Owl Returns With Special Delivery For You

Hi, I’m Mimetir, and I’m a member of the WoM crew. No really, I am. A few months ago I would rant and mutter disconsolately on a weekly basis about the importance of being a care bear or how to slay your latest internet dragon. I haven’t posted for a while. Yes, I know, bad panda, no cookie. And from what I’ve heard of boomkins’ mana at 80, we really need cookies.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about today. See, I haven’t posted on WHoM for a while because I’ve been working on my own site, MMO Melting Pot. I premiered it here at WoM a few months ago and since then have been trekking through the wilderness of the WoW blogosphere to find the most interesting articles. When I find an interesting article I drag it back to my museum website and post bits of it up with a short summary, credit and a link, so you can go read it fully yourself.

Just in case that’s got you running in terror thinking I’m some kind of creepy museum curator with a speciality in dissecting innocent blog posts, let me rephrase it simply. Over on MMO Melting Pot we find the best posts and put them all in one place for you to peruse.

I miss posting on WoM. And things are getting exciting post-patch. So, I (and Matt) thought, why don’t I do a roundup of posts that’ve cropped up recently relating to healing, guild management or raiding articles, here at WoM? That’s win-win for everyone: I get to post here (read: ramble at you), you get interesting things to read and Matt gets a regular Saturday post.

Well, I say it’s win-win for everyone, but I understand holy paladins are chewing the walls in frustration. Sympathies guys. Anyway, here’s your roundup delivery with some paladin halp thrown in. Some of these are posts we’ve linked already at MMO Melting Pot, some of them are posts so far unfeatured and fresh for WoM’s roundup:

  • Guide to Dispels in 4.0.1 – Ecclesiastical Discipline guest posted for MMO Melting Pot last week with a complete list of what us healers (as well as other classes where applicable) can dispel now, as some of it changed in the patch. No more shamanistic poison removal? Noes!
  • Perhaps Healing Isn’t So Bad After All – TwilliK over at Arcane Envoy says that paladin healing’s actually not too bad. She’s recounting her recent experiences healing in Heroics and it looks like it’s felt like being thrown in at the deep-end, but also really rewarding getting it right. Makes me want to revive my own holy pally…
  • Holy Paladins in 4.0.1 – A Beginner’s Guide – are you looking at your holy paladin and cowering in fear? Aunna over at Bandage Spec has a straightforward guide to get holy paladins on their feet. There are loads of guides out there covering everything for the patch but given Holy Paladins seem to have it worst off, I figured linking this might be helpful. Her guide has information on your spells, gear, glyphs, spec, and crucially – what to expect and how to play.
  • Tell Us How Your Spec Is Doing In 4.0.1 – most weeks the editors at MMO Melting Pot throw up an editorial feature. This week, the patch has been about for a while and we want to know how you’re getting on. Healer role changed a lot and it’s great? Terrible? People are dying left right and centre? Tell us your tales!
  • Impressions On Healing So Far – Zinn over at Jinxed Thoughts has written a roundup of how he’s found healing classes work now. He starts off with a general overview of the similarities between class healing spells then goes through the healing classes with what he’s enjoyed or been disappointed by. He’s also got a separate post on quite how much he loves Chakra as a holy priest.
  • Nils and Raven say levelling needs balance, and soon – two bloggers with the same worry: that the levelling game is too easy and doesn’t teach players, including healers, the ins and outs of their class. The quality of play after waves of new characters level to 85? Don’t think about it. Both Nils and Raven say it needs fixing, and have ideas.
  • Thought of the Day – Getting Rid of the DPS role – a brief thought from Spinks over at Welcome to Spinksville. Short but sweet, this one’s interesting for everyone. How do you think getting rid of player DPSers would affect healing, if at all?

Last but not in any way least, some sad news:

  • Lights Out – Lara of Root and Branch has shut up shop. Root and Branch has been a core part of the resto druid blog community for so long that the lights dimming on it is going to leave a big hole in the resto druid community. She’ll be missed, if her commenters are anything to go by – but we all wish her the best, safe travels and epic (real life) loot. /tree cheer

That’s it for this week. I’m planning to do this weekly for WoM, as often as possible.

What do you guys think? That’s the sort of thing we do daily over at MMO Melting Pot, though it’s not always roundup posts. Did you get an interesting read out of it, or has it inspired you to throw your thoughts into someone’s comments arena?

Holy Word: Sanctuary vs Efflorescence

Holy Word: Sanctuary vs Efflorescence

I love using Holy Word: Sanctuary on players in melee only to find that the Efflorescence from druids already beat me to it. Both effects can easily be stacked on top of each other for extra AoE healing. Great times for this would be on Blood Queen or on Festergut, for example.

On the other hand, I’ve found that it can be a redundant AoE overheal especially when the affected players aren’t taking that much damage. As a priest, I can place a Sanctuary down wherever I like. A druid can just about do the same, but the flowerbed only appears beneath the target of their heal.

Already in raids, I’ve been in situations like this:

eff-vs-sanc

Blue dots represent players. The large, transparent circles represent the area of the AoE healing effects. A well placed Sanctuary can cover players standing far from each other but Efflorescence is limited to the target’s location. Has anyone else seen cases similar to this? I just find it funny in a sense. Come on guys! Recognize that these circles are good things to stand in! As a guideline, I think druids have melee players covered. Holy priests can park Sanctuary on range if the melee isn’t in need of it. Thinking ahead to Sindragosa for tonight, I have a feeling we’ll be stacking these for players at melee range.

Side note, I participated in beta tests for Blackwing Descent and Bastion of twilight on sunday. They’ll be appearing on WoW Insider sometime soon. Great encounters, Omnitron especially. Blizzard has not shown any signs of lacking any raiding creativity yet. Lots of promise for us raiders.

Healing Roundups and We Got Our Drakes!

Healing Roundups and We Got Our Drakes!

Not quite sure where to go or what to read? Feeling overwhelmed? Yeah, I feel the same way too. Don’t worry though. I’ve got all the healing related stuff right here for you to brush up on. Next few weeks will be exciting with all the new systems.

Druids

Lissanna’s restoration healing guide (Restokin)

Keeva’s restoration 4.0 guide (Tree Bark Jacket)

Paladins

What Holy Paladins need to know for 4.0.1 (Kurn’s Corner)

Priests

WoW Insider: SG’s Reforging, gemming and GCD tactics for 4.0.1 priests (WoW Insider)

4.0 Survival Guide – Holy & Disc Specs, Glyphs and more (Tales of a Priest)

Discipline 4.0.1 guide (Malevica)

Shamans

Resto Shaman’s Guide to 4.0.1 (Life in Group 5)

Augments

Gem conversions for 4.0.1 (Revive & Rejuvenate)

Addons

No Stock UI has a nice compilation of addons that healers and raiders will find useful. Bonus: Updated for 4.0.1.

Beru’s Addon List

Don’t hesitate to suggest other resources that you think other healers might find informational.

And bloggers, you have my express permission to plug your own stuff.

Unrelated

25-drakesr

We scored our ICC 25 drakes last night!

And one of my hunters accidentally cast a buff which automatically knocked him off his mount. Extremely comical moment, actually. My timing was pretty good.

I originally planned on healing the entire encounter with three healers, but the current raid composition didn’t allow for it. Instead, we used our previous 4 healing setup. It consisted of a holy priest (me), discipline priest, holy paladin and shaman.

The first clutch moment of the night occurred during the defile phase. Valks were inbound. I was busy stacking the raid with Renews before I realized I lost all mobility.

“Matt’s picked up.”

I looked up at the second valk, and noticed it zeroing in on the other discipline priest.

“Ann’s picked up.”

At this point, I was thinking to myself it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Two healers out of four locked out?

“Rykga picked up.”

Crap. There goes our holy paladin. Wait, that’s three healers! I barked out for an immediate use of defensive cooldowns. Barkskin and other such skills were used while the DPS desperately muscled to get us free as quickly as possible (and to their credit, they did).

After something like 25+ attempts over the past few weeks, we were able to secure our drakes. Only took us something like 5 sets of Vile Spirits. Did it with 3 Boomkins. That helped immensely.

Still recruiting for Cataclysm. May not have any immediate openings now, but if you’re looking for a raiding guild, look me up.

Priest Glyphs for 4.0.1 and Cataclysm

Priest Glyphs for 4.0.1 and Cataclysm

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

Well, absolutely nothing!

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

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

How the new glyph system works

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

Prime – Straight increase to damage or healing.

Major – Offers extra stuff to existing spells or abilities.

Minor – Convenience or cosmetic changes.

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

glyphs-interface

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

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

Prime Glyphs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mattwell says to pass on Lightwell.

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

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

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

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

Good to draft if you have nothing better.

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

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

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

And his back.

And that other guy’s back.

And yeah, even that guy.

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

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

No contest. Draft it for holy.

Major Glyphs

Next up is the majors.

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

Draft it for holy.

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

More of a situational role player, in my opinion.

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

Situational draft pick. Depends on your team.

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

Pass at 80. Situational pickup otherwise.

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

Really situational.

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

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

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

Pass on this.

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

Highly recommended draft pick.

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

Situational for PvP use.

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

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

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

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

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

Pass.

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

Pass.

Minor Glyphs

Now it’s down to the minors.

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

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

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

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

Glyph of Shackle UndeadPass. Nothing to add here.

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

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

Reminder: Updated Dispel Mechanics

Just wanted to post a quick reminder of the dispel changes. Every healing class has the capability to remove harmful magic effects from friendly targets. You may have to talent into it somewhere, but it is possible.

In encounters going forward, any highly important buffs that need to be removed will come in the form of magic. Other negative debuffs will annoy the raid or make life a little more difficult, but they will not get to the point where the encounter becomes literally impossible to do.

For example, if Lich King were to become a Cataclysm encounter, Necrotic Plague would be a magical ability so that any healing class could remove it.

Druids

Remove Corruption – Removes a curse and a poison (Removing magic requires the Nature’s Cure talent).

Paladins

Cleanse – Removes a disease and a poison (Removing magic requires the Sacred Cleansing talent).

Note: Protection and retribution paladins cannot cleanse remove magic.

Priests

Dispel Magic – Removes 2 harmful spells from allies or 2 buff spells from enemies.
Cure Disease – Removes a disease.

Note: Shadow priests cannot remove diseases in Shadowform but can still dispel. No change to Body and Soul. It will still remove a poison if you Cure Disease yourself only (Won’t work on others).

Shamans

Purge – Removes 2 buff spells from enemies.
Cleanse Spirit – Removes a curse (Removing magic requires the Improved Cleanse Spirit talent)

Note: Disease and poison removal abilities have been removed. Yes, that includes the totems.

Mages, warriors, hunters and warlocks (Fel Hunter) have no changes to their dispel mechanics.

Actually, come to think of it, Necrotic Plague is still going to be a disease in post 4.0.1. That means the only way to remove it is by having a priest or a holy paladin in the raid.

Oh dear.

Hopefully, it’ll be hot fixed so that it becomes a magic effect or something. Unless they don’t expect anyone to raid past 4.0.1. Right?

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.

Why Resto Shaman Need a Defensive Cooldown, or Another Spirit Link Post

Why Resto Shaman Need a Defensive Cooldown, or Another Spirit Link Post

In case you’ve missed it, I’ve grown quite partial to the idea behind Spirit Link. I’ve talked about it recently wondering where it is. Before that I lamented its absence as the one that got away. Today I’d like to take a different approach to this enigma.

Tuesday I reported about the Cataclysm beta and how things looked so far. In that post I quoted the devs with their answers to many questions, including the state of Spirit Link. Their answer was not one I was all to keen on. Back on the 13th of July I appeared on the podcast Raid Warning with their Shaman Roundtable. I had the opportunity to talk with some amazing members of the shaman community and share ideas. While we were talking a fantastic point was made. Shaman are in need of an external cooldown.

Sure it seems like we have it all. Fame, power, sweet shoveltusk-ghost-shoulders, but the truth is we still have some holes in our healing arsenal that need to be addressed. Let me specify that a defensive cooldown is not an “OH SHIT!” ability like Nature’s Swiftness. I’m talking about cooldowns that are used in anticipation of something bad happening instead of reactionary (with a couple exceptions).

Let us compare to other healers.

Priests

Pain Suppression – Lets face it, this spell has come in handy on more boss fights than you would normally consider. Every 3 minutes Discipline priests can reduce the incoming damage on a target by 40% for 8 seconds. That is a large number, and while 8 seconds might not seem like a lot of time, 8 seconds can wind up being just enough to mitigate a boss mob’s large nasty spell or ability. If you Glyph it, you can even cast it while your stunned!  This is a great raid leading ( or heal leading) shot gun, and honestly has saved our rears quite a few times.

Guardian Spirit – Holy priests are not left without a big cooldown. Like pain suppression, this spell is on a 3 minute cooldown and increases healing received on the target by 40%. If the person dies while guardian spirit is active, the spirit will instead be consumed and the person will be healed immediately for 50% of their maximum health. It lasts for 10 seconds on the target and with the Glyph, if it lasts the entire 10 seconds without being consumed your cooldown gets reset to 1 minute. As a healing lead I love abusing this talent. It is a net, a nice cushion-esque net. You can set it on a tank and if you got OOM or have to move and cant push healing, it buys you time. Minimizing risk and compensation for “oops” is part of every raid leaders job, and cooldowns like this can help a ton.

Druids

Tranquility – 8 minute cooldown for a massive area of effect heal. There have been plenty of fights where this has come in handy, and rotations have been set up between multiple druids. Tranquility is another “buys you time” spell. It heals everyone around the druid for a sizeable chunk of health every 2 seconds for 8 seconds, but those 4 pulses of healing can spell defeat or victory as it allows you to help mitigate massive AoE damage and buys healers time to shift gears and compensate. It is often used when you expect massive amounts of raid wide damage.

Rebirth – This spell carries a 10 minute cooldown and a material component in order to cast it, but in this case the effect is greater than the cost by leaps and bounds. Rebirth brings a player who has died back to life with about 6k health and almost 5k mana. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot right? Well if you didn’t know, it is the only resurrection spell that can be cast while in combat. This is huge! Sometimes, things go bad and there is nothing you can do to stop it. A DPS ganks aggro and splats before you can heal them, but you need them alive in order to make the enrage timer. If you have a druid handy this is not an issue, they can bring that person back up and help complete the task at hand. If the druid is using the Glyph, it returns the target of the res with FULL health. This is an amazing cooldown to be able to call on in those particularly awful fights. While this one is a reactionary ability, I think it still fits in with the “defensive” cooldown abilities so I’ve made an exception and included it in the list.

Paladins

Hand of Sacrifice – 2 minute cooldown and it transfers 30% of the damage taken on the target to the paladin for 12 seconds or until the paladin takes damage equal to their total health. The paladin can still use their bubble while using hand of sac in order to mitigate the damage they are receiving and it can be very strategically used to bleed off normally lethal damage on the tank. Divine Sacrifice is an area affect version of this spell that redirects 30% of all damage within 30 yards to the paladin for a maximum of 40% of the paladin’s health times the number of party members.

Hand of Protection – 5 minute cooldown but it makes the target completely from physical attacks for 10 seconds. This can be a great way to drop physical debuffs or just to protect someone from getting 1-shot. This was very useful in Trial of the Crusader.

Shaman

I’m having a hard time thinking of anything I can consider a preemptive defensive cooldown. Hero-Lust is an offensive ability as is both of our elementals. Everything else we have that has a cooldown is reactionary (Nature’s Swiftness). I can’t count Reincarnation in this either as while it is nice to be able to resurrect yourself, finding the timing to do so with all the environmental effects and boss abilities are going off, as well as not being able to rez yourself at, you still only rez with a maximum of 40% of your health. With no buffs it is very easy just to splat again. In a large raid where there is a group of healers to pull abilities from this isn’t such a big thing. But when you start talking about smaller raids it is at that point it starts to become an issue.

Now with Cataclysm on the horizon a few things are happening that make this an issue that needs to be addressed. First of all, raid sizes will be smaller. Now I don’t mean blizzard is taking away 25 man raiding, but they are evening out gear distribution and content to be consistent from 10 man to 25 man. The only difference will be how much of the loot drops from 10 man compared to 25 man. My prediction is that this will cause a lot more 10 man raiding groups to pop up. While the game has come a long way from 40 man raids, organizing 25 man raids can be just as stressful.  The ability to gain the same gear from 10 mans that you do from 25 mans removes some of the incentive to actually run 25 man raids. The facts is, organizing 10 people is easier than 25.

Healing is being tuned to be quite a bit harder both on the healer themselves in terms of mana management but also for groups in terms of damage output. Having had first hand experience in the new 5 mans in cataclysm I can tell you healing has become much more difficult. There were several times where I wish I had something I could toss up on a group member so I could keep healing the tank without having to choose which of the two would die (and there were several instances in which someone WILL die), or a few occasions where a tank was getting pummeled hard and could have used something to either help mitigate the damage or use as a life line.

It is in these smaller groups (5 and 10 man content) that our distinct lack of an external cool down to help those around us mitigate damage or act as prevention really is highlighted. This means in smaller group compositions another healer type may wind up being preferable. Keep in mind that in current content external cooldowns have been used to help tanks and raids quite a bit. Examples include but are not limited to; Vezaxx with pain Suppression and Guradrian Spirit were big deals and on hard mode you almost had to have them available. Ormokk the Impailer was cake with a paladin with Hand of Prot and bubbles, and Tranquility owns the air phase on Blood Queen. These are just a few examples

The Fix

The first thing that comes to mind is that we honestly need an external cooldown. The concept of Spirit Link could very easily fill that gap. Now there is a concern that players would use it to kill other players and exactly how the mechanic would work, but there are a couple ways this could be balanced.

You can certainly make it analogous to Divine Sacrifice. Traditionally and lore wise, shaman have always been the protectors of their people both in health and physical defense. Calling upon the powerful spirits and ancestors to guide them, making offerings to produce better hunts or harvests. The idea of a AoE Spirit Link on a long cooldown could be quite nice.

Spirit Link: Instant cast 3 minute cooldown

The shaman calls upon the spirits of their ancestors to watch over their companions and help ease their burdens and suffering

30% of all damage taken by party members within 40 yards is redirected to the Shaman (up to a maximum of 50% of the Shaman’s health times the number of party members).  Damage which reduces the Shaman below 20% health will break the effect.  Lasts 15 sec.

I could see something like that couldn’t you? Could also be handy if say it could also be affected by Ancestral Resolve, we could get that much more out of it. It also stays true to the original thought and feeling behind the spell.

Maybe make it like a healing Misdiretion, where it will still be on a long cool down but maybe transfers a portion of the damage off of x number of swings or impose a time limit. maybe something like:

Spirit Link: Instant cast 3-5 minute cooldown

The current party or raid member targeted will receive 30% of the damage dealt to a secondary target for the next 10 seconds. Any effect that reduces the targets health below 50% will cancel the effect.

These aren’t perfect but it is an idea at least. It really is the only tool we are missing. A long defensive cooldown. The other classes all have their cookies and flavors for this, and with groups potentially thinning down, and with healing being changed as it is, it is personally something I think the class needs. Just… call it Spirit Link to humor me is all I ask! Once we have that I think our healing tool-set will be complete, and then we will truly be princes of the universe! (bet you were wondering why I linked a Queen song up at the top ;])

So what do you think? Do you think shaman need that defensive cooldown? What would you make it? would you change any of our spells to fill the gap?

That is it for this week folks. Happy Healing!

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.

Enter the Circle of Healing Podcast

I mentioned it briefly before, but it’s official now. There is a new World of Warcraft podcast in town. I’ve always had my sights set on expanding to podcasts and videos. Dawn Moore, the host and producer (Spiritual Guidance on WoW.com, discipline) will be regularly joined by Kinaesthesia (vodka’s ace priest, holy) and myself (some guy with multiple blogs, who plays both).

Now to be fair, we’re all priests. There will be times where we make efforts to discuss healing from perspectives of other classes. I suppose you can call us the Circle. Or something. Once get a little more established and comfortable, we’ll be bringing in some guest healers and specialists.

We’ll be recording new episodes twice a month.

What this podcast is

  • Healing discussion: We’re going to be talking about healing stuff. Expect to hear our thoughts and opinions about any and every aspect of healing.
  • Question and answer: Have a healing question? We might have a healing answer. These can either be fictional or real. But we figured someone out there will benefit from it.

What this podcast isn’t

  • It is not a WoW news show: Don’t expect us to be providing news or opinions on general WoW changes. There’s enough podcasts out there that do that already.
  • An update on our lives: We won’t be talking about what we did today or that week. We’re trying to keep a tight schedule so it’ll be straight to business. Although random interjections and tangents may occur, it won’t be a regular occurrence.

Why you should listen to it?

  • How many other WoW related healing podcasts can you name?
  • An educational experience (we hope)
  • Stuff that no other podcast has
  • Kinasthesia’s wit
  • Dawn’s on it
  • Me being… me (that’s not a selling point, is it?)

Oh but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what a former guildmate of mine had to say about it:

“Great insight from some of the game’s leading minds in Priestlyness. Hoping to hear more from them in the future!”

- Infiniz

Okay, enough of that. You want to listen to it and you want it now.

Episode 1: Introductions

Introductory podcast where we discuss our backgrounds, our thoughts at the current state of the healing priest (comforts and discomforts), and these blue posts about healing.

Mirror 1: Circle of Healing Podcast
Mirror 2: World of Matticus

Episode 2: Priests, Masters of Tangent

Big news for this episode? Cataclysm priest talent previews are available. I know that I didn’t put up a post yet detailing my thoughts on it, but you can hear my take on some of the talents here.

Mirror 1: Circle of Healing Podcast
Mirror 2: World of Matticus

The site for the podcast itself is still being developed, but the podcast episodes themselves were ready. Figured we may as well push them live.

Remember, we’re just starting out. Feel free to hit us with feedback, what you liked, didn’t like, want more of, and healing questions are always a plus.

Why Role Balancing Isn’t Your Average Tentacled Monster

Why Role Balancing Isn’t Your Average Tentacled Monster

tentacle unicorn

Tobold’s post today is a refreshing look at how the holy trinity of tanks, healers and DPSers might be re-balanced. His basic concept is that it should be made more rewarding – more useful – to players to play a tank or a healer, for their own interest. Rather than developers assuming that the laws of odds and sods means that some players will play them because – well, someone has to.

Tobold’s correct in that tanks and healers could benefit from their ability to mitigate being more useful in solo combat. I’m not sure that in order to achieve this it would be necessary to make DPS classes “feel more like the proverbial glass cannon”. Combat could be customizable so that DPSers can still enjoy doing what they do best but tanks and healers can make their mitigation work for them.

Without giving it too serious thought early on a Monday I can think of some brief examples; there could be a mechanic whereby tanks reflect an increasing or scalable amount of monsters’ damage back at them (RPS – reflect per second?). The irritation here is that those monsters who are less damage oriented themselves would take longer to kill. Or there could be an improved “thorns” like mechanic – the idea behind thorns at present being that it does damage when thorns’ beneficiary is hit. The improved version (and the mechanic could be given to any class) could mean that effective use of a tank’s abilities gives him a stacking buff which then accordingly deals damage to the monster – which would stack all the more (and slightly insanely) in aoe/quest situations, probably making it great fun for tanks to quest by gathering all of the monsters on the continent at once. I exaggerate. Slightly.

But what are us healers going to do with our mitigation abilities? Ours is not so much mitigation as reparation. So what, we’d heal ourselves at monsters? Now we get to a deeper layer of difficulty for balancing the roles.

This is where the aforementioned concept of “their own interest” comes under scrutiny. In my mind a fighter’s – therefore a tank’s – interest in surviving battle is entirely different to a healer’s. The fighter charegs into battle wanting to smash those monsters in. Those fighters who are tanks also happen not to mind being smashed back by the monsters. A healer’s interest on the other hand is to hoppity-skip around the battlefield amidst volleys of arrows and magic from both sides in order to patch up their teammates.

The point at which their interest intersects is in doing what they are good at; and, trickily, those skillsets shine most in group situations when there are other people around to benefit from them. Not everyone can get hit over the head with as much class as a tank; and fighters going into battle alone traditionally aim to kill the betentacled unicorn quicksmart rather than let it try to tear their guts out for longer than is comfortable. As to healers – how many rogues do you see prancing around with happy light beams streaming from their fingertips? Healers like stapling peoples’ guts back in, and not just their own.

The difficulty here is reconciling two different experience types. First, redressing the game mechanic practicalities of playing a tank or healer to make it intrinsically self-rewarding for players choosing to play a tank or healer. And secondly, not amputating the traditional ideology behind the role types. The ideology which makes roles what they are; antecedents of cultural mythology celebrated through oral story telling, written classics, and role playing.

One way to approach this may be to remember that it’s not all about the roles. You can take the mechanic to the water but to make it drink from it – make the water more interesting. Perhaps the quest system could be overhauled – it’s overdue anyway.

Instead of quest givers parroting the a-typical “kill fish because I want their feathers to make a pair of sandals”, they could have a wider, more imaginative range of ways we can help them. Something like, “get from here to there in <insert arbitrary time limit> because, er, I dunno, how do you feel about couriering misunderstood baby murlocs? And do it the way that best suits you. You look healery, maybe hoppity-skip along and do your nature thing. You don’t have to slowly attack/tickle everything to death.”

Tell you what though. I remember several RPGs where us healers were the big guns when our band of heroes were wading through undead. Back in my day, undead monsters really didn’t like being healed at.

What do you think? How do you think class/role mechanics should be rebalanced on the ‘experience type’ graph, and why?

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

Article images originally on flickr, by Don Solo and merwing little dear.