. This time the tank joins us zoning out, we wait for the reset and I try to explain again.This time they flat out say that they aren’t going to listen to me and “only bads need CC, a real pro healer and tank can handle this.” At that point I feel I have no other option but to kick them, because otherwise they’re just going to waste everyone’s time with their refusal to listen, and learn.

It never hurts to take a few seconds and talk to your group. In Wrath, Matt and I both had experiences where a “good group” went in, did their jobs, and left after saying something like “good run” but pretty much nothing else. There was little to no communication during those runs, and I think that is something that still carried over now in Cataclysm with the LFD tool. I think players like to come across as confident and knowing what they are doing, for fear of being removed from the group if they don’t.  So the morale of the story is, be the one that breaks the ice, you may be able to help a new player out and make your runs a lot smoother, and you may just help improve the overall quality of the LFD groups you get as more players are educated quicker on what is going on.

So what do you think? Have you had any experiences similar to this?

The Stranger Side of Shaman

This is a guest post by Vrykerion of Oddcraft

This year I participated in the Blog Azeroth Secret Santa blog post exchange. You can view my submission at Jaedia’s Menagerie. ~lodur

Salutations and greetings! I am Vrykerion, writing this post as part of ‘Blog Azeroth’s Secret Santa Blog Post Exchange Thing of Happiness’.  If you’ve come here looking for the amazingly informative and extremely clever writing that you’ve come to expect from this site, I sincerely apologize but don’t worry, I’m just here for this one post.  And if you thinking I was kissing up a bit in that last sentence, you are probably correct. With this little introduction and/or disclaimer to save Lodur and I from being flayed alive out of the way, let’s begin shall we?

As you probably know, shaman are the masters of the four elements.  Master might be a bit strong of a word.  Shaman are shrewd negotiators of the four elements. Five elements technically, everyone kind of forgets about the element of the wilds.  I suppose you really can’t blame them, since that does start to step on the druid’s toes.  I mean, how would you shaman feel if someone like a mage were to be able to summon and control an elemental?  That would be just silly.  Besides, next to Fire, Earth or Water, you might as well just call the wilds ‘Heart’ for all it’s actually worth, but instead of a South American kid that no one likes, we get a green skinned former warchief who has gone all hippie on us as of late. All in all, I’d call it a wash.

In regards to restoration shaman in specific, I suppose you could say that their patron element is water. (Again, mages, you are thin ice with the Shaman Union.) From healing rains of the magic liquid, to splashing back a chunk of our mana, water is a consistent theme in the resto tool set.  Heck, it even possesses the power to remove curses and magical ailments!  Now granted it would make more sense that water would be able to remove more natural problems like diseases or poisons, but hey, since when did logic or verisimilitude ever enter into game design and class balance.

Shaman even get a magic stick that shoots out water and does all sorts of neat healing things too, but why can’t I sit there and drink it like a portable water fountain?  I mean, even outside of a game mechanic, I can’t imagine a shaman crossing Tanaris wouldn’t have thought to do that at least once, can you?  It seems like a fairly good way to prevent dehydration on those long journeys.  The point being is that when it comes to resuscitative magics, water is the shamans’ go to element – or is it?

There is a gap in the shaman spell book in terms of explanations that needs to be addressed.  The majority of the powers that a shaman wields make perfect sense in terms of their elemental origins.  Lightning bolts from the air, bursts of magma from fire, rumblings quakes from the earth, and the aforementioned watery heals, but what about the basic healing spells of the Shaman arsenal: the healing waves, chain heal and surge? Are they supposed to be some kind of yellow healing water?  Is it Gatorade? Maybe these are part of the mystical and rarely mentioned element of the wilds or something.

I mean, shaman use them all the time but we never really ask exactly what they are supposed to represent or what power source they draw on.  Maybe it’s some other element that the Earthen Ring would rather not make public.  Like uranium!  Resto shaman are using radiation to mutate your body into repairing its wounds!  No one noticed before because we were being cleansed of the radiation poisoning before it became a problem, but now that shaman can’t cleanse poisons in Cataclysm?  Well, why don’t you ask Marie Curie what the future holds? (On the other hand, this pretty much completely explains the existence goblin shaman.)

Okay, perhaps jumping to uranium is a bit of a leap in logic.  It could be aluminum or zinc or something.  Chlorine is the right color at least. There’s an entire periodic table for shaman to play around with.  But if it is the supposedly-more-powerful-than-the-other-four-elements-combined element of the wilds, isn’t using that gift to fill the little green meters of your friends a bit underwhelming?

The wilds is an element that rules over every living thing on the planet, and can even be convinced to get animals to walk up and let you kill them for food, and we are using it to get phat lewtz.  It’s that reasoning that makes me think that Healing Wave can’t be from the wilds, because if it is then pretty much every player character shaman in the history of WoW is a terrible person (in character that is) and somehow I don’t think that is working as intended.  Especially when shaman are one of the top classes in the matter of getting lore love, along with druids and paladins.

In the end we may never get a real answer as to what power source fuels shaman heals, other than ‘raw awesomeness.’  The truth is probably hidden along with all the other secrets of unanswered WoW lore.  Somewhere out in the nether between Chris Metzen’s brain and the place where all the missing left socks go, and someday we will find it – the Chain Heal connection.

Anyway, I’d like to thank you for sticking with the brief departure from Lodur’s usual posts to indulge or endure this little Secret Santa gift.  I’d like to wish you all a happy holidays and a glorious new year!

Are run speed enchants still necessary?

Are run speed enchants still necessary?

**Image of RoadRunner and Wile E. Cyote courtesy of Warner Brothers**

Do runspeed enhancements matter in raids?

  • Yes (61%, 207 Votes)
  • Murloc (26%, 87 Votes)
  • No (13%, 47 Votes)

Total Voters: 341

Loading ... Loading ...

Interesting topic that has come up over the course of the last few days. In Wrath it was mandatory for every raider I know to have some form of run speed enhancement either in the form of a boot enchant, talent that increased speed, or a meta gem that increased your run speed. In many cases if you didn’t have one, you didn’t raid.

A couple days ago, while auditing the profiles of our soon to be raiders, the question came up as to whether or not we really need the running enhancement anymore. The thought that sparked this was basically that with the unforgiving mechanics of Cataclysm in full effect, will that little extra run speed actually matter? Take Magmaw for example, he has two abilities that the raid needs to get away from. His little volcanic eruption that summoned parasites, and will throw you into the air high enough to cause falling damage on top of the initial fire damage. The other ability boils half the room alive, causing massive damage.

In the recent 10 mans I’ve run, I noticed that the vast majority of people did not have any form of increased run speed. Shockingly enough, the only deaths we had were some tank deaths resulting from learning the healing of a new encounter, and well, that’s pretty much it. No one died to parasites, explosions or being boiled alive. Now before you say anything, while I love my guildies and raiders, some of those in attendance have what I like to call “shiny object syndrome” and even they were able to avoid “standing in the bad”. Now I have also seen many people even with the run speed boost die to something that was telegraphed because they didn’t move early enough, leaving the run speed boost doing nothing.

There’s no question about it, the game is much more punishing than it was before. Part of this is due to the new raid and boss designs, the other part is that healers can’t compensate like we used to. Before, if you got caught in the bad, the faster you got out of it, the more likely we could power heal through it. Now though, if you get caught in the bad, even for a few short seconds, you’re pretty much likely to be much raid-kill.

So that leads us to today’s question. Is the run speed enhancement really necessary anymore? Do you think it outweighs the other bonuses you can use in place of it whether it is +Haste or +Mastery to boots? How about talents? Not only do we have the lovely poll at the top, but I’m looking forward to your comments on this one.