How to Smite Heal Your Way through Heroics and Raids

I’ve written about the Archangelism spec and style before, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t make it work at all on live. I thought it might’ve been a personal “learn to play” issue on my end and it turned out that’s what it was. Conversing with Priests who prefer the style of Archangel and Evangelism, I ultimately learned that I was doing it wrong.

A Fresh Slate

First thing’s first. Wipe out everything you know about Discipline healing. Approach it with the eye of a new healer because I would refer to this as the 6th healing spec in the game.

Setting up

The spec

33/8/0 is a spec I’m currently experimenting with with heroics and raids.

Essential glyphs

Select whichever Prime glyphs you like as it’s more personal style than anything else. I personally shoot for:

The Major glyph you must have:

The style of play

Atonement is the key talent here. Damage dealt with Smite heals the closest, weakest target which is usually the tank. Think of Smite as the spell used in place of Heal. Use it to help soften the blows your tank will take. When they get to a certain health level, switch back to Penance or healing spells and get the tank back up to the green.

So when do I trigger Archangel?

Do not look at Archangel as a mana return talent. Look at it as a healing buff talent. When you use Archangel, your healing spells get buffed. The tradeoff is that Smite does not get that extra damage boost therefore you must rely on actual healing spells during the period the period that Archangel is used. You must keep an eye on the buff timer though.

For me, everything clicked when I looked at it as a form of stance dancing: Smite healing during slow and steady periods and then activating Archangel to begin casting standard healing spells (Prayer of Healing, Shields and Penance) during intense moments.

When Evangelism is able to be stacked up again, resume the Smite fest.

Numbers wise, Smite will heal anywhere from 9.5k to me to top end critical heals of 15k+ with a mix of dungeon blues and heroic dungeon blues.

Problems

In a raid environment, you don’t have precise control over who gets the heal. I’ve had the Heal off of Smite hit a Bloodworm or a hunter pet instead of the tank (or worse, Ret Paladins). Quick reactions were needed to level off the tank with a Power Word: Shield or something. It’s because of this variability that I wouldn’t use this for raid healing unless there was a gimmick about the encounter.

An example of this is the Halfus encounter. The more drakes and whelps you take down, the more damage your Smite does which leads to stronger heals.

Another issue I ran into is that I’d let my Evangelism stacks fall off. Either I was moving around or the group started to take damage. At the first sign of not being able to refresh Evangelism, activate Archangel so you don’t incur the mana loss.

It’s certainly a fun spec to play and offers a fresh change to the normal healing grind that Priests have had. It takes a bit of getting used to.

Just don’t forget that you have other healing spells in the event things start going sour, so please use them.

It came from the PUG: Tanks but no tanks.

The life of a healer in Cataclysm is new, exciting, and often times terrifying. The new expansion does something quite well, it makes healing really really hard. Since hitting level 85, I quickly geared up for healing and DPS just in case a guild group had a DPS slot available. Guild groups have been an absolute delight. Coordinating CC, figuring out new mechanics, and having a blast in new content and trying for achievements. Random groups however have been, to be honest here, full of suck.

This is mostly due not to the new healing mechanics, but to the new requirements in CC management and smart tanking. Over the course of the last week, I have queued for random heroics as a healer at least three times a day. This endeavor has met with slightly less mixed results than I would have anticipated. In the vast majority of cases the tank has been the problem. Not waiting for CC assignments or for the CC to go off. Breaking CC early, or to be perfectly honest here, pulling like a jack-ass. Now what I mean by this is that the tank is either pulling multiple groups, not waiting for the healer to have mana, not conserving mitigation cooldowns for when they are needed and generally ignoring any sort of logic or strategic approach. This is what I like to call the “Wrath Tanking Mentality”, which will be referred to from this point on in the post as WTM.

What is WTM you may be asking. Well, it’s the idea that heroics are stupidly easy, and require no forward thinking. That as soon as you reach maximum level, you are ENTITLED to the loot contained therein, and the actual running of the dungeon is merely a formality. This honestly wasn’t a problem the first few days as Blizzard instituted a gear requirement before even allowing people to queue randomly for the dungeons, but as players figured out how to raise their GS early the queues began to get worse and worse. In Wrath it wasn’t uncommon for a healer to just say “go ahead and pull 1/2 of the zone, I’ll be just fine.” or some variation therein. Honestly as a fresh 80 running heroics, very few reports of having difficulty healing existed. In Cataclysm though, it’s all about conserving mana, using the right heal for the job, and having a group that avoids all unnecessary damage while following CC assignments. As a healer you may have experienced this, but WTM is very very strong right now. I fear that the learning curve may actually be too steep for some people. I fear this, because inevitably what these people do is cry the loudest for dungeons to be nerfed, and they are very very quick to blame healers. Let me share with you some lovely examples from this week.

Day 1 of heroic ready healer

Throne of Tides: First boss

The tank was a warrior with LESS hit-points than my healer. My healer clocks in at 106k health right now, the tank only had 105k This was red flag number 1. I would have vote kicked him on the spot for that, but he had a voting block with two other guildies with him. We make it to the first boss through all the trash and it feels like a miracle. The tank seems to be made of paper, until I inspect them and see they are still wearing some ilvl 251 gear mixed in with sub-par greens. How this person got into the instance is a mystery to me at the time, but I go along with it. After all I’m a shaman and made of infinite win right? The first boss has a couple abilities that will tax a healer, and outright kill a stupid DPS. One of these abilities is a geyser that she casts beneath a player. You have ample time to move out of it, but if you don’t it will deal enough damage that it will one shot you. Funny thing here is, the first time she casts it even after being warned what it was, the tank does NOT move out of it and dies. That’s right folks, the tank. His comment “You suck healer you should have healed me through that.” I calmly explain that it is an instant kill and he needs to move off of it, and luckily one of his guildies backs me up on this. He drops the matter. The boss also has a phase where she summons three adds, two casters and a melee. The mage polymorphs one caster and I hex the other, which is pretty much standard operating procedure at this point. The tank, tags ALL three adds breaking the polymorph and the hex. The tank proceeds to die, and I am promptly vote-kicked from the group. Clearly both wipes were my fault. I write it off, tack myself to a guild group and a call it a night.

Day 2 of heroic ready healer

Halls of Origination: First Pull

The tank was much better off than the first one. Also a warrior he had a considerably larger health total, and his gear looked to be on par for heroic content. I was feeling optimistic about this run right until the first pull. This pull consists of five mobs that all do many different things. Usually the group marks 2-3 for CC and burns down the two biggest threats fast while pulling out of line of sight. The tank for this run however, rushed blindly in. No CC went out, and we had none besides my hex that could withstand damage so it was a wipe. Second attempt, someone in the group explains what we need to do, and this time we get our CC’s off . The tank however goes rushing in and dies a fiery death as he runs out of my healing range. Third attempt, the tank rushes in, and drops group as soon as everything is angry with us. Right gear, wrong mentality. I do some random heroics with guildies, call it a night.

Day 3 of heroic ready healer

Grim Batol: First boss

Interestingly enough, I got in this one as DPS. I forgot to uncheck DPS from the previous night’s heroic runs with the guild. We get to the first boss easy enough, I explain the fight on heroic and we engage. The healer, a holy priest, is doing a kick ass job and things are going great. Umbriss kicks into high gear and smears the tank pretty good. We wipe, go back in, tank drops group. We get a second tank and the same thing happens. I ask if he’s saving mitigation cooldowns (which I already know the answer to thanks to oRA3) and the only response I get is that the tank drops group. We get a third tank and the same thing happens. oRA3 in all cases shows me that the tank is just blowing tanking cooldowns at odd times. Times when healing isn’t tight and damage is manageable. This bothers me quite a bit and after three more failed tanks all doing the same exact thing I just call it a night and go to bed.

This continues on for what seems like many, many days. Now, not every experience was bad and there was some shinning hope here.

Day 5 of heroic ready healer

Heroic Deadmines

This was the first time that the group was all from random servers and guilds. No repeats of anything. The composition was a druid tank, me healing, a hunter a mage and a warlock for DPS. A lot of viable CC in this group, and best of all, they all listened. We worked together through the whole instance. For every one of us it was the first time setting foot in it since the change. We looked up encounters, made up our own strategies and fought all the way to the end. The druid was an amazing tank watching my mana closely and knowing when it was safe to pull and when it was time to sit back and take a break. Honestly I was impressed with the way the group was communicating without voice chat and getting along. Through normal conversation I find out that the group is made up entirely of players from the vanilla days who used to raid 40 man content. This is new and exciting to me as recently I’ve been running with “wrath babies” so it was good to reminisce about the good old days. We get to the end, figure out the cookie fight without looking it up, earn a few achievements and then begin the VanCleef event. I call it an event because, well, it is very much so an event and not a boss fight (coincidently, Kudos to you on this one Blizzard, A plus all the way on this fight). We get through a few wipes and then we realize it’s already 5 am and we just can’t keep going anymore. We drop group, but it was seriously the best healing experience I’ve had so far in a heroic, and one that hasn’t been replicated yet.

Long journey, but here’s the short of it. Healing is much harder than it was before. Most healers in my experience are making the transition pretty well thanks to the strong healing community feeding information into the media. Tanking and smart DPS is an entirely different story now. I don’t say this a lot, but right now the fail boat has a lot of passengers. I know there will always be a string of bad runs, or players that haven’t been keeping up on every change, but it feels as though we really do have a lot of players behind the curve.

Is the tanking learning curve too steep? Is WTM too strong after having used it for two years? What experiences have you had as a healer in the LFG system? Have you encountered the WTM a

That’s it for now, I’m going to head back in to the LFD tool with my head up and my mana potions stacked high. I’ll be sure to bring you back some awesome, and awful stories. Until next time, happy healing and may your mana be plentiful.

It Came From the P.U.G.!: Why I Hate Gundrak

It Came From the P.U.G.!: Why I Hate Gundrak

For those who might not know yet, my gluttony for abuse knows no bounds. As a result I find myself in a rather large number of P.U.G. groups. At the end of the day I bring you, my readers, the stories of my travels in the random grouping of Azerothian adventure!

I really really hate heroic Gundrak. Not because it’s hard or that there is loot there I want but can’t seem to get to drop, but because it seems like every time I queue for a random, I get it. I’ve done it at least 40 times, and the vast majority of those times have been through the LFD tool. It’s not a bad instance I’m just tired of seeing the insides of it, and I think this last time my group was agitated as well.

It started out pretty normal, warrior tank, ret paladin, mage a boomkin and me. Pretty solid setup, everyone had gear that hovered around at least ICC10 so I figured it would be a nice, quick run. In and out of Gundrak, I’m all for that! Down the first boss like normal and we’re moving onto the second boss when something odd happens. The boomkin pulls threat off the tank on a trash pull. Tank re-establishes aggro and we move onto the next one. The boomkin pulls aggro once again but this time the tank doesn’t grab aggro. I heal the boomkin like crazy and keep him from dying and everyone stops after the trash is downed.

Boomkin: What the hell man? I wasn’t even doing anything to pull aggro! Did you forget how to tank?

Warrior: If you learned how to manage your aggro this wouldn’t be an issue.

Boomkin: Yeah but you just sat there while I was dying! WTF is wrong with you? Learn how to tank

The warrior runs forward and pulls ALL of the trash leading up to the second boss and then shadow melds as the boomkin is in the middle of AoE. All the mobs go hell for broke after the boomkin. I toss an Earth Shield on the druid and nuke heal until the pack is down.

Boomkin: Seriously? What the hell is wrong with you?

Warrior: Shouldn’t try telling me how to tank then

Me: Fine, fuck it. If you two are going to fight, I’ll just tank.

I switch to my PvP gear, run in and ES myself while frost-shocking the boss. I nuke heal myself and keep shocking and lava bursting on the boss.

the DPS starts in slowly and I’m holding aggro pretty well and eventually the tank runs in and grabs aggro off of me. I let him take it and switch back to healing. The boss is downed and we are all sitting there.

Me: So, we done fighting? I already hate this place, I just want to be done.

Ret Pally: Dunno, but watching a healer tanks was pretty funny. Think you could do that again?

Me: Sure, unless mr. tank and mr. boomkin want to play nice so we can just be done.

Warrior: Fine, proved your point.

Boomkin: Fine.

Rest of the run is done without any hiccups, no one is openly aggressive to each other and the rest goes smoothly.

The sad thing about this isn’t that the fight happened, but the fact that it is not the first time something like this has happened. I’ve seen players go at each other’s throats for seemingly small things or mistakes. It boggles my mind how people playing a GAME for FUN can have such a stick up their arse and be so aggressive. This has happened at least 3 times this past week, not me tanking (although I do threaten it from time to time), but the bickering. If you can’t play well with others, you shouldn’t be playing a game that relies on OTHER PEOPLE to do part of it, or just avoid that part of it.

So how about you? Any good pug stories this week? Any horror stories?

Well that’s it for today, until next time Happy Healing!

It Came from the P.U.G.: The Lodur Abides

It Came from the P.U.G.: The Lodur Abides

For those who might not know yet, my gluttony for abuse knows no bounds. As a result I find myself in a rather large number of P.U.G. groups. At the end of the day I bring you, my readers, the stories of my travels in the random grouping of Azerothian adventure!

So we’ve had one hell of a couple weeks haven’t we? I know I was busy with talk of addons and macros but more importantly, last week we had the Shaman class changes. Don’t worry I won’t gush about it, there will be plenty of time for that later.  For today I’d like to share with you the latest in my P.U.G stories.

Tuesday I logged back in a couple hours after the raid to get my auction house items up and then do my daily heroic. It is about 2 am est at this point which is my normal heroic time. That night however I get Heroic Culling of Stratholme. Now I haven’t done CoS since they updated it with the fast forward button. We start out and I take a look at the group, bear tank decently geared, shadow priest and warlock ok geared and a fury warrior. To give you an idea the sp and lock were hovering around a 4k gear score, the fury warrior was just about 5k and the bear was almost at 6k.

It should be a quick run right? I forgot that you could talk to Chromie and port right there now, so the tank and twoDPS start before I get there (D’oh!), but they don’t die. I show up and we blow through the first two bosses and their respective waves, and head into the town hall. We down the first wave and head upstairs, the next group spawns and the fury warrior goes down. I look around and notice that the tank was still sitting downstairs. I heal the hell out of the priest and lock and eventually the tank comes upstairs and wrangles everything. I quickly rest the warrior and the tank apologizes and says hit a massive lag spike. It’s ok it happens so no harm no foul. We get through the hallway and kill the third boss, and then the tank DC’s. The warrior freaks out “should we wait? the timer’s running out”

The priest pipes up “we can probably 4 man it, the healer’s good. As long as he’s ok with it that is. “

I say sure, set my focus macros and head off careening for the gauntlet. What happens is the fury warrior and I both wind up tanking. I just keep getting aggro from healing and apparently he only had dps specs (fury and arms caught me off guard). We tear through the gauntlet and make it to the corrupter. I frost shock and start healing. Corrupter goes down and chat starts up again.

Priest ” told you we’d be fine.”

Warrior “wow, that was cool, but shouldn’t we find a tank for the last boss?”

Me “pfft, I got this we’ll be fine”

I run in aggro Mal’ganis and immediately drop Earth Elemental. Toss an earth shield on the elemental and start healing. The group manages their aggro and the elemental tanks Mal’ganis for the entire fight. We end successfully and there are three very excited people in party with me

Warrior “that was seriously awesome, I don’t think I’ve seen something like that before”

Priest “thank you for that, most fun I’ve had in a while”

Warrior “yeah never realized shaman could do that”

Me “np, had a blast myself. “

Everyone parts ways and I have a huge shit-eating-grin on my face. Late night tanks are still hard to find, getting one to stick around when the instance is almost over is even tougher. Being able to finish the run, and have people have a blast while doing it is priceless to me. I play this game to have fun and honestly nights like this are some of my favorite moments. I get to do something out of the ordinary, and get to make some people happy. All in all a good night I’d say.

As some of you know, I’m big on community. I like helping members of the community out, so when someone approaches me and asks for a shout out, I’ll look it over and if it doesn’t seem bad I’ll go ahead and give it a push. So a moment of your time if you please. This one is a favor for a friend’s friend. Ginny who did the lovely artwork for my Dwarf Shaman and the artwork featured in my spells and totems article on wow.com asked if I would be so kind as to help spread word of her friend’s attempt to raise money for charity. This is from will draw 4 food who is attempting to raise money to donate to the Jake Wetchler foundation. The foundation’s focus is the research and treatment of pediatric cancer.  Their main site should be done in may so feel free to stop by and take a gander.

That’s it for today folks.

Do you have any interesting pug stories? Anything fun you did this week?

Until next time, Happy Healing!

Image courtesy of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Gramercy Pictures and the Cohen brothers.

Heroic moments

Heroic moments

Last couple days I’ve been talking with a few friends about the heroic or epic feel of the game. This was spurred by the recent Cataclysm class previews. My friend felt that the game was making players too over powered and he feels that what he wants is and I quote

“To have the ever loving shit beaten out of the raid by a boss. Like seriously have Deathwing be so badass he just looks at us and we die.”

I replied with a little snark informing him that he could always level to 60 and turn off xp and raid classic content while it still existed, whatever was left of it.

To me the game is taking a logical step in many ways, I mean let’s take a look at all the things we’ve done in the game (and by we I mean as a collective player base).

  • Defeated an elemental lord
  • Defeated the son and daughter of the aspect of earth and the progenitor of the Black Dragon Flight
  • Defeated and old god and his followers
  • Defeated troll tribal leaders and their god
  • Defeated the Lich Kings floating citadel and his right-hand lich
  • Cleansed the home of Medivh
  • Defeated a Daemon lord
  • Stomped a troll hero into the dirt
  • Defeated a power sucking Prince of the blood elves
  • Defeated Illidan
  • Restored the sunwell while repelling a powerful Eredar
  • Trudged through the snow and ice to set fire the the Lich Kings floating citadel AGAIN!
  • Killed the aspect of magic
  • Beat down ANOTHER god and the servants of titans
  • Slapped around the custodian of the titans
  • and Dethroned an undead king

/breathes

So…  Yeah. Safe to say we’ve done a lot right? but if you look at it it’s been big bads right? So why shouldn’t we feel a little powerful right?

We’ve all had those moments too, where after a boss goes down or a particularly hard fight is won where you want to stand up and thrust your fists in the air and yell in victory. I know it’s just a game, but you can’t help but feel accomplished sometimes. For me it’s those moments of the harrying first kill. My guild’s first Blood Queen (25) kill, there were only two people left standing. Me and the feral druid stood over her corpse amid a sea of raider bodies. It may sound weird but in that moment I felt really good at the kill, being so close to that wipe and trying EVERY trick I had to stay alive / res / keep someone up long enough for the DoTs to tick was heart pounding, and that kill is among the ones I savor the most. I count that as one of my heroic moments in the game, where I felt that this could see this as a scene from a movie or book and wanting to throw my hands up victorious in the air and scream my defiance at this villain that had stood in our way threatening death, and nearly delivering it in full.

In every story I’ve ever read as the main character got more powerful, so did his enemies. We are about to go up against the corrupted aspect of earth. EARTH. That little thing all of Azeroth is comprised of. Safe to assume he’s going to be something of a jerk right? So with all the class changes happening I think it’s in good form that we are starting to feel well…. uber. It fits with the progression of the game.

Also consider that encounters are changing. The way we handle fights now is for the most part pretty linear. Don’t stand in fire, don’t stand in front of the boss, let the tank get aggro etc etc. Even the current mechanics can be boiled down to simplistic measures in many cases. In Cataclysm however the dynamics of each role are changing. The mechanics of each class are changing and this is going to allow developers to make more interesting encounters.

Me, I’m looking forward to Cataclsym and all the changes. I’m looking forward to having to approach different encounters differently. I look forward to feeling like yes I am powerful, but still have a damn good challenge ahead of me. I’m looking for more spells, more encounter mechanics, harder mana regen. I’m looking forward to feeling like the team I belong to earned EVERY kill with sweat blood and perseverance. I don’t think we’re overpowered, I just think we scale with content!

So how about you? How do you feel about the changes coming? Do you think they are over powered? Do you have a heroic moment to share? A well earned kill?

That’s it for today folks, until next time, Happy Healing!

 

Case Study: Anub’arak 10 Heroic Featuring a Priest and Druid

case-study-anub-10-h

This was a post I’ve been debating myself repeatedly on whether or not to trash because I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. Comments from the recent survey asked for more case studies and as a result, I’ve decided to revisit and polish this up some more.

Note: This post was written several weeks ago so the time context may be off.

Quite frankly, Anub’arak 10 scares the crap out of me.

Tonight, we were planning to zip through ToGC 10 and get it down in order to acquire additional gear and tokens. Up to this point, we had been running with 3 healers: 2 Resto Druids and myself on my Priest.

Heading into the fight, we knew we’d have to drop down to 2 healers for the extra DPS on the boss. We drew straws. Syd and I lost (actually, of the 3 healers, our DPS alternates weren’t as good compared to his). This was the first time either of us would be healing this encounter.

First attempts

The first several attempts were designed to get our feet wet with managing surface phases and burrow phases. I decided to give this fight a crack with me opening as Discipline. I would cover the tanks and Syd would take the rest of the raid. We both cover Penetrating Cold between my shields and her HoTs.

Both of the tanks I kept alive through a combination of Shields and Improved Renews. Yes, a Discipline Priest who uses Renew is a rarity, but I wasn’t going to debate on right or wrong ways. I had a job that involved keeping up 2 tanks alive at all costs. When that happens, you use every spell in the book regardless of your spec. Penetrating Cold seemed to hit me more often than not. I was reminded why Binding Heal was in the game.

Syd and I stood on the tail end of Anub for most of the night. Made the job easier for our tank if the Burrowers locked onto us before he could get to them. If I had the opportunity (which was rare), I’d sneak in a Shadow Word: Pain or Death once in a while.

The basic game plan was to overpower the initial 70%. If we hit two burrow phases, it would be game over.

anub-burrow-phase

At 5 seconds to burrow, we’d yank Anub from his ice patch and drag him off to the side. This way, if melee players get focused while beating on ads, they’d have enough clearance to jet to point 1 (actually, any player that gets focused goes to point 1). The next person that gets it shoots up to way point 2. The last person heads down to way point 3.

If the timer isn’t up by then, we play it by ear and bring down another orb.

Meanwhile, our players were kiting Anub to his designated spot. Players being pursued by scarabs were shielded and renew’d immediately. In the event I had nothing to do, I’d chip on scarabs with a Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death nuke (just like Arena).

I remember one time watching Anub getting perilously close to Syd and she managed to break into Cat form and sprint, which brought us a few precious seconds before he resurfaced.

The second surface phase was a basic repeat of the first. Once we tipped him over, everything changed and this is where it got really interesting.

Note: This is where you want to start reading

My mana was at the point where it was time to break out the Shadowfiend. How convenient Heroism was used after he had spawned! I made sure the tanks were properly shielded and HoTTed at all times. Penance, Greater Heal and Flash Heal were cycled among the two tanks. I heard the distinctive cue of Tranquility firing off. I did my best to balance shields on Penetrating Cold targets as well.

Try as I might, I couldn’t do it. Our Anub tank died while the beetle was at 17% or so.

The next attempts were more of the same.

Main tank dead at 12%.
Main tank dead at 15%.

This was true triage.

Whatever I was doing, it wasn’t enough. Frustration, anger, you name it, I felt it. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the Disc Priest class.

There was something wrong with me.

Syd, with her uncanny knack of detecting my mood (must be a girl thing) suggested the brilliant idea of me going Holy and her looking after tanks instead.

Structured cooldowns

Before I forget, I wanted to mention that we became more disciplined in our cooldown use. We decided to script our cooldowns in advance. We had a Prot Paladin, 2 Druids (Boomkin and Resto) and a Priest. In other words, we had 3 outs. The Druids were placed in separate groups for Tranquility.

We had no troubles adjusting to surface or submerged phases. We hit the 30% mark again and it was do or die time.

For group healing, I kept a hasted Prayer of Healing ready for the second group while a glyphed Holy Nova was reserved for mine.

The players were lowered to 50-60% ranges before firing off heals. Empowered Renews were placed on Penetrating Cold targets at all times and the tanks if they were getting too low.  We were all within close proximity of each other. Surge of Light activations were held for sudden Penetrating Cold victims (like if they were at medium health and gained the debuff).

Once I felt we were about to get overwhelmed, I called out for a Tranquility. Syd lit hers while our Boomkin shifted out and casted his well.

I started to run low on mana. I brought everyone back up before a Divine Sacrifice was called and gambled Hymn of Hope. In hindsight, I should have Hymned during the Tranquilities (again, learn from my mistakes).

It must have felt like an eternity. I wasn’t sure how much further we could go. I shot off an Inner Focused Divine Hymn in desperation on the final stretch. We had nothing else left. Heal after heal was cycled while I was inwardly praying for him to fall over. Last ditch Desperate Prayer saved me after another nasty Penetrating Cold.

Our Mage died. It looked like the raid was about to buckle, but Anub managed to fall over first before we did.

In recent weeks, we’ve used two groups to successfully bring down Anub that featured Holy Paladin/Resto Shaman and Disc Priest/Resto Shaman healers. I hope you’ve taken something away from the post and I’ll see if I can do more case studies in the future.

Oculus Gets a Facelift

Oculus Gets a Facelift

OCULUS

Image credited to Blizzard Entertainment

Since the days of Burning Crusade, we’ve seen the rise of the Heroic.  Five brave heroes banding together to take on our favorite dungeons, but the foes are much more formidable.  The badges/emblems, the epic loot, the reputation, the Nether/Orb, and the Heroic Daily.  These have become staples of our WoW community.

My personal favorite?  In BC, I loved Shadow Labs.  People whined about it taking too long, but I loved it.  In WotLK, it’s hard to choose a favorite.  Nexus, Utgarde Pinnacle, and Halls of Lightning certainly rank among my favorites.

However, as a WoW player from any walk of life, you’ve probably been a part of this conversation:

“Hey, does anyone wanna do the daily?”

“Sure, I’ll go!  I still need emblems for my heirloom piece.”

“Yeah, me too!”

“Has anyone checked what the daily is?”

“Lemme check.”

(Pause for dramatic effect)

“Oculus.”

“….F*** that.”

“Yeah, forget it.”

Oculus is the second dungeon in Coldarra, the subregion in northwest Borean Tundra.  There it sits, laughing at all of us.  It touts itself as the most hated heroic we’ve ever set foot in.  Even Heroic Shattered Halls was manageable once you got geared enough.

Trouble usually comes from coordination and orientation.  Being the first 5-man to introduce flying mounts, I’m grateful that I can’t lose my driver’s license by the horrible flying I do in Oculus.  And trying to get a PUG, or even a late-night group of post-raid guildies, into a focused mindset to handle the rotation needed to down Eregos is a chore unto itself.

Combined with a slew of other issues we’ve all come to hate, Oculus has become the least-run Heroic in the game.  People loathe it.  Forums and blogs feed the hatred.  I have yet to complete Proof of Demise, simply because I can’t stomach the thought of doing Oculus.  Even in my guild last night, I heard someone say, “I’ll run any Heroic but Oculus.”

A Brand New Day

Thankfully, Patch 3.3 is going to bring us some treats to ease our anger.  It was just announced in the patch notes that Oculus is getting nerfed.  **Pause for roaring applause**

  • Many bosses and creatures have had their total health reduced.
  • Several bosses and creatures have had cooldowns on specific abilities increased, effect durations reduced, and damage on some of these abilities reduced.
  • Ring-Lord Conjurers and Sorceresses now hang out in packs of 4 instead of packs of 5.
  • Vehicle scaling on the drakes based on the rider’s item level has been increased to make them more powerful.

Perhaps Blizzard has finally noticed the dust collecting below the portal of this monstrosity.

Oculus was by no means impossible, but it definitely was a bit too challenging for its level.  Especially now with the Emblem grind going full force, this shift puts Oculus into the mix of “Chain Heroics”.

I’m looking forward to trying out the new Oculus to see if I can heal through it without wanting to pull my hair out.  I also look forward to trying my hand at some fancy achievements that I never got to try before, such as Amber Void, Ruby Void, and Emerald Void!  Another step toward my goal: Glory of the Hero.

Do you agree with the negative stigma surrounding Oculus?  Are you looking forward to its facelift in Patch 3.3??

ThespiusSig

Email me: elder.thespius@gmail.com  |  Tweet me: @Thespius

Patch 3.3 Makes PUGing Easier

Patch 3.3 Makes PUGing Easier

new-lfg-header-gfx

Back at Blizzcon we received an announcement from the devs that they were implementing new ways to reduce the wrath of the “additional instance” boss, which was already in place on many realms at the time of the convention. As many of you may have noticed this seems to have gone off pretty well and I think at least for now the instance door boss has been put down. Lets hope his respawn timer doesn’t come back up anytime soon, but so far so good. People have been able to farm Headless Horseman to their hearts content and daily heroics don’t see us spending 45 minutes waiting to just zone in.

At the con they also announced that they were going to refine the LFG system as well as add in cross server LFG capabilities to the game. Well in patch 3.3 PTR we are seeing the beginnings of the system. I for one am incredibly excited and can’t wait to see how this feature shapes up. As it stands you can use the system to go into a completely random group, or you can party up with a couple people and random the rest. You can choose your spec or role that you can fill just like in the current LFG system, but now you have the option of assembling a completely random group from different servers, and you get an option to sign up to lead the rag-tag band of misfits you aquire. As a reward you’ll receive a number of Frost Emblems and a helping of gold for your time and trouble. That alone is a good incentive to use the system as money and badges are always a good thing.

For me the biggest draw of this is the cross server interaction. They put that together for us back in an attempt to balance out Battle Grounds (which more or less worked but that’s a topic of debate for another day). Now the idea of being able to go directly to the instance with people pulled from the other servers of my battle group excites me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a group ready to go but missing a tank, and there were none to be found. I just imagine a tank on another server unable to find a group kicking his can around wondering why no one wants to play with him. With this new system, the problem is lessened in theory. With the amount of badges we’ll likely need when Icecrown drops this will help ensure you’re able to find a group.

In a nutshell this will help eliminate those times where you’re sitting around for hours waiting for a group to do something. Just hit a button and shortly thereafter you’re off on a new adventure.

This is also important because there are also plans to use this for raids as well, at least the random group part, but not the cross realm part. Right now the interface for it is buried in the PTR (you can dig and find if you like). This is good for people like me with an army of alts. There are a ton of raids I would love to run on my hunter, like I would love to run her through naxx, but I can never find a group. This would also help struggling guilds that are having trouble filling in the last couple slots of their roster for a raid, just pop open the tool and find a few more folks to join in the fun.

I’m really excited about this feature and I think it will open up a lot more of the game for many people. It will allow greater accessibility to the content of the game for people that otherwise might not have been able to see it.

What do you think? Like it? Hate it? What do you expect from it? Will you use it?

That’s all for today, until next time Happy Healing!

Sig

Image borrowed from wow.com

It Came From the PUG: A Resto Shaman Story

It Came From the PUG: A Resto Shaman Story

dazed2

For those of you who are new to here as readers or are just tunning in, I have an addiction to PUGs. I think they are a fun and amazing animal to play with. It came from the PUG is my column where when something interesting happens when pugging, I can share it with you.

With the Tier 9 content requiring  badges for all gear, I find myself trying to do the heroic daily every day. My normal Modus operandi is to log back into the game around 2 am EST and hit trade chat / LFG and find a group that needs a healer. I’ve been doing this for weeks no problem. Log in, pop in LFG usually no more then 4 minutes go by before I’m scooped up and on my way to the instance of the day.

Thursday though something odd happened. Something that hasn’t happened to me in a long long time. I’m talking beginning of BC long time. I log in, 1:45 am EST. I pop into LFG add a comment about being Tier 9 geared. The daily is Heroic Culling. Easy mode for me, I never have to stop to drink I can roll Riptide and Lesser Healing Wave pretty much the entire time and then go home with some badges. After about 15 minutes I notice no one’s sent any invites out and that I haven’t recieved tells. I just think that maybe there’s a ton more healers on tonight pugging then normal. So I hop into trade chat.

“T9 Resto Shaman LFG Heroic CoS pst”

I don’t spam trade but I make sure it’s seen. After another 10 minutes of no response I see someone asking in trade chat for a healer for CoS. I wait to see if a second request goes out and after a few minutes don’t see any so I figure someone got scooped up quickly. So I toss into trade again

“T9 Resto Shaman LFG Heroic CoS pst”

No more than 2 minutes go by before I see the same person send out a request in trade for healers for CoS. I think to myself well this is silly I’ll just send them a tell and we’ll be off in no time. Still plenty of time before the reset at this point.

“Hey, I’ll come heal for you guys.”

I get no response. After a few minutes I send them

“If you found another healer it’s cool. “

Then I see in trade chat again the same person asking for healers for CoS. WTF!? Does this person have me on ignore? Maybe the tells are just getting lost in the sea of trade chat spam? I don’t know so I send him another tell.

“Hey, I see you keep posting in trade you’re looking for a healer for the daily. I’m willing and ready to go. Are you not receiving my tells?”

This time I get a response;

“no, I’m getting them. Just don’t want you healing.”

I scratch my head at this one a bit. What the hell did I do to this guy?

“I’m sorry that’s a rather ominous satement. Did I do something to offend you or something?”

At this point I’m not mad, I’m just ridiculously curious why.

“you’re a Shaman, you can’t heal a heroic.”

The reply was very matter of fact and that’s all I got.

“You can’t be serious. Really it’s because I’m a Shaman?”

“yeap, sorry.”

So, complete B.S. reason right? Maybe. Maybe this person had a really bad run in with an enhancement shaman who said “OH HI I’LL HEAL YOU” but didn’t actually spec into Resto or use any spell gear. Either way I had a good chuckle about it and I responded with the only thing I think I could at the time.

“Dude, I’m so blogging about this! Make sure you stop by and see it! www.worldofmatticus.com, Good luck and have a good night =D”.

At this point the daily was changing over, so I decided to call it a night without getting my two badges. Just goes to show you, sometimes you don’t even have to get it IN the group before something interesting happens.

So, how about you guys? Anything fun to report from any PUGs?

Until next time, Happy Healing.

Sig

Crusader’s Coliseum: Heroic Hard Mode Details (Updated 10:30 AM)

Updated with more details, 10:30 AM.

These details come as a courtesy of my officer, KimboSlice and is obtained from the TankSpot forums (which is reposted on MMO Champion). Figured I’d share it (summarized) with everyone who is waiting for maintenance to expire (and who don’t actively check MMO Champion or Tankspot).

Northrend Beasts Encounter

Gormok the Impaler

  • Impale does 150% weapon damage instead of 100%.
  • DoT ticks for 80% more damage and lasts 5 seconds longer. Tanks must switch at 2 stacks.
  • Yes, you will need 3 tanks to handle the DoT rotation. All 3 will need heals.
  • Each Snobold that is out there increases his damage by 15%.
  • The direct damage from Impale will hit for ~35000.
  • Stomp on melee from 9k to 12k

Acidmaw and Dreadscale

  • Imperative for players to spread out.
  • Acid hits for 5000 every 2 seconds.
  • Burning bile is 9000 damage every 2 seconds to players within 10 yards.
  • It is expected that if one enrages, it will be a wipe. Therefore, both snakes may have to be taken down together. Not sure of this, but keep it in mind.
  • Whatever happened to that third snake?

Icehowl

  • Arctic breath does 30000 damage over 5 seconds. I suggest assigning healers to the left or right of Icehowl to help reduce increase survivability.
  • Random whirlwind on melee from 10k to 14k

Lord Jaraxxus

  • Touch of Jaraxxus inflicts ~4000 damage over 12 seconds which causes players to be affected by Curse of the Nether (AoE dot). Possible decurse?
  • Mistress’ Kiss: Next spell with a cast time gets that school interrupted for 8 seconds and causes 8000+ damage.
  • Incinerate Flesh needs 85000 healing instead of 60000 to remove it.
  • Burning Inferno (Incinerate Flesh after it’s not removed) ticks for 8000 damage a second for 5 seconds (Yeah, that’s a wipe)
  • Pain Spike from the Mistress does 100% of a target’s health over time
  • Legion Flame now ticks for 12000
  • Fel Lightning from 10k to 12k

Faction Champions

  • Spells and abilities are more potent.
  • Shaman LHW from 20k to 60k
  • Paladin Holy Light from 50k to 80k
  • Warlock Corruptionf rom 18k to 24k
  • Expect the trend to continue with the other class abilities.

Val’kyr Twins

  • Touch of Light (or Dark): Inflicts 4000 damage to players of the opposite essence every second. For example, Touch of Light will do ~4000+ damage to players under the effect of dark Essence every second. Light touched players will not take any damage.
  • Surge of Light (or Dark): Inflicts 1500 damage every 2 seconds to enemies of the opposite essence. For example, Surge of Light deals 1500 damage every 2 seconds to Dark essence
  • Shield health increased from 700k to 1.2 million (Ouch)
  • Power of the Twins: +20% damage and hit, 10% attack speed if Twins are too close.
  • Unleashed Light/Dark orb hits increased from 9000 to 15000.

Anub’arak

  • Leeching swarm ticks for 20% health instead of 10%
  • Extra add: Nerubian Ice Darter (No other details)

There might be some more surprises tonight as we head into the Coliseum. If there’s anything else you or your raid group notices, I encourage you to post comments to reflect that. As I experience the encounters myself, I’ll do a follow up post later on with more healing specific tips on getting through them.

Good luck and good hunting!