Lodur’s Response to the “Paragon Shaman Scare”

Lodur’s Response to the “Paragon Shaman Scare”

Following the recent world first heroic Sinestra kill by Paragon, players have been pouring over their logs determining their raid composition and the numbers necessary to succeed in such an encounter. One thing of note is that the raid Paragon took was assembled without any shaman of any spec or flavor. This has caused a bit of a stir across the Internet as players begin to question the viability of the entire class as a whole. People are calling for buffs, for other players to be nerfed, or just randomly QQing about how under powered all of the classes are and jumping ship to roll paladins. Today I’d like to break down what the problems actually are, what fixes could be proposed and dispel some of the anger, fear and angst surrounding our class in the last couple weeks. I will preface this post by saying that this is not a shot at Paragon or any other top tier raiding guild. I appreciate all your hard work and your accomplishments. This post is for the rest of us out there, who aren’t quite at their level.

Throwing Lightning and Swinging Axes

The DPS of the shaman class has always been a wobbly wooden seat in a room full of steelchairs. Ever since the days of Vanilla WoW, our Viability as DPS has sort of teetered. I’m not going to pontificate on it too much,  as I’m really a healer, but I started my WoW career throwing lightning on my magnificent Tauren Shaman and still do it now for fun and a change of pace. In BC and much of Wrath I took it away from elemental and smacked things with sharp objects and big sticks for entertainment, so suffice to say I’ve spent at least some time DPSing (yes this includes raids and hard mode raids when it was necessary).

Right now the big argument is that scaling is the issue. I can see why, and maybe there is a valid concern here. Right now at “Blue level gear” a shaman is capable of toping charts and blowing away everything that stands in front of them. The logical assumption is that scaling is the issue, that we don’t’ scale well compared to other classes as higher gear becomes available.  Maybe part of that is true, but managing spellpower coefficients is a tricky science and one that Blizzard is already looking at. If you tweak it too high you can break the system, tweak it too low and the class becomes useless. When you see them say they are increasing a spell’s power by 10%, they really mean they are adjusting the coefficient. We’ll get into that a little more later on here in the post, but just keep that in the back of your mind for now. Personally I feel that scaling is the lesser of the issues for damage.

I contend that movement has always been the greater bane  of the shaman in all aspects of life. We’re turrets, we’ve always been turrets, and anything we get to help us do our job on the move is only a stop-gap to tide us over until we can sit still and go back to work. I’ve done fights where I’ve out DPSd an equal-gear equal-skill hunter because I was able to sit in one place and just cast Lightning Bolt after Lightning Bolt (metaphorically speaking, I did use other spells), but on a very movement heavy fight I was crushed by an under-geared affliction lock. Literally the only difference was movement. While I agree that some of the spells need a little tweaking to make them a little less RNG dependent and help with minor scaling issues, I would have loved to have seen something that elemental and enhancement shaman could have grabbed to either extend the period of use for Spiritwalker’s Grace or shorten its cooldown. I think that overall would be a better, more utilitarian fix. Either a talent stuck somewhere or attached to something else. I could easily see it being an additional effect of  Ancestral Swiftness. Now this is just an idea, and maybe it’s not the best one, but I think it goes a little further to solving the real problem. This goes for both elemental and enhancement. While our mobility has improved, at any point in time we have to move, it takes us the longest to recover and start back in to try and maintain our offense.

I throw magic water on it, BE HEALED!

Lets get into the topic that is a little bit hotter of a debate, and more in my area of expertise. Right now the debate is that shaman healing is way too low when compared to other healers. While our numbers are seemingly low when compared to priests and paladins, our numbers seem to line up pretty closely to restoration druids. I think this happens for a few reasons. Shaman are the healing model for Cataclysm, or so we’ve been told since day one of the healing change discussions. I still feel this to be very true. I’ve not encountered a fight I haven’t been able to heal through with hard work, determination and communication with my group. Sure some fights are harder on us than others, but that boils down to a few reasons.

First of all shaman have slightly different mechanics than, say, a discipline priest. We don’t really mitigate damage, we stabilize and then bring everything back to whole. Healing Rains, Healing Stream Totem, Riptide, Earthliving and even Earth Shield all lend themselves to helping us stabilize players so we can either edge their health up with Healing Wave, drop a nuke like Healing Surge and Greater Healing Wave or use Chain Heal to quickly bring a group from the brink. Our job isn’t to keep everyone topped off anymore, it’s to keep them stable and alive.

The difference in healing tactics  is something we should be used to by now. In Vanilla you basically spot healed when you needed to while making sure your totems were optimally placed. In Burning Crusade you down-ranked Chain Heal and just spammed it regardless of content size and things were good as we stacked haste and MP5. In Wrath things got a little more complicated. With down-ranking of spells rendered ineffective, and the addition of a new spell, Riptide, we basically had to relearn how to heal right. We did hit a patch of trouble at the Ulduar phase of the expansion where players discovered Riptide and Lesser Healing Wave did so much healing that our other spells could be all but forgotten. This was balanced out by Blizzard at the time, but it still meant that through the life of Wrath we constantly adjusted our healing style and strategies right up until ICC dropped. Before our job was always to restore everyone to full, or as someone aptly put it on twitter, to “HEAL ALL THE THINGS!”. A lot of shaman are having trouble making the adjustment, especially those that are rolling one for the first time after playing a paladin, priest or druid. So part of our problem is there is a rather steep learning curve right now.

Secondly, just like our DPS brethren, movement is always an issue. Anytime we are forced to move our HPS drops like a rock. While we have tools to help us out in that regard, we still lack things like a multiple person HoT that we can control where it goes and can cast at the rate of a GCD between them.  Once we get into position it can sometimes take us a few moments to play “catch up” with healing. The same fix for DPS could in theory be applied here. Give us something to extend SwG out or reduce the cooldown and that will go a long way to helping through put. Although at that point, since all three specs would benefit from it, it would basically be a redesign of the spell. Point is though, movement fights (which Cataclysm has many of) are doable, but we still suffer for it.

Lastly, some of our spellpower coefficients feel off. Not massively so, but just enough to notice it. Particularlly with Chain Heal, Greater Healing Wave and Earthliving. Right now on the PTR 4.0.6 build, Chain Heal is getting a 10% buff. While most would assume this means that it will heal for 10% more, this isn’t exactly the case. Remember what we talked about before with spellpower coefficients? Here’s how the buffing really works. Right now on live, Chain Heal has a spellpower coefficient of 0.32 or 32%. This means that 32% of your spellpower directly affects the amount you heal for when using that spell. On the PTR this has been increased to 0.35 or 35%. Now you may say that this is a 3% increase not a 10% increase, but look again. What got the 10% buff was the coefficient as 10% of 32 is roughly 3. This is a lot better than it seems really. As the game progresses, we will mass more and more int, and as a result our spellpower will grow. That 35% coefficient will go further to scale us better with gear as we get “older” in the content. Same goes for Greater Healing Wave which has an estimated spellpower coefficient of 80%. It is getting a 20% bump, but that means on the PTR it has a coefficient of almost 96% if my math is right.  Again, see where this is going?

Sadly, though, Earthliving is not getting any attention yet, and I think it really should. For something we can’t control where it goes and who it heals, it feels weak. When it does proc you don’t control who gets the healing effect, and a lot of healing can be wasted this way on targets that you bring to full health only to watch the HoT keep ticking away. It is something I think could stand to be tweaked just a little bit. Haste certainly gives it a little boost by allowing it an extra tick of healing, but it is still spread out over 12 seconds. I can’t help but feel raising it to a 25% sp-coefficient from 23% would go a long way to help alleviate some of concern with it, and make it count on those it lands on that need the healing. It’s not a perfect solution, but I could see it being beneficial.

But why the hell are paladins and priests pulling so far ahead?

Short answer, they’re a little bit broken right now. True priests are complaining about mana issues, but Prayer of Healing is really strong right now, currently stronger than Chain Heal by a sufficient margin. It is also spammable to a degree, while we are forced to move away from Chain Heal spam. Little things like this are what allow priests to pull ahead by such a large margin. Paladins are just, well, in a word ridiculous. The amount of free healing a paladin gets is honestly quite staggering. While I’m certainly not saying that paladin healers aren’t talented, it’s worth it to note that our big heal at a raid ready gear level will be somewhere between 23 – 32k on a crit. Paladins? Well for that same GCD that paladin with equal gear will hit the same amount. Then you get the free heal from beacon of light which will then heal for 50% of whatever the primary target was healed for. That’s a huge chunk of healing right there. Combine that with the free healing a paladin gets to do with Light of Dawn and you can start to see some of the disparity.

So right now things aren’t very balanced. That’s OK. We’re not paladins or priests. We’ll never be paladins or priests, and that’s OK too. The new patch being tested on the PTR right now will be the first step to balancing out healing. Our heals are getting stronger, and paladins and priests are getting fine tuned. This should bring all four classes back in line with one another, leaving shaman for the most part untouched except for some much needed tweaks in the positive direction.

But Paragon didn’t use ANY shaman! Method only used ONE!!! That means I won’t have a raid spot!

You realize not everyone is Paragon or Method right? These are top-tier guilds that push through content as fast as possible using every little advantage they can to get the kill and be number 1. Let’s take a trip in our time machine back to the release of Black Temple. Nihilum got the first Illidan kill, and do you know how they were geared? They didn’t farm BT for weeks gaining gear to increase power levels. No, they charged through the content and pushed right up to him as fast as possible to down him. Most of their raiders were in the previous tier’s gear or lower. They pushed through the hardest content with a lot less gear than a normal guild doing the fight would have had.

Fast forward to Cataclysm and the trend continues. If you want to be bleeding edge, right there at the forefront of the digital war for number 1, you don’t stop to farm gear. You grab what you get along the way, and keep pushing. Class imbalances play a huge roll in this. If you have four healing classes, and two of them are pushing 30% more healing than the other two, you’re going to stack them. Why? Because that extra advantage compensates for lack of gear, and helps you push through the content. The same goes for DPS and tanks. I can’t remember which guild or which fight it was, but recently a group stacked a ton of druid bears to push through the fight. Does that mean every guild should stack nothing but druids? No, not really.

Truth is that for the average guild (and I mean literally if you would take all the guilds in the world and plot where everyone falls in composition and progression), you won’t have to worry about this. As you defeat bosses and gather gear every week, you’ll do nothing but improve. Keep in mind too that this was a heroic raid boss that was completely untested before anyone actually engaged her. By the time you manage to get there, you’ll likely have geared up quite a bit, and chances are good there will be at least one or two hot fixes in that affect you or the other healers, maybe even the encounters. Any good raid leader worth their salt will know that guilds like Paragon are the exception, not the rule. If you’re in a guild that the raid leader is pushing to have the same composition, well, maybe it isn’t the best place for you.

Really, the moral of the story here is that you shouldn’t let what one guild does on one fight dictate how you play or how you compose your raids. Classes and abilities will sometimes be imbalanced, trust in the developers to notice and balance it out in the end, after-all that is what they get paid to do. Expect and prepare for change. Remember Ulduar? In wrath, shaman at the tier 8 content level were falling behind in AoE healing by a considerable margin. Players were forced to stand apart further than chain heal could jump, and we were forced to rely on alternate healing methods. This was brought to the developer’s attention, and chain heal was buffed to cover longer distances between players. During the time of this crisis, we heard much of the same concerns as we are hearing now about healing. Hang in there, don’t get discouraged, it really isn’t that bad. The things that are bad? Well those are being looked at right now.

Healing Chimaeron

Healing Chimaeron

Feel free to scroll down and watch Conquest’s kill video as well as read the comments I had on my own performance.

As Priests, we have it easy. There are so many simple tools we can use to heal this unique encounter. I’m going to break this post down by spells and healing techniques.

Best advice I can give you about healing through Chimaeron is to not panic. The first couple of attempts, my eyes were glued to my screen. I imagine every healer who sees this fight for the first time feels the same way. Its simply overwhelming and you experience this feeling of helplessness washing over you as you watch the rest of your raid plummet.

But don’t worry. There is a light at the end of a tunnel.

Assignments

I recommend raids start with 7 healers on 25 man (3 on 10 man). This early in the end game, I think that having that extra healing GCD is going to be a must.

2 healers on the tanks
5 healers on the raid

Assign each healer to 1 group. Make sure those groups are relatively close to each other so that healers can spring AoE heals when needed. I’d drop a Prayer of Healing after a Massacre to elevate them past 10k and keeping them in the safe zone. You’ll want your positioning to look something like this:

BossBlueprintStrat_1294778027

As you can imagine, the + symbols represent the raid healers. The blue circles represent where their groups should be. The two groups near the top are for melee while the two near the bottom are for ranged. I’m the one right in the middle. The green circle represents my approximate AoE healing radius.

Also note that I didn’t draw this to scale. It’s an idea of how I wanted our groups to array ourselves.

On a side note, check out Boss Blueprint if you want to create your own boss strategies and tactics. It’s how I created this one.

Phase 1 (Triage healing)

You have 4 spells at your disposal when trying to keeping your group alive.

Holy Word: Serenity

Get in this Chakra state. The instant heal is a life saver. You have about 5 seconds to heal affected players up past 10k health otherwise you risk them dying to a Massacre or a Caustic Slime.

Flash Heal

Your fast heal will get plenty of action and work on this encounter. I’ve seen players frown at using such an inefficient heal. But guess what? This is one of those encounters where its warranted. You can’t spend your time worry about mana efficiency here. If you’ve gotten to this point, then you already know how to manage your mana, cooldowns and spell usages anyway. Besides, its not like you’ll be chain casting Flash Heal on the same player repeatedly. All you need is just one. In most cases, only one player in your group will be below 10000 health.

Heal

Yes, it is a little slow to use. I’ve developed a habit where I would just continue chain casting Heal on myself or another player in my group even if they didn’t need it. Why? Because there’s a 20% chance that my Heal will land on a player in my group who is the target of my Heal. If I’m casting Heal and a Caustic Slime strikes my target, I can simply let the heal go through and it will get that player above 10000 anyway. Just be prepared to switch to your assignments within your party.

Work that Mastery while you’re at it!

Binding Heal

Great spell to have if both you and another player in your group have been hit. One cast will get you and your target to safety. I’m not seeing this spell used often enough.

Phase 2 (Brute force healing)

Group up and unload your biggest AoE healing spells.

Prayer of Healing

Identify the members in the raid who do not have personal cooldowns they can use to survive. I got into the habit of Flash Healing that player and a second player before casting Prayer of Healing on my own group with help from Serendipity. As a Disc Priest, you’ll want to do the same with a shield into a hasted Prayer of Healing (due to Borrowed Time).

Holy Word: Sanctuary

Stack the healing circles on top of each other for maximum effect.

Yeah.

No brainer, eh?

Divine Hymn

You’ll want to coordinates Hymns and Tranquilities across the raid. If you have a Disc priest, find a way to weave in their Power Word: Barrier. I find that the first Feud can be healed through without cooldowns. But any Feuds after that are best done with rotating cooldowns. If you’re just learning the fight, I suggest going with using 2 cooldowns per Feud. As your raid gets geared and stronger, you can drop down to 1 per feud.

Phase 3

Smite

Your healing spells are useless. Switch to Smite mode and go to town. You deserve it.

Leap of Faith

Keep this spell in your back pocket. It isn’t exactly a heal, but it does buy time for your raid to take down Chimaeron when you Life Grip the target he is chasing to a safe area in the room.

Conquest Video

Chimaeron normal mode on 25

In this video from my perspective, I’ve been assigned to group 5 (The all healer group). I’m using Real UI (and you can read up on my thoughts on this UI compilation on NSUI). Note that my group 5 is the last row not necessarily the farther right column.

Things you shouldn’t do in a raid

You’ll notice I make a number of key mistakes on our first kill.

Open bag, find mana potion: I started using Real UI recently as an experiment on compilations. I completely forgot to ensure my Mana Potions were on my bar. So what did I do? Open up my bags, find my potions, and click on them.

Have the character sheet open: In the biggest example of healer tunnel vision in the HISTORY of tunnel visioning, yours truly fat fingers the character sheet. I must have left it up for a solid 2 minutes or so before I realized I had it open. My eyes were that glued to my raid frames. Even my raiders are perplexed as to how I left my expanded character sheet up taht long.

Remember your DPS spells: Yeah, I had to rearrange my keys. Once we hit the final phase, you’ll notice I kept trying to cast Holy Word: Sanctuary. I forgot what I had Smite bound to and it took me a few seconds to remember what keys they were. Whoops.

Need specific advice on your own individual play or on your healing team? Feel free to leave a comment or question here.

For a different perspective, check out a blog entry by Kae from a Resto Druid perspective. If you’re a blogger and you’ve written a blog post on Chimaeron as well, let me know and I’ll add a link straight to yours.

Special Delivery: Roundup Of This Week’s Best WoW Posts

Time for a look at the week that’s passed, before Wrath passes and we’re all sat waiting for the servers to come up or freezing our branches off in queues on Monday night. Ayup, this is the last roundup I’ll be doing before Cataclysm hits and while this week’s posts are all really interesting reads and useful for the coming Cataclysm, I’ve got a twinge of sadness. Everything will be a bit different come this time next week when the long wait’s over and I’m posting a roundup of blog posts talking about a new world.

Mind you, that’s what I’ll be doing over at MMO Melting Pot from the moment Cataclysm hits and people can tear themselves away from playing long enough to write. So come next weekend I’ll be used to the new, excitable blog posts about people doing rather than planning. Y’know, actually going out there and slaying them thar fish people/dragons/unfortunate critters caught in AoE. And then I can send you on to the ones more healery, more leaderish, more guild related.

This week’s bound to be an exciting time. But before we get there, have a read of last week’s healing and guild related blog posts. And talking of healing – don’t forget: if you want to join the new World of Matticus podcast, today is the last day for applications. C’mon, join us… we don’t bite.

  • Cataclysm Faction Rewards For Priests – this one kind of does what it says on the tin, but let me clarify a bit. Oestrus is guest posting at Ecclesiastical Discipline and has narrowed down the Cataclysm factions to the top three most useful to grind for your holy priesties out there. In each of her top three she goes into detail about the items you can pick up and why they’d be worth it. Great post, I wish there were more like it popping up for other classes/roles.
  • Be Prepared / Looking At Pre Raid Gear – two different posts from two excellent bloggers catering for the resto druids among us. Both Angelya and Rank4HealingTouch. The first post is Angelya’s: her guide is an extensive list of options to up for every slot including weapon slots. She’s given the items stat weightings for how useful they are and included the stat formula she’s based the list on. Looks like a great resource. Same can be said of the one from Rank4HealingTouch, though he says his post is a direct repasting of Elitist Jerks’ recommendations. This list has less options on it, which might suit indecisive folk (like me!)
  • Comparison of Healing Spells – this is a really interesting read given that we’re just going in to new content. Jasyla’s been looking in to how many spells each healing class has and has presented her findings in a combination of easily referenced tables followed by written analysis of each section. She’s gone through single target spells, AoE heals, cooldowns and extras. I’ve played all the healing classes and always wondered at the sheer amount of baggage my priest had to carry around with him in comparison to my druid, so Jasyla’s curiosity here is something I can really relate to.
  • Paladin Raid Healing – Porkchop (great name, right?) has an argument for paladins being just as capable in the raid healing department in any other class – especially come Cataclysm. He covers the holy paladin toolkit from hands to the shiny new AoE holy paladin spells and gives examples of how they can be used. Being completely honest here, holy paladin is my least played healer class so I’d be really interested to know if you agree with Porkchop or are inspired by his enthusiasm to the role. I’m not saying he’s wrong, I just don’t know as I lack the expertise for this class – what do you think?
  • The Hybrid’s Dilemma – Vidyala’s guild is preparing for Cataclysm and some of their members are changing characters for raiding. That includes Vidyala, who’s changing from a hybrid-capable druid to a single focus mage. She’s thought long and hard about it and recounts tales from her Wrath raiding experience of how being a hybrid has affected both her group and her own playing fun. She discusses with us why she’s made the choice to move away from the flexibility of being a hybrid character and is comfortable with that – great read.
  • Reunited With My Holy Half – Shintar over at Priest With A Cause disliked what happened to holy in the Big Spec Changes in patch 4.0 a few weeks ago. But since 4.0.3a hit and along with it some extra tweaks to the holy spec, she’s been looking at holy priesting again. And she’s found she quite likes how things are balanced now. She takes us through the major holy priest abilities as they are post-4.0.3a, talking about why she likes them and how they sync together. She also gives a sample spec right at the end which might be good reference for any priests out there.
  • Int regen mechanics – Velidra over at Emberstorm has been drawn towards healers recently and has some musings on how intellect will play out for healer classes. He’s mostly looking ahead at Cataclysm based on what we know already but for anyone who’s not sure on what intellect does or how mana regeneration will work, this is a great introduction to the new concepts. His look at intellect as a healer stat is particularly clear – he also lists each of the ways that healing classes will be able to regen mana and has a brief analysis of how strong each class is in this respect.

There we go. Pre-Cataclysm roundups… that’s the last one. ONWARD, to our first ever Cataclysm-live roundup – I’m expecting the blogosphere to be full of juicy posts next week, so check back. I’ll be letting you know where and what those posts are so you’ve got somethiing to do in your offline time, or even in your in-flight times. I’ll even have a new header picture by then!

Meanwhile, what do you think – what sort of posts are you hoping to see ASAP in the blogosphere? Theory on a particular class, gearing lists for a particular spec? Folks recounting their adventures of a class you’ve not yet got round to playing?

Special Delivery: Roundup Of The Best WoW Posts Of The Week

Special Delivery: Roundup Of The Best WoW Posts Of The Week

 

Last week I started a mostly regular Saturday feature whereby I do My Thing for you guys here at WoM. No,that’s not putting on a light display shooting lazers from my eyes. Embarrassingly I’ve generally switched raiding mains as it is and am considering switching again (shh, don’t tell Matt), so lazers are much removed at present. But what I do do is gather the best posts from around the WoW blogosphere and deliver them straight to my readers at my website, MMO Melting Pot. And that’s what I’m doing on a Saturday: rounding up the best posts I’ve read during the week, with a focus on the posts about healing, leading or raiding so that they’re just the right cup of tea for WoM readers.

Things have been a little quieter in the blogosphere this week, particularly on the healer-chatter side of things. Y’see, the end of October hails, well, November. Many bloggers are focusing on preparing themselves – or their guilds – for Cataclysm. Some are blogging less because they’re focusing on the now traditional (inter)National Month of Novel Writing (NaNoWriMo). Some, well… what can I say. It’s Halloween. We’ll just have to send search parties out if they don’t come back after midnight tomorrow.

But all of that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on in the blogosphere at all. Tumbleweed hasn’t come to town by any means. Some people may be battening down the hatches against the coming storm but a lot of them are still writing. Heck, some of them are even creating a whole new website. What do I mean? Let’s take a look at that – and more – as it’s all fairly exciting.

  • Brangwen: new site for MMO leaders – great news everyone! Brangwen of Non-Elitist Raiding Diary revealed that she and several others from all corners of the blogosphere have started up MMO Leader: a home on the internet for MMO leaders. If you’re in any kind of leadership role – officer, guild master, raid leader, class leader, you’re welcome to go on over there and join in their forums as much as you want to. They also have articles for your leadery-perusal. And yes, you can give writing your own articles for the front page a go, too. It’s fantastic that us leaders finally have a place to rally in.
  • Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Beta Healing – Vixsin at Life in Group 5 says that healing is going to change in Cataclysm: it’s not going to be anything like what we’re used to. She says we’re going to have to adapt, and gives 7 points of what’s going to change for us. That sounds like a taster, mind – from what she says, everything’s changing. But there is hope. Vix rounds off the post with an excellent call to healer-arms (granted that’s more likely to be sparkles of light) and reminds us that we can do this – it’s why we’re healers.
  • Beruthiel: How To Prepare Your Guild For Cataclysm – any expansion’s a shaky time for a guild, and Cataclysm even more so with its guild talents. So Beru’s survival guild is essential advice for any guild. Her guide is lean and gives you exactly what you need to know to get your guild rolling for Cata, from tips on what to say to members to when to do it, and how to keep morale up. If you’re a guild leader, you’ll likely get some ideas from her. if you’re a member of a sleepy guild, maybe wave it at your officers – you might inspire them to get moving!
  • A Priest’s Guide to Chakra Healing – this is for holy priests out there, fresh off the press from Derevka at Tales of a Priest. He’s going through the chakra mechanic, explaining its two different states and what you’ll be using them for. He also looks at how to change chakra states and gives helpful tips about how to track which spells you have available to you, when. A learning curve? Yes, Derevka says, but one that allows holy priesties huge flexibility.
  • Fresh Brew: Addons That Help You Inspect People, Run Guild Raffles And Set Fire To Things – our addon roundup this week might well be useful to you. There are a couple of guild related ones in it, such as one that allows guild officers to use the new in game flares more easily and another that’ll let you set up guild raffles for fun and giggles.

That be it for this week. I hope this lot keeps you entertained over your morning coffee. Or your evening meal, or brunch, wherever you happen to be. ‘Til next week – have fun, and don’t let the midnight horrors bite!

What do you think – have you got more to say about any of these articles, or even another article to contribute to the list?

Chakra: Renew is Gone

Chakra: Renew is Gone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Surge of Light Cues

    More Surge of Light Cues

    After speaking with Joe about the supposed DPS spells we need to use to help sustain our mana, I couldn’t help but notice the Surge of Light UI additions. If your Smite casts happen to activate a Surge of Light, this is what appears on your screen:

    sol

    In the middle of my screen, you can see the two wings appear on either side of my Priest. This indicates Surge of Light is up. Not only that, if you look on the bottom left, my Flash Heal is now glowing. Its these little UI enhancements and improvements which should help make it a little easier on everyone especially for players who are just getting started as Priests. You get a visual cue that you have the option of a free heal and where it is on your bars. Traditionally, most Priests relied on addons such as Power Auras or some other addon which gave them visual cues when Surge of Light was up. Other stubborn Priests (like me) simply kept a close eye on buff bars to see when it was up.

    Personally, I think this is a nice touch for the Priests.

    Ensidia’s Holy Priest Guide and Monday Links

    Ensidia’s Holy Priest Guide and Monday Links

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

    book

    Quick Notes

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

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

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

    Monday links

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

    Other notes

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

    Draft