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?

Special Delivery: Rounding Of This Week’s Best WoW Posts

So has everyone recovered from the New Year? I’m guessing you’re getting stuck into the wealth of new and changed features that Blizzard showered on us just before Christmas, then. I’ve read all kinds of reactions in the past week or so – people saying the raiding’s hard (but good!), people saying it’s hard argharghargh and folks not knowing which way is up with the new healing model. And let’s not talk about the subtle effects of Cataclysm’s new guild structure on guilds themselves.

Or maybe we will. I’ve gathered up some of the best healing, leading and guild-related posts from the blogosphere over the past week. You might remember from before Christmas that curating the blogosphere and sharing it with you is what I do, both here and over at MMO Melting Pot. Mind you, you might not remember… depends on your dark iron ale intake over the holidays I guess! Either way, let’s kick off 2011 with the first roundup from the blogosphere – which, suitably, has felt like its had a fresh injection of lifebloom…

  • Healing Tips For Magmaw – if you’re raiding Blackwing Descent and eyeing up the optional boss Magmaw, Tzufit’s got all you need to know. It’s a detailed post going through the everything from the Bad that your whole raid wants to avoid and the tricks the boss has up his sleeve. Throughout the post Tzufit includes little tips, like a chunk for healers on how to keep the tank alive while he’s being chomped, a trick for druids to help the raid move on time and along with it, a warning about what can go wrong.
  • Raiding Strategy, Redux – Analogue over at Looking for More has written up her guild’s policies and goals – primarily for her raidgroup, but she’s shared it with the rest of us too. The post covers everything from attendance and performance, raid composition, in raid behaviour and loot. All for a 10 man progression guild. Thought provoking post, and might be useful for guilds in similar positions.
  • The state Of Play; Resto Shaman 4.0.6 Preview Edition – The definitive article on how resto shamans are performing right now and how they’re likely to do in the near future. Vixsin opens up with a detailed look at resto shaman performance in all major group content – heroics, normal raids and heroic raids – and accompanies the review with some strong opinions on healing in general. She goes on to examine the incoming big changes to mana tide and what questions still remain unanswered as the patch looms.
  • Healer Evaluations – Kurn’s recently appraised her healing team and has ended up sharing the process with us. But she didn’t pick one of her healing team to be her example: she’s evaluated her own performance to give us an idea of how she handles healer performance evaluations. Her take on herself goes through various categories from attendence to being awesome and gives scores out of 5, along with brief commentary. At the end she tots the scores up and gives a summary of how she thinks things are going for the healer (e.g. herself, here) and what they should improve. Interesting reference for raid and healing leads.
  • Patch 4.0.6 PTR Resto Druid PvP Thoughts – not often we see articles on PvP healing, right? Bit of a change, then. Oom over at Oombulance has taken the patch notes and gone through them all with an eye how to how they’ll affect resto druid PvP play. He takes us through anything related, giving brief thoughts on how and why it’ll affect druid healers in PvP compared to how it is pre-patch.
  • Spirit/Intellect Relationship, evaluating gear choice – Jar’s breaking out the math and equations to work out gear/stat priorities for resto druids. If maths isn’t your thing, don’t worry – it’s still possible to get some useful information if the maths goes right over your head, as it did me. To tie it all up at the end Jar takes his findings and uses two trinkets as an example comparison to get you started.
  • And a quick shout out to Windsoar over at Jaded Alt, who’s been busy posting up great guides for some of the normal mode raid bosses this week. And she shows no sign of slowing down. Find them over on her homepage, and if what you’re looking for isn’t there yet – give a quick poke. I’m sure she’s either got it in the pipeline or can point you in the right direction.

That’s it for this week – was there something there for you, or are you looking for a topic the blogosphere didn’t cover?

Raid Leading 101: 10 vs 25

Probably as old as when Burning Crusade launched is the discussion of 10man vs 25man. The jump from 40man to 25man jolted a lot of raiders and caused the collapse of several teams. Raid teams started out in 10-man Karazhan, which geared them to enter the 25-mans until the end of the expansion (Gruul’s Lair, Magtheridon’s Lair, Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, Black Temple, Sunwell Plateau), with a 10man Zul’Aman thrown in for flavor.

From what I saw, there was a stigma that 10mans were inferior to 25man. 25man Raid Leaders were thought of as more commanding and needed more control over their team, whereas 10man Raid Leaders didn’t have as much responsibility. The only way to get any decent gear in Burning Crusade was to run 25man raids. Legendaries were obtained only in the greater of the two. The end result was people preferring 25mans over 10mans, even lasting into Wrath of the Lich King. Anyone else remember needing to get into 25-man Trial of the Crusader to get a decent trinket at the time?

However, with Cataclysm, the tables have shifted toward more balance. With the changes that Blizzard implemented, there is less pressure on needing to raid a certain size. Let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s (as I’ve seen it).

25-man

  • More likely to have every raid buff due to a larger raid.
  • Raiders of the same class can feel more free to tweak their specs.
  • More forgiving to players that may be a little “sub-par”.
  • Battles have a more “epic” feel with a bigger raid.
  • More players = wealth of opinions in strategizing fights.
  • Three in-combat resurrections allowed per fight.
  • Raid competition may not be as crucial (melee vs ranged).
  • ————————————
  • Maintaining control over a bigger group.
  • More standby’s may be needed.
  • More people may equal conflicting egos/personalities.
  • Possible to run into scheduling difficulties.
  • Harder to start up from scratch.
  • Easier for people to slightly slack at times.
  • More officers may be needed.

10-man

  • Usually tighter-knit group.
  • Easier to start up from scratch.
  • More responsibility on each player.
  • Possible to have one of each class (very little gear competition).
  • Fewer standby’s may be needed.
  • Fewer officers or leaders needed.
  • ——————————–
  • Less input for fight strategies.
  • With fewer people, the fights may feel “less epic”.
  • More responsibility on each player.
  • Less room for error.
  • One in-combat resurrection available per fight.
  • Possible to miss certain raid buffs because of limited raiders.
  • Less room for error because of fewer players.
  • Raid composition may matter more (melee vs ranged).

The Choice is Yours

When you’re deciding on which side to go with, keep all of these things in mind. Some of the pro’s and con’s are the same. “More responsibility for each player” may be a good thing for your team or it may not be. You and your team are going to weigh these points differently, and that’s perfectly fine. It all goes back to what you want out of your team. Maybe you want the “epic feel” of 25man and don’t mind dealing with more people/schedules. Perhaps you like less gear competition but don’t mind putting more responsibility on each individual raider.

Remember, the same ilevel gear drops off of 10man vs 25man, so that’s no longer a factor. More gear drops on 25-man than on 10-man to even the scale. Also, Blizzard is still working on balancing the difficulty of the raid sizes, so one doesn’t feel noticeably harder than the other. Personally, I feel this is hard to achieve, but I’m fine with them getting it as close as they can.

As for me, we’ve decided on 10-man since the beginning. I don’t want to put in the extra effort needed to wrangle 24 other players, and we like the greater responsibility placed on each raider. We may not have that “epic” feel because we prefer a more intimate raiding environment. It’s not that I don’t enjoy 25man raiding, but I prefer 10man.

What about you and your team? Have you already made a decision? Are you split? What other pro’s and con’s can you add to the above list?

 

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?

Raid Leading 101: What’s your motivation?

Welcome to Raid Leading 101! I’m Thespius, and I’ll be writing weekly about the in’s and out’s of what we see (or what you can expect to see) stepping into this coveted leadership role. I plan on covering a variety of individual topics: Tips, Lessons, Conflict, Loot Systems, Recruitment Systems, Scheduling, Add-ons, and whatever you feel needs to be covered. I am a new Raid Leader myself, so I look at this entire experience as a discovery. I’m certainly not perfect, but then again, no one really is.  If you have a topic you’d like covered on “Raid Leading 101″, email it to elder.thespius@gmail.com.

On your mark, get set, GO!

I don’t believe any of us woke up one morning thinking, “Wow, I think I’m gonna be in charge of 9/24+ people!” For the most part, our desire to lead has come from experience. You may have started raiding for the first time, and saw the command that the raid leader had. He/She knew the encounters inside and out and what everyone’s job needed to be. People listened to that “General” and obeyed orders.

OR, you had a horrible Raid Leader. Maybe you felt he/she didn’t have a good hold on the situation, using out-dated or unrealistic strategies. You just felt that the job wasn’t being done correctly, and you started to see all the things NOT to do. Therefore, you take it upon yourself to be a better and wiser Raid Leader.

In either scenario, you most likely learned from what you saw. Something in your past experience guided you to this position. You’re taking the lessons you learned and the stories you lived through, and you’re putting it towards your own system. You have a great trust in what you think is helpful and what is not. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Why?”

Meaning of Life My Leadership

I got my raiding feet wet in Karazhan, and I wanted more. My original guild <Sword Through the Horde> didn’t have the roster to do Serpentshrine Cavern or beyond. I joined <Rise of the Phoenix>. Drama on a low-population server tore it apart. I joined up with the newly-minted <Team Sport>, but the raiding was just too casual. I got cozy with <Concedo Nulli>, but drama crumbled that fun to the ground. I aligned myself with Lodur’s <Unpossible> and found a great home, but it was missing something.

I was missing the friends that I “grew up with” in the game. You’ll probably hear about them throughout this “column”. They’re near and dear to me, which is why I decided to go back to <Team Sport>. However, I knew (as they did) that we needed to implement a more solid structure. They all loved hearing the stories of our boss downings in <Unpossible>, and I would even invite my friend Jayme over to watch our Lich King kills. They were slightly jealous and wanted similar. It was at this point I started to tip-toe into the leadership position.

I’ve discovered that the most important thing to me is to progress through raid content with my friends that share the same mindset. There are 6-7 of us that share the similar belief of a light schedule but with solid progression. Hence, I’ve tasked myself with creating a Raid Team based around that. My closest in-game friends and I taking on 10-mans with force.

Your turn, Grasshopper

So you have to take an inward glance. If you’ve ever thought about taking the “Reins of the Raid”, you have to ask yourself, “Why?” It’s not an easy job, so you need to be passionate. Know what it is you want to accomplish, and stay true to what got you here in the first place. Maybe it’s friendship, maybe it’s hunger, maybe it’s adrenaline. Whatever it is, take some time to identify it. It’s going to be the backbone of your leadership.

What drives you to be the Raid Leader? What is it that convinced you to take on the role?

Are run speed enchants still necessary?

Are run speed enchants still necessary?

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

Do runspeed enhancements matter in raids?

  • Yes (61%, 207 Votes)
  • Murloc (26%, 87 Votes)
  • No (14%, 47 Votes)

Total Voters: 341

Loading ... Loading ...

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

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

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

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

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

Raid Leading Backbone

**Image from “Patton” courtesy of 20th Century Fox Films**

I have a fault. Well, I have lots, but the one I’m going to talk about is my propensity to be “too nice”. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated confrontation. I wanted everyone to be happy. People in Team Sport (my guild) have called me “The Politician” (without all of the negative stigma from current American politics). I try to make sure everyone is listened to and catered to as much as possible.

However, with regard to leading Team Sport’s Raid Team, I’ve hit the biggest snag. I can’t be “The Politician”. I have to be a leader. Previous incarnations of Team Sport raiding were very casual. If people happened to be online that night, we raided. If not, no big deal. As time went on, I noticed a few of us were very passionate about getting a raid going, while others were very lackluster about the whole ordeal. I always tried to get us raiding while not being inconsiderate to those that weren’t interested that particular night. Everytime we came close to getting something solid going, it would fall apart. Someone would have a real life issue (totally understandable) or just randomly disappear on a WoW break. Each time it would fall apart, I would most likely take my raiding desires elsewhere but found myself always back in Team Sport once it looked like raiding was possible again.

With about 2 months left to the expansion, I worked with a buddy of mine to throw some much-needed structure into the system. It started out great. We did a merge with another small guild that had the same issues, and we killed 10-man Arthas within one month. This proved to me that our team has what it takes to be a good progression crew. We just need some structure and drive.

The Present

We’ve had a good amount of guildies return to the game from “retirement”. A lot of them seem incredibly excited to raid the current content. However, when I mention this new structure (scheduling, accountability, responsibility), a few have balked at it. The main goal of the team is to actually progress through content while it’s still current, not eventually bash through it when it’s old news and nerfed to the ground. To do that, I’ve been working diligently to implement some guidelines:

  • Consistency – I justly understand and sympathize with real-life issues. Sometimes I have to work late, or I have something important that needs to be taken care of on a raid night. However, the core of us have done what we can to work our schedules around being able to raid together. We raid 3 hours each night, 2 nights each week. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for core raiders to be consistently available (within reason…don’t miss the birth of your child or risk getting fired).
  • Responsibility – A cardinal rule of raiding is being prepared. Make sure your gear is enchanted and you have flask and food available. Take the time to look up the fights. Don’t take unannounced AFK breaks or breaks that are longer than what the Raid Leader has set forth. Pay attention and look for ways that you can contribute.

If a Team Sport raider can’t consistently be available, or just lacks responsibility and preparedness, they’ll be placed in a standby slot (at best) or just not on the team (at worst). I’ve made it clear that we’ll do more casual raiding nights any other evening of the week (akin to the “if we have people on, we raid” mentality), but the Raid Team core wants Tues/Thurs night to be focused and dedicated.

The Challenge

There are some that have thought that it is too much to ask. I’ve been told that I’m making raiding “feel too much like a job” and that I’m “taking the fun out of it”. Frankly, I expected this out of some. These are people that have always enjoyed the “casual” mentality of our old raid style. I don’t blame them. It was fun when we all had the time and were just kind of strolling around Azeroth, hittin’ up a raid when we could. However, many of us don’t have that kind of time or mentality any longer. That is the precise reason these changes were made.

I’ve been recruiting to fill those spots that were once occupied by the more casual players or ones with unpredictable schedules. It does pain me to be looking for other people instead of the long-standing Team Sport members that I’ve been playing with for 3+ years, but it’s just not fun for the Raid Team core to log on, and find out we’re not raiding because of people that we can’t rely on.

So the challenge I face: How do I institute this structure and work toward the raid’s success, while still maintaining in-game friendships with those that simply don’t want to be a part of a Raid Team like that?

Matticus already told me: “Don’t be friends with your raiders.” I get that. It makes sense. It’s why there are corporate rules of management not fraternizing with employees. It muddies the water. However, I feel it’s possible that I can be strict and firm with regard to the raid, and then just be myself whenever it’s not about the raid. The trick is to let them all know that’s what’s going on.

I need to continue to be firm on what the goal of the raid team is, and how we plan on achieving that. I also need to be diligent about communicating what’s going on with the raid and its raiders. If I make sure everyone’s aware of what’s expected, then they can’t legitimately get angry when something is not up to snuff.  I have to hold the raid accountable, as well as hold myself accountable.

Have you ever dealt with being a Raid Leader of your friends? What tricks have you used to keep things moving forward without sacrificing friendship?

On that note, Team Sport is looking for a melee DPS or two for core slots. Other roles are full. However, if you’re interested in being a part of the team in a standby role, those applicants are always welcome. Outside of raiding, we’re very active in PvP and regular casual gameplay. We’re an Alliance guild on the Ner’zhul server (PvP-PST). Further info and an application @ http://teamsport.guildlaunch.com.

How to Smite Heal Your Way through Heroics and Raids

I’ve written about the Archangelism spec and style before, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t make it work at all on live. I thought it might’ve been a personal “learn to play” issue on my end and it turned out that’s what it was. Conversing with Priests who prefer the style of Archangel and Evangelism, I ultimately learned that I was doing it wrong.

A Fresh Slate

First thing’s first. Wipe out everything you know about Discipline healing. Approach it with the eye of a new healer because I would refer to this as the 6th healing spec in the game.

Setting up

The spec

33/8/0 is a spec I’m currently experimenting with with heroics and raids.

Essential glyphs

Select whichever Prime glyphs you like as it’s more personal style than anything else. I personally shoot for:

The Major glyph you must have:

The style of play

Atonement is the key talent here. Damage dealt with Smite heals the closest, weakest target which is usually the tank. Think of Smite as the spell used in place of Heal. Use it to help soften the blows your tank will take. When they get to a certain health level, switch back to Penance or healing spells and get the tank back up to the green.

So when do I trigger Archangel?

Do not look at Archangel as a mana return talent. Look at it as a healing buff talent. When you use Archangel, your healing spells get buffed. The tradeoff is that Smite does not get that extra damage boost therefore you must rely on actual healing spells during the period the period that Archangel is used. You must keep an eye on the buff timer though.

For me, everything clicked when I looked at it as a form of stance dancing: Smite healing during slow and steady periods and then activating Archangel to begin casting standard healing spells (Prayer of Healing, Shields and Penance) during intense moments.

When Evangelism is able to be stacked up again, resume the Smite fest.

Numbers wise, Smite will heal anywhere from 9.5k to me to top end critical heals of 15k+ with a mix of dungeon blues and heroic dungeon blues.

Problems

In a raid environment, you don’t have precise control over who gets the heal. I’ve had the Heal off of Smite hit a Bloodworm or a hunter pet instead of the tank (or worse, Ret Paladins). Quick reactions were needed to level off the tank with a Power Word: Shield or something. It’s because of this variability that I wouldn’t use this for raid healing unless there was a gimmick about the encounter.

An example of this is the Halfus encounter. The more drakes and whelps you take down, the more damage your Smite does which leads to stronger heals.

Another issue I ran into is that I’d let my Evangelism stacks fall off. Either I was moving around or the group started to take damage. At the first sign of not being able to refresh Evangelism, activate Archangel so you don’t incur the mana loss.

It’s certainly a fun spec to play and offers a fresh change to the normal healing grind that Priests have had. It takes a bit of getting used to.

Just don’t forget that you have other healing spells in the event things start going sour, so please use them.

Keeping Up With The Paragons

One of my major character flaws is that I am a relentless overachiever. I don’t know how to be bad at something. When I find myself in situations that involve concepts that I’m not grasping or that I don’t understand, I get very frustrated and I start to lash out. At the same time, I also don’t know how to stop and enjoy any achievements that I have earned for myself, because I’m always chasing the next big thing.

It’s really tempting to buy into this behavior, in a game like WoW. All around you are examples of people who are possibly doing better than you. Realm forums have progression threads, Twitter is abuzz with bloggers and other players boasting about their achievements and discussing strategies, the Dungeon Finder has a minimum iLevel to participate in certain activities. All of those things can conspire to bring out a nasty voice in your head that screams “You’re not good enough!”

I remember during the heyday of Icecrown Citadel , I took a three month break from the game. I was severely burnt out. I wasn’t sure I wanted to heal anymore. Hell, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to play the game, period. I went into hiding with a friend’s guild and decided to try the more casual side of things for once. It didn’t take long for people from previous guilds to find me and for them to try and engage me in conversation to find out what I had been up to all this time.

Ex-guildie: “Well, well. Oestrus. What marvelous things have you been up to lately?”
Me: “Oh you know… I’ve been leveling a shaman alt that I really enjoy and my guild is raiding. They raid three days a week and it’s fun.”
EG: “Fascinating! How far into Icecrown Citadel are you?”
Me: “We’re on Sindragosa, actually. It’s going really well!”
EG: “Well, well. Heroic Sindragosa! It’s good to see you’re keeping up with the rest of us!”
Me: “Erm, no. Regular Sindragosa. Just… regular.”
EG: “Oh dear. You haven’t even gotten a Lich King kill yet?”
Me: “I did on 10 man! See?!”
EG: “Heh, nobody counts 10 mans as progression and I’ll bet you haven’t even completed your Val’anyr yet.
Me: “But we’re doing hard modes on 10 man and I have 23 fragments and I’m pugging Ulduar for the rest and…”
EG: “Pugging Ulduar? Tsk tsk. How the mighty have fallen!”

I didn’t know what to say to that. I went from being a top tier raider in some serious minded guilds to wiping week after week on Sindragosa, followed by the Lich King, when other guilds were six months ahead of that (at least) in terms of becoming Kingslayers and pugging Ulduar in my spare time. Nothing I could say in my defense seemed to hold a candle to not only the criticism I was facing from others, but the criticism I was directing at myself. Needless to say, that nasty little voice in my head was having a field day.

“They’re really great people!” “That’s nice, they can’t even kill the Lich King.”
“I have a lot of fun here!” “Failing is never fun.”
“I have responsibilities and I manage stuff.” “It’s not your job to do that.”
“They’ll get it eventually.” “They will never get it.”

I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that there were people in guilds I used to be in, that I may or may not have ended on good terms with, that I knew I was as good as or better than that were seeing more content than I was. That infuriated me. I should be there. That should be me. I deserve those things! Why don’t I have that?!

So, I left that guild and joined a guild on another server that I ended up seeing a lot of progression with, very quickly and then I found myself in the opposite situation. My inner monologue now went a little something like this:

“Look at this great gear I have!” “You were fine without that gear.”
“I finally have my Val’anyr!” “Yeah, but now the other healers hate you for it.”
“We’re #5 on the server!” “For how long?”
“They really like me!” “These people are not your friends.”

In my never ending quest to be the best and show up my rivals and frenemies that I had made through the years, I blinded myself to what I really wanted in this game. I wasn’t even sure I knew what I wanted. I gave up the opportunity to run with really great people, who liked me for me (and I can be a handful), where I had some small amount of power, responsibility and clout and I threw it all away for a few more epics, a handful of extra boss kills, some credibility and a bump to my image. Was it really worth it?

I have learned a lot in my travels and before joining my current guild, I had a revelation of sorts. I want it all. I want to be in a guild where I can be myself and be around like-minded people, who want to raid and see content, but not at the cost of being something we’re not or being less than human beings. I don’t want to be at the pinnacle of progression, but I don’t want to be scraping the barrel in terms of that, either. I want to be relied upon and trusted and given some amount of responsibility, to share my opinions and thoughts on how I think things should be run or could be improved upon. I want to be part of a guild with strong leadership that I can rely on and that I can put my faith into and that I know has the best interests of myself and the guild in mind. I don’t feel that’s asking for too much.

I really feel like after all this time that I may have found the right guild for me. Of course, I’m probably jinxing it by saying that and I will have a seriously hearty laugh if things fall apart four months from now and I’m guildless and using this blog as a way to find a new home. But it feels right for now. It’s mighty tempting to go on to the websites of other guilds and see what they’re doing. I still seethe a little bit when I see what others have that I don’t. I still have to resist the urge to feel bad about myself and to secretly see if they’re looking for holy priests anytime soon. The temptations and frustrations are still there, but I’m working on quelling those and appreciating what I have. We start officially raiding in 25 mans next week and to say I’m hungry for it is an understatement.

I want it. I want it so bad that it hurts. I want to kick ass and have a slew of stories to tell. I want to share advice about my experiences and what I have learned. It will happen in time. I know it will. For the first time in a long time I am happy with what I have.

You should be, too.  And if you’re not maybe it’s time for you to also re-examine what it is you want out of your guild and try to find out if it’s there.  If that doesn’t work, it may be time to move on.

2010: Best of World of Matticus

Every year, we take a moment to look back at the blog and pick out the top World of Matticus posts which generated buzz and discussion. It was a tradition on the blog when I first started writing and I have every intention of continuing it! Some of the more popular posts came from guest posters (to which I am grateful for).

This was another smashing year for the blog as we celebrated our third year of existence. Additional team members were invited aboard to contribute their own insights and perspectives. Even though we may not all share the same opinion, we do share a desire to help others when it comes to healing, raiding and leading.

So who got the nod this year?

Tanks and Healers Should Get the Biggest Rewards

Gordon from We Fly Spitfires launched 2010 with a heavily opinionated piece by stating tanks and healers should get front loaded with gear. Why? Largely because of the perception that those two roles have immense responsibilities. I will say that in today’s Cataclysm game, having gear for tanks or healers is like having more money: You can never have too much of it. The developers have done a much better job when it comes to consolidating gear overall in this expansion.

It Came From the P.U.G.: GearScore Edition

I’ve come to appreciate Lodur’s regular encounters with random dungeon groups. This one stood out because it was around this time that the GearScore addon really took off and players were being graded on their gear more than their skill. One glance at a number is the difference between players trying or not giving you the time of day.

Heroic Entitlement?

Not to be outdone in pickup group adventures, Thespius came around with his own stories. In his case, he had to deal with tanks who felt that just because they were tanks, they were entitled to things however they wanted. No 30 minute Paladin blessings? Fine, hearthing out. Not passing on the bouquet of roses during the Love is in the Air event? See ya! Of course, this isn’t a situation that’s linked exclusively to tanks either. Had a healer once who threatened to drop group and leave if he didn’t one of those holiday hats during the winter event (I was Shadow). I switched specs immediately and toggled on my healing gear and we just 4 manned the rest of the instance while he just sat there. That kid was an embarrassment to healers everywhere.

Why Did You Choose Your Healing Class?

The ever inquisitive Professor Beej posed this question to the readers asking what made select healing classes so appealing to certain players. I chose a Dwarf Priest largely because it was in demand at the time (and I’m so happy I stuck with it because of Archaeology). In any event, I do recall Beej messing around with his Resto Shaman at some point. Now it seems as if he’s migrated to his Priest. We can probably come to the conclusion that Beej is experiencing a mild case of healitus (Or too many healer classes).

Advice on Blogging Safely Without Fear of a Gkick

Blogging can be a dangerous activity. There is a strong chance it might warrant a removal from the guild. As one of the few individuals who’ve blogged as a member of a guild, as an officer of a guild and now leader of a guild, there’s a few things you might want to keep in mind before you go ranting about some Ret Paladin who is making your life miserable by constantly casting Divine Intervention on you every chance they get (Inside joke). The trick is to have some tact when writing. Text can almost always get misconstrued.

10 Reasons People Don’t Heal

You know, healing is an aspect of the game that isn’t liked by a number of players. And it’s completely understandable because there is a ton of stuff going on which just isn’t appealing. Wonder why your heroic queues are taking so long? Well, for one, there isn’t enough tanks. And two, healing is a thankless job. Of course, there’s more to it than that.

Related ID on Blizzard Forums: the Good and the Bad

This past year was not without its consequences either. Lodur voiced his frustrations and opinion. Real ID being enabled on their forums caused a big stir and uproar. It was enough to cause Blizzard to revisit and revise their policies. It demonstrated their willingness to at least listen to their player base. I think Bashiok got a pizza out of it in the end.

Shadowmourne: What do you do with Vanity?

I posted this question to readers when we finished our first Shadowmourne. Turning in the quest came with a variety of vanity items that had their own coolness factor but ultimately did not enhance anything performance-wise for the guild. There were compelling reasons for both selling it on the open market versus handing it out to the guild. After much internal debate, I gave a sell order (and a few items went to guildies at a reduced price). I have no regrets as the money gained helped boostrap Conquest into Cataclysm.

Reserved Loot in Pickup Raids

Poor Thespius and his PuG luck. He ran into the wall that is “Loot Reserved”. The one item he wanted to go after was just off limits to him. Loot reservation isn’t a new concept. It’s been around in previous expansions and is a way of securing a reward for the time and effort by the leaders of the raid. For the guy on the other side of the coin, it isn’t fun at all.

See you all in 2011!