It Came from the P.U.G.: The Teacher

It Came from the P.U.G.: The Teacher

We’ve all been in this situation at least once. You get the queue for the LFD to pop, hit the button and are invited to a group that is already in progress. You see them corpse running back to the instance without even the first boss down. What do you do? Do you bail, leaving them at the mercy of the LFD tool to find another healer while you just eat the 15 minute timer on the queue? Do you ask what happened and then if you don’t like the answer bounce? Maybe you roll your sleeves up and try to get them through the dungeon?

I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for ever.” or a similar saying. I find the statement to be true in just about anything, granted that the “man” actually wants to learn to “fish”. For our purposes “man” is players and “fish” are instances. For me, I’m a teacher by nature. Honestly I am. I like giving knowledge and helping people out. That’s one of the main reasons I got into blogging in the first place 4 years ago, every person I help I count as a victory.

Almost a week  ago I was running a random heroic with my friend Hod (fun fact: In norse mythology, Hod is the son of Odin. A blind god who accidentally killed his brother Balder after being tricked by Loki), and we zoned into Throne of Tides already in progress. three out of the four bosses had been defeated with only the last event left to handle. The group we joined had a mage, a hunter and a boomkin all from the same guild. Now, on vent me and Hod both say at the about the same time “this is either going to be bad, or good”. We buck up, and the mage asks if we know the fight. I tell him yes, and that I’ve done it many times. The mage says something along the lines of “thank god, because we don’t” and then asks if I can explain the fight to him and the others. They listen and we attempted the encounter.

First try went well, but we did wipe when DPS got split. We made it back in and I asked if it would help if I marked the adds to kill for them. They said yes, so I broke out the old marking addon and went to town. The event went without a hitch and all three of our puggers got their heroic Throne of Tides achievement. We cheered for them and congratulated them and they thanks us in return. We parted ways, and off I went to do dailies until the reset. It was a good example of a group of players actually wanting to learn the encounter and be better. A few nights later roughly around the same time I do my random LFD queue and I wind up grouped with the mage from that Throne of Tides random. He’s happy to see me and thanks me again for taking the time to explain the fight. He tells me his group never wiped on it again, and since then he’s helped a few people understand how to do the encounter. I’m really quite happy about this and I hope that we start to see more and more of this happen. People asking questions, learning and then passing that knowledge on.

Now this doesn’t always work, the person after all has to be open to the idea of help or suggestion. That same night I re-queued at the daily switch over with two guildies. We get the Lost city of Tol’vir. In the group is a shadow priest and a ret paladin who have never been to the instance before. Before the tank can even set marks and hand out cc assignments, they dive headfirst into the first pack of mobs they see and die. We zone out, wait for the reset and zone back in. I ask them if they’ve been here before and both admit that it is their first heroic. I explain the importance of CC in a heroic now, and that they can’t just pull like it’s Wrath anymore.

I’m honestly quite nice about it. Their response is to ignore that and dive right back in. This time the tank joins us zoning out, we wait for the reset and I try to explain again.This time they flat out say that they aren’t going to listen to me and “only bads need CC, a real pro healer and tank can handle this.” At that point I feel I have no other option but to kick them, because otherwise they’re just going to waste everyone’s time with their refusal to listen, and learn.

It never hurts to take a few seconds and talk to your group. In Wrath, Matt and I both had experiences where a “good group” went in, did their jobs, and left after saying something like “good run” but pretty much nothing else. There was little to no communication during those runs, and I think that is something that still carried over now in Cataclysm with the LFD tool. I think players like to come across as confident and knowing what they are doing, for fear of being removed from the group if they don’t.  So the morale of the story is, be the one that breaks the ice, you may be able to help a new player out and make your runs a lot smoother, and you may just help improve the overall quality of the LFD groups you get as more players are educated quicker on what is going on.

So what do you think? Have you had any experiences similar to this?

Are run speed enchants still necessary?

Are run speed enchants still necessary?

**Image of RoadRunner and Wile E. Cyote courtesy of Warner Brothers**

Do runspeed enhancements matter in raids?

  • Yes (61%, 207 Votes)
  • Murloc (26%, 87 Votes)
  • No (13%, 47 Votes)

Total Voters: 341

Loading ... Loading ...

Interesting topic that has come up over the course of the last few days. In Wrath it was mandatory for every raider I know to have some form of run speed enhancement either in the form of a boot enchant, talent that increased speed, or a meta gem that increased your run speed. In many cases if you didn’t have one, you didn’t raid.

A couple days ago, while auditing the profiles of our soon to be raiders, the question came up as to whether or not we really need the running enhancement anymore. The thought that sparked this was basically that with the unforgiving mechanics of Cataclysm in full effect, will that little extra run speed actually matter? Take Magmaw for example, he has two abilities that the raid needs to get away from. His little volcanic eruption that summoned parasites, and will throw you into the air high enough to cause falling damage on top of the initial fire damage. The other ability boils half the room alive, causing massive damage.

In the recent 10 mans I’ve run, I noticed that the vast majority of people did not have any form of increased run speed. Shockingly enough, the only deaths we had were some tank deaths resulting from learning the healing of a new encounter, and well, that’s pretty much it. No one died to parasites, explosions or being boiled alive. Now before you say anything, while I love my guildies and raiders, some of those in attendance have what I like to call “shiny object syndrome” and even they were able to avoid “standing in the bad”. Now I have also seen many people even with the run speed boost die to something that was telegraphed because they didn’t move early enough, leaving the run speed boost doing nothing.

There’s no question about it, the game is much more punishing than it was before. Part of this is due to the new raid and boss designs, the other part is that healers can’t compensate like we used to. Before, if you got caught in the bad, the faster you got out of it, the more likely we could power heal through it. Now though, if you get caught in the bad, even for a few short seconds, you’re pretty much likely to be much raid-kill.

So that leads us to today’s question. Is the run speed enhancement really necessary anymore? Do you think it outweighs the other bonuses you can use in place of it whether it is +Haste or +Mastery to boots? How about talents? Not only do we have the lovely poll at the top, but I’m looking forward to your comments on this one.

The Life of a Confused Priest: From Healing to DPS and back!

This is a guest post from my friend Synysta about breaking stereotypes and enjoying the game. -Lodur

My main Synysta is a Priest. She’s been many races and factions, but currently she is a Blood Elf. I think I can see the rotten tomatoes flying in my direction from the Alliance- I must duck! /cast Power Word: Shield

I’ve been playing a Priest for several years now as I rolled her at the beginning of BC and back then I did it just for kicks. The guild I was part of at the time was in desperate need of a healer and as we all know, the Priest is the archetypical healer in World of Warcraft. Was I aware of what I was letting myself in for, or was I aware of how much fun I was going to have? Absolutely not. I was a total newbie in the beginning, I hadn’t got a clue how the game worked and my experience with the universe of Azeroth was limited to Warcraft II and Warcraft III. So in I jumped, feet first and grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns. How hard could playing a Priest be?

I can hear all the Priests laughing as I typed that. As I have found out in my few years of playing the class, there’s a lot more to a Priest than you would imagine on face value. So I rolled the toon, picking Draenei as my initial class and starting as a Level 1 on the island of Azuremist. I did a few quests till level 10, smiting my way through the mobs and casting Renew and Gift of the Naaru on myself. Of course, I never realized how useful the shield could be until around level 65. Dumb? You betcha. I soon discovered dungeon healing and found I actually had a talent for healing the unclean, unwashed masses. The levels flew by and I was soon standing in Borean Tundra, dinging Level 70. Then I discovered ‘The Dark Side’.

Shadow DPS was an absolute riot and a half for me. I found that not only was I a capable Holy Priest but also a capable Shadow Priest. Now, I am aware that this is World of Matticus and I know that this is a Healing blog…but as someone who has played both sides of the coin as a Priest, I just want to say that no one should ever feel pigeonholed to heal- just because you are a Priest. It’s like saying a Warrior should only tank or a Paladin should DPS. It’s the stereotypical choice to go that path, sure…but it isn’t your only choice.

As a Shadow Priest, I was constantly bombarded from all angles about how I should heal and constant pressure was ladled onto me as I fought hard and strong on staying Shadow. Sadly, I was constantly forced to be a healer when Dual Specialization was introduced. From my early days of raiding Naxxramas through to Ulduar and Icecrown Citadel, most of my raid leaders or Guild Leaders were okay with me being a Shadow Priest but the more I held onto my new identity, the more people would try to shove me in the opposite direction. From here I decided to bite the bullet and learn to be a healer again. I leveled as a Holy Priest and had so many years of that I decided it was time for a change. So Discipline was the chosen way of the Light for me.

Having fun with Discipline has been a challenge for me. It took me a very long time for me to master it and then when Cataclysm came along and turned Healing on its head, I found myself struggling and gasping for mana like a fish out of water- flipping and sputtering around on its back. I soon learned that it was because of my gear. In Wrath of the Lich King, Discipline Priests would get mana returns through crit based heals and the use of Power Word: Shield. I never once had to sit to drink or use Shadowfiend, or even Hymn of Hope. I would watch Holy Priests seem to have a lot more issues with it than I ever did. I suppose that I really took it for granted as when Deathwing blew a giant hole in the side of the world…he seemed to blow a giant hole in the side of my mana pool too. Starting off with a 42k mana pool in my 25 man ICC gear, I thought that I was pro. I thought that I could stroll into Blackrock Caverns like the cat that had gotten the big bowl of cream. I soon found out how very wrong I was. Lets just say that panic was definitely the order of the day when 42k mana would vanish in a matter of seconds before my very eyes. It was like Pacman attacking my blue bar, OM NOM NOM NOM. I screamed. I panicked. I thought it was me. So I asked Matticus what to do. He told me to use the Heal spell more. And actually that seemed to work.

As my gear got better, I found that my mana pool doubled in size and with the added intellect and spirit, my mana gains seemed to return to normal and my anxiety levels seemed to drop. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no superstar healer but honestly- practice really does make perfect. I’ve seen Priests get so many changes since the early days of BC and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Sure, I’ve pulled out my hair in clumps and given myself heart palpitations but I really do love the challenge of relearning my character and class.

I recently leveled a Holy Paladin up to 80 too. 85 and healing though? That could well be for another time. Same place, same heart attacks. But as for the Priest? I still love DPS. It’s a nice change for when I can’t be bothered with the PUG’s ;)

It came from the PUG: Tanks but no tanks.

The life of a healer in Cataclysm is new, exciting, and often times terrifying. The new expansion does something quite well, it makes healing really really hard. Since hitting level 85, I quickly geared up for healing and DPS just in case a guild group had a DPS slot available. Guild groups have been an absolute delight. Coordinating CC, figuring out new mechanics, and having a blast in new content and trying for achievements. Random groups however have been, to be honest here, full of suck.

This is mostly due not to the new healing mechanics, but to the new requirements in CC management and smart tanking. Over the course of the last week, I have queued for random heroics as a healer at least three times a day. This endeavor has met with slightly less mixed results than I would have anticipated. In the vast majority of cases the tank has been the problem. Not waiting for CC assignments or for the CC to go off. Breaking CC early, or to be perfectly honest here, pulling like a jack-ass. Now what I mean by this is that the tank is either pulling multiple groups, not waiting for the healer to have mana, not conserving mitigation cooldowns for when they are needed and generally ignoring any sort of logic or strategic approach. This is what I like to call the “Wrath Tanking Mentality”, which will be referred to from this point on in the post as WTM.

What is WTM you may be asking. Well, it’s the idea that heroics are stupidly easy, and require no forward thinking. That as soon as you reach maximum level, you are ENTITLED to the loot contained therein, and the actual running of the dungeon is merely a formality. This honestly wasn’t a problem the first few days as Blizzard instituted a gear requirement before even allowing people to queue randomly for the dungeons, but as players figured out how to raise their GS early the queues began to get worse and worse. In Wrath it wasn’t uncommon for a healer to just say “go ahead and pull 1/2 of the zone, I’ll be just fine.” or some variation therein. Honestly as a fresh 80 running heroics, very few reports of having difficulty healing existed. In Cataclysm though, it’s all about conserving mana, using the right heal for the job, and having a group that avoids all unnecessary damage while following CC assignments. As a healer you may have experienced this, but WTM is very very strong right now. I fear that the learning curve may actually be too steep for some people. I fear this, because inevitably what these people do is cry the loudest for dungeons to be nerfed, and they are very very quick to blame healers. Let me share with you some lovely examples from this week.

Day 1 of heroic ready healer

Throne of Tides: First boss

The tank was a warrior with LESS hit-points than my healer. My healer clocks in at 106k health right now, the tank only had 105k This was red flag number 1. I would have vote kicked him on the spot for that, but he had a voting block with two other guildies with him. We make it to the first boss through all the trash and it feels like a miracle. The tank seems to be made of paper, until I inspect them and see they are still wearing some ilvl 251 gear mixed in with sub-par greens. How this person got into the instance is a mystery to me at the time, but I go along with it. After all I’m a shaman and made of infinite win right? The first boss has a couple abilities that will tax a healer, and outright kill a stupid DPS. One of these abilities is a geyser that she casts beneath a player. You have ample time to move out of it, but if you don’t it will deal enough damage that it will one shot you. Funny thing here is, the first time she casts it even after being warned what it was, the tank does NOT move out of it and dies. That’s right folks, the tank. His comment “You suck healer you should have healed me through that.” I calmly explain that it is an instant kill and he needs to move off of it, and luckily one of his guildies backs me up on this. He drops the matter. The boss also has a phase where she summons three adds, two casters and a melee. The mage polymorphs one caster and I hex the other, which is pretty much standard operating procedure at this point. The tank, tags ALL three adds breaking the polymorph and the hex. The tank proceeds to die, and I am promptly vote-kicked from the group. Clearly both wipes were my fault. I write it off, tack myself to a guild group and a call it a night.

Day 2 of heroic ready healer

Halls of Origination: First Pull

The tank was much better off than the first one. Also a warrior he had a considerably larger health total, and his gear looked to be on par for heroic content. I was feeling optimistic about this run right until the first pull. This pull consists of five mobs that all do many different things. Usually the group marks 2-3 for CC and burns down the two biggest threats fast while pulling out of line of sight. The tank for this run however, rushed blindly in. No CC went out, and we had none besides my hex that could withstand damage so it was a wipe. Second attempt, someone in the group explains what we need to do, and this time we get our CC’s off . The tank however goes rushing in and dies a fiery death as he runs out of my healing range. Third attempt, the tank rushes in, and drops group as soon as everything is angry with us. Right gear, wrong mentality. I do some random heroics with guildies, call it a night.

Day 3 of heroic ready healer

Grim Batol: First boss

Interestingly enough, I got in this one as DPS. I forgot to uncheck DPS from the previous night’s heroic runs with the guild. We get to the first boss easy enough, I explain the fight on heroic and we engage. The healer, a holy priest, is doing a kick ass job and things are going great. Umbriss kicks into high gear and smears the tank pretty good. We wipe, go back in, tank drops group. We get a second tank and the same thing happens. I ask if he’s saving mitigation cooldowns (which I already know the answer to thanks to oRA3) and the only response I get is that the tank drops group. We get a third tank and the same thing happens. oRA3 in all cases shows me that the tank is just blowing tanking cooldowns at odd times. Times when healing isn’t tight and damage is manageable. This bothers me quite a bit and after three more failed tanks all doing the same exact thing I just call it a night and go to bed.

This continues on for what seems like many, many days. Now, not every experience was bad and there was some shinning hope here.

Day 5 of heroic ready healer

Heroic Deadmines

This was the first time that the group was all from random servers and guilds. No repeats of anything. The composition was a druid tank, me healing, a hunter a mage and a warlock for DPS. A lot of viable CC in this group, and best of all, they all listened. We worked together through the whole instance. For every one of us it was the first time setting foot in it since the change. We looked up encounters, made up our own strategies and fought all the way to the end. The druid was an amazing tank watching my mana closely and knowing when it was safe to pull and when it was time to sit back and take a break. Honestly I was impressed with the way the group was communicating without voice chat and getting along. Through normal conversation I find out that the group is made up entirely of players from the vanilla days who used to raid 40 man content. This is new and exciting to me as recently I’ve been running with “wrath babies” so it was good to reminisce about the good old days. We get to the end, figure out the cookie fight without looking it up, earn a few achievements and then begin the VanCleef event. I call it an event because, well, it is very much so an event and not a boss fight (coincidently, Kudos to you on this one Blizzard, A plus all the way on this fight). We get through a few wipes and then we realize it’s already 5 am and we just can’t keep going anymore. We drop group, but it was seriously the best healing experience I’ve had so far in a heroic, and one that hasn’t been replicated yet.

Long journey, but here’s the short of it. Healing is much harder than it was before. Most healers in my experience are making the transition pretty well thanks to the strong healing community feeding information into the media. Tanking and smart DPS is an entirely different story now. I don’t say this a lot, but right now the fail boat has a lot of passengers. I know there will always be a string of bad runs, or players that haven’t been keeping up on every change, but it feels as though we really do have a lot of players behind the curve.

Is the tanking learning curve too steep? Is WTM too strong after having used it for two years? What experiences have you had as a healer in the LFG system? Have you encountered the WTM a

That’s it for now, I’m going to head back in to the LFD tool with my head up and my mana potions stacked high. I’ll be sure to bring you back some awesome, and awful stories. Until next time, happy healing and may your mana be plentiful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, Happy Healing!

Memories of BlizzCon 2010

Memories of BlizzCon 2010

Another year, another BlizzCon, and another set of memories. Even though there wasn’t a ton of breaking news from the convention, I had a huge blast. I saw some old friends again and made some new ones.

Most of the team that was from out of town stayed at Eden Roc. It ain’t exactly the Hilton, but for our purposes it was perfect. It had a dorm room type of atmosphere. We had 10 beds spread out over 3 suites (some rooms had 3, some had 5, etc). If you’re planning on going with a large group of people, I would recommend it. The wireless was limited to only a few areas but I spoke to the manager about it and I’m hoping there’ll be increased coverage next year. The staff was friendly and down to earth.

From my Guild

I met up with Viktory, Loganw, Erushia, Bisquic, Xonthebeach, Tessah, Ophelie, and Bruherd. Retired players such as Dannamoth, Mythik and Neru were on hand.

First thing we did when we all got there was get lunch.

I demolished my burger. The guild was stunned.

IMG_1296Getting iced – So apparently this is some phenomenon that’s been making its way around. I’d only just heard of it now. It’s a drinking game where if someone hands you a Smirnoff Ice or if you spot one, you have to get down on one knee and chug it. However, if you happen to be carrying one on you, you can make like a Mage and “Ice Block” where the attacker must then chug the one he planted along with the one the defender had.

This can happen at any time. The ice can be planted anywhere. The first person who sees it, and if they’re in the presence of someone else, must do it.

Why Smirnoff? Because its ugh.

My guild iced me once. I just got out of the shower and we were discussing stuff. They asked me about my Macbook. And sure enough, I rounded the corner and there it was right in front of my computer.

Guildies icing their GM. All I can say is, mango flavour sucks.

One of the perks of being on Conquest? I bought them all drinks.

“Hey guys, what do you want?”

“1 Jack and Coke!”
”Make that 2”
”Hey I want one!”
”I’ll take one as well!”
”Six!”
”Seven!”

Oh what the hell.

HEY AJ! TEN JACK AND COKES!”

I am too generous. But they’re a great team.

Things to do next year

Business cards – Spoke with players who were interested in joining a steady guild looking to progress. I’ll need to be better armed next year with guild business cards. All I had were blog cards. Judging by all the recent apps, it seemed as if the people I spoke with were mostly Death Knights.

Track jackets – Heh, this I had a nice chuckle about. The team wanted guild shirts for next year. One of the guys said “Screw tshirts. Let’s go for Conquest track jackets!”. Not a bad idea. Something I’m going to look at for the future. Then Lodur comes along asks “Can I be an honorary Conquest member for a jacket?” Totally, it can be done. But that got me thinking, maybe I should get a Team Matticus track jacket instead for both friends and guild members that might be interested.

The convention

Most of day 1 was spent observing the panels.

2sbw

Some people call it taking notes. I call it analog live blogging.

As for the demos, I didn’t bother with Diablo 3. The line for that was longer then the line for the mens room. Checked out Starcraft Bejewled and Blizzard DoTA though. Those were fun maps. Can’t wait for them to come out. Met with an editor from the WoW Magazine.

The meetups

WoW Insider Reader Meetup

Had the whole patio and the whole pool area. Unbelievable turnout. It was great to see the whole WI crew in person once again. Managed to snag a picture with Felicia Day and Ghostcrawler! I got to meet and hang out with Dawn and I saw Lodur there. The guy forgot to give me the list of movies I need to see to get pop culturally educated.

181074751 IMG_1206

* I still owe the SC2 guy a drink, but wasn’t able to hunt him down. You know who you are! Next year!

Twisted Nether Meetup

I dropped by to say hi to the TnB folks again at Bubba Gump. It was good to finally see Stop, some of the Big Crits fellas, Beru, Hydra, Saresa, and others.

Raid Warning Meetup

Hung out with Brian, Seven and more people. It was located at Dave and Busters in a nice 200ish seat VIP room. Roomy and spacious. Somehow, I got conned into a drinking contest. The person who could beat me downing a Corona got a 30 day time card.

And there were a lot of people that wanted that time card. Like seriously, it doesn’t take much effort. I knew there was no way I was going to get it. Not with that lime that was stuck in the neck of the bottle. 20 minutes later, I finished the Corona. Yay!

I also wish to extend my gratitude to both Dannamoth and Erushia for giving the new friends we met a lift home. Way to represent. Very proud.

I was extremely humbled by the amount of people who recognized me and who came up to say hi, exchange handshakes, high fives and hugs. Thank you for making it a truly surreal experience.

Good seeing Daewin, anafielle, Saresa, BeruHeals, EntropiaWoW, Shandris, StoneyBaby, ModernMage, StoppableForce, Fimlys, Shadowembrace, Strio13, Hydra, Brian, Seven, the entire WI crew, some of the blues, and there are undoubtedly more people that I missed.

 

Can’t wait for BlizzCon 2011! I hope to see you again next year (or for the first time)!

 

 

What were your most memorable moments from BlizzCon? And more importantly, do you plan on going (again) next year?

4.0.1 shaman glyphs and an Ode to Sentry Totem

4.0.1 shaman glyphs and an Ode to Sentry Totem

Sentry totem is gone. Too often those who love us and hold us dear go before their time =(. Seriously though I already miss sentry totem. I did use it for a few things, like disarming bombs in SoTA. My recent grief over the loss of my beloved companion sparked the idea of composing an epic poem to commemorate its passing. Special thanks to @ianbroadfo for the inspiration on this one, and William Blake for composing the original.

Totem! Totem! sitting tight;
in the flag-room, on the right.
What designer’s hand or eye;
dare remove you from my UI?

In what distant Aerie Peaks,
What found on weathered wing and beak?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize desire?

And what purpose misunderstood.
Could twist the grains of thy wood?
And when thy eye began to seek,
What dread loss, this feeling bleak?

What the stone work? what the gain?
In what forge was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread light?
Do steal this purposeful insight?

When the Titans threw down their blaze,
And blinded heaven with their gaze,
Did they smile, this lost to naught?
Did they who made the totem wrought?

Totem! Totem! sitting tight;
in the flag-room, on the right.
What designer’s hand or eye;
dare remove you from my UI?

So yes, I will miss sentry totem. That little bugger was actually pretty useful. With the new patch, not only did Sentry Totem go away, but we got a bunch of new glyphs and a new glyph system. Check out Matt’s post on the the new system and priest glyphs for the run down. So what do shaman glyphs look like after the patch? Let’s take a look!

Prime Glyphs

Prime glyphs are the ones that give you the most improvement to your specialization.

Those are the prime glyphs you’re likely to be interested in. The restoration ones are pretty self explanatory, but you’re likely asking; “But Joe, why is Shocking and Lightning bolt on the list” ? Easy answer, because of Focused Insight and Telluric Currents. Let’s face it, if you get to a point where you out-gear a fight, you’re likely  throwing around some DPS to help out. At this late in the current expansion, unless you are a fresh 80, you’re likely to have content that you out-gear. Whether it is a heroic or a raid, these may be choices for you depending on what you’re doing. The most common setup I’m seeing among resto shaman is Earth Shield, Riptide (which just makes the spell ridiculously efficient) and Earthliving Weapon. Plan to move one of them to Water Mastery when Cataclysm drops, but until then mana isn’t an issue.

Major Glyphs

They augment your abilities, but not a large degree as prime glyphs.

Some interesting options here. Grounding Totem is in the list simply because there are a surprising number of boss abilities in heroics and raid that can absorbed by grounding totem. The fun of the glyph is that it makes it into a spell reflect. Nothing says I love you like throwing a fireball back from where-which-it-came-from. Hex is on the list because, well, we have a CC and its awesome. If you find yourself using Hex a lot *cough*heroicladydeathwhisper*cough*, this may be a good choice for you. Frost Shock is on the list again because of FI. Most common setup I’m seeing throughout the resto community is Chain Heal, Healing Stream Totem and Healing Wave. When Cataclysm goes live, you may want to swap one out for Totemic Recall just for mana conservation purposes.

I have to be honest, out of all the glyphs we got, I like the Healing Stream Totem one the best. I mean, I’ve always been a fan of HST, even before it was the cool-kids thing to do. The fact that it can add a series of resists is just beastly. It heals, it provides resist auras, it’s like a pocket paladin but with less QQ (I kid, I kid!).  With about every fight now having some form of elemental damage, there’s no reason not to have this glyph.

Minor Glyphs

These have little impact on your chosen role.

Basic stuff really, removal of reagent needs, and a shortening of our character class hearth cooldown. The new kid on the block though is Arctic Wolf. This turns your Ghost Wolf into a ghostly version of the winter wolves found throughout Azeroth. This glyph was originally slated to be released in Wrath alongside another glyph that allowed you to transform into a black wolf. They were scrapped before release, but at least one has found its way back. This is important for two reasons. One, it marks the inclusion of fun flavor items to help personalize your character. Two, it just looks cool!

Glyphs are becoming more about personal choice rather than what is best, which quite honestly is how it should be.

How has your patch 4.0.1 experience been so far? What do you love? What do you hate? Do you miss Sentry Totem too?

The Mercenary Healer?

The Mercenary Healer?

With Cataclysm dropping on December 7th, and BlizzCon this month on October 22nd and 23rd, a lot of people are planning to have some downtime before the new content is released. Guilds are taking breaks to unwind or just have fun outside of a full-blown raid. My guild will likely be taking a break from raiding to work on fun things like achievements and mount runs before Cataclysm very soon. That does however leave me with some free time in game for probably a month. So I’d like to share with you my plans for the downtime before the expansion.

First on my list are the ICC drakes. I want them both, and very badly. I haven’t stepped foot in ICC-10 but a handful of times and haven’t really tried to get the meta achievement before, but now I’m making it a priority to complete these tasks. Likely it wont take me too long to get all the achievements in the meta and get my lovely — and super fast– pile of dragon bones. After that however I have a plan for my time. Not every guild is stopping raids before Cataclysm. In fact many will go right up to the expansions release. I know of a few that having a hard time with certain boss fights, particularly with healing.

A couple weeks ago I got a tell asking if I would heal an ICC -10 man heroic. I politely declined, only to receive a tell from the person again, and this time with an offer of gold. 5k gold in fact. I declined again because I was scheduled to be in a 10 man heroic run with guild mates later that week. But it sort of got me thinking. I’ve always been terrible about earning money in WoW. I hate farming, I level tradeskills to help my raiding and the guild, but don’t generally farm mats to saturate the market or what have you. I generally have enough gold to be comfortable, but not rich by the game’s standards. So would it be wrong of me to accept a cash reward for healing through content like that? I mean, I know the fights, I’m already geared and would require NO loot from any of the bosses, and by the time I do this I’ll already have all my achievements. I bring my own consumables with me wherever I go. So is it wrong to accept a cash reward for my healing and knowledge of the encounters?

I don’t think it is. I won’t demand it per say, but I will accept it and will always accept the highest bidder. For the weeks leading up to Cataclysm I will become a mercenary healer. I will heal for the highest bidder and the highest profit. I view it as simply welcoming the mentality of our soon to be goblin shaman brothers early, as it is a business model they would approve of I think. It would also present me with a unique opportunity to see how other groups run their raids. It may sound like I’m being a bit of a jerk here but I find it a much more enjoyable use of my time. I could level an army of alts or various professions, but I already have 5 level 80′s and have plans for another alt on another server for a special project.

So that’s my plan leading up to the Cataclysm release. To become a mercenary healer, and hopefully live up to standard set before me by the original A-Team.

What about you? Is your guild taking a break before diving into Cataclysm? If so, what are you going to do? Will you level alts? Level professions? Will you just take the time off and relax? Maybe play other games?

Well that’s it for today. Until next time, happy healing!

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?

He’s only mostly dead

He’s only mostly dead

Some of you may have been wondering where I’ve been and have been pretty curious as to what Lodur has been up to. Ok, well probably none of have been overly concerned at my absence and probably didn’t even notice I was gone =P

Honestly though I’ve been a busy busy shaman. You see I’ve learned a few things from Matt. Chief among them is a love of projects. To that end I’ve been pretty hard at work launching a new site that just went live on September 1st, 2010. I’ve been killing myself trying to fit in filling in content there among my other obligations, and it hasn’t been easy.

The site is called Bow Down To Us, and it is a geek site. You want comics? We have you covered! Want to know more about what games are coming up? We have you covered there! Want to kick back on a gamer forum and just shoot the breeze? We have you covered there too! From general news all the way up to a section devoted to WoW, we are hoping to grow the site into something awesome. So if you get a chance, check out the site.

Aside from that I’ve been doing my normal gig at WoW.com with recent articles detailing Healing Rain, and some Cataclysm updates and Blue posts. When I haven’t been working hard on articles for the new site, I’ve been spending time in the Cataclysm beta. I’ll be honest, I’m hooked. It feels so fresh and so new. Not just the 80+ content, but even leveling from 1 up. I’ve been leveling my Dwarf Shaman (because they are ridiculously awesome and the best shaman ever), and my Worgen Druid. If you have beta access and are looking for any groups or anything feel free to hit me up. Lodurzj is the 83 shaman, Lodurious is the Dwarf Shaman, and Lodurwolf is the Worgen Druid.

I’ve also been spending some time over at Totemspot. If you haven’t heard about it, shame on you! It is the community created for Shaman, by Shaman. All walks of life are present there and there are some awesome people there. I’ve been trying to answer as many restoration questions about the beta on the forum, and in my articles, as possible. That does take up a lot of time.

Things are going back to normal, so you’ll see more posts from me back here again. I’ll be continuing my posts on WoW.com, and you can also find me at BDTU and Totemspot. With things returning back to normal I’m also going to hit some SC2 multiplayer. To that end I still need a 2v2 partner. So if you’re interested let me know!

So how about you guys? What have you been up to? Anything fun?