POLL: Are you switching mains for Cataclysm?

This is a great time for players to ask themselves if they want a chance of pace for Cataclysm. Last year, I wrote a 3 step process to switching mains. It’s still valid.

So my questions to you today:

  • Are you switching mains?
  • To what and why?

As a GM, I’ve the enviable pleasure of combing through the guildies who have expressed interest in main switching. I’ll write a behind the scenes post on that later (when I actually come up with a plan). I’ll do my best to see if I can accommodate it, but I know deep down that I may not be able to approve anyone. There are too many factors to consider. Have they demonstrated their aptitude for playing that class? Do I have someone covering their existing role when they do switch out? I don’t have the authority to tell people what they can or cannot do. In the end, I have to decide whats the appropriate number of classes or roles required for a raid. Obviously, I’m not going to be able to green like 7 players who want to do nothing more than tank. There just wouldn’t be enough jobs to go around. Everything needs to be examined on a case by case basis.

What about for the rest of you GM or officers? How does your guild plan to handle main switching?

Post edited for further clarity

Are you switching mains when Cataclysm is released?

  • Nope! Staying the same! (54%, 246 Votes)
  • Yes, same role but different main! (21%, 94 Votes)
  • Yes, to a DPS role (11%, 52 Votes)
  • Yes, to a healing role (9%, 40 Votes)
  • Yes, to a tanking role (5%, 21 Votes)

Total Voters: 453

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In Defense of the New Tree of Life

In Defense of the New Tree of Life

When Blizzard first announced the changes they were making to Tree of Life in the upcoming expansion, the Druid community experienced its own mini-Cataclysm. The main gripe seems to be more about the loss of another “true” Druid form, than it is about the mechanics of the talent. The reasoning behind the Dev’s decision  is that being one of the maybe two capstone abilities for Resto Druids, Tree of Life was pretty boring. Yes, it gave you a new form, but the benefits of the talent in its Wrath iteration read like a list of lower tier talents. Assuming the math supports the Blue’s statements, the reduced mana and increased healing it offers only bring us in line with other healing classes. Not really the huge benefit you expect from a must have talent.

The new version of Tree of Life as it is in the beta, including the recent announcement that the snare is probably being removed, provides quite a few situational uses for Resto Druids, and makes the talent far more useful and class defining than before. First, lets take a look at what the new talent brings to the table:

Tree of Life:

Shapeshift into the Tree of Life, increasing healing done by 15% and increasing your armor by 120% but reducing your movement speed by 50%. In addition, some of your spells are temporarly enhanced while shapeshifted. Lasts 45 sec. 5 minute cooldown. Enhanced spells: Lifebloom, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, Thorns, Wrath.

Enhanced Spells:

Wild Growth: affects 2 more targets
Regrowth: instant cast
Lifebloom: 2 applications of Lifebloom
Entangling Roots: instant cast and increase damage by 200%
Wrath: cast time reduced by 50% damage increase by 30%
Thorns: not yet implemented

The first change may not be apparent in the tooltip. The 15% increase to healing should be a larger boost than what you are currently seeing in Wrath, due to the fact that Druid healing power is being brought closer in line with the other classes without Tree of Life figured in. Because it is now a cooldown, the healing bonus can have more impact than if it was a passive bonus like the current live version. But the most obvious, and interesting, change is the enhanced spells. Not only do some our healing spells benefit from this, but some Balance spells as well.

Where I think that the new version really shines is how many different uses I can see for it. It truly went from a set it and forget it toggle, to a spell that can give you different advantages depending on when and how you use it. I really see it adding

Playing Catchup

The most obvious way I see Tree of Life being used, is as a way to catch up when massive damage or some other raid situation causes you to fall behind in healing. The ability  to heal extra Wild Growth Targets, complete a 3 stack of Lifebloom much faster, and cast Regrowth instantly, all combine for a very powerful boost to your healing when damage gets out of control. This also seems to apply to both raid and tank healing, assuming Druids are healing in Cataclysm the way the devs have been describing.

Healing On The Move

Druids are already known for being good healers on the move, but this makes us even better. By using this cooldown in high movement situations, you will add Regrowth to your instant cast arsenal, while also increasing the effectiveness of Lifebloom, and hitting more targets with Wild Growth. While the design of Cataclysm raids will determine how often you will use Tree of Life in this manner, I am sure there will be plenty of times that you are the only healer capable of truly healing on the move. This should be a good way to make up for other classes deficiencies in this area.

Damage Boost When You’re Not Healing

One of the design trends for healers in Cataclysm seems to be dealing damage when your not healing. So the bump to a few of our damaging abilities is in interesting touch. Now I am not saying this is an effective use of your cooldown in most raid situations. However, in times in which you outgear content, or in 5 man dungeons where it is not necessary to have the increased healing every boss, this can give us a nice DPS bump. I see this as more of a fun way to use the cooldown, but who knows what Blizz has in mind for the new raids.

Arenas/Battlegrounds

Arguably there is no area of the game better suited for situational abilities than Arenas and Battlegrounds. Where this talent truly benefits you in PVP is with its flexibility. Especially with the removal of the snare component taking away the one drawback that would keep you from using it in PVP. Lots of team members taking damage in a 5v5? Pop it and go to town with your raid healing spells. Someone being focused fired? Use it for the extra boost that can often be the difference between winning and losing. Got that last opponent on the ropes and want to help finish them off? This is a perfect time to cast Tree of Life and spam your enhanced Wrath.

In the end the beauty of the new Tree of Life is all its nuances and flexibility. Find the right time and way to use it will be a challenge at first, but in the long run you will gain far more benefit form it than the current design. As far as the loss of a true Druid form goes: Is it really worth it to lose a great spell, just because we don’t want to heal in our ugly caster forms? I hope the answer for most players is no.

Epiphanize is the co-host of the Raid Warning Podcast and is currently leveling a Druid in the Cataclysm beta as well as playing one as his main.

Without a safety net

Without a safety net

For as long as we play this game, no matter how much changes there are things that will always stay the same. Standing in fire is generally bad (there have been very few exceptions to this and the exception does not make the rule). Cleave and Whirlwind are not things you should stand next to. Don’t break the sheep, and my favorite, always blame the hunters. These are simple truths that we have come to accept as we’ve played the game.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in the Cataclysm beta recently. I’ve leveled Lodur to the current level cap 3 times now (once as resto, once as elemental and finishing out the one as enhancement) and some of these simple truths are being expanded and brought back to the forefront. In Cataclysm, the developers have a goal to make healing harder and more involved. Our healing spells hit for slightly less than one would expect and mana is at a premium.

You see, previously healers have had an excess of mana either through large base mana pools, stacking MP/5 or getting high returns from intellect and talents. With mana flowing like water, healers have been able to compensate to a certain extent for players who “stand in the bad”. Now, it does not mean that no one died. There are still plenty of things that will kill a person flat out if they aren’t paying attention, but some feel that the game has become far more forgiving than it was in the days of Vanilla WoW.

By making healing harder in Cataclysm, they are doing something they moved away from inadvertently over the course of two expansion. They are placing the burden of living squarely on the entire group, and not just leaving it to the healer to be the sole life-line. I’m not saying healers shouldn’t be trying to heal, but rather just stating that the game is changing. Let’s break it down to the core components in play here as provided to us by the developers;

  • Mana is a concern for healers
  • Healers will be focusing more on triage
  • Fights will be longer
  • Situational awareness will be a factor again with a lot of avoidable damage
  • It will be less about brute force and more about survival and finesse

That is just the short list, since things are constantly changing in the beta.

Mana being a concern and the focus being more on triage is a big thing. Right now healing sort of devolves into whack-a-mole frantically trying to keep everyone up. Come cata however, healers will have to make judgment calls as to how to prioritize heals in order to conserve mana and maximize healing benefit to the group.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. In the Throne of Tides (one of the new 5 players dungeons in the next expansion) the very first boss has a spout / geyser like ability that she forms underneath her. The tank and melee need to move out of this before the ability triggers, or they take a lot of damage. Healing this, I had the tank and a rogue stay in the “void zone”. The tank and rogue both took a massive amount of damage. The rogue was JUST far enough away from the tank to be out of Chain Heal range so I had to decide to drop the nuke heal on the tank or the rogue. Needless to say I picked the tank. The rogue died immediately after my heal landed on the tank (1.7 second cast time for those interested). Had either the rogue or the tank moved out of the ability, neither would have died as I wouldn’t have had to decide who got healed and who did not. A little situational awareness would have gone a long way here.  The boss also spawns adds that need to be tanked and dealt with. One of the ranged wasn’t paying attention and wound up proximity aggro-ing two of the mobs and he was dead before I could even cast a single heal on him. We wiped it after that and tried again, but you can see how paying attention counts for a lot there.

This same fight, at about the 2 minute mark I noticed my mana reserves getting low. The damage throughout the fight was pretty steady, but people not paying attention caused me to burn a lot more heals than I would have liked. The fight in total lasted about 4 minutes or so, but in that 4 minutes I had burned a mana potion, my Mana Tide Totem and ended the fight with around 5% mana. It was a bit of an eye opener. I was forced to figure out which heal was appropriate for what damage in order to conserve as much mana as possible, and had to make decisions on when it was safe to let the tank take a couple extra hits before casting a heal. Spam healing to keep everyone at max just doesn’t work anymore.  Keep in mind this is a normal 5 man dungeon not heroic, and I entered this with ilvl264/277 ICC25 gear. It was refreshing and scary, but not at all impossible. Now this will likely change in the raiding end game, but I wonder how much. The encounters in normal dungeons are already shaping up to be more involved than being simple tank-and-spanks, and one can only hope that the learning curve for endgame will continue along that path rather than decline. After my first run though it got easier, and I ended with more mana, but that is in part because the groups did everything they could to avoid damage and make my job easier. That in turn made it easier to heal through the “oh shit” moments.

Now, what does this have to do with non healers? Well to get to the point of my post, my guild constantly reminds players to “help your healers out”. This means avoiding the bad (looking at you here defile!). We expect the healers to heal and do their jobs well, but we expect all the other players to help themselves stay alive. Use potions or health stones, move out of fire, run to your linked partners on Blood Queen, stay vigilant and react quickly. This is not an uncommon sentiment, but some people seem to think they can stand in the fire and squeeze out one more attack while the healer keeps them up. In Cataclysm if you aren’t paying attention and don’t react to the bad things happening around you, it is very likely you are going to die regardless of how skilled your healer is. With all this going on, it becomes more about surviving for as long as possible in a fight. After all you can’t DPS if you’re dead right? So this means when you see a Healing Rain or Lightwell going down, it will be your responsibility to get to it as much as it is the responsibility of the healer to make sure it is placed optimally. It means managing your threat to make sure you don’t gank and doing things to keep the damage you take at a minimal level even if it means stopping what you’re doing for a few moments to stay alive. You will need to do it. It really seems to be shaping up to have more individual accountability by virtue of taking away what I like to call the “Healer Safety-Net”.

If the trend continues into raids, healers simply will not be able to compensate for bad decisions or poor situational awareness. They wont be able to heal through all the damage being done. Instead it will take coordination of the entire group, people paying attention to their environment and an understanding that the game has become dangerous again. We’ve gone from killing boars to resurrecting gods. The stakes have been raised and we will all have to adapt.

So remember to help your healers out, because it looks like that safety net is going away.

Leveling a Resto Druid in Cataclysm – Part I

Leveling a Resto Druid in Cataclysm – Part I

Epiphanize is the co-host of the Raid Warning Podcast and is currently leveling a Druid in the Cataclysm beta as well as playing one as his main.

With two new races to choose from as well as a new, improved leveling experience, there are going to be a lot of new Druids come Cataclysm. From revised abilities, to the new specialization system, starting a new Resto Druid is going to be far different than it is currently in Wrath. In this series, I am going to cover how things have changed leveling a Resto Druid, starting with level 10.

Specialization

The biggest change for low level players is the specialization system. At level 10, you will be asked to choose one of your 3 talent  trees. This is where you will place at least 31 of your talent points, as you can not unlock any other trees until you’ve spent 31 points in your specialization tree. Upon choosing this specialization, you will be granted an ability geared towards your spec, as well as two passive bonuses. As a Resto Druid your granted ability will be Swiftmend. Previously available at level 40,  Swiftmend will drastically change how you heal at lower levels. At level 10, it heals for 204 hit points, costs 14 mana, and has a 15 second cooldown.

Along with Swiftmend, you are also granted 2 passive abilities as a Resto Druid. The first is Meditation, which similar to its  predecessor Intensity, allows you to regen mana at 50% of your normal rate while casting. Your second passive ability is simply called Restoration Druid, and reduces the pushback suffered while casting Healing Touch, Regrowth, Tranquility, Rebirth, and  Nourish. This is similar to the old Tier 1 talent Nature’s Focus, but adds Rebirth to the mix. Even at level 10, I believe Blizzard  has succeeded in making you feel more like a Resto Druid than before Cataclysm. These two passive abilities cost 3 talent points each, with Meditation unable to be maxed out until level 22.

The Rest Of Your Toolbox

Along with these bonuses is your normal toolbox that includes Rejuvenation, Healing Touch, and Swiftmend. This gives you a well-rounded toolbox for a low level healer. 1 HoT, 1 big heal, and 1 emergency heal. I am pretty excited that Blizzard decided to teach low level druids the Swiftmend mechanic, as it is not available to the other healing classes. Overall, it looks like Blizzard is succeeding in simultaneously improving the leveling experience, while teaching Resto Druids how to use some of the more advanced abilities they will need when raiding. Even at this low level, you should start being able to get a good feel for tank healing in 5 mans, as well as have the added benefit of not running out of mana every pull while leveling thanks to Meditation.

In the next part of this series I will be taking a look at the next major leveling milestone, The Looking For Dungeon Tool, and how these changes affect Resto Druids healing low level dungeons.

What Did You Want? Future of Healing Assignments – Part 1

What Did You Want? Future of Healing Assignments – Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I gave you all a quest – what did you want me to write about. A fair number of you responded to the quest and Jooles completed it by way of winning my RNG ingame /roll. So now here I am, a giant oversized owl ready to hand over the quest reward with a yellow question mark ruffling my ear feathers. Which, let me tell you, does nothing to help the usually-aggrieved furrow of a boomkin’s brow.

Joole’s question was this:

The future of healing assignments. Have they gone the way of crowd control due to smart heals and class pigeon-holing? Is it Paladins heal tanks, Shammy’s heal melee, Priests + Druids heal raid forever or is this going to change in Cataclysm? Which way are Disc priests going to go?

With four healing classes to look at and changes happening all the time in beta it’s taken a brief spell to get going on this. This ‘ere is the first of a two-post answer. I’m not stumping up precisely calculated answers; with things not nailed down in beta I’d have to be a physic owl to do so. Which I’m really not, given I can’t remember what I had for dinner tonight and I’m not playing in the beta.

I am looking at the beta information for healing classes and talking about the picture it gives me of their healing style. I’ll look at two classes a week and include a summary of my predictions for healing assignments at the end of the second post.

So without further ado, let’s have a look at Cataclysmic druids and paladins.

Druids:

Anyone got an axe? Tree druids are going to be split into two camps. Blizzard have said they want the difference between a druid’s direct healing spells and their HoTs to be more noticeable, and boy, are we going to notice it.

Tree druids are losing the permanence of tree form but gaining the ability to tank-heal more seriously. At least that’s what Blizzard want: according to blue posts they want trees to be capable tank healers who can spot heal when the going gets tough. But I foresee it not quite playing out like that in healing assignments.

Sure, druids are going to be able to keep tanks up.

But they’re also going to be your “oh nitwibble” guy when things go wrong. Given that we know there’s going to be more damage flying around affecting everyone in the group and that druids’ tree form is going to be the “it’s all gone wrong and I need to pump out extra healing for a bit” cooldown, you’re going to need someone who waits for those “oh nitwibble we’re all dying” times and reacts the second it hits.

Your tree druid is the guy breaking out the roots for the extra healing when everyone’s taking more damage. He’ll stand there (with the current speed penalty to tree form he’s not going anywhere if things are that bad) madly spamming HoTs, the effectiveness of which now scales the more injured the target is, on the group when things go wrong. Not to mention the new talent “efflorescence” which spawns a patch of healing flowers underneath the recipient of a critical-hit Regrowth. So while your druid’s standing there setting his limbs on fire spamming HoTs, the rest of the group could be running madly to stand in the good stuff on the floor. I can hear it now – raid leaders yelling “things are going to piffle! Go stand in the healing fauna!”

Which is a little worrying to my mind. I have a feeling trees won’t be able to be both your tank healer and your “oh nitwibble guy” given healers are going to have less mana. You’re going to have to choose between the tree who heals your tank and the tree who stems the mass-damage spike. Given that Blizzard are trying to homogenize the healers so we can all handle 10 and 25 man content, I’m a little worried that tree druids are going to be irreplaceable.

Paladins:

I can see the paladin running around. Groans from paladins, eh? Hear me out.

First of all, holy paladins are going to need to accrue globules of this new ‘Holy Power’ combo-point like thing. Holy paladins can do this three ways; their primary is by healing (duh). Specifically, by using Holy Shock or healing their Beacon of Light target if they’re talented into Tower of Radience.

Sure they can stand anywhere to use this, but Holy Shock has a 6 second cooldown and healing their beacon target might not always be the smartest move. Maybe the beacon target doesn’t need healing, or maybe it’s more mana efficient to get Holy Power another way rather than casting a heal right this second. So a a secondary Holy Power gatherer they can also stick Crusader Strike up on something, which requires Mr. Holy to be doing the hokee-kokee into melee range.

Now, Blizzard have said flat out they’re trying to remove the “tank healer” label from paladins, though it’s stuck so well they’ve had to scrape it off with new tools in the holy toolbox. So how to make the paladins less like a tank healer?

They’ve given them AoE capability. What with the new “Healing Hands” and talent-based “Light of Dawn” AoE cone/wave heal, paladins could find themselves on their toes. Popping Healing Hands will allow paladins to act like a sparkly version of Healing Spring totem, giving out a short range aura-like AoE heal and “Light of Dawn” could be useful for both clusters of melee and slightly more spread out ranged, depending on your positioning relative to them.

So holy paladins might be donning the headless chicken suit to run around and AoE/aura heal. They’ll need to be spacially aware at all times of who’s standing where so that if they want to use “Light of Dawn” on a few ranged they have to stand a distance away to catch everyone in the cone. Want to use “Healing hands”? Go near the people who need it. Need more Holy Power but can’t heal to get it? Run into melee and stick up Crusader Strike.

 

To my mind druids and paladins are going to be shaken up. Possibly even mixed up, as if we put on the over-generalization goggles for a moment it looks like they’re swapping some of their current iconic roles of trees running around, paladins being the big healers.

Having recently started playing a paladin I’m somewhere between excitement and terror that they’re getting yet more bells and whistles. Druids might not getting that much, but it looks like they don’t need new spells for their role to be flexible. That’s either quite admirable or a tad worrying.

What do you think? Do you see druids and paladins completely differently, or has this opened up new ideas for what Cataclysm will look like?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my website MMO Melting Pot here and my twitter feed here.

Article image courtesy of Chris Campbell @ flickr

Another Battle Rez?

In my morning perusal of MMO-Champion, I came across a Blue Post from our friendly neighborhood crab (AKA Ghostcrawler) about the mandatory nature of Shamans. You can read the whole post if you like, since there are some compelling arguments on both sides.  However, I want to draw your attention to one specific part that caught my eye:

For now, in Cataclysm, we are just sharing even more of the buffs and debuffs across a wide gamut, especially very powerful ones like Bloodlust and Battle Rez,….

Say what now?!! We can all agree that Rebirth is a very nice ability to have in progression fights. It’s the only ability to bring someone else back to life in the middle of combat. Sure, Shamans have Reincarnation, but Rebirth allows any class to return to the land of the living.

Even our beloved Goblin Jumper Cables XL lack the ability to rez in combat.

Another Battle Rez?! What an awesome addition, if you ask me. Especially if the intent is to make 10man raids more appealing. There won’t be a need to stack druids on harder fights where a lot of people are “off’ed”. Take a look at a couple other skills that are being shared:

Who is going to get it, though? The new class abilities show no sign of another in-combat resurrection, even amongst non-healing classes. Will it be something that can be learned like the Jumper Cables? Or will it be assigned to one specific class? With the latest tweaks to Guild Perks, we can’t expect it to be one of those. Blizzard doesn’t want those to be game-changing abilities.

So, who do you think it will be?

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

Configuring the Healing UI: What’s on Your Wishlist?

Configuring the Healing UI: What’s on Your Wishlist?

You can see elements of the default healing UI in place in a recent post. A number of you asked what the configuration window for it was like.

Don’t laugh.

Here it is.

healing-ui-config

Yeah, that’s it.

I should also add that it’s certainly possible to drag it the frames around. I can’t seem to find a way to lock it but maybe that’s a user error.

You’ll notice a c heck box that says Keep Groups Together.

Unchecked, it allows you to sort groups by role, group or name.

Now I don’t expect the default interface to outright replace addons like our beloved Vuhdo or Grid. But I do believe there are some aspects of it that could use additional improvement. It’s important to discern between must have and nice to have but can probably heal without it type changes.

  • I’ve already mentioned the need for clearer debuffs to appear on the frames
  • Resizeable bars would be excellent to have because not everyone plays on the same setup
  • Customizable energy bars. I don’t need to see rage, focus, or energy bars but I do need to see mana bars of other players (healers specifically)

What about you? What would you like to see added? What do you think is important to have on your healing UI? What can you get away without having?

Cataclysm: The updated healing UI

Cataclysm: The updated healing UI

Spoiler warning (As if the title didn’t give it away)

Check out the updated default healing UI. Yes, this is the default UI. As in, the interface you get without any customization whatsoever. I queued randomly into Blackrock Caverns (took a while, but I managed to get in).

WoWScrnShot_073110_164355

What you see right now is actually the raid frames, not the party frames. I didn’t switch to party frames yet (I prefer my raid UI for everything and this is as close as I can get to it). First thing you’ll see is that the top left of each player has a little role icon.

Never again will I ever see the question “Who are the tanks?”

At least, I hope.

And yes, the red frame highlight shows who currently has aggro.

Yellow frame shows who I currently have selected. You can also move the frames around. I haven’t found out how to lock it in place yet.

WoWScrnShot_073110_164409

Now we’ve got some more action going on here. The healing combat text hasn’t changed much. My personal Renews appear on the bottom right. Haven’t shielded anyone yet.

If you look carefully at our tank, you can see a Frostbolt icon on the bottom left. I almost missed it. Things like debuffs that can be removed need to be made a lot more noticeable.

WoWScrnShot_073110_164309

Green bar shows approximate incoming heal amount.  I don’t know if that’s before or after any type of Mortal Strike debuffs or healing buffs.

That’s it for shots since I’m too busy trying to keep the group alive (Prayer of Healing was the next spell cast, believe me).

Then we wipe because I cast Guardian Spirit on the wrong Pally when some Ogres and stuff wander into us.

EDIT – Back in. Here’s more:

WoWScrnShot_073110_171750

Something that needs to improve on is the dispelling interface. It’s really hard to notice. You have to mouse over it in order to see what type of debuff it is. In the shot below, you can see a little red skull icon on the top right denoting a disease. The actual disease icon is then on the bottom left where you can mouse over and see what it actually is.

WoWScrnShot_073110_172054

I think a better solution would be to fill the entire player frame with the appropriate dispel color which states what type of debuff it is.

For example, if I get  hit with a Frostbolt, my background color could fill with a gradient blue which overrides my normal class color of white. That would make it extremely obvious I have a debuff. The actual debuff icon could still be on the bottom left.

Definitely very cool though.

Thoughts? If this continues to get developed and streamlined further, I might not have to use custom raid frames anymore.

An Instance of Fail

An Instance of Fail

**Image courtesy of Universal Studios**

Matt’s note: After an actual good night’s sleep and further deliberation, I’ve exercised editorial control and removed the quote that was at the end of post as I determined it was unnecessary. The team remains committed to delivering honest and thoughtful opinion on the subject and content around the community, and it is never our intention to go after individuals.

I, like a good number of people that I play with, listen to The Instance, a WoW-based podcast featuring Scott Johnson and Randy Deluxe.  They’re an incredibly entertaining duo, and their show is produced remarkably well. Since their fame, they’ve been able to amass the largest guild in WoW, A.I.E., a Horde fan-guild on Earthen Ring.

Needless to say, they’ve developed quite a following. They score interviews with members of the Blizzard staff, host their own Nerdtacular Expo, and have even coined the famous “Obey Henry!” (a reference to Scott’s Hunter pet) phrase on bumper stickers and websites. They’ve got sponsors galore, and it shows.

A lot of people have been given the oppotunity to contribute to the success of “The Instance”, via the podcast or their blog.  Because of the “bragging rights” that come along with such an honor, it’s expected that people probably flock to get a chance.

Well, just because you get the chance, doesn’t mean you should take it.  Living in downtown Chicago, I have the chance to jump off bridges into the water below. Doesn’t mean that it’s a smart idea.

The Culprit

I try to keep a good grasp on what blogs are out in the WoW world.  A lot of us on Twitter are really good about tweeting and re-tweeting blogs that we think are relevant. I find some great articles that way, and some real duds.  That’s what brings me to “The Instance”.

I came across an article posted by someone named Dills. I checked out some of his posting history. He seems like a fairly new blogger. His posts are succinct (good), and touch on relevant topics (also good). The article I read, however, hurt my soul.

In the “calm before the storm”, we’re learning what spells are going by the wayside.  Some spells like Sentry Totem are easily justified. Their mechanics make no sense. Other spells however, will make a lot of us shed a tear upon their departure. Dills, lacking the eloquence he usually displays, delves into his opinions of what should be on the chopping block.

First Offense

Although in the healing community we beg for the repair of our beloved Lightwell, Dills calls for its demise. It’s not really the call for the demise that bothers me as much as the poor thinking that it’s derived from:

The idea is not horrible but in today’s raiding environment does anyone have time to stop their rotation for a moment to click on something for a heal?  I know when I’m dpsing or tanking the last thing I want to think about is healing.

Wrong, sir. When you gear your tank to 540 Defense (or spec into Survival of the Fittest), you’re thinking about healing. When you gather your 251+ gear for your tanking set, you’re thinking about healing. If you’re NOT thinking about healing when you’re going through your “rotation”, then you’re just a bad DPS.  It is every raid member’s responsibility to contribute to the raid as a group effort. This is why one of the quintessential rules of WoW is:

  • Don’t stand in the bad; Do stand in the good.

When you stand in the good, you’re not just “upping your numbers”, you’re assuring that the fight will progress quickly so the healers won’t run out of mana.  With Blizzard’s desire to make mana an issue for healers, this will become paramount.  When you avoid standing in the bad, you’re doing the exact same thing by saving the heals for those that really need it.

But wait!! There’s more!

That’s what the healer is for.  I’ve got a great idea.  How about we put a little Shadowwell on the ground and the healers can click on it to dps things?  Dumb right?  Right.

Wrong again, sir.  Wrong.  How many times have you been working on a progression boss and you hit that last 5% with an imminent enrage timer, then wipe?  I’m willing to bet money that part of the reason you got to that 5% in the first place is because of your healer(s) Smite-ing/HolyShock-ing/LightningBolt-ing/Wrath-ing the boss when they had the global cooldowns to spare.  I can’t tell you how many times when I raided with Lodur’s guild that the whole raid (healers included) threw everything they had at a boss in the final 10%.  I’ll use Blood Queen Lana’thel as an example. One attempt ended in our guild first, with only 2 people alive, the other 23 dead. Healers DPS’d the boss, too. “That’s what the DPS is for,” right? So does that mean the DPS wasn’t doing their job? Nope. We succeeded, which means the raid did it’s job.

Secondly, it’s obvious that Dills hasn’t been following the new game mechanics, namely that Healers will be nudged to DPS in order to regen mana. In the current build, Priests have the following talents:

  • Evangelism – When you cast Smite, you gain Evangelism increasing damage done by your Smite, Holy Nova, Holy Fire, and Penance spells by 4% and reduces the mana cost of those spells by 6% for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.
  • Archangel – Consumes your Evangelism effect, instantly restoring 3% of your total mana, and increases your healing done by 3% for each stack.
  • Atonement – When you deal damage with Smite, you instantly heal a nearby low health friendly target within 8 yards equal to 15% of the damage dealt.

So, sir. If we can DPS the boss, you can help with healing.

Second Offense

Although Amplify/Dampen Magic is getting tossed onto the cutting room floor, Dills seems to think it’s welcome. His primary reasoning:

I know, we use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang fight.  I’m aware of that.  However; one fight does not make a spell useful or necessary.

How about Valithria Dreamwalker? Ever think about throwing Amplify Magic on her? And Dampen Magic, what about throwing that on your ranged tank in Blood Prince Council? I can think of a myriad of ways that this can be used on a case-by-case basis. Just because it’s not mandatory for each fight doesn’t mean that it deserves to go away.

More you ask? Sure…

I also don’t know a single Mage who is excited when I remind them to please “give amp magic to the raid please”.  They all have the same reaction, “Ugh”.

Wrong, sir. Any mage worth running with (in my opinion), is more than willing to buff the raid, if it’s necessary  or will aid in getting that solid kill.  To any player that gripes and groans because they have to buff the raid, I tell them essentially what they’re saying is “Oh noes! I have to give the raid a (possibly) better chance at downing this boss! /cry”.  It is these people that I don’t like playing with.  Our mage (also our DPS captain) always looks to see what little things the DPS can do to help out the rest of the team.

Three Strikes; You’re Out!

Last, but not least, Dills brings up Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. These are spells that I’ve become quickly familiar with through my raiding days.  Remember when CC used to be essential to getting through a raid?  Remember packs of mobs that needed to be Slept, Sheeped, Sapped, Hexed, Repented, etc? Does anyone recall Blizzard saying they’d like to see CC brought back in? I do. I welcome it. It actually makes it more interesting than “nuke da mobz wit aoe”. Let’s start at the top:

Priests can Mind Soothe which I guess could be useful while questing but if you can’t kill a mob reliably you got bigger problems than Mind Soothe can fix.

Dills, did you read the spell? Mind Soothe has no impact on the level of damage a Humanoid mob takes. It reduces the aggro range that the mob can detect you. For leveling, this means you can Mind Soothe a mob to grab that quest item you need. For dungeons, it’ll help you sneak by that one mob patrolling right near you or near a party member that was lagging behind.

I’ve heard of Priests using Mind Soothe on the Instructor Razuvious fight but I admit I have never confirmed that it really works.

Here’s some confirmation for you. In the Razuvious 25man fight, you need two priests to Mind Control.  Without Mind Soothe, they have to mash the Mind Control button as fast as they can to grab hold of the Understudies.  Why? Because when the Priest gets into range to cast the spell, he’s already in the Understudy’s aggro range. The mob starts running at the Priest, alerting the other students (and Razuvious) that he’s there. If the tank’s not fast enough, or the other Priest can’t get off Mind Control on time, the Priest is dead.

Now, with Mind Soothe, the Priest settles into this spot, casts Mind Control with ease, and there’s no mad dash to get it done. The tank can run in and get aggro on the other Understudies without fear of them charging after the Priests.

This works for any time you have to set up CC assignments before a pull. With the need for CC coming back stronger in Cataclysm, you’re gonna need Mind Soothe until you really outgear the content.  And guess what? Soothe Animal is the exact same thing, except for Beasts and Dragonkin!

I do like the idea of these spells upping the targets vulnerability to other spells though.

Where, oh where, did you even get that from the tooltips of those spells?  How does “reduces the range” mean “makes more vulnerable”?  Both of those spells are designed to help prevent face-pulling mobs by anyone other than the tank.

Head to the Dugout

In the end of Dills’s post, he says:

Leave a comment with any spells you hate or think should change or tell me how wrong my analysis is.

Gladly, sir. Let me say first that anyone is more than welcome to have their opinion. I encourage it. However, make sure you know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth if you’re looking to spur a debate. The examples provided above show a poor thought process on your part.

Your thoughts on how healing is “not your job” is an insult to the people you depend on to keep you alive. It is your duty to make sure the raid succeeds, however you can contribute to it.

The ability to think outside the box on certain spells is something I highly recommend checking out. Simply because one raid leader said to use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang encounter doesn’t make it useless everywhere else. You’ve got raiders that groan at increasing chances of success? Get new raiders.

I can certainly say that I don’t like apples because they’re fuzzy and blue and taste like feet.  You’d say I have no idea what an apple is. That’s my opinion of you regarding Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. Try Soothe Animal in Ruby Sanctum. You may be surprised.

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

Holy Power and More for the Post-Cataclysmic Paladin

Holy Power and More for the Post-Cataclysmic Paladin

Please give a warm World of Matticus welcome to guest-blogger Ophelie, and remember to visit Bossy Pally for more great Paladin posts!

I came home from a weekend in the wilderness to discover my class turned upside down. That’s what happens when you spend two days and a night in the middle of nowhere without internet. You come back and you’re lost.

As I was scrambling to piece together the bits of news, Matt suggested I guest post about it. Guest post about the paladin news, of course, not my scrambling. So I did what I always do when having to talk about Cataclysm news. I grabbed a pen, some paper and called up Google.

And if that wasn’t enough, a new beta build was released between then and now, just for confusion purposes.

So…here’s what I found out, and there’s what I think of it all.

Apparently, last Friday there was a certain Twitter Developer Chat. Apparently, some paladiny stuff was said. Apparently, it was stuff like:

All of the paladin specializations will make use of a new resource called Holy Power. Holy Power accumulates from using Crusader Strike, Holy Shock, and some other talents. Holy Power can be consumed to augment a variety of abilities, including:

An instant mana-free heal: Word of Glory
A buff to increase holy damage done: Inquisition
A massive physical melee attack for Retribution paladins: Templar’s Verdict
Holy Shield’s duration is now extended by Holy Power
Divine Storm’s damage is now increased by Holy Power

We also introduced several new heals for Holy Paladins including Healing Hands (an AoE heal-over-time that is applied to all players standing near the paladin), Light of Dawn (a cone heal with a 30-yard range), as well as a new heal called Divine Light, which is similar to a priest’s Greater Heal, and the new instant heal mentioned above, Word of Glory.

As for the release of new talents builds, for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to witness them first hand, here’s a link to the MMO Champion version.

I’m going to stick with the holy side of the things, because I’m primarily a healer and this, after all, is primarily a healing blog. I’m also going to stick with the big picture and what stood out to me. I figure anyone who really cares about the nitty gritty details has already read (if not tested) them anyway.

Back to the dev chat news, in other words, we get a new bar (like a health or mana bar, and yes it’s currently supposed to be an actual bar and not cute circles on our screen) to record stacked up combo-like points as we cast Holy Shock, as we directly heal our Beacon target (via the Tower of Radiance talent) and possibly as we do other things. We’re then given Word of Glory, a get-out-of-jail free card for when there’s need to fill in one of the gaps caused by Holy Shock cooldowns.

More Bars, More Bars!

When I first heard of a Holy Power bar, I froze for a second, worried that my mana bar was being replaced. But no, they’re actually adding a new bar and not removing old bars. I like that. It gives us something else to keep our eyes on and to make the mental hamster run faster. It’s not too complex, after all, last I heard, Holy Power only stacked up to 3. 3 points is totally something I can keep track of.

Forcing us to use Holy Shock regularly, keeping track of Holy Power stacks and deciding when to use a finishing move is a small but welcome addition to the holy paladin thought process.

EDIT : In the comments, Esh, who’s been playing in the beta, reported that Holy Power is actually a buff icon and not a bar, at least at lower levels. It’s been assumed that Holy Power would be a bar due to a post by Ghostcrawler, but a buff icon certainly makes more sense.

Holy Shock: A Love Story

Personal confession time: I love Holy Shock. I’ve always loved Holy Shock. Holy Shock and I go way back. Holy Shock was the whole reason I specced Holy in the first place (hey I was new to the game and didn’t realize there were more efficient ways to deal damage). Though I eventually discovered it wasn’t the wonderful spell I had imagined, it’s still been there for me through all the hard times. Whenever I needed to quickly save someone without abandoning the tanks, it didn’t hesitate. It was my companion during all those ICC fights that had me casting and running (and cursing!) at the same time.  It listened to all my problems and never laughed at me… Erm. Moving on.

In one sentence, it should come as no surprised that I’m thrilled to see Holy Shock finally getting the game mechanics buff it deserves.

Oh, and if adding importance to Holy Shock wasn’t enough, its mana cost is brought down to 8% from 18% and it helps with all the slow casting via the talents Infusion of Light and Speed of Light, somewhat replacing the current Light’s Grace.

There’s also a new spell, Holy Mending, that gives Holy Shock a small heal over time. 15% of a Holy Shock over 9 seconds seems a little silly, but, um, you know, at least they’re trying.

EDIT: Ryonar left an excellent comment that is unfortunately stuck in pending comment limbo. He pointed out that Holy Mending is already in the game: it’s the tier 8 2p bonus. The MMO Champion Paladin page makes it look like a skill trainable at level 80. It either a bug, or it’s becoming a permanent skill in the expansion.

Addressing the Movement Issue

Remember what I said about casting and running at the same time?

Sorry, I couldn’t heal I was moving.”

How often has an embarrassed paladin said that following a premature tank death? (There’s also the slightly more disturbing “sorry, I couldn’t move I was healing”.)

To me, the new emphasis placed on Holy Shock, and the addition of Word of Glory, another instant heal, looks like an attempt to make movement more manageable. I’m curious to see how much assistance the final mechanics of Healing Hands and Light of Dawn end up providing to the current movement impaired paladin. As of now, both are instant and both seem to allow movement during the spell effect.

Healing Hands even increases movement speed by up to 60% when talented into Speed of Light. Being someone who staged a large protest when she couldn’t fit Pursuit of Justice into all her paladin specs, my stomach did summersaults when I discovers the good news.

Feelin’ Like a Paladin

Like druid healers and their tree forms, like shamans with their skirts, like priests with, um, whatever is meaningful to priests (normally I’d make a joke about priests always being dead, but for some reason, it feels like a bad idea to do that here), us paladins have a sense of identity too.

In our history, we’ve been blasphemized. We’ve been forced to wear certain pieces of mail gear because it was better itemized than plate. (Min/maxers even went as far as equipping the Meteor Chaser’s Raiment, which is made of toilet paper, of all things). Again and again, we’ve been sent to the back of the room with all the casters. Many of us were even deprived of shields, resigning ourselves to carrying orbs or lamps in our off-hands. The horrors just never end.

On top of it all, Cataclysm promises to lessen the differences between the healing classes, in an effort to promote Blizzard’s “blame the player not the class” campaign (or was it, “bring the player, not the class”? I can never get it straight.)

But you know what?

I’m ok with it.

Seriously. Healing Hands and Light of Dawn introduce some multi-target healing beyond the limitations of Beacon of Light and Glyph of Holy Light. Healing Hands and Holy Mending/Holy Shock also flirt with heals over time, another element lacking in paladin healing.

Yet, while the end results are similar from one class to another, our ways to reach those ends are tailored to our unique paladin interests (special little snowflakes that we are). The mechanics of our new spells encourage us to get up close and personal (hopefully, my stubborn plate wearing tendencies will finally be useful) and Holy Power…

Ah! Holy Power!

I can just picture my little paladin puffing up with zealousness as she casts, then unleashing it all in one blow.

Oh, and yes, I do agree with Rohan and a number of others in their preference for the term Zeal. The concept of Holy Power is terrific, the name Holy Power, however, makes me think of energy drinks.

But you know that when we’ve reduced ourselves to complaining about semantics, we’re finally getting some pretty promising Cataclysm news.