11 PTR Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

11 PTR Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

My challenge mode group scored Gold on Temple of the Jade Serpent with 8 seconds left to go on the clock. Yay! We’ll be entering Mogushan Palace next week. I can smell that delicious transmog coming soon.

The public test realms for patch 5.2 have been open for a while now. Raid testing has been sporadic but ongoing throughout the past few weeks with a few boss previews already completed. There are sessions where I end up with excellent testing groups and other days where I just want to throw my hands up in the air and go “Why bother?”. For example, I was in a group where one of the players refused to get Ventrilo because Mumble was far superior and was adamant about it. Another player left after 10 minutes because they had a live raid. Raid testing periods are usually available for a limited time only so every minute spent looking for replacements is time spent not checking out the new encounters.

I love the test realms. There are no boss videos. There’s no WoWhead comments to peruse. There’s no strategies on Icy Veins. Everyone starts on equal footing. Everyone is given a chance to “solve” the mechanics of the raid boss. You know just as much about the fights as the server first realms on your realm.

It’s just you and your wits.

That’s why I love the public test realms. I can never compete at the world stage. But being on the PTR gives me a small thrill and a glimpse of what it’s like to figure this stuff on my own without having to rely on anyone else.

That being said, there’s a few things I want to suggest to you if this is something you seriously want to do. In order to minimize downtime, reduce your own frustrations and seriously contribute to testing, follow the list:

  • Impatience: I’ve been in groups where right after the first wipe, a player leaves after callously throwing out “u guys are bad”. It’s the test realm. We’re learning this stuff now so we’ll have an easier time with it later. Be prepared to wipe.
  • Approaching with a negative mentality: Go in there with a sense of wonder. Keep an open mind. Be surprised. Feel awe at your experiences. Don’t be afraid to try new tactics and strategy if what you have isn’t working.
  • Testing when you have other things to do: Raid testing usually occurs anywhere between an hour to three hours. Make sure you allocate your time accordingly. If you’re too busy because you have errands or a live raid to do, tell your group ahead of time so they can prepare to bring a sub in for you when you leave!
  • Not bringing consumables: You don’t even have to farm on the PTR. Just make a premade character matching your main and then mail the potions and flasks from that character to the character you plan to test with. Instant food, flasks, and potions!
  • Not knowing where the testing areas are: This is the most basic of information. It’s usually posted in the blue posts. Or you can go around a little earlier prior to raid testing and explore a bit – You know, what we did in the old days! getting added to the group 5 minutes after raid testing start and then asking how to get to the island and where the instance isn’t going to look good. That raid group can find a replacement outside the instance as there’s always people waiting to sub in for random groups.
  • Logging in late: Raid testing starting at 10 AM? You better login at 930 and start hunting for a group. The earlier you go in, the better the odds you have for getting into groups that are forming.
  • Not knowing what’s going on: We have a dungeon journal now. Gone are the days of wiping multiple times in order to figure out what the exact boss abilities are. We’re much better equipped to find out what attacks and spells bosses will bring to bear against us. This then frees us up to start planning tactics to counter the abilities and how we should setup our raid positioning.
  • Having a ton of addons installed: For many of us it’s difficult to play with the default UI. I had to spend a good half an hour remapping all my keys. I spent another 5 minutes adjusting my raid frames. I felt I was severely diminished without the use of timers. Eventually, I settled on Ellipsis. That’s the only addon I have installed right now to help me track my Shadow DoTs. Using your full live UI might not be a good idea because it could break at anytime and compromise your raid testing group
  • Having one (or no) voice clients installed: You should have both Ventrilo and Mumble installed and configured. These encounters offer an added levels of complexity and voice chat is a necessity. You’ll find groups that only have Ventrilo or only use Mumble. You don’t want to be that guy that has to keep the group waiting while you download and setup the client that you don’t have installed. You might end up finding yourself dropped from the group if they find someone else that’s already prepared with the right client they use.
  • No enchants or gems: This is usually applicable to premade characters as it’s expected your main is ready to go. I had to enchant and cut my gems throughout one of my earlier testing sessions because I completely forgot about it. I was woefully unprepared. As we were wiping and getting ready for the next pulls, I would frantically throw whatever enchants on my gear until the pull. I kept doing this until I was as happy with my gear as I could be. I don’t think anyone noticed but that sure would’ve been embarrassing trying to explain it!
  • Not give the developers your feedback: Even a simple “Holy crap, this is awesome” is nice. It’s an affirmation to them that they’re doing the right thing. However, if you can afford to be more specific, you should. Comment on how your class or role feels responding to various attacks and abilities. Talk about the damage that’s coming in or going out. Does the enrage timer feel too tight? Is it too easy? Everyone’s gear is normalized up to 502 but it doesn’t mean it’s going to get reduced down to it so do keep that in mind. How do boss abilities look to you? Does the raid wipe mechanic actually look like it’s going to crush your whole raid or does it need more punch? Details will allow them to make the best possible decisions before patches go live.

Lastly, knock yourself out and try to have a good time. You’re seeing a preview of this content in it’s unfinished form. Usually maps or certain labels aren’t there (Remember the doodad door from Naxxramas?). It’s all exciting stuff and I can’t wait for this patch! So much to do and so many new bosses to crush!

If you’re interested in a preview of what to expect, you can check out my impressions on WoW Insider of both Horridon and Iron Qon.

Healing Ulduar: Freya

Healing Ulduar: Freya

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For other bosses in Ulduar, check the Ulduar Healing Strategy Page

Freya offers everything a healing druid could ever want: pretty flowers, sparkly green trees, gnarled ents, angry seed bombs, and even friendly mushrooms of safety. This boss fight is a colorful, chaotic miscellany that asks healers to use all of their skills without overtaxing them in any one area. When you take on Freya, be prepared to react to whatever her tree-friends throw at you next. Keep reading for a healing-oriented rundown of her abilities.

The Pull

Conquest wiped this weekend in our 10 man because Yogi Ragadast, our bear tank, decided to eat a pickinick right in the middle of Freya’s patrol path. Beware that this guardian of the forest ranges far. Ideally, you want your tank to charge in and keep Freya occupied by the creek while the raid stands toward the center of the room awaiting adds. Note that attacking Freya before taking care of her trash waves does exactly nothing.

Phase 1:The Trash Roulette

In Phase 1, you cannot damage the boss and must instead deal with waves of adds. Freya will summon three separate trash events to keep raiders’ nasty paws out of her vegetable garden. Waves will spawn once per minute, and it’s possible to have more than one wave active at a time if your DPS is slow. They can appear in any order, and some will repeat during your encounter. I will explain in brief how to deal with each.

Type 1: Snaplashers, Ancient Water Spirits, and Storm Lashers
This wave is the most dangerous. Each mob type has a different amount of health, and all three must die at the same time or they will be rezzed. The Snaplashers have a stacking buff that makes them hit harder when they receive damage, so your dps will have to periodically switch away from them. In 25-man raids, two tanks may be used to deal with this phase. If that is the case, healers must keep an eye (or two) on the Snaplasher tank. In 10-man raids, one tank will take care of all these adds.

Type 2: Detonating Lasher
These little flowers may look sweet, but don’t be fooled. They’re rotten little skunkflowers at the core. These guys can attach themselves a healer very easily, and they’ll blow up when killed. If I attract too many four-petaled friends, I use Shadowmeld or Barkskin until they make like a tree and leaf. The Detonating Lashers are not particularly dangerous, though raid healers may have to clean up the mess that results if someone’s too close when one of these little suckers blows up.

Type 3: Ancient Conservator
This is essentially a tank and spank add. However, he spawns fun happy mushrooms that you absolutely must stand under in order to avoid his silence. Remember, mushrooms are a good thing.

Miscellaneous Phase 1 abilities:
During phase 1, Freya will also summon a glowing green tree, the Lifebinder. When it appears, the raid must kill it immediately in order to avoid its healing effect.

Healers must also be aware of the debuff Sunbeam. Freya will target a player and cast this ability, which does a weak AoE. It’s not disastrous in regular mode, but I expect that with hard mode it’s a different story.

Phase 2: Goddess on the Move

Phase 1 serves to wear down Freya’s HoTs and allow her to take damage. In Phase 2, your tank will need to kite her in a circle around the room. Why? You’ve heard of the druid spell Living Seed. Freya, the druid goddess, casts seeds of evil. These are small glowing seed pods that appear on the ground and then detonate after a few seconds. The raid will need to stay ahead of the chlorophyllic explosions. Aside from the Bad Seeds, the spawns of the Lifebinder tree, and the Sunbeam effect, Phase 2 is a tank and spank.

Healing Assignments

Much of the healing in this boss encounter is reactive, and it can either feel like catch-as-catch can chaos or like a perfectly orchestrated minuet. It all depends on the skill of your individual raid members at their jobs. A knowledge of movement and the basic raid mechanics like target-switching on demand will lead to a win. Everything might be messy, but it’s not difficult. Healing assignments can be fairly loose here, but we assign one specific healer to the main tank and one to each of two offtanks. Beyond that, healers work their magic on the move and cover players in their area. I’d say this is one of the least demanding fights healing-wise in Ulduar. Even though the adds phase can be hectic, it’s nothing like Thorim’s arena. I’d also say this boss is slightly more difficult on 10-man because there’s less redundancy in raid roles. In 25-man, you can still eke out a kill if, say, your players execute the different movements with something less than precision.
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Syd’s Guide to Blogging Part I: How to Read

Syd’s Guide to Blogging Part I: How to Read

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With the recent release of Ulduar, most raiding WoW players have upped their reading and research. At this point in the progression curve, the ability to extract and process information from different resources on the web is what gives some players a critical edge in strategy or play. I have been blogging since October 2008, but I’ve been reading WoW blogs for a lot longer. However, in the interest of full disclosure, the thing that has inspired me to write a series of meta-blogging posts is my experience teaching college-level literature classes. Since I work in a foreign language, my daily task is teaching students not only how to write well, but how to read. My firm belief is that in order to be a good writer, you first have to be a good reader. If you follow these simple tips, your blog reading will become a more informative and rewarding experience, and your blog writing will probably improve as well.

Tip #1: Know Your Medium

The biggest thing I learned from Matticus when I started working for the site is that blogs differ from traditional writing. Blogs have their own set of rules and conventions, and a thoughtful reader should be aware of them. The following are what I consider the primary blog conventions.

A. Blogs are designed to be skimmable. Writers tend to bold their most important information.
B. Blogs use personal experience as their evidence. Even when facts and numbers are cited, the personal is always paramount.
C. Third, blogs are constrained by design. Bloggers have to develop a shorthand both to combat space restrictions and to keep from revealing too much personal information about the writer and his or her acquaintances.

How does knowing how blogs work make me a better reader? First, because I know that blogs are meant to be skimmable, I read the bolded or highlighted text first in order to find the post’s thesis. At this point you may prioritize and choose to read or not to read. I always choose to read, even if the post has no clear argument, but that’s just me. Identifying the thesis statement might sound trivial, but if you don’t know what you’re reading about, how can you react?

Secondly, because I know that blogs as a genre extract their primary evidence from personal experience, I read any narrative with a critical eye. I don’t take it as absolute “truth,” because I know that autobiography, as a subjective genre, is a prime spot for literary manipulation. When I read someone’s personal experience, I take it as a metaphor for something greater. Sometimes a less skilled blog writer will not provide a thin red thread of meaning that readers can follow through the labyrinth of narrative, but usually a personal account has a “point.” Personal accounts have become my favorite aspect of reading blogs. Because I am attentive to their details, I can sometimes extract more from them than the original writer intended. If you are one of those types who can learn from the experience of others, the personal account of people’s successes, and even more particularly, failures, can enrich your game experience.

Third, I recognize that blog writers are bound by the constraints of their medium. I don’t expect the fullest possible exploration of any topic. I try to read between the lines–many things must be left unsaid to protect the innocent or the guilty, and I depend on the writer’s tone to pick up some of the implications of their argument, especially if I’m dealing with a personal narrative. The public nature of blogs means that writers feel the need to “protect” their real-life and in-game acquaintances, sometimes to the point of obscuring the events that prompted them to write. Regarding the “shorthand” of different blogs, my best advice is to read the same blog over the course of several weeks. The best writers have a strong personal style that allows them to present concepts in an abbreviated form. Familiarity breeds comfort in this case.

Tip #2: Read for Detail

Just because blogs can be skimmed, it doesn’t mean they should be. If you’ve read through the bolded sections, and the post topic interests you, it’s time to go deeper. If you’re reading a guide, and you intend to use that information, take notes. Nothing is more inconvenient than having to go back to a webpage you read earlier in the day 30 seconds before you pull a new boss in order to get the exact name of his abilities. If you have to do that, you didn’t “forget” the information–you never memorized it in the first place. I always tell my students that writing things down–particularly with pen or pencil–makes it easier to create the long-term memory. However, guide-type posts are not the only ones you want to read carefully. Posts on class mechanics or class changes, best-in-slot lists, and opinion pieces on controversial topics actually draw more comments than guides. Many of the people who comment, however, are sloppy readers, and nothing annoys a blogger more. Here’s a little test that, in my mind, you must pass in order to comment on your favorite blogs.

1. Who wrote the article? Go ahead and laugh, but the comments for many of my past posts (I’d say at least 25 in total) identified the author of the post as Matticus, not me. Nothing gets on my left nerve quicker a lack of recognition for my efforts. My right nerve, in case you’re wondering, is reserved for my annoyances with students who don’t come to class. Even if you’re reading on RSS, you need to be able to identify the author. In order to test your reading skills, think of your ten favorite blogs or authors. If you were to receive a stack of papers with the blog posts on them, without any images, formatting, or bylines, you should be able to identify the author. If you can’t, you’re not reading well enough to catch an author’s style or tone. Style refers to the mechanics, rhetorical figures, and structure that an author uses, while tone refers to their word choice, overall attitude, and “sound.” If you can’t understand the style and tone, your comment runs the risk of misunderstanding the post altogether. You might have missed the humor or irony if you’re not reading for it.

2. What is the date of the article? My second pet peeve about blog commenters arises from reading negative comments on outdated posts. For example, one commenter noted that my observations about Ulduar mana regen were completely wrong. Of course they were! The post in question was written on February 7, before the PTR or concrete numbers were available. If you’re going to criticize someone’s argument, make sure you understand the context in which their article was written.

3. What is the article about? Certain blogs have certain preoccupations, and articles run in series. In addition, multiple blog authors enter into dialogue with each other. If you’re just reading one thing, you might be reading in a vaccuum. Before you press that comment button, try to make sure you know what the actual topic is.

4. What argument does the writer make? The classic, and in my mind the best, way to construct an argument is to have a thesis and an antithesis–or in other words, a point and a counterpoint. I see some commenters read so quickly that they mistake someone’s antithesis for their thesis. The commenter thinks they’re arguing against the blog poster when in fact they’re reinforcing the original author’s claim. These comments usually have me shaking my head.

5. What are the author’s strong points? I learned in my grad school classes that while anyone can identify a literary critic’s flaws, it’s much more difficult to pinpoint their strengths. Before you comment, especially if you’re going to argue with the writer, make sure you’re able to understand them well enough to identify the potential merit of the post. It’s rare that a seasoned blogger creates an entirely off-the-wall argument–well, except for those who do it on purpose. As for those guys, you should be able to identify them by their tone and style.

Tip #3: Read Both Deeply and Widely

Some blog readers follow one or two blogs exclusively. In particular, I know of many readers who consult only WoWInsider and occasionally the outside posts that it links to. Learn to be critical of your media. One blog, even a great one like World of Matticus, is only one perspective. All blogs have a certain ideological slant, and if you’re not aware of that, it will influence you. However, if you just read random posts here and there, you’ll never understand any of the particular writers. The ideal blog reader will choose 10 or so writers or sites and consult them fairly regularly. How much reading you do depends on your time, but think about it this way. If you read just one guide or watch just one video of a boss fight, what is your chance of success? There’s only a slim chance that one specific strategy will work for your guild. However, if you read/watch 10 different guides, you have 10 potential paths to boss death. Even the most careless reader’s chance of success would go up.

Conclusions: The Benefits of Reading Critically

Reading isn’t easy, folks. We learn to do it in elementary school, but many of us grow up blind to all but the most obvious meaning of the things we read. Critical reading takes time and care, but the effort is well-spent. There is a certain delight in understanding a skilled writer’s metaphors or wry sense of humor. The process of careful reading, particularly when your reading material comes from writers who are worthy of imitation, can enhance your own writing. I urge you to beg, borrow, and steal style and inspiration from other writers. If I were giving advice on writing fiction, I would tell you to go read your favorite genre voraciously for a year, take notes on what you like and don’t like, and only then start your own novel. My advice to aspiring or current bloggers is much the same. Read authors you admire and let them teach you.

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Ensidia’s Holy Priest Guide and Monday Links

Ensidia’s Holy Priest Guide and Monday Links

For Holy Priests interested in capturing a glimpse of how and what top end players do push themselves to the limit, one of Ensidia’s Holy Priests has written a guide to specs, gems, gear, and spell casts.

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Quick Notes

One of the suggested specs is a 13/58/0 build which does not have Mental Agility nor Inspiration. This is a more specialized build which relies on Test of Faith and Healing Prayers for short, high healing demand type of encounters where Priests can afford to blow through mana.

In regards to gems, Poptisse advocates any gems with Intellect in the various sockets but notes that other gems will work just as well based on your personal preference. While I knew Intellect gems were the go-to gems for Discipline, I didn’t know it would be prioritized as high for Holy Priests. It must be due to the result of the Spirit nerf. Intellect didn’t really get better. Spirit just got slightly hit.

Caution: The guide you’re reading is written by one of the top Priests in the world. She’s in Ensidia after all. That’s a guild that probably has a plethora of raiders and players to choose from based on varying roles that are needed by different encounters. Most of us do not have that luxury. We have to make do with what we have which means we have to be more “all around”. There is a ton of valuable information but that doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to copy everything exactly. This is just an insight as to what a top tier Priest does. Read it, learn from it, and find out what works best for you.

Monday links

  • Brigwyn is hosting a Child’s Play Charity Auction – All donations going to a good cause. Do check it out.
  • Kestrel wants to know if WoW is Losing Its Hold on you – I know Megan has called a retirement from blogging (not sure if that includes the game). A lot of bloggers have called it quits recently. Rest assured, retirement is far away for me right now (Hopefully for Syd and Lodur too).
  • Wrote to Done: Three Tips to Avoid Being a Boring Writer – Read it.
  • Leadership now: 5 Leadership Lessons: Ultimate Leadership – Leading in Context – Great and short read. I liked this line the best:
    • General P.X. Kelly: "Listen carefully to the principles of leadership we will teach you here at Quantico, but always apply them within the framework of your own personality. A successful leader never languishes in the comfort of a swivel chair. The most important of all troop-leading steps, yet the one most often neglected, is the last – to supervise. And you supervise by being out with and devoting the bulk of your time to our most important product – people. You can always catch up on what you thought was essential paperwork during the evenings or on weekends, but once neglected, you will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to catch up on people."
  • Zen Habits: 5 Tiny Steps to Quit Being Such a Jerk

Other notes

  • Noblegarden sucks. Haven’t seen this level of spawn camping since the days of Halo and Day of Defeat.
  • Had a few questions about this. Yes I’m always interested in guest posts and promoting blogs of others. Just be sure to follow these guidelines.

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Healing Ulduar: XT-002 Deconstructor

Healing Ulduar: XT-002 Deconstructor

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Welcome to Ulduar folks. If you made it past the lag, the vehicles, and the guard-dragon, and you didn’t get sidetracked by Ignis’ Hot Pockets, chances are you’ll soon find yourself standing in front of my favorite shiny robot in the game, the XT-002 Deconstructor. She just wants to give everyone a big hug . . . a spine-cracking hug, that is. She reminds me of eeeevil pet collector Elmyra from the Animaniacs. In all seriousness, Blizzard outdid themselves here. The boss’s animations and voice are oh-so-entertaining, and this fight provides a juicy-yet-manageable challenge for healers. Conquest downed XT on 4/21 using this strategy.

Essential Abilities

To effectively heal this boss, all healers need to make sure that their unit frames show the following three abilities. If you are a Grid or Pitbull user, add these to your custom debuffs.

Gravity Bomb
This ability places a debuff on a player. They need to move away from others to avoid causing AoE damage. This debuff does not tick immediately but rather does a significant chunk of damage at the delay of a few seconds. A player with Gravity Bomb will need a large heal once the ability triggers.

Light Bomb
This ability places a debuff on a player, and as with Gravity Bomb, the player must move away from others to avoid causing AoE Damage. This debuff is a strong, fast-ticking dot, and it lasts 9 seconds, dealing 3500 damage each tick. A player with Light Bomb needs immediate and steady attention.

Tympanic Tantrum
Of the three abilities, this one is the most dangerous. Tympanic Tantrum deals damage equal to 10% of each player’s maximum health every 1 sec for 12 sec. Nearby enemies are also dazed for the duration. Every player in the raid needs to receive a medium amount of healing in order to survive this ability. AoE and group heals (Divine Hymn, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Healing, Wild Growth, Tranquility) are good solutions.

Healing Assignments

In order to meet the dps minimum for the boss, you will probably need either 6 or 7 healers. These assignments will assume 6. Consult the following diagram for the optimum positioning of your 6 healers.
xt-healing1

As always, the diagram is coded by class color. Our favorite arrangement uses a paladin and a tank healing-specced druid on the MT. On the raid, we have had good luck with using two priests, one shaman, and one raid-healing specced druid. In this diagram, you’ll notice that H3 and H4 are standing together, as are H5 and H6. The raid splits into two groups, and ranged dps stacks with raid healers. This grouping makes it easier for the person with Light Bomb or Gravity Bomb to run away. Your MT healers will have to cheat forward a bit of the pile of players in order to be in range of the tank. XT is big–approximately 10 yards across–and your tank will be on the far side.

Techniques

I’ve had the pleasure to both MT and raid heal for this fight, so I can share with you my top strategies for both positions. The key to this fight is using your abilities wisely.

MT healing
Two healers are necessary because this bot hits hard! Damage is spiky because the boss hits hard but swings slowly. We found a combination of a Resto Druid and a Holy Paladin to be very successful. The druid can keep some HoTs on the MT even through the Exposed Heart phase, in which there is no damage to the tank. We’ve lost the tank before when XT has come back with a vengeance, so be prepared with some HoTs or shields. Throughout the fight, the druid will probably be able to make a small contribution to raid healing. During Tympanic Tantrum, both MT healers will raid heal, and during the Heart phase, the paladin can probably dps, with the druid contributing as well if she is able to afford the mana hit.

Raid Healing
I learned the hard way that HoTs won’t cut it for Gravity Bomb and Light Bomb. For Gravity Bomb, have raid healers shield or pre-HoT and then time a big nuke heal to land as the bomb explodes. For Light Bomb, the player will need a series of quick heals (Flash of Light, Flash Heal, Lesser Healing Wave) or a combination of HoTs and direct heals. A Rejuv+Swiftmend is not enough. With my raid healing build, I was using HoTs + glyphed Healing Touch to good effect. Light Bomb is the more dangerous of the two bombs because it hits fast and hard.

For Tympanic Tantrum, HoTs and AoE heals are king. I was having great luck with Tranquility, Wild Growth, and Lifebloom during this phase. When you assign raid healers, make sure you distribute your AoE healers evenly on both sides.

Melee and Offtanks
There’s no way to get around doing double duty on this fight. At least one offtank will assist a couple of ranged dps with controlling the adds. Specific Raid Healers (perhaps H4 and H5) should be assigned to keeping the adds team alive.

Melee will need some attention, but Judgement of Light, if you have it, goes a long way towards keeping them healthy. We assigned our Resto Shaman to chain heal the melee group when she could.

DPS the heart!

All of the non-tree healers in your raid should switch to dps-ing the heart when it is exposed. Every little bit helps you meet the very high dps demand! I also recommend that any raid-healing druids switch forms and dps the heart. However, the MT healing druid should keep her HoTs on the tank, because XT returns suddenly and with a vengeance. If she can sneak a Moonfire in there too, by all means.

Mana Control

This fight has a few moments that will allow for OOFSR regen. It’s fairly tough on mana, and you will probably use a potion and your mana-restoration abilities (Innervate, Shadowfiend) if you are only carrying six healers. The fight is short with a 6 min enrage timer, but it’s fast and furious, so you can blow your mana if you’re not careful. If you find yourself running out, take a break instead of using your mana for offensive spells when the heart is exposed.

A Healer Check?

This boss tests healers in more ways than one. I like to think of it as a healing assignment check. Everyone has to do his or her specific job, and there’s no time for sniping. Moreover, you need a good balance of single-target and AoE heals to pull this off with 6 healers. There is both heavy Main Tank damage and extensive raid damage. Expect to use all of your skills.

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10 Guides and Post for the Winter Veil-icious Reader

Did a quick search on Google (reader and the search engine) for any guides or posts related to Winter’s Veil. I would’ve wrote something up like this myself but holiday guides just don’t scream Matt on them. So instead, I linked to others who have already done so!

Of course, for Winter Veil related posts:

  • Destructive Reach: Can Warlocks Even BE Merrymakers? (From my faaaaavourite Warlock, Sar)
  • Game Dame: And here’s GD dancing on her Death Knight
  • Altoholic’s Are Us: A… stripper Christmas? Really? Ho, ho, er *cough*
A Healing Druid’s Naxx-25 Shopping List

A Healing Druid’s Naxx-25 Shopping List

As many of you longtime readers are now aware, I have joined forces with Matticus and Conquest for Wrath of the Lich King. Matt is a hard taskmaster–even before we started raiding, he gave us homework! The nerve!

However, as a veteran of too many years in graduate school, I LOVE homework. Here is my Naxx-25 wishlist, dressed up pretty for the blog.

This list is as exhaustive as possible given the current information out there about Naxx. Given that it’s early, the loot table could be subject to change. The following list isn’t personal, per se–it’s a list of all the best stuff out there for restoration druids. I have divided it by bosses, using the typical order. There are many items that are shared across several bosses, particularly necklaces, rings, and cloaks. In that case, I’ve listed them only under the first boss who can drop them. This, dear reader, is your Naxx 25 Resto Kit–use it as a guide for all your holiday DKP purchases.

Anub’Rekan:

Swarm Bindings
Well folks, these are your bracers from Naxx-25. The selling point for this item is the spirit. Now, the crit is less optimal for us, and I wish I had a talent to turn crit into mp5. However, from here on out, you’ll be choosing between the lesser of two evils on your gear–heavy crit or heavy haste, neither of which the resto druid wants to stack to excess. For my Naxx-25 kit, I’m largely going to ignore these and work to get items that give me a solid amount of regen while casting. That means lots of spirit, but also some mp5, as the return on spirit is less than in post 2.4 Burning Crusade content.

Grand Widow Faerlina:

Chains of Adoration
This neck has a decent amount of mp5 and a healthy dose of stamina as well. It’s not perfect, but it will work for any healer. Most of your gear as a druid will have spirit, and in my mind it’s good to plump up your while-casting regen with just a little bit of mp5 as well. That said, this item is available from several bosses and I might let shamans and paladins take it first.

Seized Beauty
This item, like the Chains of Adoration, is available from multiple bosses, and it is likewise a multi-purpose item. I like it better than the neck, mostly because I’m used to having mp5 and not spirit in my ring slot. Once again, something you can feel safe passing on the first couple of times until the mp5 junkies in your healing team have one.

Tunic of Prejudice
This item is simply great. Where I can, I’ll take haste over crit. The druid healing spells that can crit are few: Healing Touch, Nourish, and Regrowth. However, if you can get enough haste, you might be able to take some points out of Gift of the Earthmother and put them elsewhere. I would personally rather have mp5, but in this expansion, mp5/spirit items seem to have gone the way of the dodo.

Maexxna:

Cowl of the Perished
The best feature of this item, aside from it’s cool name, is a whopping 72 spirit. It has crit in an equally stunning amount, so I might let a boomkin have it first.

Mantle of Shattered Kinship
With haste and spellpower, this is another decent buy for a resto druid. However, if you’re bidding, bid low, and if you can pass, you might want to do it. It shows up not long before the shoulder tokens, which will get you something better. However, if you’re not a set bonus junkie, take it and let others have the token.

Shawl of the Old Maid
This is another multi-boss, multi-purpose healing drop. The spirit will serve a druid well, but I might let holy priests have it first, as they will get more mileage out of the crit.

Matriarch’s Spawn
This one is an incredibly cool-looking spirit-haste combo that will have you wishing that offhand items showed all the time. A solid buy for your DKP, so feel good about splurging on this item. Whether you choose to gear for staves or main hand/off hand should probably depend only on what drop you happen to get first. Once you have a decent combo, let others in your raid take these things.

Wraith Strike
Even though this weapon looks really cool, it’s just not made for resto druid. It spends its budget on both crit and haste, making it attractive for both Elemental Shaman and Moonkin Druid. Take it if it would otherwise rot, and if you end up with it, keep it for your moonkin set but replace it when you can with a one-handed mace that has either spirit or mp5.

Noth the Plaguebringer:

Accursed Spine
This one is similar to Matriarch’s Spawn with crit instead of haste. Matriarch’s is better for a healer, but you can take it if it would otherwise rot.

Belt of Potent Chanting
It’s got the ubiquitous crit, but as set pieces aren’t an option for a belt, go ahead and pick it up, especially if your moonkin friends already have it.

Lost Jewel
Even though it has crit, of the rings, this one looks good to me because it’s also got spirit. Also a shared drop, this is one that’s good enough for Resto Druid that I might go ahead and take it early.

Heigan the Unclean:

Cloak of Averted Crisis
Here is another solid cloak that’s shared by several boss loot tables. It’s another decent option–you just have to choose whether you want mp5 or spirit on your back.

Gloves of the Dancing Bear
This is a really nice item with spirit, a red gem slot, and a spirit bonus for socket matching. Even though it’s not a tier piece, it’s really good. My only suggestion is that it should have been named “Gloves of the Dancing Tree.” It does have crit, but assuming that you use the best gem available to you, I think the socket gives the item an edge.

Shroud of Luminosity
This is one of the few non-spellhit items that you might argue is truly offspec for a druid healer. Sure, you can wear it, but it spends its item budget on both haste and crit, which makes it a poor buy for your DKP. Take it only if your casters and fellow healers don’t want it.

Loatheb:

Shoulders token, yielding the Valorous Dreamwalder Spaulders
Of course you will want all your tier pieces. However, I urge you to see them as one option among many. The bonuses–particularly the 4 piece, which plumps up a mostly-unused spell–are just window dressing. They are not obligatory. If you already have something good in a slot, pass to those who do not.

The Impossible Dream
Now, Don Quijote is actually my favorite book. However, I strongly dislike the musical Man of La Mancha, even though I know all the songs. Right now, that horrible ballad is right there, in my head, and in less than 30 seconds I’m going to start singing it and scare the crap out of my cat, who disapproves of off-key arias. Anyway, this is a great item for resto druids. Take it at your own risk–the WoW devs will not compensate you for lyrical madness.

Instructor Razuvious:

Nothing unique from this boss, but there are several items from the shared loot table.

Gothik the Harvester:

Idol of Awakening
While I’d rather have an idol for Wild Growth, Regrowth or Lifebloom, I always suggest that players pick up the available idols whenever they can. Even if you won’t use it now, you might later.

Shackled Cinch
For my money, this is the best resto druid belt in Naxx. Go ahead and pick it up with confidence.

Four Horsemen:

Chestpiece token, yielding Valorous Dreamwalker Robe
Once again, a great piece, but there is another chest option to keep in mind.

Damnation
Something tells me–the name perhaps–that casters will drool over this staff. It will work for healers too. Sure, it has crit, but it also has a really nice helping of stamina, spirit, and intellect.

Gloves of Peaceful Death
These could be nice if you’re stacking haste, but in my mind, the gem slot on the other gloves in Naxx makes them a better buy. These are inferior to the set piece gloves from Obsidian Sanctum as well.

Patchwerk

Boots of Septic Wounds
These are your Naxx-25 boots, unless you want to squabble with the clothies over one of their options for fine footwear. Put them high on your priority list and take them when you can–it’s really your only option in this tier.

Grobbulus:

Nothing unique

Gluth:

There may be inaccuracies about this boss, as wowwiki and wowhead don’t agree on his loot table. This guy seems to be able to drop chest tokens, leg tokens, shoulder tokens, and a whole host of miscellaneous stuff.
Charmed Cierge
If in fact this item drops from Gluth on Heroic, it’s a pretty decent staff.

Legs token, yielding Valorous Dreamwalker Leggings
If you can choose only one piece of Tier 7, let this be your target. There isn’t a good substitute for this item unless your raid can kill Sapphiron.

Thaddius:

Headpiece of Fungal Bloom.
This item is pretty unique, featuring massive stamina and mp5. This isn’t a bad piece if you’re otherwise low stamina and heavy on spirit.

Spire of Sunset
This is the weapon that I personally want the most. I like the haste and mp5–I’m used to weapons with no spirit, so I don’t miss it here.

Sapphiron:

Cosmic Lights
You could argue this one as offspec for a resto druid. With the crit/haste combo, it’s not a great buy, and I’d hold out for a necklace with either spirit or mp5 if I had a choice.

Legguards of the Boneyard
Now, I realize this isn’t the tier piece, but this is a really great item. I’d take it in a heartbeat.

Kel-Thuzad:

Helm Token, yielding Valorous Dreamwalker Headpiece
This is likewise a high-priority piece, as it has the holy grail of both spirit and mp5. If you can help it, don’t miss out.

Cape of the Unworthy Wizard
With it’s high item budget, this piece is a probably the best cloak in the zone. However, it’s also the best for many others. As no cloaks–or armor pieces in general–are perfect for resto druids, just get one of the many available ones at some point and be content with it.

Torch of Holy Fire
Predictably, this end-boss item is also a best in slot for 1-h maces. Take it if you can–but pass to another player with a blue weapon if you have one of the other available choices in Naxx. By the time you hit KT, you’ll be moving on soon to bigger and better things.

Appendix: Obsidian Sanctum

OS is quite an easy raid and most guilds will do it while they’re in Naxx. Here are the pieces you might want to acquire there.
Majestic Dragon Figurine
This is an interesting little trinket to theorycraft with. My instinct says that, with our high cast frequency, this will be excellent for resto druids, but someone with a better knowledge of mathematics will have to graph that out for me.

Illustration of the Dragon Soul
Here’s a dps version of the above. Healing druids could also benefit, but my feeling is that the frequently-casting affliction locks are going to want this one more than we will.

Staff of Restraint
This is a very good, very accessible, nicely balanced weapon. I certainly wouldn’t mind having one!

. . . and of course, the gloves token
Valorous Dreamwalker Handguards

Syd’s Gear Theory

Perhaps this deserves its own post, but I have changed my own personal gear strategy. I used to play in a guild where loot was scarce enough that no one got very much. We were never certain of killing farm bosses, and we had a huge raid roster. These two factors combined to give our guild, overall, a lower gear level than peer organizations and a higher dependence on badge loot. However, with the new expansion and innovations like shared loot, there seems to be absolutely no reason to hold out for the best pieces. My current theory? Think about my guildies as much as myself when loot comes down. With a smaller raid, and a Loot Council to distribute the goods, there’s less reason to make the “smart” buys. I’ll be passing frequently and cobbling a decent set together out of stuff that other people don’t want. Our Loot Council should ensure that everyone’s equipped to play at the proper level.

However, in making this list, I’ve tried to indicate how to intelligently navigate the loot system for people in situations where they have limited DKP or bidding power. These players will have to evaluate items more carefully than raiders in guilds who random roll or use Loot Council. As much as we don’t like to admit it, if you’re playing in a DKP guild, you can end the tier undergeared–despite putting in as much effort as everyone else–if you don’t spend your points wisely. I’m not talking about hoarding here, because hoarding hurts everyone, the player who hoards included. I’m talking about not spending your points on stuff you don’t really need, especially if other players need or want it more than you do. It’s particularly important for new guild members who don’t have a pile of DKP to spend from past raids to make good choices. Since the advent of spellpower, that has become a little harder to do–but this list should help you figure out when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, so to speak.

N.B. I’ve tried to craft this post as a guide. If I missed something, post a comment and I will gladly update.

Guides to 3.0.2

Didn’t feel the need to do one of my own. Already technically contributed to the Priest column (and really inaccurately at that).

Happy patch day!

Most likely not going to update a whole lot of addons. Not sure how much more we’re going to raid. Just going to update raidframes and thats it. Going to try to configure key bindings via WoW default interface (Thats going to be fun).

To do list

  • UBRS for the Leeroy title
  • Leveling every capital city and smashing said leaders
  • World domination

Might squeeze in some study time in there. Who knows?

Get a Bear Mount: 10 Tips on Beating the Zul’Aman Timer

Get a Bear Mount: 10 Tips on Beating the Zul’Aman Timer


Image courtesy of Daino_16

The Zul’Aman timer run is one of the most difficult challenges in the game. If executed perfectly, you’ll find yourself with a brand new bear mount along with a host of other extra epic goodies. You have exactly 45 minutes to kill the first four bosses in Zul’Aman if you intend to get that bear mount. I haven’t been able to get a bear mount yet myself, but I’ve learned a few tricks after talking to a couple of guildies and from my own experience.

Be Overgeared

This is a real big no brainer. If you plan on beating the timer, you should be almost out of T5 level gear and into Black Temple/Mount Hyjal gear. That means your Kara/Gruul/Mag gear has got to go. In fact, you shouldn’t even need ZA gear.

Know the fights

Again, also a no brainer but there is no time to explain. You have to know the encounters by heart because it simply takes too long to explain it.

2 Healers

Yes, you read that correctly. Bringing three healers is almost essential just to completing the instance. To bring 2 healers would almost be suicide! But believe me, by bringing only 2 healers, that extra DPS will go a long way in netting a bear mount.

Prot. Paladin, Feral Druid, Fury Warrior

This is the suggested tanking group. Your Prot. Paladin’s going to shoulder most of the load. Your Feral Druid will be switching back and forth from DPS to tanking as necessary. Your Fury Warrior is just going to lay the smackdown on everything. Trust me on this. If you can find an awesome DPS warrior, you’ll be amazed at how fast trash can drop and go down. Furthermore, less down time without having to get mana back.

Group Make Up

Consider running 2 Warlocks and 2 Shadow Priests to increase longevity and overall damage. This was recommended to me by a Guildie who has successfully done it.

Skip the Chests

Yes, seriously, skip the chests. Don’t open them until after you success or your failure. The clock is ticking while you handle the extra loot. Just get everyone to get their badge, and haul ass to the next one. The chests will still remain there untouched and unopened while you’re plowing through the bosses.

Group Loot

While we’re speaking about loot, don’t use master looter. I’m assuming that there is little if any upgrades for you in this instance. Set it to group loot instead of master loot so that you don’t waste precious time handling rolls and timers and such. If a player wants it, hit need. If not, pass it. Get your DE’er to greed it. Except you might want to consider master looting the bear when you get to it

Use your cooldowns to minimize downtime

I’ve mentioned it before but you cannot skimp out on cooldowns. This is especially true as a healer. Remember our Shadowfiends have a 5 minute cooldown between use. Innervate is 6 minutes for Druids. Heroism is 10 minutes. Evocate is 8 minutes. You get the idea. Be very liberal in their use. You can’t spend a lot of time drinking. It’s literally pull, after pull, after pull.

Shortcuts

Check out these screenshots:

Zul'Aman Shortcut Outside Lynx

Zul'Aman shortcut path for Lynx

Recognize the location? This is the area leading up to the Lynx boss. There are a couple of huts on the left side that have no mobs inside them. Those windows might look small, but rest assured you are small enough to jump through them. Anyway, there are 2 such hits. The one shown above is the first. The diagram above is a very crude reconstruction. But hopefully, it will give you a better idea of what you need to do. If executed properly, you will bypass about 2 pulls which should save you between 1 minute to 2 minutes.

There’s another shortcut amongst the trash pulls leading to Dragonhawk. I’ll see if I can nab a few shots of it or even make a quick video about it in a future post.

Stable Core

If you plan on doing this run, you have to find a stable group of people to run with. Start off doing non-timed runs but try to keep the people the same. You don’t want to pug any players at all. Get the team chemistry going. I’ve communicated with my other healers enough to know who is healing who without having to ask. But playing with 9 other people you are familiar with is a good thing to do.

Good luck! I expect screenshots of you on your bear when you pull it off!