Hybrid it up on General Vezax

Hybrid it up on General Vezax

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This is a guest post by Paladin blogger Honorshammer of Honor’s Code.

General Vezax is the the last boss you must down before you cross swords with Yogg-Saron himself.

The General is one of most challenging fights in all of Ulduar due to his Aura of Despair. What is it that this lovely gift from the Developers does?

From WoWWiki (http://www.wowwiki.com/General_Vezax) we find:

Aura of Despair – Prevents mana regeneration throughout the fight by all means, except for Judgments of the Wise, Spiritual Attunement, Aspect of the Viper, Thrill of the Hunt, and Shamanistic Rage. Note that unlike the Play Test Realm version of this encounter Mana Potions and active abilities such as Evocation and Life Tap will not function.

My guild recently downed General Vezax. I was Retribution for the fight, but when one of our healers went down; I jumped in and started throwing some heals on the tank. That’s when I discovered the power of Judgments of the Wise for this fight. By Judging and stopcasting I was able to take over the 3rd healer role and concentrate on helping to keep our Main Tank alive, and do it on a Ret Paladin’s mana pool.

What exactly does Judgement of the Wise do?

Judgements of the Wise Rank 3 – Your Judgement spells have a 100% chance to grant the Replenishment effect to up to 10 party or raid members mana regeneration equal to 0.25% of their maximum mana per second for 15 sec, and to immediately grant you 25% of your base mana. (Source)

The replenishment aspect is useless. After reviewing the WoW Web Stats, I can see that I never gained Replenishment. However I did gain over 100,000 mana from Judgments of the wise! Because it works off base mana, it would restore the same amount regardless of the current mana pool of the Paladin.

We know that for a Level 80 Paladin, Holy Light cost 1,274 mana. So with a little napkin math, we can conclude that I regenerated enough mana from Judgments of the Wise to cast over 70 Holy Lights. That’s without the use of any Saronite Vapors at all.

How practical would it be it for a Holy Paladin to get Judgement of the Wise? Let’s look at a talents build that allows a Holy Paladin to get Judgement of the Wise, and the tradeoffs it makes to get there.

The most popular Holy Paladin build according to TalentChic is 51/5/15. Let’s look at what is needed to turn that into our hybrid build.

First off, the 5 points in Divinity have to go. Divinity is a really strong Tier 1 talent, but we simply won’t have room for it in our build. It doesn’t matter how hard the heal hits if you don’t have the mana to cast it.

Those 5 points move into Sanctity of Battle and Pursuit of Justice. Sanctity gives you even more crit for your Holy spells which should offset some of the loss of Divinity. There is a ton of movement on General Vezax so Pursuit of Justice is really nice as you move away from a Shadow Crash or into a Saronite Vapor.

Then we take the points out of Beacon of Light. This is one tank fight. Let the other healers handle the Raid; you can stay on the Tank so Beacon is a minor loss. You are going to lose the Haste from Judgments of the Pure and Infusion of Light. You will also have to heal from melee range because you won’t have the range increase from Enlightened Judgments. We had our Resto Druid healing from near melee range, so we could just have just as easily had a Holy Paladin there.

You won’t have the mana reduction from Divine Illumination. Based on General Vexax’s enrage timer, you would only be able to fire Divine Illumination more than 3 times during the fight. Are those 45 seconds of reduced cost worth the mana you can get back from Judgments of the Wise?

Assuming a little haste from gear, we’ll call Holy Light a 2 second cast. In those 45 seconds, we can get off 22.5 Holy Lights. To give every advantage to Divine Illumination, we’ll call it 23.

Holy Light costs 1271 so half it’s cost is 635. So we’ve saved 635 mana times 23 casts or about 15,000 mana. It’s about 10% of what Judgments of the Wise gives you. So Divine Illumination is gone as well. Bu-bye!

Our final move is to take 2 points out of Holy Guildance which will result in about a 4% loss of spell power from Intellect. The rest of the Holy Paladin build is pretty much intact.

With these points freed up, we continue to ascend the Ret Tree. The next point taken in Ret is Sanctified Retribution. This will increase all damage done by everyone near us, even if we are running Concentration Aura.

We want to pick up Improved Judgments so we can judge as often as possible, and trigger Judgments of the Wise as often as possible. Now we need two ‘filler’ points to move into the next Tier. There aren’t any great places to put them. I chose to put them in Crusade to increase the damage of Judgment by 3%. This build relies on judging often, so you might as well have them hit a little harder.

On the next tier, we grab Divine Purpose. The 4% spell miss will act as increased resistance to Shadow Crash and Searing Flames should one get through your interrupters.

Here again we find ourselves two points short of the next tier and not really any good place to spend them. I opted for Vengeance. Maybe you could get a stack going and hit those Judgments a little harder. It’s a filler choice so anywhere you want to throw two points will probably work.

Finally, we open Judgments of the Wise.

Here’s the final 38/0/33 build in the WoWhead tool.

General Vezax is a challenging fight. Specing for a specific fight is something that used to be fairly common in late Tier 6 and Sunwell. We didn’t need it for Tier 7 raids, but as we near the end of Tier 8, it may be something to consider again.

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Paladin Healing in 10 man Ulduar

This is a guest post by Adgamorix, who’s launched his own blog: Divine Plea.

So last week I wrote a post talking about Paladin healing in Heroic Ulduar, and voicing my opinion that I thought Paladin healing was spot on. I was open about my lack of 10 man Ulduar experience, and was told to come back when I’d experienced that pain – with the expectation that my opinion would change.

Taking that to heart, the next day I rounded up nine of my fellow guild mates and began my assault. This week has been an absolute blood-bath of raiding, seeing me log six days of straight raiding (no less than three hours a day) when I normally log two or three. Why did I throw my schedule to the side and perform this atrocious attack on my sanity you ask? Simple. I thought maybe I was missing something.

So 9 hours of 10 man raiding later and we’re staring at General Vezax and laughing at how the trash was essentially mini-bosses. We’re now one boss away from Yarg himself, and of course a whole slew of bosses on hard mode to go. I believe that I’ve tasted the cool-aid, and I have a response for those who still say Paladin healing is broken.

What’s the fuss?

Yeah, it’s not a real adult reaction, but it fits in my opinion. Our raid makeup was fairly balanced, with a Resto shaman, and the Holy/Disc priest from my 25 man group. We used a Druid/DK tanking combo, two rogues (our hunter is suffering from severe wife agro), ret paladin, a shadow priest, and a balance druid. Yes, we could have had a better raid makeup for buff purposes, but this group is a solid core of players and we did our 10 man Naxx together.

We had our share of wipes and pain (Mimiron alone took 2 or 3 hours), but the overall experience was enjoyable. We learned new bosses, we got to hear the “I thought the button started the encounter!” cry from a curious rogue, and we learned some things to help with our 25 man raid. I learned that more than ever, I have to trust my fellow healers, and trust my raid mates to know when to use cool-downs and consumables. I felt the agony of no mana return with Illumination on Vezax, and I may have actually shed a tear the first time I tried casting a Holy Light while under the effects of Thorim’s Defaning Thunder (75% increased cast time). Overall though I felt like the raid was tuned beautifully, and it was a lot of fun actually being challenged.

So what’s different between me and those that think we’re broken?

I will concede that our group is the x factor in this equation. Are the healing problems coming from Paladins in unbalanced groups? Are they trying to two heal, or heal content beyond their gear/experience level? Maybe it’s the synergy between the healers, in that we know the role we play, and can accurately predict the actions of our fellow healers. For example, I know that on Mimiron while I’m healing the MT through the Plasma Blast, if someone gets Napalm Shelled I can toss them a quick Holy Shock to absorb the base damage while the tree HoTs them up and the Disc priest keeps the MT alive. We don’t have to talk about it, it just happens. Would it be awesome if I could still throw a Sacred Shield on them to help with the damage absorption? Of course it would, but we seem to be making it through ok as it is.

Canceling out the X factor

So after healing a lot of 10 man (and more 25 man), I decided to take the x factor out of the equation. I couldn’t down rank my gear (short of taking a piece off) to simulate healing in blues , but I could put myself in the LFG channel and heal any PUG that came along. I tossed aside any gear/instance standards I had, and went willy-nilly into the groups. After getting through Gun’Drak, VH, UK, and UP – I decided Paladin healing still isn’t broken. Yes it’s slightly tougher, the lack of multiple SS and Glyph crits huts some, but it’s still doable (and fun).

I’m going to stick by original statement that Holy Paladins are in great shape right now, and while we could use another tool in our kit, or maybe some kind of decent raid heal, we’re still really strong.

Paladin Healing in Heroic Ulduar

This is a guest post by Adgamorix with some tips for Holy Paladins working their way through Ulduar.

3.1 and Ulduar are upon us, and the tears of Healadins fill the forums, feeding Yarg-Saron and keeping XT’s joints lubed. Bloggers and forum goers alike lament the death of Flash of Light as a useful heal, and wonder if the new Infusion is even worth it. 10% extra crit on a Holy Light? I want my haste back! I need to raid heal!

Can you taste the tears?

My question is what is the real issue? Granted, my guild hasn’t cleared Ulduar yet, but we did get six bosses down in the first week (no hard modes), and I haven’t seen the problem. As we’re a 25 man raid guild, we typically run with seven healers: two Paladins, Disc priest (dual spec’d for Holy which some Priests just aren’t good enough to do *wink*), Holy Priest, two trees, and a Resto Shaman. Our tanks are a mix of all the tank classes, and we run a fairly balanced mix of melee vs. ranged (though we do have a lot of hunters – fortunately no huntards).

Given a balanced raid makeup, I’m very happy with where paladin healing is right now. On any boss fight that we’ve done so far, I’m confident in putting my paladin partner and I on the tank and letting the other healers take care of the raid, off tanks, etc. Between Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield, we can run a steady rotation on the tanks, and it hasn’t failed us yet. Granted, I haven’t seen the fights in 10 man yet, but I’m confident that it’ll be ok.

Note that I’ve said ‘balanced raid makeup’ a couple of times here. Even though we’ve been told to “bring the player and not the class”, I don’t think anyone would reasonably expect to waltz through Ulduar with nothing but a pocket-full of rogues and no ranged DPS… at least not for a while anyway. Having a mix of buffs and abilities is part of what makes raiding so much fun. It’d be boring if any 25 people (regardless of class/spec) could walk in and down the content during the first week.

I think the problems being experienced by some paladins can be explained with the same explanation we had when our MT pulled XT with his face the first time, leaving all his healers 40 yards behind him.

“You’re doing it wrong!”

Ulduar isn’t Naxx, and I’m glad. The trash is harder than most Naxx bosses, and “gasp” we have to use crowd control again. XT’s trash brought back nightmares of old Kael’Thas trash (with a mix of Void Reaver), and it takes some getting used to. Healers can’t snipe any more, and target assignments are crucial. Trusting your raid mates to do their assigned task, and focusing on yours, keeps the raid alive. I generally can’t spare the GCD to hit someone else, and I count on the raid healers to cover me when I’m not beaconed. Sure, I’m lower on the meters than I used to be, but our strategy works and bosses die.

I won’t disagree that it would be nice to have another tool in my box, but I love the healing aspect of my paladin so much that my Resto Shaman has been collecting dust for two months. I like the challenge of healing without a designated ‘raid heal’, and learning new ways to cope with the incoming damage.

Here’s how we’ve pulled off each boss so far

Healing rotation: This healing rotation is similar to what we use for every boss we two heal. My partner will spam HL while I run FoL/HS rotations. I generally keep my SS up on the tank, and we beacon an OT if they are close, our we just beacon ourselves. After about one minute of this, we switch roles, and she hits DP to start her regen (I usually hit Illumination right at the start – I also pop my haste gloves). This continues for one minute, and then we switch again (this time I Plea). With this rotation the MT is getting around 30k in healing every 2 – 2.5 sec (lag depending), and there is always a heal landing.

Flame Leviathan: All I can say is, flying through the air with a boom-chicken by your side is worth it. I beacon the boom-chicken and unleash my holy DPS on the turrets. Instant FoLs on myself are enough to keep us both alive without any stress (hard mode may be different).

Ignis: Pallies beacon themselves and do nothing but roll heals on the MT. We have our Disc priest on the OTs, with the druids dropping HOTs on them as they race by with the constructs. Raid healing is covered with the shaman and holy priest, and the druids kicking in after a flame jet.

Razorscale: This fight is a lot less coordinated. Generally I sit on our DK who picks up the whirlwinders and also stays closest to Razor so he gets her fire patches. I beacon myself, and just roll FoL on him until the fight ends. I’ll also run in and hit the boss a few times while she’s harpooned, that way I have a full mana bar at the start of phase 3 (phase 2 if you don’t count the chained phase) so I can just bomb the tanks with HL.

XT-002 Deconstructor: We handle this fight just like Ignis. Prot pallies on the tank, Disc Priest on the add tank, and the rest of the healers on the raid. The only change up is during the earthquake/pound one of us will switch off the MT and drop HL bombs on the melee to help with the damage.

Kologarn: See previous strategies. I usually beacon the add tank on this one, since he’s close enough to always receive my heals. Only one of the tanks holding Kologarn should be taking a significant amount of damage, so we focus on them individually. A Resto shaman is also amazing for the folks caught in the grip.

Assembly of Iron: This one we switch up just a touch. We’ve only downed this once, and that was in the ‘easy’ mode. Here we flip the disc priest and a holy paladin, beaconing the off tanks and healing through the damage. A shaman is an ideal healer for the tank on Stormcaller, as they can interrupt the chain lightning and the lightning whirl.

Get Rich or Heal Trying: How to Make Money via Dailies

Get Rich or Heal Trying: How to Make Money via Dailies

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This is a guest post by Sientina discussing earning gold in WoW as a healer.

I’m Sientina, and I heal things to death. You see that warrior over there? He’s been trying to kill me for the last 4 minutes and I’m healing away all his damage, waiting for help to arrive.  Sure, I could probably kill him… eventually, but I rolled a healing class for a reason. I don’t kill things. I don’t grind elementals for eternals. The thing is, raiding takes its toll. I have reagents to buy, armor to repair, and hair to cut when my old style isn’t working for me anymore. What’s a girl to do when she has money issues and no sugar daddy?

I could just heal the daily heroic for cash but if I don’t want to commit to a full heroic run, I can do a few dailies instead and still have the gold for the raid tonight. Besides, have you seen those dungeons? They need to fire their cleaning staff. I end up with more cobwebs in my hair then hair products, and I use a lot of hair products. For a style this good, there needs to be money rolling in. These dailies keep my hair free of cobwebs and my gear free of blood and gore.

Icecrown

Stop by your respective airships and pick these quests up.

Capture More Dispatches / Keeping the Alliance Blind – shoot down 6 scouts just west of Aldur’thar.
That’s Abominable! / That’s Abominable! – Kill an abom in the broken front for his guts and use your newly made Frankenstein creation to blow the undead to pieces.
The Solution Solution / Volatility – Loot some helms, armor, and bones and blow a Frostbrood Skytalon sky-high.
If you’ve unlocked enough quests to have the tabard of the Knights of the Ebon Blade, head to the Shadow Vault for 2 more dailies.
Vile Like Fire! – Grab a proto-drake and burn 8 buildings.  You can re-burn something already on fire, so it doesn’t matter how many others are around.
Shoot ‘Em Up – There are two buildings with harpoon launchers on the balcony. Pick a weapon and kill 15 drakes.  Make sure to grab group with anyone else at a harpoon, you’ll both be done sooner.
Both Alliance and Horde have their own assault point in Ymirhiem.  Join them to help their cause in a non-killing sort of fashion.  Horde, you’ll report to the northern edge while Alliance will be on the eastern side.
Assault by Air / Assault by Air – Grab the transport and hit the spear guns with the blinding shot to stay alive til all four of your infiltrators are dropped.
King of the Mountain / King of the Mountain – Jump up the mountain and plant the flag.  You can click for your next jump before you land so you can scale vertical walls with ease.

Sholazar Basin

For those Honored with Oracles:

Appeasing the Great Rain Stone – Hop around with your little green friend and look for sparklies on the ground.  After he digs them up, loot them.
Song of Fecundity – Go west to the Maker’s shelf and blow the horn around 8 piles of dirt.
Song of Reflection – Go to the top of each Pillar and use the digeridoo at each crystal.
For those Honored with Frenzyheart…
Chicken Party! – Click on 12 chickens or net big groups of them.  You don’t have to dismount to net or gather the chickens up, so catch them rodeo style.

Storm Peaks

You will have to unlock the Sons of Hodir quests to get these. Part of them are Sons of Hodir Dailies, and will give you rep towards your shoulder enchants.  Others are from Brunnhildar. Talk to Gretta the Arbiter to start them.

Thrusting Hodir’s Spear – Only available at Honored. Find a wyrm and slay him using the special cast bar.  Once you get the hang of killing the wyrm, it’ll take you about 5 minutes tops for 16 gold and 500 rep.
Everfrost – This isn’t a daily, but when you’re out and about and you see an everfrost chip, loot it.  Its a free 13 gold and then 7 gold for repeats.  You can do this as many times as you find chips and sometimes someone in general chat will be willing to pay you for the location of one.  If not… more rep for you.
Back to the Pit – Grab a warbear and beat 6 other bear-back riders in combat.
Maintaining Discipline – Beating slaves couldn’t be easier.  If they choose to fight back, you might have to kill one or two.

Grizzly Hills

The Alliance and Horde fight over the Blue Sky Logging Grounds.  Thankfully we can assist.

Pieces Parts / Making Repairs – Loot gears and springs off the ground.  The opposite factions npc’s won’t attack you, but enemy players might.
Life or Death / Overwhelmed! – Bandage 15 of your forces.
Shredder Repair / Shred the Alliance – Shredder time! Use the speed boost and get your machine out of there.  As a note, the keys you get from the quest reward will let you use shredders down in Venture Bay.

Dragonblight

Defending Wyrmrest Temple – Fly to the shrine, disable it and kill all opposing dragonflight in your way.  Simple? Yes… but you can up the ante by trying to complete Rapid Defense as well.

With dailies to keep this girl independent and her hair the best in Dalaran, I’m as carefree as bird. If you’re needing a break from that dreary old dungeon crawl, try a different way to get the gold you need.  Unless the main tank is cute and available. That’s a different situation.

On 1337n355

On 1337n355

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The following is a guest post by Briolante, one of Conquest’s main tanks, also sometimes known as Mr. Sydera. Brio is normally a man (ahem, night elf) of few words, but here he waxes poetic on what it means to be leet. We’ve all wondered this, right, as we struggle to define what makes a good player both for ourselves and for our guilds. Enjoy!

Montaigne’s meditation on glory states: “there is the name and the thing.” The same could be said about leetness, which is what passes for glory in the World of Warcraft. We all know the name. We all sometimes sprinkle the word in our conversations and boasting. We may even think we know what the thing is that our words refer to. However, we’re usually wrong. After a ridiculous night of stupid trash mishaps in Naxx, I heard that word thrown about in a context that puzzled me, and I began to wonder what it really means to be an elite player.

Leet or sloppy?

Any raiding team has had off nights, nights where the focus, drive, and attention to detail just aren’t there. Sometimes we even intentionally (gasp) horse around to have a little fun when the content is as stale as the current raid content has become for many of us. The other night in Naxx, we had all manner of bedlam happening around us. Tanks weren’t paying attention to patrols and pulling extra mobs, DPS was opening up AOE before the tanks had even arrived at the scene, and on and on. And guess which green-haired night elf was up there helping cause the problems? Yeah, that was me. Who was left to sort out this mess? The healers, of course, who were usually able to keep enough of us up to get through the pull. It was after pulls like this that some of us bandied about the world leet. But, is this really leet? No, it’s sloppy, it’s lol-1337. But sometimes players fall into the trap of thinking they’re so good that being able to survive the biggest SNAFU confirms the group’s collective leetness.

Early in the Wrath leveling process, I pugged a Nexus run with a group made up of four other players from a guild whose name I have since forgotten. When the priest and druid couldn’t figure out who was going to heal, I started to worry. When two of them decided they were going to jump off the platforms and die below for shits and giggles, I knew it was going to be a long evening. Over the course of our 2.5 hours together (yes I stayed), each one of them committed suicide at least 4 separate times. When we were actually fighting mobs, they died constantly because they weren’t paying attention. Most of the boss kills were lol-kills with one or no players left alive at the end. Any of my guildies who were on that night will remember how pissed off I was in guild chat. I’m usually pretty Zen in my virtual life, but those two just made me lose it. But do you know what? The members of this other guild I was playing with were proud that they could always pull it out, no matter how sloppy. They even described this as their guild ethos. This style of play, in their mind, confirmed their leetness. I could not disagree more.

Leetness is a state of mind

What might the thing called leetness be then? In my mind, the best example of leetness would be the old ZA bear run. Depending on your gear level, earning a bear required near perfect execution and play. Each player had to know every pull and what his/her role in those pulls was. Of course, as we got better, people could make mistakes and we could adjust. But in the early days, it really required minimal mishaps. Is that leetness? I can say that for me, nothing was more pleasurable from a raid leading perspective than those bear runs. When everyone comes together, experiences the synergy, and executes an encounter well, it feels good and everyone knows it.

I might say then that leetness is a state of mind and a precision of execution. In raiding anyway, this is not something that just one person can have, because the whole team has to be there mentally. Conquest’s recent three-drake kill is proof that we have the potential for that state of mind and that precision of execution. But have we suddenly become “leet”?

The importance of execution

One of my biggest disappointments in my former guild from a raid management and leadership perspective was that we only managed to get Illidan down once before the pre-Wrath nerf. The intial kill wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but he was definitely defeated. In the few weeks after that kill, we were never able to get it down again. We got close, but never quite hit that same focus and precision again. It was as if we had accomplished something once and that was enough. People just didn’t care anymore. I asked myself, had we really proved our leetness once and for all by defeating Illidan?

The answer to both of those questions, I would argue, is no. Execution is important at every stage of the game, on progression and farm content alike. Leetness is not something that can be earned definitively. It’s not something that can be possessed, like the many titles that now commodify it for all to see. Leetness is something that we demonstrate, each time we raid. It’s a state of mind and play that we arrive at together, maybe not all the time, but most of the time. It’s our intention, our goal.

Leetness and teamwork

So Brio, you might ask, I top the dps/healing/threat charts. My dps is world ranked! Am I not leet? My answer would be no. From a raiding perspective, leetness is not something that just one person can earn. Raiding is about team play, period. While worrying about topping the meters or beating someone else in your class can sometimes force you to improve yourself, taken to extremes it becomes a hollow form of narcissism. Yes, you topped the meter, but did you get out of the fire? Or, on the contrary, did you overtax the healers who needed to be focusing on the tank? Yes, you topped the healing meter, but did you do your job and do it to the best of your ability? Did you try to “cover” for other people in order to eke out more effective heals? Yes, you did 3000 tps, but did you properly manage your buffs/debuffs in order to make yourself as easy to heal as possible?

As I see it, excellence in raiding difficult content cannot be about egos and winning personal performance meters. You have to do your job first and foremost. On three-drake Sarth, some players didn’t get the message until we obsessively repeated that a player’s first priority is to get out of the void zones. The second priority is to not get hit by the fire walls. The third priority is to dps/heal/etc. As one of the officers in my former guild liked to say, the dead don’t dps.

Raiding is about synergy and teamwork. Difficult content demands it. Difficult content cannot be completed without it. When the desire is there, when the focus is there, when the precise execution is there, when everyone does his/her job, the kill is, quite simply, beautiful. A well-executed kill is breathtaking to watch and experience. This is why sometimes the leet kill isn’t necessarily the first one, but rather the one where the kill looks effortless, like simplicity itself. We’ve all felt this, whether in 5-man dungeons or in 25-man hard mode raids. When Conquest finally downed Sarth 3D after many wipes, we found this state of mind and executed the fight almost flawlessly. Does that mean we’re now leet?

No. Leetness is not something you earn once and for all. It’s something that you work for, every raid, week in, and week out. It starts with desire and then requires the trust that the rest of your team is there to do the same thing.

Can we be leet in the current content?

Naxx is ridiculously easy. You don’t need to mark, you don’t need to CC, and yes, you can slop your way through there, survive, and still get it all done in under three hours. But that’s not leet, that’s lol-1337. Running in with an immediate seed, blade flurry, arcane explosion, hurricane, whirlwind, or whatever and pulling everything on yourself and the healers is not leet, it’s lol-1337. Pulling 18 mobs at once, allowing 10 players to die, and still managing to kill them all is not leet, it’s lol-1337 (and yes, that one was my fault–sorry).

Playing sloppy can be fun, loose, relaxed. Sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered after some really hard work on a difficult encounter. Even I can’t help myself from laughing when a hunter misdirects the next pull onto the resto shammy. But make no mistake, that’s not leet, that’s Leroy Jenkins.

Leetness is focus, precision, synergy, teamwork, execution, and above all else, control. It’s an individual and collective intention, something that we arrive at together with varying degrees of frequency. Due to the easiness of the current content, we’ve forgotten what some of those things are. Let me ask a scandalous question – do our dps players even have their crowd control abilities on the main bars anymore? This is symptomatic of the problem. But if all blue indications hold true, Ulduar will be a different story. Thank heavens, because I was getting frustrated with just how forgiving many of these encounters are, including the trash. I raid for the challenge and for the beauty that results when a team of players meets that challenge with precision. Does that turn the beautiful, effortless kill into a work of art? Maybe, but perhaps that should be the subject for another post.

To return to the matter at hand, dear readers, after this long rant, do you still think you’re so leet? Then show your guild mates how truly leet you are by executing every fight like you mean it.

The Price of Popularity (or Healer, Heal Thyself)

The Price of Popularity (or Healer, Heal Thyself)

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This is a guest post by Sylly Syll who writes about the cons of being a sought after healer.

Certainly, negatives might not immediately leap to mind for a healer who has a lot of friends, is generally considered to be talented and capable, and is offered seemingly endless opportunities to do runs for which other classes have to sell their soul to get a spot. (WTB Healer PST). However, for me there have been some definite downsides to this situation since WOLK hit. Specifically, being constantly whispered by friends, guildies, and strangers to heal. “Please, please, PLEASE heal this run for me so Ican get the much coveted Epic Boots of Awesomeness”, I hear, leading to me running more instances than I’d ever dream of initiating on my own, which leaves me struggling often with the following three issues:

1. Poverty: Repair bills, raid and instance pots, buff foods, enchants, gems vs. no time to raise gold to offset costs leaves me perpetually scrounging for cash.  And, of course, even when I find the time to quest or farm, healers are faced with the daunting task of boring mobs to death.  No lightning-fast, face-ripping pew pew for us. Alas and alack, none at all.  Over the holidays I blew through well over 1000 gold sending toys and purely frivolous fun things to dozens of people who make me smile on my server.  It was without contest the best time I’ve ever had spending gold in WOW.  It lit me up like a Christmas tree.   And as great as that was, a couple of weeks ago when I was scraping by to get pots for a Naxx raid, I almost regretted spending that gold.  Best gold I ever spent, and I almost lamented having spent it.  That’s pretty gristly food for thought.

2. Healing burnout: On occasion I just want to sit on a mountaintop and take in the amazing art of the game, or putz around Dalaran checking out all the vendor goodies, or doing some other innocuous, ultimately unproductive activity.  Sometimes I just want to quest all by my lonesome, where the only death I could possibly be responsible for is my own.  From time to time I just feel like parking my carcass in a quiet corner of the world and carrying on a long conversation (typed or otherwise) with one of the friends I treasure in the game.  Because of the healer shortage, finding time for these things can be hard, which can leave me a little grouchy, a little snarky, a little closer to trading bark for feathers and doing the Chris Farley bop.

3. Guilt: When I log on and my guild message of the day is replaced instantaneously by a sea of purple text with friends saying "omg now we can run!" "SYLL! come heal x for us!!!" "Have you done the daily?" etc. etc. ad infinitum, I feel instantly guilty, whether I tell one or none of them yes, because ultimately I have to turn someone that I like down.

Of course, all three of these issues could be solved very easily and with finality in a number of ways.  I could give up the wait for dual specs, jump into a feathery owl suit, and leave it to others to heal me. Or maybe I could come up with a list of runs that I either needed or really enjoyed, and categorically refuse to run anything else.   I could turn off WOW and go clean my house.  No, not really.  That third one was just silly. But I’ve come up with a couple of solutions that are not so drastic as these to keep this tree blooming and happy, willing to spread the leafy goodness around.  They are not perfect or complete solutions, but for me they seem to be doing the trick.  Even though I’m resto, this druid needed some balance in her life. 

Here’s some places I found it.

1. Loosening up the bank vault:  I’m a terrific hoarder of mats. Leatherworking mats, enchanting mats, gear for 3 specs (even though the moon will fall out of the sky before I use my druid to tank), all KINDS of goodies find their way into my bank, or my bank toon’s bank, never again to see the light of day.  I’ve recently started to let these things make their way to the auction house or the vendor.  Sure, some guildie might need me to make something for them and I won’t have the mats immediately on hand.  This is a possibility.  But then he can farm the mats.  Or I can.  Or we can together.  Surely the world will not end if I auction some of the goods I’ve leveled a profession to make, right?

2. Providing the hook up:  To assuage some of my guilt over saying no to healing a run, I’ve been trying to hook up friends or guildies who might not have otherwise run together. So when someone asks me to heal heroic Old Kingdom, I might say to them, “You know that run is almost impossible with a resto druid in the group, right?  Let me see if my holy pally friend is busy.  Maybe he can go with you.”  Even if the hookup doesn’t happen, I still feel better for having actively tried to help, rather than just saying “no, kthxbye”.

3. One hand washes the other: I’ve recently, when asked to heal a run, let some of my friends know that I need to get some work of my own done, and asked them if they would mind helping to speed me through some dailies if I help to heal their instance.  This is definitely a win-win arrangement for all involved.

4. Where’s Syll?: I confess; I hide on alts.  DPS alts.  This doesn’t cut out on all of my invitations to heal, as many of my friends know who my alts are, but it does reduce the number of invites when I just don’t feel like being a productive member of society.

5. Offpeak hours: I have a pretty strange sleeping schedule, and often am wide awake at 4:00 a.m. 4:00 a.m. is a wonderful time in WOW. Nothing is camped. Quest mobs abound. Quiet scenery is there for me to soak up at will. I get a lot done at 4:00 a.m.

Although these strategies are not perfect, they’ve made me a much happier healer.  I have a comfortable amount of gold in my bank, I’m quite a bit happier to run the instances I do run, and I have a clear conscience about how I’m spending my time in WOW.  No one wants their game to become their work.  I know I don’t.  It is my disposition to be most happy in the support role that healers inhabit.  As a rule, I adore healing raids and instances.  But WOW is a huge game that offers opportunities for me to indulge many other aspects of my personality, as well.  I can be social or introspect, helpful or greedy, ambitious or a big lazy sloth.  It’s a relief to work out these balances.  It makes my healing stronger.

Image courtesy of barunpatro

5 Archetypes of the Healer

5 Archetypes of the Healer

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This is a guest post by Lodur

Hello everybody! Lodur, resto shaman from Zul’jin here again. I was running heroic Violet Hold last night when a hiccup with a player and Zuramat the Obliterator almost caused the group to wipe (lag + lots of little adds = low health for everyone).

We were able to stave off a wipe, and as I was ressing the only casualty the tank sends me a tell: “;Lodur man, I have no clue how you can do it. That had to be way hectic”

The statement got me thinking about how I started healing and all the different types of healers there are. I then began wondering how they got into healing.

Mulling it over I’ve come up with a few archetypes that the healers you run into can usually be framed in.

The Archetypes

Average Gamer

This is the guy (or girl) who does it simply because he can, it’s part of the game. This gamer usually has a full roster of alts more then likely created at a time when someone made a statement like "wow, we’re short on healers, we should probably get more". This game is often very easy tempered, very slow to anger or excite and tends to enjoy all aspects of the game.

Signs

  • Proficient for multiple classes and roles.
  • Likeable
  • Normally well read.
  • Well known by guildies
  • Always willing to help out in whichever capacity is needed

The Ex-Healer

This person started as a healer and has probably done more then their fair share of raids doing nothing but playing green bar whack-a-mole. Often times they are suffering from healer burn out and switch their class to DPS spec, or a new class all together, normally one that is not a hybrid and has no healing capability. These people tend to avoid healing like the plague. In extreme circumstances they may go back to their healer for a night’s raid or just long enough till a full time healer logs on, but will quickly return to DPS as soon as the opportunity is afforded them.

Signs

  • Doesn’t want to heal
  • May only heal for a raid or two
  • History of healing

Reluctant Healer

Normally this falls to someone who happens to be playing a hybrid that can heal at a time when their guild needs to fill in gaps. Sometimes this person takes a liking to healing and decides to go healer full time. They tend to learn quickly and climb up to eventually be a solid healer a short time after their switch, but still tend to maintain a DPS or tank set "just in case". They tend to be willing to change their roles from healing back to DPS or tanking whenever offered until they can get a fix for the other walks of life, and then normally return to a healing spec afterwards. It should be noted that a reluctant healer that doesn’t fully enjoy healing but stays that way because it’s the only way they can raid, can suffer from healer’s burnout very quickly.

Signs

  • Rolls on offset gear
  • Doesn’t really like healing
  • Spec flexibility
  • Fast learner

Hero Complex

The Hero Complex is an inherent desire to help others. It is a compulsion to help make their world right. This healer-type loves their role with such enthusiasm that there is almost no other way for them to play the game. They immerse themselves in the world of min maxing and micro-management. Their true joy is saving the day, getting that tank to full from red line and stopping a wipe, or saving that dying DPS that only had 50hp left. If this person has an alt it will usually be a tank or tank type. After all, if you can’t heal them you might as well save them by taking the damage for them. They will jump at any opportunity to participate in any event and generally are very affable, active in raids / heroics and social events, and aren’t afraid to take on roles abnormal to their class. They often refuse praise and can be found exalting the deeds of others around them. They epitomize the team player.

Signs

  • Really likes healing
  • Active in raids and social events
  • Definite team player

God Complex

A God complex is a state of mind in which a person believes that they have supernatural powers or god-like abilities. The person generally believes they are above the rules of society and should be given special consideration. These healers are bad news for raids and guilds. Like the definition suggests they often believe themselves above the rules set for everyone else and believe they should have special rights. They think that they are the best at their craft and refuse, rebuke and often times aggressively and openly oppose suggestions or criticism. In game terms they tend to condescend to other healers commenting often on how others need to step up or keep up. They openly exalt their own deeds with statements like "DUDE I’M AWESOME LOOK AT ME!", and when attempts are made to bring them back in line (or they are told an event or raid is going on that they don’t want to go to) they will often times try to hold the raid hostage until they are either given what they want or the raid fails and has to be cancelled.

Signs

  • Aggressive
  • Stubborn
  • Condescending
  • Holds raids hostage

Optional:

  • May or may not have their own World on the internet


Lodur’s Tale

Thinking over all of this I went back and thought about how I became a healer. When I rolled Lodur, the goal for her was to throw lightning and melt faces. I had been playing a hunter for the vast majority of Vanilla WoW and wanted a change of scenery. Shortly after hitting 70 our guild leader hits me up because they need another healer for Karazhan. I had never healed before but said sure. I did inform him though that I’d rather be DPSing. I grabbed what meager healing gear I had available to me, respecced to good old 0/5/56 and headed in.

Two full kara runs later and I was hooked. Healing was amazing fun and gave me a fresh new look on the game. I still kept my DPS gear (just in case ;] ) but made the decision to stick with healing from then on. I grew to hate speccing out of Restoration and whenever I had to for arena matches I would go back as soon as possible.

I poured over blogs and sites like Elitist Jerks learning everything I could about the ins and outs of my class and the math behind it. Every chance I got I would go healing to learn more about how to be better at my class.

One night I decided no heroic shall be refused my healing! (I paid for that statement dearly when Magister’s Terrace was released) I started out as the Reluctant Healer, but have since moved on to Hero Complex. Lodur is "Resto4Life!" and I don’t think I’ll ever want to spec a different tree, oh, and for the record my main alt is a DK tank =)

So time for you guys to share. What got you into healing? And What archetype do you fall into?

Single Target Healing in a Multi Target World

Single Target Healing in a Multi Target World

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This is a guest post by Holy Paladin and Disc Priest blogger Ambrosyne of For the Bubbles

By the time I dinged 80 with my paladin, I was about ready to throw in my hat.  "This is insane!" I huffed.  "I feel as if Blizzard hates holy paladins." 

This is likely an exaggeration, but I’m a dramatic soul.  Regardless, let’s take a look at what pushed me to this point.

Aoe damage.  Wrath instances seem to have a lot of it.  Sometimes it’s just masses of mobs, some of which inevitably peel off try to eat the overzealous mage.  There’s also cleaves and whirlwinds and poisons thrown everywhere and rain of fire and blizzards and mojo puddles… 

Sometimes it seemed as if taking heals off the tank for even a heartbeat resulted in a wipe.  Most instances ended up sending my mind into chaos.  Peeking into it you might have seen something like this:

“Aaaah! Poisons everywhere I need to cleanse them!”
”OH MY GOD THE TANK IS DYING!”
*heals the tank”
“OH MY GOD THE DPS IS DYING!”
*heals the DPS”
“OH MY GOD THE TANK IS DYING”
*dies*

The only good thing to come out of this (aside from the fact that I decided to roll a priest) was that I learned very quickly to make the most out of a holy paladin’s limited arsenal.

How A Holy Paladin Can Cope

Beacon – Sweet, so I can heal TWO targets at once with a semi-expensive spell that only lasts a minute!  Sadly a group has five people in it, but we do what we can. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love beacon.  I just wish I could make it magically expand to the entire group.

In a five man you’ll often beacon the tank while topping off the DPS.  This works fine, except on longer fights where beacon seems to eat up your mana, and on fights where the tank is taking really heavy hits.  Beacon alone will not keep the tank up.

Sometimes I’ll beacon myself while healing the tank, if we’re talking something really not fun like the mojo puddles in Heroic Gundrak.  

Learn to predict incoming damage – This is easiest if you run with the same tanks all the time and come to know their gear and play style, but just being familiar with their class and the boss can be enough.  When I deemed it ‘safe’, I would judge for haste, toss a holy light on the tank so that he was at full, and then quickly throw Flashes at the DPS to keep them alive.  They might not have been at full health, but they were still alive.   If I guessed correctly, by the time I cycled back to the tank he was a bit lower on health but in no danger of dying before the next Holy Light.  If I had to, I let the rogue die.  Sorry man (I’m kidding!  I let the DPS warrior die).

Sacred Shield – In most cases, you don’t need to be afraid of rage or mana starving the tank.  The additional flash of light crits are great, and the damage absorption means you have less to heal!  Don’t be afraid to toss it on yourself, either, if you have the bad tendency to get healer tunnel vision.  Or if there are mojo puddles.  I hate mojo puddles, by the way.

Grab the Holy Light glyph – The splash heal sure as heck can’t hurt.

Holy shock - It’s expensive, it has a cool down, but as an "oh no!" button, it’s great.  I have an oh no macro set up for casting divine favor, holy shock, and then flash of light. 

Be adaptable – Don’t get your mind stuck on ‘spamming flash of light’ or ‘spamming holy light’.  Read the situation and use what’s best.  In a raid, forget the meters.  Healing meters suck.  You know what a holy paladin on top of the meters is a lot of the time?  OOM. 

Have patience.  A lot of my problems resolved once I started picking up some gear out of the very same heroics that were making me weep.  There seems to be a gear plateau for the holy paladin at 80, beyond which things become manageable again.  Trust me!  If you raid, that too will make your life easier.  You have someone else healing and as a single target healer this is where you shine.  I just love healing Patchwerk.  I look forward to it every week.  It’s like Blizzard gave me cookies for being a holy pally!

Discipline priests, I have not forgotten you!  You too are considered primarily single target healers, and hey, I have one too.  What, I was frustrated with single target healing so I rolled another one?  Yes!  Guess what: you are not as limited as you think. 

If the occasional tossed renew (no, they’re not that efficient for you; yes, they’re still useful in a pinch) and a bouncing prayer of mending isn’t enough, don’t forget prayer of healing.  If it’s on cooldown, use inner focus first!   I sometimes save inner focus just for PoH.  Use your bubbles and borrowed time to your advantage. 

Hopefully my experiences, as frustrating as they were at the time (and still are-I’m looking at you, mojo puddle), allowed me to share some useful information with you.  Stick with it.  All of Azeroth needs you!

Happy healing!

Image courtesy of barunpatro

Evaluating Healer Performance

Evaluating Healer Performance

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This is a guest post from Derevka who has been actively blogging on his blog Tales of a Priest. This post is in reply to Healing Meters Suck and tries to tie in some qualitative and quantitative healing performance analysis.

Healing Meters suck? I tend to disagree. Healing meters and WWS Reports provide an insane amount of information and value to a well educated healer.  But now where does that leave us? You have 11 healers signed up for tonight’s raid and only 7 healing slots available — or you have a new recruit healer and you need to evaluate how they are performing. What do you do? How do you go about evaluating healers in a world where the DPSers are e-peening over their DPS and Total Damage Done?

Nearly a year and a half ago, Priestly Endeavors did a post about measuring healer performance. This is a great post, and I encourage everyone to read it.  Perhaps it is time to reflect on what methods are best to evaluate a healer?

Healing Meters:  Recount & WWS

Gasp! Hiss! Boo! There is a lot more to healing than just meters, yes, but don’t forget there is a lot of very valuable information here. The trick is finding the best way for you to harness this data to evaluate yourself and your healing team and learn where can you improve. 

The first thing you need to understand about deciphering healing meter data is knowing the encounter that the data is from.  Looking at a Recount data from Malygos is going to heavily favor the COH Priests and WG Druids, thanks just to Vortex. (While post-3.08 that may change; I don’t think it will skew it that much). You always need to ask yourself "Does this fight heavily favor a specific spec/class over another?". If the answer is yes, you have to both qualitatively and quantitatively account for that information.

Finding out how much effective healing was done by Priest X using COH over other spells can be done in Recount and WWS.  If it is a fight that doesn’t have a ton of AOE damage, and a priest has 20% of the effective healing of the 7 healers, of which 70% was COH, you might have a performance problem here. 
Discipline Priests typically are low on the healing meters since PW: Shield, Grace, and Divine Aegis have no impact on effective healing. How do you evaluate a Disc priest on a numbers game in which they are at a disadvantage? However, with a bit of poking around you should be able to find some good data in there.  On a conceptual level, PW:S is the only spell in the game that guarantees zero "overhealing".

So dive into WWS information. Find out how many times that player buffed the MTs with PW:S then you can gauge the total "effective healing" those shields provided. (I know, not an exact science since you need to weigh in SP coefficients, did the whole shield get eaten, etc. But it does provide additional data that WWS/Recount completely disregarded).

Since we are playing the numbers game using meter evaluation, does that mean it is okay for them to be dead last on the meters with 3% healing done on a fight? Maybe… however, likely not.

Healer Focus and Assignments

Plain and simple: are your healers focusing on the task at hand? Are they sticking to their assignments and trusting their guildmates? Trusting your fellow raiders to do their job is key. You cannot be all things to all people. This often can be easily discovered if you see the healer switching to other healing assignments and slacking on their primary target. Great example would be Patchwerk. You have a healer who was assigned to heal a Hateful Strike Tank, they shift focus to try to get a heal on the Main Tank — BOOM! Your resident Enhancement Shaman eats a hateful strike and dies.

Also data lives on WWS that can also provide good insight, but again keep the encounter and assignments in mind! This report can be found in the "Who Heals Whom" section. The smaller the number the fewer the people that person healed. A high focus number can generally mean the person healed "randomly" and may have deviated from their assignment. On fights that have AOE damage or multiple targets assigned to the same healer, focus numbers can increase for certain healers. A great example is my guild’s Sartharion 2-Drake strategy:  We let the Tenebron’s whelps pop, and AOE them down (and usually have some AOE damage to the raid as a result), and send in a DK , DPS, and 1 healer to heal the damage for Shadron’s Disciple. That healer, typically has a higher than average focus. Again, it is all about knowing which fight you are analyzing.

Ability to React to the Unforeseen

This measurement is very subjective, and not numerical so it is often very hard to guage. When you see it happen, it is usually quite apparent. Sometimes a healer disconnects or dies mid fight, and you need to react. Good healers are able adjust when this happens, take adjusted healing assignments. Great healers excel in these situations. They thrive.

An example would be the healers for Lady Blaumeux and Sir Zeliek on Four Horsemen. Lets pretend one of your ranged tanks DCs. This healer quickly adjusts, calls out on vent they are now tanking Blaumeux (along with the other ranged tank) and spams heals on themselves until a new ranged player comes to replace them from the front group. No one else dies, as you get your shiny epics from the chest minutes later.
This measurement encompasses the "don’t stand in the fire" rule:  Situational Awareness.

Are you in  Sartharion’s Void Zone? Are you standing in Sapphrion’s Blizzard? Now these points, are easily counted.

The Death Test

Probably the easiest to check, but perhaps the most subjective of all. If your assigned target not die, you win. Generally, yes – but not always. You need to look at the bigger picture. Did they go OOM and another healer have to step up and do double duty? Did they lose awareness and chain a KT Frost Blast to the melee?
Evaluating healers is not easy. I am typically the one to do healing assignments, and often the officer to pass final judgement on a recruit healer.  When I say /promote or /gkick, or when I chose one healer over another healer when making up the raid roster for the evening, I often have a lot of math and though behind those decisions. Using WWS and Recount, as well as many subjective methods.

Ultimately your healing roster and performance is something that should be constantly evaluated. Finding out your flaws, and taking steps to correct them is one of the best ways to improve; diving into the details really is the best way to do that.

Further reading:

Matt wrote a Spiritual Guidance column on WoW Insider several months ago titled: Measuring a Priest. Several of those points still ring true today.

Image courtesy of danzo08

5 Tips for Transferring Servers

5 Tips for Transferring Servers

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This is a guest post from @katagirl, Matt’s fellow guildie and a WoW Twitterati

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for over two and a half years. In this time, I’ve transferred to different servers twice.

Choosing to transfer to a different server is a big decision, because unlike a haircut or a mini-pet – this will cost you some hard earned cash (or much begged, depending on your persuasion).

There are two different circumstances in which you might be considering a transfer: either you’re transferring with friends, or you’re transferring alone.

With Friends

This was how my first transfer happened. I was leading a social guild on an underpopulated server, and it was difficult to get groups together for anything. The economy was shot, too. Our group was small, but we’d been playing together for a long time. We made the decision to transfer to a higher population server after a lot of discussion. Out of the fifteen of us, six decided to make the move together.

By far, this is the easiest way to make a server move. You’ve got friends to make a new start with.

Off Server recruited/Getting a new start

This is how I got hooked up with Matticus and gang. I’d been following Matt’s blog and twitter for a while, and started having discussions with him when he started pitching the idea for Conquest. One night, I shot him a note that I was really tempted to transfer over and join him. He got a little excited about the prospect of a holy paladin – so we chatted on GTalk, then on Vent. This transfer was going to be a shot in the dark, so I had a lot of questions. Eventually I made the decision to transfer, and I’m glad I did.

When you’re considering a server transfer:

Do your homework

If you’re thinking about moving to join a guild, learn everything you can about them. Stalk their website, their vent. Chat with players and officers. I spoke to both Matt and Sydera the first evening I was considering Conquest. I also spent time listening on their vent.

If you’re moving for a change of scenery/better pvp/better economy, create a character. Watch the Auction House for a few days. Troll trade chat and notice the guilds and trolls. Realm forums are also good, as many guilds will recruit there. Find two or three guilds that may match your playing style and whisper a few random players from each to see what they think about their guilds.

Have a backup plan

One of my biggest concerns about transferring to join Conquest was that once I got here and things got going, my raiding style and personality would not mesh with the others and I’d be miserable. During one of our conversations, I brought this up to Matt. He assured me that if I got here, and it didn’t work out – he’d personally help me find somewhere that fit better. That’s a sign of a good guild leader – he wasn’t stuck on himself enough to assume that everyone would be absolutely happy there. I still checked out the recruitment forums and chatted with a few recruiters in trade chat before I made the decision to transfer. To be honest, Matt’s willingness to make sure I was taken care of even if I decided Conquest was not for me was the one thing that finally cemented the decision to transfer.

Don’t be afraid to be afraid

If you’re a millionaire (and if so, let’s be friends), a server transfer is no big deal. If you’re in school or just making it on ramen and lettuce salads, it’s something that may impact you a little more. It’s perfectly fine to take time to make your decision. Don’t let anyone push you into making a decision on the spot. It’s your fifteen bucks, and you need to make sure it’s a good fit for you.

Ask for advice

Sometimes, you’re too close to the situation to see things clearly. Find a friend (one who isn’t involved in the decision, or has any bias) and talk them through what you’re thinking. They may come up with a problem or a suggestion that you would not have thought of.

Don’t jump in with both feet

This should go without saying, but only transfer one character at a time. Make sure you’re happy with where you’re going before you send two more alts to join your main character. One transfer fee is easier to swallow than two or three.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to you. It’s not a life-ending decision if you decide to transfer somewhere and your plans fall through. There are great players on each server and good guilds. If you’re still unhappy, you can always transfer back in three months.

Image courtesy of gerard79