Why the Flex Raid is a Boon

Why the Flex Raid is a Boon

I recently purchased a Flex plan from my cell company where I’d be charged monthly based on the amount of data I actually used. I don’t know if I’ll always be near a wireless access point or not but at least the charges will scale accordingly.

Speaking of Flex plans, Blizzard’s taking a page out of that book and introduced a new type of raiding: The Flex Raid difficulty.

  • We can bring anywhere from 10 – 25 people and the bosses will scale.
  • We can invite friends from other realms via battle tag
  • Item level is between raid finder and normal but loot will be handled via raid finder loot system
  • Separate lockout from raid finder, normal/heroic

I’m still digesting the news. Usually my raid will run through raid finder once a week. We’ve started bringing in and carrying our alts. People are still running raid finder to grab their Titan Runestones at the start. Raid finder is great if I just want to mind numbingly get my way through an instance, gear up an alt, and just generally not have to think but mash buttons. I can eat every void zone, stand in every fire, miss every interrupt, and can live (most of the time).

What kind of example am I setting, right?

Why it’s good

This is great for guilds and cross realm raid groups. Players don’t have to transfer their characters from server to server to raid. I know there’s players out there who have a whole train of alts with assorted professions designed to support their main. If that player is satisfied with raiding on the flex plan, then they can still see the content in the game without committing money to move their supply train.

Second, from a recruiting standpoint, this is a huge tool for a prospect to raid with a potential guild and see if they’d fit in. Right now, we run livestreams and invite possible recruits on to our Mumble in order to give them a look at our raids. I can see a day set aside where recruits can jump in and raid with the team – And the beauty is a whole 25 man team isn’t going to be needed either.

Third, what about guilds that are looking to scale up from 10 to 25 man? This is another excellent way for them to gradually expand. It’s often a nightmare to make an immediate jump from a 10 man to a 25 man raiding guild. Sometimes the pool of player availability isn’t always there. The flex raid allows them to slowly (but surely) change their raid size until a consistent 25 raiders is found for the inevitable shift to normal modes.

But at the end of the day, Flex Raid isn’t a normal raid. It will never carry the prestige or reputation that normal and heroic kills grant. I doubt it’ll be taken seriously but maybe that’s what the main point of the flex raid is. It’s not designed to be cutting edge or challenging. It’s supposed to bring you, your family, and your friends together to raid where you don’t have to deal with potential morons in raid finder. You get to raid on your terms with whoever you want with relaxed restrictions.

Will you flex?

I’m still weighing the costs and benefits of working in Flex raiding for Conquest. I’d remove guild sanctioned Raid Finder from the list of activities and swap to this instead. At minimum, I would have to have at least two tanks available for this. With Raid Finder, I’d be able to go in with whatever composition I had available. The potential drops are better than raid finder anyway. I imagine my current raiding gear from Throne of Thunder will be better than the Raid Finder and flex drops in 5.4. If anything, Flex will be used to help ease our way into progression raids or on nights where half the raid is unable to attend.

Where does the flex raid factor into your guild’s raiding plans? What about your raiding plans? I’ll end up changing my Wednesday night raid finder to the flex raid instead.

5.2: Returning to Wrath level Shield spam?

5.2: Returning to Wrath level Shield spam?

Okay, that’s not actually going to happen. As much as I miss the days of 1 button Circle of Healing during Burning Crusade and non-stop shielding in Wrath, it was largely so I could keep watching my NHL games without having to compromise my performance too much.

In a recent thread about PTR class and set bonus issues, Ghostcrawler mentioned the following:

We are going to nerf Divine Aegis for Prayer of Healing, but also lower the cost of Power Word: Shield (for Disc only) and increase the healing and damage of Penance. In 25 raids, Disc is using Prayer of Healing almost exclusively and we don’t think the Spirit Shell change will be sufficient to change that. We actually want Disc to get back to using PW:Shield a little more, along with Penance. Disc’s throughput is overall too strong in PvE, not even counting the fact that absorbs are often more beneficial than heals.

The Divine Aegis aspect on Prayer of Healing gets tuned down but we get cheaper Power Word: Shields instead.

I don’t know what it’s like at the 10 man level, but at the 25 man level, Disc Priests are predominantly using Prayer of Healing. It’s just that effective! More tactical usage of Penance and PW: Shield needs to be done clearly. Right now, we have the ability to run two Priests in our composition. You’d think that 2 Disc priests would limit the amount of shields being thrown up because of the whole Weakened Soul debuff and the fact that shields cause a dent in mana.

But realistically at the 25 man level, two Disc priests sharing the burden isn’t going to shoot the raid in the foot. There’s lots of targets to go around. There’s damage coming from all over the place (in most cases). Those shields provide an extra buffer and can buy players an extra second or two. Bonus points for cheaper shields.

Remember when Discipline sucked back in the day?

I just hope it doesn’t go too far in the other direction and we find out massive quantities of shield spam are back in season. I don’t think it is because we learned how that was in Wrath and while it was strong, it wasn’t fun.

What other clarifications?

The Golden Apparition from the Healing 4pc heals the lowest % health friendly target within 40yd. Note that it has no visual yet, but will not work like Shadowy Apparitions. It is a simple missile, not a summoned unit.

Good to hear. I’m getting annoyed at my Shadow Apparitions sometime just sitting there. Glad to know my healing priests won’t have to suffer from that. Cant’ wait to see this bonus in action though. I hope the missile isn’t as slow as the Shadow Apparition. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if, you know, by the time your holy guardian activated and healed your ally they were already at full health because your healers were already doing their job?

Angelic Bulwark and Spirit Shell can no longer be dispelled.

On the one hand, this sucks because I can’t offensively get rid of these buffs on people in PvP. On the other hand, this is awesome because now I won’t lose them during PvP.

We are going to redesign Shadow Word: Insanity.

Can’t wait to see this. There’s something about this ability that strikes me as off whenever I try using it. I’ve mainly stuck with From Darkness, Comes Light. Honestly, 4 seconds isn’t that small of a window to get Insanity off on a boss.

So then why do I feel so awkward using it?

Our current though on Solace is that it will provide damage and healing for both Disc and Holy. So Holy could use it for some Atonement-like healing, as could Disc, but Disc won’t double dip and shouldn’t feel like it’s mandatory. That could change (all of this could change) as we try it out and iterate more.

Took a look at this on the PTR. Holy Fire gets changed to Power Word: Solace so it’s one less button that takes up your spell book.

Neat! I think we’re approaching that point where we’re starting to have too much crap in our spellbook so I do like the fact that we’re condensing something. Unlike Holy Fire, Solace is instant, offers you 1% mana back, but has a 10 second cooldown.

The current version of Solace is a 1.5 second cast time which restores 0.7% maximum mana but has no cooldown.

Doesn’t the new version of Solace seem a little too low in the mana return area?

Khendra, we have no objection to using Prayer of Healing when you need to heal a bunch of people. That’s what it’s for. But when you’re using Prayer of Healing in preparation for future damage because DA and SS make your AE heal better at shielding than actual Power Word: Shield, then that even further reduces your options. (In 10s, Disc tends to use Atonement more, so they’re doing something more than just PoH spam. In 25s, we see some Atonement use, but it’s fit in when possible and healers in 25s are just always going to be able to specialize more.)

We might in the future add another AE heal for Disc (I think you can make a compelling argument that in this day and age, healers need a variety of interesting AE heals and maybe only a couple of ST heals, while healer design for years went in the opposite direction) but that’s not the sort of thing we want to drop on you in the middle of an expansion. In the meantime, if Disc uses Penance and PW:Shield some more (and Flash Heal in PvP) and doesn’t trounce all the other healers, we will be satisfied and hopefully so will priests.

Won’t be seeing that until 6.0 is my guess. We’ve got a ton of single target healing. Having Divine Star, Cascade, and Halo access were all great because we could customize our AoE healing based on the task at hand.

Another baseline AoE would be interesting though. You’d be hard pressed to find a method for AoE absorbs that isn’t already covered by what Spirit Shell can do.

Okay, I’m guessing it’s an AoE absorb. They think it’s a little excessive to chain cast Prayer of Healing in advance of a Bonestorm even though that’s the best method in countering incoming damage (even if every player’s at full health).

Can’t wait to see what they’re thinking about doing though though!

As for me, I’m still rolling around in Shadow. We’ll be challenging Blade Lord tonight. We’re getting picked apart by Wind Step and Unseen Strike combinations. Not quite sure how to counter that. It’s not like we’re losing half the raid. But each time an Unseen Strike hits, we always lose a player. I’m sure we can battle through it and add another heroic notch to our belt but if anyone has any pointers or suggestions, I’d be grateful.

Are these changes going to cause you Disc Priests to consider reverting back to Holy? Or no change at all? What do you think about the proposed Solace change?

First impression on raiding with fixed mana in MoP

First impression on raiding with fixed mana in MoP

So we’ve just had our first raid in MoP, Mogu’shan Vaults. It was pretty interesting from a healer perspective. Fixed mana has been one of those ultimately strange concepts from the time it was announced, and to be fair we weren’t quite sure how it would play out in a regular raid. I’m here to give you my first impressions on it, and a few opinions.

Again these are just my opinions, and my observations.

[Read more…]

3.5 Hours from 85 – 86

3.5 Hours from 85 – 86

That’s a disappointing time.

I finished preparing my Priest for the leveling blitz halfway through the week. I’ve got my Swiftness Potions, Healing Potions, Drums of Forgotten Kings, assorted Flasks, and other consumables.

Decided to transfer my Priest over to the beta and clock my time. There were a couple of factors affecting my levelling speed.

  • No rested XP
  • No guild experience boost
  • Watched all the cut scenes
  • No pre-completed quests/dailies to turn in

During the Cataclysm grind, I had the Argent Tournament dailies all finished and ready for turn in. Added a decent amount of XP to it and I’ll have some other dailies ready by the time Mists opens up. I can’t remember if we had rested XP available during the 80 – 81 grind when Cataclysm opened. I goofed up on a few of the quest turn ins and pickups. If I factor in all of that stuff, I should be able to knock out 1.5 hours off that time. The new Jade Forest isn’t as super cut scene heavy as Uldum was, but there’s enough to make you go “Whoa.”

I think I’m also going to switch in Reflective Shield as a glyph.

Tonight I’ll clock my time from 86 – 87, enjoy the scenery, and (more importantly) get an idea of where all the Innkeepers are to set my hearthstone.

Thank goodness there’s no conch shell we have to all click on to be able to breathe and swim faster underwater, right guys?

If convenience store owners were savvy, they’d raise the prices of energy drinks for the weekend/Monday as people stock up. I should go pick up some Red Bull or Nos. I like the grape flavour.

Do you plan on racing to level 90 or are you going to take the time to enjoy the sights and scenery?

Tip: Remember this. If you ever get to a situation where you need to interact with a friendly NPC and they’re not on the map, log out and log back in. You’ll thank me for this. This happened to me a few times as I was leveling. I hope it’ll get resolved when it’s live, but just in case!

Which MoP Heroics Should you Run?

Which MoP Heroics Should you Run?

The heroics at level 90 won’t be as punishing as the initial heroics for Cataclysm or Burning Crusade. In fact, they’re designed to be the rough equivilent of normal mode instances right now in Cataclysm.

Now if you’re anything like me, you’re looking for the fastest way to ready your character for raiding. The first option is to power up your professions or buy crafted gear. Second would be to grind out as much reputations with the various factions and purchase rewards that way. The last tried and true method would be to run heroics.

For us priests, Gate of the Setting Sun has potentially 7 drops that you can use. Some of the items may not have spirit, but you can reforge into it as necessary. Siege of Niu Zao Temple has 6 items that will provide any upgrades over quest greens and blues.

Shaman healers will want to try their luck in Scholomance and Temple of the Jade Serpent. The temple has 7 items (although 1 of them has a really low drop rate as it’s an epic weapon) whereas Scholomance has 6.

Pickings for druid and monk healers are slim. Temple of the Jade Serpent has the most leather drops followed by Siege of Niuzao and Shado-Pan Monastary.

Paladin healing plate just seems to be all over the place. Avoid Scarlet Halls and Temple of the Jade Serpent if you’re looking for purely plate armor drops. Stormstout Brewery’s your best bet if you’re looking to get the most chances on gear.

Each dungeon has a notable quest or two attached to it. While they’re not the greatest rewards, it’s a good way to replace that marginal green item you’ve been using since level 87.

Below I’ve compiled and organized a list with relevant healing gear drops from heroics. It’s divided up by armor and item type. Enjoy!

T = Trinket
W = Weapon
R = Ring
O = Off-hand
C = Cloak
N = Neck

Gate of the Setting Sun

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Saboteur Kip’tilak Fallout-Filtering Hood
Striker Ga’dok Bomber’s Precision Gloves Airstream Treads
Commander Ri’mok Leggings of the Frenzy R: Viscous Ring
Raigonn 1: Frenzyswarm Bracers
2: Shoulders of Engulfing Winds
Swarmbringer Chestguard W: Carapace Breaker
O: Shield of the Protectorate

 

Quest: That’s a Big Bug!
Reward: Cloak of Collective Thought

 

Mogu’shan Palace

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Trial of the King Hurricane Belt
Gekkan Hexxer’s Lethargic Gloves Glinktrok Sollerets C: Cloak of Cleansing Flame
Xin the Weaponmaster 1: Regal Silk Shoulderpads
2: Soulbinder Treads
Mind’s Eye Breastplate W: Firescribe Dagger
N: Mindcapture Pendant

 

Quest: A New Lesson for the Master
Reward (All 430): Watchful Dreamer’s Trousers, Dreamer’s Vigil Leggings, Leggings of Clever Entrapment, Legplates of the Scattered Tribes,

Quest: Relic of the Four Kings
Reward (All 430): Cuffs of the Endless Shadow, Bindings of Impeccable Strategy, Armbands of the Reawakened, Lost Heritage Bracers, Bracers of Inner Knowledge

 

Scarlet Halls

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Houndmaster Braun R: Beastbinder Ring
Armsmaster Harlan
Flameweaver Koegler Vellum-Ripper Gloves Bradbury’s Entropic Legguards W: Melted Hypnotic Blade
R: Vithrak, Gaze of the Deadman
N: Temperature-Sensing Necklace

Scarlet Monastary

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Thalnos the Soulrender Forgotten Bloodmage Mantle
Brother Korloff
High Inquisitor Whitemane 1: Leggings of Hallowed Fire
2: Whitemane’s Embroidered Chapeau
Incarnadine Scarlet Spaulders Crown of Holy Flame W: Greatstaff of Righteousness
R: Triune Signet

Scholomance

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Instructor Chillheart Shadow Puppet Bracers
Jandice Barov O: Metanoia Shield
Rattlegore Rattling Gloves W: Necromantic Wand
Lilian Voss Leggings of Unleashed Anguish Shivbreaker Vest
Darkmaster Gandling Gloves of Explosive Pain Shoulderguards of Painful Lessons T: Price of Progress

 

Quest: An End to the Suffering
Rewards (All 440): Patchwork Flesh Armor, Coldforge Carapace, Ghoulskin Vestments, Darkmaster’s Spare Robe

Shadow-Pan Monastary

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Gu Cloudstrike Star Summoned Bracers Leggings of the Charging Soul
Master Snowdrift Quivering Heart Girdle
Sha of Violence Gloves of Enraged Slaughter N: Necklace of Disorientation
Taran Zhu Robes of Fevered Dreams Darkbinder Leggings Blastwalker Footguards Mindbender Plate Gloves R: Ring of Malice

Siege of Niuzao Temple

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Vizier Jin’bak Hood of Viridian Residue Girdle of Soothing Detonation
Commander Vo’jak Bombardment Bracers Chestwrap of Arcing Flame
General Pa’valak Breezebinder Handwraps Siegeworn Bracers T: Vial of Ichorous Blood
Wing Leader Ner’onok 1: Breezeswept Hood
2: Whisperwind Spaulders
1: Belt of Totemic Binding
2: Airbender Sandals
W: Gustwalker Staff

 

Quest: Take Down the Wing Leader
Reward: Hardened Resin Pendant (Neck) or Mantid Eye Amulet (Neck)

 

Stormstout Brewery

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Ook-Ook Bracers of Displaced Air Barreldodger Boots T: Empty Fruit Barrel
Hoptallus C: Cloak of Hidden Flasks
O: Bottle of Potent Potables
Yan-Zhu the Uncasked Fermenting Belt Uncasked Chestguard Sudsy Legplates R: Alemental Seal

Temple of the Jade Serpent

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Wise Mari Treads of Corrupted Water Waterburst Helm
Lorewalker Stonestep Leggings of Whispered Dreams Sunheart Waistband
Liu Flameheart Flameheart Sandals C: Cape of Entanglement
Sha of Doubt Paralyzing Gloves Chestguard of Despair Neverdare Shoulders W: Je’lyu, Spirit of the Serpent
N: Mindbreaker Pendant
W: Staff of Trembling Will
Beta LFR – A Little Harder Than Expected

Beta LFR – A Little Harder Than Expected

I have returned from PAX Prime! It was a blast meeting some of my old (and new) guild mates again, especially since Blizzcon isn’t being held this year (but with Blizzcon 2013, you bet we’ll be making plans for that again).

Highlights?

Marvel Heroes is a blast. If you like the gameplay of Diablo and Torchlight, you’re going to like Marvel Heroes (Actually, I believe it’s made by the creator of the Diablo series).

Meeting my previous editor-in-chief for the World of Warcraft magazine, Dan Amrich, in person. Sat in on a panel by him on How to Review Video Games. He really does look like Mal Reynolds.

“There’s an inverse relationship between doing what you love and getting the big bucks.”

- Dan Amrich

I tracked down and met up with some of the Blizzard CMs and we had a nice discussion about the game and the upcoming expansion. After that, a CM who will remain nameless and I attempted to Gangnam Style at the booth. We were able to get the “Horseback ride” and the “Lasso” part of the routine. However, the “sideways shuffle” continued to elude us.

What’s that? Video footage of Gangnam Style attempts? I believe it may have been seized at the Canadian border. Oh well.

Heart of Fear

Over the weekend, I caught wind that the raid finder options of Heart of Fear opened up and Mogu’shan Vaults had been disabled. New instance, new bosses, right? Decided to queue in and give it a go.

The first boss that stood in front of us was Wind Lord Mel’jerak. He’s quite the royal pain actually. Your group will be squaring off against an encounter with multiple adds that absolutely must be controlled. In the raid finder, there’s about 9 of those things. If more than 4 gets crowd controlled, the Wind Lord just removes all the debuffs. There’s a finite amount of bugs that need to be active or else things can snowball to NOPE mode in a few scant seconds.

windlord

But that’s not the main issue. The big thing I’ve found is that tanks are just going through our group like a revolving door. We’d get a pull in, but then we wipe because someone broke CC due to AoE or the tank mistakenly pulls the boss near a cc’d mob. Mob breaks, we wipe, and then the tank gets a  vote kick which automatically passes because hive mentality.

Poor tanks only get one shot on LFR. Their skills and performance are based on one boss. They don’t even get to really learn stuff. Personally, I don’t think that’s fair.

Now my take on it is that there’s a big difference between queuing for LFR on beta realms against bosses meant for testing versus queuing in the raid finder against bosses where their heroic versions have been on farm for half a year (Dragon Soul, for instance).

I mean if you’re tanking raid finder for Dragon Soul and you’re wiping to basic simple stuff that’s fault months after the place is already open, I can understand the reasoning.

But a new boss that’s still being tuned where the mechanics and encounter notes aren’t widely known yet?

What the hell. Can we have a little more patience patience in there?

Ideal raid linear progression would be wiping at 90%, then 60%, then 20%, then death (or just one shotting it, but that means it’s probably too easy).

Anyway, the fact that we cycled through 7 different tanks is a good indicator that either some mechanics need to be changed or the raid finder version of this boss needs another pass. Something kept resetting the encounter. Didn’t get a good look as I was occupied at my frames, but it looks like that happens when the boss crosses a certain line.

Maybe I’ll try queueing for the second half instead.

[VIDEO] Mists Beta: Videos from the Vault of Mysteries

[VIDEO] Mists Beta: Videos from the Vault of Mysteries

Managed to queue into the second half of Mogu’shan Vaults on beta this week really late at night. I figured while these attempts were still fresh on my mine, I could at least get some pointers and notes down along with the recorded video. Apologies for the 720p. I found out that my bottleneck’s my video card (GTX 460, looking to get a 670 later on).

Didn’t actually take down Will of the Emperor. Got to within 2% left before the raid buckled. It’s fairly repetitive and you get the idea of what’s going on. I’ll keep making notes and additions with any changes or insights I get later on as we get into the expansion itself.

My favourite encounter by far is the Spirit Kings. Just so much going on with both covering the raid and making sure you don’t get screwed by specific player abilities. Elegon’s a visual beauty, too.

I’ll get the first half of Mogu’shan Vaults up in a few days. If you can’t wait, you can see them on my Youtube channel.

How about a training dummy/event for healers?

OK, so there is this awesome new set of training dummies in the Mists beta that gives someone facing, raid buffs, food buffs and flask buffs, can be killed and has about 50 million health. It’s a pretty damn cool new tool for players to try to more accurately judge their DPS in a raid environment without having to actually go in to a raid. It’s a wonderful idea, a great idea and a necessary idea.

But how about one for healers?

So, lets lay it out there, healing is a stressful job, accompanied by a certain sense of anxiety and dread that accompanies healing a group for the first time. I hear horror stories of people getting booted out of instance all the time when they first start healing because they are new and not perfect. It’s a huge fear. One of the things I always suggest to new healers is to pop into a battle ground. As folks on twitter have pointed out, and I’ve agreed with for years, it helps you sort your UI, and it helps you learn some of the aspects of healing like triage. But it doesn’t teach you everything. Healing a PvP group isn’t quite the same as an instance, especially when you have to manage cooldowns and mana usage for boss mechanics, tanks, DPS and yourself.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t heal in PvP, by all means you should as it’s a great way to test out your UI, spells and what they do as well as key binds, but I still find fighting against another group of people is much different than fighting against a raid or boss design. I just want to make it clear I’m not discrediting PvP healing as a learning tool, but there’s no elegant solution to it. I mean, even Rift has healing dummies to help you gauge yourself.

Now here’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a couple months now. In The Secret World there’s a test you have to take for your preferred role to access nightmare content, and it’s called the gatekeeper. What the gatekeeper does is it forces you to respond to mechanics and use your toolkit. When I stumbled upon this I was immediately reminded of a very old class quest in Vanilla World of Warcraft , and I’m sure some of you will already know where I’m going with this.

Remember when you went for your Benediction priests? Do you remember the difficulty of that class quest and how it made you use everything you had to smartly complete the quest? It was an awesome class quest that worked within the confines of the character class at the time.

So here’s my proposal, lets have something, an event,  that you can go into that gives you NPC party members to heal and a faux boss fight. Through this, players could individually test their mettle, get logs and see if they were having issues without having to risk embarrassment or ridicule. Yes I know it’s an MMO and yes I know there are social requirements to be had, but DPS can go to a dummy and test out their numbers, why shouldn’t other classes get something similar? Why not a faux encounter like the Gatekeeper in TSW that lets you test out our abilities in relative safety. Think of how something like this could benefit healers.

Lets take that a step further, how much would something like this benefit tanks as well, or DPS. It would be an amazing boon. It would relieve so much pressure by eliminating at least partially the notion that you have to be perfect on your first time out. You could test to some extent and get an idea before ever having to walk into an instance. I would wager that if something like this was implemented there would be a lot more willing healers, and a lot more willing tanks. I can’t count how many times people in my own guild have said that they would want to try healing or tanking, but don’t want to do so in a manner that would waste someone’s time while they were learning. It’s nice to have friends to call on to learn this stuff, but sometimes they just aren’t around to help at the times you need them.

Yes you could make the argument that you can learn this while you level up and learn your abilities, but at the end of the day I’d be willing to be the amount of people that level through instances isn’t nearly as great as those that level through questing. Even though questing as a healer or tank has gotten better, it’s more often than not more effective to level as a DPS spec anyways. I’ve had healers message me for advice, and then when they get ridiculed in a 5-man or an LFR, or a new raid they just stop because while they were learning, not everyone understood that and made it twice as difficult.

The Gatekeeper system is one of the best things I’ve seen implemented into an MMO in years, it is something I would love to see re-purposed in other MMOs, if only tooled a bit differently. In our case a repeatable event or quest that lets you test yourself, your new gem setup, your new talent choices, your new reforging or just learning how spells work without the opportunity cost of failing publicly before you’re ready. Lets just make it more of an event and less of a test, make it something healers and tanks could use to get a feel for their respective roles.

Is it  a perfect solution, I can’t really say, but healers and tanks need some love too. Having a new tool for DPS to check their numbers with full raid buffs is really nice, but don’t leave out the healers and tanks, the two most stressful jobs you can choose to undertake in just about any game. I just think adding something like this would be amazing, useful, and combined with everything else at our finger tips would just further strengthen our healers and tanks, and their confidence in their roles.

I’ll write more on this later I’m sure, something more in-depth and detailed, but for now I’m curious to see what you think. Would this be something you’d like to see implemented for healers and tanks?

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.

kite

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.

scenario

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).

halo

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.

divine-star

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!”

lightwell

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?!

Idea: Release Mists with No Raids?

Idea: Release Mists with No Raids?

I can’t take credit for this idea. All I remember is someone tweeted me the link to a forum post on a prominent WoW community and I can’t for the life of me remember which thread/poster/tweeter it was. If you’ve seen the thread before somewhere and you got the link handy, do me a favour and link it in the comments.

This is why you should never trust memory. Or at least, never trust mine.

The basic premise is to launch Mists without accessible raid instances right away. You can still PvP, do heroic instances, and all the other end game stuff available.

But don’t open up raids right away.

Why would you do this?

Because it helps even the playing field across the board for raid progression. At the start of expansions, the most progressive guilds tend to be the ones that hit cap immediately and get into raids as soon as they can. Let’s make it a little more interesting. Open raids up after week 2 of release. This gives time for players that can’t take the 72 hours off straight from work or school to level to max at a more forgiving pace.

Then when the raids do become available, there’ll be a little more competition for assorted boss firsts for server and world.

Would make things livelier, that’s for sure. It wouldn’t be the first time some form of artificial gated content was implemented.

Yeah? Naw? Wanna get in there ASAP and leave everyone else in the dust or do you favour a fair start for as many players as possible?

EDITntzolev saw it here first – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGx92MoaWEA