Val’anyr’s Vilification?

Val’anyr’s Vilification?

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As I’m sure you’ve seen yesterday, MMO-Champion put up the stats for Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings. As of the time of this writing the link is gone. Here’s the link go ahead and click it.

Val’anyr Armory

Poof! Searching for the item on armory as well has yielded no results. This comes at a time where every healer has been foaming at the mouth for stats and a chance to claim the legendary mace that had been promised to us. I’m certain when people saw that the stats were released, like me, their hearts beat a little faster with anticipation and hope.

Here’s a link over to MMO-Champion’s Val’anyr photo but I’ll go ahead and post the stats here for you guys to take a look at.

+52 Stamina

+54 Intellect

Equip: Improves critical strike rating by 47

Eguip: Improves haste rating by 46

Equip: Improves spell power by 587

Equip: Your healing spells have a chance to cause Blessing of Ancient Kings for 15 seconds allowing your heals to shield the target absorbing damage equal to 15% of the amount healed

To be honest when I saw that slathering of stats my heart sank a little bit. I was expecting something with a bit more oomf. It’s an item level 239 which is a step up from items like Guiding Star who clocks in at an item level of 232. The stat increase is about 6-8 points higher (average) then iLevel 232 gear, spell power is a bit higher, by 30 to 40 points, and the item budget seems in line for the haste and crit as well. It follows the same jump from say Torch of Holy Fire (iLevel 226) to Guiding Star.

Don’t get me wrong the shield proc alone makes this thing worth it’s weight in gold, but I was expecting something a little more awe inspiring. Something that said “yes that is an amazing weapon and worth every second of the time I put into assembling it!” Lets take a look at the games past legendary weapons.

Vanilla WoW Legendaries

Back in the days when Molten Core was endgame, two legendary items were introduced. Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros and Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker. These items were are amazing. Hand of Ragnaros on an enhancement shaman was the most fearsome thing in a battle ground, if he hit you, you were going to die. Thunderfury on a tank was like a cozy fire on a snowy night, you knew you were safe and warm no matter what happened. They were awe inspiring, you knew those who had it knew what they were doing, went to great lengths to get them and they stacked up heads and shoulders above the other items in the game at the time. To be honest well into burning crusade Thunderfurry was still being used as a premier tanking weapon, it was just that good.

Later on in vanilla WoW, Naxxramas came to town. It brought with it two more legendary items to the game.The Corrupted Ashbringer / Ashbringer and Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian. I include the Corrupted Ashbringer and The Ashbringer because it was amazingly well done, and little things like walking into Scarlet Monestary and having all the NPC’s bow down to you was truly epic. The corrupted Ashbringer also talked to you in whispers(click HERE to listen on youtube). The item alone spawned so much speculation it became a legend in it’s own right. People guessing when they would allow the quest to cleanse it or if they would bother at all. The item has fan sites !

Atiesh  had four different flavors for healers and casters here they are for you to look over. Atiesh 1 , Atiesh 2 , Atiesh 3 , Atiesh 4 .  It’s stats were amazing in any iteration and the time to build it as well as the lore behind it was truly powerful and awe inspiring. Compared to other staves at the time like Spire of Twilight from old Naxxramas, Thadius. It also felt truly epic if you walked around with one of those.

Burning Crusade Legendaries

Burning crusade continued our story into outlands and eventually brought with it two legendary items. The Twin Blades of Azzinoth and Thori’dal the Stars’ Fury. The twin blades have been iconic since we were first introduced to illidan back in warcraft. They had a great set of stats, and the set bonus for them were really good. Star’s fury from Kil’jaden is a jaw dropping item. It may not have a ton of quest or lore behind it, but it’s rarity and the unique ability of the bow to not have to use arrows is amazing. It is still the best bow in the game,  and hunters still crave it. Most servers you will still find groups trying to go do sunwell and among those groups you’ll likely see many hunters chomping at the bit to get in for a chance at the bow.

Compare those legendary items to Val’anyr. Each of the legendary items prior to the mace has been leaps and bounds ahead of the weapons of its time in the sun. Each item truly felt epic and getting one was something to be proud of, perhaps even an apex for that particular content. With the leaked stats on Val’anyr it seems more meh. It’s proc is very very nice and depending on if it has a cool down on the proc or any other restrictions will determine whether it’s good, or really epic good.

I asked for reactions from my friends on Twitter . I asked if they thought it felt like a legendary item. general consensus was “IT NEEDS MORE SHINY!” to quote one of my Moo Cow Healy friends Kiki. It’s good, but it seems like it would be more on par with its item level and as a result could potentially be replaced when Ice Crown drops as a raid.

I think they took the link down on purpose, perhaps to tweak things before people start getting enough shards to build it.

What are your thoughts on Val’anyr? Do you feel it is legendary quality?

Till next time

lodsig11

Feel free to follow me on Twitter

Image of Mjolnir courtesy of www.Marvel.com

How to be a Tree in 3.1

How to be a Tree in 3.1

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Even though the new patch has been out only a week, I thought it might be interesting to share what I’ve observed while raiding the first few bosses of Ulduar. So far, Conquest has brought down Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, and XT. The first night we spent a couple hours on a bugged Ignis. I’ve also tagged along on a short 10-man raid whose purpose was to reach Ignis and see if he’s still bugged. All I can say is that he seems a little easier than he did, but I’m not sure if the two pulls we were able to do on him before we ran out of time can be taken as evidence. At least he didn’t melee any of us in the Slag Pot–those of us who were chosen got to be happy little Hot Pockets.

I also spent some time going over two combat log parses, WoW Meter Online and WWS, to check on my performance in these raids. There is a long-standing debate about meter reading among raiding healers, and I stand in the middle. I use reports mostly to see my ability rotation and how effective each thing I cast turned out to be. I do look at overall numbers, though, when I can compare myself to another druid who had the same assignment.

General Impressions

I’ll confess that in two nights of Ulduar this week, I had one bad performance and one very good one. Our first night in, I managed to patch just moments before we pulled, and I only had one spec. I also used that spec very, very badly. I’ll explain below, but first, here are some of my first impressions of the new instance.

1. Flame Leviathan is really cool. The encounter doesn’t feel like the rest of WoW, but it’s quite fun. On the 10-man version, I begged to be one of the people launched onto the boss. I absolutely loved that part.

2. I’m not really running out of mana. I pretty much did what I usually do, except that I let my Lifebloom bloom almost all the time. They really did reduce OOFSR regen, so all I can think is that druids must not have spent as much time out of the five second rule as we had previously thought. My observations match up to Lissanna’s, so I bet it’s a common experience.

3. Dual spec is really convenient. At current, I have both a tank healing and a raid healing spec on my druid. On our XT attempts, I switched specs when I traded places with Mallet to heal the main tank through spiky damage. Being able to do that so seamlessly with just the talents I wanted was brilliant.

4. The difficulty level of Ulduar is quite high. I was expecting Serpentshrine Cavern, and it seems that I got Black Temple. Think about the look and everything–it’s actually very similar to BT. Now, I didn’t raid on the PTR, and I’m at my worst when I’m surprised, but I swear that Ignis fellow is overtuned for his position in the instance. Even his trash is challenging! It seems at least as difficult as the Tempest Keep trash pulls leading up to Kael’s room, which is pretty much wrong for its position in the instance. Ignis’ trash should, at most, be at the level of Morogrim’s trash (remember all those pretty murlocs?). In our attempts on Ignis on 10 and 25, healers were able to learn the abilities and adjust to them, but the adds are still out of hand. I think that the melting, freezing, and cracking mechanism is a little much to handle at that speed. In contrast, I thought that both Razorscale and XT were pretty manageable.

5. The gear in Ulduar seems odd. Granted, I’ve only seen a few pieces, but they don’t seem to be much better than the stuff from Kel’thuzad or Malygos. In contrast, the gear requirements for the dungeon feel very high. Briolante, our warrior tank, is full best-in-slot from Naxx, but Ignis was still ripping him up. He got a new weapon from Flame Leviathan, but it’s a marginal upgrade at best over his previous weapon–and the new weapon is an i-level 232. Weapons, in my opinion, should be significantly different between tiers. I can imagine that the ordinary 226 items might not be an upgrade at all over the scattered 226 items that a player is likely to have from the opening tier of raid content. I’m not sure why they decided to have Ulduar gear not be a progression from our current best-in-slots. I think the claim is that it’s better-itemized, but that’s certainly not true for druids. It’s the same old crit/haste itemization that we dealt with in Naxx.

6. I seem to always want my fast heals. I was skeptical about glyphing Healing Touch for raid healing, but in the middle of our attempts on XT, our other resto druid went to respec and glyph for it as well. Healing in Ulduar is quite spammy. There are some breaks, like the exposed heart phase on XT, but when damage occurs it seems to be both deep and wide. Ulduar uses a combination of heavy hits on the MT with directed raid damage and also AoE splash damage. This is a change from previous content, which seemed to test only one skill at a time. The only thing I can think of to compare some of these fights to to is Gurtogg Bloodboil, who ripped up raids with a combination of hard hits, regular AoE damage, and targeted damage to a raid member.

Trees on the Meters

I won’t go over the exact details of my meter performance, but I’ve been lucky enough to be able to compare my numbers up to two other resto druids who were more or less doing the same tasks as I was. On our second night of raiding, I put in a competitive performance and I thought I did my job well. Here are my tips for putting in decent numbers.

1. Remember that you are a HoT healer. The buffs to Nourish may have distracted you, but HoTs are stronger in Ulduar than they are in Naxx. Both HoTs and shields are at their strongest when damage and difficulty are high.

2. Let your Lifebloom bloom. You could probably roll it on some bosses, and the bloom will be mostly overheal, but if you never let it bloom, you are wasting buckets of mana. On some fights, I got as much mana “back” from blooms as I got from Replenishment.

3. The druid talent Revitalize is still bad. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to other sources of mana return, and I’m going to take it out of my build for a while and see if I feel the effects. If not, it’s staying out.

4. Do not use Nourish without HoTs as a raid heal. It’s slow compared to other Flash Heals and it has low throughput. This mistake is what led to my being at the bottom of meters the first night in Ulduar.

5. Glyphed Healing Touch (with talents) is very strong. This is the Flash Heal you want, not Nourish. I was skeptical about putting this in my raid build but both my own comfort level and my effectiveness on meters improved. I was actually fast enough to save Slag Pot victims, and I was well able to heal Light Bomb and Gravity Bomb with a glyphed HT.

6. Lifebloom is an okay raid heal. It still ticks fast, which gives it an advantage over Rejuvenation. I’m actually using Rejuv less than I did in Naxx or Sarth 3D, because the chance of imminent death for my targets seems higher. I really, really want my 4pc T8 set bonus, however, which will effectively fix Rejuvenation.

7. Innervate is still useful. I have mine glyphed, and I get not quite a full bar out of it.

That’s about all I have. I’m still working out the kinks, so to speak, in Ulduar, and I’ll report back again if I have any startling new observations as we progress. The jury’s still out on whether I like this instance. It’s much better than Naxx, but I’m still comparing it in my head to my favorite BC instances, Serpentshrine Cavern and Black Temple. Ulduar has a lot to live up to. I really enjoyed the bosses we took down, but Ignis disappoints me. In addition to being overtuned and buggy, this guy reuses a model from a 5-man instance. That’s pretty disappointing to me–the art is one of the aspects that most affects my enjoyment of the game. In addition, I like Thorim’s new golden-boy model much less than his old, crusty, blue-skinned look. The old Thorim was much more melancholy, which really fit his quest line. Hopefully once I get into Ulduar proper I’ll be able to ooh and aah at the new art.
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Suggested Healing Priest Specs, Glyphs, and Addons for 3.1

Not sure how to spec or glyph for 3.1? Here are my suggestions. Feel free to modify accordingly. WoW Insider has a great roundup to everything 3.1 related.

No Stock UI has a great list of updated and compatible 3.1 addons for you to peruse.

Discipline Priest Specs

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Soul Warding: Reduces the cooldown of Power Word: Shield by 4 seconds and reduces the mana cost of Power Word: Shield by 30%.

Absolution: Reduces mana cost of Dispels and Disease curing spells by up to 15%.

Focused Will: Increases your spell critical effect by 3% fully talented. If you get crit, incoming damage is reduced by 4% and healing effects on you increase by 5/10/15%.

3 points can go either into Absolution or Focused Will. With the amount of cleansers and dispelers in my arsenal, I opted for the increase crit for the time being. But that might change later.

Improved Flash Heal: Must talent, I think. Reduces mana cost of Flash Heal by 15% and increases the crit chance if your targets are below half health.

Rapture: It’s different now. When your Shield is absorbed or dispelled, you instantly get back 2.5% of your total mana and your target gains 2% mana, 8 rage, 16 energy, or 32 runic power. Works every 12 seconds.

Discipline Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Power Word: Shield
Glyph of Penance – NEW: Your Scribes will have to be lucky here.
Glyph of Prayer of Healing – At least it’s some form of AoE healing if the fight calls for it

Holy Priests Specs

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Blessed Resilience: For 3 points, it increases your healing effectiveness by 3%. The stronger your healing effectiveness, the better this talent will be. For the time being I opted not to get it.

Serendipity: A haste inducing talent. Requires you to Flash Heal or Binding Heal before it adds a 12% haste buff per stack up to 3 (total of 36%). Makes your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing faster. Note: Binding Heal used to grant 2 haste buffs per one cast. It doesn’t do that anymore.

Test of Faith: No change here.

You’re going to end up with 6 talent points. You can only invest in two of the above abilities. I recommended Serendipity and Test of Faith.

Empowered Renew: Another instant healing spell added to Priests. The closest thing I can think of is that it’s an inverse Lifebloom. Instead of tick, tick, tick, BOOM! It becomes BOOM! Tick, tick, tick.

Holy Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Circle of Healing
Glyph of Hymn of Hope
Glyph of Renew
Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Guardian Spirit

Things will be very busy in the World. New places to explore, new dungeons to conquer. All of us will do our best to provide the advice and guidance in the challenges ahead.

PTR Alchemy Changes

Hang onto your Frost Lotuses, people. MMO Champion has just datamined a huge change to alchemy for 3.1:

All flasks recipes will now create 2 flasks for the same amount of ingredients but now last 1 hour instead of 2.

Oh noes! The sky is falling!

Maybe not, but the prices of flasks certainly will be. The only silver lining here is that PTR sellers say that flasks are stacking to 20 (a net buff) and proccing up to 10 per combine.

Quick Analysis

1. This change benefits flask buyers. Now they will be able to buy flasks to suit the typical raid time for their guild as opposed to “wasting” an hour or so on a flask.

2. This change is a slight disadvantage to elixir-specced alchemists. We didn’t usually mind wasting an hour on our 4-hour flasks. On the whole, I predict less sales volume for those of us who sold large amounts of flasks. Our customers will probably stay the same–raiders. You can’t make a noob flask just by making it more convenient! He’ll still say it’s too expensive. The customer’s gain here is the seller’s loss. The same players will buy less total flask hours. I’m not sure what will happen to the price–it may all settle out to about the same margins, but it may not.

3. This change is a HUGE setback for stockpilers. Thankfully I’ve been selling out my stock every day. I’m down to 5 flasks of the Frost Wyrm and 4 flasks of Mojo. I guess I’ll sell the former before the market reacts and drink the latter.

4. The biggest losers here are guild banks. Many of those–including Conquest’s–have stockpiled hundreds of flasks. To those guilds (psst, Matt)–I recommend selling what you can now or just letting raiders drink them for the full effect. Hold off on all future combines at least until there’s an answer on what happens to old stock. My guess is that all flasks, including ones made before the patch, will become 1 hour duration, but players and guilds will not receive doubles. That’s in line with past policy changes, for example, already-acquired Je’Tze’s Bells did not change from soulbound to BoE when the item lost its BoP status.

Anyway, time to rethink my flask business!

Edit: Stockpilers are safe! We’ll be able to trade in one of the old flasks for two of the new. Read the blue post on the subject below.

As many of you have learned, we will be reducing the duration of flask effects so that they only last one hour. However, all recipes that create flasks will create two instead of one for the same material cost. Additionally, we will be increasing stack size from 5 to 20 as we anticipate players will need to carry more flasks at a given time. Vendor value for flasks has also been reduced to keep the auction house deposit low.

Our goal with the change was to allow players greater flexibility when determining how long they plan to raid, as currently we were seeing many players balance time spent raiding around flask duration. We also anticipate that this change will make using flasks in dungeons and battlegrounds a more reasonable decision for players. Though this change will not occur until patch 3.1.0, we wanted to give as much advance notice as possible in case some of you who are stockpiling flasks would prefer to wait to do so until the change is implemented.

We realize players who currently have stockpiled a lot of flasks may feel like they will lose money with this change, since their current flasks will only last for half as long once 3.1.0 goes live. To partially remedy this, we are going to allow players to exchange any current Northrend flasks (Flask of the Frost Wyrm, Flask of Stoneblood, Flask of Endless Rage and Flask of Pure Mojo) for two flasks with the shorter duration. Flasks from older content will not be grandfathered in, and going forward, it will only be possible to make the flasks with a one hour duration.

T8 Set Bonuses Revealed

Post updated 1:42 AM
MMO Champion’s got the goods on the next level of tier 8 bonuses. Let’s check it out and do some quick analysis shall we?

Priest

  • Priest T8 Healer 2P Bonus — Increases the critical heal chance of your Prayer of Healing by 10%.
  • Priest T8 Healer 4P Bonus — Casting Power Word: Shield also grants you 15 spell power for until cancelled. Increases spell power by 250 for 5 sec. (Source: Thottbot)

I’m not the most thrilled with the 2 piece. It’s not bad but it’s not that great, I don’t think. Although let’s not forget that Prayer of Healing is no longer restricted to the Priest’s current party. You definitely want to consider coupling this with the Prayer of Healing glyph. Having the extra crit chance means there’s a higher chance the glyph portion should tick for more.

Now the 4 piece is a real eyebrow raiser. I’m almost certain that’s a typo. More than likely, it’ll grant 150 spell power instead of 15. The second typo is towards the end. It sounds to me that either a) There’s going to be a duration on it. Probably 9 or 15 seconds. b) Until the Shield wears off of a target. This is a bonus that seems targeted towards Disc Priests. With talents like Soul Warding (Reduced cooldown of PW: Shield by 4 seconds and reduces the mana cost by 30%), I can see myself throwing shields around. It’d be mana inefficient, to be sure. But I’m chain casting it to maintain a spellpower boost. Of course, with the mana regeneration changes this might not be the most smartest idea. Anyway, I don’t think they’re quite finished with this set bonus yet guys.

Paladin

  • Paladin T8 Holy 2P Bonus — Your Holy Shock critical heals now also place a periodic healing effect on the target, healing for 15% of the Holy Shock’s heal amount over 9 sec.
  • Paladin T8 Holy 4P Bonus — Increases the damage absorbed by your Sacred Shield by 10%.

Any Paladins want to weigh in on these bonuses? How do these look to you guys?

Shaman

  • Shaman T8 Restoration 2P Bonus — Reduces the cooldown on Riptide by 1 sec.
  • Shaman T8 Restoration 4P Bonus — Reduces the cast time of Chain Heal by 0.2 sec.

That Shaman 4 piece makes me go wa wa wee wa. Assuming haste, could we possible see 2 second Chain Heals?

And for the Druids, don’t forget that Syd’s got a nice writeup for the Druid bonuses that were released earlier in the week.

Stocking Up for Ulduar?

Stocking Up for Ulduar?

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Do you find that you have time on your hands lately? Have you been checking on the Ulduar news every hour from work?

If you have extra time in the game, there are things you can do to prepare for the release of 3.1. Stockpiling a few little goodies can distract you from the suspense and even–potentially–improve your raid performance when 3.1 does hit. In addition, I know from experience that prices on many commodities change–in one direction or another–whenever a patch alters their relative value.

As a caveat, though, I’ll tell you that I am directing most of my efforts toward stockpiling just one thing–gold. I’m making as much as I can right now off the sales of flasks, herbs, ore, and bars. Gold is the ultimate stackable quantity, and I don’t have the bank space for some of the other goodies I’ll mention here. As an added plus, gold will let you buy what you need when you need it–quickly. However, there is a potential to make more on some of your auctions if you can wait a bit. I’m no WoW market expert, but based on the information we have about 3.1, here are some of the things whose values stand to change at the release of the patch.

The Winners

The following things, by my best guess, stand to rise in price after the patch. New recipes and profession changes along with an influx of new gear will make some things more coveted than they are now. In addition, everyone’s consumables bill will skyrocket as guilds take on new and challenging encounters.

Titansteel bars
Saronite ore and bars
Blue-quality gems
Arctic furs
Heavy Borean leather
Frostweave cloth
Flasks
Buff food
Potions (Health, Mana, Speed, Indestcructible)
Uncooked meat
Glyphs
Enchanting materials

The Losers

These things will experience some change at the patch. I would expect their price to go down, either a little, in the case of fish (as more people will be driven to fish their own with shorter cast times and the chance at a mount) or a lot, in the case of BoE epics. Many of these items, like Je’Tze’s Bell and the Greatness trinket, will go from being an enormously high-priced item (8,000-12,000g on some servers), to merely outrageously priced (5000 or less). A former best-in-slot will never be as coveted as a true best-in-slot, and I have every expectation that some Ulduar trinket will dethrone these two.

Herbs (nodes will soon yield more flowers per gather)
Raw fish
Nobles cards
Je’Tze’s Bell
BoE Naxx epics
BoE crafted epics–item level 200

So, long story short? Sell your Nobles card now, and buy your Bell later. As for me, the only thing I’m stocking is a few flasks. My guess is that the Flask of Pure Mojo will overtake the Flask of the Frost Wyrm for healers, and I have some that I made for cheap ready for the new market. A further word to those in the Inscription business: I suggest researching commonly-used glyphs now and preparing several stacks for sale at the release of 3.1. Competition will be high among scribes, so prices might not be as astronomical as you think, but the business will dry up quickly as people pick up their second spec. You’ll no longer have repeat business from frequent spec-switchers.

Did anyone see anything I’ve missed? I’d love to see your financial predictions for 3.1.

When a Bonus is More than a Bonus

When a Bonus is More than a Bonus

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Thanks to MMO Champion and it’s data-ming ways, we now have access to a preliminary version of the Tier 8 set bonuses. It’s anyone’s guess whether these bonuses will actually go live. The bonuses for Resto druid appear to be excellent, though there’s one catch: the 4-piece bonus for Tier 8 is much too good.
t8-prospective-bonuses

Here we have a classic example of a good set bonus and a “bad” set bonus. Lest you grow angry at me for complaining about buffs as well as nerfs, I’ll explain what I mean.

What makes a set bonus good?

The two-piece Tier 8 bonus, which gives a 10% boost to the throughput of Swiftmend, will be nice to have. Swiftmend is a spell almost every healing druid talents for, and it can be used by both raid healers and tank healers alike. The bonus doesn’t conflict with or double the Glyph of Swiftmend, which is a different and even stronger throughput increase which allows Swiftmend to be applied without consuming one of the druid’s HoTs (either Rejuvenation or Regrowth). Moreover, if I had one piece of advice for most Resto druids, it would be to use Swiftmend more. Many forget all about it because it’s a two-step spell–HoT setup plus instant top-off. I find that I perform much better if I use it whenever it’s up. Still, this bonus will never be overpowered, even in combination with the glyph, because Swiftmend continues to be on a cooldown. Druids will get this bonus and enjoy it, perhaps giggling to themselves over their WWS reports. However, it will be a set bonus that the druid can bear to leave behind for whatever Tier 9 gear has in store.

What makes a set bonus bad?

We’ve all seen set bonuses that are lackluster or unusable. The Tier 6 4-pc Resto druid bonus to Healing Touch comes to mind as a particularly useless one. I passed on Tier 6 pants in favor of badge pants because this bonus simply wasn’t one. However, a bonus that goes in the other direction, becoming so good that it overshadows all other gear upgrades, is actually more harmful to the class and the game. Take, for example, the much-lamented 4pc Tier 5 mage bonus, which entirely changed the functioning of Arcane Blast, greatly upping its damage output at an increasing mana cost. I still /spit on this bonus. It caused the four raiding mages in my former guild to hold onto 4-pc Tier 5 until they were able to equip 4 pieces of Tier 6 at once. The consternation this caused them probably cost my guild several extra hours of loot debate. The mages also faced accusations of DKP hoarding as they waited to buy the early Tier 6 pieces. They had much more DKP than they could spend because of their need to hang onto T5. Moreover, the mages themselves didn’t always pay the increased mana cost. Instead, the druid healers Innervated them. We didn’t mind, exactly, because mana was plentiful for healers at that point, but I couldn’t Innervate all four of them, and I always felt bad when I didn’t have any juice left for a player who asked. However, the most pernicious aspect of the bonus had to do with play style. It pigeon-holed mages into an arcane spec and a set rotation, turning three trees into one for a tier and a half of content. I know one determined fire mage who switched to her warlock in Tier 5 because she didn’t like the arcane playstyle. In the end, the T5 bonus was judged to be too strong, nerfed, and finally taken away.

Ghostcrawler has actually said in the past that a tier bonus should be just that–a bonus. I wholeheartedly agree. However, the 4 pc T8 bonus isn’t going to just be a bonus–it’s going to radically change most druids’ rotations.

Rejuvenation has always been a good spell, but its limiting factor is that it doesn’t tick for 3 seconds after it is applied. In essence, that turns it into a HoT with a long cast. Rejuvenation is probably the druid’s most over-written spell. Thankfully it’s also our most efficient. With the bonus, I would get a tiny burst of healing–1997 in Syd’s current gear–when I cast the spell. That’s less than a Holy Shock, but it has a huge impact. With even a small initial heal, Rejuvenation would be “fixed.” It would go from being something that some druids don’t cast, preferring the faster-ticking Lifebloom and Wild Growth, into the raid healing spell. I think this is a very innovative and necessary addition to the spell; however, it doesn’t belong in a set bonus. This “fix” would get druids away from using Lifebloom for every situation, and that’s great. However, if this change is truly imagined as a “fix” to the spell, it needs to be made permanent through talents. Hell, I think it’s worth 5 of my talent points–or even the entire space in the tree occupied by Revitalize and Living Seed. This one little set bonus would give druids what they’ve always wanted–a tool to keep others from sniping their heals.

“Sniping,” for the uninitiated, is the practice of going outside one’s own healing assignment to heal someone else’s target, particularly a target that already has a ticking hot or a slower-casting incoming heal. Typically, players snipe with quick heals–Flash Heal, Flash of Light, Chain Heal, even Nourish or glyphed Healing Touch. As I’ve explained before, healers will never stop sniping–in any case, not until the default UI shows incoming heals and HoTs, mana is as scarce as roses in the Alaskan winter, and healing meters go extinct. Druids are incredibly vulnerable to heal-snipers as most of our healing takes a bit of setup before it starts to work. Ghostcrawler has said in the past that heal-sniping is a valid concern, but it’s not going to be fixed through nerfing mana. Other tools have to be used against it, and the new Rejuvenation is a perfect fit. Healers who play without any incoming heal data will be able to see that the target is covered and consequently will turn elsewhere, even (gasp!) back to their own assigned target.

The change to Rejuvenation needs to be either a talent or a glyph–and I would prefer talent, because then it would correspond to priests’ new talented Renew, which just got a similar front-ended burst. Renew has never been as good as Rejuvenation in the past, but with a small initial burst, it might just be better than Rejuv post-3.1.

In any case, if this tier bonus remains unaltered, druids will wear their Tier 8 until they have 4 pc of Tier 9–and maybe even beyond. This set bonus is more powerful than any one gear upgrade–and I would say, probably more powerful than four. It steps beyond what a bonus is supposed to do. At maximum, I’d say the set bonus for a previous tier should maybe give a player pause about equipping just two pieces of the new tier or item level, as it may be. Not all the best pieces are part of a set. However, when it gets to three upgrades over the stats on the old tier, players should be happy about making a change.

I’m concerned, Blizzard–very concerned. Thinking as both a raiding druids and a guild officer, I’d rather not wrestle with this particular angel, as good as that set bonus may seem when we’re sitting at the beginning, not the end, of Tier 8.

More Shaman 3.1 Changes (With Edit!!!)

More Shaman 3.1 Changes (With Edit!!!)

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Lodur back again with more Shaman changes on the PTR. There was a recent patch and it looks like this is what we got changed

Restoration

  • Healing Stream Totem range increased from 20 to 30 yards.
  • Mana Spring Totem now restores 91 mana every 5 seconds at max rank. (Old – 34 mana every 2 seconds)
  • Nature’s Swiftness changed to – When activated, your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 sec. becomes an instant cast spell. Nature’s Swiftness shares a cooldown with Elemental Mastery.
  • Restorative Totems now Increases the effect of your Mana Spring and Healing Stream Totems by 4/8/12/16/20%. (Down from 5/10/15/20/25%)
  • Healing Grace has been moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2.
  • Ancestral Healing has been moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3.

Totems

Nature Resistance Totem, Stoneskin Totem, Fire Resistance Totem, Frost Resistance Totem, Strength of Earth Totem, Flametongue Totem, Wrath of Air Totem, Windfury Totem descriptions have been changed to reflect the latest changes, they now affects all raid members. ( But will not Stack with some class buffs)

Healing Stream and Mana Spring totems will not be combined at this time.

So, what do we think about all this?

The Healing Stream Totem range increase is nice, I’ll give them that. Not going to really elaborate on that one.

Mana Spring Totem change brings it to 109 MP5 with talents, making it the exact same mana regeneration as Blessing of Wisdom. To be honest, we knew this was coming since BoW and MS no longer stack. This goes hand in hand with the Restorative Totems Talent

The Natures Swiftness change is more PvP centric. It seems to take down the Hybrid spec people were running around with letting them get Elemental Mastery and Natures Swiftness and then have an “I kill you now!” button.

Healing grace and Ancestral Healing Swapping places does not really affect us, that’s more just housekeeping. You still spend the same amount of points in the tree to get what you want without having to take anything you really don’t.

Totems tooltips were updated, that’s about it for the top part there. The big news here is the decision to not combine Mana Spring and Healing Stream totems. With them tweaking MS, I’m not surprised. As much as I would love to see that combination, I personally think it wont happen, at least not till they figure out how to handle mana regeneration for everyone.

Playing around on the PTR (when the world server is active) Nothing really feels different in the play style. I’m hoping to get into an ulduar group (hopefully the raid invite goes through this time =P ) so I can test it out on some heavier content.

What do you guys think ?

*EDIT*

Restoration

  • Mana Tide Totem: This spell no longer costs mana.
  • Restorative Totems: Reduced to 3 points, down from 5. Increases the effect of your Mana Spring Totem by 7/12/20%, and increases the amount healed by your Healing Stream Totem by 15/30/45%.

There it is. Was waiting for the shift in restorative totems. Could be quite nice.

Image from wikimedia

Further Thoughts on Lifebloom Changes

Further Thoughts on Lifebloom Changes

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Here I am, drowning my sorrows in a glass of Miracle-Gro at my favorite Dalaran tavern. Why all the tragic tree tears?

For those of you who have been under a rock for the last week, the news from the developers is that Lifebloom is about to get a heavy nerf to its healing per mana (HPM). In 3.1, Lifebloom will cost twice what it does at current and return 50% of its cost when it blooms, adjusted for the number of stacks on the target.

What does this mean, you might ask?

Ghostcrawler tells us that the intent is to end the practice of rolling Lifebloom–efficiently–on two or more tanks. Unfortunately, the nerf hits a “good” practice just as hard–rolling Lifebloom on just one tank.

I’ve been following Elitist Jerks and the official Healing Class Role forums, and amid the insane drivel and endless whining, I’ve been able to discern a few things.

What Druids Want

#1: Overwhelmingly, druids want a Lifebloom we can use.

Lifebloom has come to be a spec-defining ability, and its rolling mechanism makes it unique. My own worry, and that of many raiding druids, is that the practice of using Lifebloom as a rolling buffer on one tank will be over. We want reassurance from the developers that Lifebloom will continue to work for us.

#2: Druids want consistency in the way we time the spell.

Most druids agree on one thing: the new bloom mechanism is awkward. A reward for blooming and a punishment for refreshing contradict the mechanics we’ve grown up with. In this topsy-turvy Lifebloom world, what’s good now will soon be bad–you’ll want your Lifebloom to fall off whenever you can afford it.

#3: Druids want a raid role, and we want it to be consistent with what it has been in the past.

Every player, of course, wants to be useful. After all, we want to play the game, and rerolling isn’t a realistic option for most of us. I’ve seen priest and shaman and paladin threads about their raid role as well, and now druids are feeling that anxiety. I’ve also seen the devs reply to these anxieties in dismissive and condescending ways. They always say that they conceive of raid roles differently than the community does. To that, I’ll reply that perceptions matter. Raid invites are based on them, after all.

Druids overwhelmingly believe that their raid role is to add a buffer, a bit of insurance against disaster. Our HoTs are like the priest’s Power Word Shield or the Shaman’s Earth Shield: useless when the content is easy, but essential when the content is hard. If cushioning the MT goes the way of the dodo, many druids may start to feel like the poor man’s paladin. I think Blizzard needs to pay attention to the druid’s historical raid role and make sure it remains intact. In order for a buffer to work, it needs to stay up. Rolling LB will always be the best thing–for the tank. And that’s what we want to think about, right?

#4: Druids want to be less dependent on timers

Druid healing is already very rigid. Unlike other healers, we have a true rotation, and it’s every bit as ugly as an Affliction warlock’s. We have four different HoTs, each of which has a different duration, and one of which stacks. We’re already tied to 3rd-party mods to manage these spells, particularly Lifebloom. Right now, though, all we have to do is roll, and the penalty for refreshing early is slight. However, in a mana-constrained environment, with Lifebloom being our most expensive HoT, we absolutely will not be able to refresh early. The penalty will be huge. In addition, we’ll be having to make a decision about whether to let Lifebloom bloom every 9 seconds or so. That’s a lot of mental bandwidth dedicated to timing one spell. Many druids would rather drop Lifebloom altogether than micromanage the bloom. As it stands now, it looks like we will be more dependent on timers post 3.1 than we are now, and that’s a scary thought.

Alternate Solutions

Everyone has their pet fix for the Lifebloom problem or their favorite way to mitigate the impact of the nerf. I’m going to repeat here a couple of my favorites. I’ve seen each of these ideas posted several times by different posters in slightly different iterations, but here’s my take.

#1. Buff Lifebloom’s HoT slightly and reduce the bloom. A gain in HPS on the part of the spell that’s most useful in PvE would cushion the impact of the nerf somewhat.

#2. Limit the number of active Lifeblooms to 6 per druid. I personally love this solution, and I’d even like it if the limit were three. This would keep multiple stacks of Lifebloom from dominating the healing meters, and even though a raid could ostensibly stack druids, most probably wouldn’t. After all, Lifebloom works best as a sort of damage cushion on the main tank. This is the use of rolling Lifebloom that I’d like to protect.

#3. Remove the stacking mechanism. I’m also in favor of this solution for simplicity’s sake. Lifebloom causes a ton of problems because of its stacks. Why not buff the value for a single Lifebloom and remove the stacking capability? It’s the stacking that causes such rigidity in a druid’s rotation. I doubt many druids will be brave enough to single stack it in 3.1, but that’s looking like a mana efficient way to go. Why not make the decision for us?

I’m interested in knowing what readers think about this problem. As for me, I think I understand why Lifebloom is a target right now, and it’s not a pretty thought. I think that–correctly or no–the developers believe that the 40% nerf to OOFSR regen won’t hurt the druid enough. Right or wrong, it’s seen as a nerf that will hurt the priest more. As such, they’ve changed both the cost and the mechanics of druids’ signature spell in order to force us to run empty. My feeling from reading the comments of PTR testers is that the change is too dramatic. Combined with the new, underwhelming Innervate, the expensive rolled Lifebloom may just not be sustainable even on one target. I’m not looking forward to standing idly by mid-fight with an empty mana bar. Far better than that would be to do without Lifebloom, but I sure would miss it.

Flame Leviathan Thoughts

Flame Leviathan Thoughts

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Yeah there’s going to be a buttload of spoilers here. You probably don’t want to read any further than this.

Tuesday afternoon, Blizzard announced the new PTR boss testing schedules for the week. Flame Leviathan (Normal) would be open from 4 PM onwards. But it looks like someone was trigger happy and they decided to pop it open an hour earlier. I happened to be on right as it opened up and sounded the alarm on Twitter, my guild, and in the WoW Insider war room. Alex Ziebert, shadow Priest extraordinaire, was able to join me. Once we filled up, we got the ball rolling.

So what kind of vehicle does a big, badass Dwarf drive around when he’s feeling bloodthirsty?

siege

That’s right. It’s the only vehicle fit for a dwarf. It’s big. It’s got rams. And it’s got guns. I let someone else drive while I manned the guns on top. After talking to Bronzebeard, we started the event and the Alliance 1st Armored division rolled out of the garage. The division consisted of two tanks, two demolishers and two choppers (bikes). The two siege engines lead the way absorbing the brunt of the Iron army. Demo’s formed up on the rear and attacked at range while choppers were cleaning up anything else that got behind the siege engines.

1st Armored decided to start off with gunnery training. Most of us had no idea what to do so it made sense to start firing on anything that moved and any structures that were destructible. We literally rolled over the opposition with little difficulty.

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Click on pictures to enlarge

I found the gun controls were quite stiff to move. It’s like the engineers forgot to add WD-40 to the damn turrets or something. If you’ve ever done Wintergrasp, the controls for aiming are quite easy. You hold down your right mouse button to aim the direction of the camera and the targeting reticle changes direction accordingly. But it’s different in Ulduar. I found that it wasn’t as fluid nor as smooth.

After clearing out the towers, one of the recon choppers noted what looked like a repair pad on the side. We gathered up and repaired our vehicles to full health. Up ahead there was a gate flanked by two Ulduar Colossi.

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Up: Repair pad
Down: Ulduar Colossus

The Colossus is pretty damn large. But the larger they are, the harder they fall. They more really slow, too. I told my driver to switch with me because I had a hunch the vehicle would have a larger vehicle pool. Blizzard did say vehicles would scale with gear. Sure enough, my tank jumped from ~750k health to ~810k.

Matticus was in the hot seat now.

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Left: Matt tries to take on the Flame Leviathan to no avail
Right: Matt flooring it after realizing the above the strategy is not working

“Matt! Run! Hit the gas!”
”WTF do you think I’m doing?! Twiddling my thumbs?!”

We didn’t last much longer after that. But I found it a lot of fun. And it is absolutely nothing like Malygos phase 3. Players who have an aversion to vehicle encounters should definitely give this a try at least. And if they hate it, they’ll hate it. But at least try it with a clean slate. Worse comes to worse, if you don’t like driving or shooting, you can be one of the brave souls willing to be thrown on to the top of the Flame Leviathan.

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Pretty neat bug where a demo has grappled another demo. There’s still some quirks to be resolved. Towards the end, Alex grappled me onto his demo. I was unfortunately stuck and had no idea how to eject myself. I don’t think I was loaded into the launching arm.

Our best attempt was around 35% before our live raids forced us to cancel out.

Ignis is going to be available for testing today. Try to be on about an hour earlier to avoid the queues that is going to be prevalent. I’ll be in there at around 3 to see if I can scramble some players.

For Flame Leviathan strategy, try checking out Stratfu.