Blizzcon – Open Q&A with Wynthea

Matticus is still finishing up his epic vacation in lovely southern California, and so you’re stuck with me providing as much content as I possibly can for the next couple of days!

(Yes, that means the how-to Disc piece will definitely finally go up. I’m sorry it’s taken so long.)

Meanwhile, the thing on the top of my mind is still Blizzcon, and more specifically Cataclysm. I’m sure you’ve already read all about my adventures, but if you have more specific questions, either about the con in general, or the xpac specifically, I’d love to answer them as best I can. To that end, this post is an Open Thread – you ask your questions; I’ll answer them! Talk to you soon!

Luv,
Wyn

Shaman Q & A With Ghost Crawler, Resto Recap

Shaman Q & A With Ghost Crawler, Resto Recap

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For those of you who might not have caught it yet, the Shaman Q & A is out HERE . Go ahead and take a look, there is some interesting answers there. Lets talk a little bit about some of whats there, I’ll try to keep it focused on things that affect us as healers.

Ghost crawler opens up with explaining what makes the shaman class unique, and I tend to agree with him. We are a unique hybrid in the fact that we can throw out healing while melting faces without having to shift forms like a druid would have to do and we can change those roles faster then a Paladin can. He also talks about how we are the ying to the paladin yang. We are in many ways the anti paladin.

GC says:

As envisioned from the start, shamans were also the “offensive” hybrid. Things have inevitably blurred a bit since then, but they are still a counterpart and complement to paladins – paladins have cleanse, shamans have purge; paladins will let an ally move freely to escape or catch an opponent, shamans will snare an enemy to let their ally escape or catch him or her; paladins will make sure their allies’ casts aren’t interrupted, shamans will interrupt enemy casts; and so forth.

It’s true, just think about it. We are balanced in many ways to work against a paladin, but with each faction now having both classes, we stack up in a weird and awesome synergy with them.

Next point of interest is the discussion of totems. The question was asked Are there plans to look at totems in general, the way they are managed, their uses, and their benefits in the future? I’m very happy to say the answer was yes, there are plans and the first thing mentioned is the ability to drop all four totems on one GCD! When I saw that I’ll be honest, I almost did a lap around the block from sheer excitement. As any experienced raid healer will tell you, it often boils down to effective use not only of your heals, but of your Global Cooldowns. This will free up three seconds of cooldowns (totems have a one second GCD) That’s another heal, or a faster heroism, or if you’re on melee totem duty three seconds more to get your rear out of harms way. The other important note about this is since they are looking at abilities to drop all four totems on one cooldown it means they will have to continue working on the totem UI. While I appreciate the Totem timers blizzard built into the game, it still pales in comparison to mods like Totem Timers and Yata. I’m excited to see how they are going to balance this change as well as update the game’s UI for this.

Beyond this the discussion also talked about the mechanics and possible further consolidation of totems,  and there are some very interesting ideas in there. There was talk of removing buff totems and replacing them with spells (which as a shaman who is constantly supplying wind fury totem to melee I can certainly appreciate this idea) and making all the totems do something active like Healing Stream Totem. The idea of possibly letting you carry an active totem around on your back was also tossed around. GC continues on to talk about consolidation of totems (magma and fire nova potentially being combined as an example) as well as some hitting the chopping block (bye bye sentry totem). Most interesting is the talk about possibly using any Fire or Earth totem as an anchor point for Elementals. Personally I think that’s a fantastic idea and one I hope they fully explore. It’s hard to chose between that little extra damage from the fire elemental or keeping up Flame Tongue / Totem of Wrath.

There was also mention about our health pools. If you didn’t notice we have the lowest base health pool out of any of the classes. According to GC and crew they will be looking at this for 3.2. This will be good for us on those fights (like Hodir with frozen blows) where we see our health drop like a rock and have to quickly heal ourselves before we use our Aggro Dump.

After talking about totems and our health pools, the topic of PvE healing comes up.

GC says:

I know there is some concern about Restoration shamans losing their healing niche of area damage. We think that perception might exist in Ulduar just because recent talents, glyphs, and set bonuses have all propped up things like Lesser Healing Wave over Chain Heal. Chain Heal is still quite useful in some situations and with different gear in the next couple of tiers, we expect to see more shamans going back to it. We don’t want to see them return to just using Chain Heal as was the case in much of Burning Crusade. We do think Restoration shamans are at the risk of running out of mana perhaps more than any other healer right now, and in fact the seemingly unlimited mana in some healers is what leads to Chain Heal getting stomped on by other big heals. This is a problem we plan on addressing.

Well that’s refreshing. He goes on to say;

We want Restoration shamans to be a strong group healer with the option of focusing on a single target with Lesser Healing Wave as needed. Restoration shamans have two distinct healing styles now that they can shift between, and we want to preserve that. We don’t want to return to the Sunwell era, where 95% of healing came from Chain Heal. It’s just a boring play style. (And yes, paladins, we hear you.) We suspect that with a new totem or set bonus that propped up Chain Heal a little more, you’d see it getting a lot more use. We’re cool with that. It’s fun when you upgrade your gear from tier to tier and it actually pushes you into a slightly different play style.

I can honestly say I’m ok with that. Like I said in my post about Chain Heal I don’t think we’re broken or that the spell stinks, but I do agree that it needs tweaking to be competitive. I’m perfectly fine with them addressing it through gear be it totems or tier set bonuses. It’s a great way to balance out the spell without reworking the whole mechanic of it. It is a great spell and I adore my lazer beam of love. It’s iconic and distinct and has one of the coolest spell effect sounds ever (turn your volume way up and listen. Rolling thunder ftw!). On the other hand I love our new spells and abilities too. I love having heals and abilities that are synergistic and having the ability to pop out of raid healing to get some single target loving in. I’ll be honest, I hated the mindlessness of Shaman healing in BC in the end game, I like my variety I just want to be able to keep up in hard modes.

The last item I’ll talk about is something they touched on in the PvP section but I think will have an effect on PvE as well. When asked Are there any other considerations in store for improving overall performance for shaman in PvP encounters (whether in Arena or in Battlegrounds)? GC replies with

Mobility is a big problem. One of the designers described casting shamans the other day as “turrets,” which is very apt. You sit and spin and shoot (or heal). We need to get shamans some more mobility, and we have some ideas for how to do that without just giving everyone Blink.

Well, this is true for PvE as well. Think about fights like Hodir, lots of movement where we have to stop long enough to push out our healing. He’s right though, we are turrets. Like survival hunters, give us a nice warm spot to sit where we don’t have to move and watch the healing fly. I’d love to see a bit more mobility added to the class (maybe something like a hunter’s readiness so we can use Natures Swiftness quickly).

All in all it seems like we’ll be getting some much needed love. I’m hopeful and the Q&A helped keep me there. I look forward to the changes to totems and I really look forward to seeing how they address our burst AE healing.

What do you guys think? Think things will work out? Think we’re doomed?

Till next time, Happy Healing,

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Image courtesy of Wired.com

Q&A: How Do I Break Into Raiding?

Q&A: How Do I Break Into Raiding?

Copra, a priest from Thunderhorn EU, asked the writers of Matticus such a great question that I thought I would share it with all of you. In his words:

The question is, how on Earth (or on Azeroth, depends on your preferance) are we newcomers going to learn the group dynamics, the class or the requirements of Boss fights? By cutting us out of the instanced content that is the tutorial to raiding 60s, 70s and later 80s instances, there is little hope that the burned out raiders will get replaced by players who are as skilled or as motivated.

Any hints on how to gain that experience early on and how to ‘impress’ the raiding guild leadership before you hit the cap and start making a fool of yourself with your gear and skill?

To share a bit more background, Copra is coming into Wrath of the Lich King with a bit of a disadvantage. He’s a fairly new player who is not yet at the level cap. And yet, Copra, you must take heart! Even brand-new players can break into raiding. However, you can’t really get into a raiding guild before the level cap–the game starts at max level for a raider. Yet, people can, and frequently do, level up new toons and join raiding guilds with them. Here’s my suggestions for getting yourself ready to raid in a few short weeks.

Tip #1: Level fast.

The content of Azeroth and Outlands is enjoyable in its own right. If you had a different in-game goal in mind, I’d say go slow and enjoy the scenery. However, if you want to raid seriously, the first and most important thing you must do is reach the level cap. In order to do this most efficiently, I suggest taking on the kind of quests you can solo. No instances, no group quests, no stopping. When you hit 58, go to Outlands. When you hit 68, go to Northrend.

If you join a guild during the leveling period, understand that you’re teaming up for company rather than instance runs or old-school raids. It might seem like a good idea to have higher-level players run you through stuff, but the XP gain per hour is not nearly what you could achieve with the same time spent questing on your own. The best type of guild to join pre-80 is what’s called a leveling guild. Essentially, these organizations are fun, casual associations of people who like to share the same guild chat.

Tip #2: Save your money.

You can reach level 80 in your underwear–no really! It’s not recommended, but I’m sure there are players who will do it for kicks. It is important, however, not to spend your time or resources acquiring gear at 60 or 70, particularly the craftables. Once the content goes by, its craftables and BoE items quickly become obsolete. You’ll spend days tracking down Frozen Shadowweave, and the return will be negligible. Your gear from quest rewards will be enough.

Tip #3: Hold off on crafting professions.

Most of the gathering professions, with the possible exception of mining, can be raised to the cap while you level without any inconvenience whatsoever. However, the crafting professions are an enormous pain in the booty. My advice is to take either herbalism or mining and skinning as your professions and sell all the proceeds. Bank and bag space are at a premium when you’re leveling fast. At max level, you can decide what your crafting profession(s) need to be and worry about it then.

Tip #4: Respec for success

Research your class a bit, and as soon as you hit max level, spec into the role that is most desirable for raiders. Sometimes there’s one right answer for a class, but most often, you have multiple viable options. I suggest a dps or healing spec. While a tank finds all the pickup heroics he wants, raiding guilds always have too many. I do not recommend a tanking spec if you’re looking to break into raiding on the late side. Healing, however, tends to be in demand, and most guilds can sneak in one more dps. For a class that would be attractive to raiding guilds, my money is on Alliance Resto Shaman. In contrast, rogues and warriors would probably have a more difficult time breaking into raiding late.

Tip #5: Once you hit max level, PuG, PuG, PuG

Many people hate pickup groups. Don’t be one of those players! Sometimes you will meet nice people and great players. At the worst, you’ll learn a lot, because you’ll be working hard to compensate for other people’s mistakes. These max-level PuGs are where you will do your learning. There will be growing pains, but it’s worth it. PuG for 5-mans, heroics, and Naxx-10 if you can. If you’re lucky, someone will recruit you for their guild.

Tip #6: Research your class

Read voraciously about your class and spec. There are a lot of places with good information. Read WoW blogs! If you’re here on Matticus, you’ve made a good start. I predict that in a couple of months there will be a rash of “gearing up for Naxx” posts. Read them and follow the advice. When I recruit, one of the things I check for on someone’s armory is class knowledge. Have the right gems, enchants and spec–it will open doors.

Tip #7: Spend your gold

You’ve been using those gathering professions to make money, right? Now is the time to spend it. Improve your gear by buying BoE blues (that you will then fully gem and enchant). If you’re rich enough, now is the time to level a crafting profession. Make sure it’s one that gives your class a special advantage.

Tip #8: Apply to a Naxx-10 guild

By the time you hit 80, the first wave of raiders will have moved past the first tier. However, my experience with TBC tells me that there are always guilds out there that focus on the first instance. There are still active Kara guilds now! Find a Naxx-10 guild that’s no more than halfway through the instance. That way you will get to do all the learning with them. What you don’t want is a more experienced guild. You want to be there for a lot of the first kills so you can have the experience that goes along with all the wipes.

Tip #9: Apply to a Raiding Guild

With Naxx-10 cleared a few times, you have probably gained the basic skills of a raider. Now is the moment to apply for the next tier. This likely means switching guilds. Of course, you’re going to be quitting your Naxx-10 guild respectfully, right? Part of that means not taking uber loot if you know you’re leaving soon. Apply to guilds on and off the server. Look for an organization that has the chops to do 25-mans but isn’t too far beyond Naxx. You might even move laterally, over to a Naxx-25 guild. Alternately, if your Naxx-10 guild has the skills to move on in the 10-man bracket, just stick around and progress with the same group! 10-man progression provides a real alternative in Wrath to the mega-guilds.

Tip# 10: App to Impress

If you do decide to change guilds, make sure that, in your written application and/or your interview, you communicate your enthusiasm for raiding and for the new guild. Nothing impresses me more than effort–make that guild application shine. Note: monosyllabic answers bad, demonstrated knowledge of class good.

And just remember–nothing is impossible. If you have the will to work toward a goal, you will succeed. I bet a player could start today and be ready for raiding in a couple of months. The other lesson is this–the World of Warcraft is immense. If you’re willing to spend time looking, there is always a guild to suit your needs.