Crafting Your State of the Guild Address

For guild leaders, expansion transition is one of the most perilous moments. I know it can be difficult at times to convey thoughts and desires, but it is absolutely vital to do so before the expansion. This guild leader has a bad habit of occasionally forgetting to communicate. Like any relationship, back and forth discussion is always key.

What is in a state of the guild address?

Every guild will have different points to cover. There are a few similarities. The basic intent here is to state what it is your guild is going to do in the expansion. Even if there is zero change in purpose from Wrath to Cataclysm, it’s a good refresher for existing players and serves as a good place to start for prospects.

Some things your might want to cover are:

  • Direction: Casual guild? Social guild? Raiding guild? PvP guild? What is the point of this guild?
  • History: This is a good time to reflect back on the expansion of your guild accomplishments and anything you wish you could have improved upon.
  • Recruiting: Has anything changed regarding recruiting? Are you accepting max level characters only? What about re-rolls?
  • Raiding: Is the  raiding schedule going to change? New days or new times? What about 10 vs 25 man?
  • Policies: This is a great section to list any updates for any policies like alts, guild bank, loot system changes, attendance and so forth.
  • Timeline: For progression oriented guilds, consider stating intended timelines for leveling and raiding. Which week will the guild hit level 85? When will the guild begin formally raiding?
  • Leadership: Any officers stepping down? Any promotions being handed out?

In your address, you mainly want to target your guild. Your members want to know what is going on because there will be players who might wish for a change of scenery. At the same time, leave it in a publically viewable area like the front page or on a recruiting forum. This way, potential applications can read it and have a better idea of what your intentions are.

Here’s the one I wrote for my guild and I’ll do a breakdown of what I was thinking.

Raiding progression plans

There were a large number of players who have entered the guild. Raiders will come and go. Life happens, right? But I wanted to acknowledge their contributions.

Conquest started during Wrath. The first two years were spent seeing consolidating and seeing what we were capable of. I want to thank the over 100 players who have played alongside Conquest over the years. Without your efforts, we would not be where we are today.

I want to elevate this guild. Right now, we’re a little over 20th on Ner’zhul. I’m not going to be satisfied until we break and maintain at least top 10. Ner’zhul is extremely competitive. There’s over 20 guilds that have downed heroic Sindragosa 25 (pre-patch 4.0.1). I think we can reach that next level.

Our raiding interests will remain in 25 man.

What did I want to do differently? We’re already raiding. There were points during Wrath where I felt the guild “lagged” a bit compared to other raiding guilds on the server. Yes, this is a Wrath guild but now that the guild had been around for an expansion, I wanted to “get there”. I know that over time, we’ll eventually see bosses but I want to clear out the entire expansion. The ambition and the drive wasn’t completely there for me in Wrath and consequently there are a few encounters we did not take down.

A shift in recruiting

After discussion with officers, it was decided to open recruiting up further. With the expansion weeks away, there isn’t much of a point to recruit for current content. We’re just in farm mode and finishing up drakes for players who still need them. The time is best used to recruit anyone who wants to raid in the expansion regardless of their level.

Getting into Conquest is easy. Raiding with Conquest will require a little extra effort. For the time being, we have shifted our recruiting policy. In light of the new guild leveling system and guild perks, we have opened our doors to any player who believes they can contribute. Friends of current guild members are welcome to apply as is anyone else looking to hang out.

Rerolls and non-maxed characters

If you are not max level or wish to reroll, simply go ahead and apply anyway. List any existing 80s you have and fill out the application as normal. Add a note at the end saying that you have no desire to raid current content and you’re here to have a shot for our Cataclysm raiding team.

Why?

We’re planning for the future. We’re not simply looking for appropriate class or spec make up. We’re looking specifically for players with the right character and personality for the guild. Evaluation is always an ongoing process. Players that pass their trial period sometimes leave weeks after citing difference of opinion or other problems. I encourage players to experience the guild environment first before committing themselves to raiding after.

Trust me when I say I made some mistakes regarding personnel. I have no intention of seeing it happen again.

I have always maintained that different players will favour different guilds. I would not last very long in a casual raiding guild or a PvP guild. Can you see me in an RP guild? It would be amusing to watch me, but I would simply drown.

Scheduling

It’s not enough to say that you want to get there. In my case, I had to back it up. I didn’t want to another day or more hours. But I knew there were times when if we had just one or two more attempts, we would have gotten that boss. The decision was made to add 90 minutes overall to the raid schedule. I’m banking that it might be enough to put us over the top.

In light of the renewed commitment from the leadership, we’re looking at a minor extension of the raiding schedule. A fourth day will not be added. Instead, the intent is to run 2 raiding schedules: One for progression and one for farm.

During progression, an extra 30 minutes will be added per raid night.

Tuesday: 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Thursday: 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Monday: 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
On farm, we will continue at our current pace and adjust accordingly.

Tuesday: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Thursday: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
* Monday: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

* We’re going to reach a point where all content can be cleared within that time. As we do not know the scope nor difficulty of the new raids, it is hard to say. Raid times may still be adjusted depending on our progress.

Naturally, this will depend on what raid instances are like. How many bosses are in them? How much trash do we need to blow up? All that stuff adds up.

Timeline

I leveled to 85 once on beta, so I had a rough idea of what to expect. I number of my guild mates have already scheduled time off of work for that opening week (on a side note, have you cashed in on your sick days?)

Here is the expected course for the first opening weeks of Cataclysm.

December 7th: Cataclysm released

Week 1 (December 14th): Guild members at 85 and geared to run dungeon heroics.
Week 2 (December 21st): After farming and acquiring mats for craftable gear coupled with heroic items, we should be ready to begin raiding.
Week 3 (December 28th): Multiple raid boss kills by now.
Stock up on the red bull and the pizza pops.

Please note: 10 man raiding operations will begin immediately the moment we have enough players and the appropriate raid composition. The goal is to get in there and start familiarizing boss mechanics. Any extra loot is a bonus. An item earned then is an item we don’t have to craft or waste time on getting from heroics. We will transition to 25 as quickly as possible from there.

On the beta, when I took down those raid bosses, my average ilevel score was approximately 350. I believe a minimum of approximately 340 ilevel could be sufficient enough.

This is a really optimistic time line. It took me about 50 hours combined just to go from 80 to 85. But I had the advantage of being on a PvE beta server and rested experience. Ner’zhul is a PvP server and I seriously doubt I’ll have that much rested experience lying around. Clearing out the entire normal mode bosses by New Years is something I secretly wish for but that might be too wishful. We entered Wrath as a 25 man guild and we’re going to go into Cataclysm the same way.

Those were just some of the major points. If you’re interested in seeing the rest, feel free to check it out. There really isn’t a wrong way to writing one. You could deliver it verbally over Ventrilo or Mumble but you’ll want to avoid cases of “he said, she said” type situations. Having it laid out in text keeps everyone on the same page.

Now I’m trying to remember what’s next on my to do list. Transitioning expansions is never easy.

Let’s Get Reacquainted With Healing!

Let’s Get Reacquainted With Healing!

A lot of things have changed since the introduction of Dual-specs. Players, and indeed raids as a whole have become much more versatile. A lot of times guilds are calling on Hybrid classes that have healing capabilities to heal in a pinch, my guild is no exception and all of my healing capable raiders do indeed have a healing spec ready just in case. With that in mind, it’s become a point of concern that there seems to be a lack of support for these players that are making the transition. Most healing guides deal with players who are just healing for the first time and learning the way around their toons, while a good chunk of raid leaders expect you to know your class well enough to jump in and heal an encounter. The truth is most players who are asked to heal, at one point or another tried it, so it’s safe to assume you have a basic knowledge of it. So where does a player in between novice healers and healing expert go for advice? Well Lodur is here to help you out. Here’s somethings I’ve used to help my guildies make the transition.

Getting Back Into The Swing of Things!

 

One of the hardest things to do after not healing for so long is getting back into the swing of things. You can dust off that shiny healing set, but if you don’t know all the nuances or have had time to adjust to how things might have changed since the last time you threw some healing beams of love around, you need to bone up a little bit and bring yourself up to speed. What I tell all my players making the switch is your first stop should always be the heroics. You can laugh at me all you want, but even seasoned healers have trouble with the new heroics, and it’s a good way to warm up. Especially when you consider the new LFG tool has a wait time of about 20 seconds for a healer. Heroics are always a good place to start as they give you a small environment to practice in and yield you badges which can net you some very nice rewards in trinkets, rings, or even tiered healing gear if needed. After some of the easier ones, queue yourself up for the harder ones. Get in to the new Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection. When you can do those comfortably, it’s time to move up to raid environments. Start with things one tier below where your main guild is raiding. If your guild is raiding Ulduar, might be worth it to try and find a Naxx group. ToC, try to get into an Uld run, you get the idea. This gives you a chance to experience a raid environment again and lets you get your healing synergy back in tact. Healing solo is fine but when you have 2-5 other healers around you, working together is always key. Once you feel you’re ready, then it’s time to get in there and throw down with your guild. After a couple days your rust should be sufficiently shaken off so that you can pinch heal for your raids.

One Instance to Teach It All!

 

Often times it’s asked if one zone can teach you everything, or rather one instance that can teach you everything about the healing game. When I’m asked this I have a two fold answer. Yes I feel these instances exist and there are two of them. One of course is Icecrown Citadel. Unfortunately it is very likely that this is your guilds primary content right now, and it’s not fully unlocked yet. The other instance I feel that meets this condition is Ulduar. Ulduar has many varied fights, some with tons of AE, some with huge tank spikes, and some with random aggro / damage flinging. It gives you a little of everything, and it’s a great way to limber up before the big show. A Paladin switching to Holy healing Hodir will have a vastly different experience than healing Anub in ToC. I’m sure some of you are wondering why I didn’t say ToC. Well to be honest, ToC is an instance that can be brute force healed. If you have enough Spell Power, enough MP5 or just enough replenishment, then you can pretty much spam heal through the vast majority of fight. There’s not a lot of finesse overall. Even edging into Heroic ToC, it feels to me like it’s just a matter of being able to continuously cast. I’ve done ToC and Ulduar on my Shaman, a Priest that I borrowed from a friend and a Druid and I can tell you from my first hand experience that Ulduar felt harder and made me pick smart spells more than ToC did.

Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends!

 

The process of getting reacquainted with healing on your toon isn’t a very long path to walk. I’ve heard people refer to it like riding a bicycle, you never truly forget how to do it. The learning curve can however be shortened with the help of your guildies. Your guild can contribute in many, many ways. Besides providing bodies for heroics and raids, your guild is also a wealth of information. In my guild the only thing we’re missing is a full time Holy Paladin, but there are Resto Shamans, Holy Priests, Disc Priests and Resto Druids a plenty, so there is usually someone on to help the aspiring healer get things set. . It never hurts to ask for help or tips and tricks. Experienced players when asked questions can help you learn how do eek that much more out of your healing, or different tricks of the trade for your class. Any guild who asks you to take on a potential healing role should also be willing to spend the time needed to make sure you’re up to speed. If this means a week of guildies pitching in to help you learn and gear up they should be willing to do it. I know in many cases my guild has taken the time and run old content to get them up to speed many times over. They can also supply crafted gear for you. I have an elemental off spec, I do this so that in a pinch I can pop over and give the raid Totem of Wrath. My gear for that set is largely due to guildies helping out and making me things.

So what about you? Any tips to share for people reacquainting themselves with healing? What do you think the best instance is to teach a healer everything they need to know? Is there one?

well that’s it for today, until next time, Happy Healing!

Your Winter Veil Gift, From Us

Winterveil

Winter Veil’s a’comin! The nights are closing in, the frost’s creeping over the tavern windows and yetis are Icehowl’ing in the snowy fields. It’s a magical time of year that we’d like to celebrate alongside you folks – what better time than to give you a gift? That gift is – a chat by the fireside with each of us. But we need your help to do it.

What we want from you is a topic of conversation. We want you to nominate a different topic to write on for each of us – that is, Matt, Wynthea, Lodur, Thespius and me, Mimetir (Syd is still AWOL being happy and busy, I believe). The topic can be anything at all you like – whatever you want that writer’s thoughts on. WoW related things are a good start for a WoW blog obviously, but as it’s Winter Veil – if you want us to write on something else, we might just do it.

You have until Monday 14th to reply to this article with your topic nominations for each writer. Of course we can’t write on every topic you guys nominate because if we try that we’ll miss Winter Veil ourselves! So once the five-day nomination time is over, Matt will make a list of the collected nominations for each WoM writer and make a secret santa roll to decide which topic we each write on. We’ll each then write an article on our individual topic, given by one of you, and post it up during the holidays.

Sound complicated? Sure, it does a bit. I’m a bird brain trying to explain something, been at the eggnog too much and all that. I’ll give you an example to clear things up.

  • Say six of you nominate different topics for Lodur to write on. That makes six potential topics for Lodur’s Winter Veil-time article
  • Matt takes a 1-6 list of those topics, ordered by when they chronologically appear in the comments on the article
  • He then does an independently adjudicated ‘Lodur roll (/roll 1-6)’ to decide which topic Lodur writes on (this does of course mean that RNG might decide it’s not your topic’s turn this year – but it might decide it is)
  • He does the same for the other four writers – me, Thespius, Wynthea and himself  – and announces the winning topics, along with details of when the articles will go up

Then you watch out over the holidays to read articles on the selection of topics you wanted to hear our deepest thoughts on. You then respond with what you think about your topic and our thoughts. Win.

So how about it? Help us give you something this Winter Veil. What do you want to talk about?

It Came From the PUG: A Resto Shaman Story

It Came From the PUG: A Resto Shaman Story

dazed2

For those of you who are new to here as readers or are just tunning in, I have an addiction to PUGs. I think they are a fun and amazing animal to play with. It came from the PUG is my column where when something interesting happens when pugging, I can share it with you.

With the Tier 9 content requiring  badges for all gear, I find myself trying to do the heroic daily every day. My normal Modus operandi is to log back into the game around 2 am EST and hit trade chat / LFG and find a group that needs a healer. I’ve been doing this for weeks no problem. Log in, pop in LFG usually no more then 4 minutes go by before I’m scooped up and on my way to the instance of the day.

Thursday though something odd happened. Something that hasn’t happened to me in a long long time. I’m talking beginning of BC long time. I log in, 1:45 am EST. I pop into LFG add a comment about being Tier 9 geared. The daily is Heroic Culling. Easy mode for me, I never have to stop to drink I can roll Riptide and Lesser Healing Wave pretty much the entire time and then go home with some badges. After about 15 minutes I notice no one’s sent any invites out and that I haven’t recieved tells. I just think that maybe there’s a ton more healers on tonight pugging then normal. So I hop into trade chat.

“T9 Resto Shaman LFG Heroic CoS pst”

I don’t spam trade but I make sure it’s seen. After another 10 minutes of no response I see someone asking in trade chat for a healer for CoS. I wait to see if a second request goes out and after a few minutes don’t see any so I figure someone got scooped up quickly. So I toss into trade again

“T9 Resto Shaman LFG Heroic CoS pst”

No more than 2 minutes go by before I see the same person send out a request in trade for healers for CoS. I think to myself well this is silly I’ll just send them a tell and we’ll be off in no time. Still plenty of time before the reset at this point.

“Hey, I’ll come heal for you guys.”

I get no response. After a few minutes I send them

“If you found another healer it’s cool. “

Then I see in trade chat again the same person asking for healers for CoS. WTF!? Does this person have me on ignore? Maybe the tells are just getting lost in the sea of trade chat spam? I don’t know so I send him another tell.

“Hey, I see you keep posting in trade you’re looking for a healer for the daily. I’m willing and ready to go. Are you not receiving my tells?”

This time I get a response;

“no, I’m getting them. Just don’t want you healing.”

I scratch my head at this one a bit. What the hell did I do to this guy?

“I’m sorry that’s a rather ominous satement. Did I do something to offend you or something?”

At this point I’m not mad, I’m just ridiculously curious why.

“you’re a Shaman, you can’t heal a heroic.”

The reply was very matter of fact and that’s all I got.

“You can’t be serious. Really it’s because I’m a Shaman?”

“yeap, sorry.”

So, complete B.S. reason right? Maybe. Maybe this person had a really bad run in with an enhancement shaman who said “OH HI I’LL HEAL YOU” but didn’t actually spec into Resto or use any spell gear. Either way I had a good chuckle about it and I responded with the only thing I think I could at the time.

“Dude, I’m so blogging about this! Make sure you stop by and see it! www.worldofmatticus.com, Good luck and have a good night =D”.

At this point the daily was changing over, so I decided to call it a night without getting my two badges. Just goes to show you, sometimes you don’t even have to get it IN the group before something interesting happens.

So, how about you guys? Anything fun to report from any PUGs?

Until next time, Happy Healing.

Sig

Trophy vs Token

Trophy vs Token

manu-champions-cup2

When Burning Crusade touched down we received a token system. The system tied multiple classes to a single drop from a boss. This allowed for less loot being sharded or discarded and allowed for quicker gearing as a guild. The tokens could then be turned in for your tier set pieces. A lot of people were afraid of this method, but it worked out really really well. Guilds were able to gear out their raiders quickly and efficiently and very little loot was left to rot. We began to see the starting of this in Vanilla WoW in Naxxramas and the tier 3 raid sets and AQ40 with the 2.5 pieces. “Token” bosses dropped two tokens a piece and everyone was generally happy.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, it was more of the same. Naxxramas and Ulduar continued the token system along, but added with it two levels. A 10 man level and a 25 man level that we affectionately refer to as tier x and tier x.5. The system continued to work well. Bosses that were token droppers continued to drop two of them and it was even made so that we could purchase tokens with badges for two of the slots. Gearing was a bit faster now thanks to the addition of two purchasable tokens and content flew by for a lot of people.

Then patch 3.2 hit, and brought with it Tier 9 content. Trial of the Crusader distributed loot in a very, very strange manner. First of all the Tier 9 gear was split into three item levels of quality. We’ve been referring to them as Tier 9, Tier 9.25 and Tier 9.5. Tier 9 can be bough fairly cheaply with Badges of Triumph, the next level up 9.25 requires an amount of badges and a Trophy of the Crusade which can only be obtained in the 25 man version. The tier costs can better be broken down by this:

Tier 9 = ilvl 232 Tier 9.25 = ilvl 245  Tier 9.5 = ilvl 258

Head: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Confused yet? Most people are. The stat difference between ilvl 226 gear (25 man uld) and ilvl 232 gear is not that big of a jump. going from 226 up to 245 is a big jump for most people. Enough of a gap that most pieces are clear upgrades. So why is this a problem? Trophies only drop from 25 man ToC. You get 1 per boss and a variable amount per tribute chest based on how many wipes you have. There are only five bosses in the instance. (Beasts, Jaraxxus, Champs, Twins and Anub). We’ll go with the model of running 25 man raids. You have 25 people, who all want that trophy. Being only 5 in total that means only roughly 20% of your raid a week can get them and upgrade. Lets look at Ulduar Five bosses drop token pieces, and two tokens per boss which is a theoretical 40% upgrade rate for your raid. The trophy system slowed gearing up way down because most people, especially those progression minded will be focusing on upgrades that can be obtained with Regalia (and it’s like tokens) from Trial of the Grand Crusader or Trophies and badges from Trial of the Crusader.

You can argue that with the drop increases from the tribute chest that better raids are rewarded based on performance, and that is true, but it does not really have any room for guilds that are done with Ulduar but not quite at Trial of the Grand Crusader (example would be guilds that just got a series of new recruits that need to be geared up before ToGC). This however can be chalked up to time spent in a normal version to gear people up, and get them used to the fights before heading into ToGC.

My main problem is the level of competition this generates in a raid. Right now in Ulduar if Gloves the the Wayware Protector drops, you know it’s going to a Warrior,  a Hunter or a Shaman. When a Trophy of the Crusade drops, everyone in the raid is sending tells. Everyone wants them over just regular tier 9 badge gear. I’ve seen this cause resentment and bitterness already in a couple people, and it can lead to bigger problems down the line. How do you distribute loot fairly? What is considered fair?

It’s for this reason I’m not a fan of the trophy system. I’m ok with working on harder content for a bigger reward. That is fine and dandy, but when I see an entire raid of people sitting, waiting, wondering if they’ll get the item it becomes a problem. I never saw this problem with a token system. Players might be mad at the game for dropping Vanquisher over Protector but it was RNG and nothing could be done about it. It’s a different story when you’re eligible for the item and watch other people get it over you. It’s a lot easier to accept something out of immediate control like RNG.

It’s not a bad idea in theory. It allows you to select the item you’re upgrading, it allows you to make sure anyone and everyone can use the items instead of seeing them rot due to RNG but I personally feel the token system is the way to go. While loot distribution is always an issue for any guild, I think the trophy system has too much potential to cause harm and additional stress that is unneeded in a raid / guild environment. I asked a question on Twitter about what people thought about the Trophy system. I got a surprising number of replies with people who just won’t run the content or have all together stopped raiding as  a result. I’ve also heard reports of guilds having to re work their entire loot system and policy because of this tier content, and that’s not good.

What do you think? Do you like the trophy / badge / three levels to the tier set? Do you hate it? Have you had any interesting stories revolving around loot distribution in tier 9 content?

Well, that’s my two cents on the subject until next time Happy Healing

Sig

Head 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Priest Guide: Part 3 – How to Build Discipline

Building-your-spec

Okay, you waited patiently for this, and a few of you kept poking me to make sure it got done. I hope I made you proud!

Part 1 gave a brief overview of each talent.

Part 2 went through my Holy spec, and how you can customize it for your needs.

This installment will review my Discipline spec, which is NOT a cookie-cutter build.

Step 1:14-mandatory-points

To start, plug in those mandatory 14 points:

  • Twin Disciplines – 5
  • Improved Inner Fire – 3
  • Improved Power Word: Fortitude – 2* **
  • Meditation – 3
  • Inner Focus – 1

*PvEers: If you are 100% certain that another Priest in your raid will have Imp:Fort, and not mind buffing, and you REALLY feel the need for threat reduction, you can move these two points into Silent Resolve. I don’t think it’s worth it, but it is an option.

**PvPers: Choose Martyrdom rather than Imp:Fort.

Step 2:

Decide whether this is a Holy build, or a Discipline build. For this example, I’ll walk you through my Disc spec and my reasons for each point. This will be a bit different: because I usually raid Holy, my Holy build is very utilitarian. My Disc build, on the other hand, is specifically for General Vezax Hardmode – the only 25-man fight where I use it. (I do use it in 10 man content for things like Iron Council hardmode, but due to gearing levels, the spec doesn’t need to be perfect to handle the fight.)

Step 3:

Inspiration-done Because this is a Disc build, and Disc builds focus on single target or tank healing, after plugging in the mandatory points in the Disc tree, we should flip over to Holy, since we KNOW that we will want Inspiration, and get those points out of the way. This will give a better idea of how many points we have to work with when we are making either-or decisions deep in the Disc tree itself.

The first step is to max out Holy Specialization – I do this in Holy to allow more Haste on my gear, but in Discipline because of how Crit is heavily favored by deeper Discipline talents. Next, because I personally use Renew rather heavily to even out spiking tank damage, I max out Improved Renew.

I do not use Greater Heal often, so I only put 2 points in Divine Fury for now – I prefer that my Greater Heals be slightly faster when I DO need them (and, remember, I’m very used to a LOT of haste – I generally have over 15%). I have considered removing these points from Divine Fury altogether and moving them into Healing Focus – But, again, because this build is specifically for General Vezax, none of the damage causes spell pushback. You could make a case for putting these points into Spell Warding, but because of how Saronite Vapors works, as you decrease your taken damage, you will also decrease your mana received. (Note: Saronite Vapors are only available on regular mode) If you have trouble getting out of the vapors before the 8th tick, or want some cushion for the 7th, 2 points in Spell Warding might be a great idea. Whether you decide to put these points into Healing Focus, Divine Fury, or Spell Warding, leave it at two – that’s all you need to get to the next tier. If you find yourself with extra points after we’re done on the Disc side, you can always come back and plug them in.

Getting to the next tier is critical, since that’s where Inspiration is. Max it out, and go back to the Disc tree.

Step 4:

Tier-5-DiscSo far, with the exception of limiting the points in Divine Fury to two, this looks exactly like a Holy build. Which makes it time to plug points in down the Disc tree. We already took the Mandatory 14 points in  Step 1, so we’ll move forward from the 3rd tier. We already maxed out Meditation and Inner Focus, so just pick up all 3 points in Improved Power Word: Shield - the bread & butter spell of a Disc Priest – now even better!

In the 4th tier, 3 points in Mental Agility is all you need to move on to the 5th tier. Many, many Priests who take Disc as a career option will also want to pick up Absolution - invaluable on fights that involve crazy amounts of dispelling like Hodir Hardmode, Thorim Hardmode, and Yogg Saron. Because my disc build is for General Vezax specifically, and Vezax involves zero dispelling, I skip it.  You do not, for any reason, need Improved Mana Burn in a PvE build.

Tier 5 gives us Mental Strength, a must not only for better mana pool and increased regen from replenishment, but you have to max this out in order to access Power Infusion. To the right is Soul Warding, your reward for maxing out Improved Power Word: Shield. Since Reflective Shield, on the left, only causes damage to those attacking you, the Priest, it’s pretty much useless for PvE. (It reminds me a bit of the old Human Priest racial Feedback – I never used that, either, but at least this doesn’t cost extra mana and only last for 10 seconds.)

Next, max out both Focused Power (to increase your healing done), and Enlightenment. For Vezax, you could actually skip Elnlightenment – the Spirit isn’t going to give you any regen, and without Spiritual Guidance from the Holy tree, you won’t see a bonus to your spell power, either. But, personally, I appreciate the increase to haste, so I take it. (You have to have these points somewhere, anyway, to be able to unlock the next tiers.)

Tier-8-DiscTier 7 allows you to skip Focused will – the increased crit chance notwithstanding, this is primarily a PvP talent, and the bulk of it is useless for PvE. Power Infusion, on the other hand, is a brilliant talent. I don’t use it on myself on Vezax HM, since the mana cost isn’t offset by my own casts (I’m not chain casting.), but I’ll toss it on a Mage or Ele Shaman if I have spare mana. Having this talent allows my very specialized spec to do double duty in 10 mans. I do max out Improved Flash Heal – especially now that they cooldown on Penance is longer, I find I sometimes need Flash Heals to top off the tank.

Tier 8 gives us one of the greatest talents in the Disc Priest arsenal – Renewed Hope. I had a Disc Priest try to tell me that PW:S wasn’t worth the mana on Vezax – that it didn’t absorb enough. (I know, right?) Even if it didn’t, the increased crit to Penance, Flash, and Greater Heal, and the chance to reduce damage on this tank by 3% is unbelievable.  Rapture is where my spec gets a little strange. I only take 2 points here. 1 of them is to open the next tier, and the other could be moved somewhere else. The thing is that Rapture, while amazing on fights that actually allow regen, doesn’t work on Vezax. I’ve heard conflicting reports that it DOES work on your target, but not you, the caster. Either way, my tank is far, far, far from rage /runic power starved, and if I can’t get any mana back, who cares. I’ll show you what I do with the extra point later.  Aspiration is useful for lowering the cooldown not only of Penance, but of Inner Focus. Max max max.

Tier-9-10-11-DiscMax out the whole of Tiers 9, 10, and 11. Not that you need specific reasons, but on tank-damage-heavy fights like Vezax, an additional shield, external, tank-saving  cooldown, and additional healing received are HUGE. Ditto for a 40%-of-your-spellpower-bigger PW:S, spellhaste, and the grandaddy Disc Healing spell of them all, Penance. Nom, Nom, Nom.

Okay, so you can see that we now have 53 points in Disc, and if you’ve been following along in the holy tree, you’ll have 13 spent there. This leaves 5 points. Go over to the Holy Tree. In the middle of tier 4 is Improved Healing, which reduces the mana cost of Greater Heal, Divine Hymn, Penance, and some junk we don’t care about. For a fight like Vezax, this is huge. To get there, I take Desperate Prayer, mostly because I’m so used to having it (and bad things seem to happen to me when I don’t.) and I add one more point into Divine Fury. Again, these are purely based on my personal playstyle, and you could pack those two points into Healing Focus or Spell Warding – I just haven’t found either of those talents as useful as extra haste for my biggest heal, and an “Oh Sh**!!” button for myself.

Once those points are assigned, traipse down to Improved Healing and max it out – this reduces the mana cost of your Penance by 15% – roughly 93 mana saved, per cast. THIS is why I shaved the point out of Rapture, and why my Disc spec is considered pretty unorthodox. I wouldn’t spec this way if Disc were my primary spec, but for Vezax, Vezax HM, and any 10 man content (where my gear can compensate for a non-ideal spec), it’s brilliant.

This is my completed spec:

Disc-Complete

Which, again, is very, very specialized, and not at all what I would call a “typical” Disc spec. Part of my hesitation in writing this post is that I know most of our commenters and community are very vigilant about watching for things to be “best” and also about making a very strong case for their own quirks – but that’s the thing about WoW as it stands currently – “best” is dependent upon playstyle, which is itself dependent upon available content/equipment. That said, sometimes there really IS a “better” if not a “best” way to do something, and the fastest way to figure out what that is is to throw yourself into the lovely group of people that make the healer community.

I hope this look at a non-standard build helps you feel more comfortable stepping outside the box and tailoring your own spec to your specific needs – feel free to discuss what you’ve found helpful in the comments.

Next Post: Helpful Macros (keep me honest on this one – I’m terrible about posting most of the time, but I always read your emails, and your encouragement makes a huge difference!)

Luv,
Wyn

The Summertime Woes

The Summertime Woes

summertime

Summertime and the livin is easy
Fish are jumpin and the cotton is fine
Oh your daddys rich and your ma is good lookin
So hush little baby, don’t you cry

-Gershwin

So the weather outside is becoming nice once again for many of us. With the nice weather comes what I like to refer to as the “Raider’s Lull” . What is the Raider’s Lull you ask? It’s that time of year where people start to take a break from the game and venture forth into the outside world for a while. For some guilds in Warcraft it’s not a big deal, they simply replenish from within and keep trudging through content while waiting for the other players return. For others it becomes an exercise in recruitment methods. I’m sure you’ve seen them on the realm forums, various websites and services like Twitter all asking for recruits and potential applicants to head over to their site. For some guilds it’s the beginning of their death throes.

The first category, the guilds that don’t feel the bite, tend to be the more progression oriented. They normally have several raiders waiting in the wings or rotating just for the reason of filling gaps due to holidays and such. These more often then not are also the top guilds on your server in those terms as well, normally one of those “server first” type guilds. If you find yourself in one of these guilds, then you probably haven’t seen the Raider’s Lull

The second category is more common, and I freely admit my own guild recently falls into this category this year. These tend to be not less progression oriented guilds, but ones that are more laid back in their approach to getting there. Attendance issues pop up in the summer when weather is nice and kids are out of school. It’s understandable and more often then not the guild just has to bide it’s time until the raiders return, utilizing other members of the guild who maybe don’t normally raid.

The third group is a bit trickier. Usually this is a guild that has had ongoing attendance issues year round, or has been subject to some form of drama. Sometimes more progression oriented guildies have just left for another guild or even their members are looking for a guild that fits their ideals better. The summer time seems to bring these to a head and they wind up splintering and finding new homes, some players even quit the game as a result.

Breaking the Depression!

So how does one from the second and third category keep going into the summer time?

Recruitment!

recruitment2

Oddly enough recruitment can solve both the second and third groups problems. I’ll use my guild as an example again. Summer time hit and we saw the loss of a handful of raiders, the problem was these were people integral to our raid and raid strategy on some accounts. We have veterans we can pull for raids when they are on, but since they are veterans and not raiders their schedules tend to be a bit more erratic and pinning them down can be difficult, but pulling from our friends and family in the guild we have been able to keep raiding fairly consistently with good results. They may not be hard mode ready, but they can still kick like a mule when they need to.

The raiders we lost were well geared and performed well. It left us with several holes to fill. Our officers proactively hit recruitment hard utilizing various methods. As a result we have had an influx of  very solid recruits. The recruits are from a guild of the third option above. Their guild was not a comfortable fit for them anymore, and they happened to see a post of mine saying we were looking for geared intelligent raiders. I talked to one of them for almost a month answering questions as best I could. They were from another server so a certain leap of faith was required though this app process as my guild requires our apps be on server for the trial periods and such. After much communication, enter four applicants. They are currently going through our application process, but they have already been making friends and feel like a good fit. Recruitment has kept us going strong and has helped us keep raiding, and it helped four very awesome people find a potential new home with new friends. So thank you Kaylestera, Trull, Andorel and Lysah for taking a leap of faith and putting in those apps.

For recruiting there are several different ways to go about it. For my guild we utilized internet services such as

Twitter,

Realm Forums,

Guild Website,

We also utilized Word of Mouth along the server, with friends from other guilds letting people know we were recruiting. Members of our guild spread word among their real life friends as well as their friends on server letting them know we were hiring so to speak. So far it’s been working out very well. Unpossible is still going strong and we’ll survive our Raider’s Lull.

So, is your guild facing the Raider’s Lull? If so, how are you compensating for it? What category does your guild fall into?

Until next time, Happy Healing.

Sig

Images courtesy of akmg.com and electrotestservies.co.uk

What Can Healing Meters Tell You?

What Can Healing Meters Tell You?

meters
The conflict over healing meters is an old topic, on this blog, the WoW healing forums, the PlusHeal forums, and, for many of you, within your own guilds. While it’s widely accepted that meters are one of the best tools dps players can use to analyze their performance, the usefulness of meters when it comes to healing or tanking has always been in doubt. The official line from Ghostcrawler is that meters can’t tell healers very much about their own effectiveness. The following story is a tidbit taken from a forum topic on Shaman PvE healing. I first read it, however, in a repost on my own guild’s site. It seems that whenever the developers comment on healing meters, people take notice. Ghostcrawler says:

We were talking about healing this very fight [XT hardmode] just yesterday. One of the designers had an interesting experience. Their first Holy priest had much larger healing (total and effective) on the fight than their second Holy priest, so they asked the second priest to go Shadow. They kept wiping. They then swapped them, and made the star Holy priest go Shadow. The second Holy priest’s healing was much lower, but they won on the first try. The second priest just had better timing and cast the right spell at the right moment, even though his total and effective healing was lower overall. The moral of the story is meters are very useful, but like any tool, their ability to measure what happens in reality has limitations. In my experience, players put too much emphasis on them, especially for healing.

I have to say that GC’s Tale of Two Priests seems apocryphal to me. As my guild members pointed out in our website discussion, this is an odd situation that we can’t really imagine in any of our raids. It seems–to us anyway–that there’s not enough information here to judge what really happened. One of my guildies suggested that maybe the “star” Holy Priest was also really good at Shadow, and that seems pretty reasonable to me. However, what’s clear is that Ghostcrawler–who, let’s face it, has more information than you or I do–thinks people put too much emphasis on meters.

The truth of the matter is that healing meters CAN tell you a good number of things about a healer’s overall effectiveness. The trick is learning to read them with a critical eye. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that I probably like and use healing meters more than most healing bloggers I read, and certainly more than Ghostcrawler. However, in my own guild, I’m usually in the anti-meters faction. Ironically, our guild’s biggest advocate for healing meters is not himself a healer. There’s no guarantee that a guild’s leadership will be healing-savvy, and the points in this article should help raiding healers enter into an intelligent discussion with even the most determined meter-maid of a raid leader.

In this article, I’m going to go over a few things that healing meters CAN and CANNOT reveal about your guild’s healers. I would never, for example, promote or dismiss a healer from my raiding corps based on meters alone. However, if I were evaluating a new healer, I would expect the different logs to be able to tell me a certain amount of things. At certain points, I’m going to be referring to the combat log parsers I’ve personally used, including WWS, WoW Meter Online, World of Logs, and of course, the ubiquitous Recount. Each of these programs displays the information differently, and some are more nuanced in their presentation than others.

What Meters Reveal

Who won the meter?
Did you win the meters last night? If you can answer this question, as a healer anyway, you don’t know how to read the meters. In the above screenshot from WoWMeter Online, it might look like Kaldora “beat” Mallet on the meters…until you notice that Mallet is a discipline priest and, as such, his primary ability doesn’t even show. Essentially, when you are looking at any combat log statistics in any form (even scrolling through the log itself), what you are doing is reconstructing the raid from perspectives other than your own. It’s a bit odd, like watching a home movie of yourself. Just like the camera’s lens, the log parser has a limited view of your actions. It collects statistics, and these tend to be fairly accurate, but you have to do the evaluation yourself. I read a combat log parse critically, and the following are the questions that the statistics can help me answer.

1. What were the healing assignments?
As a rule, tank healers place lower on the meter than raid healers. That’s just how it is–unlike dps, who can do infinite damage, a healer can only put out the numbers in response to damage. The more targets, the higher the ceiling. When I look at a breakdown for a particular fight, I can reconstruct the healing leader’s instructions to the raid pretty easily. The “Breakdown” section of WWS or “Who Healed Whom” section of WoWmeteronline will tell you for certain where people spent their time. However, for the most part I can reconstruct who did what just based on percentage of healing done and spell choice. When I have a new recruit in the raid, I use the meters to check if she’s been following instructions.

2. What is a player’s rotation?
If you’re a longtime healer, you might think that you don’t have a rotation. You just do what seems “natural,” right? Healing might seem like a mysterious force that arises out of the aether, but in fact, every healer has a rotation, either explicit or implicit. It only seems that there’s no rotation because you’re not mashing 1-2-3-3-3-3-3-4-4-4-4-4 like a Moonkin would (and let me tell you, the rare times Matticus lets me play laser chicken I need serious help from Squawk and Awe to get the 3′s and 4′s at the right time). Healer rotations are not necessarily set; rather, they are a series of if-then statements. If X kind of damage occurs, the healer casts spell Y. Some healers have a more explicit rotation than others. Druids are the most like dps in that our healing spells set up combos. 3X Lifebloom is a component of a rotation, as is a HoT setup for Nourish. And that 6-second cooldown for Wild Growth or Circle of Healing? That little piece of timing contributes to the development of a rotation for Resto Druids and Holy Priests. I don’t know about the rest of you, but whenever I’m raid healing, I’m watching my Wild Growth cooldown like a hawk. I know the number of casts I can perform before it’s up again. Every single class has something they do pre-emptively. For Healadins, it’s Bacon of Light and Holy Shield. For the Resto Shaman, it’s Riptide.

After long practice, these routines become automatic. The muscles are quite literally faster than the brain, and before you know it, you’ve hit Rejuv-Rejuv-Rejuv-Swiftmend-Wild Growth without once stopping to think about it. My favorite section of the log parsers are the spell breakdowns. On WoWMeterOnline, I particularly appreciate the pie chart of my abilities. I love the fact that I can compare two sets of statistics–the proportion of spells I actually cast (the pie), versus how much effective healing those spells accomplished (the column). This feature lets me amend my rotation. If I’m casting something too much and not getting enough effective healing out of it, I can alter that pattern. I can also compare my spell choice and cast ratios to other Druids. I’m never the best one out there, and I know it. If I think someone put in a stellar performance on a fight, I try to learn from it. If I see a Druid do particularly well in a fight using 15% Nourish, I’ll make a conscious effort to use it the next time.

The following image is the breakdown of my own abilities during a Mimiron fight. From this chart, you can reconstruct my rotation. It appears to be very heavy on Rejuv and Wild Growth, probably during the raid healing portions of the fight, with Lifebloom and Nourish used much less (probably mostly on tank targets in P1 and P4).
spell choice

Here is the WoWMeterOnline pie chart for a different Mimiron fight. Even pre-4pc bonus, I’m still getting more than my money’s worth for Rejuvenation. It accounted for 23% of my casts but did 38% of my healing. Nourish, on the other hand, is a relative loser, being a fairly large portion of my casts but a fairly small portion of my healing done. To some extent, this is just the nature of the two spells, but on this particular fight, HoTs are king. Rejuv doesn’t look nearly as good on a fight with less predictable AoE damage.
healing pie chart

3. Did something go terribly wrong?
If you’re accustomed to reading log parses for your guild, you can start to separate the wipes from the successes. Particularly if a wipe was blamed on healing failure, I urge you to go through the parse for that attempt. For this purpose, I find the death log and the Who Healed Whom? sections to be most useful. If you have a healer who repeatedly dies to the same (avoidable) boss ability, that information may help you improve your healing corps. I find, however, that most healing fails have less to do with healers standing in the fire than with healers deviating from their responsibilities. If you lost a tank on an attempt, go look at what your tank healers were doing. In particular, a little statistic called the Focus is helpful for this. If a tank healer has a high focus, that means they are healing randomly in the raid–i.e. diverting attention from their assigned tank. There are many reasons healers do this, but I’ll tell you, most of them have to do with a desire to look better on the meters. I’ve done it myself–looked away from the tank for one moment because I thought I could–and boy does it feel bad afterwards when that little innocent raid heal causes a wipe.

4. Which healer–allowing for class, spec, and assignment–contributed the most on a particular fight?
This is the moment where you really get to compare. You won’t necessarily be able to do this on every fight. Healing corps tend to shift about a bit, as healer turnover is always pretty high. However, on the occasions where you have two holy priests, you can compare them if and only if they were given the same assignment. If you are a healing lead, and you have a new recruit, try to assign them to the same thing as one of your veterans. This is most useful if you can pair them with the same class, but if that isn’t possible, try to match their role as closely as possible. You won’t get anywhere comparing the numbers of a Resto Shaman and a Resto Druid, even if you assign them both to heal the tank. However, if you assign your Resto Shaman to tank healing, you can compare his or her numbers to a Holy Paladin. It might not tell you much, but at least you can see which one kept a tighter focus on their tank or did more healing on that one target. If you do get the magical situation where you can compare raid-healing Resto Druid to raid-healing Resto Druid, you can actually pick a winner. Try to use your knowledge for good and not evil. If you have a new recruit who has some learning to do, encourage them to adopt spell choices more like your veteran. I do urge you to have several parses before you make your recruit change things. What the parses can’t do on their own is tell WHY one player “won” the meters.

5. How much of a role did heal-sniping play in a particular fight?
Ah, sniping. Whenever someone “loses” the meters and others make a big deal about it, there will be talk of sniping. The rather ugly word “sniping” indicates the practice of sneaking around on one’s healing assignment by spot healing other players. To some extent, sniping is something that can’t be avoided. If players are assigned to raid healing, those assignments have to be loose in order to let healers react to the actual damage that goes on in the fight. Even with mods, it’s sometimes hard to tell which raid members are about to receive a needed heal. As a healing leader, just understand how raid heal sniping works against certain classes. Circle of Healing and Wild Growth, due to their “smart” nature, can’t be kept to a neat assignment. These spells will “steal” some heals from your Resto Shamans. If you know that, you know to calm your shamans down when they’re worried. It’s just something that happens–so don’t demote your Shamans or overly praise your Druids. That’s just how the mechanics work together. Believe me, you need every competent healer you have–a raid is not a game of Survivor. If you want to minimize raid heal sniping, I suggest giving your healers proximity-based assignments. Our Mimiron strategy is a good example–we assign healers to quadrants, and as we’re spread out in a ring for P1, P2, and P4 of the fight, healers can’t reach across the room to snipe from their fellows. However, when you’re all clumped up, snipe happens.

Raid heal sniping tends not to affect the outcome of a fight, but the same cannot be said of sniping while tank healing. Sometimes tank healers need a little support. While a HoT or two from a raid healer on a tank is technically sniping, it’s usually helpful. After all, if the tank dies, you’re done, and extra insurance is not a bad thing. However, when your tank healers sneak heals onto the raid, it’s not always so helpful and it sometimes gets the tank killed. However, in some sense we are set up to do just this. I know that in particular, Holy Priests and Resto Druids can (and sometimes should) sneak a few Circles of Healing or Wild Growths on the raid while they’re tank healing. The trick is to have a realistic sense of how often you can turn away from your focus and for how long. I know the couple of times in my healing career I’ve caused a tank death because I’ve been sniping have been moments of intense shame and regret. If you have weird tank deaths in your raid, go check out healers’ focuses. That should tell you if sniping is the cause.

6. How do the healing classes differ from each other?
Whenever I look through a log parse, I’m struck by just how different the four healing classes are. I especially like to look at players’ spell choice. Some, like Holy Pallies, will show a lot of casts of the same thing, while others, like Holy Priests, will show a variety of abilities. This helps me reconstruct what healing was like in a particular raid. When you’re reading those meters, particularly a simple meter like Recount, you should know that “winning” those meters is linked to class and spec. If I’m looking at Recount, especially one that hasn’t been reset for a certain fight but rather has been running all night, I’m probably going to see either a Resto Druid or Holy Priest on top. That’s just what happens–it doesn’t mean too much. The meter is not a perfect measure. It sees a limited amount of information. It can’t tell you, for example, just how important your Pally’s tank heals were. All it can tell you was that he put out less raw healing than your raid healers. Even on the same assignment, your Resto Shamans, Holy Pallies (unless you have no Ret Pally and your Healadin gets to cast Judgment of Light), and Disc Priests will almost always be lower down. This is just how our spells work together, and it doesn’t make Pallies or Shamans bad. Also, if your raid is melee heavy, you might sometimes see the Ret Pally sneak up the meter with just Judgment of Light. However, this doesn’t mean that you should make your Holy Pally go Ret because Ret’s healing is “better.” Believe me when I say that Judgment of Light alone won’t heal your tank.

Why Do Some Players Place Higher than Others on the Meter?

Even when class, spec, and assignment are the same, players’ numbers will vary. Many people would claim that “skill” determines placement, but it’s only part of the truth. That sort of answer contradicts GC’s anecdote and gives healers a sense that they can’t improve, no matter what they do. However, there are usually resolvable issues that determine effective healing. It’s not all reaction time or “innate” gaming ability! As a 30-year old woman who didn’t grow up playing video games, I wouldn’t stand a chance if it weren’t possible to learn better healing techniques. However, I find myself on the top of the meters from time to time (and also…on the bottom). This wouldn’t happen if it weren’t possible to change my performance through effort.

As a healing lead, I’ve read a lot of meters. In my mind, the following are the most common reasons for meter differences between players.

1. Casting speed. By “casting speed,” I mean the rate at which the player queues up a new spell once the old one casts. This is the magic of reaction time. It’s hard to learn, but faster casting is supported by Quartz, readable raid frames, a faster machine, gear (especially haste), talents, and little things like a Tuskarr’s Vitality enchant to boots. It seems silly but yes, faster running almost always means more time to cast.
2. Talent choices. Sometimes there are many correct builds, but there is usually one best one for certain raid functions. The “best” build can depend on what the person’s role in your raid is. If your recruit will primarily be a raid healer, she might want to adapt her talents to reflect that.
3. Spell choice. What you cast is just as important as how often. There’s no “right” answer, but there are better and worse choices. A heavy use of Nourish with no HoT support is an example of a poor choice. To make intelligent choices, read your blogs and Elitist Jerks and try out different things in raids. If you’re a healing lead trying to diagnose problems, try to find an “ideal” spell cast ratio to suggest to the healer in question from a reliable source. Usually, finding an “expert” in the class to talk to is quickest and easiest. When in doubt, email a blogger! You might just get a whole post in response.
4. Gear, gear, GEAR. I can’t overemphasize what a difference equipment makes. Sure, there are prodigies of healing out there that can outheal me in their Naxx gear. Don’t expect your recruits to be among these magical beings. Amazing reaction time is rare, and it can make up for gear deficits. However, for the rest of us, properly maintained equipment with the right stats, the right gems, and the right enchants is one of the major things we rely on to put in a good performance.

Wrong Ways to Use the Meters

If you’re in charge of a guild or healing corps, please do not indulge in the following meter-related Healing Destructions.

1. Looking exclusively at total healing done for the whole night
I hate it when people post their Recount for a four hour raid. Every fight is different, and many players respec to different roles throughout the night. Moreover, assignments differ from fight to fight. If you’re number 1, try to restrain the need to pat yourself on the back. If you’re number 7, you don’t really need that box of tissues.

2. Looking exclusively at HPS
HPS graph

HPS varies wildly by class, assignment, and fight. After all, you need damage to happen before you can heal. Here is a World of Logs chart showing my guild’s healers’ HPS for a whole night. What useful thing can you glean from that? Um, overall HPS is higher when heroism is cast? Big surprise there. If you’re in charge, don’t make your healers paranoid about HPS. They’ll be afraid to CC during trash, and they’ll snipe more during bosses.

3. Comparing apples to oranges
If you’re going to pick “winners” on the meters, make sure you’re looking at the same thing. The values for class, spec, and assignment need to match. Also, be really careful if you’re comparing your guild’s parse to another guild’s. You don’t know how they do things or how good they are. Judging your healers by an arbitrary external standard isn’t necessarily meaningful. For an example of this type, before we killed Vezax, our raid leader was outraged at the healers because we needed Saronite Vapors to stay in mana. He was looking at a parse where almost no one in the raid took damage and where healers used no vapors. It took me about ten minutes of staring at the report of a “better” guild with “better” healers before I realized that all these (failed) attempts were tries at HARD MODE. You have to walk before you can run, people–comparing your guild to the “best” guilds in the world is the Path of Anguish. The reports reconstruct the raid, but they are at best a distorted mirror. If you’re going to look outside the guild for comparisons, try to find a guild that’s similar to yours that’s working on the same goals.

4. Hiring and firing based on the meters
Everyone wants something concrete to rely on when they have to make a tough decision. Just don’t succumb to this pressure. If you have a borderline healer, watch her DURING the raid. I sometimes keep new healers as my focus so I can see what they’re doing. Give your newbie tough assignments and see if people die. These things will be more meaningful than saying: “You’re number 6 on Recount, so you’re out.”

5. Encouraging meter-based competition among your healers
The more the leadership emphasizes meters, the more your healers will respond. No one wants to be voted off the island. Instead of becoming better players, your healers will start ignoring their assignments, sniping, and whining. You really do not want this. Your healers are supposed to be a team.

Conclusions

Yes, healing meters can be useful. If you have access to log parses, you can certainly learn from them. As an individual, you may be able to tweak your performance. However, naive uses of the healing meters can cause mischief and pain. Reading a meter intelligently is a difficult skill to learn, and if you’re in a position of power, it would be in the best interest of your guild if you interpreted the meters as thoughtfully as possible. There’s no magic stat that you can read to tell if someone is good or not.
Sydsignature

Official 3.2 Patchnotes for Shamans

Official 3.2 Patchnotes for Shamans

Ok so yesterday I posted what the Devs were saying, but now they are officially up on the forums. Lets see what shamans have cooking for the patch and PTR

Shaman

  • A customizable totem bar will now be available for shaman allowing the storing of 4 different totems. These totems can be placed on the ground at once in one global cooldown for the combined mana cost of all 4 totems.
  • All Shocks now have a default range of 25 yards, up from 20 yards.
  • Base health increased by approximately 7% to correct for shamans having lower health than other classes.
  • Chain Heal: Jump distance increased to 10 yards. In addition, the amount of healing now decreases by 40% as it jumps to each new target, instead of 50%.
  • Ghost Wolf: Can now be learned at level 16. While in this form, snaring effects may not bring the shaman below base normal run speed.
  • Talents
    • Enhancement
      • Shamanistic Rage: Cooldown is now 1 minute, down from 2 minutes. Successful melee attacks now have a chance to generate mana equal to 15% of the shaman’s attack power, down from 30%.
    • Restoration
      • Ancestral Healing: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target’s armor.
      • Cure Poison and Cure Disease: Combined into a single spell, Cure Toxins.
      • Earth Shield: Dispel effects will now remove charges of Earth Shield rather than the entire aura.
      • Healing Way: Redesigned. Rather than providing a chance of increasing Healing Wave spells on a friendly target, this talent now innately increases the effectiveness of the shaman’s Healing Wave by 8/16/25%.
      • Mana Tide Totem: Totem health now equal to 10% of the shaman’s health.
      • Nature’s Guardian: Redesigned. Now has a fixed 100% proc rate, has a 30-second internal cooldown and increases the shaman’s maximum health by 3/6/9/12/15% for 10 seconds.
      • Nature’s Swiftness: Cooldown is now 2 minutes, down from 3 minutes.
      • Tidal Waves: No longer reduces the cast time of Lesser Healing Wave by 30%. It instead now provides +25% critical strike chance to Lesser Healing Wave, along with the previous 30% cast time benefit to Healing Wave.

Lodur’s thoughts:

Oh my! We knew about the totem bars, and we knew an increase in health was comming. 7% increase will be very nice for our survivability in PvE as well as PvP

Nature’s swiftness – We already knew about but it’s nice to see it in print

Ancestral Healing – Great googly moogly thats awesome. I have to say reducing incomming damage by 10% that’s just amazing! And it scales ridiculously well with content. I mean Disc priests used to only get 3% from grace.  This change has made me excited (I hope this one stays! think of this with chain heal!)

Cure Toxins: With us having Cleanse spirit this change is kindda meh for restoration Shamans, but really awesome for odd PvP specs.

Earth Shield: More of a PvP buff but still pretty slick.

Healing Way: This is very handy. The change to this talent will let you roll your Healing Wave around a bit and I’m certain more people will use it now as a result. Maybe not much more, but a bit.

Nature’s Guardian: Also more of a PvP fix, but I’ve seen some Shaman pick it up for progression fights, which isn’t a half bad idea. The change to it could see more use esepecially in hard mode fights with lots of raid wide damage.

Tidal Waves: A lot of Shaman I’ve been talking to haven’t taken a shinning to this one yet. Personally I think it’s a great thing. The extra crit will let you get Ancestral Healing out there and its a fast heal to begin with. I like this change.

Improved Water Shield: 30% change to be triggered by Chain Heal is nice. Not losing an orb is even better. There have been too many hectic fights where you forget or just can’t spare the GCD to toss Water Shield back up. This takes care of that and lets you keep it up a bit longer, which will help your overall mana regen.

Chain Heal: We new the increase in range as well as the lower number on the healing reduction, but seeing it there is a comfort for sure

I can’t wait to test these out!

*edit*

I forgot to mention the replenishment nerf.

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target’s maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

Also at the same time MP5 gear will be getting… more MP5

I do <3 me some MP5

Who wants to do some hard modes? What do you guys think so far?

I’ll update this post as needed, but until then, Happy Healing,

Sig

  • Improved Water Shield: This talent now has a 10/20/30% chance to be triggered by Chain Heal, and the charges of Water Shield are no longer consumed by this talent.
  • Restoration Shaman – Ulduar 10 Gear

    Restoration Shaman – Ulduar 10 Gear

    It was requested that I do a post highlighting the gear for the 10 man raiders, so here it is!

    It’s often easily looked over when your focus is on 25 man raiding, but 10 mans are there and are a wonderful thing. They allow smaller guilds to still be able to see endgame content and to be honest some of the best loot comes from 10 man raids. Lets take a look at the toys a shaman has available to him running around in 10 man Ulduar!

    Head - Couple good pieces for your head come from 10 man Uld First up is [Helm of Veiled Energies] (XT-002) Haste, Crit and good spellpower, can’t really go wrong there. Second choice is your tier piece [Valorous Worldbreaker Headpiece] (Mimron). Your tier pieces are always a good pick up

    Neck[Pendant of Endless Despair] (General Vezax) is a good pickup Crit and MP5 will help keep those mana stores filled and it has decent spell power to boot. Another choice is [Pendant of the Shallow Grave] (Thorim) Haste, Crit and Spellpower as well as a yellow socket. Not bad at all.

    Shoulders - Not much for us unless you have some odd obsession with spirit (let’s hope you don’t) so I would say just snag your [Valorous Worldbreaker Spaulders] (Thorim) and say thank you =D

    Back -  Here we have three choices, two of which are zone wide drops from trash. First up is [Cloak of the Dormant Blaze] crit and MP5 make this an attractive pickup if you’re lucky enough to see it drop. [Drape of the Spellweaver] this one has Haste and Crit. It’s a bit more of a dps cloak but it’s still good for us. If you don’t want to wait for trash to drop it, you can take a gander at [Shawl of the Caretaker] (Ignis). Good stats, if you see it drop I suggest trying to snag it.

    Chest – Obvious choice would be the tier 8 chest piece [Valorous Worldbreaker Tunic] (Yogg). If you’re find yourself with time before you get to yogg you can always opt for [Firestrider Chestguard] (Flame Leviathan). Haste and Crit, its a good pickup.

    Waist - [Belt of the Iron Servant] (Iron Council) is a great belt from the 10 man. Great smattering of stats, good regen. Well worth the pickup. Another option if you have the cash to burn, you can pick up [Blue Belt of Chaos]. Crit and MP5 as well as two sockets make for a good belt. Toss a belt buckle on there and it’s even better.

    Wrist[Armbraces of the Vibrant Flame] (Ignis) are BoE so you can probably snag them on the AH if you don’t see them drop. Another option is after you snag 60 Emblems of Valor to pick up [Pigmented Clan Bindings], they should last you a long while.

    Legs[Ironscale Leggins] (Razorscale) has good MP5, a nice smattering of haste and some good spell power. Worth the pickup while you wait for [Valorous Worldbreaker Kilt] (Hodir)

    Feet - [Greaves of the Earthbinder] (Thorim) are a good pickup. Crit and MP5 as well as a blue socket make these very nice.

    Main Hand – First up is [Pulse Baton] (Mimron) A solid main hand weapon and well worth picking up. Less conventional options are [Stormtip] (IC) and [Plasma Foil] (XT-002) they pack good spell power with either Haste or Crit respectively. The only problem with them is that they pack spirit, which is wasted on a shaman. If these are going to be sharded or offer a significant boost in spell power and either crit or haste they are worth grabbing as a transition piece. But its something I would avoid if possible.

    Offhand[Ice Layered Barrier] (Hodir hardmode) is a best in slot item for even heroic level. It’s a rock solid shield with great stats. If you can get this get it! Another very solid option is [Pulsing Spellshield] (XT-002) Crit and Haste help it be a very nice shaman shield.

    Rings -  [Fire Orchid Signet] (Freya) is a great pick up. The ring has all the right stats and a socket to boot. Another good option is to get [Renewal of Life] (25 Emblem of Valor) with your badges. It’s a solid ring and will last you a while.

    Trinkets – There are three trinkets from 10 man ulduar that are worth looking at. [Energy Siphon] (FL) has great MP5 and the on use effect is nothing to scoff at.  [Eye of the Broodmother] (Razor) 87 crit (almost 2%) combined with essentially a 125 sp boost makes this an amazing trinket to grab if you can. Last up is [Sif's Rememberance] (Thorim) Good spell power and it gives you a chance to proc more MP5. If it drops there is no good reason not to take it.

    Well thats it for today. Those are the items you can look forward to from Ulduar 10. They are really nice, and in serveral cases comparable to gear from Heroic Ulduar.

    Until next time, Happy Healing.

    sig2