Which Warlords of Draenor Racial Would You Want Now?

A few days ago, Warcraft Technical Game Designer Celestalon dispensed two hours worth of information on Twitter. One specific topic caught my eye. It’s no secret that racial bonuses in the game are a little skewed and slightly imbalanced. Many of the top tier raiding guilds are Horde and I’m fairly certain much of it is due to the min-maxing bonuses that the racials provide. So come Warlords, they’re mostly getting overhauled. While nothing has been finalized just yet, here’s where the racials stand right now.

WoW Head’s Perculia did a phenomenal job hunting down and assembling the information in an easily digestible package right here. You can check out the official blue post about racials here.

Alliance

  • Draenei Heroic Presence is now +X to your primary stat. Gift of the Naaru heals for the same amount but over 5 sec. 
  • Dwarf: Lost  Crack Shot and  Mace Specialization. Gained Might of the Mountain, a passive which adds 2% Crit Damage. Also… A change to Stoneform: Also removes Magic/Curse. HOWEVER, it still cannot be used while CC’d. (It is still NOT a CC-break) 
  • Gnome Escape Artist dropped to a 1min CD (from 1.5min), and  Shortblade Specialization became Nimble Fingers, 1% Haste. Also- A tweak to  Expansive Mind. Was +5% max Mana. Now +5% Max Mana, Energy, Rage, or Runic Power. 
  • Humans lose the Mace/Sword racials.  The Human Spirit becomes +X to two secondary stats of your choice.  Every Man for Himself, we’re still evaluating. Itemization changes may mean no nerf needed. 
  • Night Elves Quickness also increases movement speed by 2% passively. They also got a new passive which is quite unique… (Remember, no more haste breakpoints!) Touch of Elune, a new passive which grants 1% Haste at night, 1% Crit during the day.Shadowmeld is unchanged. 
  • Worgen: Darkflight is staying unchanged. 

Horde

Pandaren, of course, will most likely not see a change and retain their Epicurean bonus.

The Draenei racial bonus is much more appealing. Too bad we don’t know what the +X value is for the primary stat. It’s going to go right to Intellect for priests of all kinds. Gift of the Naaru will heal 20% of a target’s health over 5 seconds (instead of 15). It’s another healing spell you can add to your bar and you can save it for emergencies (every 3 minutes).

My first Priest was a Dwarf. I miss Stoneform and the ability to shrug off poisons. Now it functions as a secondary self dispel since it can remove magic debuffs and curses. The extra crit damage is handy for the Shadow and the Discipline Smiters though. May not be as helpful for Holy.

What about the Gnomes? There’s still the bonus to mana but it’s been expanded to include the energy of other class types. The natural 1% haste is new and useful for all priest types.

Humans gain a rather unique spin to their buff. They get to select which two secondary stats get a bonus. I imagine one of those will be Spirit and the other will be Haste, Crit, or Mastery — Whatever your priest is short on. An interface is being worked up right now allowing you to pick. The ability to pick and choose offers some neat flexibility.

Night Elves. Sigh. Really? Server time makes a difference now? Blah. I hate randomness. But it looks like there’s not much that can be done about that.

Horde side, Blood Elves continue to be the winner. The crit bonus passive is second only to Arcane Torrent’s innate mana restoring capability.

Goblins? The ability to Rocket Jump is huge in heavy movement fights. Now you get a flat 1% haste instead of a bonus to attack and bast speed.

Orcs can’t play priests so that point is rather moot.

Tauren Priests are already benefitting from a slight stamina boost allowing them to withstand a little more damage than usual. But the new Brawn bonus is a solid boon for priests of all types.

The first iteration of the Troll’s Berserking was pretty overpowered. It was like a mini-Heroism on demand. Now it’s been nerfed to a flat 15% Haste bonus instead of the 20%. Not quite as good but still reliable for burst healing your way through stuff.

Huge nerf to the Undead’s Will of the Forsaken with the cooldown going up. No other changes.

So let’s assume that you’re rolling a new Priest. You have all these excellent racials available to you. No more of the junk bonus to hit or expertise or any of that stuff.

Which one should you go for?

If you plan on playing Alliance, I would favour the Draenei bonuses. Hard to say for sure without knowing what the X value is. If you’re PvPing, Dwarves or Gnomes are a good bet. I like Gnomes though since Escape Artist is handy (and the fast cooldown).

If you plan on playing Horde, I’m leaning towards Blood Elves. That mana restore is so nice to have especially on progression fights when you’re tapped out. Berserking is another trait you’ll find attractive and is great if you’re playing either shadow or healing.

Personally, I’m staying a Pandaren. Can’t get enough of that food buff.

Derevka: The biggest change in Mists is how we look at mana

Derevka: The biggest change in Mists is how we look at mana

I jumped on an opportunity to speak with Derevka about the upcoming expansion and his thoughts on the priest class in general. We chatted about the state of both healing specs, raiding encounters in Mists, and spell usage.  Keep on reading for the full interview.

Matt: Hey Derevka, it’s been a while. You’ve recently picked up activity again on your blog, Tales of a Priest after taking a brief reprieve earlier in the year. You’ve especially been hard at work lobbying for some priest changes like Chakra and have put in some research on the mana regen talents.  So what do you think is the biggest change for priests leaping from Cataclysm to Mists, in your opinion?

Derevka: Tricky question, since I’d argue that Priests were affected least by the onslaught of changes that came in MOP— at least from a class mechanic standpoint. For the most part our healing strategy will be ‘more of the same’. Perhaps the biggest change in Mists will be how we look at mana. First and foremost we need to realize that once we hit 90, we will not be getting any more mana. 300,000 is our pool. Period.

Mana pools, since they do not scale, will be something we need to really keep an eye on. For example, Greater Heal in quest greens costs the same amount of mana that it does in full epic T14. The only thing that will scale is our ability to regen mana via spirit. We will need to balance spirit and know when we have too much or too little. Mana is a zero-sum game.

Purely spamming Prayer of Healing will quickly have you running out of mana; we’ll need to be more mindful of what spells we choose to cast as well as how to use our mana cooldowns, and talents. It could be a steep learning curve for some who are too used to the Dragon Soul era of mana and are unfamiliar with mana management.

We’ll need to be more mindful of what spells we choose to cast as well as how to use our mana cooldowns, and talents.

M: Yeah, I found that out the hard way having to put Heal back in my bars again. Have you figured out any numbers for Spirit benchmarks or what we’ll need to hit at different stages of character progression? For example, how much are we going to need to adequately heal through heroic dungeons, challenge modes, or entry level raids?

D: Spirit numbers are tricky, as it really depends on your healing style. I will say that we’re going to want spirit on pretty much all of our gear in the first tier of raiding. Gone are the days of equipping non-spirit/dual stat gear!

For those who remember MP5 as a stat, think of spirit in that manner — it provides zero throughput: Just pure regen. We’ll have the ability to trade off spirit (via reforging) for throughput stats pretty easily, but it’ll depend on what your comfort level is. Personally, I would suggest being cautious with mana at first, and then pair back my regen instead of gasping for mana but my heals hit like a truck. It’ll be a fun balancing act, and will depend on individual healing style.

kite

M: What do you feel is the go-to Priest spec?

D: Hard question as they both provide some great tools and flavor. If I had to knee-jerk a response, I am going to say Holy. Holy always does well early in an expansion as it is arguably the least reliant on combat stats of the two  priest healing specs. I say this because Disc gets a good deal of it’s output from Divine Aegis. DA, apart from POH, is created by critical heals In low iLvl gear (aka Fresh 90’s) you’ll have innately lower crit chance due to less available Intellect on gear, and stats.  Now, do not misconstrue me and say “Derevka said to stack crit as disc at 90!” … No, that’s not what I am saying. I am saying that you’ll innately have lower critical strike due to your intellect and available crit, thus causing the creation of Divine Aegis more difficult (ie. 5 mans).

M: With that in mind, what does Discipline need to get itself back up to comparable level with Holy?

I do not think Disc is in a bad place at all. I think that Holy will just have an easier time early in the level 90 gear grind, only because Disc has a more strict gear requirement than Holy. Disc will be very powerful, particularly since it still has Barrier and access to the new Spirit Shell. Spirit Shell could be one of “those abilities” that winds up getting nerfed when used  “creatively”. I do worry that Spirit Shell will be used to bypass boss abilities. I mean, you have the ability to prep a tank with a 60% HP bubble– then PW: Shield on top of that, and if you wanted, Pain Suppression as well. Remember people using Guardian Spirit to avoid Valiona’s Blackout in Heroic Bastion of Twilight? This could potentially be used similarly. Time will tell.  Spirit Shell is going to be perfect for those places where you would have POH/DA prepared the raid… except now, all that POH healing will be Spirit Shells!

I mean, you have the ability to prep a tank with a 60% HP bubble– then PW: Shield on top of that, and if you wanted, Pain Suppression as well.

scenario

M: In a previous conversation, we were talking about Mastery and how the points have changed. Do you consider haste the primary secondary stat for Holy with Mastery and Crit right behind it? What about Discipline?

D: Yes, Mastery should be a bit more transparent when it comes to its benefits on the character sheet. It’ll be much easier to understand now that they have streamlined the stat conversion straight to percentage gained.

That said, it is hard to provide a concrete statweight since a number of our spells are in flux when it comes to combat stat ratings; specifically regarding what affects them and what does not.  As of build 17882, we have Holy Word: Sanctuary now being affected by haste, which has me concerned, I did the math and its not good news– but it may be a bug. That said, since HW: Sanctuary is being affected by Haste, it does make breakpoints something to keep in mind. I have calculated the required Haste Rating for each Spell’s Breakpoint and will be publishing those numbers shortly. I do not think we’ll be ‘chasing breakpoints’ in MoP, but keeping them in mind will be critical–We’ll want to know where they are, so we can ensure we aren’t so close that we should change a gem or two. I do not think we’ll be gearing to get that additional HW: Sanctuary tick.

However, a Hymn tick on the other hand…

Preliminary simming is going to put Haste/Mastery pretty close to one another for Holy; however it will depend on how you heal. Are you going to be constantly spamming? Are you going to be weaving in more Power Word: Solaces? Are you going to burst heal and then slow down to regen? Are you single target healing? These all have different impacts to your statweights. If forced to chose, I would probably suggest gearing for enough Haste (raidbuffed) for the added Hymn (both), Renew tick and for a 10th Sanctuary tick… then Mastery. We’ll likely have a good deal of mastery  since a lot of the cloth drops and craftables are covered in it!

Discipline will enjoy Mastery since it now has a 3rd spell that benefits from it: Spirit Shell. Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Spirit Shell will all scale from Mastery. More simming will be needed to be done to get these stats, but for the most part Haste & Mastery will likely be our top go-to stats.

For the most part Haste & Mastery will likely be our top go-to stats.

M: Level 90 talents. What do you think about each of them and what’s going to be your standard level 90 talent?

D: For raiding? Hands down, Cascade. I like them all (even beyond just the visuals). Halo is nice, but requires too much positional tweaking to make it really solid and is too expensive and too long a cooldown to be reliable. Divine Star will be great in 5 mans (I know I’ve used it a lot in heroics), and will work well in raids that have you all grouped up (a la Ultraxion). However, Cascade has proven to be the strongest for me in the test raids I’ve done. Even on 10 man— remember Cascade will hit 15 targets, and 10 man raids do not have 15 targets typically (pets).

halo

M: What about raid encounters? How about some previews for healing?

Hard to really nail this down simply. At the moment, some of the 10-man encounters have been wildly undertuned. For example, we accidentally killed Lei Shi in the Terrace of the Endless Spring due to dots when we tried to wipe/reset to get more testing/logs on the fight. Oops! Heroic Testing has just started, but has some promise to be challenging.

I will say that there are going to be some head nods to old encounters. Garalon, for example,  has a Professor Putricide-esque ability requiring you to pass a DoT/Debuff around via proximity. Not “recycled” content, but certainly some “oh this reminds me of X!”.

The one that I liked the most was Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. It is one of those fights that has different abilities in each phase of the fight, and then the final phase has all the abilities active at once. I enjoy these “progressive fights”; fights in which you learn how to manage and heal each phase, and then you have a capstone in the final phase.

M: Oh man, I love Professor Putricide. Always made jokes about who was dirty and who wasn’t. Vizier sounds something like Mimiron. If I remember right, most of these encounters were for normal mode and purely for testing of mechanics.

That’s correct as the only testing so far is Normal and it really was about testing mechanics. But the tuning of the mechanics are still important. Again, if you look at Lei Shi, you’ll see the latest patch notes took that feedback and increased some of the damage she does. Hopefully she won’t be quite the pinata she proved to be originally!

M: How much will I need to work Solace into my “rotation” (for lack of a better term) to see sizeable gains along the lines of mana hymn or fiend?

D: First, I’d be remiss not to ask people to calm down about Solace. People are really getting panicked over Solace. Yes, Solace provides the most regen potential, but there is a cost to that.

When you are casting (or chain casting) PW: Solace you are doing zero healing. Those GCDs have an opportunity cost. It is up to you, to evaluate when you can fit those in and what the cost to doing that (vs healing) is. It might mean the tank takes a couple of melee swings and goes without a heal for 2-3 seconds. You’re going to have to heal that back up, but is the cost worth it? That is the question you need to ask yourself.

When you are casting (or chain casting) PW: Solace you are doing zero healing. [...] It is up to you, to evaluate when you can fit those in and what the cost to doing that (vs healing) is.

Now, as far as how do you need to work Solace into rotation? You’ll want to find the gaps in damage–which can be hard the first time you see an encounter. I strongly suggest macroing PW:Solace with a mouseover/assist macro. This will allow you to simply hover over a DPS/Tank and Solace their target, all while not losing your current target (like the tank).

For PW: Solace to work out equal to Mindbender (assuming you’re also using Shadowfiend on CD) you’ll need to do 3-4  per minute (current build has it restoring 1.5%). Its actually 3.555/minute but remember its in aggregate. If for the first minute you got only 1 Solace in, to be on par by the end of minute 2, you’ll need to have 6 during minute number 2. Here is a link to an article I put together outlining how these talents work, and specifically how the granularity of the spells can work to your advantage.
I promise you, finding those GCD’s isn’t as difficult as it may seem. You just need to find the places to do it and weigh the opportunity cost.

divine-star

M: Right, yeah. I mean if we had access to Solace right now, we’d use it on Tendon phases during Spine (oh gosh, wouldn’t that just be so awesome to have right now?). In contrast, relying on Solace on Zon’ozz while the ball is active and bouncing around is probably a bad idea since you run the risk of losing players.

D: Yep! Finding the appropriate spots to use Solace will be the marker of a priest using it correctly. Of course, given that its clearly been under the watchful eyes of Blizzard and has been kept in check… 3-4 casts per min (in aggregate) is not a meaningless number as there may be fights where that much non-healing time is too much. However, if the Normal tests so far are any indication, you should be able to find time to cast Solace if you look for it.

Players and guilds are in a flux right now. This is going to be the time where players will be jumping around different guilds and M: situating themselves for Mists. Any advice for a 10 man Priest making the switch to 25 man and what they can expect with MoP raids?

D: 25 man raids will be interesting in MoP. I do not want to turn this into an argument about which is harder or if 25’s are dying. However, 25 man raids will have a challenge on a number of fights based purely on available real estate. A few of the fights seem to be reliant on spacing aspects like spreading out and grouping (even more so on Heroic, when looking at the Dungeon Journal). With the same square footage in the boss encounter, 25 man raids could find themselves in a position where they simply run out of space.

Healers in a 25 man raid, always need to be sure they do not have “I’m the Hero Syndrome”.

I’ve seen this happen to a number of healers when making the switch from 10s to 25s. They simply do not rely on the other 4-5 healers on their team and either: deviate from assignment, go OOM from being inefficient, or ignore instruction. You really need to work as a team in 25s, arguably more so than in 10s as you have substantially more people working with you, and covering potentially greater areas.

Be the uni-mind.

M: Let’s talk about our favourite spell Lightwell. There’s a certain cost/benefit between having it clickable vs having it firing off when player health drops below 50%. Are you going to leave yours glyphed or unglyphed?

D: Well since Lightwell and Lightspring both are healing for the same amount, the only added benefit of not Glyphing Lightspring, is that you can control its output (assuming players click it) . However, there are not many Major Glyphs we can choose from and I predict this being the glyph that we will run 95% of the time, with the 5% of the time on fights that you will ‘order’ your raid to click it at a specific time (such as Chimaeron’s Feud).

Lightspring will be ‘what’s expected’ and running it unglyphed, you likely will hear “I thought it was lightspring and would auto heal me!”

lightwell

M: We were chatting briefly about the lack of Holy glyphs. It seems that there’s a certain 3-4 glyphs that are the most optimal for Holy right now. What spells would you like to see affected by glyphs for extra or altered functionality?

D: If I were to have a wish list? Whoo, boy. I’d like a glyph to allow us to channel Hymns while moving. I hate casting HoH and then having something spawn under my feet! Or perhaps something that makes Spirit of Redemption useful? I’ve always hated a talent that only is used if you die/fail. Perhaps remove the “on death” and grant something useful like an on-use throughput increase. (See Also: Archangel, Tree of Life, Ascendance, and Divine Favor)

M: Alright, that’s all I have for you, Derevka! It’s good chatting with you again and thanks for taking time out of your schedule to offer your thoughts on (what is clearly) the best class in the game. Bonus: Your MoP release date guess?

D: Well, we are in the potential final stages of testing heroic raids! I would imagine another 2-3 weeks of raid  testing before we get a date. I also will assume they’re going to test LFR as well. If I were to bet, we’ll have a release date when they debut the opening cinematic at Gamescom.

I am hoping the launch date isn’t in the two weeks where I have a vacation and big work conference in September. With that in mind I am going to say 10/2/12–but I will hope it lands before. My raid team has already been tired of farming Heroic DS since February! We want something fresh, and I know many people share that opinion!

Where’s my panda?!

Updated Tier 3 Priest Talents – Power Word: Solace

Updated Tier 3 Priest Talents – Power Word: Solace

A big beta update today with changes to classes. Priests received some extra love in the tier 3 section of talents. The tier 3 row consists of abilities that help restore mana.

Archangel has been removed from the talent system and has been folded into Discipline only, so no worries for Disc Priests there.

From Darkness, Comes Light received no changes.

Mindbender

Mindbender receives a slight change to the mana return and cooldown.

Old

Cooldown: 3 minutes
Mana: 4% whenever Mindbender attacks

New

Cooldown: 1 minute
Mana: 1% whenever Mindbender attacks

When I used it on beta, it returned ~40080 mana. Each swing from Mindbender returned 4008 (10 swings). I like the cooldown change the most. Even though we don’t get as mana whenever we use it, the shorter cooldown helps offset that. On an 8 minute encounter, you could use Mindbender 3 times:

0:00
3:00
6:00

But since you can use every minute, you’ll be able to take advantage of it more often. Shadowpriests are going to love it since they’ll get more opportunities to line up their cooldowns in conjunction with it.

Power Word: Solace

This is the new talent replacing Archangel.

Power Word: Solace
Level 90

40 yd range
1.5 sec cast

Strike an enemy with the power of the heavens, dealing 1978 to 2219 (+ 40% of SpellPower) Holy damage and restoring 2% maximum mana.

The damage from that spell is peanuts. You’re not going to be using this spell for DPS, that’s for sure. Reminds me of Telluric Currents. I’d switch to Power Word: Solace if I run into encounters with periods of there being little to no healing being needed. Gives me time to go all out with intense healing before switching to Solace to help restore my mana back.

Apparently, Shadow has a version:

Mind Siphon
Level 90

30 yd range
1.5 sec cast

Call upon the shadows to siphon energy from an enemy, dealing 1978 to 2219 (+ 40% of SpellPower) Shadow damage and restoring 2% maximum mana.

Which is weird because the in game talents say that if you switch to Shadow form, Power Word: Solace actually turns into this:

Shadow Word: Insanity
Level 90

15.0% of base mana
40 yd range

Instant

Blasts the target for 664 to 700 (+ 65% of SpellPower) Shadowfrost damage, and causes your shadow damage-over-time spells to erupt, dealing up to 100% additional damage per damage-over-time spell on the target but removing them in the process.

So I’m not sure what the final word on it is, but I don’t think Shadow needs a mana regeneration spell with the other tools they have available (Shadowfiend, Dispersion, Hymn of Hope). I’m more inclined to think Shadow Word: Insanity is Shadow’s answer to the loss of access to Evangelism and Archangel.

Preparing for the 8 second Dispel

Preparing for the 8 second Dispel

If you haven’t been keeping up with the little beta changes and updates that have been going on, there’s something you should know.

Don’t worry, it isn’t as game breaking as Spirit Shell having it’s mechanics reworked or anything.

Our Purify (formerly known as Dispel) now has a a rather large 8 second cooldown attached to it. I get the need to cut down on Dispel’s usage. PvP needs to be made a little more exciting and what not.

The PvE ramifications are just as important.

In a party

Shado-pan Monastary is one of the new instances that opened up with a minimum requirement of level 87. Inside the instance, there was a fair number of mobs that had some sort of magic debuff that would afflict members of my party. On the boss encounters, I noticed any debuffs were applied one or two at a time. I dispelled one quickly and responded with steady, mana neutral Heal to maintain that player’s health. If the party started taking AoE damage, I targeted the debuff affected player and casted Prayer of Healing and would switch between single target and Prayer of Healing as necessary.

I could use Mass Dispel. Technically between Mass Dispel and Dispel, I can rely on them to remove debuffs if they’re applied one after the other. Doing that is going to be costly to your mana. Depending on the debuff duration, it might be better off to dispel one person and then heal the other until their debuffs expire.

Haven’t tried a raid environment yet. All I know is if current boss mechanics were coupled with Mists Dispel mechanics, we’re all in deep trouble. There’d be no way we could blanket  remove negative magic in time without resorting to Mass Dispel.

Blizzard developers would need to scale back and be a little more critical when it comes to any debuff inducing bosses. Ultimately, we just need to play smart with our dispels. The option of not dispelling a player in favor of healing them may well be a necessary strategy to adopt depending on what new raid bosses are like.

Solutions

Let’s classify magic debuffs into two major categories. When responding against debuffs, you need to get a little creative and look at ways to bail out your players. Ideal solution? Simple dispel. But assuming your dispel is now on cooldown, what’s your next choice?

Impairment

This refers to any ability to hinders your character from doing anything. This means any slow, any stun, a freeze, or control loss.

With your allies stuck, they need to get out of a bad situation pronto. Let’s say Jeremy is frozen in place after a Frost Nova. They can’t move and they have no way of breaking themselves out. You, being the smart player that you are, dispelled yourself first. There happens to be a giant shadow underneath Jeremy which indicates a large meteor is about to squish him in half. Mentally, you know that meteor is going to crush him before your Dispel is available for use.

You can use Leap of Faith to extract him. If that’s not available, drop a Pain Suppression and pray that’s enough to ward that meteor.

Find a way to move the player, if possible.

If you can’t give them a movement boost, look for a way to ensure that they survive through it.

Damage

Any debuff that inflicts damage. This could be any DoT, a delayed nuke, etc.

Your allies are about to experience some large dents in their health pool. You can’t get that debuff off of them. Your only option is to brute force heal the players through it until the debuff expires on it’s own. If you don’t think your rate of healing can level off or offset the rate of damage, then resort to a cooldown. Guardian Spirit is a perfect insurance spell.

Speaking of bugs, I’m not sure if this is intended or not. The 8 second cooldown on Purify only triggers if a negative debuff is removed. I can spam Purify on myself without any debuffs without tripping the 8 second cooldown.

Or is that intended? I can’t remember.

The Killer Instinct of Healing

The Killer Instinct of Healing

Aunaka wrote a nifty post wondering if great healers could be taught. Not quite sure if a truly great healer can be. How would you even start defining that? Someone who shows up all the time? A player capable of carrying the raid? A Druid who’s able to solo heal the last 10% of a raid boss? I’d classify a great healer as a player who is not only technically sound, but results-oriented. They’re the players who put aside everything and find ways to win.

Would you have thought to Life Grip the tank away from the boss to buy time for them to live?

What about using Pain Suppression on a DPS player so that it was one less player to worry about when healing your group?

You did the research. You read the forums. You followed along with the discussion. You gained the technical knowledge on the best times and best targets to use your spells on. What you’re not taught is that there’s multiple right answers to the same problems and different degrees of success.

This is where the killer instinct of healing comes into play.

There’s a marked difference in approach between an alt healer that has played for years versus a healer that’s done nothing but heal. It’s easy to teach a new healer the basics about their spells, resource management, and so on. However, I don’t believe it’s possible to instil that survival instinct of healing. That alt healer guy mains a Retribution Paladin, perhaps. All they’re interested in is unloading the DPS and only comes in to relief heal as a break from DPS or because there isn’t enough healers for that day.Having a killer instinct is an approach that needs to be embraced and can’t be taught. You start making your own decisions and throw “the book” out the window because “the book” didn’t cover the situation you were in.

Case study

Hard mode Yor’sahj calls for two Paladins to help heal during the purple phases. Guess what? You might not have two Paladins. Find a work around. Sometimes that means letting the tank die on one occasion and using the Battle Res. I struggled when I didn’t have two Paladins to work with. 1 Paladin healed the first tank and I took the second one. We ended up using 3 Rebirths because I struggled like crazy to keep my tank alive during the various purple oozes. Relied endlessly on Prayer of Mending so as to not detonate our tank and really strategic cooldowns.

Listen, as much I want to, I can’t teach you to be desperate.

I can’t teach you how to be hungry.

I can’t teach you to want a boss kill badly enough that you’ll consider using unorthodox specs, weird spells, and what-the-hell inducing plays.

One thing I learned when playing hockey is that you play hard every shift between the whistle. In WoW terms, you don’t stop what you’re doing until the raid leader says “Wipe it up”. If you’re busting your ass healing, you better expect everyone in your raid to be right there with you. This isn’t a casual philosophy in any aspect.

As my uncle Freudicus, a psychologist, once told me, “It’s all in the id, kid!”.

You’ll be a good healer by reading, asking, and watching other healers play. Being a great healer requires the attitude, the work ethic, and the burning desire. It can’t be taught but maybe it can be learned.

Running Out of Mana? Here’s One Reason

Running Out of Mana? Here’s One Reason

My Google reader is set to examine various search terms allowing me to keep a pulse on what’s going out there with Priests. One search result that popped up on my reader involved a holy priest. Their problem was that they kept running out of mana. No matter what they did, they had a really hard time sustaining the necessary healing required for that instance.

Out of habit, I looked up their priest on armory.

Problem solved.

No enchants, no gems, or other augments.

It almost feels like really new players take for granted the power that augments provide their characters. Do you think Blizzard balances instances around the fact that your character should have enchants and such? Maybe the harder 4.3 ones, but not the entry level heroics.

Back to the story, it turns out I wasn’t the only one who spotted the lack of character investment. When others pointed it out, the player commented by saying they didn’t have the money to afford it.

At least they have an answer to the first problem.

New players, if you want to start hitting up the harder stuff, start investing. Even if you can’t afford a Power Torrent, you can probably snag a Heartsong. Can’t do 20 stats? Settle for 15. Don’t need 65 mastery when cheaper 50 haste options exist. No sense socketing an epic red gem on a blue quality item when a gren quality red gem will do the trick for now.

Even if they’re not the best improvements money can buy, at least they’re still an improvement.

 

The Automated Healing Line

Ever wonder what would happen if you’re in the middle of the instance and your healing spells just aren’t working? What if you had to phone in for divine tech-support to get those heals flowing? How about placing an order for a buff or a healing spell? Well, reader Wistoovern mused this very topic and this is the end result. I present you with the Automated Healing Line. I couldn’t help but laugh pretty hard at this one, I mean could you imagine having to do this every time you healed someone?

I don’t know about you, but working in tech support for a number of years and being a dedicated healer I just find this incredibly amusing. It’s especially funny for me because having worked in a call center with many WoW gamers as co-workers this just makes perfect sense to me. It combines call center humor with priest healing and gives a possible explanation as to that occasional healing latency.

Wist did a great job splicing everything together and getting the monotone computer voice just right, next time maybe we’ll hear the screams of the dying in the background as that raid boss comes bearing down on the group while the healer is on hold.

So, what did you think?

Were the Priest Buffs Needed?

Yeah, probably. I didn’t realize that Priests were a little underpowered in the regen department. That’s one of the benefits of doing stuff in guild groups. I was getting the encounters down, but they weren’t exactly the prettiest kills. Over the previous weekend when we were grinding out the heroics, I would almost get to the of end fights with zero mana. Actually, it wasn’t uncommon for me to hit 0 mana at 10% of encounters and just tell the rest of the DPS they’re on their own because I had to dump all my spells on the tank.

I haven’t had a go with Discipline yet, but I understand there’s a few challenges with it on the heroic side of things. I want to try it out sometime on the weekend. 

  • Blessed Resilience now increases healing received by 15/30%, up from 5/10%.
  • Focused Will now reduces damage taken by 5/10% and 10/20%, up from 4/8% and 6/12%.
  • Healing done by Glyph of Dispel Magic no longer improperly caps out at a certain health pool range.
  • Holy Concentration’s mana regeneration component has been increased from 10/20% to 20/40%.
  • Player-controlled vehicles return an Invalid Target error when attempting to use Leap of Faith on them.
  • Rapture’s mana regeneration component has been increased from 1.5/2/2.5 to 2/4/6%.

On the raiding side of things, we’ve started entering 25s and put in several legitimate shots on Halfus. Him and his drake buddies are kicking our butt. The current progression focus is going to be on him but I’ve authorized guild groups to take charge and set up their own 10 mans if they wanted to try to push for Throne of the Four Winds or Blackwing Depths. With the logs data from Argaloth and the observations on the Halfus attempts, the leadership team’s going to try to split the top 20 performing players so they can  head back in on monday. I want that sucker down before Christmas. I had no illusions that were going to be able to get him down on 25 largely due to gear, inexperience and other factors. That fight changed since beta and it’s incredibly front end loaded. I think we if can just time our cooldowns a little better (we’re able to get the first drake down) and really shut down the interrupts, we should be able to get him. Nether Scion and Storm Drake are tough cookies though. Our current approach is unlocking both Nether Scion and the Emerald whelps simultaneously. The whelps are split between both tanks but they’re still getting almost insta-gibbed.

By the way, if you’re having trouble healing heroics (as in you’re not sure what to do from the healer side of things), check the YouTube channel. I’ve been trying to upload a video a day of a boss on heroic from my viewpoint and narrating what I do. Wasn’t able to get to one yesterday night since it was a raid night.

If there’s any specific ones you want to see, give me a shout here. I’ve done just about all of them except for that Lord Commander guy in Shadowfang Keep (third boss). He just keeps stoning my group.

The Hybrid Pedigree

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

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

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

ConfusedKin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healing Crusader’s Coliseum: Faction Champions

faction-champions

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

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

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

Not a traditional fight

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

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

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

Execution

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

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

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

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

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

General class tips

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

For Priests

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

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

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

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

For Druids

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

For Paladins

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

For Shamans

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

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

Good luck!