Halfway through Mythic Castle Nathria

Thought I’d drop in and post a quick update as it’s been a while. January’s been a busy month (both professionally and personally). From a progression standpoint, we are now 6/10 M. I managed to stream a few of those kills so I’ll be sure to clip and those videos onto here for those looking for a Holy Priest perspective there.

Guildwise, we’ve seen the departure of a few players. Our current recruiting needs are a Mage and a Holy Paladin. If you’re interested in learning more, drop us a line and apply here.

Thoughts so far

The limited raid drops continue to be punishing. I understand the dialing back of loot, but it really does feel bad to only get 3 items in a 20 player raid. Though that’ll change with the increased raid drops along with the new Valor system.

Shriekwing is a good entry level Mythic boss. Once you understand the patterns, it’s easy to plan around them even if you can’t actually see the Echoing Screech.

Huntsman is one of those inconsistent bosses. Either you have some dumb wipes to it, or it gets cleared in short order. There is a large amount of healing that has to go out here because of the extra ghosts. For Holy Priests, it is just like healing fish in a barrel between Holy Word: Sanctuary, Circle of Healing, and such.

Hungering Destroyer was the first real test. This one’s hard to heal through as Holy and I can see why a Discipline Priest is almost mandated here. You have to be precise with timings and prioritizing players (and groups). Coordination is key to managing the leech and the health drain.

Sun King was amazing and I haven’t had that much fun healing a boss since Valithria (Icecrown Citadel). Lots of planning that goes into this one especially on a week-to-week basis as player gear improves and cooldown timings continue to be fluid.

Haven’t healed Lady Darkvein yet and I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to. I’ll explain later but from what I see, advance knowledge of trig is essential.

Artificer Xymox saw a change of minus one healer, and plus a DPS. I was the healer would get cut but I did managed to make through many attempts into phase 3. Actually, this entire encounter can be summarized by making it through two key moments in phase 3 and if your group is able to do that, then Xymox falls.

Now what?

We’ve now cleared to Council. Our leadership has decided that the clock has started and that we’re going to look at extensions from hereon out until this tier is complete. That’ll mean no shots for me on Lady Darkvein or Artificer Xymox. I’m okay with this. I felt that putting me in the group against Darkvein would be detrimental as I haven’t seen the encounter at all and that the time spent for me to experience it would be outweighed by time spent on the remaining bosses in the instance. There would be a lot of wasted time in that sense. Xymox I can probably step in for as I’ve seen enough of what has to happen and how to respond appropriately.

That’s all for now! Trying to find written Council guides for healing is tough as there doesn’t seem to be any at all. Most of it is all on video and I don’t have the patience to sit through different ones. I miss the age of the written word!

Flash Concentration and How to Use It

Going into Shadowlands, it seemed universally agreed upon that the Harmonius Apparatus was going to be the top throughput legendary for Holy Priests. Who doesn’t want Holy Word spells getting further cooldown reduction and indirectly feeding Holy Word: Salvation, right?

It wasn’t when I started trying to heal in mythic dungeons that I felt I was struggling more than most compared to Shamans and Druids (as usual). I considered Flash Concentration (or FC), though I was skeptical about it at first until I received a few recommendations about it. After a few dungeons and select raid bosses, I am now a believer.

Flash Concentration is a great pick among Holy Priest legendaries. It slots in either your wrist or neck slot. I selected the wrist slot for mine so I could apply a +15 Intellect enchant to it.

Each time you cast Flash Heal, Has its casting time reduced by 0.2 sec and healing increased by 3%, stacking up to 5 times.

For some reason, when I read that, I interpreted that it would apply only to your next Heal. That’s not what happens though. The FC buff lasts for 15 seconds. For that window, your Heal cast time is 1 second less which puts it as the same cast time as a Flash Heal and increases the healing throughput of it. You can squeeze off about 9 consecutive casts of Heal before having to hit Flash Heal to refresh it. Last week’s Fortified affixes included Grievous which was a struggle to heal through but having FC completely trivialized it.

Usage in dungeons

My talent setup

There is wiggle room. Shining Force gets the nod over Censure during a week like Necrotic where the slow and knockback can help your tanks shake off their stacks. I personally like Censure in most cases (largely because I’m not great in my Shining Force usage).

Depending on your dungeon layouts, Benediction is often the better move because you don’t need to fret about accidentally pulling an unintentional mob pack with Divine Star or Halo.

With the last row, you can make a case for Light of the Naaru or Apotheosis. I prefer Apotheosis just because of the on-demand reset for Holy Words in case something accidentally happens. This is my pug dungeon insurance. If I’m running with my guild or other players that I know consistently, I’ll convert over to Light of the Naaru instead.

Tip: Keep Mind Soothe handy. I’ve found it to be great when trying to get around certain packs.

Usage in raids

My talent setup

This is a slightly different setup for FC in raids. Enlightenment is now a necessity due to the increased time spent on the encounter. Cosmic Ripple gets you some increased passive healing. Censure or Shining Force is dependent on the encounter. Surge of Light continues to be valuable here to help maintain your FC stacks (otherwise I would just have Prayer Circle active). Halo is the main selection but there is merit to Benediction for certain encounters (like Huntsman and not breaking crowd control).

By default, I’ll keep Harmonius Apparatus equipped. For progression, I’ve got my awesome X’anshi, Return of Archbishop Benedictus pants! We’ll talk about that later though.

There are a few bosses in Castle Nathria where FC shines. If you’re working on progressing through Huntsman Altimor, I recommend using it. During Bargast, if your tank isn’t at full, a fully empowered Heal can help restore the Rip Soul spirits to full health quite quickly. It can top up your 3 players that have been hit with a Sinseeker.

On Mythic, it becomes even more crucial as there are more Rip Soul spirits that spawn off the Sinseeker targets. Whatever Holy Word: Sanctuary doesn’t catch, Flash Heal and Heal will finish off.

If you really want to have some fun, put this on when you’re about to start Sun King’s Salvation. Grab a healing orb, hit Kael with a Guardian Spirit, and start bombing away with Flash Heal and Heal. You will phase him into the Shade in no time.

WeakAuras

I recommend using this Weak Aura to track FC. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and it comes with audio cues for time remaining on FC before it needs a Flash Heal refresh. Mine is positioned above my frames. You can see a Surge of Light weak aura right next to it (Thanks, Kyu!).

If you’re Holy, I can’t recommend using Flash Concentration enough for dungeons and pushing keys. I doubt it’ll make us crazy competitive at the high level but it’ll be more than enough to help get us through some of the affixes coming out. The cast sequencing does take a bit of time to get used to. I admit, I’ve let my fair share of FC stacks drop and really unfortunate times.

Welcome to Castle Nathria!

After two weeks of grinding, we’re here with the newest raid opening! Once I reached 60 on my Priest, I realized I had nothing else to do after clearing out Maw dailies, Callings, and progressing on my Covenant Renown. Mythic 0s can only be done so many times before there is no longer any reason to do it. Torghast gets a little old once you’ve reached the max layer allowable (layer 3) and are limited in which wings you can enter. I leveled up my Ret Paladin and my Frost Mage all within the first week and completed Mythic 0s and everything else on the weekly checklist there.

My alts are now officially more geared than my main.

In another bout of idiocy, I absentmindedly levelled my Elemental Shaman to 60 as well. Unlike my Ret Paladin and Frost Mage which levelled via Threads of Fate, I opted to take the scenic story route this time because I rushed through all of the cutscenes and dialogue. I watched the majority of it on beta during as those scenes were all a work in progress, but it’s nice to watch the whole thing as it was intended.

So here I am with 4 level 60s. The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to agree with everyone that this may well be the most alt friendliest expansion in an extremely long time. There’s no pressure to keep limitlessly grinding for some kind of currency like Artifact Power or Azerite Power on your main. Renown comes the closest but even that is capped. Same thing with Anima which can be farmed and used to purchase several upgrades, but those Covenant Upgrades are limited by the number of Lost Souls you can acquire per week. Venari’s Torghast upgrades are also account-wide meaning I can simply do The Maw on just my Priest and the rest of the Torghast perks will filter out to the rest of my characters.

The Gearing Process

I decided to hold off on pursuing the auction house to augment my Priest. I’m sitting at a nice, comfortable 181 item level right and it’s more than ample to get through Mythic Plus and Heroic Raid. We ran with our pre-arranged Mythic 0 groups last week and unfortunately, the Mage I was with needed the same slots and pieces as I did! We weren’t able to trade gear to the other. In hindsight, an audible should’ve been called on the day before Mythic 0 reset to see if it was possible for a class-for-class substitution amongst the groups to see if maximizing gear trading would be beneficial. But it was too late and I’m not too worried about it.

A few players in guild opted to drop hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of gold on BoEs from the auction house to equip their character. I don’t necessarily agree with that method especially during the opening week when upgrades from Mythic Plus and raid (on both Normal AND Heroic) can offer immediate performance boosts. Even BoEs that I’ve found I would list on the Auction House right away. I figured I could sell them while they’re valued highly. If I wanted use the item later, I’d buy it closer to raid week when the prices have lowered substantially and still obtain a net profit.

My alts are a different story. I didn’t hesitate to buy a 2H weapon for my Ret Paladin because I know they’re not as likely to see a ton of play once raid opens but I still want to make sure that they’re able to contribute to alt runs or Mythic Dungeons.

The Trial Process

Speaking of raid week, our trials that have been on the sidelines waiting are now formally going to be evaluated! They’ve come to our N’zoth runs on Mythic and participated with us on farm content. Their trials wouldn’t officially start until Castle Nathria opened. They haven’t left the guild yet or been kicked out, so it’s safe to assume from a “fit” standpoint that the two’ll be okay. But the real test starts now as we see how they handled raid progression because not many players have the mental fortitude to wipe endlessly with minimal progression. We will have good days and we will have bad days. I remain skeptical but am cautiously optimistic that they will pass from what I’ve seen. 600 wipes to an end boss can easily crush people (Kil’jaeden back in Legion springs to mind).

Now I sit anxiously at the login screen waiting for servers to come back up.

How is your guild planning for Shadowlands?

I love this pre-expansion rush especially at the guild planning level. It’s full of spreadsheets and spreadsheets of names, professions, legendaries, and so forth. This is my second expansion rush with this guild as I joined them at the end of Legion. I’ve gone through the leveling with my guild during Battle for Azeroth and now I’ll be undergoing another expansion with them. One of the big differences I’m appreciating in this go-round is the level of preparation our guild is taking as a whole.

Dungeons

The first week of the expansion is to give everyone the time they need to level up, finish out Covenants, and start gearing out their character from heroic dungeons or even mythic 0s if they’re able to do it. However, the next week there will be much more structured. We’ve been assigned into groups. There are 6 pre-made dungeon groups that have been created to maximize armor trading. In my group, I have a Warrior tank, a Ret Paladin, a Mage, and a Warlock (2 plate and 3 cloth wearers). We took the last few weeks of the pre-patch off from raid so it’ll be a good way to get reacclimated to our raiding schedule as we’ve plugged in mythic runs into that week instead.

Legendaries

More spreadsheets here with our roster listing what their initial legendaries are going to be along with which armor slot it will take. This also doubles as our professions listing. Since legendaries will involve various crafting and gathering professions, it helps to have this all in a sheet that’s accessible at a glance.

Raid Defensives

With the departure of our former raid leader due to real-life obligations, our present healing lead will be taking over planning and strategy. I have been voluntold to take over defensive management and healing planning. My guild found my blog and have discovered that I appear to have a knack for it.

There’s this HealCD spreadsheet out there where you can plug in classes and cooldowns for each boss. It’ll generate and export a string that will plug right into Exorsus Raid Tools (ERT) for raid notes. Work has begun to start planning for bosses based on our initial experiences in the raid from beta. We’ll probably throw those out after the first week though.

Guild Housekeeping

Out of everything else, what I appreciated the most was the schedule and expectations that raiders were expected to hit. We had a certain item level that we needed to reach. Important dates were posted ahead of time and what activities we were looking to do (such as Mythic Castle Nathria on the first day) along with alternatives in case certain conditions weren’t met. There are a lot more resources out there and players are arranging Torghast groups as they progress to higher, difficult levels. It feels like an unspoken energy in the air as we’ve just woken up and our looking forward to getting underway with progression and all that.

We’re just under a couple of days now! How has your guild’s preparations gone? Was there any at all or is it more relaxed compared to previous expansions?

How to Not Completely Fail Your CE Guild Trial

“Matticus! Help! I’m in a 5/12 Mythic guild and they broke apart and I applied for a Cutting Edge guild! What can I do to not sh** the bed?”

Congratulations! Your application process went through. You successfully passed your interview. Now the real work starts as you have to actually go in and play! Can you keep up with the other raiders in there without looking like a moron?

Yes you can, and here’s how you do it.

Don’t die

Above all else, this. If you’re dead, you’re useless. Do everything you can to stay alive even if it means sacrificing part of your DPS. At the CE level, things like enrages or DPS checks are actually relevant because if not met, then the raid can’t advance to the next phase (or eliminate the raid boss). You can always optimize your DPS rotation or whatever on subsequent pulls but you can’t do that if you’re dead. As a healer, I gauge new players on their ability to survive. If they die early and often, you can absolutely bet that I will bring that to the attention of our leadership and for trial feedback. Avoidable deaths will almost always force a reset especially on a progression boss. Pulls have the highest chance of succeeding when players are alive.

I call that the healer eye test — Someone who does a good job avoiding damage and surviving. That being said, a player could still pass the eye test and do terrible damage but that’s not up to me to evaluate.

Anyway, the best outcome is to not standout and to be invisible to a healer. Use those health stones, use your defensives, and trust your healers can do what they can to sustain you. But don’t expect them to bail out anyone that stands in a cleave or doesn’t get out of the way of any incoming abilities.

If you are going to die, better ensure your healthstone/health potions are used!

Do your job

Need to CC something? Set up a macro. Assigned to an interrupt? Don’t miss it, but if you do, speak up and ask for coverage. Ball duty? Go early to your position and don’t miss unless you want a 3 hour groan-fest on Xanesh. Prove that you are dependable. That means click the extra action button at the right time or doing a variety of other thankless tasks. The players who can consistently do that will be the ones that will get more active raid time in the group instead of on the bench outside looking in.

The DPS will come later if you stay alive and do your job. It might be demoralizing to see yourself closer to the bottom of the rankings, but don’t worry about that because you’re competing against others who’ve farmed these bosses for a while and have a gear advantage over you (or a Corruption advantage).

Ask questions

I will always respect someone who takes up an extra 30 seconds pre-pull to ask a question about an assignment as opposed to wiping 6 minutes later because they were unclear as what their position was. Things like interrupt orders, CC assignments, when Heroism is used, and so forth are all excellent questions and a new player to the raid might’ve been used to their old guild’s method of doing things so it shouldn’t be assumed that they know what the new guild’s playbook is. DPS players might want to check with others to find out when their cooldowns are lined up and used. Same thing with healing assignments. Some encounters have them planned out in advance and others are more reactive.

However, if you happen to ask my guild when Revival should be used, the answer will always be, “Whenever Matticus casts Divine Hymn.”

Sigh.

Accountability

Did you screw up somehow? Own it. With the transparency of Warcraft Logs and how there’s always someone in raid streaming these days, chances are your mistake will get caught and dissected. No point in lying about it if you knew you were the root cause. It’s a different story though if you’re unsure, and this is one of those things where you go back up to the previous point about asking questions. Chances are, applying to a CE guild means you’re trying to advance upwards which means you’ll be exposed to some encounters and abilities that you might not necessarily have seen before. If you’re asked what got you and you’re able to identify both what it was and what you can do about it, then you’ll impress.

Don’t go too far though. Don’t need to regale the raid with a life story of how time seem to have slowed and you were unable to run away from your Thing From Beyond. Keep it short and succinct.

Don’t Argue

Seriously, c’mon. You’re a guest in the guild until you’re really accepted. Even if you’re right and they’re wrong a billion times over, arguing about something during raid is almost never a good idea. If it’s worth bringing up, delay it until after raid is over in private. I’ve seen too many people try to pull, “Back in my old guild, we used to do X.” First of all, that’s nice, but the method being used is the current approach that’s been decided. Overhauling a strategy is one of those things that can wait until later. Proving that someone else killed you instead of you failing a mechanic can wait until later. Respect the raid’s time.

Be Sociable

You don’t need to hang out with your guild all the time. For real, my guild’s sick of me but I try to keep them alive more than myself (and have succeeded). If you get an opportunity to get to know other players in the guild, jump in on it. Hang out on Discord if you see people online. Jump in and help out with a dungeon key. This is as much a way to gauge whether or not this guild is right for you as you are for them. Maybe you find out one of their tanks has a cat. Or perhaps all the Warlocks really love pineapple pizza and that might just be a dealbreaker for you.

At the end of the day, try to leave a positive impression. You might discover that even though the guild decided that you weren’t a fit right now, a roster player might leave later opening up a position for you. In my guilds, we have failed trials only to accept them later (and some because they wanted to try again in a different class or role). Sometimes the answer isn’t necessarily a no.

It’s a not yet.

Disclaimer: There is a possibility that you could have followed all of the previous steps listed above and still fail your trial. That is okay. Captain Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.” There will always be another guild you can try again with until you find a new home.