Raiding Epiphany

Raiding Epiphany

You know that time when you’re working on a new boss and it just seems like you keep hitting that same block over and over? For us, it was Blackfuse. We’ve been working on the guy for the past month now. We kept bringing him down to about 65% but we’d keep consistently buckling during that first magnet phase. It was a combination of fires, mines, overload, or something else that was seemingly unavoidable.

Then all of a sudden, the clouds part.

Sunlight shines right through.

The players are struck with a wave of epiphany.

Our attempts improve dramatically. We made it past the the first magnet phase, then the second magnet phase, and now we’re breaching below 50% more often than not.

It’s like being able to breathe again after having clogged sinuses for so long.

That’s kind of where we’re at now. I call it cautious optimism, but if this level of improvement continues, then we’ll be on track.

Retooling and rebuilding

Not long after the proposed schedule went out, I had a few members express their inability to commit to that schedule. As a result of that, I did end up losing some fine players and friends.

It’s a little funny how things work out though. I was approached by a previous raider who’d been out of the game for a while and with a different group. Turns out the players in there were looking to move on up and get into some of the more top tier content in the game. Instead of trying to transition from a 10 man to a 25 man guild, they were toying with the idea of flat out signing on with a 25 man guild.

The beauty of the current state of raiding is that players can easily cross-realm on any difficulty. For the past month, we’ve been raiding with many of these players and they didn’t have to change servers at all yet. A few of them made the leap earlier on because they liked what they were seeing. Some others are still holding off for now, but it seems an amicable solution for everyone.

Conquest veterans can be rested a little more on the earlier encounters to conserve energy and mental fortitude for some of the more challenging bosses like Thok and Blackfuse.

Newer players are embracing the challenge and accessibility of heroic raids. Many of them actually fit right in with no problem. Of course, a few of them are understandably upset since they used to be the top dog in their former organization but are now being completely out DPS’d by sheer differences in gear alone. But that’s obviously an easy problem to resolve.

Our raid has received a notable shot of adrenaline, at least!

A post-Blizzcon release

How about that cinematic, eh?

Along with the November 13, 2014 release date?

That’s quite some time away! I was really hoping for an earlier release but it wasn’t meant to be, I guess. Blizzard’s stated time and time again that they’re committed to providing a more timelier expansion release.

What are your thoughts on the 2.5 week leveling period? Raids don’t open until week 1 of December. In previous expansions, raids opened up exactly a week after. I understand their rationale for Warlords in that they didn’t want to release the game during Remembrance Day (November 11th) and then there’s the American Thanksgiving holiday the week after. In theory, I could relax my levelling speed a bit.

But c’mon, my pride is on the line here.

I was beaten to the level cap in the guild for the first time in Mists when I had been the sole title owner from Burning Crusade, to Wrath, and to Cataclysm.

By a non-Asian, no less!

Need to regain my title here!

For more thoughts on the levelling process and the release date, check out the recent episode of The Edge!

3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Time to take this beta Disc Priest out for a spin and see what he can do in a dungeon environment. I needed a tank, but where could I find one? I happened to be idling in Shrine keeping an eye on trade chat and noticed one of my bear tanks was online!

Time to con her into being my pocket tank.

She agreed and we appeared on the beta servers ready to queue up. I should’ve done a quick pass over my binds and abilities to ensure everything was in place. It took until the end of Bloodmaul Slag Mines before I finally configured everything to my specifications. There were periods where I had to open my spellbook and manually click on select abilities.

Anyway, I’m here to gripe about Disc Priest healing. Here it is:

Lack of Healing mobility: Prayer of Mending has a cast time. We’ve lost access to Renew. Divine Star has a cast time. Penance can be glyphed to allow casting while moving. Holy Nova has a really short radius (and we’ll touch on this in a second).

As a healer, I move around a ton. I don’t mean just simply dodging projectiles or dangerous boss abilities. Sometimes I have to kite or run away from any mobs or ads that are activated. Other times, my tank has screamed ahead and I’m trying to play catchup while stabilizing the rest of the group. The Hunters, Mages, and Rogues are busy trucking on trying to help the tank. Meanwhile, there I am huffing and puffing attempting to keep everyones health up while being unable to move. In Mists, we have all these tools that allowed us to help players recover some health as we were moving from point A to point B. It wasn’t that strong or efficient, but it was something. And yes, shields are great at absorbing inbound damage but they’re not the greatest at restoring health. An absorb simply buys you a little more time to dump heals on your target whereas actually healing your target has the effect of both negating the damage they’re about to take and healing them back.

This must be what a Resto Shaman or Holy Paladin feels like sometimes.

Proposal: Glyph of Mobile Mending – Allow Prayer of Mending to be cast while moving. Exclusive glyph.

Weak Multi-target Healing: Holy Nova is the new efficient Discipline AoE heal. Prayer of Healing has a 30 yard radius. Holy Nova has a 12 yard radius. It’s hard to insist that every player remain stacked. There’s attacks that will prevent the party from doing just that. Holy Nova appears to be enough to keep a players health bar from trending down long enough but it won’t be enough to shoot them back to full right away. That’s a tradeoff at this stage of the game since we’re testing dungeon content at reduced item levels. At the same time, functionally speaking, Holy Nova might not be able to reach the rest of the party if everyone has to split up. You’re reduced to a slightly weaker Prayer of Healing option. Alternatively, you can play the executioner and focus on healing yourself, the tank, and 1 or 2 other players while opting to sacrifice the fifth for the good of the party.

Proposal: De-couple Holy Nova from the Priest. Make it targetable like Prayer of Healing. Allow Holy Nova to heal any player in range of the target up to a maximum of 5 of the weakest players. If you’re still spread out, at least Holy Nova might be able to catch 2-3 other players in your party at a time.

Lack of time: As healers, we have to think of time as a resource. Is there enough time to bring the tank out of range of lethal if I use this spell? How many seconds can I buy my group if I spam this AoE spell until the deadly AoE ability stops being used? Is that player a lost cause or should I try saving them? As mentioned before with the cast time spells, choice becomes important. For example, you and your tank are within lethal range after suffering an unavoidable hit. You have about 2 seconds before the next blow comes and you’re looking at a wipe. A 2.5 second Heal might hit slightly harder and save you more mana. But a 1.5 second Flash Heal would’ve allowed the tank to survive the hit. A Binding Heal would’ve saved both you and the tank*. Most of our direct healing spells are a cast time now. A Holy priest can Renew blanket but a Disc Priest is playing catch up one target at a time.

*The correct play is to either shield one, and Penance/Prayer of Mending/Flash Heal/Desperate Prayer the other and pray the shield holds. The god play is to have never arrived in this situation in the first place.

Regardless, Binding Heal is one of those spells that allowed you to inefficiently heal yourself and your target really fast to get out of lethal range. This is a tool removed from the Priest toolbox. If Flash Heal is the wrench, then Binding Heal is the duct tape because it’s a quick fix and not necessarily the permanent solution. Sometimes you just have to be inefficient or else players die.

Proposal: Bring back Binding Heal. It’s already tough as is for AoE healing as a Disc Priest in a party.

The next step is to give Holy a shot and see how well that performs in dungeon environments. Bloodmaul Slag Mines was a piece of cake but I certainly struggled a fair bit in Upper Blackrock Spire and the Shadowmoon Burial Ground instances.

BlizzCon: Networking 101

BlizzCon: Networking 101

When the first set of alpha invites came out for Warlords of Draenor, I couldn’t help but notice that there were plenty of disappointed people. Hey, completely understandable. Everyone wants to get in and take a sneak peek at the upcoming expansion even though it’s all partially developed and incomplete.

Here’s what bothers me though.

I observed on my Twitter stream (among others) that many people felt that they deserved to get a shot at it. They blog about the game. They create videos for it. They’re an influencer or someone who is up and coming in the community.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself “Who are these people?”. Yes, it’s one thing to produce quality work. Yes, your work should speak for itself. But no one’s going to know how awesome you are unless you network and promote yourself. I get that as gamers, many of us tend to be introverts. We shy away from large crowds. We don’t like doing the hand shaking or the high-fiving.

Actually, even if you’re not some content producer and you want to meet some terrific individuals, then this is a post for you.

If you really don’t give a fajita about meeting other people at all, then skip the post.

If you want to maximize your BlizzCon experience and build some terrific memories and relationships, for cryin’ out loud keep reading.

Really though, you can take these guidelines and apply it to meeting just about anyone. It could be a Blizzard employee, a cosplayer, shoutcaster, a blogger, YouTube personality, or what have you.

The preparation

Shower. It’s a wonder I even have to mention this. But please shower and apply some deodorant. For the men, I recommend Old Spice (but not Fiji because that one’s mine). Go easy on the deoderant spray. Holy hell, let’s not turn BlizzCon into the boys locker room where people were spraying Axe willy nilly. It should go without saying but, brush your teeth too. Actually, just practice good hygiene in general.

Know who to engage. This is a bit of a no-brainer. I’m assuming you have an idea of who you want to go up to and say hi.

Dress to impress. Don’t dress up like a slob. Luckily, you’re at BlizzCon so the dress code isn’t too formal or strict. Literally anything that’s a t-shirt or better will do. For the men, if you want to go one-up, shoot for polos or a dress shirt. Shorts, jeans, or slacks will suffice for the bottom. If you’re Canadian like me, then you’re limited to shorts because damn it’s hot. You’ll be doing a ton of walking and standing around, so pick shoes that will help you feel at ease.

For the women, I asked BlizzCon veteran Elke (@plumwd) for her thoughts. First thing she said to me was to think comfort during the day! Wear comfortable shoes, because walking on the concrete inside the convention center will quickly kill your feet after a few short hours. Save the heels for hanging out afterwards.  If you’re frequently cold, be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater to wear inside the con. Despite the masses it can get chilly (at least, for her it does). Ultimately, you’re going to want to be comfortable because you’re going to be standing in many lines or sitting for a long time waiting for your favorite panel. If you wear makeup, be sure to bring what you need for touch ups with you such as oil blotting tissue, lipstick, powder, etc. You’ll be happy to have it handy.  Plan outfits for both day and night. Think more causal and comfort for while you’re inside the con, and then maybe something dressier for the evening. You never know who you’re going to meet or the opportunities that may present themselves for adventures in the evening. I always bring at least one business casual outfit just in case.

Best practices

Approach from the front, not the sides or rear. Chances are, the person you want to speak with is already in a conversation. Wait for a gap in the conversation. Make eye contact or even do a little wave. It usually catches their attention.

Have a conversation starter in mind. It’d be a little embarrassing to go up to someone, introduce yourself, and then have nothing to say. Have a conversation topic or two in mind. Remember, that you’re at BlizzCon and you’re there largely because you’re passionate about Blizzard’s universes.

For example, if I were to meet my buddy @Elvinelol for the first time I’d say something like “Hi Elvine! I’m Matt! I wanted to thank you for establishing the LF BlizzCon site. It really bailed out some of my guildmates who almost couldn’t make it”. If you’re really not sure what to talk about, just remember you’re both at the same convention.

Potential icebreakers include:

  • What did you think of that panel on [game/feature]…?
  • What are your thoughts on [feature/hero/gameplay aspect/character]…?
  • What inspired you to start getting involved with [project/video/blog/game]…?

A firm hand shake. Don’t be limp. Don’t lock them into a vice grip either. Since you may be drinking, ensure your beverage is in your left hand. You don’t want your first handshake to be super cold to the other person. If your hands are clammy or super sweaty, wipe them on your pants first.

Know when to disengage. Have you ever had a friend overstay their welcome when you invited them over? You’re all relaxing and having a good time watching Game of Thrones and sharing stories about your recent escapades. The next thing you know, it’s 2:30 AM and they’re on your couch completely oblivious to the time still expecting you to entertain them. Look, you’re not going to be the only one going up to and saying hi to your favourite personalities. Give them a bit of space. Keep the time of day in mind. It’s one thing to approach a person you admire during the day. It’s another when it’s late in the evening. Ask them for a card or their email if you wish to continue to stay in touch. If not, close off with a "It’s great to meet you!" and meander away. 

I would not end a conversation with a hug unless the other person initiates and if you’re comfortable with it. I’ve witnessed many “oh god, oh god, oh god, why am I being hugged” faces and it did not look fun. Hand shakes, fist bumps, or waves are acceptable.

(Seriously, personal space).

Body language matters. Chest out. Shoulders wide. Smile. Doesn’t have to be a cheesy or fake grin. But a half smile or a slight smirk will make you look more approachable. No one’s going to want to talk to someone who has their arms crossed and shoulders hunched over with a frown on their face. You’re oozing signs of “I don’t want to talk to anyone, leave me alone”. Look approachable! Your mental state has a subconscious effect on your body. When you’re down, you tend to look a little more dejected. You might have a slight frown. But little known tip, it works both ways. Faking it till you make it can trick your mind. Adopting a more confident and cheerful stance seems to have an impact on mood. Works for me, it might for you! If you’re apprehensive out there, stand up straight, force a smile, and throw out your chest. You might feel like an idiot but it’s a good thing people won’t be able to tell what you feel by looking at you. They’ll see a confident and inviting person who just might be cool to get to know.

george-clooney Seth Rogen michael-cera

mila-kunis zoe-saldana

There’s a slight progression from George to Michael. But it’s all natural. No grins or anything but a slight smile is all that’s really needed to feel at ease. No one’s really showing any teeth here, except for Mila. Even then, it’s just barely noticeable. God, I love her.

Stupid Ashton.

Have a business card. If you think people are going to be able to recall your email or Twitter handle after a few days of partying and drinking, you’re sadly mistaken. Get a few business cards printed out. I suggest Moo Cards. Have your name, your website, and email or Twitter handle. I try to make an effort to email and message the individuals I’ve met up with as a follow up and to acknowledge their contributions to the WoW community.

How to make an introduction. I actually did a whole lot of this in previous years (@Itsxia and @Kristin can attest to this). I had friends and guildies who wanted to meet certain Blizzard staff or podcasters who I already had met before. Not only do you look like a hero, but you’ll help break the ice. “Hi AWESOME PERSON, I’d like to introduce you to my friend. She’s a big fan of your YouTube channel and plays a Priest. If you have a moment, she has a quick question about being a PvP player.” Then politely and quietly disengage out (and hit the bar).

Assume good intentions. This is a big one. Most of your interactions tend to be in the evening. Some people will be tired after walking around all day at the convention and might not be in the mood to talk right now. Maybe they’re giving you the cold shoulder. Try not to take it personally. Try to catch them later.

Accept defeat. Sometimes, you’ll run into someone who just isn’t interested in getting to know you. No matter how hard you try, they’re sending out all the wrong signals and just want nothing to do with you. It’s not your fault. It takes two to tango, remember? If you can’t dance with this partner, go find another one. Again, it isn’t your fault. This isn’t a game. You can’t simply just level up your social skills by annoying people. Going up to someone repeatedly when they turn you down isn’t going to make them want to open up to you after try number 30. These kinds of individuals are rare. For the most part, everyone I’ve spoken to has been polite and cordial at minimum.

Follow up. This is a big one. Once you’ve arrived at home, follow up with the people you met! Follow them on Twitter if you haven’t. Drop them an email. Send a message saying that you were delighted to meet them in person and mention your own blog or project for them to check out.

Nerves getting to you? Take a drink. Loosen up a bit. Remember that everyone is there to have a good time. The ones that don’t want to meet people usually bolt to their rooms or are off to the side somewhere within their own fortress of friends. No big deal.

At the end of the day, the BlizzCon experience is entirely what you make of it. No matter what happens, have some fun! Don’t be discouraged.

Of course, you’re free to say hi to me at any time. I promise, I won’t bite.

To the veteran con go-ers, what other pointers would you offer to the wid-eyed, bushy-tailed first time BlizzCon attendees when it comes to meeting new people?

Shadow Priest Warlords Leveling not as Easy

Shadow Priest Warlords Leveling not as Easy

As you might have guessed, I was one of the privileged few to have been offered a slot in the Warlords of Draenor friends and family alpha that went live a few days ago. I was quite intent on making my mark in Wildstar’s Nexus but I’ll have to put that on hold.

Unfortunately, only the Horde side is available for play meaning I had to create a Blood Elf priest.

I’ll need to take a long cold shower after this play session.

I feel so filthy.

Anyway, I’m not going to delve too much into garrisons too much. The only base building I can do effectively is in Starcraft 2. But, head over to BlizzPro for their hands-on with garrisons.

Just as I’ve done in previous expansions, I plan to blitz my way to the max level as quickly as I can. Each expansion brings with it new tools, new systems, and new spells to help that process.

spriest-leveling

For Shadow Priests, Warlords made it a little tougher. The changes to Shadow and the loss of certain healing spells slowed down leveling. No Renew means I can’t simply keep refreshing Renew whenever it wears off. It means I have to stop and eat more to replenish my health. Flash Heal is obviously no help since it wasn’t designed to top a player off quick in Shadow. Prayer of Mending’s cast time means it can’t just be applied on the run either. Divine Star also lost the healing component.

Thankfully, I can still rely on Power Word: Shield to soak at least some of the damage. Vampiric Embrace, glyphed Psychic Scream, and Dispersion are going to be workhorse cooldowns during the grind.

At the moment, I’m capped at level 92 but level 100 talents are unlocked and can be selected. Auspicious Spirits is a neat talent but Clarity of Power seems to be useful when grinding or farming mobs since you can just go straight to Mind Flay instead of applying a DoT that isn’t going to last the full duration anyway.

draenor-perk-unlocked These Draenor perks are actually quite nice. They offer bits of quality of life improvements. I managed to obtain the Enhanced Shadow Orbs perk quickly after hitting 91 and Enhanced Mind Flay at 92.

More to come later! I’ve got a Shaman I want to try out.

I have never seen healing or DPS numbers this low in a long time.

Stop Covering for Other’s Bad Play!

The other day, I wrote a post on BlizzPro outlining the problems I had with people comparing themselves to others and that it compromised their own performance.
Today, I want to write about actually covering for someone else’s mistakes.
In a word, don’t.
Let them fail. It’ll be the only way your guild can grow stronger. If a player in raid consistently fails to execute a given role, one of these outcomes must occur.
  1. The player successfully learns and succeeds at a given task with enough time.
  2. The player fails and is subsequently replaced by someone who can.
Either way, the boss phase or mechanic that was inhibiting the raid from moving forward is no longer a problem. Now the raid can progress and deal with the next obstacle and repeat as needed.
Survival of the fittest, right?
If you find yourself constantly interrupting or CC’ing someone else’s assignment because they missed it, stop.
If you find yourself consistently sprinting to one of Malkorok’s puddles to prevent a raid explosion when it’s not yours, don’t.
Weaknesses in raids have to be exposed and identified in order for the group to grow stronger.
As a healer myself, I am extremely prone to not listening to my own advice. I will shield players who are standing in fire. I will Leap of Faith anyone who’s about to get destroyed by a Malkorok breath.
The thing is that I’ve ingrained myself to bail people out. The hallmark of a good healer is to be there when your team needs you. What I must continue to instill in myself is that it isn’t possible to be there every time. If the same player keeps failing to the same type of mistakes or sloppy play, the best thing I can do for them is to stop covering for them. My problem is that this is a habit I picked up in my younger years as a goalie. It was literally your job to help your team and make up for a defensive lapse.
It’s even worse for a GM or raid leader. You want so desperately for the raid to move on to the next boss and get to the next fight. You don’t want to wipe to the same thing repeatedly because you know if you do, morale is going to sink lower. Wiping to fights that were previously on farm? What a joke. What a waste of everyone’s time. We all want to wipe to the new stuff not the garbage that has been consistently cleared. So the GM puts everything on their shoulders. They find a way to put the raid on the back because it’s success at any cost and that’s the bottom line. Because if there isn’t success, it could eventually lead to a cascade of failures and a chorus of frustrated and annoyed players leaving for greener guilds.
In this day and age when recruiting is akin to fighting for scraps, GMs have to do everything they can to try to keep the veteran players around as much as they can and as long as they can. It often means doing some behind the scenes raid work and hiding the mistakes of other people from time to time. But there’s only so much that can be done.
I have watched guilds ahead of us disintegrate simply because their leaders and veteran players did everything they could to give their underwhelming players a chance to flourish. Whether it was due to a lack of caring or skill, the ones who tried just couldn’t do it. For whatever reason, they could not rise to the challenge. Seven years ago when I started this guild, I would’ve said I didn’t believe it. I would’ve said every player has the chance and the capability to succeed and match what was asked of them. Now, I’m not so sure.
Maybe I’m just getting bitter with every passing day. I was too blind to the reality that maybe, just maybe, some people suck. Call it a crisis of confidence. Not everyone can be a heroic raider. For the first time in my stewardship, I just don’t have a damn clue. Maybe the problems start at the top with me. Maybe a fresh change in vision in leadership is needed. Sports clubs undergo GM and coaching changes. It started off as just a whisper. Something tugging away inside in my head that maybe I am the problem. I just don’t know.
Anyway, back to my original point: Give your players the chances and opportunity to excel. But you can’t always be there to pick them back up.
Patch 6.0 can’t come soon enough.
5 Killer Priest Changes Coming in Warlords

5 Killer Priest Changes Coming in Warlords

Good gravy, so many new changes coming with the alpha notes! Instead of going through all of them, I’m just going to summarize my favourites. You can turn to BlizzPro later in the week for a more in-depth analysis.

Atonement nerfs

Don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming. For almost the entire expansion, Discipline Priests were considered top tier and a virtual must have in progression focused guilds. It wasn’t so much the temporarily healing buff from Evangelism, but the Archangel ratios which made us a force to be reckoned.

Let’s deal damage with any of our main DPS nukes. On top of that, a portion of the damage done is going to also heal. Oh and it’s a smart heal!

In a way, I’m disappointed that it’s lowered but I can’t help but think it’ll help equalize the state of healing classes a little more. At the very least, maybe it’ll lower Discipline representation some and allow us Holy Priest guys back into the fray as a better alternative. There was nothing really wrong with Holy (well, there was but we’ll cover that in a moment), but Holy just wasn’t quite as well sought after.

That’ll be different in the future largely because of…

Chakra changes

Remember when Chakra came into play? It was almost two expansions ago during the start of Cataclysm. It essentially functioned as a stance for Holy Priests. Certain spells would become stronger depending on which Chakra you had active and you’d gain access to a Holy Word spell that corresponded with that stance. It was intended to provide flexibility and allow Priests to select the role they were going to perform in a raid: Single target healing or multi-target healing.

If you were in a Chakra stance and wanted to do something outside of the benefit, your spells wouldn’t make quite as an impact. The alpha notes said it quite clearly: The buff from being in a certain Chakra “felt like a penalty for being in the wrong Chakra, rather than a bonus for being in the right Chakra”.

Chakra: Sanctuary provided a strong buff to Prayer of Healing which was great when I was covering groups but it was lousy if I needed to spot heal the tank for a few moments. Lowering the bonuses attained in Serenity and Sanctuary are a start. Saying “I’m only losing 10% of a healing boost instead of a 25% bonus” is much more reassuring. Instead, Holy Word: Serenity and Sanctuary are receiving more of a healing bonus. I suspect our normal baseline spells will be adjusted and balanced accordingly.

Removal of Mana Hymn

Gone.

Just like that.

How else am I supposed to get my mana back? One of our healing utilities is out the window as a victim of Blizzard’s crackdown on ability bloat. Now they’ve promised that mana regeneration rates and spirit will be monitored to offset the loss of Hymn of Hope. Now I’m really at the mercy of my own healing spells. I can’t heal full throttle and rely on Mana Hymn to provide me with a cushion anymore. I’m going to miss it.

New glyphs

To be more specific, I’m giddy with Glyph of Restored Faith. It can be used as an escape or a closer or if I just want to get next to someone. Maybe it isn’t that killer, but I really do like the fun I can get with this. I can pull myself out of harms way if I’m caught standing in a fire! It’s like a pseudo defensive cooldown!

Level 100 talents

You can find the new talents at the recently updated WoW Head calculator. I liked that old talent with Void Shift where you could use it as many times as you wanted but I guess that one was tossed.

Now there’s healing talents when you reach level 100 like Words of Mending. Every healing or absorb spell generates a stack of Word of Mending. Hit 5 stacks, cast a free Prayer of Mending! Worried about Prayer of Mending overriding itself? A minor change was introduced where Prayer of Mending from multiple Priests are able to be applied on the same target. Not only that, one Priest can have multiple applications of Prayer of Mending on more than one target!

I mean, yo dawg! I heard you like Prayer of Mending! So I put a Words of Mending on your Prayer of Mending so you can Prayer of Mending while you Prayer of Mending!

Holy Priests gain access to another talent called Clarity of Purpose. It replaces Prayer of Healing with a new spell called Clarity of Purpose. We know that smart healing spells are getting dumber. But if healing spells were given an IQ, I’m certain Clarity of Purpose would take home the smartest heal ever award. It’ll heal players within 10 yards of your target. Not only that, it splits the heal so that weaker players receive more of the healing pie.

Now that’s legit!

This is going to be a fun beta testing period. Warlords needs to come soon! I’ll do my best to keep track of any pertinent Priest changes and updates as we progress through the development stages of the expansion.

Cast Times on Instant Spells Highlights Warlords Healing Changes

A new week means a new Dev Watercooler! Today, Blizzard looked at healing gameplay. Cataclysm was the last expansion where there was a true healing “reset”. Mists of Pandaria largely preserved that same model. Now we’re entering Warlords where the healing model is getting changed again. The Watercooler can be summarized in three points:

  • Health and resilience
  • Smart heals getting “dumber”
  • Instant casts getting slower

Raiding realities going into Warlords

The Mythic size raid group is dropping from 25 to 20. Less players overall which means slightly less healers to bring in so I can understand the dumbing down of some of the spells. More difficulties and the ability to scale the number of players you bring in also allows raid groups to control for that. Keep this in mind as we go down the list of changes. Lots of the freakout is taking future expansion plans and applying it to the current game.

What’s happening to the mana regeneration? That’s going to go up. At the start of Cataclysm and Mists, I’ve had to chug pots and burn cooldowns just to keep up with running the heroics. To be fair, this was a time when there wasn’t that much information on how to do the bosses. Much of our time was spent working on staying alive not so much killing the boss fast. Everything leveled off weeks later as we acquired more gear and crafted more stuff.

If I’m interpreting it right, it means our healing style shouldn’t change that much between doing heroic dungeons and heroic raids.

The downside is that now we’re losing out on our low-throughput healing spells (Nourish, Holy Light, Heal, and Healing Wave). I’m not afraid to see them go. Let’s be real, we’ve only ever used these spells twice ever in an expansion: Once at the start of it because we couldn’t afford to cast Greater Heal and at the end of the expansion when we run out of mana on a long and dragged out boss fight.

… Oh, you guys never ran out of mana? Must be nice!

Our smart healing spells are getting dumber. Instead of striking the most wounded player, the spells will now hit any wounded player. Healers can also jump on the blame RNG bandwagon! A reduced raid size does mean higher odds that our spells will hit intended targets at least. No more using Circle of Healing without abandon anymore.

Absorbs are being looked at. They’ve always been incredibly strong dating back to Wrath. Discipline has been so dominant compared to Holy. Not much information was offered as far as what specifically they plan to do with it other than tuning the strength of absorbs. Can’t see that problem going away though. Doesn’t matter if Power Word: Shield absorbs for 50000 or 10000. That’s still an additional layer of health going on top of players.

There’s a nice summary at the bottom of that part on what the devs plan on hitting.

That’s a lot of big changes for healers: reduced throughput, more triage, less powerful “smart” heals, weaker absorbs, fewer spells, and a new focus on efficiency decisions.

Okay, let’s look at instant spells. Not so instant anymore are they? Cascade, Divine Star, Halo, and Prayer of Mending are being given a 1.5 second cast time! To be fair, other classes are seeing reductions in their instant spell arsenals. Wild Growth and Uplift have cast times tacked onto theirs.

Hey remember when Prayer of Mending didn’t have a 10 second cooldown?

Pepperidge Farm remembers.

I can understand Divine Star and Halo getting cast times. But Cascade? It’s not exactly appealing in the current version of talents. Maybe that’s just how the encounters are setup. Cascade actually takes time to travel around from player to play so I’m not sure why that cast time is needed.

Hang on, these are PvP nerfs? Hrm, okay. Not what I wanted to hear. What I’m more concerned about is what those spells mean for Shadow. Divine Star and Halo are one of the few spells we can cast on the move and that’s being slowed down slightly.

Speaking of more questions, what’s going to happen to Atonement or the Monk version of it?

Decision Making

Maybe I’m just hitting a point of mental fatigue. I liked having smarter heals around. I liked having one less thing reduced to chance. When I’m not busy dodging a meteor, dispelling a silence, and deliberately taking damage for my Prayer of Mending to fly off, I was reassured that my smart heal would always hit the most injured player without any thought. Now I have to take extra time and carefully consider a choice between using a single target heal or a multi target heal. Granted, I’ve already been doing that since vanilla. But over the years, the small incremental changes to healing and rendering them smarter helped cut down on burnout rates. Healing the dark shaman top side and taking care of the Iron Tombs and the like was pretty darn engaging.

Healers think and decide way more than any other role in the game. Tanks, granted, have it fairly difficult. They have to consider boss positioning, direction, and their own cooldowns. One wrong choice and it’s an automatic wipe and that’s a ton of pressure. But at least those mistakes can be corrected quickly on the next-go round and aren’t as dynamic (as in, the boss shouldn’t face this direction or this defensive cooldown has to be used at this time).

Healing is a little more dynamic. You’re not always going to see the same situation. A different person might receive a debuff. Instead of a rogue standing in fire, it’s going to be a mage and are they shrewd enough to Ice Block it? Who needs the dispel in the next 5 seconds when that debuff goes out? Now I have to gamble with my spells. I have to hope that my Prayer of Healing will splash onto that really wounded guy and not the one who is at 90% health. Because if that RNG dice goes against me, I better follow up fast with a Penance or else that really wounded guy is going to wind up a dead guy.

Current: A small group that just took more raid damage than others? No problem, I can respond fast with a Circle of Healing and they’ll be safe.

Future: A small group that just took more raid damage than others? I can use Circle of Healing that might hit all of them, but I better be prepared to follow up with a few Flash Heals just in case it doesn’t.

I love choice in games. I like the ability to pick and decide my fate and that of others. I just wish that those dynamic choices be from the encounters more so than from my tools. Now there’s one more thing we have to actively think about all the time instead of simply relying on reaction.

Bring on the beta!

Which Warlords of Draenor Racial Would You Want Now?

A few days ago, Warcraft Technical Game Designer Celestalon dispensed two hours worth of information on Twitter. One specific topic caught my eye. It’s no secret that racial bonuses in the game are a little skewed and slightly imbalanced. Many of the top tier raiding guilds are Horde and I’m fairly certain much of it is due to the min-maxing bonuses that the racials provide. So come Warlords, they’re mostly getting overhauled. While nothing has been finalized just yet, here’s where the racials stand right now.

WoW Head’s Perculia did a phenomenal job hunting down and assembling the information in an easily digestible package right here. You can check out the official blue post about racials here.

Alliance

  • Draenei Heroic Presence is now +X to your primary stat. Gift of the Naaru heals for the same amount but over 5 sec. 
  • Dwarf: Lost  Crack Shot and  Mace Specialization. Gained Might of the Mountain, a passive which adds 2% Crit Damage. Also… A change to Stoneform: Also removes Magic/Curse. HOWEVER, it still cannot be used while CC’d. (It is still NOT a CC-break) 
  • Gnome Escape Artist dropped to a 1min CD (from 1.5min), and  Shortblade Specialization became Nimble Fingers, 1% Haste. Also- A tweak to  Expansive Mind. Was +5% max Mana. Now +5% Max Mana, Energy, Rage, or Runic Power. 
  • Humans lose the Mace/Sword racials.  The Human Spirit becomes +X to two secondary stats of your choice.  Every Man for Himself, we’re still evaluating. Itemization changes may mean no nerf needed. 
  • Night Elves Quickness also increases movement speed by 2% passively. They also got a new passive which is quite unique… (Remember, no more haste breakpoints!) Touch of Elune, a new passive which grants 1% Haste at night, 1% Crit during the day.Shadowmeld is unchanged. 
  • Worgen: Darkflight is staying unchanged. 

Horde

Pandaren, of course, will most likely not see a change and retain their Epicurean bonus.

The Draenei racial bonus is much more appealing. Too bad we don’t know what the +X value is for the primary stat. It’s going to go right to Intellect for priests of all kinds. Gift of the Naaru will heal 20% of a target’s health over 5 seconds (instead of 15). It’s another healing spell you can add to your bar and you can save it for emergencies (every 3 minutes).

My first Priest was a Dwarf. I miss Stoneform and the ability to shrug off poisons. Now it functions as a secondary self dispel since it can remove magic debuffs and curses. The extra crit damage is handy for the Shadow and the Discipline Smiters though. May not be as helpful for Holy.

What about the Gnomes? There’s still the bonus to mana but it’s been expanded to include the energy of other class types. The natural 1% haste is new and useful for all priest types.

Humans gain a rather unique spin to their buff. They get to select which two secondary stats get a bonus. I imagine one of those will be Spirit and the other will be Haste, Crit, or Mastery — Whatever your priest is short on. An interface is being worked up right now allowing you to pick. The ability to pick and choose offers some neat flexibility.

Night Elves. Sigh. Really? Server time makes a difference now? Blah. I hate randomness. But it looks like there’s not much that can be done about that.

Horde side, Blood Elves continue to be the winner. The crit bonus passive is second only to Arcane Torrent’s innate mana restoring capability.

Goblins? The ability to Rocket Jump is huge in heavy movement fights. Now you get a flat 1% haste instead of a bonus to attack and bast speed.

Orcs can’t play priests so that point is rather moot.

Tauren Priests are already benefitting from a slight stamina boost allowing them to withstand a little more damage than usual. But the new Brawn bonus is a solid boon for priests of all types.

The first iteration of the Troll’s Berserking was pretty overpowered. It was like a mini-Heroism on demand. Now it’s been nerfed to a flat 15% Haste bonus instead of the 20%. Not quite as good but still reliable for burst healing your way through stuff.

Huge nerf to the Undead’s Will of the Forsaken with the cooldown going up. No other changes.

So let’s assume that you’re rolling a new Priest. You have all these excellent racials available to you. No more of the junk bonus to hit or expertise or any of that stuff.

Which one should you go for?

If you plan on playing Alliance, I would favour the Draenei bonuses. Hard to say for sure without knowing what the X value is. If you’re PvPing, Dwarves or Gnomes are a good bet. I like Gnomes though since Escape Artist is handy (and the fast cooldown).

If you plan on playing Horde, I’m leaning towards Blood Elves. That mana restore is so nice to have especially on progression fights when you’re tapped out. Berserking is another trait you’ll find attractive and is great if you’re playing either shadow or healing.

Personally, I’m staying a Pandaren. Can’t get enough of that food buff.

Heroic Council Down!

Heroic Council Down!

hcouncil

Here at Conquest, we have a habit of making our own hard modes. We’ll often ace (or get a boss down reasonably quick) before wiping on trash due to overconfidence. We had just finished Heroic Horridon the other week and we had some time left in the raid. Why not make a push for Heroic Council and see what we can do with almost no homework or preparation?

Our raid group pushed further than expected and the call was made to start prepping for him next day because it seemed like the entire council of trolls was within striking range. So with a little over two and a half nights of progress, we managed to get him last night. Arguably the hardest part of the encounter was not dying to Kazrajin. The Blanka look-alike kept doing us in towards the end until we were able to carefully balance our DPS and healing to live just long enough. Our main DPS focused on Sul first so that we wouldn’t have to worry about Sandstorm. We ended up with around 2 or 3 Kazra Empowered phases. We managed to push the remaining trolls to under 10% before mercilessly cutting them all down.

Heroic Council is supposed to be a boss a raid group works on later in the progression. Something like 8th or 9th. But what the hell, we did it backwards. In theory, this would suggest that we have the DPS and healing capacity to get through the other easier bosses. Right now we’re just aiming for kills more than gear especially since we have such a limited window before the expected 5.4 release.

I’ve outlined a new schedule that’s going to include Flex raiding into the works. We’ll still be raiding Mon, Tuesday, and Thursday. But Wednesday night will be an optional Flex raiding night. Any regular raider that didn’t raid because of group composition or attendance related issues can come and step in for that. This way, those players won’t fall too far behind in terms of gearing and experience. I anticipate that the first few opening weeks will be chock full of players on their mains and once they no longer need the gear out of there, they’ll switch to either their alts or opt out allowing me to start bringing in other friends and players who want to see the content without the fuss of LFR.

How’s your guild doing in preparing for the patch? We’ve been doing our best to continue stockpiling gold and mats. Our forums are thriving with raid strategy, discussion, and videos.

Halfway Through Summer

Guild still alive?

Raids are firing?

Congratulations! We’re halfway through the summer before school comes back and everyone returns from vacation (yay). This is one of the most brutal summer raiding tiers for us but we’ve been fortunate. Certain players were granted the ability to switch roles and characters which helped keep us afloat. Right now we’re looking to add an additional DPS/tank hybrid (of the plate variety). Our latest kill was heroic Horrion (two weeks ago) and we’ve set our sights now on Tortos. With our best attempt at a little under 50%, we’re poised to crack his shell sometime this week.

I really want to see a return to winged raids though. Mists consisted largely of linear raids. Our raids were cut short tonight because of the absence of a third tank. Even though we can power through Jin’rokh, we’re not in position to two tank heroic Horridon right now which means we’ve lost a day of raiding. It would be nice to have the option to move around and jump ahead to a different boss that we can logistically work on with two tanks. I suppose it’s possible to bypass Horridon on normal mode but that means giving up 6 items plus whatever coin rolls and our goal is to equip our players with gear that will set us up for Siege of Orgrimmar.

Rather not though.

In other news, I’ve reached 90 on my Paladin and decided to try my hand at tanking for the first time ever.

What Matt learned while tanking

  • I see nothing but boss crotch all day, everyday.
  • Threat gets ripped like nobody’s business.
  • AoE tanking can be a cluster.
  • I can’t heal myself while I’m tanking.
  • I can’t tank more than 45 mobs at the same time in a mash of green and blue gear.
  • Queues are really instant. Faster than my healing queues.
  • If a pet taunts, I’m not taking it back because they’re generous enough to distribute the load.
  • Don’t bubble with low health.
  • People really do single target DPS on different mobs.
  • I would die of a heart attack if I tried to tank a raid.

Yeah. I mean it’s fun with people you know. I’m absolutely certain my guild gets a kick out of hearing me scream and shout when I tank. But oh man. I can’t believe I’m going to use this character and tank for flex raids.