Lodur’s Week In Review

Lodur’s Week In Review

A couple weeks ago we heard that AVR/AVRE has an expiration date. Simply put the addon just did too much by allowing a player to draw essentially in 3D on top of the in game environment. This really drove home how much players respond to visual cues. However not everyone is a visual based player. How about those that rely on sound for their notifications?

I started thinking about this last week. I have been using Deus Vox Encounters as my boss mod of choice for a little bit and have grown pretty accustomed to it. Last week though, new requirements for a particular fight called for BigWigs to be installed over any other boss mod. I’ll get into the why of that in just a second. Making this switch really clued me in to how much I actually draw from audio cues. As a healer, and a raid officer, my attention is always in a thousand different directions at once. My own healing, watching where I’m standing and paying attention to the boss fights, but also watching all my healers and the other raider to make sure people are doing what they are doing. Even with screen flashes, and emphasized bars / buttons etc, I can miss things. Well let me be honest here, I WILL miss things. You can only divide your attention so much before it is spread too thin. DXE allowed for custom sounds for all major and most minor events, allowing me to play a different sound for an incoming Infest or a Pending Defile. This way I wouldn’t have to look for an alert, but rather just listen for a sound. I play with most of the in game sounds turned pretty low unless a specific encounter calls for something different, so it made it easy to add another layer of my awareness to playing.

Enter BigWigs. BigWigs has been a pretty common standard among raiders for a while now. The mod is pretty robust and allows you a lot of different choices in your notifications. The reason it became standard for raider was how it alerts you to defile. If you enable a mode called super enhanced, it will actually have a voice counting down the time to cast audibly. Some folks were having trouble with defile and moving away from it, so BigWigs enhanced mode was the answer, and to be honest I do really like that part of it.

This leaves me with two boss mods installed. I tried running this entire last week with only BigWigs and I just can’t do it. I tried, but all it did was make me realize how much I rely on those audio cues to keep my own rear alive while watching everyone else.  It does not have the same depth in the library of sounds that DXE does. Where I could literally have dozens of sounds in DXE, there is only a limited number in BigWigs. I tried adding new sounds by modifying the .lua files as well, but found that to be nigh impossible with BW, but it was something I’ve been able to do with DXE. So, for every encounter BUT LK, I use DXE. For LK I swap BigWigs on. Now if only DXE could do me a super enhanced countdown mode I’d be super super happy.

I’m sure you’re wondering what today’s post image has to do with my post.  This last week I realized exactly how much I love having a ret paladin and a boomkin in raid. I am a haste junkie, there is no denying it. I love the stat and its ability to give me 1.5 second (or lower) cast time chain heals. If you were to roll my character’s sleeves up, it is likely that you would find the tell-tale signs of haste abuse. Before we would rarely have one, and more commonly neither, but recently it has become much more common place to have both in our groups. Improved Moonkin Form gives all players in range of the aura 3% haste as does Swift Retribution these stack as a multiplicative effect with Wrath of Air Totem. With my current haste total, either of these combined with the totem pushes me to the haste cap, and let me tell you it is addicting. The added bonus for me is that our fairly recent new hire and boomkin Friskme is one heck of a guy. Good sense of humor, good numbers, knows how to handle himself in a fight, and as of recent has become my corner buddy on BQL and the sparkle council. We’ve gotten used to each others movements during the encounters and know exactly how to shift around each other without vocalizing. Also, he’s damn fast on the innervate button when I need it, and that makes me happy. I’ve always enjoyed the company of the druids in <Unpossible>, and Frisk fits right in.

Last but not least, for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, I have had a wonderful idea for a new project that a lot of people seem to be behind. Come Cataclysm I’m starting a fun guild up as a side project. No, I’m not leaving Unpossible, that will always be my home. Instead the guild I want to make will be more fun and casual with a slight character quirk. I’ll get more into it at a later date, but for now I need your input. There have been several choices as to where to start this little party, and so far there are 4 major contenders.

What Server Should the Guild be Started on?

  • Other (44%, 8 Votes)
  • Earthen Ring (33%, 6 Votes)
  • Nerzhul (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Feathermoon (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Zul'jin (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

Loading ... Loading ...

So if you think I should start it up on one of those please feel free to vote on it. If you think I should start it on a different server, vote for other and let me know what realm and why in the comments.

Well that’s it for this past week, how about you? Do anything fun? Find out anything interesting?

Special thanks to @immamoonkin for this week’s article image. Thank you!

Are Healing Classes Losing Individual Identity?

In my recent Priest changes announcement post, Kivassha posed some excellent questions that I wanted to share.

Comment edited for length

Hi Matticus

In my mind disc priests are topping up absorbing the damage on Tanks, almost like druid heals are for raid, helping with spike damage until the big chain heals (shammy) and POH (holy priest) lands.

My concern?

I wonder if getting Disc priests to focus on MT will make it boring. I like how classes compliments each other and the unity that forms when everyone gets to know each other’s play stile and can on the fly make the right decision and heal where it is needed. It feels like the synergy will be lost between classes.

With the holy priest changes a priest will be able to heal a little bit more like a druid does with all the hot changes. Again how will the synergy between classes work? How would druids feels about this?

How boring will it be if everyone can do what every other healer class can do? Holy can main tank heal, can do big raid heals and will now be able to do really good HOT’s. Even Shammies will now have a HOT. So I wonder if Druids will get big long casting spells like POH, Chain heal?

To me it looks like they are giving each healer class similar capabilities to make them more like all round healers. Will this take away from each class the niche they have?
Yes the email sound negative, but I am curious and excited to work out how things will work in future.

[…]

I can’t say whether or not Discipline healing will be boring. Different healers I talk to just love healing. If you love what you do, you’re never going to find it boring. As for class synergy, there’s no reason for it to go away. Don’t forget that this is just a class preview of what they intend to do. There is still a long wait before Cataclysm is installed on our computers. If you look at the different things that healers can excel at, Discipline Priests are optimized best for tank healing. Does that mean it’s the only thing they can do? Nah, far from it. That’s what I’ve always liked about the game is that I can mix and match healers and not have to worry too much at all about it.

Druids should have nothing to worry about at all. We still heal in fairly different styles. While some of the mechanics might blend together, the numbers still need to be tuned and adjusted accordingly. I suspect that will help narrow the gap a bit between Priest and Druid healing.

Going back to healing styles again, I don’t think it’s going to be boring for healers. Each healing class can do something similar to each other. That’s good though. While you want to encourage a variety of healers in your raids, it doesn’t mean that you have to always have a Shaman or have to always have a Paladin. Each healing class has their own strengths and weaknesses. At the very minimum, each class can fire off some AoE heals. Each class has a large heal, a fast heal, and an efficient heal. It just so happens that their extra healing spells are done in a different way. Priests have group based healing in Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing. Shamans have that new Healing Rain which hits everyone in a certain area. Paladins come out at the end of the week so we’re not sure what they get yet.

As far as the healing niche goes though, you are right that each class will have similar capabilities. How much would it suck if a Druid healer who loves to play a Druid has to re-roll to a Priest to heal a particularly difficult encounter because the Priest can heal a certain encounter way better than a Druid can? During Sunwell, I heard many top end guilds had to bench Paladins and some Druids for the Twins encounter. They ended up bringing in Shaman alts and Holy Priest alts for Circle of Healing and Chain Heal. The philosophy of Blizzard has always been to bring the player and not the class. A Druid should be able to heal an encounter just as well as a Priest, Shaman, or Paladin and I agree with that.

The identities of each healing class won’t be lost though. Just because each class can keep players up doesn’t mean they’ll lost their own unique style or method of doing it.

Let’s not forget what Ghostcrawler said:

We’d rather make healing fun for the players who like to heal rather than make healing easy for the players who hate to heal but do it anyway.

And I’m sure they’ll find ways to make it entertaining.

Changing of Dispel Mechanics

These changes went up the other day and are altering the way us healers do things. I gotta admit, I am more the intrigued in how the system is being set up. Here’s the summary:

  • Druids will be able to dispel defensive magic, curses, and poison.
  • Paladins will be able to dispel defensive magic, diseases, and poison.
  • Priests will be able to dispel defensive magic, offensive magic, and disease.
  • Shaman will be able to dispel defensive magic, offensive magic, and curses.

This leads me to conclude that upcoming encounters in Cataclysm will revolve primarily around removing magic. Also, is anyone else a little confused about the way they’ve worded defensive magic and offensive magic? I’ve read it as all classes can remove magic debuffs on friendlies while Priests and Shamans can remove magic buffs on enemies. I did have to think about that one for a good minute to make sure I had it right.

How this affects raid utility and healing

* Protection and Retribution paladins will lose their current ability to dispel magic.
* All shaman will lose dispel disease and dispel poison in exchange for Restoration gaining dispel magic.
* Restoration shaman, Restoration druids, and Holy paladins will need to talent into their defensive magic dispels.
* Shadow priests won’t be able to remove disease in Shadowform.
* Mage, hunter, and warlock will retain their current dispel mechanics.
* Body and Soul remains the same, and basically any dispel mechanic not mentioned above is currently planned to remain as it is.
* When possible, we’d like to combine dispels into a single action. For example, the druid ability to dispel curses and poisons might be a single spell with a Restoration talent that also allows it to dispel magic. This part of the design isn’t finalized, however.

On encounters like Rotface, I’d usually ask a Prot Paladin to handle dispels since they’re the ones on the outside anyway (on 10 man at least). With this change, this means that I’ll need to assign a healer to take care of that. It shouldn’t be a significant problem at all. What it means is that the healing “bandwidth” is going to get a little clogged up more with extra dispels that need to be done.

To be honest though, I don’t foresee it being a serious issue. As a reflex healer, I’m already spending my GCDs on player dispelling anyway and on some fights, I like to have a fun competition on the dispel meters to see who can squeeze off the most and the fastest.

For example, you know that guy in Warsong Gulch who just sits around while the rest of the team is killing the opposing flag carrier but is just spamming the space around the carrier with right clicks and your jaw drops in amazement when they return the flag even though you could’ve sworn you got to it first?

Yeah, that’s me!

I’m also thinking that encounter mechanics will change so that poisons, diseases and curses won’t be as punishing to the raid unless you’re on hard modes. My expectation is that debuff mechanics will simply need to be healed through since if you don’t have the class composition to cleanse it, there isn’t much that can be done. With the pool of available dispellers narrowing, there is a greater emphasis on healing teams to contain at least 1 healing class of each type. Just having the classes alone aren’t enough since non-Priests will need to talent into the ability to dispel.

As for PvP, I’m not too sure what effect this change alone will have. It’s going to make things increasingly tougher, I would imagine. But let’s not forget the increased stamina change coming to all the classes. So for example, while that Rogue you’re engaging has all his poisons on you, I imagine it wouldn’t be as deadly at 85 as it would be right now in the game.

Don’t forget about the Cataclysm class information changes. They’re coming out with them tomorrow (at least for Shamans and Priests).

Death of the Niche Healer

Death of the Niche Healer

Recently a topic has sprung up among many healers. There are lots of blog posts popping up about it so I figured since I’ve been going on about it for a while now, I’ll add my two copper to the public domain here, but first a story.

In the days of vanilla World of Warcraft, each faction had access to 3 healing classes. Priests and druids on both sides and paladins for alliance balanced by shaman for the horde. The lines between the roles of the healing classes was not as defined as it could be, but raids stacked healers and slogged through 40 man content with two simple commandments;

“Heal thy group! Keep thine tanks alive!

Then along came Burning Crusade. The developers evened out the sides and gave everyone access to paladins and shamans despite faction. The developers then looked at the classes and said,

“LET THERE BE HEALER SPECIALTY NICHES!”

Thus healer niches were born. In Burning Crusade each healing class had something it excelled at. Shaman healers fought with priests for the title of group healer supreme, Paladins ruled the tank healer slot and druids were perfect healers to roll between targets. The roles however got a bit too specific. Restoration shaman spent the vast majority of BC casting nothing but Chain Heal, priests spammed Circle of Healing,  paladins Flash of Light and Holy Light spammed and druids just put a hot on everything they could. As healers our jobs could be boiled down to one button push in many cases. Players geared for it and played accordingly. Needless to say this got boring. As a person who cast nothing but Chain Heal through all of Black Temple I can vouch for this.

With Wrath of the Lich King on the horizon, the devs looked upon their world and saw that groups were picking healers based on class and not skill. So from on high they spoke out their voices echoing from the heavens

“LET THERE BE EQUALITY AMONGST HEALERS!”

Thus each healing class was gifted with new tools to help them fill various healing roles in the group. Shaman gained the ability to heal on the move and gained even stronger single target healing, druids joined the ranks of an accomplished swing healer. Priests rejoiced as discipline became an accepted way of life and paladins embraced their bacon. Raid leaders reveled in the choice of skill versus class and the land was truly flowing with milk and honey.

I hope you liked my little story there, I know I enjoyed it. It is however a true story. In the early days of the game no one really cared what the healers were doing as long as everything stayed alive long enough for the boss to drop. In BC everyone had a specific role or at least a lot more so than the one we had in vanilla. As a shaman I personally cast down-ranked chain heal more times in one night raiding than most people blink. Point was people began to take very specific healing classes for encounters as the healing strengths were specifically needed for that encounter. This is largely how BC ended with each healer falling into the category  of raid healing, tank healing and then the specifics of which flavor of each. To be honest it got a little out of hand. There were several points where shaman for example would claim they couldn’t heal Magisters Terrace, and unless they woefully out-geared the place, they were right. Some healers could walk into a 5 man heroic and not break a sweat while others had to work and work hard in even some of the simplest dungeons. It simply wasn’t balanced.

When Wrath came along all of that changed. The game devs actually went out of their way to make sure tools were put in place to allow each healer to fill each role. Whether it was a glyph, a new spell or tweaking talents and abilities, they went all out in trying to sure up healer equality. It has been a balancing act since that’s for sure, and if anyone remembers back in may when I got on my soap box about the State of Chain Heal, in some cases healers were tweaked too much to the point they were way too far homogenized. However even with the hard mode debacle, for the most part there was healer equality. Each of the classes could heal a tank, or heal a group and each could walk into a 5 man heroic and as long as the player was on their feet and paying attention they were capable of doing it. After the last set of tweaks from the devs this became even more the case. As it stands now each of the classes and in the case of priests, each healing spec, is capable of healing a tank or raid healing effectively. While some excel slightly better than others in those varying situations, the truth is they can still perform in the role and that is what evening out the healing lines is all about.

With all the options we have, I for one am very happy. Recently however there has been a new, for lack of a better term here, healer subculture emerging within the community. Players of each of the healing classes / specs are starting to demand their niches again. Whether it’s a shaman demanding to be the king of chain heal once more or a paladin begging to be only useful on tank heals, the proof is out there. People are actively trying to secure a niche in raid groups. This honestly strikes me as odd. Why would you want to go back to a way of doing things that honestly people complained bout incessantly. Why try to cling to a system that forces you to cast only one spell when you have an entire arsenal of heals available to you for any task you could be handed?

That’s the part I don’t get. I’m ok with wanted to be the best at something or even better than someone else but to actively shoe-horn yourself into a single role seems counter productive. As a healer I love being versatile, being able to sling chain heals until I’m blue in the face or swap out and lay some nukes on a tank, I like having the option. As a raid officer and healing lead I enjoy this versatility even more. I love being able to take a disc priest and tear them off of tank healing to make them raid heal. Same goes for shuffling priests and healers. I like being able to give my healers a little variety so they aren’t doing the same thing every day. I like to think they appreciate it as well. What I love most about it though is not having to rely on specific classes to be present to proceed through content like it was back in BC. So after many players struggling for so long to have this amount of versatility, why try to limit yourself. This subgroup centers around the idea that a healer should perform one function incredibly well, but not much else. A perfect example would be shaman who feel that they should only focus on casting and buffing chain heal, while ignoring all other spells.

So after clawing your way out of the niche market to be viable in all circumstances, why try to go back?

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

What do you think? Do you think healers should focus on their specialty and nothing more? Do you think healer versatility is key?

Focus Casting: Macros And You

Focus Casting: Macros And You

I had a revelation last week. It’s one I’m not afraid to share because I suspect there are a lot of players in the same position as me.

That position is peering out from round a corner with a bemused grin and crimson cheeks, watching the macro users of our raid do ten things at once while showering the raid in light and laughing at the boss. We’re cautious because they’re clearly performing some kind of common folklore which all players should know, right? And we shouldn’t even consider asking about macros?

Wrong.

If you’re in that position of knowing nothing about healing macros then we have something in common, you and I. Maybe you’ve just started a new healing class and know nothing about it. Maybe you’re looking to improve your WoW playing generally. Maybe you’re a raid leader, like me, and have been getting into macros via raid leading and now want to see if this macro malarky can do anything for your healing. Whatever the case, read on.

If you do know something about macros then have a read anyway – some of these might be basic to you, but you might pick up something that saves your skin, bark or cow-printed hide.

Paladins

1. Buffs up quicksmart

/castsequence [target=focus] Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield

  • This macro will put both of your essential healing buffs up on your focus, which is likely to be the tank.
  • TIP: you can use the addon Need To Know in conjunction with this setup. It’ll give you permanent timer bars for those buffs regardless of whom you’re targetting.

 

2. Easy judging

/cast [target=focustarget] Judgement of Light

  • Casts your judgement of light which both does healing and gives you a powerful haste buff
  • It won’t cause you to overaggro when casting your judgement as you’re using it on the tank’s target
  • Means you don’t have to mess around with tab or mouse targetting a mob to cast it on. You may need to re-target your tank but that’s less trouble than having to target everything manually.
  • TIP: you could use the addon Clique, which will allow you to set up mouse and key bindings for anything you could wish. Want to heal the tank? Sure, click the <insert mouse button here> and you needn’t retarget them after using your JoL macro.

 

3. Catch-all Holy Shock

/cast [mod,target=player] [nogroup,target=player] [target=mouseover,help,nodead] [target=targettarget,help,nodead] [] Holy Shock

  • If you have an enemy targetted it will automatically holy shock you
  • If you have *anything* else as target and a friendly unit as mouseover (or target) then it will holy shock that friendly unit

 

Priests – holy and discpline

1. “oh noes” button

/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast [combat,@player] Power Infusion
/cast [combat] Inner Focus
/cast [spec:1,@mouseover] Penance; [spec:2,@mouseover] Greater Heal
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1

  • It works for priesties of both healing flavours. Yep, you read right, It’ll work by casting one of the spells, based on whichever spec you’re in. This saves you having two separate macros for holy and discipline
  • You could also add commands to pop your trinkets (/use 13 and /use 14) but be careful of the macro character limit.

 

2. Holy single target “oh noes” button

/cast [target=focus] Guardian Spirit

  • For you holy priesties. This is an “oh noes” button if you’ve been focussing on the raid and see that your focus, probably a tank, is wilting a bit and needs help now.

 

3. Discy Pain Suppression management

/cast [target=mouseover] Pain Suppression
/sw 8
/script Stopwatch_Play();
/say Pain Suppression Up!
/in 8 /s ***Pain Suppression depleted***

  • This is most useful for keeping track of PS cooldown and alerting you when it’s ready again – useful in fights where you need to time cooldowns and don’t have time to keep an eye out for them ticking down
  • TIP: this one may not work off the bat for you. The ‘in’ command is said to be provided through an addon, possibly the Ace3 library, though various people with various addon setups have got the macro working.

 

4. Discy raid-healing insta-bomb

#showtooltip Divine Hymn
/cast [target=player] Power Infusion
/cast Inner Focus
/cast Divine Hymn

You’re a discy priest so you’re probably healing tanks most of the time, right? That might be so, but sometimes you’ll be on raid anyway, and sometimes you’ll be on tanks watching the raid take heavy damage – and we all know how comfortable that isn’t. This macro will help you help the raid recover and soak up damage.

  • Try to have Borrowed Time proc’ed too for the (extra) haste
  • You’ve just given yourself power infusion which both reduces your cast time and mana costs
  • Bubbles! Bubbles everywhere! Your increased critical effect chance from inner Focus should mean more chance of divine aegis’ popping up.

 

Druids

1. Rolling Lifebloom
/target TankName/cast [modifier:shift] Rejuvenation ; [modifier:alt] Regrowth ; Lifebloom
  • Make a macro for each tank in the raid and you’ll be able to keep them all rolling on 3 stacks of Lifebloom, lag and catastrophe notwithstanding
  • This particular macro also has modifiers which give you flexibility in HoTs. Got a bit of extra time? Throw Tank1 a Rejuv. by pressing shift. Everything refreshed and got a couple of seconds? Stick Regrowth up by holding down alt

 

2. Quick response to tank death

#showtooltip Rebirth

/castsequence reset=600 Nature’s Swiftness, Rebirth

/run c=”Don’t release! I got ya.”if UnitInRaid(“player”)then SendChatMessage(c, “RAID”)elseif GetNumPartyMembers()>0 then SendChatMessage(c, “PARTY”)end

  • This is your “oh noes tank’s dead!” macro
  • It’ll immediately get him back on his feet and announce what you’re doing.

2a. Intuitive-res macro

#show Rebirth

/cast [@mouseover, combat, dead] [@target, combat, dead] Rebirth; [@mouseover, dead] [@target, dead] Revive

  • This is a similar one for other “oh noes” times – specifically when key people have dropped like lightbulbed flies. If you’re in combat it’ll try to use combat res, if you’re not it’ll use revive
  • Just be sure you’re out of combat after a fight’s ended before you use this, for fear of wasting your combat res.

3. Easy poison cleanse

#showtooltip

/cast [target=mouseover, help] [] Abolish Poison

  • This is a time saver anywhere there is a lot of poison kicking around. Its utility is simple: it allows you to cleanse your mouseover target without having to target them then retarget your healing target
  • TIP: I reckon this one works for all healing classes for their various cleansing duties.

Shaman

1. Earth Shield ease

/cast [target=focus] Earth Shield

  • Very, very simple way of refreshing earth shield on the tank, providing that your tank is your focus.
  • TIP: you can also get the addon Shaman Friend to support this macro by playing a sound when ES runs down. Alternatively you could have it in place of the macro: it can be setup to provide a focus button for earth shield refreshing, and a box which visually tracks ES stacks so you don’t miss it falling off.

 

2a. “Oh noes” button version 1

#showtooltip Healing Wave

/cast Nature’s Swiftness

/cast Tidal Force

/cast Healing Wave

  • Any resto shaman worth his salt has some form of this macro. Some shamans prefer not to attach a healing spell to it so they can choose whether to fire off a single target spell or a chain heal after nature’s swiftness. You could make both of those options achievable by altering the macro slightly, to this:

2b. “Oh noes” button version 2

#showtooltip Nature’s Swiftness

/stopcasting

/use 13
/use 14

/cast Nature’s Swiftness

/Cast Tidal Force
/cast [mod, help] [mod:shift, target=mouseover, help] Chain Heal; [help] [target=mouseover] Healing Wave

  • This version will cast healing wave after blowing your cooldowns or, if you hold down shift, it will cast chain heal. It also uses your trinkets (/use 13 and /use 14) for extra “oh noes” aversion value.

In both of these you could also add a command to tell party chat or a specific target that you’re averting catastrophe this time by blowing all your cooldowns, and so won’t necessarily be able to save the day again. At least for a few minutes.

 

External links:

There look to be quite a few sites out there with musings and help on macros, ranging from forums to class-specific blogs to macro specific-all class sites. Some of them are better than others. Here are the ones I found to be either most useful for digging these macros up or, in the case of the third link, just a Very Good Idea:

  • Arena Junkies – Arena Junkies macro forum – for your PvP macro needs
  • Elitist Jerks’ various guides, forums and threads have some useful macros squirreled away.
  • Macro Explain – does what it says on the tin. You paste in a macro, it explains each line of the macro. The website also has links to other macro resources and addons.
  • PlusHeal – plusheal’s macro forum – you’ll find good discussions and very helpful folks here.
  • WoWWiki – WoWwiki’s section on macros has links to class specific macro pages.

 

Most of these macros have been tested but let me know if any of them make things go boom. Or worse still, make nothing happen at all. I hope these do work and help you have more fun healing. Perhaps it’ll even bring about that myth us healers have heard whispered about – less stress while healing.

What do you think? Are you a macro-newbie and had been afraid to admit it? Feel free to do so! Share your tales of macro learning experiences. Also let me know if any of these prove really useful or otherwise. Likewise, if you’ve been hit by inspiration and have just spent thirty minutes writing some new healing macros or perfecting existing ones, do share them!

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

(Macro image created by Emrank @Flickr, used under CC)

The Flash of Light Spec

This is a guest post by @Dtotheug

What spec and glyphs should I should I use as a Holy Paladin for raiding?

That is a good question and really depends on how you want to play and what your role is in the raid. Currently there are two prevailing specs and each have their plus and minuses.

The first spec is the Flash of Light spec (51/5/15) which focuses on a bigger Flash of Light (FoL) heal, more mitigation via Sacred Shield (because Sacred Shield scales with Spell Power), increases the HoT effect of your Infusion of Light talent, and relies more on your healing spells to crit. The problem with this spec is that if you are not mostly using FoL you’re going to have to watch your mana pool closely because Holy Lights and Holy Shocks are going to eat through your mana pool.

This spec also greatly benefits from the four piece bonus of the T9 set which increases the HoT of your FoL by 100%. The major glyphs I would recommend if you are thinking about using this spec are Glyph of Seal of Light, Glyph of Beacon Light, and Glyph of Flash of Light.

Glyph of Seal of Light is a flat 5% increase to your healing spells and since you will be criting more with this spec (which means more mana being returned) you won’t have to worry about your mana as much, which means this glyph is going to benefit you more than the Glyph of Seal of Wisdom.

Glyph of Beacon of Light is chosen because it is going to add 30 seconds to Beacon of Light which means you don’t have to worry about it dropping off your target as quickly. In addition you won’t have to worry about trying to cast Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield (both have a 30 second durations) at the same time, it will also conserve some mana because you won’t be casting it as much, and plus it will let you focus on using your healing spells more.

Glyph of Flash of Light is a must have for this spec. It increases the crit chance of your Flash of Light by 5% which calculates out to a 1.5% mana return and a 2.5% increase on your Flash of Light heals.

If you are going to be the main tank healer in a 10-man or 25-man ICC raid I would suggest against this spec, you’re are going to be clicking FoL so much you may break your mouse. There are two situations when I would use this spec. The first is if this is my off-spec and I was running a 10-man or 25-man and if an extra healer was needed, I would step in. Between your Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield, and FoLs, this should give the other healers in your raid the buffer area they need to keep everyone topped off.

The other situation I would use this spec in is if I was backing up the main tank healer or helping with raid healing in a 25-man raid. Your FoLs will be filling in the gaps of the other healers and help keep everyone topped off.

EDIT: Forgot to mention there’s a part 2 coming

Case Study: Anub 10H vs Holy Paladin

anubcowerglow

This is a guest post by a Ophelie, a new Holy Paladin who has recently joined Conquest. Check out her blog: The Bossy Pally.

So Monday night, I was formally introduced to Anub 10 man on hard mode and was lucky enough to get his number. Matticus suggested I write about my impressions so that others may be amused, and by amused I mean informed, about how one heals this fight for the first time as a holy paladin. I prefer writing stories to strategies, but for all you practical people, I’ll have a list of things learned the hard way at the end.

Now, had I been clever that night, I would have taken advantage of the pre-fight confusion of “we have to cut down one healer and bring in a dps” to do some last minute reading on differences between the regular and hard mode Anub. Of course, I didn’t think of that until after the fight and I had full confidence in my ability to follow instructions: something about a first ice patch, then running south, then more about ice patches and about not playing hero… Yep, watch what everyone else is doing and copy them, got it.

(Read: Save yourself some confusion and always do your raid homework before trying a new fight.)

Once we were set up, we buffed, I put up frost resistance aura and we pulled.

First phase?

Cake. Beacon on the pulling tank in case he gets out of range during positioning? Check
Nestle myself happily under Anub’s rear end? Check.

I try not to think too much about Anub’s rear end because, you know, not pleasant. Flash of Light (little heal), Holy Light (big heal) heal to taste. Adds spawn, but not my problem. With beacon on my side, I wasn’t worried. It did seem like the adds were zoning in on me though. Hmm. Maybe I should remove Righteous Fury (damage reduction, but threat boost)?.

Second phase?

I breathe a bit while Anub goes underground and plays tag with the raid. Pop Divine Plea? Sure, why not. There’s not much to heal so I might as well regen some mana. I judge some of the many little adds that spawn. Hey, I gotta do my share like everyone else! Suddenly, DBM flashes on my screen, “Anub’Arak is chasing YOU!”

Ooooooo kiting time! …Wait. Why can’t I run? I look down at my feet. I’m on an ice patch. I can barely move. Uh oh.

Tag, I’m it. I was dead before I saw what hit me.

Raid leader: It’s a wipe.
Person X: What went wrong?
Me: My bad, I was standing on an ice patch.
Person Y: Don’t stand on ice patches.
Me thinking: You must be one of those who wait until people fall down to say “it’s slippery”. (Matt’s edit: So true)
Person Z: You should be able to use Hand of Freedom to get off of ice patches.
Me: Good to know.

We run back and try again.

First phase?

Cake.

Second phase?

Same as above until Anub is after me again. This time, I was ready! I run north, he gets stuck, I don’t wipe us. I’m a pro now! I feel rather proud of myself and take a few seconds to secretly gloat.

Third phase hit before I knew it.

Things got real fun, real fast. As one tank dealt with giant bugs and the other with the boss, Anub smacked his lips and started leaching our health. Quick! Bubble, Divine Sacrifice! Let’s slow down the damage as much as possible. I had beacon on the adds tank and was healing the main tank.

Flash of Light, Flash of Li- no! Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy Light, OMG!

Oh, look the rogue is going to die. Holy Shock the rogue.

There’s nothing like a swift instant heal saving you when things get scary. Oh no, the tank! Holy Light! Oh man that was close. Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy Light.

Oh, look, I’m going to die.

Holy Shock myself.

Eeek, the tank! Holy Light! That was close! Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy Light.

I’m going to die again but I can’t risk losing the tank. Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy L- interrupted, I die.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who died: Anub’s lifeless carapace slumped next to me as I hit the ground. Ha! I was overcome by satisfaction, knowing I could get a rez and Anub would have to wait until Tuesday’s reset to run back from the boss graveyard.

So little paladin, what did you learn?

  • Make sure one paladin has frost resistance aura up. The penetrating cold debuff gets nasty towards the end.
  • Your Righteous Fury can help the off tank pick up adds, but check with the tank first.
  • During phase 2, don’t stand on ice patches (ha!) and as much as possible, position yourself so that there’s always an ice patch between you and him.
  • Hand of Freedom should be able help you or someone else in a pinch.
  • Mana shouldn’t be a problem before phase 3, but play it safe and use phase 2 for Divine Plea.
  • If there are other paladins in the raid, coordinate your use of Divine Sacrifice at
  • the beginning of phase 3 so you can stretch out damage reduction as long as possible.
  • On phase 3, you have to trust your raid healer, beacon one tank and spam Holy Light on the other. If your tanks are geared, you can get away with the occasional Holy Shock, but it’s risky.
  • Keep Judgement on Light up on the boss, preferably for the whole fight, but especially on phase 3. Either do it yourself or make sure another paladin in the raid is doing it.
  • If you run out of mana before Anub dies, it’s game over. Don’t run out of mana. Start phase 3 at full, use mana potions, lay on hands, anything, but don’t run out of mana.
  • After the fight, /hug your raid healer because he’s probably sweating buckets.

Oh, and since no epic boss kill tale ends without some sort of cooing over loot, I won Heartcrusher from the Tribute Chest, Crusader’s Glory for my tanking set and a trophy (yeah, I know, I’m spoiled). How I choose gems and enchants for my new gear is epic tale for another day.

Bubbles and Crits, part 2: What the Hell Took you so Long?

This is a guest post by jeffo, a Paladin blogger from Looking For More.

Way back on September 15 I posted ‘Bubble and Crits: 3.0 to 3.2’.  In that post, I examined the development of Holy Paladins from the release of Wrath up to the much-feared Great Illumination Nerf of 2009 (i.e. Patch 3.2), and looked at how the changes to mana regeneration across the board in that patch ‘encouraged’ Holy Paladins to go from a Holy/Ret Crit-based spec into a Holy/Prot spec that focused on mitigation through Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian.  I concluded that the Illumination nerf didn’t hurt these so-called ‘Bubble Spec’ Paladins that badly after all, and vowed to follow up with a look at how ‘Critadins’ were holding up in the mana department.

Obviously, it never happened.

While you shouldn’t accept flimsy excuses (and I try not to offer them), allow me a moment to explain. Just after the article posted my guild headed back into Ulduar, with me planning on firing up the old reliable 51/0/20 spec and seeing for myself how my mana pool held up.  Would I be soaking up Innervates, sucking down Mana pots and leaving my partner stuck on a limb? Would we need a third healer just for me to get by?  I was a little worried, but thought it would be a good experiment. Off we went.

After clearing Flame Leviathan we rode down the hall straight to Deconstructor – ‘Crybaby’, as we call him. The trash was dispatched with no trouble, my mana was fine so far, and we began setting up. As I watched Crybaby doing his calisthenics, two words popped into my head:  Tympanic Tantrum.  I looked at the raid. I looked at Crybaby. I thought about the potential time wasted and gold spent on repairs if we wiped, and thought about how much damage Divine Sacrifice can absorb.

And I swapped into the Bubble Spec.

When we got to Kologarn I thought about how I was likely to get Eyebeamed at the same time my partner would get gripped (it’s happened before). ‘Hmm, that’s a great situation for bubble-sac’ thought I, and I stayed in the Bubble Spec. Hodir?  Frozen Blows, nuff said.  Mimiron – well, Divine Sacrifice seems like it was made with Mimiron in mind. In short, for every situation we were heading into, I found a reason to stay in my Bubble Spec.

My inner Critadin never got off the bench.

A promise is a promise, however, and I aimed to deliver something to Matticus. My next step was to post a new thread at Plus Heal asking for feedback from holdout Critadins. Unfortunately, most of the responses came from Bubble Boys talking about how much they loved the spec, so that turned into a dead end as well. This was getting tougher by the minute, but I pushed on.

I tried to pore over World of Log reports for other guilds to see how Critadins were doing, but that proved a bit too tedious – I have my limits, after all. I finally succumbed to a variation of the latest scourge to hit the world of the World of Warcraft – gear score.

I’m not a big fan of gear score, to be honest, but I thought it might work for me to some degree. I believed that checking the proportion of Critadins to Bubble Boys at the highest levels would give me an idea of how the spec was faring – after all, if the Crit spec fails, nobody would be using it, right?  So I checked the Holy Paladin list for my realm at WoW-Heroes and ran down the top 50 and checked their specs (I could have kept going, but my eyes started to bleed). 

The results were pretty interesting. 

Of the top 50 on my realm (based on gear score as supplied by WoW Heroes), we had 25 Critadins, 23 Bubble Boys, and 2 You Really Heal With That Spec? types (69 points in Holy? Really? But they must be doing something right, they’ve got better gear than me). 

Further food for thought

In the top 25, Bubbles led the way, 14-10.

Positions 26-50 saw Critadins outpace Bubbles 15-9.

The top 4 spots were split evenly between Bubbles and Crits.

What does it mean? Well, it means that Holy Paladins really are in a good place right now.  We’ve got not one, but two viable healing specs that can be used. Bubble Boys may bring a bit more utility to the raid, but there’s still a place for the Critadin, even in Hard Modes.  The giant-sized crits can keep up with the hardest-hitting bosses, and we have enough mana management tools available to keep from running dry.  It’s enough to make me think about hitting that ‘Activate These Talents’ button again…..

Next up from me – an evaluation of the changes Cataclysm brought to Paladins. Due six months after WoW 5.0 is released…

The Hybrid Pedigree

This is a guest post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find her twitter feed at http://twitter.com/juddr.

I understood little about the game back when I was a young whippersnapper of a hammer-wielding paladin but I did know that those rather unfriendly zombies were hitting my party real hard now and I’d better cast that flashy light spell because no-one else did anything similar. Nowadays my boomkin suspects her claws are actually roots given the amount of times she’s dropped out of form to heal at a critical point. On the rare occasions my guild’s feral gets to DPS, he often finds himself bearing up and growling things off of the clothies. Even so, I regularly hear players bemoan that the hybrid classes are forgetting their utility and simply focusing on their single, chosen role. These comments usually come after an unsuccessful event or fight; a little help in healing from the paladin might have given the edge, or if the cat had just engaged bear’s-behind mode to help the overwhelmed tank out for a few seconds… A hybrid forgetting their flexibility just like a warlock forgetting to soulstone a healer. It’s something so integral to their class that they should do it automatically.

Hybrid classes allow a player to perform any and all of the three roles a group may require. Need a tank, DPS or healer? I can do all of those, says your paladin, druid or shaman. Admittedly the shaman can only tank under certain circumstances such as pre-60 instances, but this flexibility is something which makes these classes very popular choices for groups and also for players. Data shows that many players choose the paladin class, second only to the death knight – no surprise given the surge of DK mains when WotLK hit.

ConfusedKin

Still, some players are not able or willing to play a class to its full hybrid potential. I think there are three types of hybrid players:

  • Those who are able to play different roles or specs for a sustained length of time – these are more common since the availability of dual spec
  • Those who are able to respond to a situation by switching into another playstyle and back out at the drop of a hat
  • Those who cannot or refuse to do either of these things and focus on one task.

I’ve said that a hybrid should know their class’ utility backwards – but should they? If hybrid players are a minority now this suggests that they are a dying breed. WoW is a lot easier to play than its previous incarnations, quibble as you like over the finer points. Perhaps gameplay no longer requires sharp hybrids with an eye always on utilizing their out-of-spec abilities. Mayhap the game has made facerolling, overpowered roles the hero of the day and has sidelined hybrid utility as a luxury addition to a raid. That would certainly explain why there seem to be less active hybrid players out there: Look, we are indeed all just DPS. Do you, as a raid leader or officer, notice more if your hybrid classes or your top DPS dies early on?

Raid setup is a lot more flexible nowadays and most encounters can be downed by any combination of characters. I have heard that level 60 raid setup required a lot more thought and arguably a different approach from the player to what they could contribute with their class. I often wonder whether a willingness to change roles at the drop of a hat is a long-term satisfying playstyle for hybrid classes. The cons spring to mind immediately. Two healers just went down; you the boomkin needs to heal, while the feral waits for an opportune moment to combat resurrect the tree. There goes your rotation. There goes your proc and DPS concentration. There goes the raid’s moonkin aura; the new order of the day is the stress of switching mental gears and trying to find your healing spells in order to keep the raid up. Your place on the DPS meter – sixth of ten. Yet again. Nevermind.

That shouldn’t matter of course – you have just saved the raid from a potential wipe: congrats, have a pat on the feathery back. Now get back to eclipsing.

Having a pivotal role in averting a wipe can be hugely satisfying. I would bet, though, that many hybrids find it wearisome to keep doing so. Speccing into a particular role means that you enjoy doing that and intend to do your best at it. A player constantly carrying the hybrid "millstone" may find that they don’t meet their own spec specific targets or feel that they are achieving their best. It can also be argued that WoW is a more competitive place than it used to be and many players no longer look deeper at performance than your DPS done during a fight, no mind that you spent half of it healing. That, too, can lead to friction in a group and for some players a disinclination to perform hybrid tasks or play that character at all – these are things which should be watched by both the player themselves and a prudent raid leader.

That said I believe that successful hybrids are still prized raid members. if you can perform whatever is needed without a moment’s notice then you may get a reputation as reliable and a quick thinker – attributes likely to get you a spot in the raid as much as the top DPSer of your guild. And wearisome though the millstone may be, it’s there as a reminder that you’re playing one of the most situationally flexible classes in WoW and that there are always new tricks to learn for a jack of all trades. What do you think? Do hybrid players play their classes as well as they could? Do you as a hybrid enjoy being pulled from pillar to post? Do your hybrid raiders matter more as flexible players or solid DPSers?

Healing Crusader’s Coliseum: Faction Champions

faction-champions

Back from Blizzcon and now well rested. Got some pretty cool announcements coming up. I’m working on a very special project right now that I’ll disclose later.

Anyway, I’ve gotten several requests for tips on Faction Champions.

And it’s just going to be that: Tips. The same day I touched down at Vancouver, it was back to business in the raid machine. After blitzing through Northrend Beasts and Lord Jaraxxus, it’s time to check out Faction Champions from a healer perspective.

Not a traditional fight

This is the key. There is no such thing as aggro management or threat on this encounter. This is an extremely chaotic, fast paced, arena-esque fight. Players that dual spec into PvP may even wish to consider doing so for extra survival or abilities. Your raid group is going to be facing off against 10 champions of the opposing faction (6 on normal). They’re selected from a random pool of NPCs.

  • Death Knight
  • Balance Druid
  • Resto Druid
  • Hunter
  • Mage
  • Holy Paladin
  • Retribution Paladin
  • Healing Priest
  • Shadow Priest
  • Rogue
  • Caster/Healing Shaman
  • Enhancement Shaman
  • Warlock
  • Warrior

Ones in bold are your raid’s targets of interest. Isn’t it rather odd that they’re all healers?

Execution

It’s difficult to provide an exact outline of what your group has to do. The best I can provide is a general guideline. Go ahead and move your group under the Alliance (or Horde) section first before activating the NPC. It’s a good idea to take stock of what class combination you’re group is going to be facing so that crowd control can be used accordingly.

In most cases, our raid group initially crowd controls every NPC as much as possible other than healers. For example, this week we had a healing Priest, the caster Shaman along with the Holy Paladin. We opted to zero in on the Shaman first. Our Warrior tank started working on the Holy Paladin just by keeping him locked down and interrupted. Placing a Rogue or 3 on the Priest is also a nice idea.

Our basic mentality is that if we run down the healers first, then the other NPC’s are a cake walk. The next dangerous Champion after healers is the Rogue based on the speed at which it can kill a target.

This is an endurance fight. Expect to invest around 10 minutes from start to finish. Each NPC has around 2.4 million health (some have 1.9 million).

Communication is extremely important here. If you’re being pursued, say something. Someone might be able to jump in and snare or CC a Champion.

General class tips

  1. Keep the melee NPC’s busy as much as possible.
  2. Death Knights should defensive Death Grip Rogues, Warriors, Ret Paladins, and Death Knights away from the raid and slow them down. Minimize their movement with slows and stuns
  3. Typhoon and Thunderstorm intelligently. Again, use them defensively to keep NPCs away from your healers.
  4. Drop a Fear Bomb if multiple NPCs are closing in on someone.
  5. Crowd control incurs diminishing returns. Example, after casting 3 Polymorphs on one Champion, it’ll become immune to Polymorph. Spread that CC out.
  6. Offensive Dispels are a virtual requirement. Shamans should be Purging, Priests should be Dispelling. Things you want to get rid of are Druid HoTs and Shaman Earth Shields.
  7. If you have a PvP Trinket, consider equipping it for the fight.
  8. Heroism/Bloodlust on the initial pull. The sooner you kill an NPC or 2, the easier it becomes.

For Priests

As a Priest, my limited arena training has taught me two important skills: Running and healing. If you can manage to run and heal at the same time, you’ll be in good condition. I mainly stuck to firing off blind Mass Dispels (targeting an area with a lot of traffic and hoping it connects) and specific single target Dispels. Keep Shields active on players who get focused and are soft. Don’t bother with mana burning or mind controlling.

Use Psychic Scream everytime it’s available. Just run into a crowd and drop the fear bomb.

Your first priority is to keep yourself alive. If you have to run, drop what you’re doing and run. This isn’t exactly a fight where you can sit there and just grind heal your way through.

Use your defensive cooldowns liberally. Pain Suppression and Guardian Spirit will save lives. After I see a big spike on someone, I’ll drop a cooldown on them. If I see 3 Champions close in on a player, I’ll drop a cooldown on them. If I get death gripped, I’ll crap my pants then use a cooldown on myself (No joke. That Death Knight is a pain).

For Druids

This is just from me watching Sydera. Hopefully she’ll chime in here at some point. I’ve seen Druids use their Cyclone in between healing on various NPCs. Reserve Roots for melee NPCs if they’re chasing after people. Go cat form to put distance between you and Champions. If you’re out of tricks, it’s bear form until the Champion gets peeled off you.

For Paladins

Platewearers are usually durable in this one. Have the Hammer stun ready and use it when the cooldown is up. Hand of Sacrifice or Divine Sacrifice and follow it up with a Paladin bubble to help out the raid. The Champions are smart enough to occasionally focus fire on one target.

For Shamans

I reconfigured my totem setup to include Earthbind, Cleansing, and Grounding totem. Every so often, I’d run into a crowd and drop them all down again. Really aware Shamans will know to keep a healer focused and Wind Shear to help with the interrupting process. Bonus points if you can squeeze off Frost Shocks on a Champion who is chasing someone. Do all that while healing, and your raiding group will love you.

Hope this helps! Feel free to comment below with any extra tips or tricks in general or against specific Champions.

Good luck!