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.

New absorb UI!

New absorb UI!

patch52-absorb

The default UI’s been updated in the latest patch 5.2 PTR build. We’ve clamored for the ability to view absorb information. That stuff was added into the combat log sometime ago. Now we can actually see how much our shields will absorb for in the various frames.

patch52-monkaoe

Monks get a new Level-60 talent called  Ring of Peace:

Ring of Peace forms a 8 yard sanctuary around the target for 8 seconds, causing all enemies in the area of effect to be silenced and disarmed.

What you don’t see in the above picture is that the ring gradually diminishes and grows smaller in size. You bet it’s a PvP talent! It’s great for any defensive or offensive work that needs to be done. If I manage to root a bunch of players, I hope a Monk drops this right on top.

patch52-insanity

Finally, here we see the reworked Shadow Word: Insanity.

For Shadow, this ability causes Mind Flay to gain the Insanity effect when it’s cast on a target with 3 Shadow damage-over-time spells on them. Insanity causes Mind Flay to deal double damage for the duration.

In essence, when your target has 3 DoTs active, Mind Flay does double damage. Now my question for the theorycrafters is this:

Since Mind Flay will always do double damage with 3 DoTs up, does this mean we should activate Devouring Plague with only 1 Shadow orb or continue to save and use Devouring Plague at 3? The only way to negate this question is if the Insanity effect were to somehow scale based upon the potency of Devouring Plague.

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?

A Must-Read for the Cataclysm Player

Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying a nice little break from WoW before Cataclysm. Spent time with family for Turkey Day, beat Mass Effect (never played it before), and I’ve been looking forward to the new expansion for the WoW TCG–not for the loot card but to actually enjoy the game.

I came across a great post on the MMO-Champion forums which let me reminisce about my original post here when I was still a guest. I’ve tried to focus a majority of my blogging on how everyone can help each other. The name of the guild I’m in is Team Sport, and that’s what I believe this game is. Hence, when I read the forum post by Daetur, I felt like a proud father. Not because I had any direct impact on him/her but because it goes along with everything that I believe this game should and could be. Instead of making a small link to it in the midst of this text… I’m going to make sure you don’t miss this:

DAETUR’S CATACLYSM FORUM POST

Daetur discusses what each player (Tank, Healer, DPS) can do to ensure the success of any dungeon or raid. He takes the stance that many of us have gotten “complacent” in WotLK with regard to raiding and dungeons. Through my experience, I have to say I agree. We’ve come to expect AoE’ing down 3 packs of mobs, healing through debuffs, and risking death to get a few more casts in. According to Daetur, we’re in for a rude awakening. I’m excited! A few things he mentions:

  • CC is key. We are going to need to CC mobs, and avoid breaking them at all costs.
  • Defensive cooldowns are key all around. Tanks, Healers, and DPS are going to need their cooldowns to help stay alive.
  • Healers need to manage their mana, since it’s now at a premium and no longer infinite.

I can’t help but feel like the whole thing meant to make the job of the healer’s more manageable. Well, it’s true. The goal of any fight is to kill them before they kill you. We may be able to burst to high hell, but if we can’t stay alive doing it, then what’s the point? I’m already bracing myself for the backlash of the “uninformed”: “L2Heal noob.” We no longer live in a world of invincibility. Everyone is reponsible for helping everyone else stay alive and do their job easier.

Remember, I only lightly summarized the forum post by Daetur. I implore you to please read the entire post. You may not disagree, and all of it may not be pertinent to you, but you’ll know what everyone is up against in Cataclysm. Help each other out.

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?

    Healing Roundups and We Got Our Drakes!

    Healing Roundups and We Got Our Drakes!

    Not quite sure where to go or what to read? Feeling overwhelmed? Yeah, I feel the same way too. Don’t worry though. I’ve got all the healing related stuff right here for you to brush up on. Next few weeks will be exciting with all the new systems.

    Druids

    Lissanna’s restoration healing guide (Restokin)

    Keeva’s restoration 4.0 guide (Tree Bark Jacket)

    Paladins

    What Holy Paladins need to know for 4.0.1 (Kurn’s Corner)

    Priests

    WoW Insider: SG’s Reforging, gemming and GCD tactics for 4.0.1 priests (WoW Insider)

    4.0 Survival Guide – Holy & Disc Specs, Glyphs and more (Tales of a Priest)

    Discipline 4.0.1 guide (Malevica)

    Shamans

    Resto Shaman’s Guide to 4.0.1 (Life in Group 5)

    Augments

    Gem conversions for 4.0.1 (Revive & Rejuvenate)

    Addons

    No Stock UI has a nice compilation of addons that healers and raiders will find useful. Bonus: Updated for 4.0.1.

    Beru’s Addon List

    Don’t hesitate to suggest other resources that you think other healers might find informational.

    And bloggers, you have my express permission to plug your own stuff.

    Unrelated

    25-drakesr

    We scored our ICC 25 drakes last night!

    And one of my hunters accidentally cast a buff which automatically knocked him off his mount. Extremely comical moment, actually. My timing was pretty good.

    I originally planned on healing the entire encounter with three healers, but the current raid composition didn’t allow for it. Instead, we used our previous 4 healing setup. It consisted of a holy priest (me), discipline priest, holy paladin and shaman.

    The first clutch moment of the night occurred during the defile phase. Valks were inbound. I was busy stacking the raid with Renews before I realized I lost all mobility.

    “Matt’s picked up.”

    I looked up at the second valk, and noticed it zeroing in on the other discipline priest.

    “Ann’s picked up.”

    At this point, I was thinking to myself it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Two healers out of four locked out?

    “Rykga picked up.”

    Crap. There goes our holy paladin. Wait, that’s three healers! I barked out for an immediate use of defensive cooldowns. Barkskin and other such skills were used while the DPS desperately muscled to get us free as quickly as possible (and to their credit, they did).

    After something like 25+ attempts over the past few weeks, we were able to secure our drakes. Only took us something like 5 sets of Vile Spirits. Did it with 3 Boomkins. That helped immensely.

    Still recruiting for Cataclysm. May not have any immediate openings now, but if you’re looking for a raiding guild, look me up.

    Reminder: Updated Dispel Mechanics

    Just wanted to post a quick reminder of the dispel changes. Every healing class has the capability to remove harmful magic effects from friendly targets. You may have to talent into it somewhere, but it is possible.

    In encounters going forward, any highly important buffs that need to be removed will come in the form of magic. Other negative debuffs will annoy the raid or make life a little more difficult, but they will not get to the point where the encounter becomes literally impossible to do.

    For example, if Lich King were to become a Cataclysm encounter, Necrotic Plague would be a magical ability so that any healing class could remove it.

    Druids

    Remove Corruption – Removes a curse and a poison (Removing magic requires the Nature’s Cure talent).

    Paladins

    Cleanse – Removes a disease and a poison (Removing magic requires the Sacred Cleansing talent).

    Note: Protection and retribution paladins cannot cleanse remove magic.

    Priests

    Dispel Magic – Removes 2 harmful spells from allies or 2 buff spells from enemies.
    Cure Disease – Removes a disease.

    Note: Shadow priests cannot remove diseases in Shadowform but can still dispel. No change to Body and Soul. It will still remove a poison if you Cure Disease yourself only (Won’t work on others).

    Shamans

    Purge – Removes 2 buff spells from enemies.
    Cleanse Spirit – Removes a curse (Removing magic requires the Improved Cleanse Spirit talent)

    Note: Disease and poison removal abilities have been removed. Yes, that includes the totems.

    Mages, warriors, hunters and warlocks (Fel Hunter) have no changes to their dispel mechanics.

    Actually, come to think of it, Necrotic Plague is still going to be a disease in post 4.0.1. That means the only way to remove it is by having a priest or a holy paladin in the raid.

    Oh dear.

    Hopefully, it’ll be hot fixed so that it becomes a magic effect or something. Unless they don’t expect anyone to raid past 4.0.1. Right?

    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?

    Discipline’s Tier 10 4-piece Joke

    Discipline’s Tier 10 4-piece Joke

    Haha!  Hey!  Hey!  I got a great one for ya! 

    “What do you call a 5% buff to Power Word: Shield?”

    “Insignificant.”

    Wait!  I got another one!

    “Name something fun, interesting, and awesome that gets replaced by something as mundane as a bowl of rocks?”

    “The Priest Tier 10 4-piece Set Bonus.”

    Let’s bring everyone up to speed.  Not all priests are at a place where they can experience, or even look forward to the set bonuses of the current tier.  The current Tier 10 4-piece is as follows:

    Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells.

    Avalonna at talesofapriest.com has a great write-up of how beneficial this was to Holy Priests.  Now, I have very little knowledge of Holy, since I’m primarily (and almost solely) Discipline.

    From a Discipline standpoint, this was amazing as a tank healer, or even a Discipline raid healer.  Follow me on this one, as it’s my first attempt at something resembling theory-crafting.  I apologize in advance if my numbers are off a little bit.

    The “Math”

    Penance is 16% of your base mana.  You get 3 pulses of healing.  I can crit all 3 for ~14k.  Flash Heal is 18% of your base mana.  With Glyph of Flash Heal and Improved Flash Heal, it’s less.  I can crit and get about ~9k (with a 3-stack of Grace).  Penance is relatively cheap, and heals more than Flash Heal.

    With full raid buffs and the Borrowed Time proc, my Flash Heal cast is ~1 second.  With Glyph of Penance, the cooldown is down to 8 seconds (thanks to the lovely Penance nerf we had a while back).  So, you’re telling me I have a chance to reset an 8 second cooldown with a 1 second cast?  Yes, please! 

    Not to mention that Avalonna also points out in her post that this Flash Heal! proc doesn’t have an internal cooldown.  It’s possible that you can have a string of Flash Heal -> Penance -> Flash Heal -> Penance -> etc. etc.  Even without worrying about Grace, this becomes pretty powerful. 

    The Fun

    When I was first looking at the likelihood of getting my Tier 10 set, I was salivating at the mouth for a cool and interesting 4-piece bonus.  Look at what we’ve had in the past:

    Tier 7 – Reduces Greater Heal cost by 5%. (Discipline doesn’t really utilize this in most circumstances.)

    Tier 8 – Casting PW:Shield grants 250 spellpower for 5 seconds. (Obviously useful for Discipline.  Kinda “meh” for Holy.)

    Tier 9 – Increases Divine Aegis and the initial hit of Empowered Renew by 10%. (Blizzard gets the idea to involve both specs.  Still, marginal increase.)

    So finally, we get a Tier bonus that’s interesting, challenging to work with, and it gets tossed under the bus.  If it was deemed overpowered, a simple fix would be to either shorten the window needed to cast the Flash Heal, or reduce the chance for it to proc to less than 20%.  I feel that completely redesigning it was a bad move on Blizzard’s case.  People need to understand that this game is organic.  I personally enjoy having to tweak my playstyle a bit to get more “oomph” out of my healing.  The Tier 7 set had me speccing into Divine Fury and utilizing a Borrowed Time-hasted Greater Heal for a while.

    The Replacement

    Our incoming Tier 10 4-piece set:

    This bonus now increases the effectiveness of the caster’s Power Word: Shield and Renew spells by 5%.

    Sorry, I just gagged a little while reading it again.  Blizzard has gone the “easy route” and just given us a static stat increase.  As far as Discipline goes, it’s a sad one at that.  Thanks to math from Zusterke, I’m able to whip out some numbers for you.

    Let’s say you have 3000 spellpower, raid-buffed or not.  Your glyphed Power Word: Shield will total 8,813 (as of right now).  At 3200 spellpower, it’s 9,177. 

    With this new “buff”, those numbers change to 9,254 and 9,636, respectively.  You’re looking at a 441 and 459 jump.  Even at 4000 spellpower, you’re only increasing your shield by 532 points of absorption.  With how bosses and mobs hit, this is hardly worth even considering. 

    Even if you’re able to keep up PW:S on the raid the WHOLE time, you’re preventing only ~11,500 extra damage every 15 seconds. 

    Hence, this bonus is far from worth it to me.  Dawn Moore wrote up on WoW.com her initial thoughts on the changes.  She writes:

    “Still, the buff is exceptionally good. The only problem with it is that so many priests who turned their back on the tier gear for other badge items (such as shadow’s tier gear) with better itemization are now going to be screaming bloody murder.”

    I disagree with the phrases “buff is exceptionally good”, “only problem”, and….well, hell, I disagree with her.  I really don’t know any Priests that I game with or interact with in the blog/twitter communities that were against the original set bonus.  If anything, those that were on the fence about the bonus were quick fans once they actually acquired the bonus.  This news of “4-piece hatred” came out of nowhere, as far as I’m concerned. 

    Then again, I’m just one person.  It looks like I’ll be going the route of dropped loot, crafted pieces, and off-set badge gear.  This particular Priest isn’t too thrilled about the change.

    Other Thoughts:

    Lilitharien from Divine Aegis

    Bati from Holy Nova NOW!

    Miss Medicina’s “To Bonus or Not to Bonus”

    How do you feel about it? How does this affect your gearing strategy as you make your way through the content?

    Email: elder.thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

     

    Are Easier Heroics Better in the Long Run?

    Are Easier Heroics Better in the Long Run?

    Image Courtesy of Geico Insurance

    The patch 3.3.2 includes a few amendments to Heroic Dungeons and how they’re played.  Entire packs of mobs are being deleted.  Bosses abilities are being shortened or being made less frequent.  Fight mechanics are being made easier.  In essence, Blizzard is giving us more opportunities to blow through these dungeons with little to no effort.

    I’m an educator at heart.  Seeing as though my life “endgame” is to be at the front of a classroom, it’s important to me that people learn the skills necessary to go through life.  How to write a proper business letter, how to analyze a novel or article, or how to put your thoughts in order and present them in a proper argument.

    How does this translate into WoW?  Teaching players how to follow a kill order, how to manage small and large cooldowns, or how to CC a mob.  Remember some of the cardinal rules of this game that we’ve all learned?

    • If the ground changes, get out of it. Pretty standard stuff, except for rare circumstances
    • If the boss starts spinning with his huge weapon, move away from it.
    • If a really annoying mob is causing havoc, CC it. If possible, avoid DoT’ing it.

    We learn these the hard way.  And, we have to utilize and execute what we’ve learned in the current content.  Ground changes?  Sounds like Rotface’s ooze pools on the ground.  Spinning mobs?  Marrowgar.  The need to CC a mob?  The mind controls in Lady Deathwhisper.

    “You are not prepared!”

    With the level of difficulty amongst the endgame content, more and more groups are getting frustrated with the lack of skill within the community of 80s.  I equate this to meeting people in the real world that don’t demonstrate even a sliver of mastery of their native language (slang and colloquialisms are fun choices but shouldn’t be your foundation).  How do you get through school without being able to speak or write properly?  How do you get to start raiding without having a knowledge of the fundementals?

    Take Ahn’kahet (AKA “Old Kingdom”) for example.  Jedoga Shadowseeker is the boss that floats in the air, summoning an add to sacrifice.  If she succeeds, she hits a temporary enrage.  I remember wiping to that when people first started doing heroics.  The tank had to manage a cooldown; the healer was spamming big heals. This fight demonstrated the need for DPS to turn up the heat to down the add.  Even I as a healer would Smite/Lightning Bolt the add.

    Now, it seems that Madame Shadowseeker only does this once.  Does this just mean everyone blows all their cooldowns (Shield Wall, Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration, etc) to endure her short enrage and then they’re done?  The key to earning respect as a player with me is demonstrate a finesse of your skills, not be all RAWR OMG WTFBBQ DPSPWNAGE!!  You can be great player and still utilize all of your classes abilities efficiently.

    “Time is of the essence!”

    As these Heroics are being made easier and easier, that means people will be blowing through them faster and faster.  Making the value of the gear that people are getting lower and lower.  Follow this math:

    Average of 4 badges (+ 2 from random) = 6 badges per run.

    Clearing an instance in 15 minutes means 24 emblems an hour.

    A whole set of T9 costs 210 emblems.

    210 emblems / 24 emblems per hour = 8.75 hours.

    Even if you play 3 hours/day, you could have full tier 9 in 3 days.

    Given that, do I think it’s possible to really have a grasp of how to exist in a raid setting, possibly having an aspect of the fight rest on your shoulders?  I won’t say a flat-out “no”, but I’m hesitant.  I learned how to play my class through dungeons and heroics.  A fight like Rotface or Blood Princes is going to confuse players that haven’t had the ability to build an understanding of their class.

    Consider it a slightly less horrifying version of a person who just bought their character on eBay that day.  Regardless if you’re a completely new player, or just levelling an alt, I fear that we’re starting to lose the building blocks to being a good raider to the ease of too much convenience.  (Sidenote: Notice I said “too much”.  I’m all for crafting the game so everyone has a shot, but there is a point when it goes too far.  I don’t want to go back to the days of needing to run alts through Karazhan to begin the gearing process for Black Temple.)

    It’s like the economy (I know, a touchy subject).  If you start pumping more gear into the game faster, it devalues what’s already out there.  I guess the good thing is that people will be less freaked out by GearScore.  If everyone has a high gear score, more emphasis will need to be placed on player skill.  What good is a high GearScore if everyone has it?

    “Lazy Sunday!”

    “…WAKE UP IN THE LATE AFTERNOON!”  Sorry, a little sidetracked.  I love that skit.

    Anyways, with Blizzard making things easier and easier, I fear they’re going too far.  ICC trash is already becoming AOE-able.  People are complaining about there being too much trash (yet, people complained about Trial of the Crusader not having ANY trash and being too boring).  Oculus is getting even bigger rewards.

    I don’t want this game to become “just go in and blow stuff up”.  I like the challenge.  I like the dedication.  I like the workout.  I like the strategy.  Do I know how to create a balance with this?  Of course not.  If I did, I would be working for Blizzard.  I just don’t want the laziest crowd in the game to win over the hearts and minds of the game designers.

    Now, I enjoy the mechanic of earlier ICC wings getting easier over time, allowing less progressed guilds to see the endgame content, but the latest epidemic of clueless raiders is troublesome to me.  How do you make the game more appealing to everyone, while still teaching those fundemental rules that we’ve all learned over the years?

    What do you think?  Do you feel heroics are being made too easy?  How do you promote an understanding of class and basic fight mechanics amongst your raiders?