More Surge of Light Cues

More Surge of Light Cues

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

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

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

My Vision of Tier 11 Priest Armor

My Vision of Tier 11 Priest Armor

Oh yeah, I’m sure you know who this guy is. His name is Altair from Assassin’s Creed. Cataclysm isn’t even close yet and already I’m day dreaming about my tier gear. Anyway, this idea came from leveling throughout Uldum. I was inspired by the deserts and the Egyptian themes.

I’m hiding my helm if we’re getting a turban though. Do you know how long I wore my Spellweaver’s Turban for back during Vanilla? Too long! What do you want your tier 11 to look like?

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.

Priest Changes Announced! Your Thoughts?

Priest Changes Announced! Your Thoughts?

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Some of the announcements were those I had expected. But there were a few surprising ones too! Check out the official blue post!

Expected

Heal: Yep, I figured they’d bring this back. Flash Heal is a 1.5 second cast, Greater Heal is a 2.5 second cast (untalented) which means that Heal will lie somewhere in between. I remember using this spell quite a bit during my downranking days in Burning Crusade and Vanilla. But yes, that’s another direct heal for us to use. Flash Heal will be on the side in favor of Heal.

Prayer of Spirit is gone: I expected this would go too. Last month, I asked in a post whether or not Spirit would be removed. My logic was that since Spirit would become a mandatory stat for all the healing classes, there wouldn’t be much of a point in having a buff around that did that. They removed it from raid buffs like Kings and Gift of the Wild. It didn’t make sense for Divine Spirit to stick around either. Guess that answers that question.

Radiance: Wow, that seems a little overpowered. It’s like converting Glyph of Prayer of Healing into Glyph of Everything Healing. Every direct heal now has an additional heal-over-time at the end of it. I think several weapons in the game had an effect like this as well.

Power Word: Barrier: Totally called it. Although knowing my luck, it might not make it past the beta phase :(. Almost two years ago, Kestrel interviewed me and served me a helping of my own 20 questions (I haven’t done them in a long time actually and I kinda feel like bringing it back. Any ideas on who I should interview?). One of the questions he asked was what the Wrath of the Lich King 51 point talent would be like. I said:

Matt’s version – 12 seconds, channeling, 2650 mana: Draws on the spirits and ancestors of all party members of the Priest to create a large bubble, capable of absorbing 22945 total damage to players within a 5 yard radius. While the barrier is in place, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage. Players in the party within the Barrier can not be affected by fear or silence effects. 5 minute cooldown.

Blizzard version – Who knows?

Ridiculous and overpowered? Yes. Thank goodness I’m not a game designer. But I’ve always secretly wanted some sort of group shield. Later on during the development cycle for Wrath, I remember reading a post saying that the devs wanted to introduce it, but ran out of time or something. Now it’s being pushed back to Cataclysm.

Anyway, so it looks like it’s just going to be a big shield that hits an entire group. I don’t think it’s going to be a smart spell in the way Circle of Healing was. I suspect it’ll hit every player within a single group which offers a fair degree of predictability like Prayer of Healing does. Nope, GC just clarified it. It’s going to be similar to the Death Knight Anti-Magic Zone. So it’s going to create a bubble somewhere on the ground and players that stand in it will have any incoming damage absorbed (and not just spell damage like AMZ since it’ll absorb all). Already in my mind, I can picture of myself casting Barrier on one group and then casting Prayer of Healing on a different group. Think of how many lives you’d be able to save even further on something as simple as Stinky! As for shield strength? Possibly on par with or stronger than an individual shield.

Internet? Can I get an internet fist bump?

Deep down inside, there’s a little me that’s screaming “Yay! Blizzard liked my idea!” but I know better. It’s probably a spell that someone deep in the dev team already coined and it just happened to be a coincidence. I’m glad to at least see that there are plans to introduce it.

Unexpected

Leap of Faith (I’m calling it Life Grip though): Oh my goodness, a defensive Death Grip that Priests can use to pull compromised players out of fires! I can see a ton of intriguing abuse for this especially in PvP. Need to get the flag to safety? Have them run below the graveyard and Life Grip them up. But yes, I can certainly see the application in raid environments. It’s got a 45 second cooldown so it can’t be too abused. Note how it says that it’s expected to help rescue players who have pulled threat. I wonder if it functions as a minor threat lowering ability. The problem now is that I foresee other players complaining and saying “Well why didn’t you life grip me out?!” and opening yet another can of raid worms.

Inner Will: It’s various Mage armors for Priests. Sort of. This one increases movement speed and reduces the cast of instant-cast spells. It’s either Inner Will or Inner Fire. I suspect in most cases, we will use Inner Fire. During phases where we need to hustle, we’ll switch over to Inner Will. I wonder if it’ll stack with Body and Soul or the 85 equivalent of Tuskarr’s Vitality.

Holy Form (sort of): There’s a new talent that tips Holy Priests into a super-saiyan form when they chain cast Prayer of Healing, Heal, or Renew three times in a row. The effect will vary based on which spells have been cast. Perhaps a stronger AoE heal, a stronger single target heal, or harder hitting ticks from the Renew? Nice to see them add some more interesting effects for the Holy Priests. [Edit]: GC also stepped in and elaborated further saying that the talent (called Chakra) allows the Priest to temporarily specialize in something like tank healing, group healing or even Smiting.

Lesser Power Word: Shield: It hasn’t been confirmed as being in the plans for Cataclysm yet, but it’s something that has been discussed. A second (and slightly less potent) Power Word: Shield that’s exclusive to Discipline only. The aim is for it to be used on multiple targets. I suspect it’s been inspired by the massive shield casting style of raid healing Discipline Priests and this does make sense. At the moment, Discipline has limited tools in handling AoE or raid wide damage. We had to rely on establishing massive shields before the attack hit and follow it up with a Prayer of Healing or something. Since Mana management is going to play a more important role, shield spamming wouldn’t be a viable option anymore unless a smaller Shield was introduced. Interesting idea!

Actually, if you look at the Mastery Passive bonuses, you’ll see Absorption is listed under Discipline. Conclusion? Increased emphasis on Power Word: Shield (and the lesser one if it’s in the game), Power Word: Barrier, and the various Divine Aegis bubbles.

Our Shadowy brothers got an interesting mechanic change with the introduction of Shadow Orbs. Reminds me of the little floating things that Troll Priests used to have back in the day. Anyone remember those?

Okay, time for bed. Tomorrow’s Raid Rx on WoW.com will have a full analysis of the dispel changes, and what the Shaman and Priest proposed changes will look like in future Cataclysm raids (at least, in theory).

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).

The Body and Soul Spec

I’ll admit, I’ve always dismissed Body and Soul as an odd talent that had little to no use in raids. Players should be able to run out of anything dangerous on their own or with the aid of a boot speed enchant if they’re slow. As such, I’ve never really considered it at all.

But ever since that Power Word: Fail round table event held by the Raid Warning guys where Aliena, Derevka and myself chatted, I had to reconsider. Have I mentioned that they’re my personal favourite podcast crew to work with?

The spec

Here it is (14/57/0)

This is the one I’d use as it has many of the traditional elements of a Holy spec. You can shift your points around from Empowered Healing, Blessed Resilience, and Test of Faith accordingly based on your own preferences. Personally, I favor Blessed Resilience but that’s because I’m aware of what kind of an effect it has. You may prefer Test of Faith for the extra throughput (even though it is conditional). If you’re not a Flash Heal or Greater Heal type of player, you might opt for full points in Blessed Resilience and Test of Faith. Anyway, that discussion is for a separate post entirely (hopefully soon assuming Derevka has spare time at some point).

Why would you ever use Body and Soul?

For me, I’ve discovered that it has extra utility in progression fights. The talent a minor run speed increase for 4 seconds which is enough to give players a quick boost when running away. When learning fights for the first time, I often use this at specific times.

In an extremely high level raiding guild, I would argue that this talent is unnecessary. Players can easily handle movement fights and do not require the aid of extra sprint abilities to escape hostile spells. It’s just not necessary. Connections and computers are at peak efficiency resulting in near-zero lag. Situational awareness is so high that players will move without realizing that they had to move.

But not every guild is like that. Not every raid can perform like that. For me, I need to look at every possible edge I can utilize in an encounter. Nothing frustrates me more than a player who is unable to outrun a Sindragosa explosion, or a Necrotic Plague on Lich King or any number of other abilities because of technical problems. Doesn’t matter how good the player is as bad connectivity connections will almost always negate that. I can’t make everyone’s connection super awesome. I can’t magically snap my fingers and create 102 FPS conditions. The next best thing I can do is cast a spell that’ll make people run quicker and get them out of dangerous situations faster. I may not be able to account for lag, but I can at least function as a safety net and buy an extra second or two for that player and help them live when they otherwise would have been lost.

Just keep in mind that it might annoy your Discipline Priest. 

Anyway, it’s largely used on progression fights to help “smooth” things over until a fight “clicks”. You’re giving up potential throughput for increased (but selective) movement speed which comes in handy for heavy movement bosses. Plus it also makes the run back from wipes slightly quicker and I know I won’t be last back! Go ahead and give it a shot. Let me know what you think.

Does Communication Make Us Better Risk Takers?

Does Communication Make Us Better Risk Takers?

My raid on Sunday night gave me pause for thought.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about a few aspects to help healing and raid leading at once. Last night I realised that, of those, communication is vital. Why? Because I think healers are fragile. Even that they can be a danger to themselves. And because last night my raid wouldn’t have worked so well without good communication. Let me put you in the picture.

You’re a healer raid leader about to lead a progresion 10 man. Your group’s bouncing with energy as the run starts. You’ve all got a burning desire to see Putricide go down as you’ve been carrying a grudge against him for a while. He’s public enemy #1 for your group tonight, followed by a vote on Princes or Sindragosa. Holy smokes, things are gonna go well.

Then half the group is hit by disconnection issues as the EU login servers go down.

Two hours later your group is back online, now a bit bedraggled and a whole lot more tired. It’s midnight already for some. You hit Putricide and he goes down in a few attempts. So far so good. It’s late now but the group wants to go to Princes. This is what crosses your mind:

  1. We’ve downed Princes before. It was messy but we can do it again, and the practice won’t kill us. That often. I hope.
  2. We have someone different on kinetic bomb bouncing this time. He’s going to need time to learn it.
  3. It’s midnight, for cripes sake. The elements alone know what time it is for our Herd members in Finland. We don’t have many tries in us.

You’re now in my shoes as of about midnight on Sunday. The outcome was cheery; we got the Princes down in four attempts. But it was messy from 50ish-0%. The successful attempt saw half the raid dead by the end – both myself and the other shaman healer died twice. Our discy priest heroically kept the rest up for 5%. Both shamans had been helping with kinetic bomb bouncing.

From my leader viewpoint communication was crucial. For one thing, there’s a lot going on in that fight and I admit I fail at watching everything.

It’s important to know which Prince is empowered at any time because the entire raid’s tactics change depending which it is, as does the healing output. But watching the empowerment changes is something I just can’t do yet. So I simply have one person dedicated to calling which Prince is empowered when it changes.

It’s also essential to have information in order to make good decisions, right? Right, but it’s more important for healer raid leaders. Each role is inclined towards taking risks, perhaps several times during each fight. Double the risk-inclination means double the chance we’ll make the wrong call; things go wrong or we overburden ourselves, probably wiping the raid.

So I’m realistic – i can’t do everything. Keeping track of boss health is another task I ‘outsource’ to others. As a healer I don’t have time to watch health meters other than those on Grid, but as a raid leader I need to know boss health. For example, the fight was a mess by the time Princes hit 23% health. But I knew we were close, and that was the deciding factor in the split second decision to urge the group to hang in there and pop cooldowns rather than to call a wipe.

Both of the above examples – knowing when we’re at health-wise in a fight and which tactical stage we’re at also means I have valuable information allowing me to make cooldown judgements. Not my cooldowns – I’m talking about calling Divine Guardian from our paladin tank or cycling the raid’s mana regen abilities when and for whom they’re needed.

The most dangerous risk of all on Sunday, though, was one a healer-raid leader was in the best position to make. On later attempts I had myself and another healer helping our warlock on bouncing kinetic bombs: I knew we could both multitask. Controversial decision? Yes. Bad practice? No.

It wasn’t because I thought our warlock couldn’t learn it by himself – far from it. It was because we had a lack of time, the group was tired and wanted victory in the face of server instability. Not only that, I knew the healers involved could do it without healing suffering too much. It benefited us too: we got a perspective on another aspect of the fight and it probably improved our spacial awareness as were constantly looking round. I admit, it was also really fun in an already adrenaline-fuelled fight.

Later on when it got hectic and our DK died? Not a problem. Rather than completely loose a resource and have a player feel useless, I asked him to watch out for falling bombs and tell me where they were.

So there we go, folks. I say that healers are fragile and inclined to risk: there is a lot resting on us in a raid. Add leading on top of that and it can be a recipe for disaster. But I say organising information ‘feeds’ to and from your team will put you in control of the situation and your raid one step closer to settling scores in Icecrown.

What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis of healers’ potential towards fragility and danger or do you prefer safe-rather-than-sorry? Would you have made any of those decisions differently to me? Do you know which types of information you need more of, or are you still working it out?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

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?

Discipline’s Tier 10 4-piece Joke

Discipline’s Tier 10 4-piece Joke

Haha!  Hey!  Hey!  I got a great one for ya! 

“What do you call a 5% buff to Power Word: Shield?”

“Insignificant.”

Wait!  I got another one!

“Name something fun, interesting, and awesome that gets replaced by something as mundane as a bowl of rocks?”

“The Priest Tier 10 4-piece Set Bonus.”

Let’s bring everyone up to speed.  Not all priests are at a place where they can experience, or even look forward to the set bonuses of the current tier.  The current Tier 10 4-piece is as follows:

Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells.

Avalonna at talesofapriest.com has a great write-up of how beneficial this was to Holy Priests.  Now, I have very little knowledge of Holy, since I’m primarily (and almost solely) Discipline.

From a Discipline standpoint, this was amazing as a tank healer, or even a Discipline raid healer.  Follow me on this one, as it’s my first attempt at something resembling theory-crafting.  I apologize in advance if my numbers are off a little bit.

The “Math”

Penance is 16% of your base mana.  You get 3 pulses of healing.  I can crit all 3 for ~14k.  Flash Heal is 18% of your base mana.  With Glyph of Flash Heal and Improved Flash Heal, it’s less.  I can crit and get about ~9k (with a 3-stack of Grace).  Penance is relatively cheap, and heals more than Flash Heal.

With full raid buffs and the Borrowed Time proc, my Flash Heal cast is ~1 second.  With Glyph of Penance, the cooldown is down to 8 seconds (thanks to the lovely Penance nerf we had a while back).  So, you’re telling me I have a chance to reset an 8 second cooldown with a 1 second cast?  Yes, please! 

Not to mention that Avalonna also points out in her post that this Flash Heal! proc doesn’t have an internal cooldown.  It’s possible that you can have a string of Flash Heal -> Penance -> Flash Heal -> Penance -> etc. etc.  Even without worrying about Grace, this becomes pretty powerful. 

The Fun

When I was first looking at the likelihood of getting my Tier 10 set, I was salivating at the mouth for a cool and interesting 4-piece bonus.  Look at what we’ve had in the past:

Tier 7 – Reduces Greater Heal cost by 5%. (Discipline doesn’t really utilize this in most circumstances.)

Tier 8 – Casting PW:Shield grants 250 spellpower for 5 seconds. (Obviously useful for Discipline.  Kinda “meh” for Holy.)

Tier 9 – Increases Divine Aegis and the initial hit of Empowered Renew by 10%. (Blizzard gets the idea to involve both specs.  Still, marginal increase.)

So finally, we get a Tier bonus that’s interesting, challenging to work with, and it gets tossed under the bus.  If it was deemed overpowered, a simple fix would be to either shorten the window needed to cast the Flash Heal, or reduce the chance for it to proc to less than 20%.  I feel that completely redesigning it was a bad move on Blizzard’s case.  People need to understand that this game is organic.  I personally enjoy having to tweak my playstyle a bit to get more “oomph” out of my healing.  The Tier 7 set had me speccing into Divine Fury and utilizing a Borrowed Time-hasted Greater Heal for a while.

The Replacement

Our incoming Tier 10 4-piece set:

This bonus now increases the effectiveness of the caster’s Power Word: Shield and Renew spells by 5%.

Sorry, I just gagged a little while reading it again.  Blizzard has gone the “easy route” and just given us a static stat increase.  As far as Discipline goes, it’s a sad one at that.  Thanks to math from Zusterke, I’m able to whip out some numbers for you.

Let’s say you have 3000 spellpower, raid-buffed or not.  Your glyphed Power Word: Shield will total 8,813 (as of right now).  At 3200 spellpower, it’s 9,177. 

With this new “buff”, those numbers change to 9,254 and 9,636, respectively.  You’re looking at a 441 and 459 jump.  Even at 4000 spellpower, you’re only increasing your shield by 532 points of absorption.  With how bosses and mobs hit, this is hardly worth even considering. 

Even if you’re able to keep up PW:S on the raid the WHOLE time, you’re preventing only ~11,500 extra damage every 15 seconds. 

Hence, this bonus is far from worth it to me.  Dawn Moore wrote up on WoW.com her initial thoughts on the changes.  She writes:

“Still, the buff is exceptionally good. The only problem with it is that so many priests who turned their back on the tier gear for other badge items (such as shadow’s tier gear) with better itemization are now going to be screaming bloody murder.”

I disagree with the phrases “buff is exceptionally good”, “only problem”, and….well, hell, I disagree with her.  I really don’t know any Priests that I game with or interact with in the blog/twitter communities that were against the original set bonus.  If anything, those that were on the fence about the bonus were quick fans once they actually acquired the bonus.  This news of “4-piece hatred” came out of nowhere, as far as I’m concerned. 

Then again, I’m just one person.  It looks like I’ll be going the route of dropped loot, crafted pieces, and off-set badge gear.  This particular Priest isn’t too thrilled about the change.

Other Thoughts:

Lilitharien from Divine Aegis

Bati from Holy Nova NOW!

Miss Medicina’s “To Bonus or Not to Bonus”

How do you feel about it? How does this affect your gearing strategy as you make your way through the content?

Email: elder.thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

 

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)