How I learned to live without Spirit Link, or a fond farwell.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I’ve been a huge fan of the spell Spirit Link since it first made an appearance back in the Wrath of the Lich King beta. The spell allowed restoration shaman to link players together, distributing damage among them. The spell was eventually removed due to balancing issues, and I only got to play with it for a few, fleeting moments.

When Cataclysm was announced, the developers made a note that they were going to try to work Spirit Link back into the game. It was a spell a lot of players were excited about and wanted to have in their arsenal. It was a promise to give us something we didn’t have, a defensive cooldown. Shaman throughout the community came up with various ideas on how to balance it and let it come back to the game. I was included among that number. Alas, it was not meant to be, and Spirit Link has drifted off without much of a word about it from the developers.

After lamenting the loss of the spell, I came to a realization. I’ve been healing through the beta both in dungeons and raids and not once did I ever say to myself  “I wish I had Spirit Link right now!”. That exact phrase I muttered to myself at least a dozen times in Wrath. But looking at the way Cataclysm is designed, it is now impossible for Spirit Link to be incorporated into the game. Looking at the damage model for the new expansion it is quite easy to see this. Let me explain a bit here for clarification sake. When I say damage model, I quite literally mean damage model. Everyone is taking damage in Cata. There is rarely instances in a raid where someone is not taking some damage. This is very unlike Wrath, where there were a few fights that had massive amounts of raid damage. Let’s use the new Nefarian encounter as an example. The new fight has you engaging the reanimated corpse of both Onyxia and Nefarian. Onyxia has some fun new abilities including shadow flame (doing her dad proud) and a new electrical charge. Needless to say, she does a ton of raid wide damage. Combine this with Nefarian flying around and summoning adds, throwing his own shadow bolts and you have yourself a recipe for pain.

At no point in this fight would it have been safe to link multiple players together. Simply put, any additional damage on the non tanks would have killed them. Now, almost every fight in Cata is like this. Heroic dungeons feel like raid bosses (at least until we outgear them but still), and raids feel much more difficult. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just an evolution of the game. Players are more accountable for their own health totals than every before, and healers have a whole new set of concerns. With this new model, Spirit Link just doesn’t fit anymore. Players simply would die if linked together. Now you could argue that a defensive cooldown could be extremely useful here, but Blizzard has done us one better.

Instead of a defensive cooldown, we get an offensive healing cooldown. I’m not talking about Nature’s Swiftness here, but our new level 85 spell, Spiritwalker’s Grace. Traditionally the role of a healer is to indemnify. That’s my nickle word for the day. It means to secure against hurt, loss or damage. By this I mean we wait for people to get hurt, or hurt enough and react by healing them in an attempt to bring their health back to 100%. Most of the new healing abilities for the other healers are more preventative. They stop damage from happening. Shaman without the ability to keep damage from happening are forced to be more aggressive healers. This fits really well with the tools we are given.

So let’s take a look at our new cooldown. Spiritwalker’s grace lets us cast any heal while moving. Let me state that again for dramatic effect here, it lets us cast any heal while moving. This means in those fights (read: all of them) that require us to move, we can pop this cooldown and run-and-gun casting our big heals, like Chain Heal, without having to stop. Mull that over for a second. Pretty awesome right? This gives us not only some added versatility, but the ability to manage that versatility. We choose when to use it, which adds that level of healing skill everyone has been talking about wanting for a while now. Sure, we can’t power word: shield someone, but you bet your ass we can drop a nuke heal while on the move! While other healers can throw shields and HoTs while running, we can cast full blown spells. The cooldown lasts 10 seconds, and only has a 2 minute cooldown. It fits really well with our healing style as well. Shaman are not the healers that sit in the back and chant. We are the healers that charge into the thick of battle to drop our totems and throw fire at the enemy while making our own troops whole again.

Honestly I think this new ability hasn’t gotten nearly enough media attention, as players remain too focused on what could have been. It really is quite awesome, and with it I’m no longer pining for Spirint Link. While I  will always remember it with fondness in my heart, I’ve come to accept that its departure was for the best and to move on. So goodbye Spirit link, it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind, never knowing who to cling to when wrath set in. And I would have liked to have known you
but I was just level 70, your candle burned out long before, but your legend never will.

I think other restoration shaman will start to feel the same as time spent with the new spells comes.

So what do you think? Still miss Spirit Link? Do you like Spiritwalker’s Grace?

Until next time, Happy Healing!

Chakra: Renew is Gone

Chakra: Renew is Gone

Note: the tooltips in the quoted text boxes do not reflect the current changes to the abilities they describe.

Since 4.0.1 changes were even announced, I was overwhelmed with anticipation to try a Holy spec. Now, I’ve been Discipline since before Wrath of the Lich King dropped, and I’ve loved the entire playstyle (minus that “bubble spam” thing). When I saw the Chakra ability, as well as the corresponding Holy Word: Chastise states, I started to digitally salivate. I’ve always enjoyed classes that had a wealth of abilities to use (which is why I never rolled a Paladin — KIDDING!!). In the “lame duck session” before Cataclysm, I’ve been experimenting with the new playstyles and adapting to the new juicy mechanics that have been laid out for us. Chakra Heal has potential to be real potent. Chakra Prayer of Healing offers a beautiful and useful “stand in the good” zone, as well as an AoE Healing buff. Chakra Smite has been amazing for farming meat, mats, or anything else for which I need to “nuk da mobz”.

Chakra Renew has been a bit ambiguous to me. I understand that Renew is a very powerful tool in a certain-specced Holy toolbox, but its implementation into Chakra kind of baffled me. Now, I *like* to think I’m a pretty creative guy, but I just couldn’t really see the use or fun in it. Maybe it’s because I come from a Discipline playstyle, but I didn’t see a need to constantly spam renew beyond just blanketing my 10man raid. Well, we were given this nugget of info (thanks MMO-Champion):

  • Chakra no longer works with Renew. No longer costs mana. Sanctuary (Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending) now increases healing done by your AoE spells and Renew by 15%. (Old – Only increased AoE spells by 10%)
  • Effectively, they’ve killed Renew’s exclusivity with Chakra and teamed it up with Prayer of Healing, adding in Prayer of Mending, too. You’ll get more healing out of Renew, but remember that you have to activate it with Prayer of Healing or Mending. You cannot activate your steroid-juiced HoT by hitting that Renew key. Patience, grasshopper.

    Because of this change, our State of Mind talent has been altered:

  • State of Mind no longer affects Renew, affects Prayer of Mending instead.
  • Now, I use Prayer of Mending almost always on cooldown out of habit. Adding this into extending that Chakra state will benefit a lot of Priests out there. If the best play for a certain encounter is to keep that Chakra going, I’m not too big a fan of spamming one button to extend it. I think a change like this could also be implemented in our Heal Chakra or Smite Chakra. Only add one additional spell to extend it. Chakra Heal could also be extended by Greater Heal, a spell that we don’t really spam anyways. Chakra Smite could be lengthened by Holy Fire as well, since it’s impossible to spam it while it’s on cooldown. Here’s an image of the new tooltips (thanks, Matticus!):

    All in all, I’m pleased with the change. As it stands right now, I don’t use Renew Chakra as it is and didn’t see much use in the future. However, as would be my luck, I’ll step into that first Cataclysm raid encounter and think, “Man! I wish I had Chakra Renew back for this fight!” C’est la vie.

    Do you feel the alteration of Chakra and State of Mind are changes for the better or worse? Are you going to miss the Renew Chakra?

    [VIDEO] Omnitron Defense System

    Here’s a video of the kill I was a part of when we took down the Omnitron Defense System during Sunday. Special thanks to Blacksen and his guild for allowing me to participate. I wasn’t actually healing at all on this fight. I’m the elemental shaman that’s throwing lightning bolts. It’s a hectic encounter and there is so much stuff going on. Three healers were used for 10 man. It’s a good indication of what to expect.

    Read my writeup on WoW Insider (It should be up sometime around 6:00 AM PST, Tuesday morning)

    The Post Patch Post Raid Synopsis

    The Post Patch Post Raid Synopsis

    Any of you who’s guilds were crazy enough to raid on a potentially unstable patch server with unfamiliar spells minus the luxury of completely functional boss timers, raise your hand.

    Don’t worry, I’m with you on that one too.

    But, I’ll see your instability and raise you short handedness.

    Yes, I was insane enough to try raiding short handed. We started off with 15 at the designated time, but players were still wrapping up patches, addons, glyphs and reforging.

    It felt like the crew we had today was operating at something like 70% strength. Of course, it was completely understandable.

    We were getting our collective butts handed to us by heroic Marrowgar. While yes, we were short two, I felt that a kill was within reach. I knew Marrowgar’s abilities had not changed. It was a matter of being re-familiarized with the encounter and with our new found skills.

    A number of players wondered why I wanted to push hard. We could have downgraded from Marrowgar hard mode. We could’ve called it an early night and give people additional time to get accustomed to the new changes. I don’t know what it was, but I felt driven. I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t want to leave until Marrowgar was taken down. I guess one could say I wasn’t willing to tolerate failure. But that wasn’t it. Another part of me sought validation that this was something we could still do. That come Cataclysm, the grit and determination of taking down bosses will still be present.

    You know what I mean?

    I wanted to see if that spark was still there. If there is one thing that terrifies me as a GM, it is complacency. It is a nightmare of any progression based guild leader. We don’t want people who feel unmotivated or who decide to give up after a few wimpy attempts. I’m not saying its going to happen, but what if we hit a point in Cataclysm where we’re working on a boss and there are no strategies or videos to pick apart? Will we tough it out or call it an early night and wait for some other guild to draw up the plays? That’s not something sits well with me.

    During the Canadian winters, I would always carve my own path in the fresh blanket of snow instead of stepping on trails made by others. That’s a mindset I carry when it comes to my projects and work (as you may have guessed).

    We’re something like 23rd overall on Ner’zhul with our recently acquired ICC 25 drakes and finish at 11/12 HM. My desire is to enter the top 15.

    We did manage to secure Marrowgar in the end and then placed a few shots on Deathwhisper hard mode before it was decided to call it early. I think we gathered enough information on our classes and rotations. We had a better idea of what was working and what wasn’t (like ret paladins).

    Something I need to remind myself is to take a step back and realize that not every player devours patch notes as much as I do. Most of the players in the guild are just as passionate and thirsty for knowledge as I am. But not everyone has the time or the desire, I suppose. I want more players in the guild with the former as opposed to the latter. Sadly, desire to learn and improve aren’t traits I can instill in people.

    All things considered, it wasn’t a complete waste of a night. We got 1 boss down and we know what our weaknesses and strengths are. We also learned:

    • Mages and Warlocks are ridiculously awesome
    • Unglyphed hunters do no DPS
    • Neither do pet-less hunters
    • Atonement is really effective but it requires support from the rest of the healing time
    • Ret paladins got sucker punched
    • So did DPS death knights
    • Overall raid healing shot up which means damage taken must have increased
    • Discipline priests are the Energizer bunnies of healers (They just keep going…)
    • Holy priests (without access to Archangel) just burn through mana insanely fast

    Updated Flexible Raid Lockout System

    **Forgive the slight grammatical errors. I wrote it in a hurry and overlooked the “it’s” that I had written incorrectly. Thanks to those who pointed it out.**

    Up until today, the new 10/25 raid lockout method has been met with praise and condemnation. Most of us have believed that if you started a 25man, you could stick with that 25, or downgrade to 10 on the same lockout. It was thought that you could not “re-upgrade” to 25man. Until now.

    As posted on MMO-Champion today, Bashiok wrote a Blue Post about the new system that we’ll see VERY soon.  As in, 4.0.1 soon. In terms of current raiding, this new system will only be in place for ICC and Ruby Sanctum but will persist through all of Cataclysm. The post itself took a couple times for me to digest it, so I’m going to attempt to break it down for you. (Key word: attempt)

    Its Purpose

    The purpose of this new “Flexible Raid Lockout System”, as opposed to trapping people into raid IDs or limiting their raid potential, seems to allow a more fluid movement through a typical raid week. Before this system, you’d step into a raid, and as soon as you killed the first boss, you were locked to that ID. The raid could sit dead mid-way through, and you’d be stuck. You couldn’t really progress unless you found people from that raid or people that weren’t saved yet. Except for guilds, it would be really hard to continue.

    Its Mechanic

    Each raid, rather than being designated an entire lockout, has a lockout for each encounter in it, regardless of raid size (10 or 25). For Icecrown Citadel, this means 12 “lockouts”. As Bashiok said, they want raiders to have the “opportunity to defeat each encounter once a week.” You are locked out of each individual encounter as you down a boss. A couple things to keep in mind:

    • You cannot enter a different raid where bosses that you’ve defeated are still alive.

    What does this mean? Let’s say you’ve killed Marrowgar, Deathwhisper and Gunship in your raid on Wednesday night. On Thursday, you cannot join a raid of either size that still hasn’t defeated Gunship. From what it seems, that raid would have to defeat Gunship before you joined in.

    • Upon entering a new or different raid, you’re not saved to their “list” until you down a boss. Getting saved to a more progressed raid will lockout all bosses until that point.

    In using the example above, if you’ve killed Marrowgar, Deathwhisper and Gunship, and join a different raid that has the first four bosses, as well as Rotface & Festergut killed, you won’t be saved until you down any of the other bosses alive. If you defeat Putricide with them, your raid breakdown will now say that you’ve defeated Saurfang, Festergut, and Rotface as well (even though you didn’t ACTUALLY kill them).

    • You can switch between 10- and 25-player raids along the way. The above stipulations still apply.

    You can kill the first quarter on 10-man, join a 25-man to kill the 2nd quarter, then finish out the rest on 10-man. We once thought that once we downgraded to 10, we couldn’t upgrade to 25. This obviously is not the case anymore.

    Heroic / Hardmode

    Heroic Mode or “Hardmode” seems to work on a very strict lockout system, where once you’re in, you’re in. I’ll try to bullet-point how this works:

    • If you down a boss on Heroic (in any size), you can only continue to raid Heroic with that specific raid. You cannot change raid sizes and continue on Heroic.
    • If you down a boss on Heroic and join a different non-Heroic raid, that raid cannot upgrade to Heroic with you in it.
    • You cannot join someone’s else’s raid if they’re already defeated a boss on Heroic.
    • If you down a boss on Heroic, then the rest of the raid clears the rest without you, you can still join another non-heroic raid that already has your same bosses down.

    The one problem I have with this is not being able to join a raid with Heroic bosses already down. If my guild starts Heroic ICC without me because I have to work on the first raid night, then it seems like I can’t join the raid mid-run. Is this intended to make it harder and “more Heroic”? Or is this maybe an oversight or misreading of the mechanic?

    —-

    I do like that you can continue to raid if your normal group can’t, but the restrictions on Heroic seem just an ounce too tight. Overall, this really will allow people to raid 25s if they want or can, and doesn’t penalize people for only being able to do 10mans. It in fact let’s them join in on a more progressed 25-man raid that may need an extra body. With it being a little less restrictive than we all thought, I’m really looking forward to seeing this new “lockout system” play out. What do you think? Interesting mechanic? Or too confusing?

    POLL: Will you raid 10 man or 25 man in Cataclysm?

    POLL: Will you raid 10 man or 25 man in Cataclysm?

    One of the best — or worst things depending on your view — to happen to raiding in a long time was the inclusion of smaller group sized content. I talked a little bit about this over on BDTU with my pieces on the Evolution of WoW part 1 and part 2.

    The trend started with the addition of Zul’Gurub, a troll instance of now infamous reputation, when it broke from the 40-man raid standard and offered 20-man content. It hailed back to the days of Blackrock Spire being a multiple group raid, and people loved it.

    Karazhan further stoked the fires of the smaller group raid desire, and did so while offering epic and story filled content. Players loved it so much that the forums were filled countless replies asking for more smaller group . With Wrath came the revelation that all raid content would be be available in 25-man flavor as set forth by Burning Crusade, but also  in new raid 10-man flavor (all of the raid, less than half the calories). Different levels of gear purchasable by badges came out (as well as loot tables that varied between 10 and 25 man), and both 10 and 25 man raids dropped the same badges. The trick, and the problem, was that people felt compelled to run both 10 and 25 man versions to maximize badges. Some people felt that you absolutely had to run both to “beat the game”.

    This is also a result of how loot was distributed. Badges gave you the entry level gear for the items at the end of this expansion cycle. Badges gave you the “entry level” piece for the tier set, this was considered the 10 man version of the tier. Tokens in 25 man raids would drop that allowed you to upgrade the 10 man piece to the next level up. Heroic 25 man dropped yet another token that allowed you to upgrade it to it’s maximum potential. You can see how it would be assumed the more badges you had the better gear you had and the quicker you could climb the gear ladder right?

    Well, the devs didn’t like that, nor did less hardcore players (or those of us who don’t have the time to devote to constantly running raids all week long) and a new system was proposed for Cataclysm. The system says that the same content will be provided for 10 and 25 man versions, and the reward levels will be the same. That is to say that the Ilvl of gear will be on par between versions, and they will share the same loot tables. The major difference will be that 25 man will have more damage and more health to worry about in boss fights and such, and you will get MORE loot drops than the 10 man content does. Also, a raid regardless of being 10 or 25 man, all share the same raid ID and lockout. Do a  25 man version and kill a boss? Cool. Split into two 10 mans of the same thing and that boss is still dead for both groups. You can’t up-convert from 10 to 25, but you can down-size if attendance becomes an issue or some such.

    So this brings up an interesting question for a lot of guilds and raid groups right now. Is it worth it to run 25 man content if the rewards for 10 are the same? Is the extra loot enough of a benefit to keep you raiding in 25 man content or do you give up and just say screw it? I know a lot of guilds are going through this debate right now. I know some of them personally. This happened in a smaller capacity when Wrath was announced to have 10 man content. Some guilds decided the smaller size was for them and paired down into tight-knit, more tactical 10 man groups. So now that the gear is equal level between 10 and 25, aside from quantity, I know many guilds that have weighed the pros and cons of both formats and decided to go for the smaller size.

    My guild Unpossible recently had this discussion. We pulled all of the officers into a private vent chat and hashed it out. it was about even split on the case of 10 vs 25, and there were a lot of good points made. After a good half hour discussion, we decided that we would stay a 25 man raiding guild. Our structure was already in place and had been since the release of Burning Crusade, and it has been stable and working since. We have a dedicated group of raiders who love the group we are in and the dynamic we have going. We also decided that we just felt more comfortable in the 25 man environment.

    For me personally, I voted in favor of keeping the 25 man raid group. I love the logistical challenge of tracking so many players — and yes I know it’s not the 40 man content or raids from vanilla but I served my time in those — and the dynamic we have set up between all the various parts of the raiding group works well together, and I’d hate to break that up. I also didn’t like the idea of balancing multiple 10 man groups. Something I’ve seen over the last few years, people have an easier time being benched for a raid than they do taking part in a raid that is behind another group. I didn’t want to breed an environment of Group A vs Group B and cause any unnecessary drama.

    So with Cataclysm on the horizon, has your guild discussed this at all? Has your raid group decided whether it will raid 10 man or 25 man content? Were you already raiding as a 10 or 25 man group? What do you think the benefits of both are? What about the drawbacks? I’d love to hear your opinions on this and see how the community as a whole has decided.

    Will your guild raid 10 man or 25 man content in Cataclysm?

    • 10 Man / 10 Man Hard Mode (69%, 346 Votes)
    • 25 Man / 25 Man Hard Mode (21%, 103 Votes)
    • Banana (12%, 61 Votes)

    Total Voters: 498

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    Until next time, happy healing!

    Raiding discipline specs for priests in the Cataclysm 4.0.1 patch

    Raiding discipline specs for priests in the Cataclysm 4.0.1 patch

    disc-401-header

    If your guild still has intentions on raiding when the Cataclysm pre-patch occurs (patch 4.0.1), then you might be at a loss as to what to grab when you’re Discipline. I’ve got 2 specs for you to keep in mind today: 1 for straight support and 1 for farm content

     disc-401

    31/3/2

    Link to talent tree here

    This is the one I would select if I was working on newer/progression oriented content still (any hard modes or getting Arthas down, for example).

    Notes

    I did not get Archangel and Evangelism.

    1 point in Inner Sanctum was needed to put me over the top in order to get Power Word: Barrier, although that point can be used anywhere in that tree.

    I opted for Empowered Healing instead of Divine Fury. At level 80, you’re not really expected to use the updated Cataclysm healing model anyway. That changes when you hit 85, of course. Although the health of players may jump up slightly (and the pools aren’t even finalized yet), I think the harder hitting heals are still better. I’m not using Heal much myself even though I grabbed Strength of Soul.

    Darkness in the Shadow tree makes up the last 2 points. It was simply a filler for 2 talent points. Seems like it speeds up the times of all priest spells instead of just the shadow ones.

    If you’re having mana issues, you might want to consider switching to Veiled Shadows. I honestly haven’t played much with it, but it could be the difference between having 1 shadowfiend in an encounter or 2. Again, its just an option.

    The base talents are fairly self explanatory, but you have 5 points or so points you can shuffle around between Empowered Healing, Divine Fury, Darkness and Veiled Shadows

    Playing it

    Power Word: Barrier has a 3 minute cooldown. Use it where it can do the greatest good. Expect to see the bubble burst within a second or two of some type of AoE damage (which is the point).

    If no one is in immediate threat of dying (anything less than 80%), and if you’re looking for a filler, use Heal on your recently shielded tank. Don’t rely on Heal too much as the method to spring someone from the brink of death. It would be used as a way to speed up the Weakened Soul Process.

    You’re still using the Power Word: Shield, Flash Heal, and Penance spells the most.

    Above all else, keep a close eye on your mana bars and adjust your spell usage accordingly. I think Discipline priests will have the easiest transition (alongside resto shamans) when it comes to healing in the next patch.

    What about spec number 2?!

    disc-401-a

    33/3/0

    Link to talent tree

    This is the spec you’re using if you want to heal but help accelerate the DPS process a little bit. You have other strong healers in your raid and you will only pinch in when necessary to help. Don’t expect to crack top 10 DPS here or anything.

    Notes

    You’ve got the full Archangel and Evangelism combination going.

    Completely skipped out on Inner Sanctum.

    No access to Inner Focus.

    Divine Fury is used for faster Smites.

    Playing it

    When you’re in DPS mode, simply build up Evangelism stacks to maximum and let it hold. When you reach a stage in the encounter where you need to do some healing (say after a Festergut explosion or after a bunch of ghosts from Lady Deathwhisper obliterated your raid), trigger Archangel. This gives you back some mana and more importantly it increases your healing by 15% (assuming full stacks). Use that time to get your tanks back up, your healers to full, and anyone else that’s low.

    Its a fairly straightforward spec. It might take an encounter or 2 to fully adjust and appreciate the DPS side of things.

    Feel free to post any alternative specs or suggestions in the comments. How are you liking the look of the Discipline tree so far?

    Your beta and healing questions answered

    Last friday, I asked if you had any questions about the beta. Here’s what I received (rehashed somewhat).

    On reforging

    I have a piece of gear that had 60 haste rating, 60 spirit and 60 critical strike rating. Can I knock of 20 haste and 20 spirit for the combined equivalent to hit rating?

    Nope. You can only convert one kind of stat into a different stat that the current gear does not have. In the case above, you can convert some of the haste rating into something like hit or spirit. Only one stat reforging can actually take place. You can’t split 20 haste into 20 mastery and 20 spirit into 20 hit rating. Once you’ve reforged an item, you can revert it back to its original form and then reforge it again.

    On leveling

    Where should I level first?

    I’d suggest Vash’jir just to ensure you gain access to underwater breathing and underwater mounts. It really won’t matter though. The introductory zone you select should take you through 81 and you should be finished them around 82.

    When a healer hits 85, about how much mana should they have?

    I have almost 60000 right now with gear all over the place. I’d say at least 70000, but I wouldn’t be surprised to have 80000 with quest blues.

    On raiding

    How fast do you expect people to down first raid in Cataclysm after release?

    I’m thinking the world first guilds will take down all the normal content.

    On healing overall

    From a healing command perspective, are we heading back to the days of organizational healing during vanilla?

    Personally, I don’t think it will get to that point. During Blackwing Lair, I had to assign priests to stop healing for 2 minutes while someone went in and covered for them. I don’t foresee that quite happening in this expansion. Simply because waiting to regenerate mana for a minute or two just isn’t fun at all. One way to approach it is to compartmentalize your healers. Have 1 healer responsible for either each group or each area that happens to have players. I think healing assignments will need to be laid out and micromanaged.

    Do we really have to DPS to heal?

    No, not exactly. Those DPS talents in the healing trees are only there for times when you outgear content. I do not believe they are necessary for us to do our job as healers. As in, its not required for us to toss a few Lightning Bolts or Smites to get mana back to heal more. I can’t remember who calculated it, but something like 109000 mana was needed for priests before they broke even on Smites This figure is off actually. Disregard, but the point still remains.

    Should we be concerned that present beta healing has been pushed into the current PTR patch?

    No. A least, not yet. There is still plenty of time. My guess is that they haven’t finished doing the numbers yet. There’s no point in having one set of numbers for 80s on the beta and another set of numbers for 80s on the PTR. May as well keep them about the same but get some extra information from the PTR and larger sample sizes.

    Just how badly does mana management affect healing assignment sensibilities?

    That’s a tough question for me to answer. The line between tank healing and raid healing is getting quite blurry. Even those paladins might be able to sustain a large numbers of players. You’ll want the players who have no difficult issues when it comes to mana management to stay on tanks. That is, they’re aware of their cooldowns and are willing to ask for the cooldowns of others. If the tanks can be kept alive long enough, enough DPS players should be able to take it down.

    Are mana cooldown nerfs really bad?

    Assuming the stats of mana when we hit 85 are true, we should see a negligible different when it comes to mana return. 3% Hymn of Hope at 85 with 80000 ish mana vs a 5% Hymn of Hope at 80 with 30000 mana.

    On druids

    Is our current mana inefficiency a result of poor gear? How do we compare in terms of mana efficiency to other healers that fill a similar healing niche?

    It could be a gear problem, but it might not be.

    Are there not enough resto druids in beta or are the developers simply not reacting?

    Remember that Blizzard doesn’t always respond or address everything. If it were my class under fire, I’d be happy if they were ignoring the forums in favour of figuring out a solution.

    Why bring a druid healer?

    Innervate and Mark of the Wild of course! After seeing first hand how soft druid healing was getting to, I was inclined to agree with the sentiment that something isn’t quite right with yet.

    Whats up with the Druid mastery?

    For more information about that, you may wish to refer to Lissanna’s post.

    [Thanks Lissanna]

    On shamans

    Is the day of chain heal spamming over?

    Yes. Days of chain casting chain heal are over, at least in 5 mans. It is at best a situational heal. This is largely due to the mana consumption. In a raid, it could change. But for now, not so much.

    Does healing rain stack?

    Yes.

    [Thanks Lodur]

    On paladins

    What is going to happen to the idea of a flash of light paladin vs a holy light bombing paladin?

    In my opinion, gone. We have to use a lot more skills. If anything, Flash of Light will be the one we don’t see a lot of. It’s very much an emergency heal.

    Does the Holy paladin mastery apply to over healing?

    Yes.

    Is Holy Power something that should be saved up to a max charge then used or just used when there are points active? Or is it purely a case by case.

    The primary holy use for Holy Power is our mana-free heal, Word of Glory, which is instant.

    Is light of dawn frustrating to use when players aren’t standing in the same areas?

    Its fun to use but there are two issues with it:

    1. Seems to hit for nothing especially with the current health pools.
    2. It doesn’t heal the paladin caster at all.

    What’s the new Divine Plea like?

    Its a fairly big hit. Heals get halved for 50% for 15 seconds. The ability can only be used every 2 minutes. Its as if there’s no reason to even use Divine Plea unless you’re absolutely, 100% desperate. Divine Plea is okay now when we’re talking 20k Holy Light bombs and crits. But since its dropping in potency and is our go to heal, its been a bit of a struggle. Hopefully itemization would fix that.

    [Thanks Kurn]

    On priests

    Does Life Grip work on targets at different altitudes? Can you grip people while moving or jumping?

    Yes, so long as you have line of sight on a target. I was able to snag Lissanna around from the air. Even managed to pull the druid from underwater onto a boat! I know a number of priests appear to be a unfazed by it, but I know I’ll personally use it on players who are capping graveyards in Alterac Valley when we don’t want them to. I tried falling off a cliff so I could drag Lissanna with me but it didn’t work.

    How effective is Power Word: Barrier?

    Its okay. The strength of it seems to buckle fairly quick. I’ll put up a barrier just before an AoE phase of some fight with all players under the dome. Then it disappears a few seconds later. At level 85, it eats up something like 13000 mana. I wish there was some type of scaling effect where the damage prevented was proportional to the players standing within up to a certain point. I suppose that wouldn’t really work as well.

    Shaman healing so far in Cataclysm

    I’ve been spending as much time as I can in the Cataclysm beta, and trying to maximize as much of my time as possible healing. I mean, after all that’s what I get paid for right?

    You may be asking yourself what this song has to do with this post? Honestly a lot of folks think that shaman healing has gone down hill and have thrown their hands up and walked away. Some of these folks just think healing in general come Cataclysm will be so broken it wont even be worth it. I’m here to assuage at least the shaman portion of that fear.

    Mana and triage

    For as long as shaman have been healing we’ve been a bit of a mana battery. Between our passive regen and our spells and abilities that are geared towards doing nothing but giving us mana back. The problem is that with Wrath most healers were mana batteries. Rarely running out of mana means you can heal almost perpetually through the vast majority of non hard-mode encounters.

    This makes for very boring healing, and that is something that the developers have been trying to tackle for a long time now. With the reduction of mana, and the increase in the cost of several of our healing spells, it forces us to triage our heals and essentially move away from mothering a group. Most people have seen this as a fault of the new healing model. I, however, find it incredibly liberating. Granted shaman have fared better than most other classes in this regard because  we are technically the healing model for cataclysm (or so the blues tell us). We’ve been given the tools to heal effectively, and balanced to a point where we don’t over power every encounter and actively have to pay attention and manage healing spell choices. I don’t run OOM unless people are doing very, very stupid things and I’m forced to compensate (a la a mage hugging a dragon cause he though it was cute and needed a hug).

    Right now if you yell at someone to not “stand in the bad” a lot of the time they will simply ignore you since healers can just dump heals on them and get through the vast majority of effects out there. If you’ve done any PUGing before you’ll have found it at least once. That hunter that doesn’t want to get out of the fire so he can squeeze off a couple more shots to up their DPS while you dump heals on them. They expect it, and if they don’t get it you are instantly a “bad healer”.

    I’ve talked about this on several of my wow.com articles lately, but there is an emphasis on personal accountability. Even if you have the mana to heal someone, they may still die. Pardon my french for a minute here, but bad shit really is bad and players should avoid it at all costs. This includes Tanks and Healers. Doing the dungeon finder in the beta has gotten to a point where players know now they have to manage their own health a little bit, and the curve has gone from nightmare healing to perfectly manageable. If the changes stand and force healers to triage the heals, it will force a shift in the perception of healers. Not saying there wont be players who yell at the healer when they die (those jerks will always exist, sadly) but I think most people will come to stop expecting you to be the only one responsible for their health.

    The impression that I get

    Overall, healing on the shaman in the beta has been some of the most fun I’ve had to date. I absolutely love having to pick which heal is best for the situation and love the fact that not EVERYTHING is about Chain Heal or stacking pure haste. Honestly I think shaman have the perfect number of healing tools to work with in any given fight. Every new ability compliments each other, old abilities have been given just enough of a tweak to make them interesting. Overall it feels fresh, new and exciting.

    I don’t feel over powered, but I do feel capable. I don’t feel like there is anything I can’t do without a little hard work. I still get a twinge at certain bosses in the 5 mans, knowing what they can do and looking at a group composition planning my heals for which ability. It’s exciting and I feel like a tactician rather than a small child playing whack-a-mole at the local carnival being swindled out of my $2. I mean I’ll always be a healer, but it feels like I’m falling in love with it all over again. There’s excitement and consequence and every death isn’t all just on me. I know that priests and shaman have fared better than paladin and druid healers so far, but I think in the end it will balance out and everyone will have as much fun as I do right now.

    In conclusion, at least for shaman, the world is not ending. The sky is not falling, and ultimately we’ll be better off in the end it seems. GO TEAM SPIRIT FINGERS!

    So I’m going to spend my weekend healing 5-mans and recording videos, anything specific you guys want to see from the beta? I’ll do what I can to provide!

    Until next time, Happy Healing!

    POLL: Are you switching mains for Cataclysm?

    This is a great time for players to ask themselves if they want a chance of pace for Cataclysm. Last year, I wrote a 3 step process to switching mains. It’s still valid.

    So my questions to you today:

    • Are you switching mains?
    • To what and why?

    As a GM, I’ve the enviable pleasure of combing through the guildies who have expressed interest in main switching. I’ll write a behind the scenes post on that later (when I actually come up with a plan). I’ll do my best to see if I can accommodate it, but I know deep down that I may not be able to approve anyone. There are too many factors to consider. Have they demonstrated their aptitude for playing that class? Do I have someone covering their existing role when they do switch out? I don’t have the authority to tell people what they can or cannot do. In the end, I have to decide whats the appropriate number of classes or roles required for a raid. Obviously, I’m not going to be able to green like 7 players who want to do nothing more than tank. There just wouldn’t be enough jobs to go around. Everything needs to be examined on a case by case basis.

    What about for the rest of you GM or officers? How does your guild plan to handle main switching?

    Post edited for further clarity

    Are you switching mains when Cataclysm is released?

    • Nope! Staying the same! (54%, 246 Votes)
    • Yes, same role but different main! (21%, 94 Votes)
    • Yes, to a DPS role (11%, 52 Votes)
    • Yes, to a healing role (9%, 40 Votes)
    • Yes, to a tanking role (5%, 21 Votes)

    Total Voters: 453

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