Running Out of Mana? Here’s One Reason

Running Out of Mana? Here’s One Reason

My Google reader is set to examine various search terms allowing me to keep a pulse on what’s going out there with Priests. One search result that popped up on my reader involved a holy priest. Their problem was that they kept running out of mana. No matter what they did, they had a really hard time sustaining the necessary healing required for that instance.

Out of habit, I looked up their priest on armory.

Problem solved.

No enchants, no gems, or other augments.

It almost feels like really new players take for granted the power that augments provide their characters. Do you think Blizzard balances instances around the fact that your character should have enchants and such? Maybe the harder 4.3 ones, but not the entry level heroics.

Back to the story, it turns out I wasn’t the only one who spotted the lack of character investment. When others pointed it out, the player commented by saying they didn’t have the money to afford it.

At least they have an answer to the first problem.

New players, if you want to start hitting up the harder stuff, start investing. Even if you can’t afford a Power Torrent, you can probably snag a Heartsong. Can’t do 20 stats? Settle for 15. Don’t need 65 mastery when cheaper 50 haste options exist. No sense socketing an epic red gem on a blue quality item when a gren quality red gem will do the trick for now.

Even if they’re not the best improvements money can buy, at least they’re still an improvement.

 

HST takes a hit

So, if you’ve looked at the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator anytime recently, you may have noticed that restoration shaman finally got an update. While I definitely like most of the changes, there’s a big change looming that I’m not quite sure what to make of it quite yet. Healing Stream Totem, our tried and true companion, is getting re-worked. It’s hard to tell whether it’s a nerf or not, but my gut instinct is that it’s going to be a nerf. So what’s changed?

Well for starters the totem is now raid wide, it is no longer restricted to group only. That’s a bonus, don’t get me wrong, and one that I think we were missing for quite sometime. So, that part I like. Currently the cost remains the same, clocking in at 3% of your base mana. The base healing number has gone up from 28 to 81, plus your spell power modifiers and talents of course. But here’s the kicker, it now only targets one person, and it will always be the lowest health person in range. That’s right folks, it’s a single target totem now. If that wasn’t enough of a kick in the teeth, the duration has also been adjusted. It is no longer 5 minutes, instead it is a 1 minute duration totem. While it still doesn’t have a cooldown, and you can cast it as often as you want, the 3% base mana cost combined with a 1 minute duration means that if you want to use it you’re going to be burning a whole lot more mana in order to keep it down.

It’s a significant change, and one that I’ve been feeling pretty keenly in the beta. Healing dungeons is a lot more active, as you can’t really rely on the passive healing anymore. It is still affected by mastery so you can now use it as a single target spike healing tool. It’s an adjustment. I’m not going to call it a nerf, but it is a noticeable change in healing behavior for us. It’s just no longer the “always keep it down totem”. My personal belief is that it is a result of us having some new tools in the water tree. Besides healing stream totem and Mana Tide Totem we have our brand new Healing Tide Totem, or rather our Tranquility. That’s an interesting tool, and I can see us using quite well. The hardest thing right now is just breaking the mentality that you HAVE to have your totems down. It just simply isn’t the case anymore.

There are a lot of other changes like the glyph’s we’ll have to work with. Some are awesome, some are meh, others are incredibly situational. I’m going to be evaluating them over the next few days, possibly in video form, so be sure to check often. If you have a specific shaman question, please feel free to ask and I’ll see if I can find out how it shakes down in Mists.

Handling Raiding Couples

Handling Raiding Couples

Couples that raid together in the same guild can be a nightmare to deal with. I’m glad to say I’ve only ever had to deal with a small handful of them. There were some great husband/wife combinations and some not-so-stellar ones.

Interacting with them individually can be a chore at times because most couples share information with each other. There’s little (if any) secrets between the two and I get that. Talking to half a couple may as well be like talking to the whole couple because the other half will usually be brought up to speed about any decisions, events, or other information shared with them.

Here’s the worst part.

Ever tried giving criticism and feedback to one of them? Maybe they weren’t doing so  hot or they entered a streak where they just had some bad nights. Or maybe that individual just plain sucks at dealing with a certain mechanic. You drag them out to the side on an off night or send them a message trying to figure out what’s wrong. They reply back with “But I’m doing everything I can possibly do” and deep down inside you know for a fact that it’s not true because you just looked at 4 other players of the same class, progression, and gear level then coming to the realization that they really weren’t. You send back another message laying out the information you have found along with some additional pointers.

And then what ultimately ends up happening is the other half just swoops in.

“WHADDAYA MEAN MY WIFE IS TERRIBLE HEALER? SHE’S REALLY AWESOME! SHE HEALS MY ASS ALL THE TIME IN BATTLEGROUNDS AND KEEPS ME UP, NO PUN INTENDED”.

Naturally, a cursory glance at other logs and incidental information proves otherwise.

“YOUR INFORMATION AND INTERPRETATION OF IT IS WRONG. THOSE FRAPS VIDEOS OF ATTEMPTS WERE OBVIOUSLY DOCTORED WITH THE INTENT OF SLANDERING HER AND MAKING HER LOOK AS UNSKILLED AS POSSIBLE.”

It’s at this moment where you introduce your face to your palm.

“THERE IS A CONSPIRACY HERE DESIGNED TO THROW HER OUT AND SPLIT UP OUR MARRIAGE. WELL IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.”

inception

We’re not out to get you

Seriously, there’s no conspiracy. There’s no secret organization designed to screw over a couple and split their marriage. It’s an honest to Elune criticism of their performance and the fact that it’s lacking.

That’s it.

Just not worth it

After a while, I realized then that some couples just aren’t worth having around especially not with such an overprotective attitude like that. GMs need to be able to deliver that honest feedback without a vulture jumping in and protecting every chance they get. Handling couple applications usually warrant a much closer examination and the questions asked during any interview stages are going to be different then the solo applicants. It’s gotten to the point where I’m tempted to blanket ask “If I said your significant other was performing poorly in this area, what would you do?”

On the other hand, you could just auto decline couples entirely and sidestep any potential drama problems that might happen later.

Thankfully the couples I have in guild right now are quite mellow and I haven’t had a reason to punt any just yet.

Heroic Morchok Down: Where Next?

Heroic Morchok Down: Where Next?

Managed to score Heroic Morchok on Tuesday. Ended up using 6 healers. Another classic 22% wipe, then a 16% wipe, then a 13% followed by an 8% then a kill. Actually, the numbers aren’t precise. But that’s what it seemed like anyway.

How to Land 3 Healing Spells in Under 2 Seconds

It seems impossible, doesn’t it?

Note that I didn’t quite say I would cast 3 spells only that I would land them. You have to be precise when it comes to timing and you need to be ready to pounce on the next spell the moment the other one is finished.

We were working on heroic Morchok for a total of 6 – 8 hours (over 4 weeks, with raid hours lost due to a healer shortage). Our longest attempt was just under 6 minutes. Most of the wipes occurred between 2 – 3 minutes. The trickiest part for me was maintaining tank health right after a stomp. A common occurrence I noticed is that after Kohcrom stomped, he would attack the tank around 2 seconds later. If I timed it right, I could land a Flash Heal and a quick Holy Word: Serenity. But sometimes that wasn’t enough. I needed another way because those two spells just weren’t consistent enough. Sometimes the tank lived, sometimes he died. I wanted a better (and consistent) way in keeping that tank alive.

It all revolved around the Stomp.

After a few wipes, I realized the consistency of his melee swing following the stomp. I didn’t want to focus exclusively on the tank to the detriment of the group. But at the same time, if the tank dropped it was game over.

Timers from DBM gave me a 5 second count down on approximately when the stomp would land.

I ended up watching the animation of the stomp. The moment the foot start rising up, I’d target the tank and hit Prayer of Healing ensuring it would land just after Stomp connected with the group. This gave me time for a quick Flash Heal (Or Binding Heal) followed up with Serenity (or a Circle of Healing if the tank was sufficiently high enough.

Credits to

Lodur for gemming all strength reforging to Mastery giving him the ability to really stabilize players and allowing me to spike them back  up.

The DPS warriors on my side who picked up on the fact that when I frantically called their name, it meant I wanted a Rallying Cry (and giving us that buffer after a fumbled heal).

Logan of the LeetSauced podcast (and soon-to-be host of the Matticast) for remaining calm, collected and patient after enduring hours of frustrating incidents beyond his control.

Tanks with 4 piece bonuses. Seriously. More bonuses like this in the future.

Old Spice. I smelled awesome that raid.

Now what?

What’s the next hard mode boss that you went to after Morchok (25 man as I understand 10 man has different priorities)?

Hagara?

Ping pong guy?

Ooze boss?

Seems like we’re going to take a hard look at Hagara. Pointers?

Admit It: You Get High From Being Clutch

Admit It: You Get High From Being Clutch

gs-save

Ever wonder what it’s like to feel “high” in this game?

This is one of those methods.

I’d wager that Holy Priests get a bigger kick out of it then the other healers. Unlike the other clutch healing abilities, Guardian Spirit has two key effects: It offers both increased healing received on the target and the ability to grant a second chance in case the target dies.

Usually, when Holy Priests burn Guardian Spirit, it’s meant for the extra healing because of some massive amount of incoming damage.

But if tank health, your global cooldown, your lag and your reflexes all line up, then you just made a great save. The rest of the raid might not be aware of your efforts. But who cares? Deep down inside, you are the one that made that save and salvaged a possible kill from a definitive wipe.

It’s one of the best feelings in the World of Warcraft. I’ve never been able to score that feeling of satisfaction playing other healers. Sadly, whenever you do pull off the save, it ends up being a wipe. Seems rare whenever such a tank save results in a kill.

In any case, a new year means new responsibilities for people. Players have new priorities in their lives (or other games). My guild’s looking for 2 healers. I’m not picky on any classes. Yes, we’ll even consider Priests even though we have 3 right now. I would genuinely like the services of a Holy Paladin and a Resto Druid.

Is it the Tank’s Responsibility to Lead Groups?

As Javier said in a previous comment:

Please answer me a question that I have been wondering forever. […] Why is it the sole responsibility of the tank to know and lead the group in to every instances?

During my adventures through the dungeon finder, I’ve been remarkably fortunate.

Little to no wipes.

Timely CC’s.

Sustained DPS.

I don’t always run with my guild on my priest. I prefer to give opportunities to other healers in the guild who still need the gear or the reputation. If I need a refresher course in healing, there’s no test greater than braving LFD.

But I digress.

Tank ‘em!

Traditionally speaking, tanks have been the players that automatically take leadership of a group. For years, they’ve been the ones setting up the marks, executing the pulls and controlling the pace. Whenever I joined trade chat groups (this was before the dungeon finder, mind you), tanks would usually insist on leading groups. During Wrath, it got to the point where the rest of the players in the group expected the tank to assume that role.

The thing is, I’m not really noticing that as much anymore. I mean, it wasn’t until recently that I started observing other players taking control of groups. It wouldn’t always be the tank. It could be that random ret paladin or that warlock. Its an interesting trend to see happening, for sure. Could it be that there are just that much more knowledgeable people in the game? I once dropped in on a Halls of Origination group where most of the players in there didn’t know how to do any of the bosses on normal much less heroic. I had the option of dropping out of the group right there and then.

I’ll admit, I was tempted.

But no, I stayed right in there and showed them all the ropes. I gave myself a limit of 3 wipes on a boss. If we wiped 3 times on a single boss and it was clear they just weren’t “getting it”, then I’d take my leave. Setting a hard boundary for yourself is a good way to retain your sanity.

Blizzard allowing anyone in the party to mark targets was a great improvement overall. I’d say it ranks as one of those really underrated changes. Now other players don’t have to be the dungeon guide to mark stuff. They can simply tag their own targets.

The pressure is slowly easing off the tanks when it comes to taking the lead. That is a good thing, right?

Shaman Healing Talents for MoP – Choose Wisely!

Shaman Healing Talents for MoP – Choose Wisely!

Welcome to part 3! Looks like Shamans are heading into the expansion in the best form since their Ulduar buffs! Let’s take a look at their offerings.

Shaman talents

Matt’s selections

mop-talent-shaman_thumb1

Level 15: Affects movement of enemies. Nothing healing her but would most likely take Earthgrab Totem.

Level 30: Stone Bulwark totem seems about right. But nothing that screams healing for me here.

Level 45: Tranquil Mind totem seems quite awesome for PvP. Windwalk is another option but the usage of both would be heavily dependant on boss encounters and so forth. I’ll pick Tranquil Mind for the ability to ignore spellcast interrupts.

Level 60: Yet another raid healing cooldown for Shaman since SLT might not be enough going into Mists. Healing Tide totem looks to be the Tranquility look-alike. Don’t discount Fortifying Waters either as 10% reduced magic damage will come in handy (I just don’t know when).

Level 75: Ugh, torn between Nature’s Swiftness and Echo of the Elements. Probably the echo. Would be nice having duplicate shaman spells shooting around.

Level 90: Totemic Projection. Being able to tactically place your defensive totems would be a big asset. Elemental Harmony would be a situational talent in case you need to overload an area with water totems.

It does seem that Shaman are going to go into this expansion with a massive boost to their capabilities. With the additional healing buffs and utility talents, they have become that much more competitive. There are 5 talents here that help with healing (or at least, can be considered defensive minded).

Skills

Some of the former Resto tree talents are now merged into the skills that players can receive as they work their way up in levels. Resurgence, Ancestral Awakening and Tidal Waves are the ones I can see. New 85+ skills have not been released yet. I’m not sure if any information on what it could be has been released yet. Hoping to see an Air Elemental totem though. Not sure what it would do. It could just stand there and look pretty while calling down bolts of healing from the sky healing nearby players and shocking nearby enemies. Probably too overpowered. I’m thinking the Shaman tree is just about as complete as you can get for any healing class.

What say the rest of you?

Paladin Healing Talents for MoP – Your Picks?

Paladin Healing Talents for MoP – Your Picks?

Here’s part 2 featuring the favourite class that everyone loves to hate on: Paladins!

Paladin talents

Matt’s picks

mop-talent-paladin_thumb[2]

Level 15: Speed of Light. 1 minute cooldown but at least as Holy they have a personal defensive ability.

Level 30: CC abilities. Repentance, but otherwise there’s nothing that directly affects healing here.

Level 45: Appears to be the defensive paladin section. Nothing healing related, but would personally select Sacred Shield. Never know when you might get spiked. Plus it lets you eat a fire once in a while.

Level 60: Leaning heavily toward Holy Shield. Another ability that stops incoming damage relative to your Holy Power? Cool!

Level 75: Acts of Sacrifice. But there is nothing that helps healing here. Clemency does come in handy if you need two Hand of Sacrifices back to back. I guess it could be thought of as another single target CD.

Level 90: I guess it depends how powerful Holy Shock will be at this stage. I can already see Paladins chain casting Holy Shock over and over again on different players after a large AoE hit. Holy Avenger does look attractive for 10 seconds of maximum Holy Power.

Depending on how you look at it, there are possibly 4 abilities you can grab which will help you do your job as healing. The rest of them are pure utility such as the CC. The talents do not appear to be as diverse as the priest ones in terms of healing selections. But then again, paladins fill three roles. Priests have just two roles as they are unable to legitimately tank. Overall not a bad list. I feel as though additional talents could be brought in or modified here.

Skills

Paladins receive a new skill called Blinding Light. It’s essentially an AoE disorient. Now that’s going to be a fun skill in PvP. Can’t think of too many raiding applications for it yet unless there’s additional crowd controllable mobs.

I’m not exactly a regular Paladin healer so feel free to share your insights on your own selections and why you would differ on your picks.

Shaman and Druids coming up next!

Priest Healing Talents for MoP – Which Would You Pick?

Priest Healing Talents for MoP – Which Would You Pick?

Been meaning to do this for a while. Wanted to analyze all the new proposed talents for the different healing classes to see which ones I would choose if I played that healer.

Priest talents

Matt’s choices

mop-talent-priest_thumb1

Level 15: Nothing. All various CC effects. May as well go with the bread and butter Psychic Scream.

Level 30: Nothing. All various movement effects. Probably Body and Soul for me in most cases.

Level 45: From Darkness, Comes Light would be my main selection. Depending on the encounter, strategy and positioning, Divine Star would be an excellent alternative. Not opposed to blasting the spell down one direction healing the group.

Level 60: Defensive, personal cooldowns here. Leaning heavily toward Desperate Prayer.

Level 75: Wow. This is the hardest selection to make. I think I would take Power Infusion. Not only could I use it on myself for extra healing speed but in the event I don’t need it, i can toss it onto another player. But Twist of Fate and Serendipity are both excellent choices. You really might not be able to go wrong with any of these choices.

Level 90: This would be the second hardest talent selection to make after level 75, I think. Vampiric Dominance offers the ability for you to splash or cleave heal your group. Void Shift* offers another single target cooldown. Vow of Unity is another modified single target cooldown which gives your healing spells a pseudo Binding Heal effect with the added bonus of redirecting half the damage your target takes to you. Void Shift wins!

* For those who are curious, due to the wording of the talent, I believe that the health percentage swap is only temporary. That is, if my target had 30% health and I had 100% health when I used Void Shift and I healed myself from 30% to 60%, the health pools would reverse again so that my target had 60% health and I would have his health percentage (before being healed for that additional 25%).

If the expansion were to come out today, I would be satisfied if these were the talents that came with it. It really does make you think. In some of these cases, there isn’t always a clear cut answer as a simple strategy change or a different encounter could lead to a radically altered talent choice. The latter talents are designed to really make you excel as a healer.

Skills

Where did Vampiric Embrace and Devouring Plague go? That was the first thing I noticed. Nice to see I get Lightwell folded into the Holy skillset without having to actually spec into it. Train of Thought received the same treatment as well. No word on what our level 85+ skills are. But I think Discipline is receiving the castable Shield past 85 at some point.

My thoughts on the rest of the healers will come later this week!

EDIT: WHERE DID PRAYER OF HEALING GO?!

Did Cataclysm fail?

So, you’ve probably seen a number of these posts around lately, and to be honest you shouldn’t be too terribly surprised. We’re at the end of a cycle, with the last raid tier coming out soon and people already looking forward to the next expansion and the promise of bouncing pandas. The topic lately is whether or not that Cataclysm has failed as an expansion.

I figured the time is right for me to chime in on the topic, and I promise you it will be relevant to the site.

Healing Design

At the onset of the expansion, there were some very bold statements made about healing as a whole. They basically amounted to the following;

  • Shaman are the healing model that all healers will follow
  • Triage healing is vastly more important and mana is a concern
  • healing will be a lot harder and require smart decision making

So, in this regard did Cataclysm succeed or fail? Well to me the answer here is two fold. They both succeeded and failed at the same time. At the start of the expansion healing was definitely harder, mana consumption was much more of a concern and shaman healing really was the model when it came to triage healing. Note how I said at the start of the expansion. There was a bit of a problem though, once you started getting a pretty good head of steam going and gathered your gear the “model” started to fall apart. Spirit levels and regen abilities after heroic dungeon gearing were enough that some healing classes could just completely ignore the healing model. I’m casually whistling in innocence as I look at Mana Tide Totem from a year ago, I assure you. The problem exacerbated itself when some healing classes’ masteries got tweaked, and raid gear started circulating.

At this point, triage healing isn’t really used unless you’re just starting out, and some healing classes are just blowing others out of the water causing a lot of internal debate among raiding groups as to what the best healing setup really is now. Things are shaping up to be better in tier 13, but the healing model through tier 12 I would venture to say hangs at the edge of failure. We’ve been assured that the healing model will remain in tact for the next expansion, but only time will tell if that is true especially when adding a new healing class into the mix next expansion.

Guild advancement and recruiting

The new expansion brought with it the guild advancement system. Guilds earned experience points based on questing and the activity of the guild members involved. The guild was able to level up from level 1 to level 25 carrying various rewards such as XP boosts, mount speed increases and even alchemy patterns for flasks for the entire raid. It also came with some other perks like Heirloom gear helmet and cape slot items, mounts and pets as well as a Mass Teleport and Mass Resurrection. Honestly guild advancement was a huge success as far as adding perks to guilds that get rolling and stick to it and work together. Guild achievements also added nicely to this and added a further sense of accomplishment to a guild in certain respects.

The problem is that the success of the guild advancement system, however, in my eyes became a contributing factor in a problem that this expansion has had that I haven’t seen in either of the previous ones. Stagnant recruiting. Recruiting flat-out sucks right now to be honest. Any losses from people leaving the guild or leaving the game become increasingly difficult to replace. Let us face a simple truth, the game has been around for over 6 years at this point. People are taking a break. Maybe not out-right quitting, but they’re definitely going to start taking some vacation from Azeroth around this time. Before Cataclysm, replacing losses wasn’t nearly as difficult. I attribute this partly to the guild perk system. When a player leaves a guild, they lose all reputation they’ve gained with that guild. They then start from scratch just like with any other reputation when they join a new guild.

So the problem is that a lot of the guild perks don’t kick in unless you’re Honored with your guild. This can be a very unattractive prospect, especially when you consider there is a weekly cap to the reputation you can gain. Not only can swapping guilds be a daunting task on its own, but when you combine in extra things like rep to earn it adds to the heap. So, people are staying put in whatever guild they are in for the most part. Guild mergers seems much more frequent now, where whole groups of people make the commitment one way or another, but recruitment is certainly at an all time low.

Raid design, gear options, and accomplishing goals

This is another measuring stick by which to judge the success or failure of the current expansion. Raid design was a bit different this go around. In Wrath, all of the raid tiers were contained to one single zone. You didn’t have to go from place to place in order to see all of a raid tier.  In Cataclysm, the starting raid tier was divided between not one, not two but three different locations to contain all of the bosses and events. Honestly though, I think that served to make things a little better. Having different locations broke up the monotony of raiding in one single zone for however many hours a week. Some of the mechanics were fun, and the boss fights had the potential to give you at least some challenge. Overall I’d say it was a good tier. It reminded me of Burning Crusade where tier 4 and tier 5 were divided between different zones in different locations, breaking the long dredges through BWL that we were used to at this point.

The use of valor points to purchase tier gear, as well as off set items, was a smart move at first. It allowed a certain gear gating of the content as players had to earn their valor points to purchase the raid gear. Keeping a few pieces as raid drops only also made perfect sense. It eliminated the fighting over tokens at least a little bit, and while it could be annoying have to wait to restock your valor, it served it’s purpose well enough I think. Listening to the developers at BlizzCon it would appear that they too really liked how tier 11 worked out and will be continuing that style of breaking up the raids going into Mists.

One of the goals for Cataclysm was to reignite the fire the propelled the game to 12 million subscribers and get people excited about the game. New graphics throughout the world, Azeroth split and changed. Entire zones looking completely different and completely different starting zones and quests for the races of Azeroth. Well, this was both successful and a failure at the same time. The new starting zones did reignite the flame somewhat, but mostly in people with alt creation.  Some old players did come back to check out the new zones and explore some of the new content, but it didn’t quite have the kick that it originally intended. Subscriber rates pretty much stayed the same, and the number of active toons remained about the same as well. It just didn’t quite have the shakeup that was expected.

So what is it? Success or Failure?

Well, that’s the whole point of this post right? The big question. Is Cataclysm a success or a failure? The answer is honestly both. There are things that Cata did exceptionally well, and things that it fell behind on. To be honest a lot of the goals were pretty damn lofty from the get go. It was ambitious and new things were tried, combined with old things that we knew worked. Not everything was ever going to be achieved just based on the pure scope of the original intent. There were things it did well, and things it didn’t do quite so well. That said it was hardly the failure that some folks seem to think. The content is still there, there is still plenty of value in the game, and for a game that is going to be rapidly approaching the age  of 7 they can boast a lot of good things. The game hasn’t really lost too many subscribers and is going strong. Oh and they still get my money every month, and I signed up for my hear subscription with free Diablo 3 “phone”.

So what do you think?