The 300 Stat Food Question

The 300 Stat Food Question

The Heroic version of Blade Lord fell to us on Thursday. The last few wipes were edge-of-your-seat attempts largely because we kept wiping with less than 5%. Players had a hard time making the run from one side to the other. We had some deaths early on and I ran out of battle res’s for them. Tornadoes were snatching up people out of the air. We hit the enrage timer multiple times. Eventually, we scored the kill with around 11 seconds left before the berserk.

After one of our close attempts, one of our officers made the comment that players should be busting out their own 300 stat food instead of the usual 275 stats.

Kudos for making a fair point.

We were a couple of million health short of finishing off the Blade Lord at the time and there are no arguments from me saying that if the players alive had those extra stats, it would have easily translated into a kill. The combined 600+ stats would’ve turned those low percentage wipes into a kill.

As the GM, I could “demand” the players make the necessary changes and effort. But deep down I know that’s no small feat. How am I supposed to enforce a directive like that? This is one of those things where I have to appeal to them. Your GM needs to make the case to you that this stuff is important and the time and energy to get this steroid food created is worth it.

Now if I go down this route, I’d have to ask players to valor cap as well.

I know for a fact that not everyone valor caps. People are sick of doing their dailies and their faction grinds. I get that and I had to bite my tongue for the longest time. Even though I personally just suck it up and do them to get my coin rolls and stuff, I find ways to deal with it. I’ll watch something on Netflix while mindlessly knocking them out. Not everyone has time to grind these out either because people have to work or they have family obligations or other things and don’t have the capability to commit that time to them.

Raise that bar too high and you run the risk of alienating (or worse, running out of) the players that you raid with. It’s a fine line to walk.

I’ll be completely frank.

As GM, I’d love it if every player did the following:

  • Valor capped on a weekly basis
  • Provided their own potions and flasks
  • Pushed their dailies enough to hit exalted with all the factions
  • Continue pushing dailies to sustain bonus rolls on a weekly basis
  • Did their own cooking with their personal supply of 275 and 300 stat food

But this is not a realistic expectation for a guild of this calibre as much as it pains me to admit it. We’re not the kind of organization with those level of demands. Based on that list, the average player does maybe 3 or 4 of those tops.

Hitting exalted with the Pandaria factions has a high value early in the expansion but it greatly diminishes as you gain gear from raiding. It’s just not as important in the late stage.

Further analysis of our raids and our logs showed that we can improve our performance in other areas with greater effect without exerting that much time and work. Using Phoenix Style, I discovered that while a large majority of our players were already pre-potting, there were still a small number that were not. That’s unfortunate because if they had been, it would’ve easily been enough to secure the kills earlier!

This is partially my fault to blame. Our raiding roster often has a turnover and sometimes you expect players to do already do things like pre-pot, but some people don’t because they don’t have access to the herbs or don’t know an alchemist who can make this stuff for them. Personally, I think potions and flasks are much more accessible nowadays than they were in the past. I don’t think there’s any reason or excuse at all to come to a raid without a supply of your own. I did not make that expectation that players are to utilize pre-pots but I set the record straight on that one shortly before Blade Lord dropped.

Where does this leave us with the steroid food?

My thought was that if we were consistently pushing bosses into the enrage timer with all players alive and executing near-flawless, that’s when the super food should be used. If we’re just learning a new boss or if players continue to die to simple things, then we shouldn’t use them just yet because we’re getting outskilled and need to tighten up our play.

Going back to that Blade Lord example, we were consistently getting better at not dying in the first 80%. But had we perfected our survivability on Blade Lord, then this discussion would not have come up.

Eventually, a compromise was reached. It just so happens a small group of players are chefs and just love cooking, farming, and fishing. They generously volunteered their time to stockpile the bank with a large supply under the conditions that these items should only be used in the event of an imminent kill. Of course, the raiders were asked to provide the necessary items like the Black Pepper and Rice Flour items which are only purchasable with Iron Paw tokens.

Our next step is Wind Lord. This guy seems easy — In theory.

By the way, thanks for the Blade Lord pointers, LedonLite! They helped!

Age Old Question: Farm or Progression?

Age Old Question: Farm or Progression?

The appearance of patch 5.2 on the PTR has placed a clock on our raids. In several weeks, the content we’re currently working on will soon be obselete because of the new Throne of Thunder raid. I find myself amazingly not tired of the current raid content just yet. There’s enough diversity and variety to still hold my interest. Raiding in Pandaria started in October and we’re about 3 months into this expansion.

I had grown weary of Cataclysm’s tier 11 raids after 3 months.

Firelands? Wanted out of it after 3 months.

Dragon Soul wasn’t as bad. That one took me a little longer than 3 months for me to get truly sick of it.

The team destroyed the Sha of Fear and banished it back to where it came from before Christmas. Now it’s time to do it all over again. We managed to get an early kill on heroic Stone Dogs a week before Heart of Fear released. Duplicating the kill again is no easy feat though due to the RNG that just comes with it.

At the moment, I find myself thinking long term and what’s the best strategic move for the raid team going into Throne of Thunder. I actually think the group we have right now is the strongest group we’ve had since our ICC heroic days (and that team scored heroic Sindragosa along with a full set of raid drakes).

Our biggest enemy right now is time.

My personal goals

  • Get every player a Sha-Touched weapon that is normal quality or higher
  • Complete as many tier sets as possible
  • Get as many hard mode kills as possible

Naturally, the first two goals are going to come in conflict with the last goal. Time spent farming for weapons and completing tier sets means time not attempting to get hard mode bosses. Luckily, we’re going to head into heroic Mogushan Vaults and attempt to get as much of that down as possible thereby freeing up Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Springs for possible farming and cleanup.

Suppose we manage to take down heroic Feng. The kill could either result in everyone mostly alive or the raid in an entertaining disarray of chaos with the tank and healer still alive a second after an enrage. Who knows?

When we get back to it next week, is it worthwhile to spend the time and try to kill it again? Or should we just knock it out on normal mode really fast and push into heroic Gara’jal instead? In the grand scheme of things, 9 hours a week of raiding just doesn’t seem like a lot of time for 16 bosses.

Once we learn a boss, it usually takes another week or two before we can consistently get it down fast enough. But continuing to go after them means potentially less time on future bosses.

From the other side, I know what a huge edge heroic gear gives us when going into the next tier of content. After we had gone 6/7 heroic in Firelands, we sliced through half of Dragon Soul in one night. Knocking out Trial of the Grand Crusader resulted in us running out of things to do the rest of the week because we killed Saurfang on day 1.

I also know that once the new Throne of Thunder raid is released, we’re not coming back here.

Our efforts will be 100% devoted to that raid instance and the only way people will come back is whenever the next expansion is out and they can either solo it or join a small raid group for achievements and stuff. I know the feeling of elation when a raid kills a boss at a level that’s relevant. I also know the feeling of emptiness and despair when a raid misses out on that. I’ve harboured so many regrets and lost opportunities on my shoulders over the past expansions at being unable to deliver to the team what I feel they deserve.

I can either invest in the future by farming our future hard mode kills or capitalize on the present moments and get as many first kills on the guild belt as possible.

Somehow, I don’t think either choice is going to be popular. Either way, we’ve got a lot of work to do! Heroic Feng is within reach right now. Just need to get the transitions and timings down pat.

Where Personal Responsibility Begins and Guild Responsibility Ends

Where Personal Responsibility Begins and Guild Responsibility Ends

“Could you expand on the “augments for players” section?  I’ve always been interested in the spectrum of policies from raiders get their own stuff to raid leaders getting all consumables, etc. for the raid.  Where do you stand on this?  Does it depend on where the power position is where raid leaders feel they have to provide for raiders or else they will go elsewhere vs raid leaders that have raiders to choose from and don’t mind telling raiders to be responsible for getting their own consumables / enchants?”

This is a solid question posed by wewhoeat in the comments section of my recent A Night in the Life of a GM post I wrote last week. There is a definitive line between what a player is responsible for and what a guild should look after. But this line naturally varies from guild to guild.

I notice a strong correlation between player performance and their ability to provide their own character improvements. In other words, the players who farm for their own materials or purchase their own augments tend to not die as much and will consistently perform well in their roles.

Why is that?

My own non-scientifically backed, non-peer revered theory on the subject is that the players who take the time and resources to improve their character have this mentality of personal improvement no matter the cost. It starts with taking care of their character. This character care then slowly translates into overall better play. My theory is that the more inclined a player is of maxing their character’s stats, the more inclined they are to maximize their play. It seems to help instil a sense of discipline. They’re spending thousands of their own gold to augment their character. Why not spend some more time referencing the information needed to play better? It shows me that they are heavily invested in their character and they’re not willing to wait around because they need to have that super awesome enchant right now.

Now let me answer wewhoeat’s question.

What is the player responsible for?

Blizzard has seeded Pandaria with a staggering amount of herbs. I often get sidetracked because I see those golden circles on my minimap and I just end up farming. In fact, I’ll end up watching Castle or Flashpoint for 40 minutes while lazily farming for herbs. Such a huge supply has made flask and potion generation extremely affordable. The Spirit of Harmony system makes it accessible to purchase 3 Golden Lotuses.

Not everyone has an alchemist or herbalist alt. I encourage players to send their lotuses to an alchemist who can get this stuff created for them on the cheap. I’ve been slowly trying to encourage people to get their flasks and pots created after a raid. It was getting disruptive and irritating when players logged in requesting flasks and potions made when raid begins. Players should be responsible for at least supplying the herbs. The guild can get this stuff cranked out for them instead of paying the AH costs for flasks. The thing is, we need to do this stuff way before raid time (5 minutes before first pull is just cutting it and asking for it 10 minutes past raid start just merits a frown).

Feasts used to be something that the guild provided. But the way feasts were done this expansion seemed overwhelming at first. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but it seems like most players have enjoyed the farming and are providing feasts of their own stat. I’m seeing Pots, Grills, Steamers and other stuff placed down. It’s not all by one person either. It’s nice to see the guild pitching in on stuff like this because it’s overall one less responsibility I need to look after.

What is the guild responsible for?

In my eyes, the guild acts as a “safety net”. Not everyone has the cash flow or income to acquire 10 Sha Crystals for a weapon enchant. This is where I step in. We do receive a steady supply of disenchanted epics to help fuel our Sha Crystal demands plus whatever enchanting transmutes on a week to week basis and we can use those to help offset the cost. Overall, it’s in the leadership’s best interest to help provide them to the players that need them because it usually results in that extra DPS or healing that could (literally) be the difference between a 2% wipe and and a kill. Really expensive augments fall under here as well (Leg enchants, shoulder enchants).

However, I know there’s players who do extremely well on the auction house. They’re patient and are able to build up quite a fortune. These guys have no problems buying their own stuff. They’re also willing to donate and help replenish gold stores in the bank if we’re in a crunch.

In addition, guild repairs are covered. The guild challenges along with the rewards earned from kills help contribute to that. It’s effective for the funds gathered from the war chest to go back to the players that need them. But depending on raid activities, a guild may not be able to sustain repairs solely on the income gathered from raids. Thankfully there is an option to set a cap in place. Personally, I think the challenge rewards are due for an increase. The cost of raw mats and repairs seem to be going up but the challenge rewards have remained the same since last expansion (although, we did receive Scenarios to help offset that). Anyway, that’s a different topic for another day.

One would say that some of these policies are socialist.

But you know, Canadian.

Other guilds use different systems. Some lock down the bank. Others provide full access to everything. I’m not certain what differences a 10 man guild vs a 25 man guild would be when it comes to benefits. I imagine it’d be the same. If you look on recruiting forums for guilds, you’ll notice a common trend of raiding guilds providing flasks, feasts, enchants or a combination thereof. A recruit would expect that stuff at a minimum. This makes me wonder if the gradual change from players farming their own TUBERS in Felwood to the consumables on a silver platter have gradually shifted player mentality towards entitlements and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss setting aside half a day to go farm TUBERs, Scholomance for Dark Runes, or creating a boat load of fire resist potions. Playing during vanilla gave me a whole new appreciation for the ease at which to access the resources we have today.

Now I’m curious. What benefits does your guild have in place? Do you agree with them?

The Things we Balance

Life is a balance. We balance our work lives and our personal lives. We balance academics with extracurricular activities. We balance beer with hard liquor (some of us, at least).

WoW’s obviously no different. With that in mind, I wanted to pose some things to think about. These are questions that most guilds and officer teams will find themselves in. Not regularly or often, but they’ll do happen.

Progression vs Gear

Time needs to be managed with precision. With 9 hours allocated to raiding, it needs to be used effectively. Going into this week, we were only 5/6 with Heart of Fear coming out. The intel and opinion we had from other players and other GMs was that the first two bosses of Heart of Fear would be easy. Our options were to go into Heart of Fear and try to get two bosses down quick or fall back to the Vaults and secure additional weapons and trinkets. Elegon still drops fantastic weapons and trinkets. For whatever reason, we’ve always had a problem when it comes to acquiring weapon upgrades.

The flip side of that argument? If we secure the kills, it helps us with our overall standings. In the long run, this helps us with attracting quality recruits.

Besides, rumor has it that Garalon is serious business.

Learning vs Stacking

New players and recruits need a chance to crack the lineup. They need to have a basic understanding and exposure to a boss so that they can get their feet wet. Not only this, there may come times when a regular player can’t make it and someone from the bench needs to be activated. Do we bring in the recruits and risk maybe a few wipes so that they understand what the mechanics are? In the long run, this is almost always the better option. Experience time in the raid is always a plus. On the other hand, if you’re on a limited raiding schedule, would you rather blitz through the farm stuff as quick as possible by stacking the raid?

Every wipe on farm means less attempts on the harder bosses for the week.

There are other types of balancing questions and acts that we regularly answer. But off the top of my head, those two are the ones that come up. I find that those two topics generally face the most disagreement. You can make strong arguments for both sides and it’s not always easy to answer it. It depends on what stage you are at an expansion and what the guild goals are.

As an aside, we’re hurting on ranged DPS at the moment*. If you’re looking around for a new guild for 25s, check us out (and that invitation is open to healers and other roles/classes).

So desperate that I switched over to Shadow.

Mattivation: The Origin of Many Whelps!

Language is slightly NSFW.

We’re about to enter our 4th expansion. There’s enough new players that haven’t seen this video yet but it’s something I wanted to share. If you think your raid leader was brutal, wait until you watch this classic Onyxia wipe raid video. If you ever wondered where Many Whelps! Handle It came from, this is it!

A large number of players today would most likely wilt under that kind of pressure and environment. Me? I don’t know. I’ve played under leaders like that before and it was a different experience. I felt like I thrived and played at near my peak. I wasn’t really motivated by fear or anything. There’s just something appealing I find when I get (quite literally) get yelled at for screwing up. My officers know this and won’t hesitate to get in my face because they know the right buttons to press (They don’t care that I’m the GM :\).

Anyway, it’s a quick video I wanted to share this morning. For the older veterans, I’m sure it’ll bring a slight grin to your face. For the newer guys, that’s what you missed out on during vanilla.

Remind me to show you guys that Sebudai poster next week.

Matticus: Healing at the 0.33 percentile

Matticus: Healing at the 0.33 percentile

Guys, I have an announcement to make. This is a special day.

For the first time, I am not in the 75th+ healing percentile. I actually fell quite low. Ended up being 4th, in fact.

I’m sorry for letting you all down Sad smile (and I got beat by a Druid, ugh)!

Here’s a snapshot from World of Logs in Mists of Pandaria. As was the case during the tail-end of Cataclysm, I’m getting spanked by holy Paladins. I’m not upset though. There’s a few reasons for this and it’s largely on me. This is against Gara’jal, the third and final boss in the first half of LFR.

The thinking for overhealing, mana management, and efficiency goes out the window at this stage.

It’s about survival.

The first pull or two on an encounter is going to result in low mana reserves because you have no idea how much you have to pace yourself. If you were told to run a marathon without any idea of the terrain, the length, or the conditions, I’d say you’d tired out too because you don’t know when to jog and when to sprint. Not only that, with the Mists class changes, it’s like getting new shoes, outfit, and weights attached to your body.


Link to spell usages


  • My top spell was Circle of Healing right at the top followed by my holy mastery along with Prayer of Mending behind that.
  • You can also see that I used Heal way more often comprising 10% of my healing done. I did run low a few times and there were periods where only light healing was needed.
  • Not only that, I was unfamiliar with the fight. Didn’t know when the big damage phases were. Didn’t realize there’d be players being spiked. Way to do my homework.
  • Kept forgetting to use my 1 minute Shadowfiend. I should just macro that to something.
  • Suffered from mana problems towards the end when we hit the last phase of Frenzy.
  • Used predominantly PvP gear.
  • Lightwell and Lightspring usage is something I have to deploy earlier. Have to start working that cooldown early instead of waiting for health to get low. In the 3 minute span that Lightwell is active, the probably is high that Lightspring ticks will automatically trigger.
  • Cascade is awesome in a 25 man environment.

I know I can do better next time.

13 Punishing Raid Mechanics Which Made You Go “PICK ME PLEASE!”

13 Punishing Raid Mechanics Which Made You Go “PICK ME PLEASE!”

Blizzard’s been crazy inventive with their raid mechanics over the year. Whenever I think they’re running fresh out of ideas, they manage to come up with something new and different. Malygos was one of the first raid bosses where we were not using our own class abilities to bring down a boss — We sat in a vehicle (red dragonflight).

But, encounters aren’t all about the tanking, the DPS, and the healing. There’s these little gimmicks and tricks that need to be executed with perfection or else it’s back to square one. Most guilds have those few players that were liabilities. For whatever reason, they couldn’t get it quick enough.

Learning curves? No, more like a learning line which was parallel to the X axis. The quality of a player’s skill isn’t measured by their HPS, DPS, or SPS (Survival per second). It’s an immeasurable quality of their ability to pick up mechanics quickly enough and master it. Mastery just isn’t a character stat. It’s also a player stat.

Atramedes – Gongs

Ah, the gongs. All you had to do was click a gong which interrupted Atramedes’ casting, reset every player’s sound, and gave Atramedes a case of Vertigo. This was one responsibility that you trusted to a small, select group of people. Too early, and you waste a gong that’s not going to catch an interrupt. Too late, someone in the raid dies and you need to burn a fast combat res or go through the raid short handed. Most raid leaders assumed this duty themselves.

Honorable mention: Players that ran the Sonic Breath right into the raid or into the tank.

Ultraxion – Fading Light and Hour of Twilight

One of the easiest mechanics in the game yet has claimed so many lives. Raid wipes hinged on people both hitting “the button” at the right time and not hitting “the button”. Getting the occasional death? Sure. Getting consistent deaths? What the hell, man. And there was a 5 second grace period which is like an eternity.

Actually, the times I died was either because my macro wasn’t on the bar, or I hit it too early. When you’re used to fighting Ultraxion on hard mode and then downshifting to normal mode, old habits die hard.

Nefarian – Missing an interrupt

Prior to the nerfs, you needed (at minimum) 6 solid, reliable interrupters (or 3 on 10 man). Shaman classes dominated here because Wind Shear was awesome. If even one person blew an interrupt on phase 2, the entire raid wiped after the platform exploded.

I was tempted to switch to my Resto Shaman alt for this one.

Teron Gorefiend – Ghost

Beating Gorefiend was like spinning Roulette. We all prayed that the ball didn’t land on that one player who struggled night after night. They couldn’t reliably kill their ghosts without the instance of the others. I kid you not. One night, there was a conversation that went something like this:

“It’s hard to turn the ghost, target the enemies, and click on the different abilities to kill them!”

Vent turned silent.

Supremus – Running

People that couldn’t run. Goddamnit. How can you not outrun the slowest, largest thing in the instance? Yes, Supremus had a quick dash if you were too far. BUT STILL. You didn’t have to outrun him forever. You had to outrun him long enough so that he switched phases!

Professor Putricide hard mode – Unbound Plague

Putricide on hard mode was one of my favourite fights during Wrath. It was one of the ultimate exercises in teamwork. Players had to coordinate who had the debuff, who didn’t, and who could take the debuff. You had situations where a dirty person mistakenly ran into a clean person too early. Did it too late and you run the risk of dying. Eventually you’d run out of people to use if the Unbound Plague debuff didn’t wear off. Thankfully, the debuff only last for about 60 seconds — But it was 60 seconds of steadily increasing damage.

Archimonde – Air Burst

I observed that people with really bad depth perception struggled like crazy on this fight. Air Burst would knock players up really high and Tyrande gave you feathers to slow your descent. They had a hard time gauging where the ground was and how long it took before they pancaked. I can understand the Fires being a problem because they were often unpredictable. I remember I was kept way out in the back with no way to get within range of my groups because the fire had cut me off. But at least with tears, you have some semblance of control when to hit the button.

Lurker Below – Spout

World’s easiest mechanic which also claimed many lives. Yes jumping into the water meant you’d take some damage, but it was hardly even fatal. I’m quite ashamed to say that I was the worse at this largely because I was healing with 5 FPS. I stood directly behind Lurker (opposite the tank). I compensated for this by facing away from Lurker and looking at the water instead. Backwards healing so that I could smash my forward button and prayed it was enough time to push me into the water. With single digit FPS, you did everything possible to get as much of a lead off as you could.

Shade of Aran – Flame Wreath

Oddly enough, the biggest wiper of this tier was to people moving when they didn’t have to. Flame Wreath incinerated those with itchy fingers. They’d see a huge ring of fire around them and instinctively try to move after being constantly drilled to stand out of the fire.

The Lich King – Defile

The more you stand in it, the bigger it gets. This took us way longer then it should’ve to master. I view Lich King as 1 of my biggest failures for the group I had at the time. If I had been more ruthless, would I have been able to gather players that were capable of getting us through that phase faster? I don’t know.

Thaddius – Plus and Minus

“Is positive side his right or our left?”

Buried my face in my hands.

Magtheridon – Cube clicking

Ol’ Maggy had a channeling ability that would go off and nuke the entire raid. However, there was only one way to stop this — Synchronized cubing. If 5 people clicked the cube at the right time, his channel would be interrupted and he’d get pissed off at the raid and rage out. However, if even one person missed a cube click, the rest of the raid would rage out.

Raid’s sounded something like this:



“… Okay, who missed it this time?”

“Sorry, boss.”

“Damnit Joey.”

Sindragosa – Ice Tombs

We had this one Mage back in the day. We entered the air phase with the Sindragosa Ice Tombs. Targeted players had to array themselves in a specific pattern so as to not nuke their partners. The rest of the raid ran to the top of the stairs and waited until the Tombs hit, then they had to run back within melee range and DPS the players out of the ice block (Hagara’s intermission phase was inspired by this).

Anyway, this one Mage would run to the top of the stairs with the rest of us despite the fact that he had the mark above his head from Frost BaconAnd he kept forgetting to move down to get the frost bombs away from us. It felt like every third raid he’d forget to do this. After about 6 raids of him consistently doing this, we were too tired to yell at him anymore. We pretty much just stopped saying anything and vent was super quiet when it happened. While we were still recruiting a replacement, I’m positive every person in the raid kept praying “Please target me with the Tomb. Please, please, please target me.”

Geeze, I just about aged a few years from this encounter alone.

Just thinking about all that stuff makes my blood boil.

… Actually, don’t even get me started about Blood Boil.


Staggered Raiding with Swagger

Cool, it looks like not every raid is going to be available immediately after the game release. I’m cool with that and I know others are, too. It took me less than half a week to level to from 80 to 85 and I predict it’s going to take me around the same time to go from 85 to 90. That should be enough time to hit cap and hit up scenarios along with dungeons for whatever points and gear needed. There’s still that minimum item level needed to queue for LFR.

My personal goal is to at least hit that mark before raids open.

How Blizzard used to slow content consumption down in the past

  • Really hard raid encounters that were near-mathematically or skillfully impossible without exploits (Vanilla)
  • Attunements (early Burning Crusade)
  • Gradually releasing bosses (Wrath, ICC)
  • Limited attempts (Wrath, ToC)

Now there’s no gimmicks or tricks. It’s just a straight-up “We’re not releasing this completed instance to you yet”.

There’s still a remarkable amount of players that are rather “upset” about the whole staggered and delayed raiding thing (if recent blog feedback’s an accurate indicator).

I’m going to use an analogy.

Let’s use swimming.

What if the race started before swimmers even reached the pool? Phelps and Lochte would have to race each other to change into their speedos, get their goggles attached, and put on their caps before sprinting and diving in the pool and racing their medley.

But now all the swimmers start at the line at the exact same time. Their speed and performance can actually be gauged by their abilities in the pool as opposed to how fast they can get ready.

If you think about it though, there’s going to be two races going on: First to hit level cap and the first to raid kills/clears. One shouldn’t impact the other.

How Did Your Guild Start?

I suspect many of you joined your guild way after it was formed. There’s probably some of you that were there from the beginning. A rare number of you were the ones who actually started it.

To those of you in the first category, have you ever wondered how it all began? Was your GM just bored one day and decided to go with it? Did he get kicked to the curb and wanted to start his own group? Was she pissed off at the way things were run and said “Enough is enough”?

Oh, and is there a story behind the guild name?

Derevka: The biggest change in Mists is how we look at mana

Derevka: The biggest change in Mists is how we look at mana

I jumped on an opportunity to speak with Derevka about the upcoming expansion and his thoughts on the priest class in general. We chatted about the state of both healing specs, raiding encounters in Mists, and spell usage.  Keep on reading for the full interview.

Matt: Hey Derevka, it’s been a while. You’ve recently picked up activity again on your blog, Tales of a Priest after taking a brief reprieve earlier in the year. You’ve especially been hard at work lobbying for some priest changes like Chakra and have put in some research on the mana regen talents.  So what do you think is the biggest change for priests leaping from Cataclysm to Mists, in your opinion?

Derevka: Tricky question, since I’d argue that Priests were affected least by the onslaught of changes that came in MOP— at least from a class mechanic standpoint. For the most part our healing strategy will be ‘more of the same’. Perhaps the biggest change in Mists will be how we look at mana. First and foremost we need to realize that once we hit 90, we will not be getting any more mana. 300,000 is our pool. Period.

Mana pools, since they do not scale, will be something we need to really keep an eye on. For example, Greater Heal in quest greens costs the same amount of mana that it does in full epic T14. The only thing that will scale is our ability to regen mana via spirit. We will need to balance spirit and know when we have too much or too little. Mana is a zero-sum game.

Purely spamming Prayer of Healing will quickly have you running out of mana; we’ll need to be more mindful of what spells we choose to cast as well as how to use our mana cooldowns, and talents. It could be a steep learning curve for some who are too used to the Dragon Soul era of mana and are unfamiliar with mana management.

We’ll need to be more mindful of what spells we choose to cast as well as how to use our mana cooldowns, and talents.

M: Yeah, I found that out the hard way having to put Heal back in my bars again. Have you figured out any numbers for Spirit benchmarks or what we’ll need to hit at different stages of character progression? For example, how much are we going to need to adequately heal through heroic dungeons, challenge modes, or entry level raids?

D: Spirit numbers are tricky, as it really depends on your healing style. I will say that we’re going to want spirit on pretty much all of our gear in the first tier of raiding. Gone are the days of equipping non-spirit/dual stat gear!

For those who remember MP5 as a stat, think of spirit in that manner — it provides zero throughput: Just pure regen. We’ll have the ability to trade off spirit (via reforging) for throughput stats pretty easily, but it’ll depend on what your comfort level is. Personally, I would suggest being cautious with mana at first, and then pair back my regen instead of gasping for mana but my heals hit like a truck. It’ll be a fun balancing act, and will depend on individual healing style.


M: What do you feel is the go-to Priest spec?

D: Hard question as they both provide some great tools and flavor. If I had to knee-jerk a response, I am going to say Holy. Holy always does well early in an expansion as it is arguably the least reliant on combat stats of the two  priest healing specs. I say this because Disc gets a good deal of it’s output from Divine Aegis. DA, apart from POH, is created by critical heals In low iLvl gear (aka Fresh 90’s) you’ll have innately lower crit chance due to less available Intellect on gear, and stats.  Now, do not misconstrue me and say “Derevka said to stack crit as disc at 90!” … No, that’s not what I am saying. I am saying that you’ll innately have lower critical strike due to your intellect and available crit, thus causing the creation of Divine Aegis more difficult (ie. 5 mans).

M: With that in mind, what does Discipline need to get itself back up to comparable level with Holy?

I do not think Disc is in a bad place at all. I think that Holy will just have an easier time early in the level 90 gear grind, only because Disc has a more strict gear requirement than Holy. Disc will be very powerful, particularly since it still has Barrier and access to the new Spirit Shell. Spirit Shell could be one of “those abilities” that winds up getting nerfed when used  “creatively”. I do worry that Spirit Shell will be used to bypass boss abilities. I mean, you have the ability to prep a tank with a 60% HP bubble– then PW: Shield on top of that, and if you wanted, Pain Suppression as well. Remember people using Guardian Spirit to avoid Valiona’s Blackout in Heroic Bastion of Twilight? This could potentially be used similarly. Time will tell.  Spirit Shell is going to be perfect for those places where you would have POH/DA prepared the raid… except now, all that POH healing will be Spirit Shells!

I mean, you have the ability to prep a tank with a 60% HP bubble– then PW: Shield on top of that, and if you wanted, Pain Suppression as well.


M: In a previous conversation, we were talking about Mastery and how the points have changed. Do you consider haste the primary secondary stat for Holy with Mastery and Crit right behind it? What about Discipline?

D: Yes, Mastery should be a bit more transparent when it comes to its benefits on the character sheet. It’ll be much easier to understand now that they have streamlined the stat conversion straight to percentage gained.

That said, it is hard to provide a concrete statweight since a number of our spells are in flux when it comes to combat stat ratings; specifically regarding what affects them and what does not.  As of build 17882, we have Holy Word: Sanctuary now being affected by haste, which has me concerned, I did the math and its not good news– but it may be a bug. That said, since HW: Sanctuary is being affected by Haste, it does make breakpoints something to keep in mind. I have calculated the required Haste Rating for each Spell’s Breakpoint and will be publishing those numbers shortly. I do not think we’ll be ‘chasing breakpoints’ in MoP, but keeping them in mind will be critical–We’ll want to know where they are, so we can ensure we aren’t so close that we should change a gem or two. I do not think we’ll be gearing to get that additional HW: Sanctuary tick.

However, a Hymn tick on the other hand…

Preliminary simming is going to put Haste/Mastery pretty close to one another for Holy; however it will depend on how you heal. Are you going to be constantly spamming? Are you going to be weaving in more Power Word: Solaces? Are you going to burst heal and then slow down to regen? Are you single target healing? These all have different impacts to your statweights. If forced to chose, I would probably suggest gearing for enough Haste (raidbuffed) for the added Hymn (both), Renew tick and for a 10th Sanctuary tick… then Mastery. We’ll likely have a good deal of mastery  since a lot of the cloth drops and craftables are covered in it!

Discipline will enjoy Mastery since it now has a 3rd spell that benefits from it: Spirit Shell. Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Spirit Shell will all scale from Mastery. More simming will be needed to be done to get these stats, but for the most part Haste & Mastery will likely be our top go-to stats.

For the most part Haste & Mastery will likely be our top go-to stats.

M: Level 90 talents. What do you think about each of them and what’s going to be your standard level 90 talent?

D: For raiding? Hands down, Cascade. I like them all (even beyond just the visuals). Halo is nice, but requires too much positional tweaking to make it really solid and is too expensive and too long a cooldown to be reliable. Divine Star will be great in 5 mans (I know I’ve used it a lot in heroics), and will work well in raids that have you all grouped up (a la Ultraxion). However, Cascade has proven to be the strongest for me in the test raids I’ve done. Even on 10 man— remember Cascade will hit 15 targets, and 10 man raids do not have 15 targets typically (pets).


M: What about raid encounters? How about some previews for healing?

Hard to really nail this down simply. At the moment, some of the 10-man encounters have been wildly undertuned. For example, we accidentally killed Lei Shi in the Terrace of the Endless Spring due to dots when we tried to wipe/reset to get more testing/logs on the fight. Oops! Heroic Testing has just started, but has some promise to be challenging.

I will say that there are going to be some head nods to old encounters. Garalon, for example,  has a Professor Putricide-esque ability requiring you to pass a DoT/Debuff around via proximity. Not “recycled” content, but certainly some “oh this reminds me of X!”.

The one that I liked the most was Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. It is one of those fights that has different abilities in each phase of the fight, and then the final phase has all the abilities active at once. I enjoy these “progressive fights”; fights in which you learn how to manage and heal each phase, and then you have a capstone in the final phase.

M: Oh man, I love Professor Putricide. Always made jokes about who was dirty and who wasn’t. Vizier sounds something like Mimiron. If I remember right, most of these encounters were for normal mode and purely for testing of mechanics.

That’s correct as the only testing so far is Normal and it really was about testing mechanics. But the tuning of the mechanics are still important. Again, if you look at Lei Shi, you’ll see the latest patch notes took that feedback and increased some of the damage she does. Hopefully she won’t be quite the pinata she proved to be originally!

M: How much will I need to work Solace into my “rotation” (for lack of a better term) to see sizeable gains along the lines of mana hymn or fiend?

D: First, I’d be remiss not to ask people to calm down about Solace. People are really getting panicked over Solace. Yes, Solace provides the most regen potential, but there is a cost to that.

When you are casting (or chain casting) PW: Solace you are doing zero healing. Those GCDs have an opportunity cost. It is up to you, to evaluate when you can fit those in and what the cost to doing that (vs healing) is. It might mean the tank takes a couple of melee swings and goes without a heal for 2-3 seconds. You’re going to have to heal that back up, but is the cost worth it? That is the question you need to ask yourself.

When you are casting (or chain casting) PW: Solace you are doing zero healing. […] It is up to you, to evaluate when you can fit those in and what the cost to doing that (vs healing) is.

Now, as far as how do you need to work Solace into rotation? You’ll want to find the gaps in damage–which can be hard the first time you see an encounter. I strongly suggest macroing PW:Solace with a mouseover/assist macro. This will allow you to simply hover over a DPS/Tank and Solace their target, all while not losing your current target (like the tank).

For PW: Solace to work out equal to Mindbender (assuming you’re also using Shadowfiend on CD) you’ll need to do 3-4  per minute (current build has it restoring 1.5%). Its actually 3.555/minute but remember its in aggregate. If for the first minute you got only 1 Solace in, to be on par by the end of minute 2, you’ll need to have 6 during minute number 2. Here is a link to an article I put together outlining how these talents work, and specifically how the granularity of the spells can work to your advantage.
I promise you, finding those GCD’s isn’t as difficult as it may seem. You just need to find the places to do it and weigh the opportunity cost.


M: Right, yeah. I mean if we had access to Solace right now, we’d use it on Tendon phases during Spine (oh gosh, wouldn’t that just be so awesome to have right now?). In contrast, relying on Solace on Zon’ozz while the ball is active and bouncing around is probably a bad idea since you run the risk of losing players.

D: Yep! Finding the appropriate spots to use Solace will be the marker of a priest using it correctly. Of course, given that its clearly been under the watchful eyes of Blizzard and has been kept in check… 3-4 casts per min (in aggregate) is not a meaningless number as there may be fights where that much non-healing time is too much. However, if the Normal tests so far are any indication, you should be able to find time to cast Solace if you look for it.

Players and guilds are in a flux right now. This is going to be the time where players will be jumping around different guilds and M: situating themselves for Mists. Any advice for a 10 man Priest making the switch to 25 man and what they can expect with MoP raids?

D: 25 man raids will be interesting in MoP. I do not want to turn this into an argument about which is harder or if 25’s are dying. However, 25 man raids will have a challenge on a number of fights based purely on available real estate. A few of the fights seem to be reliant on spacing aspects like spreading out and grouping (even more so on Heroic, when looking at the Dungeon Journal). With the same square footage in the boss encounter, 25 man raids could find themselves in a position where they simply run out of space.

Healers in a 25 man raid, always need to be sure they do not have “I’m the Hero Syndrome”.

I’ve seen this happen to a number of healers when making the switch from 10s to 25s. They simply do not rely on the other 4-5 healers on their team and either: deviate from assignment, go OOM from being inefficient, or ignore instruction. You really need to work as a team in 25s, arguably more so than in 10s as you have substantially more people working with you, and covering potentially greater areas.

Be the uni-mind.

M: Let’s talk about our favourite spell Lightwell. There’s a certain cost/benefit between having it clickable vs having it firing off when player health drops below 50%. Are you going to leave yours glyphed or unglyphed?

D: Well since Lightwell and Lightspring both are healing for the same amount, the only added benefit of not Glyphing Lightspring, is that you can control its output (assuming players click it) . However, there are not many Major Glyphs we can choose from and I predict this being the glyph that we will run 95% of the time, with the 5% of the time on fights that you will ‘order’ your raid to click it at a specific time (such as Chimaeron’s Feud).

Lightspring will be ‘what’s expected’ and running it unglyphed, you likely will hear “I thought it was lightspring and would auto heal me!”


M: We were chatting briefly about the lack of Holy glyphs. It seems that there’s a certain 3-4 glyphs that are the most optimal for Holy right now. What spells would you like to see affected by glyphs for extra or altered functionality?

D: If I were to have a wish list? Whoo, boy. I’d like a glyph to allow us to channel Hymns while moving. I hate casting HoH and then having something spawn under my feet! Or perhaps something that makes Spirit of Redemption useful? I’ve always hated a talent that only is used if you die/fail. Perhaps remove the “on death” and grant something useful like an on-use throughput increase. (See Also: Archangel, Tree of Life, Ascendance, and Divine Favor)

M: Alright, that’s all I have for you, Derevka! It’s good chatting with you again and thanks for taking time out of your schedule to offer your thoughts on (what is clearly) the best class in the game. Bonus: Your MoP release date guess?

D: Well, we are in the potential final stages of testing heroic raids! I would imagine another 2-3 weeks of raid  testing before we get a date. I also will assume they’re going to test LFR as well. If I were to bet, we’ll have a release date when they debut the opening cinematic at Gamescom.

I am hoping the launch date isn’t in the two weeks where I have a vacation and big work conference in September. With that in mind I am going to say 10/2/12–but I will hope it lands before. My raid team has already been tired of farming Heroic DS since February! We want something fresh, and I know many people share that opinion!

Where’s my panda?!