SYTYCB: Matt & Wyn’s Critique – Week 2

First of all, I have to make a confession. I don’t watch So You Think You Can Dance. I’ve only ever watched one episode. So I’m going to compare myself to Paula Abdul. From that other talent show. No, not because I’ve quite possibly addled my brains past the point of coherence, but because of all the judges on these kinds of things, Paula is always the one who struggles to find something critical to say. And that’s how I feel right about now. I have been overwhelmingly impressed with the quality of writing, sense of fun, and attention to detail (like links and graphics!!) of each person submitting entries. Here are my thoughts, followed by Matt’s, on the submissions this week. Thanks again, to everyone who wrote, and all the commenters who’ve participated this week!

With Tulani bowing out, we’ll have a bottom 2 this week instead of a bottom 3. Furthermore, only one blogger will be eliminated instead of two.

The Critique

Joveta: 10 Reasons Horde Is Better
Status: Safe

Oh, Jove. This post was hilarious, and so, so, so true. (For anyone of EITHER faction who hasn’t seriously played on the other – you’re missing out. You’ll either find that your main faction is really best for you, or you’ll realize you have a much better home on the other side of the fence. They really do have very different feels to them. It’s surprising.) You picked good graphics, and made great points. The only negative thing I have to say is that your competition really brought it this week. Keep pushing to polish up your style – I’m looking forward to seeing what else you can do!

Matt’s Thoughts: A good post overall and it sparked some discussion. Of course, anything that boosts one faction and puts down another is always going to generate controversy (which is good!). Love the image choice and selection. My only complaint is in image uniformity. I’m not worried about the height of images as much. I do think in a list post, any images used should maintain some degree of uniformity in terms of dimensions. A fun post to read, for sure. 

Sydera: How to Recruit a New Healer in 10 Easy Steps
Status: Safe

In my opinion, yours was (again!) the best entry of the week. Your writing style is informative and approachable, and your topic was not only timely – so many guilds stuck in xpac doldrums looking to recruit – but useful. The progression from step to step is dead-on, and I love that you include the necessity of following up with and nurturing your new recruit. The sample ads also illustrated your point very well. And I loved your Uncle Syd mash up. Great Job!

Matt’s Thoughts: I’ll write about the good parts first and the bad parts after. The good things I liked was the custom image for one. I know the amount of time it takes to manhandle and photoshop and image. I recognize and commend your effort. As a skimmer, I can read your post in 30 seconds, catch all the emphasized sentences and still make out with what the message you’re trying to convey. One of my deeply cherished principles is the fact it’s not all about the information. It’s how you present it. The points here were listed thoughtfully and there can be no mistake on the reader’s part.

And now the bad.

*pause*

…I can’t find any! Well done!

Jen: 10 Silly Timewasters
Status: Safe

Your graphics were far-and-away the absolute best this week, and I know how time-consuming those shots and the formatting involved can be. You did a great job with a hilarious post. (I keep picturing what will happen when that Smite lands on Illybeanz!) These are all things I find myself doing on the weekends or on non-raiding nights to keep myself entertained – I heartily endorse each one. Great job!

Matt’s Thoughts: Like Wyn said, the images you chose were excellent. In fact, they might have been way too excellent. I was worried the overall sizes of the images might’ve distilled your individual points. Images and graphics are there to help accent and function as as backdrop unless it’s in specific cases (like a screenshot highlight).  

Crutch: 12 or More Songs for a Musical Karazhan
Status: Bottom 2

Another fine example of the sense of humor that has impressed me with all of the entries this week. And a completely unexpected list – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a compilation like this. You also get bonus points for digging up the YouTube links for each and every selection. I do think your writing needs a little bit more polish, but your creativity carries the day for you!

Matt’s Thoughts: First, I want to say that I loved the idea of this post. It was creative. I can’t think of any blogger (right now) that’s written a like this out there that is even remotely similar. Now, while the idea unique, I feel that in the execution it could’ve been better. Big props to you for digging through Youtube and picking out the vids. Good effort and any blogger can tell you that hard work will always trump everything. Don’t be discouraged that you’re in the bottom 2 this week. You’re not a bad writer by any means but it doesn’t mean you can’t improve. Keep reading, keep writing, no matter what.

Veleda: The Humble Checklist
Status: Bottom 2

This post, like last week’s, is a good entry, but still has a very overwhelming feel to it. You make excellent points – the need to prepare adequately for raids, and a very appropriate list with which to do so, and why it’s so important. The list, though, almost gets lost under the weight of the rationale. It almost feels like this could have been split into two posts – the rhetoric, then the list. Your writing mechanics are excellent, and you are very well-informed. I’d love to see a little more of your personality in your writing.

Matt’s Thoughts: This is a great post and I dare say a worthy sticky in any Guild forum that intends to go into raiding. While it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, I was still pleasantly surprised when I saw that I received 2 posts in one. Most lists usually have a number in the heading as an indicator of not what points that readers will read but the amount as well. Guy Kawasaki, when he gave one of his keynote presentations, explained why he presents lists the way he does.

“The audience want to know when [it's] going to end!”

From a technical stand point, I can’t find any fault with the post whatsoever except it lacked emphasis. Headers, check. Kickass iPhone graphic, check. List tags, check. But you missed out on emphasizing the different points you made.

Tulani

Tulani pulled out this week, due to mounting commitments in real life. You are more than welcome to come back any time and write a guest-post. We will miss you!!!

This week has been great – getting to know each blogger a little better, and to see the direction that they want to take their writing. Both Matt and I have enjoyed each and every one of your articles, and can’t wait to see more from you, both next week, and in the future – whether as the official 3rd blogger, as a guest-poster, or on the forums at Plus Heal. (was that plug subtle enough?)

Thanks again to all of you, and to everyone who reads and comments! We’ll be back this weekend with the official week 2 decision!

Deep Thoughts, by Wynthea

So…. Blood Elves are addicted to magic. It makes sense then, that they can be Mages, Warlocks, Palladins, Priests, and Hunters. But what’s up with the Rogues? Did they kick the habit somehow? Maybe they’re on the patch?

Luv,
Wyn

BETA: Well, hello, there!

BETA: Well, hello, there!

So, I went to Undercity to see the new skin for Lady Sylvannas:

WoWScrnShot_082308_121838

While boarding the Zepplin to head back to Northrend, this little convo took place:

Name Removed Convo

I blurred the name, because I didn’t think to ask them if I could use this….. I’ll put it up, edited back in if you let me know that it’s okay.

Totally made my day.

If you’re in beta, feel free to say hello! It’s always nice to meet someone that finds value in what we write here.

Luv,

Wyn

Shameless Abuse of Publicity

Shameless Abuse of Publicity

Wynthea wants YOU

 

My beloved guild is currently 2/6 Sunwell.  Although our guild is medium-sized, our raiding core is pretty small. In fact, we have no spares for any of our classes. This is becoming problematic as we work on our progression through Sunwell – vacations, changing class schedules, work promotions, etc… all seem to interfere with raid time. And frequently, if two people can’t make it we’re left without an optimal set up. It’s frustrating to bring in alts or undergeared casual members for progression nights.

So what, you ask?

Well… my fearless Raid leader asked me to help with recruiting. So here I am, recruiting with the best resource I have: You!!

Although some classes are spread more thinly than others, we are looking for strong, full-time players of every class. We figure we have a spot for at least one of each, in a regular rotation.

A little about my guild:

  • We are <Them>, of Nazjatar-PvP-US. We raid M-Th, 6-10 Pacific Time. (Sundays are flexible.)
  • We are 2/6 Sunwell, with Felmyst making excellent progress.
  • We are relatively hardcore, but certainly know how to have a good time.
  • We use a modified Loot council, with DKP for tie breakers.
  • Thrall is our homeboy.

A little about what we want:

  • Experienced T6 Raiders, preferably AT LEAST 4/5 Hyjal and 7/9 BT. (We’d really rather have Sunwell-experience, but obviously we’ll gear up and train anyone that shows good promise.)
  • We’re considering taking on all classes.
  • Anyone we DO take will NOT BE A BENCH SPOT.
  • We’re looking for upwards of 80% attendance.
  • Your gear, spec, and attitude should be the best that you can make it. We are NOT looking to simply carry anyone through and give out free epics without effort on your part.

How you should apply:

The guild website is here.  Simply post an application with the format provided in our forums. You get bonus points if you put “Wyn sent me!” at the top of your post. (But don’t put it in the title.)

If you’re a Priest, you get to interview with Yours Truly. Yay!

 

Okay, shameless plug over – thanks for bearing with me. I hope to speak with you soon!

 

Luv,

Wyn

The Mana Efficient Priest

The Mana Efficient Priest

mana-efficient 
Image courtesy of Xanderalex What do you think mana-pots taste like, anyway? I vote for blue-raspberry kool-aid.

Note: I wrote this piece BEFORE the news announcement about down-ranking spells in WotLK. I anticipate that this will make a tremendous impact on mana-regen, along with the possibility of debuffs like Potion Sickness, and I look forward to finding out how new talents like Serendipity help mitigate this situation. (I’m not specc’d into Serendipity right now on the Beta, mostly because Matt says it doesn’t work yet.)

In the 2.4 game mechanics, mana-regen for any class whose relevant stats include spirit is nothing short of phenomenal. Still, some of my colleagues occasionally have trouble making it through particularly intense fights with only self-sufficient regen tools. I’m of the philosophy that in most situations, Holy Priests can and should keep their own mana up just fine. If you are having trouble doing that, here are some troubleshooting tips for improving your own self-sufficiency:

When You’re The Problem
  • Forgetting your CD (cooldown) rotation. Do you wait to take a Mana Pot until you’re nearly out of mana? Do you keep an eye on your Trinket, Shadow Fiend, and Inner Focus cooldowns and use them all to their fullest potential? Be honest with yourself, and if you know you could be getting more out of your built-in tools, either find a mod to monitor them for you, or move them to a more visible portion of your UI.
  • Over-extending yourself. If your assignment is to heal parties 3 & 4, but you find yourself topping off the tanks and sneaking heals onto the melee, you’re probably just trying to give your best effort to your raid – and that impulse is good. What’s NOT good is that you’re under-serving the players you’re supposed to be protecting – and if they take sudden damage while you’re in the middle of casting a heal, even as a best-case scenario they’ll have to wait at least a 1.5 second cast or a GCD to get the heal that they’re supposed to be getting from you. This means some other healer is probably going to have to pick up YOUR slack. Even if you’re carefully monitoring your assignment, healing where you’re not supposed to gives an unrealistic experience to the healers that you’re “helping.” Sure, you know that FoL-spamming isn’t enough to keep up the MT, but that loladin that’s supposed to keep him alive will never figure it out if you keep sprinkling in ProM, G.heals, and Renews. You’re robbing him, and your guild, of that Pally’s chance to become a better healer.
  • Improper gear optimization. Let’s face it, no one cares that your Greater Heal will hit for an average of 6k if you’re oom and can’t cast it. You don’t need 2,000 unbuffed +healing to heal Karazhan. (Or Kael, for that matter, and I have screenshots to prove it.) No matter what level of content you’ve reached, continuing to stack +heal after being fully capable of healing the incoming damage for your current raid content comes at the expense of other stats. This means objectively evaluating the stats YOU need for gems, enchants, or on relatively equivalent pieces of gear. (For example, T6 offers two healing staves – the Apostle of Argus (Archimonde) or the Staff of Immaculate Recovery (Bloodboil). The Apostle has more +heal, but the IR has balanced Spirit and Mp5. You need to be able to decide which stats will make the greatest impact on your gameplay.)
  • Poor consumables. Raiding isn’t cheap. If you don’t want to spend the money on the best enchants, gems, and consumables you shouldn’t be running end-game content. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be playing WoW, just that you need to find some other less resource-intensive passion within the game. Know what your options are, and don’t try to cheap out. The repair bills and nights of frustration end up being more expensive, anyway. So if the flasks you should be using are pre-BC, and the food you need to eat is rare, and the pots you ought to use don’t come from a freebie quest reward…. Suck it up, use the premium consumables, and see what a difference a few little things will make in your mana-return.
  • Overhealing. If you don’t downrank your spells, you’re burning extra mana. There is absolutely no reason to cast a 6k heal on someone taking 1k hits who is only missing 2k health. Overshoot it by the incoming 1k damage, throw a 3k heal on them, and spend the 2-300 mana you just saved on someone else.
When Something Else Is The Problem
  • Poor class make up for the fight. Because Priests CAN do any healing job, frequently the burdens of under- or incorrect staffing fall on our shoulders. We’re the only class who can always pick up the slack. There’s not much you can do about this during a raid, but afterwards, approach your healing leader, raid leader, or GM with solutions – Maybe a healer-friend who would be an excellent addition to the roster, or a positioning strategy that would help lessen the strain.
  • Poor group composition. Some fights, until you gear-soak a bit, you really just need a mana battery. If you don’t have a Shadow Priest, or a Shaman with a Mana-totem, ask for one. Check around with friends who have done the same fight, and see if they’re getting some kind of support that you’re not.
  • Re-speccing. I’m assuming you’re a Priest as you read this. If your guild can’t decide whether you should be Improved Spirit or CoH, know that both healing-styles are different enough to affect your mana regen. Auz over at ChickGM is a dyed-in-the-wool IDS priest, and averages 65% of her time in the 5SR. As CoH Spec, I spend upwards of 85% of my time “casting.” That is a HUGE difference in non-casting mana regen, and makes Mp5 more valuable to me as a stat than it is to Auz, EVEN THOUGH WE’RE BOTH HOLY PRIESTS. You can’t control wishy-washy raid leadership, but keep a couple extra trinkets and consumables to swap around to make sure you’re good to go no matter which way they tell you to Spec.
How To Fix It
  • Train yourself. Don’t do this on a progression run, but learn how to wean yourself off the crutches: Instruct your Druids that they should use their innervates for themselves. Ask for a Mage to be given your spot in the S.priest group. (Added bonus! Your Mage-buddy will love you!) Bring smaller mana pots, and use them as you would the Supers – you stay in the habit of burning your cooldown, but get used to operating with less mana. Swap your trinkets out for less-helpful ones. (Keep them similar, so you keep in the habit of popping them.) Or just swap your trinkets in general – maybe the proc from the Bangle is worth more than the extra 170 Spirit use from the Earring.
  • Use mods that keep track of how much time you spend “casting” and learn how to maximize your inherent regen. (My favorite is RegenFu, but it requires FuBar to work.)
  • Chain your abilities. When you get a Clearcast proc, use it, and follow up with an Inner Focus – If both are used with 3-second casts, and followed up with a stop-casting macro, you can buy a lot of oo5sr time without abandoning your job.
  • Fix your broken gear. I don’t mean repairs (but check that, too!) Do the research and spend the money to make sure that your gear is fully optimized. No common gems, no cheap enchants. Make the most of what you have.
  • Know your capabilities. Test on your own to know what your current gear can do when pushed to its max. Swap an item or trinket and test again. Research and find out what other Priests are capable of doing.

It’s not that you’ll never need any outside support to maintain your mana pool. If a lot of healers have died, or you started out short-handed, or you’re truly under-geared for your content, you could need some help. Obviously, Vampiric Touch, Mana Tide, and Innervate are in the game for a reason. The idea isn’t that you should never need them, just that if you always rely on them, you’re cheating yourself and your raid out of the exceptional contributions that you can make, not to mention hogging resources that could go to other players.

Luv,
Wyn

Happy Birthday, World of Matticus!!

Okay, Matt’s at work (and so am I…) and I’m woefully inadequate to be the one formatting and posting this…..

but…

World of Matticus turns 1-year-old today!!!

Paaaarrr-tay!

Tremendous thanks go out to all of our readers, subscribers, supporters… and all you other lovely people who help keep us motivated to play and write about it.

Zero to Kael in 28 Days

If you’ve read much that I’ve written for World of Matticus, you know that I have raided with two Priests. This is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down – and how I went from die-hard, shiny alliance to being the proudest, loudest, and dirtiest Troll. My Human had been my main for over a year – Renwein was leveled up rather slowly, alongside dear friends that I met along the way. She has a depth of experience that isn’t often found in ‘toons rolled after Burning Crusade – I lovingly collected all the keys in the game, except the Outhouse key, and ran every old-world instance except Naxx. So why give up a character into which I’d invested so much time? Raiding. Bosskilling is my anti-drug. When I came back to the game in 2007, I didn’t realize what “recommended” meant when I picked my server, and I didn’t realize how much I would LOVE the challenge of end-game raiding. The problem started when I realized how the small community on my server worked against my Illidan-killing aspirations.

Think about it: out of a TOTAL server population of 4,000, the allies were outnumbered about 5:1. (I saw one estimate that said 9:1) Which gave us 667 people. About 300 of those were level 70. Finding 25 people talented and dedicated enough to raid towards end-game is hard enough – you have to manage personalities, play-styles, schedules, and real-life. Getting the right mix of classes added another level of complexity. On Darrowmere, the top Ally guild exclusively speaks Spanish. This works well for them, but also took another bite out of the available pool willing to raid in other guilds. Looking back, it’s a miracle that we made it to Vashj and Kael at all.

Hordeside was slightly different – their population dwarfed ours, and an ambitious guild called Death is Eternal had transferred over with their sights set on Illidan. On such a small server, it’s impossible not to get to know at least names and faces of the opposing faction, but we went a little farther and swapped vent information. I found out later that this Horde guild hoped that helping Ally progression would make it easier for them to recruit from other servers – PvP servers lose some appeal if the Allies aren’t even a challenge to gank. So they critiqued our wws, watched our fraps, and occasionally came in on a borrowed character. But small-server drama took over, and while the Allies were busy re-shuffling the same players through guild mergers and disintegrations, this Horde guild stayed busy killing bosses. When my guild collapsed yet again under the weight of egos and primadonnas, and the GM got his orders to ship out to Iraq, I knew I couldn’t handle another re-build. One old friend had transferred to a larger server, and asked me to follow. But a different offer came from an unexpected source:

If you can level and gear up to be there when we kill Kael, you can raid with Death is Eternal.

DiE had Vashj on farm at this point. They were down to weekly 10-minute kills, and were working steadily on Kael. This was right before Thanksgiving, and the GM estimated that with their upcoming Holiday Break, I had about 28 days to roll a new Priest, level her, and get her geared enough to be an asset. He didn’t need to point out that her final exam would be one of the hardest fights in the game – in a guild that had developed a reputation as exacting, unforgiving, and with a previously strict no-girls-allowed policy.

If I wanted to see endgame, I had two options – leave a server where I knew practically everyone, or work like a madwoman to re-create and surpass everything I’d worked so hard for on Renwein. The next day, I bought my second copy of Warcraft, and rolled my first Horde. One benefit of already having a Priest was an appreciation of the impact of racial abilities on end-game raiding. I chose a Troll – mostly for Berserking – and began the grind. I wasn’t even allowed to carry the guild tag – “Not until you’re 70,” was the GM’s final answer.

So I listened quietly on vent while DiE continued to farm Vashj and learn Kael, and ground quests every day after work and all day on weekends. I wasn’t shy about asking for help, and the Horde players I knew ran me through lowbie instances and helped with quests anytime they weren’t busy. The most unexpected thing was all the help I received from DiE’s Raid Leader. A Tauren Warrior known for his no-nonsense approach to raids, he was a database for every quest in every zone. His brain was like WoWhead on vent, and any time he wasn’t raiding he helped me in every way he could.

About two weeks into my grind, DiE took a week and a half off for the holidays. When I hit 69, the GM and Raid Leader asked me about my progress. I had farmed the Kara attunement chain up to needing instance runs, had saved up enough gold for my regular flying mount, and begun the quest chains for my Hyjal and Black Temple attunements.

They complimented me on my hard work, and told me they had a few Christmas presents for me. The first was an invitation into the guild – the first female and non-70 admitted to Death is Eternal. The second was a full block of runs through the instances I needed for my Karazhan attunement. (Which ding’d me 70.) The final was the materials I was missing for my Primal Mooncloth Set, the Pattern and Mats for Boots of the Long Road, the Belt of the Long Road, and both Whitemend pieces. The Raid Leader had coordinated the effort and farmed the majority of the mats, and the whole guild had pitched in cooldowns, nethers, and vortices.

“You still have to earn your spot.” They told me. “And this gear isn’t good enough for Kael.” So we did two full Kara clears in two days, and as many ZA’s as possible before formal raids started again. Because they had farmed SSC and TK for so long, very few pieces of gear were needed by any healers – and I was now their only Holy Priest.

I was incredibly lucky – the help I received, and the incredible drop rate for the upgrades I needed made the unlikely speed of my progression possible. I hit lvl 70 in just under 9 days played, and I was #2 on the healing meters for the server first kill of Kael’thas on my 12th day played – exactly a month in real-time after my account went active. On Wynthea’s 15th day we killed Rage Winterchill and headed into Black Temple.

I sometimes log onto Renwein to run a weekend ZA with old friends, or just to catch up with people in Shat. I appreciate so much of the old-world content, and it still makes me sad that Wynthea’s lore-base is so shallow, but my decision to raid Hordeside was the best I could’ve made. Even after Death is Eternal parted ways, I kept in touch with a lot of the members. Most of us are working through Sunwell – all of us are looking forward to WotLK.

I’m sure this is more than you ever wanted to know about my WoW-experience, but I wanted to introduce my point of view a little more. The thing to remember is that if you really want to achieve something in the game, take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves – even if it sometimes means starting from scratch to reach an impossible goal with an even worse deadline. Luv, Wyn

The Search Continues…

The Search Continues…

spotlight
Image courtesy of hberends

Matt and I want to thank you for the overwhelming response we have received so far to our call for submissions – they have impressed us in terms of quantity as well as quality. We really shouldn’t have been surprised, considering the existing quality and participation we see from the community around this blog every day, but we were a little caught off guard by the enthusiasm!

We have decided to leave the casting-call open for a week. All submissions must be entered by midnight, Pacific Daylight Time on August 20th.

Again, the subject is a 500 or so word article on your thoughts about WotLK. Please use the contact form to send in your post (That way it is sent to both of us.)

The prize is a spot on the World of Matticus staff – an unpaid, glamorous job characterized by fraternization with the coolest bloggers in Azeroth, Outland, and Northrend.

Thanks in advance, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Luv,
Matt & Wyn

Primal Mooncloth – Do You Need to Upgrade?

Primal Mooncloth – Do You Need to Upgrade?

lecture 
Have we been teaching wrong? Image courtesy of gozdeo

There’s a gearing question I get asked more frequently than any other. I also see it all over the Priest-related interweb. It goes something like this:

My Priest just started running Kara/Heroics, and I have the Primal Mooncloth Set. I’m dying a lot. When can I/ should I break PMC bonus so I can get more stamina?

The answer is invariably along these lines:

PMC has no Stam and makes it hard to stay alive. As soon as you have 2 of the 3 slots replaced, go ahead and break it. Shopping List: Robes of Heavenly Purpose or Gown of Spiritual Wonder, Light-Mantle of the Incarnate or Mantle of the Avatar, and Belt of the Long Road or Cord of Braided Troll Hair.

This always kind of bothers me a little bit, probably because I’m a crotchety oldster who was working my way through T5 content before the 2.3 badge rewards and ZA were introduced. Back in MY day, the only pieces that would add stamina to your stats without gimping your +healing and regen abominably were your Tier tokens. Which, with the infamous Warrior-Priest-Druid combo, in most raiding guilds, went to tanks first. And especially since Druid tank itemization meant they needed the T4 set bonus, preferably from their chest, Priests were pretty much out of luck. (I’ll spare you a very compelling QQ-anecdote about the injustices visited on my Priests specifically when it came to Tier-gear. Just know that it was very tragic, compelling, and you should pity me. Thank you.)

Basically, Primal Mooncloth meant you could keep your raid alive, and whether or not YOU stayed alive was your own business – weren’t you the healer??

As a result, many, many healy-Priests (myself and Matt included), worked their way into T6-level content with dramatically less stamina than recommended. For me, especially given the pressure-cooker of being the first and only female in my hardcore raiding guild, it meant I had to learn to stay alive. This is the origin of the “Oh s***!” macro, and why my UI is painstakingly designed to keep my field of vision clear.

My point is, I’ve done the content that the Priests asking about Primal Mooncloth have done – and I stayed alive. So I know it’s possible. So it bothers me to blame the prolific Priest-mortality rate on the gear and nothing else. If I wasn’t positive that people would feel attacked, accused, and offended, here’s what my response would be:

“Primal Mooncloth is perfectly adequate for the content you’re running. Rather than worrying about what gear to exchange to boost your stamina, let’s treat what I think is the real problem. Tell me about your raids: What’s killing you? Loose mobs, or AoE damage?”

And working from there, I’d like to go through a trouble-shooting dialogue. If loose mobs are running around and slaying healers, either your Tanks need to work on tanking, your CC needs to work on CC’ing, your DPS needs to work on not breaking CC, or YOU need to work on heal-timing. These are all very important skills, and, often, healer-deaths are simply symptomatic of underperforming raiders.

If AoE damage is killing you, then you simply need to learn how to keep yourself healed.

  • Do you have PW:S and Inner Fire up at all times?
  • Are you using profession-related bonuses appropriately? (Fel Blossom, Nightmare seed, Bandages – yes really)
  • What kind of consumables do you bring? (Stam + Spirit food, Super/Major Rejuv potions)
  • Are you using the right cooldowns? (Healthstones, trinkets)

And the biggest one:

  • Are you fully playing your Priest? Priests are unique in the sheer variety of tools in our healbox. Binding Heal, Renew, CoH, ProH, Fade, and ProM (and Desperate Prayer, if you have it), will ALL keep you alive. In fact, they are designed to keep you alive. Priests can and should be able to heal themselves without ever neglecting their duty to the rest of the raid.

It’s not that good Priests never die – Spirit of Redemption points out that Blizz KNOWS we’re going to die. It’s that the best Priests know that gear is not the major limiting factor in your performance. And as much as I advocate using the best gear available to you, it should be to augment your skill as a player, not to replace it.

Notice: I hesitated to post this entry, for the same reason that I hesitate to reveal my real answer to the pertinent gear-question. I realize that my opinion will hurt some feelings, and it is not my intention to imply that people looking to break PMC with any of the numerous options in the post 2.4 game are bad players.  It is my intention to imply that perhaps, as a community committed to improving our gameplay, our first instinct shouldn’t be to swap gear, but rather to ascertain how we can out-perform our pixilated limitations. If, after determining the REAL cause of death, we find a certain stat to be lacking, then we can recommend gear to augment that stat.

Luv,
Wyn

When OCD meets WotLK

When OCD meets WotLK

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Image courtesy of 78thelemen

I’ve read a lot of the posts on preparation for WotLK, and, probably because I’m a farm-a-holic, I still don’t think the topic has been overdone. For the casual player, an xpac is a time of new experiences. For the more hardcore, it’s an opportunity to Scattle out ahead… and experience them before anyone else.

First, you need to decide if you’re going to play the xpac. A whole new WoW opening could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to ease back into real life.

If you are going to play WotLK, you need to decide to what extent. Are you looking to make a mad-dash to 80 with your guild to shoot for server (or world?) firsts? Or are you going to take a slower pace, either solo or with a few friends and enjoy the lore and depth-of-content? Are you going to play the same character you play now, or pick up a new one? What class? What race is best for that class, and what you want to do with it? Will it be your new main? Will you roll a Death Knight?

Honestly, if you’re planning to enjoy the content at a laid-back pace on your current character, there’s not a lot of prep-work you need to do. The idea behind preparing is to make the process of leveling and gearing up more efficient, and if efficiency doesn’t matter, neither does prepping. Personally, I’ll grind Wynthea to 80 as quickly as possible to be ready for end-game raiding, then back track later, when it’s less crowded, to enjoy the quests and content that I skimmed through.

I’d also like to have as few headaches as possible so I can focus on learning the new game mechanics, so my prep is a bit more elaborate than stockpiling mats. (Although there’s a lot of that going on, too.) Here’s my EXTREME to-do list:

Professions

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Image courtesy of iwanbeijes

First of all, when I joined my current guild, I came as part of a package deal. We were a Prot Warrior, Holy Priest, and Rogue. My compadres have since leveled and geared up a Hunter and a Mage. (Yes, I’m the slacker without an alt. But I rolled the perfect class on my first try, so there’s really not much incentive…especially since I’ve done it twice.)

So we have 5 ‘toons to work with. Here’s how we’ve got it worked out:

Warrior: Mining and Jewelcrafting. (Has literally EVERY pattern.)
Rogue: Herbalism and Elixir-Alchemist.
Hunter: Skinning and Leather Work
Mage: Tailoring (Scryer) and Enchanting
Priest: Tailoring (Aldor) and Herbalism (Herb is going bye-bye in favor of Inscription.)

We decided that Blacksmithing and Engineering didn’t provide enough benefit to us all as a group to justify picking them up, since most of the best goodies are specific to the person with the profession. The idea is that no matter what we need to improve our raiding abilities, we can have it made among ourselves – Gems, Enchants, Spellthreads, Armor Kits, and Consumables. This way, too, if there’s a specific older pattern we need, we can just farm for it rather than counting on finding someone via trade. The Mage is the newest 70, and we’ll be starting his Kara grind this week. We did manage to get Death Frost for him during the Summer Festival, and have made good progress on the arduous task of getting him Exalted with all the outlands factions. Since Blizzard decided to update the better AQ enchants for TBC, we didn’t want to assume they’d be available for WotLK mats.

Although we all raid and contribute heavily to our actual guild, we also have a personal alt-guild and bank set up. (We probably house the wealthiest lvl 1’s on our server) This way, we have the storage space for the mats to get the first few notches up in each of our professions. This means taking a look at whatever patterns are orange or yellow in your profession-window, and getting a good idea of what mats they use. Sure, with the xpac will come new mats and probably entry-level patterns, but getting a few bumps in from “old” outland mats will put you ahead of the curve as far as what materials you need to farm, and what patterns you can access in Northrend. Think about holding enough materials to get 10-15 ticks for your professions, including primals and other odds-and-ends. A few examples:

  • I have set aside 100 Netherweave cloth for each of our characters. Enough to make 50 Heavy Netherweave Bandages – so we can save “frostcloth” or whatever for the massive task of leveling two tailors.
  • I have set aside quite a few stacks of bolts of Netherweave and Imbued Netherweave to ease the first 10 or so ticks into tailoring.
  • Raw gems to cut, herbs, stacks of leather, ore for smelting, and basic enchanting mats set aside to level each of those professions. Blacksmiths and engineers would probably want to stock some ore as well, but wait to smelt at least some of it.

Even if your set-up isn’t so elaborate, decide what professions you want on what characters, and level them up now. Designate your gatherers and your crafters, and get them ready to tackle Northrend. Also, finish grinding rep that is required for pertinent profession-related items. Even now, some of the best items require old-world rep (Brilliant Mana Oil requires Friendly with Zandalar, for example.), and for at least the first several patches, Northrend will probably be the same. JC’s will likely still want lots of scale of the sand and consortium rep, Enchanters will want exalted with outlands factions, etc. It gets harder to grind rep for these things in the “old zone” so do it now! Besides, even if you change your mind about your professions later, rep is something that stays with your ‘toon. It’s kind of like saving your place with some hard-to-get patterns and recipies.

Gear

The tank and I have both stashed some decent gear for DPS grinding – I’ve read about the changes to gear coming up, but without knowing anything for sure, it just seems more prudent to be prepared with a second, specialized gearset. It’s nothing fancy; gear from badge-runs and farm content that would otherwise have been sharded. One thing I noticed about vintage gear was that even with the dramatic stats swell moving into Outlands from Azeroth, some things kept their value. Trinkets, especially, can hold up particularly well since they often grant percentages of stats and scale with the rest of your gear. If there’s a trinket or two that you think you may want, farm for it now. It’ll be much harder to get the runs you want when everyone is focused on new content. Even if you don’t PvP regularly, contemplate getting some gear with some stamina and resil for those packed starting zones on PvP servers. It’ll save you time and frustration – and it’s easy, since you can buy blues from Outlands factions that will have enough resil to make you less tempting.

Gold

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Image courtesy of designkryt 

This may be so obvious that I could skip it, but the single most helpful resource you can stockpile is cold, hard cash. Whatever Northrend holds, you can bet your sweet bippy that being able to buy gear, patterns, skills, and materials without difficulty will be handy. I don’t know if we’ll manage it, but I’d like to have about 10k per character. That’s in addition to each one having their epic flyer already. (The mage is the only one left without his.)

Real Life

Finally, in order to give yourself plenty of distraction-free WoW, look into taking some time off work. If the xpac hits in November or December, as has been suggested, those silly people with families and holiday obligations instead of video game addictions may have requested all the available time. Let your boss know now that you may need to take a few personal days. :)

Luv,
Wyn

edit: I always ask Matt to look over my posts before they go live – he’s the one that finds the great stock illustrations. Of course, he also likes to randomly bold things….

Let’s all give him a hug!