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!

Rise of the Super Guild

I’m not sure if this is a developing trend or not of what guilds will be evolving into. I stumbled across a recruiting thread. What stood out for me was that this guild wasn’t just a raiding guild. It wasn’t a PvP guild. It wasn’t a leveling guild or a social guild or a casual guild. It’s a guild that houses multiple guilds within it. It boggled my mind at first because some of these smaller or medium sized guilds would be sacrificing their identity along with other privileges. But the more I read about it, the more it made sense.

The main purpose of this organization is to bring as many guilds under one banner as much as possible. The rewards? Accelerating into guild achievements, unlocks and progression rewards. With multiple guilds within this guild, hitting those rewards and achievements would be amazingly quick. Maxing out the guild experience everyday would be a certainty. I think what I’m witnessing isn’t just an organized guild. It’s an actual raiding alliance. The efforts of one guild would spillover and help other guilds. Those other guilds will also be contributing in their own way. After looking at the infrastructure, the sub-guilds would be able to operate under whatever conditions they desired. Each sub guild had their own raid times, standards, and so forth. Players won’t be forced to raid with each other. But it’s basically like guild <A>, guild <B> and guild <C> giving up their individual tags and merging into one giant super guild. Their sites don’t change, they still use their own voice servers and such. It’s all just under one tag. Everything else is logistics when it comes to ranks.

All of a sudden, catching 100000 fish doesn’t sound so bad.

Anyone find any flaws with this? Does it sound like something you would personally go for?

[VIDEO] A Preview of Cataclysm Raid Healing

Cataclysm raid healing (Watch in a larger resolution if possible)

No post for today but I figured there were a number of healers out there who really wanted to see what raid healing would be like in the expansion. Here’s a video which includes the first two bosses from Bastion of Twilight on 10 man. I narrated the entire video (and if you’re tired of my voice, by all means, feel free to mute the audio) explaining what was going on and what I was doing.

I also learned how to do slow motion action which I’ve put to great effect towards the end. Don’t miss out on Life Grip in action!

Twitter followers get to watch my videos first (along with those who can find the elusive World of Matticus facebook fan page). I usually use them as guinea pigs a litmus test to see whether or not I should publish a video here.

Lastly, the official guild announcement regarding the rated BG team. 

Crafting Your State of the Guild Address

For guild leaders, expansion transition is one of the most perilous moments. I know it can be difficult at times to convey thoughts and desires, but it is absolutely vital to do so before the expansion. This guild leader has a bad habit of occasionally forgetting to communicate. Like any relationship, back and forth discussion is always key.

What is in a state of the guild address?

Every guild will have different points to cover. There are a few similarities. The basic intent here is to state what it is your guild is going to do in the expansion. Even if there is zero change in purpose from Wrath to Cataclysm, it’s a good refresher for existing players and serves as a good place to start for prospects.

Some things your might want to cover are:

  • Direction: Casual guild? Social guild? Raiding guild? PvP guild? What is the point of this guild?
  • History: This is a good time to reflect back on the expansion of your guild accomplishments and anything you wish you could have improved upon.
  • Recruiting: Has anything changed regarding recruiting? Are you accepting max level characters only? What about re-rolls?
  • Raiding: Is the  raiding schedule going to change? New days or new times? What about 10 vs 25 man?
  • Policies: This is a great section to list any updates for any policies like alts, guild bank, loot system changes, attendance and so forth.
  • Timeline: For progression oriented guilds, consider stating intended timelines for leveling and raiding. Which week will the guild hit level 85? When will the guild begin formally raiding?
  • Leadership: Any officers stepping down? Any promotions being handed out?

In your address, you mainly want to target your guild. Your members want to know what is going on because there will be players who might wish for a change of scenery. At the same time, leave it in a publically viewable area like the front page or on a recruiting forum. This way, potential applications can read it and have a better idea of what your intentions are.

Here’s the one I wrote for my guild and I’ll do a breakdown of what I was thinking.

Raiding progression plans

There were a large number of players who have entered the guild. Raiders will come and go. Life happens, right? But I wanted to acknowledge their contributions.

Conquest started during Wrath. The first two years were spent seeing consolidating and seeing what we were capable of. I want to thank the over 100 players who have played alongside Conquest over the years. Without your efforts, we would not be where we are today.

I want to elevate this guild. Right now, we’re a little over 20th on Ner’zhul. I’m not going to be satisfied until we break and maintain at least top 10. Ner’zhul is extremely competitive. There’s over 20 guilds that have downed heroic Sindragosa 25 (pre-patch 4.0.1). I think we can reach that next level.

Our raiding interests will remain in 25 man.

What did I want to do differently? We’re already raiding. There were points during Wrath where I felt the guild “lagged” a bit compared to other raiding guilds on the server. Yes, this is a Wrath guild but now that the guild had been around for an expansion, I wanted to “get there”. I know that over time, we’ll eventually see bosses but I want to clear out the entire expansion. The ambition and the drive wasn’t completely there for me in Wrath and consequently there are a few encounters we did not take down.

A shift in recruiting

After discussion with officers, it was decided to open recruiting up further. With the expansion weeks away, there isn’t much of a point to recruit for current content. We’re just in farm mode and finishing up drakes for players who still need them. The time is best used to recruit anyone who wants to raid in the expansion regardless of their level.

Getting into Conquest is easy. Raiding with Conquest will require a little extra effort. For the time being, we have shifted our recruiting policy. In light of the new guild leveling system and guild perks, we have opened our doors to any player who believes they can contribute. Friends of current guild members are welcome to apply as is anyone else looking to hang out.

Rerolls and non-maxed characters

If you are not max level or wish to reroll, simply go ahead and apply anyway. List any existing 80s you have and fill out the application as normal. Add a note at the end saying that you have no desire to raid current content and you’re here to have a shot for our Cataclysm raiding team.

Why?

We’re planning for the future. We’re not simply looking for appropriate class or spec make up. We’re looking specifically for players with the right character and personality for the guild. Evaluation is always an ongoing process. Players that pass their trial period sometimes leave weeks after citing difference of opinion or other problems. I encourage players to experience the guild environment first before committing themselves to raiding after.

Trust me when I say I made some mistakes regarding personnel. I have no intention of seeing it happen again.

I have always maintained that different players will favour different guilds. I would not last very long in a casual raiding guild or a PvP guild. Can you see me in an RP guild? It would be amusing to watch me, but I would simply drown.

Scheduling

It’s not enough to say that you want to get there. In my case, I had to back it up. I didn’t want to another day or more hours. But I knew there were times when if we had just one or two more attempts, we would have gotten that boss. The decision was made to add 90 minutes overall to the raid schedule. I’m banking that it might be enough to put us over the top.

In light of the renewed commitment from the leadership, we’re looking at a minor extension of the raiding schedule. A fourth day will not be added. Instead, the intent is to run 2 raiding schedules: One for progression and one for farm.

During progression, an extra 30 minutes will be added per raid night.

Tuesday: 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Thursday: 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Monday: 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
On farm, we will continue at our current pace and adjust accordingly.

Tuesday: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Thursday: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
* Monday: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

* We’re going to reach a point where all content can be cleared within that time. As we do not know the scope nor difficulty of the new raids, it is hard to say. Raid times may still be adjusted depending on our progress.

Naturally, this will depend on what raid instances are like. How many bosses are in them? How much trash do we need to blow up? All that stuff adds up.

Timeline

I leveled to 85 once on beta, so I had a rough idea of what to expect. I number of my guild mates have already scheduled time off of work for that opening week (on a side note, have you cashed in on your sick days?)

Here is the expected course for the first opening weeks of Cataclysm.

December 7th: Cataclysm released

Week 1 (December 14th): Guild members at 85 and geared to run dungeon heroics.
Week 2 (December 21st): After farming and acquiring mats for craftable gear coupled with heroic items, we should be ready to begin raiding.
Week 3 (December 28th): Multiple raid boss kills by now.
Stock up on the red bull and the pizza pops.

Please note: 10 man raiding operations will begin immediately the moment we have enough players and the appropriate raid composition. The goal is to get in there and start familiarizing boss mechanics. Any extra loot is a bonus. An item earned then is an item we don’t have to craft or waste time on getting from heroics. We will transition to 25 as quickly as possible from there.

On the beta, when I took down those raid bosses, my average ilevel score was approximately 350. I believe a minimum of approximately 340 ilevel could be sufficient enough.

This is a really optimistic time line. It took me about 50 hours combined just to go from 80 to 85. But I had the advantage of being on a PvE beta server and rested experience. Ner’zhul is a PvP server and I seriously doubt I’ll have that much rested experience lying around. Clearing out the entire normal mode bosses by New Years is something I secretly wish for but that might be too wishful. We entered Wrath as a 25 man guild and we’re going to go into Cataclysm the same way.

Those were just some of the major points. If you’re interested in seeing the rest, feel free to check it out. There really isn’t a wrong way to writing one. You could deliver it verbally over Ventrilo or Mumble but you’ll want to avoid cases of “he said, she said” type situations. Having it laid out in text keeps everyone on the same page.

Now I’m trying to remember what’s next on my to do list. Transitioning expansions is never easy.

Chakra: Renew is Gone

Chakra: Renew is Gone

Note: the tooltips in the quoted text boxes do not reflect the current changes to the abilities they describe.

Since 4.0.1 changes were even announced, I was overwhelmed with anticipation to try a Holy spec. Now, I’ve been Discipline since before Wrath of the Lich King dropped, and I’ve loved the entire playstyle (minus that “bubble spam” thing). When I saw the Chakra ability, as well as the corresponding Holy Word: Chastise states, I started to digitally salivate. I’ve always enjoyed classes that had a wealth of abilities to use (which is why I never rolled a Paladin — KIDDING!!). In the “lame duck session” before Cataclysm, I’ve been experimenting with the new playstyles and adapting to the new juicy mechanics that have been laid out for us. Chakra Heal has potential to be real potent. Chakra Prayer of Healing offers a beautiful and useful “stand in the good” zone, as well as an AoE Healing buff. Chakra Smite has been amazing for farming meat, mats, or anything else for which I need to “nuk da mobz”.

Chakra Renew has been a bit ambiguous to me. I understand that Renew is a very powerful tool in a certain-specced Holy toolbox, but its implementation into Chakra kind of baffled me. Now, I *like* to think I’m a pretty creative guy, but I just couldn’t really see the use or fun in it. Maybe it’s because I come from a Discipline playstyle, but I didn’t see a need to constantly spam renew beyond just blanketing my 10man raid. Well, we were given this nugget of info (thanks MMO-Champion):

  • Chakra no longer works with Renew. No longer costs mana. Sanctuary (Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending) now increases healing done by your AoE spells and Renew by 15%. (Old – Only increased AoE spells by 10%)
  • Effectively, they’ve killed Renew’s exclusivity with Chakra and teamed it up with Prayer of Healing, adding in Prayer of Mending, too. You’ll get more healing out of Renew, but remember that you have to activate it with Prayer of Healing or Mending. You cannot activate your steroid-juiced HoT by hitting that Renew key. Patience, grasshopper.

    Because of this change, our State of Mind talent has been altered:

  • State of Mind no longer affects Renew, affects Prayer of Mending instead.
  • Now, I use Prayer of Mending almost always on cooldown out of habit. Adding this into extending that Chakra state will benefit a lot of Priests out there. If the best play for a certain encounter is to keep that Chakra going, I’m not too big a fan of spamming one button to extend it. I think a change like this could also be implemented in our Heal Chakra or Smite Chakra. Only add one additional spell to extend it. Chakra Heal could also be extended by Greater Heal, a spell that we don’t really spam anyways. Chakra Smite could be lengthened by Holy Fire as well, since it’s impossible to spam it while it’s on cooldown. Here’s an image of the new tooltips (thanks, Matticus!):

    All in all, I’m pleased with the change. As it stands right now, I don’t use Renew Chakra as it is and didn’t see much use in the future. However, as would be my luck, I’ll step into that first Cataclysm raid encounter and think, “Man! I wish I had Chakra Renew back for this fight!” C’est la vie.

    Do you feel the alteration of Chakra and State of Mind are changes for the better or worse? Are you going to miss the Renew Chakra?

    [VIDEO] Omnitron Defense System

    Here’s a video of the kill I was a part of when we took down the Omnitron Defense System during Sunday. Special thanks to Blacksen and his guild for allowing me to participate. I wasn’t actually healing at all on this fight. I’m the elemental shaman that’s throwing lightning bolts. It’s a hectic encounter and there is so much stuff going on. Three healers were used for 10 man. It’s a good indication of what to expect.

    Read my writeup on WoW Insider (It should be up sometime around 6:00 AM PST, Tuesday morning)

    Priest Glyphs for 4.0.1 and Cataclysm

    Priest Glyphs for 4.0.1 and Cataclysm

    I am happy! Hockey season has started! What does this have to do with glyphs you ask?

    Well, absolutely nothing!

    But first, I’ll go over the new glyph system briefly and then follow it up with a quick review and opinion of the glyphs going into patch 4.0.1.

    Except I will be going at them in the style of a fantasy hockey pool analyst.

    How the new glyph system works

    Here’s the official blue post. But in a nut shell, there are three types of glyphs:

    Prime – Straight increase to damage or healing.

    Major – Offers extra stuff to existing spells or abilities.

    Minor – Convenience or cosmetic changes.

    When you learn glyphs, you do so permanently. You won’t have to keep buying glyphs repeatedly if you’re changing specs or styles. Once you learn it, that’s that. However, in order to switch a different glyph in, you need to use something called Dust of Disappearance (For 80 and below, we’re looking for Vanishing Powder).

    glyphs-interface

    I’m going to break down the glyphs into the three major categories. Some are obviously meant for holy, discipline or both. Others have utility applications and would be valuable in select situations.

    • D: Discipline
    • H: Holy
    • U: Utility
    • B: Both

    Prime Glyphs

    First, we’ll look at the primes. And I don’t mean Optimus, either.

    Glyph of Flash Heal (B) – Having a 10% increased critical effect chance for Flash Heal on targets below 25% will help cement healing at level 85 especially when targets get that low (and they will). Great on the clutch play and will come through when you need it.

    At level 80 though, you can pass on this glyph. Not likely anyone will be dropping that low. Good mid range pick. Next season his value should sky rocket. If you can’t find anything else as holy, then it becomes more of a “sure, why not” selection.

    Glyph of Guardian Spirit (H) – I personally view this glyph as a nerf from its 3.3.5 iteration where the cooldown was dropped to 1 minute if it didn’t proc. As Holy, I’ve extremely aggressive with Guardian Spirit. Unfortunately, Guardian Spirit glyph didn’t do so well in training camp. It went from an extremely hardworking and beneficial glyph to a slower but more consistent glyph. Good veteran locker room presence, however.

    Pass on this at 80 if you wish. Lowering Guardian Spirit to 2:30 isn’t all that bad (proc or no proc).

    Glyph of Lightwell (H) – The potency of this glyph is dependant on your raid. If they’ve been raiding with Lightwell, then this glyph might be of benefit to you. Lightwell has had some unfortunate seasons over the past few years. He’s been on a variety of different teams, but most teams simply struggle with him because they haven’t quite figured out how to use his presence best. With the right team, he’d be an awesome healing scoring presence.

    Mattwell says to pass on Lightwell.

    Glyph of Penance (D) – By default, Penance is on a 12 second cooldown. This glyph is a virtual requirement for discipline priests to be effective in their roles. Even though Train of Thought helps in the reduction of that cooldown, you’re better off glyphing for this anyway.

    For team discipline, this should be your first overall draft pick.

    Glyph of Power Word: Barrier (D) – I’m going to write more about this glyph in a future post. It just got me thinking a lot about the usage.

    Barrier is a new glyph just fresh out of the junior glyph league. He showed some flashes of talent and raw ability, but coaches will need to experiment with him on different lines to see what he’s capable of doing. The young product of Absorbsville is going to need to earn himself a spot on the opening night roster.

    Good to draft if you have nothing better.

    Glyph of Power Word: Shield (D) – The shield glyph has routine put up strong numbers in the HPS department. Team discipline simply cannot go wrong anywhere with this pick. Technically, you can use this glyph for both specs, but there is a clear edge to discipline here. Discipline shields have also been traditionally stronger (especially now coupled with the mastery).

    This glyph is priority number two for discipline. Draft it.

    Glyph of Prayer of Healing (B) – I’ve always preferred using this glyph in both of my specs just because it added extra AoE healing power. It doesn’t completely restrict AoE healing for discipline but it amplifies AoE healing for holy. Prayer of Healing has often been overlooked but when you need stability and coverage during frantic moments, he will have your back.

    And his back.

    And that other guy’s back.

    And yeah, even that guy.

    Excellent draft pick if you need a third slot and can’t seem to find one that really benefits you or the encounter your group is going for.

    Glyph of Renew (H) – This glyph has holy all over it. I suppose you could use it for discipline, but it just isn’t as powerful. If there was a first round draft pick for team Holy, this would be it. He’s fast, he’s got great hands, he knows what he’s doing and he will get the job done quickly and efficiently.

    No contest. Draft it for holy.

    Major Glyphs

    Next up is the majors.

    Glyph of Circle of Healing (H) – No big change here. Instead of healing 5 targets, it heals 6. We all love smart heals. Team holy will once again wish to pick him up to hold down the fort.

    Draft it for holy.

    Glyph of Dispel Magic (U) – Not too sure about dispel magic here. He’s a bit of a grizzled veteran. Seems to come out when things get a little rough especially when it comes to some PvP action. At the very least, even if your dispel whiffs and you miss or someone beats you to it, it won’t be a complete waste as it restores 3% of their health.

    More of a situational role player, in my opinion.

    Glyph of Divine Accuracy (U) – Need some muscle? This enforcer glyph will help. Granted the team isn’t known for packing a whallop, but used in tandem with Smite (either for leveling or if you’re going for the Atonement build), you will want this glyph.

    Situational draft pick. Depends on your team.

    Glyph of Fade (U) – I can see this glyph coupled with both the Phantasm and Veiled Shadow talents for really fast movement debuff clearing. Typically, healers aren’t going to be generating a ridiculous amount of threat anyway. I haven’t pulled threat on the beta either but that could be due to having really good tanks and crowd control.

    Pass at 80. Situational pickup otherwise.

    Glyph of Fear Ward (U) – At the core of it, it just means priests can cast Fear Ward more often if they need to. Can’t say it has a lot of PvE applications right now (maybe the third mini boss on Halion, if that). Seems more PvP utility to me.

    Really situational.

    Glyph of Holy Nova (B) – In preseason, Holy Nova came in just blasting (literally). He was bugged where it had no cooldown and it just levelled the opposition no matter what they were. You could bind it to the mouse wheel and just go to town. Luckily, that has since been fixed and is now at a more stable level. Holy Nova causes no threat. The strength of Holy Nova is divided by the number of targets healed, remember.

    Another decent AoE booster. Wouldn’t be opposed to drafting it for either spec.

    Glyph of Inner Fire (U) – No. Just no. There are other options.

    Pass on this.

    Glyph of Mass Dispel (U) – Very cool glyph to have. A 0.5 second cast that removes something like 10 magic abilities? To me, this would be a unanimous pick for all specs. It used to be restricted to discipline only since it was a talent.

    Highly recommended draft pick.

    Glyph of Pain Suppression – (D) Not only is it meant for discipline priests, but the PvE application is extremely low. This is clearly meant for PvP. If that’s what your interested in, then yeah pick this one up. It’ll come in handy.

    Situational for PvP use.

    Glyph of Psychic Scream (U) – Surprisingly useful in instances as emergency forms of CC. Fear bombing them means the mobs won’t run all over the place but it prevents them from doing stuff.

    Pass on it for now, but don’t forget about it when you’re grinding instances.

    Glyph of Smite – Pairing Smite with Holy Fire just got a whole lot better. This duo will do wonders. Almost like an extra boost to healing if you’re into Atonement (in which case, you should get it).

    Get this for leveling, but you can probably pass over this at 80.

    Glyph of Spirit Tap (U) – Purely for leveling purposes. Ignore it otherwise.

    Pass.

    Glyph of Spirit of Redemption (H) – You know, as a priest, you shouldn’t plan on dying as a strategy. Rather nice to have, I suppose.

    Pass.

    Minor Glyphs

    Now it’s down to the minors.

    Glyph of Fading – Figure its situational for PvP or any point where the use of Fade outweighs the use of healing (Otherwise known as never, right?)

    Glyph of FortitudeDraft this. There will be times when players die and they will resurrect mid fight. Fortitude is one of the must have buffs they should have once they come alive.

    Glyph of LevitateDraft this as you never know when you’re going to go flying off a ledge.

    Glyph of ShadowfiendDraft early in the event your Shadowfiend dies. It won’t be a total less as sparky will still grant you some mana.

    Glyph of Shackle UndeadPass. Nothing to add here.

    Glyph of Shadow ProtectionPass unless you don’t have any other forms of shadow protection like Paladins. Otherwise, it becomes unnecessary.

    And that’s that! I suggest hitting the local auction house and grabbing glyphs cheaply (if they’re there).

    Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec

    Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec

    Atonement’s one of those really curious talents in the discipline tree. We’ve never really experienced anything like it before and I can understand the reluctance behind taking it.

    But it’s got some potential. And I found it fun the few times I pulled it off.

    How it works

    The basic premise is that you’re unloading Smites on a hostile target. As you’re hitting them with Smite, Atonement activates and heals any player within 8 yards of the target for 100% of the damage that Smite does.

    For priests at level 80
    For priests at level 85

    Here are the key talents:

    Atonement: You absolutely need this. Its kind of the central focus. In an earlier build, Smite would heal 60/120% according to the damage dealt. In the current beta build, it dropped down to 40/80%. As of the current PTR for the 4.0.1 patch, it was raised to 50/100%.

    Archangel & Evangelism: Both of these talents help with buffing the damage you’re dishing out or allowing you to get some precious mana back.

    Divine Aegis: Yup, DA bubbles will appear off of heals from Atonement.

    Feel free to pick and choose the rest of them according to your own play style.

    Glyphs

    You’ll want to get some of these glyphs to help vault your utility.

    atone-glyphs

    Glyph of Divine Accuracy: I know I have close to zero hit gear. For this spec to work, you need to be able to hit the boss. If you can’t hit the boss, you can’t heal.

    Glyph of Smite: The Holy Fire DoT doesn’t last that long, but the does help.

    Those are the two main ones and everything else is up to you. However, I would recommend:

    You’re in the discipline tree anyway. May as well get some glyphs that augment that tree further.

    Spell usage

    Open up with a Holy Fire right away, then begin blasting away with a Smite. If you’re lucky, you’ll get in about 4 powered up Smites before th e DoT wears off. You’ll need to eyeball your mana here. Get a full stack of Evangelism going. Between Evangelism and the Glyph of Smite, it should elevate you to some reasonably comfortable numbers.

    Once I notice a mana deficit of about 15 – 20%, I’ll pop Archangel and instantly get my mana back and resume Smiting.

    You still have access to your healing priest spells. Don’t be tunnel visioned into believing that Smiting is the only way to heal because it isn’t. It is the main focus, but don’t forget about your other heals. Use them in a pinch if you need to. Instead of sitting back and waiting for people to take damage, you’re actively doing something which has a positive side effect.

    If you’re in a smaller group environment like a 10-man or a 5-man, you’ll need to keep a closer watch on yourself and any other ranged players that aren’t standing with the melee.

    In a raid environment, you can use this to your advantage. If you’re like me and contemplating the usage of a full time Smite priest, that’s one dedicated healer on the melee. That means you can focus the efforts of the other healers on the ranged players and maybe an additional one managing the tanks.

    Limitations

    I expect there to be some sort of diminishing return. I just don’t have the faintest clue what it would be (as in how many players before the effectiveness reduces). Unless you really want to stack your entire raid on top of the boss, the usability of this spec is going to be limited to melee friendly bosses. You don’t want to tango with Deathwhisper or Saurfang for instance. Either the ghosts or bloodbeasts will tear you and your raid up alive. You’d probably want to revert back to the traditional style of being a disc priest and resort to actual healing if those types of bosses are waiting for you.

    No word yet on whether this will  be final in either the PTR or the beta. We’ll know within the next week or so.

    What I need to now do is find a volunteer priest willing to go Smite heal in our raids. Anyone else planning on giving this a try when the patch kicks in?

    POLL: Will you raid 10 man or 25 man in Cataclysm?

    POLL: Will you raid 10 man or 25 man in Cataclysm?

    One of the best — or worst things depending on your view — to happen to raiding in a long time was the inclusion of smaller group sized content. I talked a little bit about this over on BDTU with my pieces on the Evolution of WoW part 1 and part 2.

    The trend started with the addition of Zul’Gurub, a troll instance of now infamous reputation, when it broke from the 40-man raid standard and offered 20-man content. It hailed back to the days of Blackrock Spire being a multiple group raid, and people loved it.

    Karazhan further stoked the fires of the smaller group raid desire, and did so while offering epic and story filled content. Players loved it so much that the forums were filled countless replies asking for more smaller group . With Wrath came the revelation that all raid content would be be available in 25-man flavor as set forth by Burning Crusade, but also  in new raid 10-man flavor (all of the raid, less than half the calories). Different levels of gear purchasable by badges came out (as well as loot tables that varied between 10 and 25 man), and both 10 and 25 man raids dropped the same badges. The trick, and the problem, was that people felt compelled to run both 10 and 25 man versions to maximize badges. Some people felt that you absolutely had to run both to “beat the game”.

    This is also a result of how loot was distributed. Badges gave you the entry level gear for the items at the end of this expansion cycle. Badges gave you the “entry level” piece for the tier set, this was considered the 10 man version of the tier. Tokens in 25 man raids would drop that allowed you to upgrade the 10 man piece to the next level up. Heroic 25 man dropped yet another token that allowed you to upgrade it to it’s maximum potential. You can see how it would be assumed the more badges you had the better gear you had and the quicker you could climb the gear ladder right?

    Well, the devs didn’t like that, nor did less hardcore players (or those of us who don’t have the time to devote to constantly running raids all week long) and a new system was proposed for Cataclysm. The system says that the same content will be provided for 10 and 25 man versions, and the reward levels will be the same. That is to say that the Ilvl of gear will be on par between versions, and they will share the same loot tables. The major difference will be that 25 man will have more damage and more health to worry about in boss fights and such, and you will get MORE loot drops than the 10 man content does. Also, a raid regardless of being 10 or 25 man, all share the same raid ID and lockout. Do a  25 man version and kill a boss? Cool. Split into two 10 mans of the same thing and that boss is still dead for both groups. You can’t up-convert from 10 to 25, but you can down-size if attendance becomes an issue or some such.

    So this brings up an interesting question for a lot of guilds and raid groups right now. Is it worth it to run 25 man content if the rewards for 10 are the same? Is the extra loot enough of a benefit to keep you raiding in 25 man content or do you give up and just say screw it? I know a lot of guilds are going through this debate right now. I know some of them personally. This happened in a smaller capacity when Wrath was announced to have 10 man content. Some guilds decided the smaller size was for them and paired down into tight-knit, more tactical 10 man groups. So now that the gear is equal level between 10 and 25, aside from quantity, I know many guilds that have weighed the pros and cons of both formats and decided to go for the smaller size.

    My guild Unpossible recently had this discussion. We pulled all of the officers into a private vent chat and hashed it out. it was about even split on the case of 10 vs 25, and there were a lot of good points made. After a good half hour discussion, we decided that we would stay a 25 man raiding guild. Our structure was already in place and had been since the release of Burning Crusade, and it has been stable and working since. We have a dedicated group of raiders who love the group we are in and the dynamic we have going. We also decided that we just felt more comfortable in the 25 man environment.

    For me personally, I voted in favor of keeping the 25 man raid group. I love the logistical challenge of tracking so many players — and yes I know it’s not the 40 man content or raids from vanilla but I served my time in those — and the dynamic we have set up between all the various parts of the raiding group works well together, and I’d hate to break that up. I also didn’t like the idea of balancing multiple 10 man groups. Something I’ve seen over the last few years, people have an easier time being benched for a raid than they do taking part in a raid that is behind another group. I didn’t want to breed an environment of Group A vs Group B and cause any unnecessary drama.

    So with Cataclysm on the horizon, has your guild discussed this at all? Has your raid group decided whether it will raid 10 man or 25 man content? Were you already raiding as a 10 or 25 man group? What do you think the benefits of both are? What about the drawbacks? I’d love to hear your opinions on this and see how the community as a whole has decided.

    Will your guild raid 10 man or 25 man content in Cataclysm?

    • 10 Man / 10 Man Hard Mode (69%, 346 Votes)
    • 25 Man / 25 Man Hard Mode (21%, 103 Votes)
    • Banana (12%, 61 Votes)

    Total Voters: 498

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    Until next time, happy healing!

    Shaman healing so far in Cataclysm

    I’ve been spending as much time as I can in the Cataclysm beta, and trying to maximize as much of my time as possible healing. I mean, after all that’s what I get paid for right?

    You may be asking yourself what this song has to do with this post? Honestly a lot of folks think that shaman healing has gone down hill and have thrown their hands up and walked away. Some of these folks just think healing in general come Cataclysm will be so broken it wont even be worth it. I’m here to assuage at least the shaman portion of that fear.

    Mana and triage

    For as long as shaman have been healing we’ve been a bit of a mana battery. Between our passive regen and our spells and abilities that are geared towards doing nothing but giving us mana back. The problem is that with Wrath most healers were mana batteries. Rarely running out of mana means you can heal almost perpetually through the vast majority of non hard-mode encounters.

    This makes for very boring healing, and that is something that the developers have been trying to tackle for a long time now. With the reduction of mana, and the increase in the cost of several of our healing spells, it forces us to triage our heals and essentially move away from mothering a group. Most people have seen this as a fault of the new healing model. I, however, find it incredibly liberating. Granted shaman have fared better than most other classes in this regard because  we are technically the healing model for cataclysm (or so the blues tell us). We’ve been given the tools to heal effectively, and balanced to a point where we don’t over power every encounter and actively have to pay attention and manage healing spell choices. I don’t run OOM unless people are doing very, very stupid things and I’m forced to compensate (a la a mage hugging a dragon cause he though it was cute and needed a hug).

    Right now if you yell at someone to not “stand in the bad” a lot of the time they will simply ignore you since healers can just dump heals on them and get through the vast majority of effects out there. If you’ve done any PUGing before you’ll have found it at least once. That hunter that doesn’t want to get out of the fire so he can squeeze off a couple more shots to up their DPS while you dump heals on them. They expect it, and if they don’t get it you are instantly a “bad healer”.

    I’ve talked about this on several of my wow.com articles lately, but there is an emphasis on personal accountability. Even if you have the mana to heal someone, they may still die. Pardon my french for a minute here, but bad shit really is bad and players should avoid it at all costs. This includes Tanks and Healers. Doing the dungeon finder in the beta has gotten to a point where players know now they have to manage their own health a little bit, and the curve has gone from nightmare healing to perfectly manageable. If the changes stand and force healers to triage the heals, it will force a shift in the perception of healers. Not saying there wont be players who yell at the healer when they die (those jerks will always exist, sadly) but I think most people will come to stop expecting you to be the only one responsible for their health.

    The impression that I get

    Overall, healing on the shaman in the beta has been some of the most fun I’ve had to date. I absolutely love having to pick which heal is best for the situation and love the fact that not EVERYTHING is about Chain Heal or stacking pure haste. Honestly I think shaman have the perfect number of healing tools to work with in any given fight. Every new ability compliments each other, old abilities have been given just enough of a tweak to make them interesting. Overall it feels fresh, new and exciting.

    I don’t feel over powered, but I do feel capable. I don’t feel like there is anything I can’t do without a little hard work. I still get a twinge at certain bosses in the 5 mans, knowing what they can do and looking at a group composition planning my heals for which ability. It’s exciting and I feel like a tactician rather than a small child playing whack-a-mole at the local carnival being swindled out of my $2. I mean I’ll always be a healer, but it feels like I’m falling in love with it all over again. There’s excitement and consequence and every death isn’t all just on me. I know that priests and shaman have fared better than paladin and druid healers so far, but I think in the end it will balance out and everyone will have as much fun as I do right now.

    In conclusion, at least for shaman, the world is not ending. The sky is not falling, and ultimately we’ll be better off in the end it seems. GO TEAM SPIRIT FINGERS!

    So I’m going to spend my weekend healing 5-mans and recording videos, anything specific you guys want to see from the beta? I’ll do what I can to provide!

    Until next time, Happy Healing!