Cast Times on Instant Spells Highlights Warlords Healing Changes

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

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

Raiding realities going into Warlords

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pepperidge Farm remembers.

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

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

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

Decision Making

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring on the beta!

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.

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?

Where in the World is Spirit Link?

Where in the World is Spirit Link?


So, it has certainly been a busy week around the office so to speak. The announcement of the Cataclysm beta has everyone chomping at the bit, eagerly awaiting their invitation to what is sure to be one hell of a party.

Since the announcement of the beta there has been a flood of information. Among that information was many tidbits about Restoration shaman. I did an analysis of those updates over on wow.com feel free to check it out. The one thing that has been missing from all of this information has been Spirit Link.

Spirit Link was the original 51 talent in the restoration tree in the first Wrath of the Lich King beta build. I fell in love with this spell very early on, and was looking forward to using it in a raid. It was, however, not to be. Shortly after the second beta build of Wrath the talent was taken away like a jealous father stealing his daughter away in a tower prison, replaced by our now glorious Riptide. I still pine for Spirit Link however. I often wonder if, when I look up at the lonely stars at night, if  Spirit Link is somewhere looking up at the same stars missing me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Riptide, but my heart still belongs to Spirit Link.

When we got the very first set of class previews, Blizzard developers stated that they were going to try and bring Spirit Link back. The restoration shaman community was incredibly receptive to this, and there was much rejoicing. I know I danced a little bit at the news. So we eagerly awaited the announcement of its presence. When the beta information was released, I am sad to say that Spirit Link is MIA. There have been no official statements as of this post as to why it was not included this round, but I have a few suspicions.

The reason the spell was removed from the Wrath beta is that it was hard to balance. here was the original wording of the spell.

Spirit Link (Rank 1): You link the friendly target with two nearby targets, causing 50% of the damage taken to be distributed to the linked targets. After 2200 damage, the link will sever.

That is pretty interesting right? The problem was two fold here. First, the spell had no duration limit aside from the damage cap. So you could set it on two targets and just let it be. Second, the damage cap was either too low (2200 damage would be one swing from most bosses) or too high. Finding a sweet spot was always a problem as it was either way too weak, or way too powerful.

My guess is that either it is NYI (not yet included) or they are still having problems balancing it.  In the Wrath beta  it could be stacked and made damage mitigation moot. “Non def capped tank? We have three shaman NO PROBLEM!” type deal. I will be highly interested to see if it makes it to live, because I love it so much. If it doesn’t make it to live, it will surely still be the one that got away.  It was interesting and a brand new mechanic to play with. I love it like a fat kid loves cake, and I’m a fat kid that LOVES his cake. As a bonus here’s a video of the spell in use in the Wrath beta.

So what do you guys think? Want to see this spell make it live to Cataclysm? How would you balance it? How would you change it?

Also this week, my buddy shane has written a new Google Chrome extension called Armory Links. It allows you to look anyone up quickly and easily in any of the various armory and gear checking sites. You should check it out, I know I love it and use it frequently.

And if you’re heading to BlizzCon and are interested in custom badge art, be sure to swing by Ginny’s site and check out her stuff. She does great work, and I know she’s working on a custom Lodur piece for me as we speak.

Kingslayers? That’s Unpossible!

Kingslayers? That’s Unpossible!

I was originally going to regal you with the wild tales of my misadventures through the LFD tool, but instead I am consumed by a  need to share my overwhelming pride.

Tuesday June 8th at near 10:20pm est, Unpossible downed The Lich King in 25 player mode. Normally I wouldn’t bother posting something like this as I don’t want to be seen as a braggart, but I am proud of my guild for sticking to it and getting this done. Over the last few months we’ve been combating burnout, illness, freak weather and buggy encounters. It seems to always be the way, we make incredible progress and then Murphy rears his ugly head and we get stymied by random occurrences.

I will say this was one of the more exhilarating kills we’ve had. Wed the week prior we broke early to attempt to buy Blizzcon tickets as a guild, we decided it would be nice to let everyone enjoy the weekend and focus on getting to the convention. On Monday we dove back into ICC and went hell for broke for The Lich King. As we were handling defiles and valks something just clicked. Vent got quiet and everyone was moving in unison. These are what I like to call moments of raiding clarity. This is where everyone is doing everything perfect and the boss abilities are right on time. It is almost like participating in a choreographed dance. It was just as if suddenly everyone got the fight. We made great progress and were consistently pushing into phase 3. Midnight bells tolled and we called it a night, but before we did officers agreed with spirits so high and considering the progress we made that we needed to extend the lockout, get the same raid group in ICC and take the bastard down. Who needed more shards? Badges? Pfft! A dead Lich King is all we wanted. And when the announcement went out over ventrillo you could hear people becoming excited.

So when Tuesday came, we headed in and on our first pull that same magic was there. pushed into phase 3, and we wiped because we weren’t expecting to get there on the first pull. So we head back in our confidences high, and pull again. This time his health gets even lower, we wipe to something stupid, but spirits are still high. We go again and again, each time chipping away at that total health. After a 10 minute break around 10 we come back in, buff up and pull. We get to phase 3, everyone alive and we’re going strong. We’re kiting the spirits, and moving from defiles with expert reflexes, I get picked as the second person to go into Frostmourne and I heal the shit out of Terenas Menethil, I get dumped back to reality and we keep going. His health is dropping lower and lower. The other resto shaman gets picked for Harvest Soul, something unknown happens and he dies. LK enrages and everyone gets tense. Our main tank Woe pops his cooldowns as healers bridged the gap to him and the big heals started raining in. Suddenly he gets smacked hard and goes down. LK is at 14% with a few key people down (healers and high dps) everyone sighs, a wipe is almost called but instead Woe calls out for our OT Theonius to grab the LK fast. He charges over, grabs him, healers switch targets immediately and everyone unloads. Remaining healers go all out balls-to-the-wall with every cooldown and bit of mana they have to throw behind healing. LK at 12%, vent gets quiet again except for the calls from the raid leaders giving terse directions “heal x, move right” LK at 10.5%. Everyone is holding their breath and then you hear the call “Take this bitch down!” LK 10%, he wipes the raid and everyone cheers on vent, a reminder is sent out not to release and we all are whooping and hollering at the top of our lungs. Our mass res comes and we pop yet another heroism for good measure and unload, our achievements pop up and at that moment I could actually hear all remaining tension and burnout leave. A burden lifted from everyone’s shoulders and fresh energy flowing into the raiders.

An early end to a raiding night, and week, but one well deserved. So as of Tuesday we finally start our hard modes. There is palpable excitement as everyone is getting ready and anticipation is high. After all the random things that have gone wrong along the way, I can honestly say this was one well deserved kill for Unpossible. I’d like to thank each and everyone of my guild-mates, officers and everyone in between for continuing to work so hard and to persevere though so much. We’ve been around for a long time, and we have no intention on stopping! We have our eye on you Deathwing, and we must break you!

We all have our obstacles in game. Raid attendance, pushing the DPS envelope, getting that computer to stop dropping you from raid, getting the last shot in to topple that boss at 1% or even overcoming personal and health related issues to play a game you enjoy with people you call friends. Everyone’s journey is different, but when you get to your goal there is no sweeter victory.

With that in mind I’d also like to make a shout-out to Spellbrood. We heard that you have a lot on your plate and we here at World of Matticus want to wish you well in your journeys. Remember, no obstacle is too great when you have good friends to help share the burdens and the good times!

So that’s it for this today, hope you guys enjoyed my little story there, I know my heart started pounding again as I began to recall the events.

Also, Unpossible is hiring! We’re looking for geared and intelligent DPS looking for a fun but dedicated raiding home. Sorry folks we are full up on Death Knights and Priests, but everyone else is welcome to apply. If you’re interested stop by here and take a look at our application process!

What is missing from the Arthas fight?

What is missing from the Arthas fight?

First before I begin I would like to say congrats to Matticus on his 10 man Arthas kill!

Now onto the matter at hand. My guild is plugging away at the Lich King 25 man encounter, our 10 man team is just about to take him down as well. There is a certain sense of accomplishment when you get to the end of not only the content, but let’s be honest in this case the entire point of the expansion! This entire expansion has geared us up for this fight. Egging us on, pushing us to greater heights and taunting us at every turn. The Lich King has been found in so many quests, instances and cinematic events it is impossible to not want to kill him.

When Trial of the Crusader was released, I’ll be honest I was not impressed. In fact I down right hated ToC. I’m an old school raider, I like instances with trash and having to work at getting TO the boss. I mean in every book I’ve read the hero and the villain don’t just run into each other randomly and just go to town. The hero normally goes through various trials and or henchman before they get to the big bad. In James Bond movies, he has to go through the henchman before making his way to the final bad guy for the show down. To me that is what trash is in an instance, it is a warm up but it’s also story fodder. These are the creatures the various bosses thought good enough to guard them from US. So when I walked into ICC for the first time you can bet I was over-joyed at the amount of trash that lay before us. One of my fondest memories as of late was when we were first heading into the Plagueworks, I was flying solo leading the raid that night and we were coming up on Stinky and Precious. I didn’t warn the raid about them at all, instead as we pulled I laughed maniacally at the frantic screams of “HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL IS GLUTH DOING HERE?” as the raid wiped. Everyone laughed about it afterward  and I felt happy that there was trash that was actually DANGEROUS if you weren’t prepared.

My guild has fought our way through all the bosses up to Arthas and there is a sense of accomplishment there. The fight itself is amazing fun, if for no other reason than because there is so much going on. So, why then am I feeling slightly ripped off with this fight?

Arthas is one of those lore characters that has shaped this game. Warcraft 3 was a game I played to death and out of it what I got was the setup for World of Warcraft. It was heart-wrenching when Arthas slew his father and you saw the darkness in complete control, it was epic when Illidan and Arthas fought. The story, even though it was an RTS, was colorful and rewarding.

So last night Unpossible was working on Arthas and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with the fight, that something was missing. After the raid I thought back to burning crusade and Black Temple. The Illidan fight felt epic. The scene opened up with Akama going to face Illidan and speak his peace, followed by him running off to hold off reinforcements and give the group time to deal with Illidan. Partway through the fight, a fed up Warden Maiev Shadowsong bursts in to help try and take down the demon prince. He had wronged her so much that she had to have her revenge. In short the fight felt epic. It felt like great payoff to all the work of getting there. I attribute this to a well designed encounter, but a lot of that had to do with NPC interaction.

When you reach Arthas there is a small back and forth between the fallen prince of Lordaeron and Tirion Fordring. To be honest the back and forth is a little weak, and Tirion is one of those characters I could do without. I mean, of all the people Arthas has pissed-off and messed with over the years they picked Tirion to be the one to confront him. I mean I guess I expected him to be there from the beginning, after all he is the bearer of Ashbringer, but I expected someone faction specific to be there along side him as well. I know Jaina and Sylvanas made an appearance in the 5 mans, but this is the big show, the big payoff. Personally I expected them to be there, or rather someone who Arthas has wronged on a deep personal level to be there.

Before you say anything yes I know the history of what happened between Arthas and Tirion and the subsequent exile. My point though is as fun as the fight is (it IS an amazingly designed encounter), it just doesn’t feel as epic as I think it should.

We have airships right? After we’ve taken down the Frost wing, why not have the ship fly up to assault Arthas only to have him blow it out of the sky? How about King Varian Wrynn or Thrall gets to deliver the epic speech debasing Arthas and spurring us to victory. Instead we get Tirion running forward, and getting hunter trapped.

I still love the encounter don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that there are a thousand things you have to watch for and so many ways you can die. I like having fights that have consequence and Defile is the greatest thing EVER created (no sarcasm on that). I guess in the end I just wish there was a little more NPC interaction at the end to help lend the cinematic / literary climactic feel that the encounter truly deserves.

What do you think about the encounter?

So with that I bid you all a good day, hopefully next week I’ll be writing you as King Slayer Lodur. Until next time, Happy healing and may all your heals be swift and your mana plentiful!

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

 

It Came From The P.U.G.!:Voted Off The Island

It Came From The P.U.G.!:Voted Off The Island

For those who might not know yet, my gluttony for abuse knows no bounds. As a result I find myself in a rather large number of P.U.G. groups. At the end of the day I bring you, my readers, the stories of my travels in the random grouping of Azerothian adventure!

This week I bring you a story of a monumental event. Something so earth shattering that babies cried, women ushered their children home and men cowered before it’s terror inducing visage! You may need to sit down for this… ready? Lodur was vote kicked from a heroic group! Now I’m sure there are some questions about what happened and what was the build up. Here goes my tale of woe.

I’ll start by saying yes I was healing, and yes the mace was equipped. I was decked out in my shiny new T10 loot after freshly enchanting and gemifying them. I queue up and promptly my invite button pops up. I join the group and off I am to an adventure… or so I thought. The screen load shows the Pit of Saron and I’m a bit excited. I enjoy healing the place and it beats out Gundrak any day of the week! The instance loads and I’m looking around for the rest of the group. I notice that most of the mobs have been cleared. This is red flag number one. My immediate response, in a joking tone of course

“What did you guys do to the last healer?”

I get a response from the rogue of the group

“Horrible healer we vote kicked him.”

Ok, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Mainly DPS folks have been rolling in as healers to get quick frost badges so it wouldn’t surprise me too terribly if that’s what happened. I see they are over at the Ick and Krick encounter and make my way over. We buff up and pull. Things go smoothly until two things happen. First I notice the prot warrior is taking a whole lot more damage than he should be and his health is only at 29k total. Second thing that happens is the poison nova. The rogue tries to cast Cloak and run but instead becomes a stain in the ground. Not believing that you can release and come back while the encounter is happening , they wait dead. We’re doing fantastic though otherwise until the boss marks the hunter and chases after them. The hunter then proceeded to drag the boss back past it’s threshold point and the boss leashes… at 1%. Ok, stuff happens I’ll just res the rogue and we’ll get started again right? Wrong! As I’m sitting to drink so I can resurrect the rogue, and before the tank is ready, the hunter pulls, runs to us and then casts FD. Needless to say I got squashed with the rest of the group. We run back in and drink and buff and get ready for round two. I inspect the tank and see he’s in some pretty low tanking gear… and a bunch of dps gear. I make a mental note of the fact he’s not defense capped and look to see I still have 7 minutes left on my LFG debuff. Time to soldier on! Before we’re ready again the hunter pulls, this time the tank picks it up and we proceed as normal. The rogue dies again to poison nova but this time we kill the boss.

This happens two more times with various mobs on the ramp leading to the final leg of the instance until finally I say something

“Dude, stop pulling.  I need to drink and you’re wiping the group .”

It was then I noticed something I had not noticed before. All of them were in the same guild. Everyone stopped moving and there we were sitting at the base of the ramp leading to the collapsing tunnel. There’s this long, hanging silence while we sit there and then next thing I know I’m booted from the group!

Back in Dalaran I’m in shock at what just happened. Seriously I got kicked because I called the hunter out on pulling and doing stupid things! I look up at my buffs and notice the debuff was just wearing off and that I can re-queue, but still… wow just wow.

Luckily the next one I get is full of people who communicate and pull sensibly. All from different guilds but all with the same rough gear level. We plow through Halls of Lightning, I get my two Frost Emblems and we part ways.

Seriously I’m alright if you want to do wacky things in a guild run. One of our DPS raiders rolled a healer so when I’m on my tank I like to do silly things (within reason) to mess with her (Hi Jaha!) but we always laugh about it, and I never do it when it’s a non guild run. If there is even one pugger in the group I try my best to behave. But to be kicked for calling someone out on pulling and feigning while watching the group wipe, that dog just won’t hunt monseigneur!

Any interesting P.U.G. stories from this week? Good, bad, awesome or terrible? That’s it for today folks.

Until next time, Happy Healing!

 

Image courtesy of CBS

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?

It Came From The P.U.G.: GearScore Edition.

It Came From The P.U.G.: GearScore Edition.

For those who might not know yet, my gluttony for abuse knows no bounds. As a result I find myself in a rather large number of P.U.G. groups. At the end of the day I bring you, my readers, the stories of my travels in the random grouping of Azerothian adventure!

This week I’m going to focus on a mod that’s been getting a lot of attention for a while now, (both good and bad) Gearscore. The irony of this event is it comes right after listening to a podcast (no not mine) but the resident gentleman Dorf himself Brigwn over at The Hunting Lodge podcast. They had the creator of the addon as a guest and asked him all sorts of questions about the mod. Why it was created, if this was it’s intended use and where it’s going from here. Gearscore is a quick comparison of gear assigning a number based roughly on stat allocation per class / role on the item. It does not, in any way shape or form reflect skill. Simply put it tracks maximum potential for a role, the higher the number the better potential healing, dps or tankage you can do. You’re probably why I’m bringing this up. Well here’s why…

Last weekend I got bored and didn’t feel like doing heroics on my Shaman, and my Hunter needed a night off. So I did something I haven’t done since Naxx was THE place to be, I broke out my Death Knight Tank. She was the bomb when Naxx was the raid zone of choice and as a result has Naxx level tanking gear. Not the best, but not the worst. More than enough for heroics, which I can then convert the badges into T9 tanking gear. So I put on my tanking gear, change my specs, and hop into the queue to tank. 20 seconds later I find myself in AN with similarly geared people, everyone sitting there in Naxx (25) level gear, and seemingly good attitudes. So we buff, and I head down and start making pulls. First pull, no problem. Second pull, no problem. Then we get to the watchers. I pull the first group and pull them wayyyy back. I Deathgrip the caster onto me and drop Death and Decay. All of a sudden the healer leaves group! Not a word, not a disconnect, not lag and no vote kicking. Just up and leaves. One of the people in the P.U.G. Happened to be on the same realm as the person, so he shot them a tell asking what happened. The response he got back sort of shocked me.

“I looked at the Gearscore for the tank, too low I can’t heal that.”

I had a good chuckle at that. My DK might not be ready to storm into ICC at all, but she tanked Naxx 25 and is more than adequately geared to handle some measly heroics. So as me and the rogue are laughing about this the Warrior of the group drops, for the same reason as the priest. So what remains is a rogue and a mage and myself, all laughing about it. You would think that the story would end there, but it doesn’t. People joined and dropped the group 4 or 5 times before eventually a healer and a dps stuck. The kicker? The healer was in full tier 9, the DPS was another DK, in full heroic ToGC / ICC gear. I jokingly asked

“I have a low gear score you guys sure you want to stick around? already lost a handful of healers an dps”

Healer looks me over says

“Nope you’re fine, just keep shit off me”

the new DK pipes up.

“If I can’t manage my aggro on you, then that’s on me, no worries let get some badges”

Finally, after waiting for nearly 30 minutes we start really pulling, and blow through the instance, I don’t lose any mobs to the healer, there are no close calls there. And the DK ganked once, stopped attacking so I could taunt and then didn’t gank again. The run was smooth, and quick. With my badges in hand I hearthed back to Dala and logged for the night.

The funny thing is that was my first hands on experience with Gearscore ever, and I do mean ever.  I heard about it when it was created at the beginning of wrath and wrote it off as something I didn’t need. Eventually as people kept talking about it and how it ranked gear and assigned a value, I pushed it aside from my thoughts. When I started seeing requirement levels in gear score for easy content, I got a little bit angry at it’s creation, but I had never run across it in all my travels in Azeroth.

Thanks to The Hunting Lodge, I now know the mod was created at the release of Wrath and it’s original goal was to show that the heroic blues (ilvl 200) were on par with the 70 purples (ilvl 154ish) so that people weren’t excluded from Naxx runs. It has since become this oddity that has people calling for 5k Gearscore for heroic runs. Without listening to that I probably would have looked on the above chain of events with a much heavier heart, and some abject hatred to the mod.

To put this in perspective, I installed the mod and had a look-see at all my characters and even the members of my raid. Lodur, my main who is decked out in T9.5 and Tier 10 / 10.5 only ranks about 5795 on gear score. My alt hunter Abigail, in T9 with heroic level trinkets ranks 4900. My tank, in Naxx gear is somewhere around 3799. Most of my raiders are in the 5500 – 5700 score mark and we’re clearing ICC25. It just seems odd to me to cling so hard to a scoring system that only appraises gear, and not skill or personality.

In other P.U.G. related news, I hit a random up last night with my main Lodur, wound up getting Gundrak. I’ve done this place a million times, yet somehow never managed to get Less Rabi achievement . We stacked a group from guild one day to try for it but for some reason it just fell out of reach each time. So we get to Moorabi and the tank pulls I instinctively wind shear the first transformation, and I notice his health is dropping like a rock. I wind shear the second and pop heroism and drop my elemental. he goes for the third transformation, the DK pounds him with a mind freeze and he dies. I see the achievement pop up and I’m one happppppppy Shaman. The hate tells roll in from some of the guildies yet to get it and I log off to go to bed one contented man.

So, how about you guys? Any interesting stories from the P.U.G.-Verse? Have any run ins with Gearscore? Good or bad?

Until next time, Happy Healing