Healing Roundups and We Got Our Drakes!

Healing Roundups and We Got Our Drakes!

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

Druids

Lissanna’s restoration healing guide (Restokin)

Keeva’s restoration 4.0 guide (Tree Bark Jacket)

Paladins

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

Priests

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

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

Discipline 4.0.1 guide (Malevica)

Shamans

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

Augments

Gem conversions for 4.0.1 (Revive & Rejuvenate)

Addons

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

Beru’s Addon List

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

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

Unrelated

25-drakesr

We scored our ICC 25 drakes last night!

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

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

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

“Matt’s picked up.”

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

“Ann’s picked up.”

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

“Rykga picked up.”

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

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

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

Priest Glyphs for 4.0.1 and Cataclysm

Priest Glyphs for 4.0.1 and Cataclysm

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

Well, absolutely nothing!

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

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

How the new glyph system works

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

Prime – Straight increase to damage or healing.

Major – Offers extra stuff to existing spells or abilities.

Minor – Convenience or cosmetic changes.

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

glyphs-interface

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

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

Prime Glyphs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mattwell says to pass on Lightwell.

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

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

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

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

Good to draft if you have nothing better.

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

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

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

And his back.

And that other guy’s back.

And yeah, even that guy.

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

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

No contest. Draft it for holy.

Major Glyphs

Next up is the majors.

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

Draft it for holy.

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

More of a situational role player, in my opinion.

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

Situational draft pick. Depends on your team.

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

Pass at 80. Situational pickup otherwise.

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

Really situational.

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

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

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

Pass on this.

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

Highly recommended draft pick.

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

Situational for PvP use.

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

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

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

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

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

Pass.

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

Pass.

Minor Glyphs

Now it’s down to the minors.

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

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

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

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

Glyph of Shackle UndeadPass. Nothing to add here.

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

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

Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec

Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec

Atonement’s one of those really curious talents in the discipline tree. We’ve never really experienced anything like it before and I can understand the reluctance behind taking it.

But it’s got some potential. And I found it fun the few times I pulled it off.

How it works

The basic premise is that you’re unloading Smites on a hostile target. As you’re hitting them with Smite, Atonement activates and heals any player within 8 yards of the target for 100% of the damage that Smite does.

For priests at level 80
For priests at level 85

Here are the key talents:

Atonement: You absolutely need this. Its kind of the central focus. In an earlier build, Smite would heal 60/120% according to the damage dealt. In the current beta build, it dropped down to 40/80%. As of the current PTR for the 4.0.1 patch, it was raised to 50/100%.

Archangel & Evangelism: Both of these talents help with buffing the damage you’re dishing out or allowing you to get some precious mana back.

Divine Aegis: Yup, DA bubbles will appear off of heals from Atonement.

Feel free to pick and choose the rest of them according to your own play style.

Glyphs

You’ll want to get some of these glyphs to help vault your utility.

atone-glyphs

Glyph of Divine Accuracy: I know I have close to zero hit gear. For this spec to work, you need to be able to hit the boss. If you can’t hit the boss, you can’t heal.

Glyph of Smite: The Holy Fire DoT doesn’t last that long, but the does help.

Those are the two main ones and everything else is up to you. However, I would recommend:

You’re in the discipline tree anyway. May as well get some glyphs that augment that tree further.

Spell usage

Open up with a Holy Fire right away, then begin blasting away with a Smite. If you’re lucky, you’ll get in about 4 powered up Smites before th e DoT wears off. You’ll need to eyeball your mana here. Get a full stack of Evangelism going. Between Evangelism and the Glyph of Smite, it should elevate you to some reasonably comfortable numbers.

Once I notice a mana deficit of about 15 – 20%, I’ll pop Archangel and instantly get my mana back and resume Smiting.

You still have access to your healing priest spells. Don’t be tunnel visioned into believing that Smiting is the only way to heal because it isn’t. It is the main focus, but don’t forget about your other heals. Use them in a pinch if you need to. Instead of sitting back and waiting for people to take damage, you’re actively doing something which has a positive side effect.

If you’re in a smaller group environment like a 10-man or a 5-man, you’ll need to keep a closer watch on yourself and any other ranged players that aren’t standing with the melee.

In a raid environment, you can use this to your advantage. If you’re like me and contemplating the usage of a full time Smite priest, that’s one dedicated healer on the melee. That means you can focus the efforts of the other healers on the ranged players and maybe an additional one managing the tanks.

Limitations

I expect there to be some sort of diminishing return. I just don’t have the faintest clue what it would be (as in how many players before the effectiveness reduces). Unless you really want to stack your entire raid on top of the boss, the usability of this spec is going to be limited to melee friendly bosses. You don’t want to tango with Deathwhisper or Saurfang for instance. Either the ghosts or bloodbeasts will tear you and your raid up alive. You’d probably want to revert back to the traditional style of being a disc priest and resort to actual healing if those types of bosses are waiting for you.

No word yet on whether this will  be final in either the PTR or the beta. We’ll know within the next week or so.

What I need to now do is find a volunteer priest willing to go Smite heal in our raids. Anyone else planning on giving this a try when the patch kicks in?

3.3 PTR update

3.3 PTR update

Just a quick post today on the recent changes to the PTR.

Patch 3.3 Build 10596 is up and here are some of the changes you can look forward to right now

Reputation

* The following reputations have been sped up by roughly 30%:

  • Argent Crusade
  • Alliance Vanguard
  • Horde Expedition
  • Kirin Tor
  • Knights of the Ebon Blade
  • Sons of Hodir
  • Wyrmrest Accord

* Sons of Hodir quests now give more reputation overall.

* Top-level helm and shoulder faction-related enchants are now available as Bind-on-Account items that do not require any faction to use once purchased (they still require the appropriate faction level to purchase).

* Reputation commendations can now be purchased for 1 Emblem of Triumph each.

This is a fairly sizable upgrade for us. Not only is rep grinding reduced greatly but once you get someone exalted with sons for example they can buy the shoulder enchant and send it to another character of yours. As an alt-aholic I love this idea.

Spells and Talents

Druid

  • Rejuvenation: The base duration on all ranks of this spell is now 15 seconds.

Shaman

  • Reincarnation: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 60 minutes down to 30 minutes.Restoration
  • Improved Reincarnation: This talent now reduces the cooldown of Reincarnation by 7/15 minutes, down from 10/20 minutes. Reincarnation cannot be used in Arenas.

The change to rejuvenation is great for players who are leveling. It adds 3 seconds pretty much across the board. The Shaman changes to reincarnation and the improved reincarnation talent make me very, very happy. I might actually find 2 points to put in it. Being able to self resurrect every 15 minutes is a great boon for progression night raids as well as just leveling. Toss in a Glyph of Renewed Life and you’re pretty much gtg.

Glyphs
Druid

  • Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation: This glyph allows for the druid’s haste to reduce the time between the periodic healing effects of Rejuvenation.

This is interesting to me because they announced they were looking at allowing haste to affect HoTs and DoTs. Link here for forums. So I’m curious if this is some form of experimentation on a smaller scale to see the effect of adding haste to HoT’s

General / UI

Interface

  • Any party member may mark targets (this does not apply to raid groups).

I can’t thank them enough for this. I was terrified that this would apply to raid groups. I run 25 mans mainly with my guild and last thing I needed was someone freely moving markers around on a trash pull *shudder*

That’s some of the major changes this build. Hope you get a chance to play with the PTR a little bit.

What are your thought’s on the PTR so far? How do you think patch 3.3 is shaping up?

Until next time.

Sig

Also be sure to follow me on Twitter for up to the minute updates as they filter through.

Patch 3.2 in Review

Patch 3.2 in Review

bucket heads

Warning: Fanboys and Fangirls beware, as this is not a post you will like. I am about to criticize Blizzard, and if that offends your sensibilities, go ahead and mark as read. I don’t mind.

For the rest of you who are still reading, I want to take a hard look at a few aspects of patch 3.2. I am going to try not to wax poetic about how wonderful the BC patches were–in a sense, that was a different game for a different time, and I was also a different player. What I am going to do is talk about Blizzard’s successes and failures under the current design ethos, which I will sum up as Time Sinks for All Players.

Under the somewhat tongue-in-cheek category of the time sink, I comprehend raiding, dailies, instances, and overall reward structure. Let’s look at each of these aspects of patch 3.2 and examine whether Blizzard succeeded in their global goal of keeping their millions of players interested in their game. Notice that I’m not going to talk about class balance, which is a necessary part of any patch and which will be ongoing. I’m talking only about the New Cool Stuff that came in last Tuesday.

The Crusader’s Coliseum

Let me use my Mystic Orb of the Walrus (actually, a bouncy rubber ball full of green sparklies) to channel for you the Crusader’s Coliseum development meeting.

“You know, we really should make a raid instance for this patch.”

“Yeah, something like Zul’Aman. That was really great.”

“Nah, that took us forever to design. We need something easier, like a 5-man.”

“We put a lot of work into those 5-mans! I just don’t think that we can spare that much time.”

“I’ve got it! Why don’t we design an instance with just one room? We can make one room in like, a week.”

“Yeah, YEAH! And oh, let’s make them run it four times per week instead of just two.”

“Excellent. Also, we should make it take four weeks to get each tier piece, even if the bosses are pretty easy. Let’s require an emblem turn-in for each tier piece–that way it will be like old ZG rep gear, and some of them will never get it!”

“Aren’t they going to riot?”

“Well, as long as we let them get some emblems from the heroic daily, we’re good.”

When I walked into the Crusader’s Coliseum, I had a moment of panic as I realized that I was going to be spending 4-5 months of raiding within its hexagonal walls. When I panned my camera upward, I noticed that, far off center in the Alliance cheering section, there were 6 identical Syds cheering me on. I was so creeped out that I got a haircut right after the raid. In an instance where design has been reduced to brown walls and even the spectators are not individuated, how can I have any hope for interesting boss mechanics?

The Crusader’s Coliseum is, quite simply, lazy design.

The Daily Drudgery

Daily quests ought to be fun and easy. If I’m a farming type player, which many are, I’m much more likely to repeat something I find pleasant. I like the Dalaran cooking dailies, for example. They don’t require too much running, and the rewards are sufficient for the time spent. The gold standard of dailies will always be the SSO dailies of Quel’Danas. They used to be so quick, fun, and convenient that I did them on three characters. I will admit that my interest in the game is much lower now than it was back when my guild was working on Illidan. However, I’m pretty sure I’d grind at least one character through similarly well-designed dailies. The Coliseum-area dailies do not measure up. They are quite widespread and hard to do on one’s own. I particularly find the revised version of Battle For the Citadel a pain in the arse to solo. In order to kill 3 commanders, I have to clear any number of lieutenants and get my ass kicked multiple times by respawns. Don’t even get me started on Threat from Above! Dailies should be a solo operation, as they’ve historically been one of the few things one can do in WoW at 4am. As for the new dailies, I’ve only done a couple of them, and they take you a bit far from the questgivers for my taste. Out of ten or so possible dailies, the only one I really love is Among the Champions, where I get to school some NPCs in the joust. I particularly enjoy beating the stuffing out of the uppity Undead guy–if, indeed undeads have any stuffing left after the whole decomposition thing.

The trend in Wrath seems to be to design dailies which take more time and return proportionally less gold. In turn, the non-currency rewards (pets and mounts) are much better than they were in BC. The dailies are almost a pure time sink–and regrettably, I just don’t have that time. For earning money, the AH is the only way to go. I don’t think 6 or so dailies per day, four days a week, would actually pay for raiding, while two hours a week of selling flasks certainly does.

5-man Instances

I hate to say that I haven’t tried the new instance yet. I’m glad there is one, and I’m sure I’ll get there if it ever comes up as the heroic daily. Because of the reward structure, I try to do the heroic daily whenever I’m on (which is….not that often). I don’t want to be the absolute last person in my raid to buy a tier piece (though truth to tell, I’m in competition for that bottom spot). The thing is, Blizzard de-incentivized their 5-mans during Wrath. Naxx 10 was very easy and accessible compared to the heroics. However, its design was ugly as mud. Meanwhile, the art design for 5-mans was excellent. Most of us saw this beautiful dungeon art only a few times due to the lackluster rewards compared to Naxx. From all reports, the new 5-man is pretty easy, so it’s no Magister’s Terrace. I found Magister’s Terrace to be both challenging and beautiful, and I ran it with all three of my characters (one in tier 6, and two in…crafted purples and Kara gear). I think that Blizzard has–to their own detriment–gone away from the older design of heroics, which allowed some to be much harder than others. I find the hardest Wrath heroic to be Oculus–and I managed to complete that one the day I turned 80.

Rewards and Other Phat Loot

Developers be praised, we’ve got another armor tier to acquire! I love gear. I’m glad that the stats for the three iterations of Tier 9 are actually an upgrade on Ulduar gear. My greatest disappointment with Ulduar (which I love on all other points, including art and gameplay) is that the stats on the gear were such small upgrades from Naxx stuff that I actually didn’t get to see my character improve in noticeable ways even after equipping my new pieces. The only real performance upgrade that I was able to feel was the 4 pc bonus–which for resto druids is widely considered OP. This new patch is just the opposite–I can tell that at least the middle and upper varieties of T9 are going to make a difference in my power and sustainability. I’m jazzed about that. It’s too bad the armor designs themselves are, well, lazy. Many people have commented on this, but suffice it to say, in a few months of work and struggle, Syd is going to go from a gorgeous, glowing creature whose attire includes motifs of branches, leaves, moonlight, and starlight to, well, a Buckethead. Morever, we’re all going to be Bucketheads. I refer you back to the article header should you have any question as to what one’s head looks like when a bucket is equipped in that slot.

Well, let’s say that I can ignore the ugliness of the “new” armor art. There are still many non-gear rewards to be gained in 3.2. The one thing I actually care about, the Ulduar drake that I’ve been working for, is still available (thanks!). It will take a lot of hard raiding to get there–my guild, for one, is not anywhere near done with Ulduar hard modes. There are also new horsies from the Coliseum, mounts upon mounts from Champion’s Seals, more cute pets (even a wyrmling of a different color–who cares, but thanks), and even more tabards (that look pretty much like the old tabards). The game seems to be focused on acquiring volumes of things right now. It’s not “let me get this one beautiful unique mount” but “let me grind for 10 mounts so I can add to my achievements.” I have to say, I’m not too excited about all of it, because too many things seem to be reskins of the same old stuff. My preferred mount grinds are Winterspring Frostsaber (the only kitty with no armor), which I’ve done on one character and started on another, and the Stratholme speed run for Rivendare’s horsie, which I’ve put a few tries into on Syd and ultimately intend to acquire.

How could WoW have hooked me into grinding for new rewards? Well, they could have made them…really new. Let me grind for a raptor mount, and let the horde grind for a Winterspring Frostsaber. That would be pretty sweet. Let me buy the horde mounts for Champion’s Seals. Better yet, make me an entirely new mount–how about a rideable Jormungar? I guarantee you, my play time would have gone up! The new orphan quest is an example of a “good” reward. The gorloc and wolvar pets are pretty unique, and I stayed up an hour later than usual to get my cute little baby oracle.

No More Lazy Design!

The take-home message here is that developers need to spend time and resources on their game. Period. No game is so good that a patch can bring out more of the same and expect to reinvigorate the masses. I think the art budget in particular for WoW needs to go up exponentially.

What is the one thing that I love in patch 3.2? New druid forms! They’re really quite nice (and no, I was not one of the people who complained that they weren’t done right). In my mind, Pink Kitty is pretty much the best thing ever, and I even changed my much-beloved seafoam hair in order to gain access to it. The druid forms are a good example of what happens when you give the community something they’ve asked for and actually spend a little time on it. You get Syd, happily running around in cat form, which has pretty much never happened before. I can has cheezburger naow?

Here’s hoping that the devs announce something astounding at Blizzcon. Something must be done to make up for the overwhelming mediocrity of 3.2…unless, they really do want us to run out and buy Aion come September.

Patch 3.2 in Brief

So I’m a little long-winded. My typical posts run somewhere in the 2000 word range, with the longest of them hitting a staggering 4000 words. As a personal challenge, I am going to provide a little commentary on multiple aspects of Patch 3.2 . . . in two sentences or less. Patch changes are listed in descending order according to the very scientific standard of my personal interest in them.

Coliseum Raid Instance

Five bosses is far too few for a new raid dungeon, regardless of how many times we can play through it in a week. Also, if Blizzard thinks I’m going to be satisfied fighting a Jormungar that looks like every other big worm just because it drops Tier 9, they are fooling themselves.

Normal and Heroic Versions for both 10 and 25 players

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really don’t enjoy killing the same boss repeatedly–regardless of the “extras” in hardmode–in the same week. I used to really, really hate the 3-day reset on Zul Aman for that reason.

New Druid Art

I applaud any and all new artwork in game, including the pink kitty. Now, if I can have one of these forms, I might just go feral myself.

Resto Tier 9 Bonuses

Lackluster compared to Tier 8. HoT ticks that can crit will have less impact than a small front-end instant heal on Rejuvenation.

Three Flavors of Tier 9

They had better not be Rum Raisin, Licorice, and Bubble Gum. In all seriousness, the designers need to take care that the color mix doesn’t make us all look like clowns.

Lifebloom Nerf

Wait, didn’t they realize that the Bloom is nearly 100% overheal anyway? This spell’s now awkward mechanics and situational use have already minimized its place in my rotation, and I’m quite sure that we don’t need it at all as things stand.

New Resto Idol

This will be the new must-have Resto druid accessory, more stylish even than a pair of Manolo Blahniks.

Changes to Mp5 allocation

It’s about time! Even in BC this stat was too “expensive” for its value.

Upgrades to Profession Bonuses

These are all fantastic and I applaud them, but I had really wanted a new alchemist stone. I just really like the idea of manufacturing my own Pet Rock of Uber.

Epic Gems Available

There goes all my hard earned flask money! Seriously, did we even need these?

Reuseable Flask of the North

Why haven’t they thought of this before?

New Moonkin Idol

Probably not as good as the Resto idol since Moonfire is a low-priority spell.

New Heirloom Item

With this stacking bonus, my baby priest will be leveled up to . . . 40 in no time, before I forget her again.

Streamlined Emblem System

Golf claps. The system as it was could be pretty awkward, and at this point in progression it’s appropriate to use emblem gear to facilitate a reroll.

New Pets

I want a baby raptor, especially if he makes a cute squeaky noise.

More Argent Tournament Dailies

I wish I didn’t have to have exalted reputations to unlock them. Dailies are a nice thing to do on alts, and I’ll be stuck doing them on Syd–I just can’t really see myself getting the Argent Dawn/Crusade rep a second time.

More Argent Tournament Mounts

The dailies didn’t hold enough of my interest for me to buy even one of the mounts yet, so I’m indifferent. I still have two pets to go as well.

More Tasks For My Argent Tournament Squire

I love how Averna calls him her pet boy. I humiliate mine by making him carry the Gnomeregan flag, and I can’t wait to make him fetch my dry cleaning.

Changes to Mounts and Mount Prices

I am extremely puzzled by anyone who opposes these much needed quality-of-life changes. To them, I will only say that every generation, as it ages, always claims that when they were young, things were “much better” because they had to work “much harder”–It’s annoying when Gramps says it, and it’s annoying when you post it on the forums.

Venomhide Ravasaur for the Horde

That’s just ducky, but why doesn’t Blizz let everyone get both this mount and the Winterspring Frostsaber? I have never understood the resistance to cross-faction mounts.

Changes to Shield Block on Items

This is not a genuine fix to warriors and paladins, and is barely a bandaid. I still foresee a day of reckoning ahead for tank balance.

New Battleground

Funny, I still haven’t managed to visit Strand of the Ancients yet . . .

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.

Hymn of Hope is Removed and New Power Infusion Graphic

Hymn of Hope is Removed and New Power Infusion Graphic

I checked.

I checked all possible trees (including Shadow but I didn’t screenshot that). Hymn of Hope is gone.

Yes, I know there was a new glyph added:

Glyph of Hymn of Hope *new*  — Your Hymn of hope provides 3 times the normal amount of mana per time, but its duration is 50% shorter.

But Hymn of Hope isn’t there and I have nothing new to learn from the trainer.

disc-tree holy-tree  base-line-tree

Below is the new Power Infusion graphic on my Shaman. It sort of looks like the Shaman’s Elemental Mastery but with a bit more flare to it.

pi-1

I’d say it blends with the Shaman set quite well!

Your Guild’s Dual Spec Policy: What Will it Be?

Your Guild’s Dual Spec Policy: What Will it Be?

Two Seagulls

So what’s the question on everyone’s mind?

Will you, as a player, need two sets of specs as enforced by your raid leader?

For most players, one spec should suffice. You were brought into your current guild and asked to perform in a role. That has not changed. What has changed is the ease in which you can switch from one role to another. You can go from raiding to soloing. You can switch between PvE work to PvP relaxation.

All this stuff can be still be done right now.

It’s just pretty darned expensive between re-gemming, re-enchanting, and re-glyphing.

Your guild policy

I suspect it will be similar to mine. After reading about it and thinking about it, I decided the best course of action was to allow players to select whatever secondary spec they like.

Their primary spec is going to be used for raiding. Of that, I have no doubt. If they didn’t want to raid, they’d just let me know and hibernate for a while. The players that are still around do want to raid and there’s no way they’d jeopardize that.

I’m not doing your job for you

I’ve always told my players to select whatever talent points they needed to excel in the role they are asked to do. I don’t have the time or the interest to research every class and spec in the game and tell them what to get. That responsibility is there for them. I can provide them with resources or point them in places to look, but beyond that I am hopeless.

Now don’t get confused between asking a player to switch roles and to pick out talent points. Asking a Panzerdin to switch from tanking to a healing job is going to require him to completely switch out some specs. What I will not do is tell them how to spend each point individually. This is based on the assumption that they want to and are capable of doing it.

Some misconstrued people on Twitter get into a knot when they assume I expect and enforce people to spec a certain way. That’s not true. I expect them to pick a spec that allows them to contribute as much as they can to the raid in a manner comfortable with them. While I understand guilds that enforce specs I’ve never been one to do that unless I desperately felt that it was an ability that is absolutely essential to successfully complete an encounter. And even then, I’d ask first if they were comfortable with the idea.

What if I’m a bonafide raid healer forever? I know if I were a raiding Holy Paladin, I’d select the standard PvE Holy loadout for one spec. But my second? I’d grab the one that stretches down the Protection tree deep enough to grab Divine Guardian. 12 seconds where the raid takes 30% less damage is a make or break ability that can give healers the time to weather the incoming storm. I do this with the knowledge that it offers my guild a second option in the event that it’s needed. Not like I was using it for anything else anyway.

Again, this is assuming I don’t PvP or dabble in other roles.

The other guy we all love to hate

Most guilds have that one annoying player that everyone hates.

You know who I’m talking about. He’s the guy that knows more about your class then you do. He can play it way better than you. He has the raid achievements and the epics to prove it.

But what if you had 24 other players who knew just about as much as everyone else? Constantly asking questions, pointing out strengths, identifying weaknesses and just making people think rationally about what they’re doing is a shift in environment that a lot of players would be unfamiliar with.

With dual specs, guildss can start expecting DPS and healers to start talking to each other more. I can see different players asking each other how they specced a certain way. Maybe they’re asking for advice on what points to take for a second spec after deciding on a role. I know I don’t have the faintest clue on what to glyph, enchant, or augment if I were to grab shadow.

My Shadow Priests ask me once in a while what my thought process was between this talent point and that talent point (like Serendipity vs Test of Faith).

What about off spec loot?

And the question that every raid leader hates to answer but has to for the sake of their guild is how should off spec loot be handled? This is something that’s still under discussion. It’s always good to hear everyone’s perspective.

But in the end, it’s up to the GM to decide on one. You can’t please everybody. And the GM has to pick a policy that follows in line with the rest of their organization.

Now the Bank of Matticus is a large corporation that requires resources to continue functioning. It helps  sponsors enchanting materials for the guild. In the future, a path is being explored where it can be used to help sponsor guild repairs.

It needs a way of generating income.

Some pointers

  • Main spec (role) will get a clear priority
  • Assuming no main spec raiders need an item, players that would like to use it for offspec can obtain it
  • Players that would like more than 1 item for offspec will be asked to compensate the guild accordingly. This could be in gold (like 100g), an Abyss Crystal, a stack of Infinite Dust, or half a stack of Greater Cosmic Essences.
  • This cap resets after one week. So a player can get a free off spec item once per week (on top of any main spec items needed)

This addition is still under debate. But I expect to have a decision rendered before this week’s raid.

The aim of this is to discourage players from attempting to assemble 4 or 5 sets worth of gear. I’m sorry, but no one needs that amount of equipment. It’s absolutely wasteful. Want a healing and Moonkin set? Absolutely, that’s no problem. Grab a few items here and there during the weeks where no players need it. Donate a couple of hundred gold and an abyss into the bank. Augment your gear with stuff from heroics or normal level raids.

You don’t need a tanking set, a cat DPS set, a moonkin set, a PvP moonkin set, a Resto set, a dreamstate set, and so forth. That’s absolutely greedy and unnecessary.

Blizzard Reads Kestrel’s Aerie (Priest Changes for 3.1)

I don’t have much time. I’m rushing a quick post before I head to school (Delivering a 10 minute presentation on Forensic sciences). I’ll publish a post later with my thoughts on it. I am absolutely creaming my pants right now. When I alerted Wyn, she was virtually speechless as well. In case you haven’t seen them, here they are on WoW Insider. I wanted to point your attention to something though. Last year, I had the opportunity to do an interview with Kestrel (of his self titled Aerie). In it, he asked me what I thought the 51 point talent would be.

 

kestrel-int

Turns out I was wrong. It would end up being Penance. But look at the recent blue posts for Priests!

blizz-pwbarrier

Well, well, well. Will you look at that! A talent named Power Word: Barrier that’s a shield effect! I’m predicting it’s going to be replacing the spot where Diving Spirit is. But Kestrel my man, this is proof that Blizzard reads your blog, eh?