On Dual Specs and the Tournament

On Dual Specs and the Tournament

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Well, we’ve had a little bit less then a week to get settled into our new found patch. Many things have changed. New talents tree organization for many of the classes, talents and key abilities changed or tweeked and a beautiful new instance dropped at our doorstep. One of the most anticipated changes in the patch was Dual Spec. Dual spec allows for you to change your talents on the fly (as long as you aren’t in combat) at the cost of all your mana and a small GCD effect. So the question is, what should you do with your dual spec?

Here’s what I did with Lodur.

For those of you just tuning in, Lodur is restoration for good, I have no aspirations to take her in any other direction. Here’s my current restoration build

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According to talent chic it’s the second most popular build ( I took Healing Way over pushback resistance) I’ll likely stay that way with maybe a minor shift in talents as tier 8 gear comes in. Now after dropping my 1k gold on the dual spec ability, I had to decide what it was I was going to do with Lodur. I could pick up a melting face elemental spec, or a second restoration spec geared towards PvP. Enhancement was not an attractive option for me since weapon itemization in the end game has been lacking somewhat (fast weapons ftl). Well, I went with elemental because currently Lodur is sans arena team. Here’s what I went with for talents.

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Pretty cookie cutter spec, but it gets the dailies done. I found this useful on fights like loatheb where too many healers equal too much overheal, I was able to pop into elemental and just toss out some lightning bolts.

When I find myself a solid arena team (lfg arena pst) I’ll switch over to a pvp restoration spec, something like this

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I’ll likely play with it after I get into a team and learn what holes need to be plugged, but that’s the plan.

This is an amazing tool blizzard has given us for raiding. It’s very nice to have a tank who can switch to dps when he does not have to tank anything, or have a hybrid class hop over into healing if things get too rough. It provides an amount of flexibility to the raid leader to fill in gaps or change strategies without having to wait for someone to go respec, summon back, re-glyph etc.

One of the other additions to the game was the Argent Tournament. Wowinsider has been doing a great job keeping up with the dailies Over on WI.com so feel free to check them out for more information.

The tournament feels to me very much like the Sunwell dailies. It’s placed at the far north of the map and has npc’s from all factions. It’s colorful and aesthetically pleasing and has a unique feel. It’s a tight cluster of dailies, that send you to a small selection of area in Northrend to accomplish the tasks set before you. You earn marks that you turn in to gain ranks in the knightly order, aspirant to valor all the way up to champion. It’s nice honestly. You joust, you gather items to build the tournament area, and you search for a lovely maiden’s favor. I’m very impressed with the quest line surrounding the Black Knight. It’s an interesting story so far and I can’t wait to see what else lies in store for it. I’ve just completed  The Black Knight’s Orders, but I’m still working on my next rank of knight. I enjoy this addition to the game quite a bit. Dailies that combine running things down with lances is always good in my book.

So how are you spending your dual spec? What do you think of the new tournament?

That’s it for today’s post,
Till Next time, happy healing

~Lodur

Feel free to follow me on Twitter

Image courtesy of Paramount

3.1 Initial Impressions or How I Learned to Love the Crash

3.1 Initial Impressions or How I Learned to Love the Crash

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3.1 dropped with about as much stability as we’ve come to expect from major content updates. Servers were down for extended amounts of time with updates every hour asking us to be patient and wait. Stories were filtering in through twitter and various blogs of people not even able to apply the patch. Slowly realms came back up one by one and people began to log in. The gates to Ulduar were opened and raiding commenced after guild logs were flooded with Dual Talent Specialization achievement spam. Life in Warcraft slowly began to creep back to its normal pace. Raids started, on some servers later then normal, and players shuffled in to test out their new shinnies. Some braved the lag at the portal to Ulduar to get a glimpse of the new content, while others were content to hit Naxxramas one last time in the hopes of getting a long sought after drop (looking at you here Zabos!)  On some servers, things went smoothly, on others… not so much.

Here’s my tale of excitement and woe.

The day started out fine, I was a little disappointed that it was patch day to be honest, but I schlepped my laptop to work and set my home computer’s vpn up so I could update both machines. The first bit of news I see on my RSS is that WoWMatrix is dead! Now while this isn’t earth shattering, for me it just meant my job pre raid was going to be that much more difficult as I have a lot of mods I use to monitor things. Looking at them while trying to patch I realize I ran between 80-90 mods (now since reduced!). My hopes were restored when people on twitter pointed out curse had released a new beta client for mac, one that hopefully worked. I work full time, getting time pre raid to mess around with mods doesn’t happen often.  I go to log into my system at home and start the patch process when I get an odd error saying it can’t validate my account. I try again, receive the same error. At this point I start digging around and sure enough, battle.net accounts are having a difficult time downloading the patch. I decide to say meh and wait for BigDownload to get it and entertain myself by conversing with people on twitter (thank you guys again for that as always =D)

I get home, get patched up and installed, get everything that has an update updated and find that my server is still down. After about 30 or so minutes, it comes back up. I log in, get myself over to Naxx and get ready to go. Everything was going fine and dandy until Loatheb. We didn’t wipe, but at about 1.2m hp left to go, the instance server freezes. We can still type in guild / raid / say / tell and we can log out and log back in on alts, but we were treated by a lovely scene of Loatheb’s backside. Those of you on twitter got to read my lamentations that quickly rose to comedy. The jokes and statements of my fellow guildies more then enough to lift anyone’s spirits by pointing out the sheer comedic value of the situation. While not the most exciting patch day (think 2.0) it was better then I assumed it would be, and to be honest it had been a lot of fun taking bets on which healer would spontaneously go from tree to crit – chicken or go careening off to smack a boss with their hammer. Stuck in the instance we logged out and back on alts and then out for the night. All things considered it was a pretty fun night for me, got a lot of laughs out of it.

How about you guys? How was your first experience of patch 3.1? Any good patch day stories to share?
Till next time

~Lodur

Feel free to follow on twitter http://twitter.com/LodurZJ And don’t be afraid to ask questions using direct message there or the contact form here on the site!

Suggested Restoration Spec and Glyphs for 3.1

3.1 is upon us and it’s free respec time. Here’s my suggestion feel free to edit it as you see fit. I’m going to quote matt here from his post previous to mine

WoW Insider has a great roundup toeverything 3.1 related.

No Stock UI has a great list of updated and compatible 3.1 addons for you to peruse.

Restoration Shamans were largely untouched in this patch (yay) but some things have shifted around allowing use to move some talent points and gather up our talents.

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Restorative Totems: Increases the effect of your Mana Spring Totem by 20%, and increases the amount healed by your Healing Stream Totem by 45%

This is still a must have, if for nothing else with mana spring totem no longer staking with Blessing of Wisdom, you’ll be using healing stream totem a lot more.

Healing Way: Your Healing Wave spells have a 100% chance to increase the effect of subsequent Healing Wave spells on that target by 18% for 15 sec.

With the talent points being freed up, there is no good reason not to take this

Thundering Strikes: Improves your chance to get a critical strike with all spells and attacks by 5%.

More crit is always good

Elemental Weapons: Increases the damage caused by your Windfury Weapon effect by 40%  increases the spell damage on your Flametongue Weapon by 30% and increases the bonus healing on your Earthliving Weapon by 30%

People may scoff at this one, but with the points floating around, taking this with it’s full 3 points is a great way to give your spell power a bit of a boost.

The spec lets you get everything and the kitchen sink, foregoing the more pvp centric ones. The movement of the talents to different tiers and just a couple point changes really give us everything we need.

As far as glyphs go it might be time to change it up a bit, I’ll list the ones I feel are the great contenders

Water Mastery
Healing Stream Totem – With the change to restorative totems this is worth a second look.
Mana Tide Totem
Earth Shield – NEW 20% increase in the healing done by your Earth Shield is always a good thing.
Riptide – NEW while it might not seem like much, increasing the duration of riptide makes it more into a true HoT instead of just a Chain Heal buffer.
Chain Heal

Now as far as totem mods go, I will make an endorsement here. Totem Timers worked for me on the PTR’s latest build when Yata and Flototem failed me. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth checking out. Tracks Earth Shield charges, water shield, lightning shield, all totem schools, has a totemic recall option and is pretty light weight.

Good luck in Ulduar!

As always feel free to follow on twitter http://twitter.com/LodurZJ And don’t be afraid to ask questions using direct message there or the contact form here on the site!

Suggested Healing Priest Specs, Glyphs, and Addons for 3.1

Not sure how to spec or glyph for 3.1? Here are my suggestions. Feel free to modify accordingly. WoW Insider has a great roundup to everything 3.1 related.

No Stock UI has a great list of updated and compatible 3.1 addons for you to peruse.

Discipline Priest Specs

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Soul Warding: Reduces the cooldown of Power Word: Shield by 4 seconds and reduces the mana cost of Power Word: Shield by 30%.

Absolution: Reduces mana cost of Dispels and Disease curing spells by up to 15%.

Focused Will: Increases your spell critical effect by 3% fully talented. If you get crit, incoming damage is reduced by 4% and healing effects on you increase by 5/10/15%.

3 points can go either into Absolution or Focused Will. With the amount of cleansers and dispelers in my arsenal, I opted for the increase crit for the time being. But that might change later.

Improved Flash Heal: Must talent, I think. Reduces mana cost of Flash Heal by 15% and increases the crit chance if your targets are below half health.

Rapture: It’s different now. When your Shield is absorbed or dispelled, you instantly get back 2.5% of your total mana and your target gains 2% mana, 8 rage, 16 energy, or 32 runic power. Works every 12 seconds.

Discipline Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Power Word: Shield
Glyph of Penance – NEW: Your Scribes will have to be lucky here.
Glyph of Prayer of Healing – At least it’s some form of AoE healing if the fight calls for it

Holy Priests Specs

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Blessed Resilience: For 3 points, it increases your healing effectiveness by 3%. The stronger your healing effectiveness, the better this talent will be. For the time being I opted not to get it.

Serendipity: A haste inducing talent. Requires you to Flash Heal or Binding Heal before it adds a 12% haste buff per stack up to 3 (total of 36%). Makes your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing faster. Note: Binding Heal used to grant 2 haste buffs per one cast. It doesn’t do that anymore.

Test of Faith: No change here.

You’re going to end up with 6 talent points. You can only invest in two of the above abilities. I recommended Serendipity and Test of Faith.

Empowered Renew: Another instant healing spell added to Priests. The closest thing I can think of is that it’s an inverse Lifebloom. Instead of tick, tick, tick, BOOM! It becomes BOOM! Tick, tick, tick.

Holy Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Circle of Healing
Glyph of Hymn of Hope
Glyph of Renew
Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Guardian Spirit

Things will be very busy in the World. New places to explore, new dungeons to conquer. All of us will do our best to provide the advice and guidance in the challenges ahead.

Lodur’s Final Thoughts Before 3.1

Lodur’s Final Thoughts Before 3.1

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I’d like to condense my final thoughts on the Restoration Shaman Changes so far, since the patch is imminent at this point and shouldn’t be too far off.

The hottest topic for Shamans as of late has been the Blessing of Wisdom and Mana Spring Totem stacking change.  Understandably we were all a bit shocked by this change. This is pretty much taking the stars out of alignment for us. I know I reacted harshly to it first in my post Shaman and Paladins Mana Buff Get Hit! . This was before I got a chance to actually test it out as well as sit down and think about it.

Lets talk about mana regeneration from an encounter design standpoint. In a raid how often do you run out of mana now? For me I know it’s never unless a lot of other healers bite the dust and I have to pick up the slack. How often do you have to use mana potions? I think I’ve used 5 total in about 8 weeks, and those were on heroics. That’s with moderate gearing, not even a heavy MP5 set. That’s honestly not good for designers. In order to compensate for ungodly amounts of healer mana developers tend to make encounters with more widespread raid damage instead of other much more fun mechanics. Personally I’d rather have fun mechanics, I like variety! (read as less Whack-a-Mole plx!)

Raid wide we lose 109.2 MP5 from this change and I can tell you from testing it, it’s not that bad. I’ve spent a lot of time on various iterations of Lodur on the PTR testing the changes out, doing raids, seeing how regen was affected… and to be honest it really wasn’t affected as majorly as many people think. Right now on live I can end a fight like Kel’thuzad or even Sartharion with drakes with around 50% mana, and that’s with chain casting. On the PTR I was ending with about 35%. Honestly it’s the difference of a mana potion.  We’re not really going to see a shift too dramatically. Rejoice! We are the mana base line!

There is also another great part of this for Shaman in general that I’d like to take a moment to point out. There was a discussion about totems and macros and such on PlusHeal and a very interesting point came up. A lot of shaman over there refer to our water totem as our swing totem, and I agree with this. The water totem slot is our most versatile of the lot and tends to get the most use. By changing the way mana regen stacks it allows us to take a Blessing of Wisdom, and then use our water slot for something other then just Mana Spring. Healing Stream totem is getting a buff through talents that makes it a very attractive choice (AoE hot? yes plz!) and lets not forget our brand new Cleansing Totem that will take care of both poisons and diseases. With the new change we wont have to sit and worry about taking away mana regen by dropping a poison cleansing totem or what have you. I found the ability to not have to worry about having Mana Spring down all the time was like a weight lifting from my shoulders. I have a feeling once you guys see it in action you’ll feel the same =D

Here’s a recap of the Patch Notes relevant to restoration Shamans.

Restoration

  • Ancestral Awakening: This talent now accounts for your ineffective healing, rather than effective.
  • Ancestral Healing and Healing Grace have swapped places in the Restoration talent tree.
  • Cleanse Spirit now has a new icon.
  • Mana Tide Totem: This spell no longer costs mana.
  • Restorative Totems: Reduced to 3 points, down from 5. Increases the effect of your Mana Spring Totem by 7/12/20%, and increases the amount healed by your Healing Stream Totem by 15/30/45%.
  • Riptide: This spell has a new icon.
  • Tidal Force: Now has a new spell effect.

General Shaman Changes

  • Bloodlust/Heroism: Cooldown reduced to 5 minutes, but Sated and Exhausted now last 10 minutes.
  • New! Earth Elemental Totem: The summoned Earth Elemental should now have significantly more health and slightly more armor.
  • New! Fire Elemental Totem: The summoned Fire Elemental should now have moderately more health and mana, and its damage scaling has been increased. In addition, the Fire Elemental’s spells now cost less mana.
  • Flametongue Weapon: Bonus damage from spell power now based on weapon speed. Slower weapons will benefit more from spell power.
  • Frostbrand Weapon: Damage increased by approximately 20%.
  • Mana Spring Totem: This totem has been redesigned. It now provides the same mana benefit as Blessing of Wisdom to the entire party or raid, but is exclusive with that effect.
  • Poison Cleansing Totem and Disease Cleansing Totem have been merged into “Cleansing Totem.” Cleansing Totem pulses every 3 sec, down from 5.

Another item was the change to Heroism / Bloodlust. The change is that the debuff and the cooldown are being flipped around. Cooldown has been changed to 5 minutes and debuff has been changed to 10 minutes. At first this seems like a big hit from the nerf bat, and at first I thought so too, until Matt and I had a great conversation about it. Heroism / Bloodlust is an optional raid buff, unlike replenishment which Blizz feels is a mandatory buff. Encounters are not tuned with you having one every try in mind. It’s a raid leaders shot gun buff, on Sarth 3D we use it to burst down the second drake for an example. It’s something you use when you really need to have something dead and fast. The change allows for you to use it more inline with progression fights. Lets say you pop it, and you die. Dying clears the debuff but if the ability is down and you don’t have another Shaman, fat lot of good it’s going to do you. This will allow groups that only have 1 Shaman to always have this buff available when learning fights. I think this is actually a good thing.

Elementals are getting buffed, which is long overdue. This will bring them back up to something a little more useful then were they currently are. I know my Fire Elemental when I break him out on Sarth adds doesn’t really do a whole lot and tends to run out of mana fast. Which his damage scaling more and cheaper spells he’ll just be that much more useful. Earth Elemental getting a health increase is also really good. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped him to make a get away only to have him die so fast it doesn’t matter that I dropped him at all.

Bottom line here is we really made out this patch. We didn’t get godly buffs, but we avoided the nerf bat and remained largely unchanged. The changes we did get will actually help our utility to a raid, and can be looked at as buffs in a way. The Mana Spring totem change really benefits us more then it hurts us. It gives us a bit more freedom to roll around totems. I am looking forward to this patch for many reasons, not least among them Ulduar.

What about you? How do you feel about the imminent patch?

Till next time, Happy Healing.
~Lodur

As always feel free to follow on twitter http://twitter.com/LodurZJ And don’t be afraid to ask questions using direct message there or the contact form here on the site!

Filling the Void Until Ulduar

Filling the Void Until Ulduar

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Sorry for the long silence there, but Real Life has a way of rearing it’s head when you least expect it.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the content that’s coming. Class changes, Raid bosses, Loot and set bonuses, but there is still a current game we are paying to play going on.

Some guilds have stopped going, feeling they’ve already beaten the content and have their main core of raiders geared, they are taking a break. Some people are leveling alts up getting ready to have another viable toon ready to go. Other people are farming rare mounts, like the Zul’Gurub Tiger Mount, or Baron Rivendare’s Charger. Another group of people are preparing for the new content by stockpiling consumables, farming gold, or even working on achievements. My guild has been casually working on achievements, trying to see how many we can get done without pushing the entire raid to the brink of insanity to get them.  (The picture above is an old one now, but I love it, it’s my favorite achievement, you’ll have to forgive me) Something that I think my guild might pick up after last night’s shenanigans is trying boss encounters in different ways.

Last night we had 7 raiders M.I.A. for various reasons. We knew about them in advance so it wasn’t horrible since we have a lot of veterans and friends and family in the guild we can bug every now and then to come along with us, get them gear and to have some fun. Last night was interesting for us in the way of composition. First of all we only had 5 healers, which is less then we normally run with.  While not horrible it just meant more mana was going to be spent and more time was going to be spent inside the 5 second rule. These 5 consisted of two Restoration Shamans, Two Restoration Druids and a Holy Pally. Yeah it was a pretty sweet 5 healers to have.

Secondly and probably the most  fun part was, we only had 1 priest. This was going to make Razuvious fun, since we only had one Mind Control to use. Rather then be daunted we decided to utilize the 3 hunters we had just sitting around shooting things. We had the hunters stand in a triangle around the center ring for Raz, our priest MC’d one student and tanked until it was time to let go of the MC. At this point one hunter distracting shot Razuvious. That hunter then cast Feign Death right before Razuvious got to him and another hunter distracting shot repeating the process. Essentially making Raz run around in a triangle until our priest could pick up the MC again and start tanking. Now, hunters died and tanks had to taunt and kite Razuvious as well, but I have to say that was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time in Naxxramas. There is something gratifying seeing a boss that can one shot you running around like a fool while you hear the Benny Hill Theme playing in your head. This seemed to have gone over really well with the guild and a lot of people thought it was great fun and had a good laugh.

I think next we’re going to do one sided Gothik the Harvester =D

How are you guys spending the time before Ulduar?

Shamans and Paladins mana buff get hit! (With edit)

Shamans and Paladins mana buff get hit! (With edit)

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I just got off of lunch here at the office and happen to see this in my blue tracker.

Click here to see!

For those of you who can’t read it at work or school here it is copied for you

From Eyonix:

We are making a change to these spells so that their benefits are exclusive in patch 3.1.0. The buffs will be equivalent, but will no longer stack. Mana Spring will affect the entire raid instead of just the shaman’s party. We felt that both paladins and shamans brought too many unique buffs to a group. Additionally, we have been trying to tone down mana regeneration in large groups, and were concerned raids would feel the need to stack paladins or especially shaman to have enough Mana Spring totems. We have also been trying to get more benefits out of the party and into the raid, and Mana Spring previously was still a party only buff. With this change, if there is only one paladin, he or she can bring Blessing of Kings while the shaman offers Mana Spring. If there are two paladins and the second offers Blessing of Wisdom, then the shaman can offer healing or cleansing with their water totem instead.

What does this mean? It means you can’t have both. They are essentially removing another source of mana regeneration from raids.  As you can imagine there is a large outcry among both Shamans and Paladins. From the shaman stand point I’m a little upset to be honest, I’m also waiting for the other shoe to drop. The comment about Shamans bringing too many unique buffs to the raid made me scoff a bit. Strength of Earth totem which combines STR and AGI buffs gets overridden by a Death Knights horn of winter, often times leading to that being used for Stone Skin which is negligible benefit to the raid at best. Flame Tongue totem gets over ridden by Demonic Pact if you have a demo warlock in the group, and the other flame choices are Frost Resist or doing dps. Which if you’re healing, you arent in range for that most of the time anyways, and taking the time to stop healing run in and drop a magma totem is normally not a good idea. You guys see where I’m going with this.

Here were some suggestions of what we can do with the slot instead, and ultimately what our totems can add to a raid.

Healing Stream Totem. It’s group only, and still has to be in range. If you’re healing, more then likely you’re going to be with the casters in the back, not taking damage. While it does have places where it can be nice, it’s largely wasted in my opinion.

Cleansing Totem. Great for fights where you need to purge Diseases and Poison, but wasted and useless any other time. With curses being more prevalent then Disease and Poison that’s another totem we’ll see situational use out of.

Wrath of Air. Yes we still offer 5% spell haste. Yes that is good, but it is also redundant. Currently two other classes also offer haste. Retribution Paladins and Balance Druids.

Blizzard is trying to simplify raids, and I can appreciate what they are trying to do… to a point. A Lot of people think they are trying to make fights harder by nerfing mana regeneration, posts like this just add weight to that argument.  Homogenize every class, and then what do you have left? I posted in my last post that one of the best things about playing a Shaman was the uniqueness of our class, and totems were right up there in that list. Slowly it seems like it’s being whittled away. Streamline don’t make obsolete!

Redundancy is good in a raid, but at what cost?

I’ll update this as time permits today and as updates are brought to my attention.

What are your thoughts?

*EDIT*

Ok, so now that my initial shock has worn off and I’ve had my cup of coffee and a chance to sit and think about it in more depth, I’m not overly concerned any longer, in fact I’m quite ok with it now. This is just another in the series of small tweaks to get everything on a level playing field. The impact to the raid shouldn’t be that big, if anything more raids will see a boost from this then any sort of detrimental outcome.

I think my biggest reaction was just it seemed like a change out of left field, I don’t think anyone saw that coming. I am curious however as to what else will change in the coming weeks. Shamans have their Heroism / Bloodlust shifted slightly to keep it as a “Shotgun” buff and now the Mana Spring totem has been adjusted just a little bit. Lets see what else they tweak.

Flame Leviathan Thoughts

Flame Leviathan Thoughts

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Yeah there’s going to be a buttload of spoilers here. You probably don’t want to read any further than this.

Tuesday afternoon, Blizzard announced the new PTR boss testing schedules for the week. Flame Leviathan (Normal) would be open from 4 PM onwards. But it looks like someone was trigger happy and they decided to pop it open an hour earlier. I happened to be on right as it opened up and sounded the alarm on Twitter, my guild, and in the WoW Insider war room. Alex Ziebert, shadow Priest extraordinaire, was able to join me. Once we filled up, we got the ball rolling.

So what kind of vehicle does a big, badass Dwarf drive around when he’s feeling bloodthirsty?

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That’s right. It’s the only vehicle fit for a dwarf. It’s big. It’s got rams. And it’s got guns. I let someone else drive while I manned the guns on top. After talking to Bronzebeard, we started the event and the Alliance 1st Armored division rolled out of the garage. The division consisted of two tanks, two demolishers and two choppers (bikes). The two siege engines lead the way absorbing the brunt of the Iron army. Demo’s formed up on the rear and attacked at range while choppers were cleaning up anything else that got behind the siege engines.

1st Armored decided to start off with gunnery training. Most of us had no idea what to do so it made sense to start firing on anything that moved and any structures that were destructible. We literally rolled over the opposition with little difficulty.

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Click on pictures to enlarge

I found the gun controls were quite stiff to move. It’s like the engineers forgot to add WD-40 to the damn turrets or something. If you’ve ever done Wintergrasp, the controls for aiming are quite easy. You hold down your right mouse button to aim the direction of the camera and the targeting reticle changes direction accordingly. But it’s different in Ulduar. I found that it wasn’t as fluid nor as smooth.

After clearing out the towers, one of the recon choppers noted what looked like a repair pad on the side. We gathered up and repaired our vehicles to full health. Up ahead there was a gate flanked by two Ulduar Colossi.

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Up: Repair pad
Down: Ulduar Colossus

The Colossus is pretty damn large. But the larger they are, the harder they fall. They more really slow, too. I told my driver to switch with me because I had a hunch the vehicle would have a larger vehicle pool. Blizzard did say vehicles would scale with gear. Sure enough, my tank jumped from ~750k health to ~810k.

Matticus was in the hot seat now.

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Left: Matt tries to take on the Flame Leviathan to no avail
Right: Matt flooring it after realizing the above the strategy is not working

“Matt! Run! Hit the gas!”
”WTF do you think I’m doing?! Twiddling my thumbs?!”

We didn’t last much longer after that. But I found it a lot of fun. And it is absolutely nothing like Malygos phase 3. Players who have an aversion to vehicle encounters should definitely give this a try at least. And if they hate it, they’ll hate it. But at least try it with a clean slate. Worse comes to worse, if you don’t like driving or shooting, you can be one of the brave souls willing to be thrown on to the top of the Flame Leviathan.

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Pretty neat bug where a demo has grappled another demo. There’s still some quirks to be resolved. Towards the end, Alex grappled me onto his demo. I was unfortunately stuck and had no idea how to eject myself. I don’t think I was loaded into the launching arm.

Our best attempt was around 35% before our live raids forced us to cancel out.

Ignis is going to be available for testing today. Try to be on about an hour earlier to avoid the queues that is going to be prevalent. I’ll be in there at around 3 to see if I can scramble some players.

For Flame Leviathan strategy, try checking out Stratfu.

Matt’s Hodir Impressions

Matt’s Hodir Impressions

hodir

First, check out this awesome video by Siha. Some great teaser footage regarding the Hodir encounter. You can see me around the 22 second mark. I’m running away to the bottom right corner of the screen. Great choice of music, to boot!

To all the players who said Blizzard didn’t know how to create challenging content.

You guys are in for a treat.

At around 3 PM Pacific, it was announced that Hodir would soon be available for testing. In fact, he would be open at 4 PM. That left me an hour to scramble the players necessary to give it a shot. I knew there was no way I’d be able to field a full 25 man raid group. Conquest managed to bring in 6 players to jump in. I posted on Twitter looking for volunteers. No avail. I checked my GMail for online contacts. Apathy was free. Quick glance on AIM? Siha was free. After 90 minutes of struggling with UIs, server crashes and the like, we were one of the first groups that were able to zone in. The entire zone is quite breath taking. Check out some of the shots I sent into WoW Insider.

WoWScrnShot_022609_171253 After my making my way through most of the instance where we pass through the exterior lightning charged towers (where the Flame Leviathan is, no doubt) we enter a door that takes us into another part of the area. It looks like we hit the inner sanctum. The main chamber branches off into a multitude of rooms which takes your party to different bosses. Naxxramas has four wings. Ulduar has many different wings. I was’t able to get a count. But I think there were at least 5 or so hallways that led out. We managed to find Hodir with little difficulty in a circular cavern.

And we were joined by Daelo! Poor guy! He’s the lead encounter designer for Blizzard. General chat exploded the moment he announced his presence. People were asking him to unstuck them from various areas inside the instance. It got to the point where he had to bring in his alter ego (Daelotwo) to help with the unsticking process.

omgdaelo

What you’ll find is a large, oversized blue Dwarf-like individual. He’s got four NPCs encased in ice in front of him. Looks like they are integral to the encounter somehow. Our Death Knight tank starts the dancing process of kiting him around. We kind of deduced there was a Keristraza like ability where players had to keep moving. Siha and I were the only healers. We danced around. She covered the main tank (our Death Knight) while I tried to handle the rest of the raid.

 

 

For the past several years, we have all been conditions to aim the camera toward the floor. Illidari Council especially taught us to get out of fires. Blizzard has thrown us a curveball. This time, the raid need only look up. If you see snow, look out below as a chunk of ice is going to fall from the sky!

We barely lasted 2 minutes. But oh my was it such a blast!

WoWScrnShot_022609_171939I have to say something on a side note. It’s an exhilarating feeling to come to a new boss for the first time with zero idea of the boss does. It’s interesting in the fact that as players one of the first things we have to do is figure out what abilities and attacks the boss uses. Once we iron that out, we isolate what we can do or what the environment around us can do to help counteract boss abilities. I’ve never really been at the forefront of progression before. Literally. Bosses in the past have been done with explanations from other players or strategy guides or videos. For the first time, everyone is more or less on an even keel because no one knows what the heck is going on. There’s a huge rush after the fact where everyone chimes in trying to deduce what just killed them. Then theres a myriad of suggestions on how to go about preventing or adjusting for it. We don’t actually know what works. I mean testing raid content is like a big giant algeba problem: It’s literally guess and check.

As far as healing goes, we didn’t last long enough to get a good handle on healing. This instance feels like Zul’Aman: Reloaded (in terms of relative difficulty from Karazhan up).

Notes and observations

4 frozen NPCs in the middle of the room. Of the 4, you can break up to 2 on Normal and all 4 on Heroic. They assist the raid and hand out buffs.

Breaking out the Moonkin offers a haste buff to the raid (Unsure if its spell haste, haste, or both types of haste). You currently have to stand on the circle of light in order to use it.

On Normal, Hodir has 10 million health. On Heroic, around 30 million.

His attacks are melee and frost based.

Frost novas are dispelable. I believe they are cleansable as well. Hooray for magic effects.

This encounter is inspired by Keristraza in the sense that players have to move around to reset the damaging frost aura. It starts off at 200 initially and then continues to double to 400, then 800, then 1600 and so forth.

After the initial 45 seconds, Hodir does an ability called Flash Freeze. It’s a 9 second cast capable of nuking everyone in the room regardless of line of sight. It is possible to fully resist it. If it connects, you get encased in a chunk of ice for 5 minutes. The only other way out is to get busted out by DPS. Don’t forget that when you’re frozen, the aura is still on you.

Frozen Blows: Physical damage reduced by 70% but attacks deal 17750 additional Frost damage.

Special thanks

I’d like to extend a hearty thanks to the brave players who were willing to wipe with me.

Eridan – WTB more soulshards *grin*
Siha – Being online at the right time. Probably would not have gone in without her healing presence.
Wukki – Helping me with the notes and boss observations (and doing some research on her own)
Apathy Inc – I forgot your blog address again
Superkathoid – For offering her services as DPS even though I was already full on DPS :(

I plan on leading another team back in there tomorrow (Friday) at around 3 PM PST. We’re setup on Broxigar. Iron Council is scheduled for 4 PM PST. If you’re interested, I’ll on the PTR around then to get my present guild organized. I’ll most likely need an extra set of hands. You’ll recognize me on my character (Matticus).

If you’re interested, follow me on Twitter. Or else bookmark my Posterous (or subscribe). I’ll be updating my Posterous more often with screenshots and a live braindump of everything going on.

In hindsight, I shouldn’tve formed the group the PvE server. Way too many people.

Thoughts on Rapture and Mana Regen

Thoughts on Rapture and Mana Regen

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I wanted to put some thoughts together on the post 3.1 Rapture ability and our overall mana regen. A lot of players have contacted me and wondered why I thought it was a buff and asked what it meant for their mana regeneration. Why am I so optimistic about something that’s going to tank our regeneration?

Two key concepts

Mana regen is but one important piece to the whole puzzle. But here are two important concepts:

  • Regen: Your ability to grain the resources you need to perform your skills.
  • Obstacles: This is stuff that makes you use your skills and drains your resources.

We have access to half the puzzle right now. We sort of know what our mana regeneration mechanics are going to be like (in theory).

But we presently don’t know is under what conditions they’ll be stressed. We don’t know what our opposition is like yet. We don’t know how combat’s going to be in Ulduar. We don’t know the fights, we don’t know bosses, we really don’t know anything.

Calm down.

This is the public test realm. Players on there are supposed to provide honest feedback about what they feel works and what doesn’t. I’m not complaining about any of the changes yet because I haven’t been able to test them in combat. I don’t have any healing dummies, unfortunately.

Here’s the new Rapture:

Rapture ( Tier 8 ) revamped. Now a 3 point talent. When your Power Word: Shield is completely absorbed or dispelled you are instantly energized with 1.5% of your total mana, and you have a 33% chance to energize your shielded target with 2% total mana, 8 rage, 16 energy or 32 runic power. This effect cannot occur once every 12 seconds.

Fully talented, the 1.5% of total mana becomes 2.5% of total mana and the 33% chance becomes a 100% chance to energize. I’m not sure if the second effect applies to Priests who cast it on themselves. I think the 12 second limitation effect is for the latter component not the Priest’s mana energized component. So if you’re shielding 3 tanks and they wear off one after the other, that would be 3 separate activations of the mana return. Only one of your tanks would get the benefit from the 8 rage.

I just can’t test that theory out right now.

Anyway, it’s a buff in the sense that the players we Shield will gain a return of some sort to their power. Warriors will no longer have a reason to cry and request zero shields on themselves. You are getting bubbled whether you like it or not.

With extra gravy.

We are now glorified battery chargers.

On the other hand, you could always click it off.

I’m okay with nerfs

They can nerf our regen if it’s proven that we (as Priests) don’t need it. Decently geared players don’t have to watch their mana as much. I’m not potting, I’m not hitting my Hymn of Hope, I’m not asking for Innervates and I’m not breaking out the Shadowfiend because they aren’t necessary right now.

When does it become a problem?

If our nerfs our active and we’re hitting all of our consumables and mana regen abilities and we’re still running out of gas? That’s when it becomes a problem.

Holy changes

Serendipity has lost its mana gaining flare. This is supposed to be counteracted by the revised Holy Concentration.

Holy Concentration (Tier 7) changed to: Your mana regeneration is increased by 16/32/50% for 8 sec after you critically heal with Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal or Renew. (Previously had a chance to grant clearcasting effect)

Beneficence started a thread on Plusheal regarding the new 3.1 mana regen mechanics. Be wary as it is numbers heavy. The bottom line from Bene:

The HC change itself strikes me as about even with it’s current iteration, by itself. Once you factor in the oo5sr changes that can result from that, it looks like a light nerf. The loss of serendipity’s mana restoring mechanic though, can be a pretty noticeable loss, even if you are relatively efficient.

Why so optimistic?

In my line of work, I kind of have to be. I have a fun job where I get to write about a game and a class I truly enjoy playing. Every buff, every nerf, every change I view as fascinating! It’s just another step in the evolution of the Priest. If all I did was zero in on nothing but nerfs, I’d end up being just a shell. I’m being optimistic because my sanity depends on it.

Ever watch or read the news lately?

There’s always a shooting. There’s always a homicide. Someone gets robbed. Someone gets sexually assaulted. Even in newspapers, you read about corruption and what’s wrong with our society today. Good news is lucky if it even makes it on to the side bars.

It’s depressing.

Now imagine what kind of blogger I would be if I approached every change negatively. If I said our class was getting wrecked left and right. If I told you to all reroll Paladin (heaven forbid). If I told you I was quitting the game. I’m sorry, but that’s not who I am. My glass is not half empty. It’s going to be completely full.

In the sense of the Priest, some parts of us are getting hit with nerfs. Other parts are getting buffs. We’re getting non stop changes.

A majority of us have yet to try out the changes in the situations where it matters: On the field.

And once I do, you’ll get an honest, zero BS assessment. I won’t bore you with numbers. It will be a straight up yes-or-no answer to the important question we’re all dying to know: Are we running out of mana in combat?

Besides, we’re apparently missing a few talents in the Disc tree.

For another point of view about Rapture, try this: