11 PTR Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

11 PTR Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

My challenge mode group scored Gold on Temple of the Jade Serpent with 8 seconds left to go on the clock. Yay! We’ll be entering Mogushan Palace next week. I can smell that delicious transmog coming soon.

The public test realms for patch 5.2 have been open for a while now. Raid testing has been sporadic but ongoing throughout the past few weeks with a few boss previews already completed. There are sessions where I end up with excellent testing groups and other days where I just want to throw my hands up in the air and go “Why bother?”. For example, I was in a group where one of the players refused to get Ventrilo because Mumble was far superior and was adamant about it. Another player left after 10 minutes because they had a live raid. Raid testing periods are usually available for a limited time only so every minute spent looking for replacements is time spent not checking out the new encounters.

I love the test realms. There are no boss videos. There’s no WoWhead comments to peruse. There’s no strategies on Icy Veins. Everyone starts on equal footing. Everyone is given a chance to “solve” the mechanics of the raid boss. You know just as much about the fights as the server first realms on your realm.

It’s just you and your wits.

That’s why I love the public test realms. I can never compete at the world stage. But being on the PTR gives me a small thrill and a glimpse of what it’s like to figure this stuff on my own without having to rely on anyone else.

That being said, there’s a few things I want to suggest to you if this is something you seriously want to do. In order to minimize downtime, reduce your own frustrations and seriously contribute to testing, follow the list:

  • Impatience: I’ve been in groups where right after the first wipe, a player leaves after callously throwing out “u guys are bad”. It’s the test realm. We’re learning this stuff now so we’ll have an easier time with it later. Be prepared to wipe.
  • Approaching with a negative mentality: Go in there with a sense of wonder. Keep an open mind. Be surprised. Feel awe at your experiences. Don’t be afraid to try new tactics and strategy if what you have isn’t working.
  • Testing when you have other things to do: Raid testing usually occurs anywhere between an hour to three hours. Make sure you allocate your time accordingly. If you’re too busy because you have errands or a live raid to do, tell your group ahead of time so they can prepare to bring a sub in for you when you leave!
  • Not bringing consumables: You don’t even have to farm on the PTR. Just make a premade character matching your main and then mail the potions and flasks from that character to the character you plan to test with. Instant food, flasks, and potions!
  • Not knowing where the testing areas are: This is the most basic of information. It’s usually posted in the blue posts. Or you can go around a little earlier prior to raid testing and explore a bit – You know, what we did in the old days! getting added to the group 5 minutes after raid testing start and then asking how to get to the island and where the instance isn’t going to look good. That raid group can find a replacement outside the instance as there’s always people waiting to sub in for random groups.
  • Logging in late: Raid testing starting at 10 AM? You better login at 930 and start hunting for a group. The earlier you go in, the better the odds you have for getting into groups that are forming.
  • Not knowing what’s going on: We have a dungeon journal now. Gone are the days of wiping multiple times in order to figure out what the exact boss abilities are. We’re much better equipped to find out what attacks and spells bosses will bring to bear against us. This then frees us up to start planning tactics to counter the abilities and how we should setup our raid positioning.
  • Having a ton of addons installed: For many of us it’s difficult to play with the default UI. I had to spend a good half an hour remapping all my keys. I spent another 5 minutes adjusting my raid frames. I felt I was severely diminished without the use of timers. Eventually, I settled on Ellipsis. That’s the only addon I have installed right now to help me track my Shadow DoTs. Using your full live UI might not be a good idea because it could break at anytime and compromise your raid testing group
  • Having one (or no) voice clients installed: You should have both Ventrilo and Mumble installed and configured. These encounters offer an added levels of complexity and voice chat is a necessity. You’ll find groups that only have Ventrilo or only use Mumble. You don’t want to be that guy that has to keep the group waiting while you download and setup the client that you don’t have installed. You might end up finding yourself dropped from the group if they find someone else that’s already prepared with the right client they use.
  • No enchants or gems: This is usually applicable to premade characters as it’s expected your main is ready to go. I had to enchant and cut my gems throughout one of my earlier testing sessions because I completely forgot about it. I was woefully unprepared. As we were wiping and getting ready for the next pulls, I would frantically throw whatever enchants on my gear until the pull. I kept doing this until I was as happy with my gear as I could be. I don’t think anyone noticed but that sure would’ve been embarrassing trying to explain it!
  • Not give the developers your feedback: Even a simple “Holy crap, this is awesome” is nice. It’s an affirmation to them that they’re doing the right thing. However, if you can afford to be more specific, you should. Comment on how your class or role feels responding to various attacks and abilities. Talk about the damage that’s coming in or going out. Does the enrage timer feel too tight? Is it too easy? Everyone’s gear is normalized up to 502 but it doesn’t mean it’s going to get reduced down to it so do keep that in mind. How do boss abilities look to you? Does the raid wipe mechanic actually look like it’s going to crush your whole raid or does it need more punch? Details will allow them to make the best possible decisions before patches go live.

Lastly, knock yourself out and try to have a good time. You’re seeing a preview of this content in it’s unfinished form. Usually maps or certain labels aren’t there (Remember the doodad door from Naxxramas?). It’s all exciting stuff and I can’t wait for this patch! So much to do and so many new bosses to crush!

If you’re interested in a preview of what to expect, you can check out my impressions on WoW Insider of both Horridon and Iron Qon.

Evaluating New Resto Druids in Cataclysm

The other day, I was approached by a couple on my server looking for druid advice. One of them was an up-and-coming resto druid still making the transition from Wrath to Cataclysm and felt she wasn’t quite where she needed to be with mana control. I offered to help get her up to speed, which eventually culminated in doing Grim Batol on normal difficulty. During the run, I realized I hadn’t seen much information on evaluating healing druids who were still getting geared up and used to Cataclysm mechanics. Below are a few things you can do to evaluate those druids who are still getting up to speed with the newer systems.

The Basics: Gear and Itemization

This has been beaten to death by about every druid resource out there, but it’s still just as important. I won’t go over the nitty-gritty of druid itemization here; these are just some general things to look for. If you’re not already familiar with the basics, don’t be afraid to ask your guild’s druid class lead or use resources like Elitist Jerks.

Make sure the druid is itemizing properly for stats like intellect and spirit, and check that they are gemming and enchanting appropriately based on what they feel they are having issues with (e.g. more spirit gems if they feel they have mana issues.) Also, make sure that the druid is wearing all leather gear. A single piece of cloth gear will keep a druid from a free 5% intellect bonus. I have seen more than a few druids get caught in the trap of wearing a couple pieces of cloth quest gear.

Talents and Glyphs

Talent setup and glyphs are just as important as itemization (you can’t be a healing druid if you’re not specced into resto!) While there are a number of different ways healing druids can spend their points, there are quite a  few talents that are necessary to keep up with the pack. Check to make sure they have the iconic healing talents, such as Wild Growth, Tree of Life, Nature’s Cure, and Efflorescence. Any direct boosts to their healing spells, like Improved Rejuvenation, should also be taken. Talents that add additional benefit in an indirect way, like Malfurion’s Gift and Nature’s Bounty, can also be useful.

Depending on the druid’s goals, they may have Nature’s Ward, Fury of Stormrage, or Perseverance. These talents are fine, so long as the druid plans to do PvP, solo, or small group content; these talents take up vital points that could be used elsewhere if your druid plans on raiding.

Glyphs are equally as important, adding many very nice perks to restoration’s already-potent healing arsenal. Be sure to ask what prime glyphs the druid has; if they are using the Rejuvenation, Lifebloom, and Swiftmend prime glyphs, they are in good shape. Glyph of Regrowth, while it sounds cool, isn’t as practical as one might think. Compared to the other three, it’s fairly lacking.

As for major and minor glyphs, the only one you should worry about the druid having (and this is only if they plan to raid) is Glyph of Wild Growth. Other than that, any glyph is fine, so long as it will benefit them while healing (I don’t think you’ll see a resto druid casting Typhoon or Feral Charge any time soon).

Technique: Theory and Practice

This is where it gets a bit harder to evaluate a player. That said, there are a few tricks you can use to check for where their technique could use some polishing. Ask them how they deal with different situations while healing, such as burst group damage or massive tank spikes. Set up theoretical boss fights and ask how they would manage healing in such a situation. Finding where they may be spending too much mana or have not enough healing throughput can be an immense help in improving a player’s healing. Make sure they know to keep a stack of three Lifeblooms up on a target as much as possible to take advantage of Malfurion’s Gift, and that they know to use Clearcasting procs on the expensive spells.  Also, be sure the druid is aware of who will be hit with Wild Growth or where their Efflorescence circle will land (Efflorescence is dropped at the feet of a Swiftmend target.)

Once you’ve gotten the theoretical stuff out of the way, it’s best to test the druid’s ability to use that knowledge. Undoubtedly the best way to improve anyone’s play is through practice; healing is no exception. Take your druid through a regular dungeon run (don’t jump into heroics until you’ve gotten them comfortable with regular difficulty) and put that player on your focus frame. Watch to see what spells they cast and what buffs they take advantage of (combat log addons help immensely for this.) If they are having mana issues, they might be over-casting Healing Touch or Regrowth, or forgetting to use cheap spells like Nourish and Swiftmend. If group members’ health is dropping dangerously low, they might be relying too much on using HoTs alone or are too focused on healing one or two people (including themselves.) Let them know if you see an issue in their healing technique; if they use that advice during the run, you can both see if it made an improvement.

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!

How To Tank Heal As A Holy Priest

“I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I still can do something and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

Helen Keller

Holy priests have always had a reputation for being extremely versatile healers.  Somewhere down the line we lost that and I don’t know if that was driven more so by the developers or by the player base, but we did.  We soon found ourselves being trapped in the mindset of being nothing more than Circle of Healing and Renew bots, which meant that we were often competing for raid spots with resto druids, who were practicing a similar style of healing, albeit with Wild Growth and Rejuvenation.  The only thing that really set us apart was Guardian Spirit and even that wasn’t enough to guarantee us a raid spot over a druid or any other class that could do our job better than we could.

With the release of Cataclysm, we found ourselves reclaiming that identity of being extremely flexible healers with the help of an incredible new ability known as Chakra.  For those not in the know, Chakra is a new talent in the holy tree that allows a priest to place themselves into a state that enhances certain abilities and opens up new ones for them to use, depending on the kind of role that they will be filling in a group or raid.  Currently, there are three Chakra states that can be described as the tank healing or single target healing Chakra (Serenity), the AOE or raid healing Chakra (Sanctuary) and the last one being a Chakra that enhance your damage dealing spells (Smite).

Sadly, old habits die hard and there are a still a number of misconceptions out there that holy priests either cannot tank heal or should not tank heal, due our having such strong AOE healing capabilities that many feel are not worth giving up to have us tank heal or heal a single target.  I consider myself extremely fortunate to have an amazing healing lead who is not afraid to try new things and knows her healer’s strengths and to be part of a healing core where my fellow healers are not afraid of change and can excel at things that most people would feel are not possible or not worth it to try and do.

Here is a run down of the abilities you will most likely use and the talents that will help you best in tank healing as a holy priest, in my experience.

Chakra.  The Chakra of choice for tank healing is Chakra: Serenity, which you enter by casting Chakra and then immediately casting Heal right after it.  Recent patch notes from the PTR have indicated that Binding Heal, Flash Heal and Greater Heal are being added to the list of spells that will activate this particular Chakra.  Being in this Chakra takes Holy Word: Chastise and changes it to Holy Word: Serenity.

By simply being in Chakra: Serenity, your chance to crit with direct healing spells is increased by 10% and they will refresh a Renew that is present on the target.  Currently, only Heal, Flash Heal and Greater Heal are capable of refreshing the Renew.  Binding Heal and Holy Word: Serenity are slated to be added to the mix, based on information found in the patch notes that were released last week.  You will want to remain in this Chakra for the entire time that you are responsible for healing the tank.  Being in this Chakra does not lock you out or prevent you from casting other spells, not related to the tank healing state.  You can still use a Prayer of Healing, if the group that the tank is in gets low on health or use a Circle of Healing if those around them are taking damage.

Holy Word Serenity.  This spell can be used a number of ways and has drawn comparisons to being our version of Holy Shock.  One way you can use it is to use it off cooldown.  The buff that Holy Word: Serenity leaves will increase the crit chance of your direct heals on the target by 25% for 6 seconds, in addition to the 10% increased crit chance that you have from being in Chakra: Serenity.  Having this buff on the tank regularly means that any incoming heals that would need to be used have a chance of healing for more and being more effective.  You can also choose to use this more selectively and wait until the tank is taking large amounts of damage, use it first and then take advantage of the crit buff by following it by spamming direct heals.  Either way is fine, but this spell is a core part of tank healing and should not be left out when you’re doing that.

Prayer of Mending.  As always, Prayer of Mending should be used every time it is off cooldown.  Be sure to toss it out either before you cast Chakra or after you have safely entered the correct Chakra state, which is Serenity.  If you don’t cast it at the right time, you may accidentally find yourself entering the wrong state and being in Chakra: Sanctuary, which is the AOE or raid healing state.  This will prevent you from using Holy Word: Serenity, which is only available by being in Chakra: Serenity and your direct heals will not be nearly as effective.

Renew.  Slap a Renew on the tank and if you are using your designated Chakra state to its fullest, it should never fall off of them.  Talents like Improved Renew and Divine Touch can help make Renew more effective by increasing the healing that it does and by eliminating the usual delay in healing output that comes with using a heal over time ability.

Empowered Healing. Placing three points in this talent increases the healing done by Binding Heal, Flash Heal, Heal and Greater Heal by 15%.  These spells are going to be your bread and butter for tank healing, so you are going to want to have that added boost of healing.  You are also going to want three points in Divine Fury, so that your Heal and Greater Heal have their cast time reduced by 0.5 seconds.  That may not sound like a lot, but compare to it the cast time when you don’t have points in this talent.  Believe me, you will feel and notice the difference.

Surge of Light.  Surge of Light allows you the chance to get a free, instant cast Flash Heal that is incapable of critting each time you use Heal.  Unless you’re facing a fight with unpredictable spike damage, Heal is going to be your core spell for tank healing.  It’s been determined that roughly 1 out of every 17 Heals cast will result in a Surge of Light proc.  That may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps and Flash Heal is extremely expensive to cast on its own, without an immediate reason to do so.  If you’re still not convinced that this talent is useful to you, Surge of Light was mentioned in the recent patch notes, stating that Flash Heal and Greater Heal will be added as one of the spells that can trigger Surge of Light and the heal generated by the proc will be able to crit.

Inspiration.  This talent is considered a must have, since you probably won’t be throwing shields on the tank that often, if at all and you want some kind of damage reducing ability to fall back on.  More on that later.  It’s also the only ability that warrants you having any kind of critical strike rating to speak of.

Serendipity.  There are times where your tank is going to take a lot of damage really quickly and you’re going to need to act fast.  You want to have options available that will maximize the heals you will need to throw out, while also being mindful of your mana bar.  Serendipity can help you with that and you can customize it to meet your needs.  If your tank is in trouble and you need a heal, use Binding Heal.  If it’s just your tank that has taken a lot of damage, use Flash Heal.  You now have one stack of Serendipity, which will reduce the cast time of your next Greater Heal by 10% and its mana cost by 5%.

If that single heal wasn’t enough, you can follow it up with another Binding Heal or Flash Heal and gain a second stack of Serendipity, which will now reduce the cast time of your next Greater Heal by 20% and lower the cost by 10%.  Two stacks is the most you can have on yourself at any given time.  You are now prepared to do what I call a “Serendipity bomb,” which is what I call using Flash Heal –> Flash Heal –> Greater Heal.  It is extremely mana intensive to do this, even with the reduction in cost from the talent.  This method should only be used for emergencies, not as a regular style of healing.

Other talents that can help for emergency situations are Test of Faith, which increases all healing done to targets below 50% health and of course, Guardian Spirit.  There are two ways you can use Guardian Spirit.  You can use it when the tank is getting dangerously low and allow it to activate, healing the tank by a large amount and allowing you a few seconds to focus on others who may need healing.  Or you can cast it on the tank and follow it up with some heals, which will be enhanced by having the effect on them and get them back up to snuff.  To make the most out of Guardian Spirit, make sure that you glyph for it and it also helps to create a macro that will announce in the raid or your healing chat channel (if your raid has one of those) that you have cast Guardian Spirit and on whom you have cast it.  That will alert other healers that your target needs heals and will prompt them to toss some heals on them, if they are able to do so.

Power Word: Shield.  Throwing a shield consistently on the tank while healing them may not always be the best idea, because discipline priests rely heavily on Rapture as a way to get mana back.  The best people to place a shield on, where it will get absorbed the most are the tanks.  If you have shielded the tank, that means they can’t and that could affect the amount of mana they get back in the long run.  I would coordinate this with your discipline priests if possible, by finding out if they are going to be anywhere near where you and your tank will be located and how diligent they are about shielding tanks other than their own.  Some are more consistent about this than others.  If you do have the all clear to shield at will, save it for when you see them taking a large amount of damage.  I wouldn’t throw a shield every time it’s off cooldown or if the tank is nearly topped off.  Use it as a way to buy yourself some time to heal them back up, either by using a “Serendipity bomb” or other combination of heals to get the job done.

A lot of holy priests may get flak from the community at large for attempting to tank heal, but we’re really not bad at it and in fact, we have tools that can really be useful when we’re called into action as tank healers.  The strength of a discipline priest has always been mitigation and preventing damage whereas ours has always been raw healing and reacting to damage.  Just because we lack the mitigation strengths does not mean we do not have the healing capacity to successfully heal a tank and should not be considered for such a task.  Some have argued that our strength is in our AOE heals, but we only have two extra AOE spells (Circle of Healing and Holy Word: Sanctuary) that discipline priests don’t have access to and one of them is on a 10 second cooldown and you need to be in the appropriate Chakra state to even activate it.  We have obviously been given the tools mentioned above for a reason.  What other reason would there be to have shields or to have Chakra: Serenity, if we’re meant to go back to the Wrath style of healing?

Hopefully, this post will give people the encouragement or the motivation to try out tank healing, if you are a holy priest or to consider a holy priest as viable candidate to do such a thing, if you’re a raid leader or a GM.  What are your thoughts on this topic?  Can it be done?  Should it be done?

What You Should Know About Dark Intent

What You Should Know About Dark Intent

One of the burdens that comes along with being a healer is the unenviable task of buff management.  Druids have Mark of the Wild and can provide various buffs, depending on the form that they are in.  Paladins spent the last two expansions dealing with the constant bickering about which blessing each person in the raid wanted and coordinating that effectively.  Priests have Power Word: Fortitude and Shadow Protection.  Shamans have a similar responsibility to paladins, in terms of coordinating which shaman will drop what totem and which one doesn’t stack with which existing raid buff and so on.  Having people in your raid who are understanding and willing to communicate openly and amicably with you can certainly make this process much easier.

There are also buffs that can be provided to a raid that are not meant for the entire raid to have or to be able to enjoy.  Whereas the above mentioned buffs can be distributed pretty evenly to those in need, certain buffs can involve some amount of discussion and even competition for those resources.  These buffs can include, but are not limited to Power Infusion, Hysteria and Focus Magic.  One of the more highly coveted buffs, Focus Magic is a buff provided by arcane mages and works as follows:

In the past, the arcane tree was the clear choice for raiding mages and any mage worth their salt would carry around a Focus Magic macro, which would show who was going to receive each mage’s buff.  Sadly, it usually went a little something like this:

Mage 1 — >  Mage 2 — >  Mage 3 — >  Mage 1

Eventually, things changed and arcane was no longer the clear winner in the DPS race and was replaced by fire. Focus Magic was placed deep enough in the arcane tree where mages would not be able to spec fire and have enough points to reach down into the talent tree to take Focus Magic, too.  Despite a few mages clinging tightly to their arcane talents, due to believing the difference in DPS not being enough to completely rule the spec out, Focus Magic soon began to fall out of favor and its presence all but disappeared from raids.

In an attempt to homogenize classes and to ensure that certain buffs were not so class specific, Blizzard gave a similar spell to warlocks this expansion called Dark Intent and it looks a little something like this:

There are a number of immediately noticeable differences between the two abilities:

– Warlocks of all specs have access to Dark Intent, contrary to the tooltip that states Metamorphosis (a Demonology talent) is a pre-requisite.

– Only periodic damage or healing spells will trigger the effect.  Direct healing spells or direct damage that crits will not.

– Critical Periodic Damage can come from melee DPS, not just casters.

– The effects of Dark Intent can stack up to 3 times and increases overall periodic damage and healing done, not just the chance to crit.

So, warlocks have an amazing new buff to play with, that seems to appeal to a wider variety of classes and specs in the raid.  This undoubtedly brings up a number of questions.  Which classes or specs make the best choices to give Dark Intent to?  Should warlocks get to choose who they give their buff to?  Will Dark Intent really make that much of a difference in performance to make these questions relevant?  Let’s find out!

Who Should Get It?

One of my guildies linked a terrific guide found on MMO that shows the results of some theorycrafting that shows who the top choices are to receive Dark Intent.  The numbers are broken down, based on a number of criteria.  The results are separated based on overall raid DPS gain, depending on which spec the warlock in question is and then based on personal DPS gain.  The numbers showing personal DPS gain were not divided up, based on the warlock’s spec, because there was no difference in the results.

Regardless of spec, for both raid and personal DPS gains, shadow priests were the top target for this buff, followed by balance druids, fire mages and feral druids.  For raid DPS gains, typically a survival hunter would be your next best bet after that, regardless of the warlock’s spec.  For personal DPS gains, a frost mage would be the next best choice, due to their high crit rating and the DoT from Frostfire Bolt.  Interestingly, Dark Intent does not work to full capacity, when placed on another warlock.  The haste stacks, but the stacked increase to periodic damage and healing does not.  The two warlocks in question would receive 6% haste from each other and nothing else.  Therefore, they and the raid stand to gain much more from Dark Intent by casting it on someone else.

Since Dark Intent can also increase healing, there are situations where healers may make a better choice for the buff than DPS would.  Resto druids are the clear winners here, followed by raid healing holy priests, resto shaman and then tank or single target healing holy priests.  Discipline priests and holy paladins were found to be the least favorable healers to receive this buff, due to their minimal usage of heal over time effects (in the case of discipline priests) or the near absence of those effects (in the case of the holy paladins).

Who Gets To Decide?

The usage of Focus Magic was never something that was something that had to be controlled or watched over by an officer or anyone in charge in any guild I have ever been in.  Most people would roll their eyes and sigh when they saw mages spam their Focus Magic macro in raid chat and would think nothing more of it.  The truth of the matter is that the person giving the buff, be it a mage or a warlock, has a personal stake in who they give Dark Intent to.  If they give it to someone who has periodic damage or healing capabilities, but is not geared for or does not have enough crit to support the stacks that come with it, nobody wins.  They should have every right to make that call and decide who will give them and the raid the best bang for their buck.

The only time that I feel an officer should intervene is if they see the warlock using poor judgment in who they give Dark Intent to.  If you see a holy paladin receiving Dark Intent a half dozen times on a raid night, I would pull the warlock aside and give them a stern talking to.  If you see warlocks taking bids on who gets the buff and not considering what is the best thing for themselves or the raid, I would put my foot down on that.  Let the warlock use their best judgment, until you realize that maybe they aren’t.

Does It Make A Difference?

You betcha!  Taking into account that the theorycrafting was done using Tier 11 BiS gear (iLevel 372), thousands of DPS could be at stake here.  Thousands!  Affliction warlocks giving Dark Intent to shadow priests led to the highest increase of raid DPS at 4131 DPS, followed by moonkin at 3462 DPS gained.  Demonology warlocks posted the next highest increase in raid DPS by giving the buff to a shadow priest.  That combination led to an increase of 3270 raid DPS, with moonkin giving an increase of 2598 DPS.  Destruction warlocks showed noticeably lower numbers, with the highest raid DPS increase being 3076 DPS, again working in tandem with a shadow priest.  Each spec showed the highest personal DPS gain by working with a moonkin and showed an increase of 1999 DPS by doing so.

The bottom line, which has become a motto of sorts for this expansion is “Every little bit helps.” If using Dark Intent at the right time and on the right person is going to increase your chances to kill a boss faster or to heal through something with less stress and mana usage involved, I’m all for it.  I would not scoff at the increases you might see right now, just because they may not be as noticeable as the ones shown on the guide that I linked.  Encourage your warlocks to do the right thing and encourage those they decide to give Dark Intent to to use it to it’s fullest.  Having a buff that require two people to make the most of it only stands to increase the sense of teamwork and camaraderie that your raid as a whole should be experiencing towards each other.

It was always my understanding that warlocks were all about Fear and CorruptionWho would have thought such a class could be responsible for such warm, fuzzy feelings?

Leap into PvP the Correct Way

Leap into PvP the Correct Way

In perusing WoW.com on my normal Monday morning shift, I tend to always follow Spiritual Guidance, usually when it’s headed up by Dawn Moore. Although I tend to go back and forth on my agreement with her, I’ve noticed that she’s taken an approach to encouraging people to participate more in PvP.  YES!  With the thrill of this expansion coming to a close, there are a variety of ways to continue to enjoy this game, one of which is PvP. 

Why am I so excited for this, you ask? Well, I’m an avid PvP’er. One of my favorite things to do is grab some guildies, and utilize the Random Battleground Queue until I’m blue in the face.  I particularly love Warsong Gulch, which makes me pretty excited for the upcoming “Twin Peaks” battleground.  Here’s the poop on what you stand to gain from becoming more active in PvP:

  • Increased Wintergrasp / Vault of Archavon Time: People consistently complain about how Wintergrasp is broken on their server.  Although I agree to a certain extent, a team of skilled, team-oriented PvP’ers has the potential to overcome any short-comings (**COUGH** Scale vehicle damage with Tenacity **COUGH**).
  • Off-set Gear: Although I don’t miss the days of “Welfare Epics” by any means, I am a fan of utilizing some PvP pieces until you get that PvE piece you want.  Sure, resilience does no good in PvE, but you can use that Wrathful Gladiator’s Cloak of Salvation until you get the frosties for your Drape of the Violet Tower or you get that Greatcloak of the Turned Champion to finally drop off of 25-man Saurfang.
  • Deeper Class Knowledge: By starting to play your class in a different environment, you start to learn things you may not have considered before.  The ability to change your focus and style as a player gains a lot of respect from someone like me.

However…

Although Dawn does a great job of laying out the basics, let me make it clear that I think it’s a bad idea to grind out Emblems of Triumph to get your PvP gear.  Sure, if you have them sitting your bag, by all means, spend them.  I know from experience how frustrating it is to go into battlegrounds wearing nothing but your PvE gear.  Let’s take a look at what you stand to gain by going the “Honor” route:

Gear Progression

First and foremost, I really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment of getting to spend my honor points on a new piece of gear.  I’m currently gearing up my Resto PvP set for my Shaman, and although I’ll toss some Triumphs at it, if I have them, most of my gear is coming from Honor.  I liken it to working out hard in a gym and seeing the results build, instead of sitting plugged into one of those ab-shock deals while I watch the Blackhawks annihilate the Flyers in Game 5 (I had to). You feel the hard work, hence the payoff is more rewarding.

Second, as you add pieces over time, you realize which stats you need and which ones you don’t need.  When I was building my Discipline PvP set, I initially went for mostly +Crit pieces so I could proc Inspiration and Divine Aegis.  I realized halfway through that I was burning mana like an oil spill from an irresponsible foreign oil company. I switched it up and started getting more MP5 and Spirit on my gear.  Especially if you’re a healer, you have the choice of some caster DPS gear (except for the Paladin), which will be laden with more haste and crit.  Once you discover your play style, you’ll figure how to tweak your gear.  If you grind dungeons for all the badges for the Furious set, you may find that you’re too heavy on a stat that doesn’t do you much good, or that you’re lacking in one that you really need.

An option to consider while getting battle-ready is checking out the crafted pieces that are available.  They’re relatively cheap to make, and you’ll probably be helping out someone’s profession in the meantime.  They all involve more than just the standard Head/Chest/Legs/Gloves/Shoulders combination.  You can use these to get your boots, bracers or waist piece squared away. Here’s a couple examples:

Frostsavage Battlegear – Although it lacks any kind of mana regen, it still is better than nothing.

Eviscerator’s Battlegear – Obviously for melee classes like the Druid and Rogue.

Ornate Saronite Battlegear – The Healadin equivalent.

These give you good starting points to bounce off from.  Remember, you’re generally focusing on different stats than a normal PvE set.

A Different Style

Have you ever played one spec for SO long, and then decided to switch it up and play a completely different spec?  Say you went from Resto to Balance, or from Holy to Shadow, or Resto to Elemental. Is it the same playstyle?  Obviously not.  Sure, it may not be much of an adjustment, but think of PvP in the same manner. 

On my Shaman, I know very well that I’ll be dropping different totems depending upon who I’m facing.  I switch up my weapon imbues as Enhancement, and I pay much closer attention to my Earthbind Totem, Grounding Totem, and Stoneclaw Totem.  Those get little to no attention in raids.

On my Discipline Priest, I learned the ability to turn and burst an opponent, when I’m used to healing.  I started to utilize different heals like Binding Heal in order to keep myself and a teammate alive. 

If you’re stuck in randoms just doing what you normally do (I call the “Mental AFK”), then you’re not learning the intracacies of your class and spec, especially with how easy it is to outgear heroics now.  Go through your spec talent by talent and see what will help you and what won’t.  A talent you worship in PvE may not be worth it in PvP.  It’s okay to toss it to the side to get a little more utility.

Become Team-Oriented

Contrary to popular belief, not all PvP is based on killing the other player.  You may be able to put out some good DPS, but do you know how to peel a melee off of a healer?  Do you know how to pinpoint the enemy healer and not just kill him but lock him down so he’s useless?  Do you know what strengths your class has against certain other classes?  Do you have the ability to support the rest of the team, instead of trying to be highest DPS or get the most Killing Blows?

That’s what the benefit of actually being in the battleground gives you.  You end up learning that in order to hold bases in Arathi Basin or Eye of the Storm, you have to stand on or near the flag/node.  Fighting in the roads generally does nothing.  You also learn the value of defending those nodes, instead of just being part of the roaming Zerg group. 

These lessons all come with time, but I think it’s imperative that you learn them while you’re in the thick of it.  Once you learn how much easier it is to take out a group once the healer is down, you’ll encourage others to do the same.  You’ll figure out that there will be players that try to peel you off the flag in Arathi Basin so a Rogue or Druid can ninja the node.

You’ll simply become a stronger player, not only in PvP but in PvE as well.  PvP can help you avoid tunnel vision and enable you to help out other parts of the raid when you feel you can.  There’s only so much you can learn from doing heroics and raids over and over.  Spend the time in some battlegrounds, and I think you’ll be amazed what you can learn.

**Disclaimers: No, I’m not a 2400 Arena player. Yes, I’ve been PvPing since Burning Crusade. Yes, I understand there are exceptions to everything. Yes, I’m a Blackhawks fan of the fair-weather nature. No, I don’t think it’s too soon to insult BP for their pollution of our waters.**

 

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

 

 

 

10 Tips: How To Organise A Guild Meet

10 Tips: How To Organise A Guild Meet

Last week I Herded Cats.

Well, all right, not really cats. I’m not a crazy cat lady and my guild members aren’t felines with string addictions. But our annual guild meet up – or Herd Moot as we call it – finished last week. But what does this mean to you?

I know a lot of guilds meet up. I know some would like to and aren’t sure where to begin. I figured I might share a few pointers with you in case it’s something you might ever consider organising with your guild, whatever game you play. Pointers you wouldn’t necessarily think of immediately, and which I’ve learnt both during this Moot and through organising similar knees-up in the past.

It really is worth it. More’s the point, it really isn’t impossible.

We had folks travel from other parts of the UK, and from Finland and Norway. I deduce from the fact that everyone said they didn’t want to leave and some have made a point of saying they’re now actively looking to move here that everyone had a good time. Heck, we’re vaguely considering through the post-Moot recovery haze that we might organise another Moot for later in the year.

So, a few things to keep in mind for you as an organiser – or you as a participant supporting your organiser – to help your own Moot go smoothly.

1. Flexible plans. You’ll select precise times/dates. Be prepared for participants to either choose to travel on slightly different times/days which best suit themselves and their finances, or simply get it wrong, without checking with you first. For example, I organised our Moot for Friday-Monday; it ended up being Thursday-Wednesday due to peoples’ flights. You don’t need to stress if this happens, or worry if you have obligations like work on ‘extra’ days – the group can look after itself for a bit! Stay on top of travel details and keep in mind how many of the group are around at any one time.

2. Intensity. Think about how important it is that your group spends all of the meet together. Think about how long your meet is; if it’s quite short – 24 hours – you might well spend the whole day together as a group. if the meet is a few days then it’s likely to be part-meet part-holiday for anyone who’s travelled. Leaving them some time to themselves over the few days for exploring a new place on holiday might be just what both them and you need!

3. Health. Always ask anyone you’re ‘overseeing’ if they have medical conditions you should be aware of. Reassure them that you won’t make a big deal of it and it’s for your reference in case anything goes wrong or they fall ill. It’s highly likely everyone will have niggling little issues that they won’t think it worth telling you about when you ask, but which will probably come out during your meet when they suddenly remember their bad knee doesn’t like the long walk the group’s halfway through. Give them plenty of opportunity to think of telling you anything pertinent; if you’re planning a walk, tell them in advance, and how far, and if there are options to stop halfway through. For ‘active’ pursuits it’s also useful to have an idea of your group’s general (and lowest) fitness level. We found that half our group weren’t as up for long, pretty walks as others were.

Also, get basic health supplies in. I believe a first aid kit is vital if hopefully unnecessary, and last week found me handing out painkillers to various Cats for migraines to hangovers to general aches.

4. Finances. Your group will probably reflect a range of financial situations. Try to get an idea of the range of your group’s finances early on by talking to individuals quietly and in confidence. Then plan a spread of activities accordingly. Remember that money is a sensitive thing for everyone, whatever their position – don’t blather publicly about who can afford which activities. if necessary plan a couple of options for any one time that differ financially; people can decide for themselves which they want to do.

5. Gaming. You do want to spend some time together playing the game you all have in common – it’s great fun to all be in the same physical space playing it. Even so, strike a balance between ‘real life’ activities which don’t involve WoW/whatever MMO you play, and playing the MMO. For us, that balance was one main evening session and a smaller, less organised session, over 6 days.

6. Booking responsibility. Everyone participating is responsible for booking something. For you that’s ensuring there are arrangements for a place to game. That might be a LAN in someone’s residence, which requires cables and technical equipment, or booking an internet cafe or hotel conference room.

Any participants travelling to the meet need to take responsibility for their own travel and accommodation; unless they really really want to give you their credit card details (big nono for so many reasons). The only help you should give them is to encourage them to book early and have either yourself or someone with knowledge of the area research/suggest some affordable accommodation options and travel sites. Bear in mind some people may not have travelled much and may need more help organising themselves than others.

7. Communication. As the organiser you need to be approachable. Maintain a dialogue with participants in the run-up to the meet. Less intrusive/immediate forms of contact like Facebook are ideal as it gives others the opportunity to reply in their own time, and you the ability to chase them up if they take too long to keep you posted. IM services such as Skype or MSN also work well, particularly the closer the meet is, and particularly if you are having to chase particular individuals for details.

On a more specific note, if your group doesn’t often use voice software while gaming and you have people coming from other countries, they may be worried about speaking English (or whatever language). One of our guild members was particularly worried about his spoken English; we reassured him as much as possible and I also offered to talk to him on a voice skype chat before the Moot as a ‘practice’/’soft’ speaking run before he got here.

8. Recognition. You’re all about to do something scary: go out of your way to Meet Faceless People Off The Internet. Most people in your group will be nervous to some degree. You should share your details with participants to help them see you’re not a betentacled monster and so that you can stay abreast of travel details on the first day. Mobile/cell phone number exchange is crucial, as is a picture of yourself.  Hopefully by setting this good example you’ll inspire them to share theirs back with you.

9. Visibility. Buy sticky labels. Have everyone wear one with their character name and real name for the first day or two. Sounds geeky, right? Mayhap, but it’s also practical and puts folks at ease with remembering real names and using them. You could commission individual t-shirts or hats displaying names and character information or pictures too, if you really want to push the boat out and add a memorable touch given that labels are easily lost and not much of a fashion accessory,

10. Age range. Some guilds have people of a range of ages playing. Be aware of the youngest and oldest ages you have. You may need to generally think round activities that all age groups can enjoy. On a more specific note – don’t make alcohol a part of your meet if you have folks under the legal drinking age (doh!). If you have really young folks, keep a general eye on them. This all may not be a problem for you; it wasn’t for us as we’re one of many guilds of a similar age range. But it’s easy for age differences to slip your mind when you’ve known people online for so long without actually ‘seeing’ them.

 

I hope some of that is useful to you and your guildies. It might look like a lot of work or a scary concept when laid out in practical tidbits but fear ye not. Guild meets can be really special events creating long-lasting memories and deeper relationships. Particularly if you keep an open mind for practical details!

What about you – are you considering doing something as crazy as this? If so, do you have any questions/worries? Have you organised meets, and have tidbits to add or any stories to share? Or do you think the idea of meeting up with the pixels you adventure is weird and wrong?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Dragon Slaying 101: Healing Sindragosa 10

Dragon Slaying 101: Healing Sindragosa 10

A few days ago I posted all the tips and tricks I’d heard for killing Sindy on 10 man and some of you then recommended other things I’d not thought of. Thanks for sharing! Some good tips there – feel free to keep adding on the comments – post is here – if you think of anything more.

So we know how to kill the dragon. But how to heal through her onslaught?

She’s got a bit of a grudge against people like you, wandering in and slaughtering her brood. She’s just landed and wants to turn your band of adventurers into a band of red goo on the floor. You’re meant to be healing them through it. What to do? Read on, though I’m going to assume you’ve read the general guide from last week so I’m not going to spell things out: this is purely about healing.

Let’s start at the beginning. Phase 1, where the healing is easy. Why? Quite simply – you won’t be doing much healing.

This might make you wonder whether three healers is too many. I’d recommend having three until your group is really comfortable with the fight. You healers might not have much to do in phase 1 but later on it’s chaotic and there’ll usually be at least one healer unable to heal for a few seconds. Having three healers available makes the chaos a bit more comfortable.

Ground phase critical info:

  • Unavoidable damage: There’s not much. Your main tank will take some damage from Sindy’s physical attacks and Frost Breath. Your raid will constantly take damage from Sindy’s raid-wide Frost Aura. Heal them through it. If you’ve met Lana’thel then compare and be reassured: the damage in Sindy’s encounter will feel a lot less threatening.
    • Class specific tips: most healing classes can make it even less threatening. Shaman, you’ve got frost resistance totem. Paladins, you’ve got Frost Resistance Aura. And Druids – make sure Gift of the Wild is up to give the general boost to resistances.
  • Avoidable damage: There are several colourful ways in which your raiders can get themselves turned into red goo, or at least badly hurt. These things probably won’t happen too often but be ready to heal mistakes.
    • If a player lets their stacking debuffs get too high, they’ll take a chunk of damage. It’s usually heal-able but if it occurs at the same time as another chunk of damage or even a tick of Frost Aura it might be enough to kill them. If you’re a raid leader you could raid warn them to move using a mouse-over-macro (or Vent of course)
    • If people don’t run out of Blistering Cold quick enough they’ll likely be one-shotted or on low health – watch Grid/Healbot as you run from it and be ready to heal anyone who’s a bit slow
    • If DPS don’t watch their aggro as the tank’s threat can be slightly lower here, they’ll die. They’ll also spin the dragon of fortune, possibly killing other people in the process
      • Class specific tip: Discy priests – If a DPS is aggro happy don’t hesitate to pop Pain Suppression on them to give your main tank some breathing space. Likewise – Paladins – if someone’s really going aggro crazy, slap a Hand of Salvation on them.
  • When to heal: If Sindy casts Unchained Magic on you immediately stop casting until the debuff goes away. Your other healers need to cover healing without you until then. You need to do the same for them if they get Unchained Magic. DBM does tell you and place markers on the people who get Unchained Magic but I also recommend letting the other healers know yourself. My healers and I just typed “UM” in party chat if we get the debuff. Then train your dagger or mace skill – the debuff feels like it takes an age to drop.
  • Nothing to do. In the ground phase you may find that no-one needs healing quite often. If that’s the case – and you don’t have Unchained Magic – then perhaps you could DPS a little. I don’t advocate healers DPSing that often but in this case it’s helpful – ideally your group needs to get Sindy to 35% health/phase 2 before a fourth air phases. So throw in a bit of DPS to help get her there, but only if you’re safe to do so.

Air phase healing:

There shouldn’t be any healing in an air phase except at the very beginning and end but people will take damage if they don’t line of sight the ice swirls behind icetombs. Likewise, multiple people may take damage if tombs are broken before all four ice swirls are done. It’s generally easily heal-able. It’s even easier for Paladins who are specced for either Divine Guardian or Aura Mastery.

Be ready to heal people up as they come out of icetombs. The longer they’ve been entombed the more healing they’ll need. Be aware of who’s entombed, too – if it’s the other healers then healing’s solely your task until they’re freed. This makes it doubly important to remain aware of the ice swirls and not get too wrapped up in healing.

Tip: Make sure that players about to be entombed are fully healed: heal them up as they are about to be iced. Shamans’ riptide, Druids’ HoTs and Priests’ Renew should top off their health and keep it there for the first few seconds of air phase.

Phase 2 critical info:

When Sindy hits 35% health she’ll start stacking Mystic Buffet on everyone, which increases their magical damage taken by 20% per stack. Ideally everyone in the raid will reset their stacks by line of sighting Sindy behind an ice tomb – including heparty chat trimmedalers and tank.

First thing’s first. Set up a stack-reset rotation amongst you and the other healers. That is, every time there’s an icetomb two of you should reset Mystic Buffet stacks and heal the raid, and the third healer should stay out to heal the tank, as they will be taking a lot more damage and line of sighting Sindy behind an icetomb also means line of sighting your tank. See the diagram for how my healers organise the rotation.

This rotation can be messed up by a healer being icetombed. If that happens just skip their step and fill in appropriately: for example, if Bob is meant to be healing the tank this turn and Carla next turn, but Bob gets icetombed, Carla stays out this turn to cover tank healing in Bob’s stead.

Your group needs to have only one icetomb up at any point. Be aware where icetomb people are standing before they’re entombed. If they’re standing within 10 yards of you you will also be icetombed. Stop what you’re doing and move away. If you’ve time, yell a warning that they’re standing close to raid members.

Class specific tips:

  • Paladins, you can make this phase easier for your whole healing team. Beacon of Light isn’t affected by line of sight. (Paladins, this is not applicable. Thanks for the correction here folks!)
  • Shaman – this may seem counter-intuitive when the healing’s heavy but if the fight’s got messy and Sindy’s on low health, remember to drop Flame Elemental totem. It’ll help on DPS and you can focus on healing. Likewise, Bloodlust/Heroism should always be in phase 2. The later the better: find the fine line between the fight not being chaotic enough and half the raid being dead.
  • Druids – keep HoTs up on the tanks. Also, practice getting precise on range to icetombs. Ideally be no more than 10 yards away from people about to be entombed, to reduce running time
  • Priests – bubble as many people as you can. Priesties of the holy variety – throw guardian spirit up on the tank. If things are really going down the drain then you might buy some extra time by dying, healing for free and without ouchies as Spirit of Redemption, then popping back up with a soulstone or combat res. Discies – consider throwing Pain Suppression up on the tank if there are no threat issues.

 

That’s it, doc. This is one of those odd fights in which there seems little to do, then suddenly a flurry of mad button pressing. I hope some of these tips have given you a heads up or helped you go the extra seven leagues. I don’t play all of the healing classes inside ICC so feel free to share your expertise in the comments; let’s make these two guides all that dragon slayers could ever need inside Ieccrown Citadel!

What do you think? Have you any tips to add? Do you enjoy healing this fight or do you find it boring? Do you think it’s highly luck based or only skill and awareness based? Do you get annoyed if your teammates turn themselves into red goo and you know you stood no chance of healing it?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twtitter feed here.

Dragon Slaying 101: How To Sindragosa 10

Dragon Slaying 101: How To Sindragosa 10

Sindragosa. Even the bravest amongst us shiver or spit when they say her name. There’s a lot of hatred for her but not much in the way of a definitive How You Deal With Sindy. So today I’m doing just that for raiders needing advice on Sindragosa 10. I’ll follow up in a few days with tips specific to healing here.

Though the encounter can seem easier than others in ICC Sindy will turn you and yours into foiled adventurer sandwiches. I believe some encounters can be harder on 10 man than 25: this is one of them.

You’ve just redecorated Sindy’s ledge with the trash and your group is pausing to do crucial things like buff up and get coffee. Then a giant ribcage full of blue gas lands on your tank and you’re all in combat. What to do?

Sindragosa: quick facts

- Don’t Panic! Tactically If you know any combination of Garfrost, Sapphiron and Any Other Dragon at all, you already have a good idea of the tactics for Sindragosa. The encounter’s also nicely paced – it starts off gently.
- She’s a dragon. That means standing behind her will get you tail swept and standing in front of her will get you cleaved. This particular dragon also has a Frost Breath which hits anything in front of her.
- Sindy uses a lot of auras and debuffs. Most of them affect every member of the raid. Here’s what you need to know:

  • PERMEATING CHILL will stack on all meleers as they attack. They should stop attacking Sindy when it gets to 5-6 stacks, until it falls off.
  • INSTABILITY will stack on any caster who Sindy casts UNCHAINED MAGIC on. To prevent stacks of Instability simply stop casting until UNCHAINED MAGIC falls off. Really, stop casting, it’s possible to kill yourself with these stacks.
  • MYSTIC BUFFET will stack on everyone in phase 2. It increases magical damage taken per stack. More on that later.
  • FROST AURA will deal 4.5k damage to everyone every 3 seconds any time Sindy is grounded  That means healers need to be constantly healing.

In phase 1 Sindragosa has ground and air phases. The first air phase occurs at 85% health, and then every 90 seconds thereafter until 35%.

Ground phase critical info: Positioning

Threat: Sindy tests your DPSers’ ability to watch their aggro. As usual the tank will have to position an unwieldy dragon – oggle over my arty  diagram for positioning. More importantly though, the tank will also get PERMEATING CHILL and will sometimes have to stop hitting for a few seconds to let the stacks drop.
Frostie: You might want to consider some or all of your raid wearing one piece of frost resist kit to mitigate some of the frost damage which is going to get worse as the fight progresses. At the very least I’d recommend your main tank picks up a piece of frost resistance.
Hokie-kokie: Sindy will pull the group in to her. Then she casts a 25-yard AoE called BLISTERING COLD. It has a 5 second cast time. Run away in a straight line as soon as she grips you in. Anyone caught in the AoE will either be dead on the floor or near-dead on their feet.
– Your tank should be aware that Sindy seems to move forward onto the tank after Blistering Cold, whether or not the tank moved.
Tip: DBM counts the BLISTERING COLD ability cooldown. Be ready to run as it ticks down. I also find it useful to turn on the spot to face the direction I want to run as the cooldown ticks. I also remind anyone with high debuff stacks to let them drop, in case they get caught in the AoE and their debuff might finish them off. Death Knights can use Anti-Magic Shell to null the effects of Blistering Cold.

Air phase how to:

The air phase is the first that requires co-ordination. It’s like Sapphiron’s air phase: you hide behind icetombs to line of sight (that is, put something between you and it so you can’t see it) an AoE.

Unlike Sapphiron, the AoE doesn’t come from Sindy herself but ice swirls she places on the ground. Those swirls are what you need to line of sight. air phase2

1. Two raid members will get target marks. They should run to pre-arranged ‘ice tomb positions as in the picture. These positions should be the same for every air phase. Everyone else should stay away from those two people until they’re entombed in ice. 
2. As soon as they’re tombed up everyone else should gather round the tombs. You have a few seconds from the ice swirl appearing to the AoE occuring. Look for the ice swirls and line of sight them. There will be four swirls in total and they could be anywhere on the platform – including behind you.
3. As you avoid the AoE you also need to break the ice blocks to let your comrades out. Do this by slowly DPSing the iceblocks so they break just after the fourth swirl/AoE: try to avoid letting icetombs break. I’d recommend not getting below 25% health before the fourth blast.
Tip: remember I said this was a forgiving fight? We found it’s possible to live through breaking one or both icetombs early on air phases, but I recommend breaking them slowly for safety. If necessary assign your top two DPS a block each to solo and have everyone else focus on avoiding the AoE. DoTs such as DK diseases should not be used on the icetombs as they break too easily.

Phase 2 critical info:

Sindy is permanently grounded. She will still use Ice Grip and Blistering Cold and casts Ice Tomb on one player at a time. Meanwhile, MYSTIC BUFFET is a killer. It’s important not to let Buffet stack too high: hide behind an ice tomb until it drops off. Some thoughts on dealing with buffet:
- Sindy casts icetomb frequently in this phase and you really don’t want multiple tombs up at once. When someone is marked to be tombed they should run to a pre-defined space. Next to Sindy’s head is a central spot for this as everyone – including tanks – can get to it quickly.
- Have a second tank. Even if it’s a kitty druid. They just need to tank for a few seconds when your tank’s stacks reach 4-5 and need to be dropped
- Healers should remove stacks on a rotation basis so that at least one is not behind the ice block, so they can heal the tank. My healers and I set up some simple macros to tell each other what was going on – e.g. /p staying out – Pitil next
- DPS should be split into two groups. On the first iceblock group A removes their stacks, group B nukes Sindy. Visa versa on the second iceblock.
- Tip: You do need to break the icetombs. You could have all DPS do this, although it causes chaos and the potential for multiple tombs is high. I’d recommend assigning one, or even two, high DPSer to do nothing else but nuke icetombs for this phase.

That lot should be all the info you need to get through the fight – hopefully some of these tips will help it go smoothly for you. Remember she does have an enrage timer so unload the DPS as quickly as possible in phase 1. Skimp on healers or off tank if you want but be certain you can deal with phase 2 if you do. When you do take her down break out the screenshot buttons: you’ve just downed the Queen of the Frostbrood.

 

Now it’s your turn. What do you think? Have you got any tips to add here to All That Sindykillers Could Ever Need? Have any of these tips clinched the kill for you?  How hard do you think this fight is – or looks if you’re not there yet – and most importantly, how fun? I’d like to hear if you think this is a hard or even an easy fight – but remember everyone is of a different skill level, so please no suggesting that a team of grannies could do this over afternoon tea!

Healing And Leading – Chalk And Cheese?

Healing And Leading – Chalk And Cheese?

An interesting quandary materialised at WoM headquarters last week. How do you raid lead as a new healer? Say you’re that new healer. You’ve been raid leading as a hunter for a while, now your guild needs a healer.

Let’s be frank. As a healer you’re spending most of your raid time with your eyes stapled to the raid’s health bars. Your thoughts are consumed with keeping the bars full and yourself out of the various patches of burny death.

As a raid leader you need to be spending most of your time watching the encounter as it unfolds. The boss, the adds, the players. The stuff healers hear of only as fable. The two roles don’t mix. Right?

Wrong. You can get these two roles to mix to create a fun and workable role. rather like steel and magic mixing to create the glee of downing a boss and seeing that it’s dropped your pixelated holy grail. All it takes is a combination of factors to get it working in your favour.

1. Healer, heal thy user interface

Here’s the catch regarding Ui and addons: you don’t need hundreds. Give yourself enough to facilitate thinking.

  • Space.You may feel cluttered or suffocated if your user interface has too much going on. This leads to distraction or panic so avoid it! Keep addons to a minimum and spend some time outside of the raid environment thinking about your UI. Is Grid bigger than it needs to be? Probably. Are your minimap and KG panels stealing screen real estate? That might be fine if you’re comfortable with your role(s) but not while you’re getting used to a new mental environment. Do you have more addons cluttered around central areas of your screen than tucked away in corners? Yep, can’t see the DPSers if I tried. Do you have target frames showing as a healer? Not needed.
  • Control. I’m going to assume that if you are a raid leader of a regular group then you actively lead. Get a couple of useful raid leading addons to provide information and keep you in control. Addons like obituary, raidbuffstatus, failbot and skada. Don’t load up on addons or you may start feeling like you’re not in control of the raid. For example, it may take you twice as long to give the go ahead to move because you feel obliged to check 20 new-fangled addons between each pull. Addons are a helping hand for different situations, not a catch-all crutch to excuse you doing the job of leading.
  • Don’t do it all at once. Don’t download 20 new addons to try to master the raid leading and then go raiding without trying them out. You’ll get in a tizwaz. Download your new raid leading toys one or two at a time and play with them outside the raid to see if you get on with them. If not, get rid of them and try something similar – there are usually several versions which basically do the same thing, like skada, recount and WoW Web Stats.

2. Watch

  • Ask around your guildies, your friends, your realm forums. Look for organised runs (or PUGs with a conscientious healer-leader (rather than loot-bot).
    • Watch them and see how they lead. Try to go as DPS so you can see what they miss and think about why.
    • If they’re approachable – like a good leader should be – wait until a good moment and ask them if they mind giving a brief run down. Ask how they raid lead and what help they have from other people or addons.
    • A good time to do this is during a break or after the run – not after a boss, as they’ll be handing out loot, nor during a fight, as both of you should have your fingers poised over your healing buttons rather than having a heart to heart.
  • Your screen. Is it big enough? Healers tend to have more on their screens by nature, what with Grid and whatnot. If you have a small screen things are going to be squished and your eyes and brain will miss things. Check your screen’s contrast and brightness settings, too. Are they high enough that characters are leaping out the screen? If you’re having trouble picking things up as a healer then have your technology help you. These may sound silly but there’s research out there to suggest monitor set up is important. Google for Joel on Software OR Jeremy Zawodny and large monitor.
  • Zoom out. No really. Zoom out, you’ll get more on the screen. Either zoom out with your mouse wheel or type /console cameradistancemaxfactor 20

3. Listen

Your eyes are not your only source of information while raiding. I personally find that I still can’t watch everything all the time. That’s fine. Not only that but the pretty health bars tend to be my visual priority both in and out of encounters  It’s healer instinct. So I get data and information through listening, and it’s a vital accompaniment to the visual information.

  • Your raiders are a goldmine of information. Ask their opinions about what was going particularly well or badly during encounters – whether or not you got the boss down. If you’re a hands on raid leader be sure to consistently make final decisions after a group discussion and let people know the outcome. Just because you’re a squishy healer doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to make decisions as a leader any more.
  • Keep tabs. If you have team members who are new to the group or the instance – or have a particular role such as kinetic bomb bouncing on Blood Princes – then try to keep tabs on how they’re doing, both in performance and morale. You can achieve this both by asking one or two trusted raid members to keep an eye on them, and also by having a quiet chat with the player himself. Both methods are likely to give you different answers and as such a bigger picture.
  • Instant calls. You’re looking at the pretty bars and don’t know what health the boss is at? Ask one of the DPS for a report. You see on Grid that one of your tanks has too many stacks of a debuff and you need the other tank to come back from faerie land and TAUNT THE NITWIBBLE NOW? You have two dead DPS, the enrage timer is short and you need the tree druid to CR the optimal player? You can make all of these calls and be provided with immediate information.
    • Be clear on whom you’re addressing. If possible use voice-chat programs such as Vent. I’d recommend organising it for your guild if it’s not already in use. If voice-chat is off the menu trying pre-typed macros so you don’t have to type mid-fight may help.

4. Learn

You do need to be able to watch the rest of the screen. A few tips for getting used to that:

  • Practice. No really, practice. Run some Heroics and focus on watching the characters and the monsters more than the bars. Also try zooming your eyesight out, as it were. Don’t focus on one box, one bar, one character. Try to see the whole screen.
  • Practice more. When you’re comfortable with that and bored of seeing the dungeons, take a step up. Heal a couple of raids which are lower level than what you’ll be raid leading. There will be lots more information, DBM warnings and fires to get in or slimes to deliver. Practice the same as you did in the heroics.
  • Flexible frames. If you want, you could also move your Grid/healbot/raid frames as near to the centre of the screen as you reasonably can without obscuring your character. Most encounter-crucial DBM warnings and character-movement happens near the centre: it’ll be less distance for your eyes to travel. Don’t get too used to it tho. Your aim is to gradually move the healing frames further away from the centre as you get better at keeping an eye on the rest of the raid.

5. Keep your perspective

  • Set ground rules. Do this and you’ve already done 50% of the work for raid leading, with no danger of eye strain. If you tell the group that loot is on a 100-75-50-25 rate and you expect raiders to behave in a friendly and polite manner or you will kick at the first sign of trouble, then you can be safe in the knowledge that you know what you’re doing. Literally. By stating rules and then staying in the raid both you and the rest of the group have agreed that that is how you will proceed, and that you’re respectively cool with that.
  • You’re doing an admirable thing. Remember that occasionally. The fact is that you’re willing to lead a team of people in a stressful situation, mostly for the first time. Raid leading in a new role – DPS to healing, healing to tank, whatever – means you’re learning at least some of the art of leading anew. Good on you for doing it.
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Serious question. Ask yourself what your nightmare scenario is if you get it wrong. Then ask yourself what “it wrong” actually is. I’d be willing to bet my beak-polish that your nightmare scenario doesn’t lead to a permanent or irrevocable situation, except that you’ll have learnt something. The beak-polish also says that “it wrong” is something in a game.
  • Healers are actually in a good position to be raid leaders. The fact that we watch the pretty bars means we are privy to a constant feed of information that other raid leaders don’t have time to watch. A tank probably doesn’t have time to keep track of Curse of Torpor or Death and Decay problems in Lady Deathwhisper. It’s no coincidence that if a raid wipes, raid leaders tend to come to healers first as a source of information.

 

A lot of these may sound like basic information but when you’re coming to raid leading fresh as a healer, a lot of it is just about thinking. Not as a healer, but rather putting a bit of thought into adapting your playstyle to encompass both healing and leading. Remember that it doesn’t take much to make the two cross: many general raid leader responsibilities like giving tactics or calling heroism don’t change; your role has changed, not the encounter. If you put some thought into helping your own visual centre and talking with your raid and role models you’re halfway there. Practice is the other half.

So, what are your thoughts and opinions? Have you been in this position or are in it now, and how are you dealing with it? Have you already been putting some of these to good use, or have been inspired to try something slightly differently now? Are you a grizzled healer-leader veteran with tricks up your sleeve to share?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

Article image originally by Jackson Boyle @ Flickr