Healing Ulduar: Freya

Healing Ulduar: Freya

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For other bosses in Ulduar, check the Ulduar Healing Strategy Page

Freya offers everything a healing druid could ever want: pretty flowers, sparkly green trees, gnarled ents, angry seed bombs, and even friendly mushrooms of safety. This boss fight is a colorful, chaotic miscellany that asks healers to use all of their skills without overtaxing them in any one area. When you take on Freya, be prepared to react to whatever her tree-friends throw at you next. Keep reading for a healing-oriented rundown of her abilities.

The Pull

Conquest wiped this weekend in our 10 man because Yogi Ragadast, our bear tank, decided to eat a pickinick right in the middle of Freya’s patrol path. Beware that this guardian of the forest ranges far. Ideally, you want your tank to charge in and keep Freya occupied by the creek while the raid stands toward the center of the room awaiting adds. Note that attacking Freya before taking care of her trash waves does exactly nothing.

Phase 1:The Trash Roulette

In Phase 1, you cannot damage the boss and must instead deal with waves of adds. Freya will summon three separate trash events to keep raiders’ nasty paws out of her vegetable garden. Waves will spawn once per minute, and it’s possible to have more than one wave active at a time if your DPS is slow. They can appear in any order, and some will repeat during your encounter. I will explain in brief how to deal with each.

Type 1: Snaplashers, Ancient Water Spirits, and Storm Lashers
This wave is the most dangerous. Each mob type has a different amount of health, and all three must die at the same time or they will be rezzed. The Snaplashers have a stacking buff that makes them hit harder when they receive damage, so your dps will have to periodically switch away from them. In 25-man raids, two tanks may be used to deal with this phase. If that is the case, healers must keep an eye (or two) on the Snaplasher tank. In 10-man raids, one tank will take care of all these adds.

Type 2: Detonating Lasher
These little flowers may look sweet, but don’t be fooled. They’re rotten little skunkflowers at the core. These guys can attach themselves a healer very easily, and they’ll blow up when killed. If I attract too many four-petaled friends, I use Shadowmeld or Barkskin until they make like a tree and leaf. The Detonating Lashers are not particularly dangerous, though raid healers may have to clean up the mess that results if someone’s too close when one of these little suckers blows up.

Type 3: Ancient Conservator
This is essentially a tank and spank add. However, he spawns fun happy mushrooms that you absolutely must stand under in order to avoid his silence. Remember, mushrooms are a good thing.

Miscellaneous Phase 1 abilities:
During phase 1, Freya will also summon a glowing green tree, the Lifebinder. When it appears, the raid must kill it immediately in order to avoid its healing effect.

Healers must also be aware of the debuff Sunbeam. Freya will target a player and cast this ability, which does a weak AoE. It’s not disastrous in regular mode, but I expect that with hard mode it’s a different story.

Phase 2: Goddess on the Move

Phase 1 serves to wear down Freya’s HoTs and allow her to take damage. In Phase 2, your tank will need to kite her in a circle around the room. Why? You’ve heard of the druid spell Living Seed. Freya, the druid goddess, casts seeds of evil. These are small glowing seed pods that appear on the ground and then detonate after a few seconds. The raid will need to stay ahead of the chlorophyllic explosions. Aside from the Bad Seeds, the spawns of the Lifebinder tree, and the Sunbeam effect, Phase 2 is a tank and spank.

Healing Assignments

Much of the healing in this boss encounter is reactive, and it can either feel like catch-as-catch can chaos or like a perfectly orchestrated minuet. It all depends on the skill of your individual raid members at their jobs. A knowledge of movement and the basic raid mechanics like target-switching on demand will lead to a win. Everything might be messy, but it’s not difficult. Healing assignments can be fairly loose here, but we assign one specific healer to the main tank and one to each of two offtanks. Beyond that, healers work their magic on the move and cover players in their area. I’d say this is one of the least demanding fights healing-wise in Ulduar. Even though the adds phase can be hectic, it’s nothing like Thorim’s arena. I’d also say this boss is slightly more difficult on 10-man because there’s less redundancy in raid roles. In 25-man, you can still eke out a kill if, say, your players execute the different movements with something less than precision.
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Syd’s Guide to Blogging Part I: How to Read

Syd’s Guide to Blogging Part I: How to Read

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With the recent release of Ulduar, most raiding WoW players have upped their reading and research. At this point in the progression curve, the ability to extract and process information from different resources on the web is what gives some players a critical edge in strategy or play. I have been blogging since October 2008, but I’ve been reading WoW blogs for a lot longer. However, in the interest of full disclosure, the thing that has inspired me to write a series of meta-blogging posts is my experience teaching college-level literature classes. Since I work in a foreign language, my daily task is teaching students not only how to write well, but how to read. My firm belief is that in order to be a good writer, you first have to be a good reader. If you follow these simple tips, your blog reading will become a more informative and rewarding experience, and your blog writing will probably improve as well.

Tip #1: Know Your Medium

The biggest thing I learned from Matticus when I started working for the site is that blogs differ from traditional writing. Blogs have their own set of rules and conventions, and a thoughtful reader should be aware of them. The following are what I consider the primary blog conventions.

A. Blogs are designed to be skimmable. Writers tend to bold their most important information.
B. Blogs use personal experience as their evidence. Even when facts and numbers are cited, the personal is always paramount.
C. Third, blogs are constrained by design. Bloggers have to develop a shorthand both to combat space restrictions and to keep from revealing too much personal information about the writer and his or her acquaintances.

How does knowing how blogs work make me a better reader? First, because I know that blogs are meant to be skimmable, I read the bolded or highlighted text first in order to find the post’s thesis. At this point you may prioritize and choose to read or not to read. I always choose to read, even if the post has no clear argument, but that’s just me. Identifying the thesis statement might sound trivial, but if you don’t know what you’re reading about, how can you react?

Secondly, because I know that blogs as a genre extract their primary evidence from personal experience, I read any narrative with a critical eye. I don’t take it as absolute “truth,” because I know that autobiography, as a subjective genre, is a prime spot for literary manipulation. When I read someone’s personal experience, I take it as a metaphor for something greater. Sometimes a less skilled blog writer will not provide a thin red thread of meaning that readers can follow through the labyrinth of narrative, but usually a personal account has a “point.” Personal accounts have become my favorite aspect of reading blogs. Because I am attentive to their details, I can sometimes extract more from them than the original writer intended. If you are one of those types who can learn from the experience of others, the personal account of people’s successes, and even more particularly, failures, can enrich your game experience.

Third, I recognize that blog writers are bound by the constraints of their medium. I don’t expect the fullest possible exploration of any topic. I try to read between the lines–many things must be left unsaid to protect the innocent or the guilty, and I depend on the writer’s tone to pick up some of the implications of their argument, especially if I’m dealing with a personal narrative. The public nature of blogs means that writers feel the need to “protect” their real-life and in-game acquaintances, sometimes to the point of obscuring the events that prompted them to write. Regarding the “shorthand” of different blogs, my best advice is to read the same blog over the course of several weeks. The best writers have a strong personal style that allows them to present concepts in an abbreviated form. Familiarity breeds comfort in this case.

Tip #2: Read for Detail

Just because blogs can be skimmed, it doesn’t mean they should be. If you’ve read through the bolded sections, and the post topic interests you, it’s time to go deeper. If you’re reading a guide, and you intend to use that information, take notes. Nothing is more inconvenient than having to go back to a webpage you read earlier in the day 30 seconds before you pull a new boss in order to get the exact name of his abilities. If you have to do that, you didn’t “forget” the information–you never memorized it in the first place. I always tell my students that writing things down–particularly with pen or pencil–makes it easier to create the long-term memory. However, guide-type posts are not the only ones you want to read carefully. Posts on class mechanics or class changes, best-in-slot lists, and opinion pieces on controversial topics actually draw more comments than guides. Many of the people who comment, however, are sloppy readers, and nothing annoys a blogger more. Here’s a little test that, in my mind, you must pass in order to comment on your favorite blogs.

1. Who wrote the article? Go ahead and laugh, but the comments for many of my past posts (I’d say at least 25 in total) identified the author of the post as Matticus, not me. Nothing gets on my left nerve quicker a lack of recognition for my efforts. My right nerve, in case you’re wondering, is reserved for my annoyances with students who don’t come to class. Even if you’re reading on RSS, you need to be able to identify the author. In order to test your reading skills, think of your ten favorite blogs or authors. If you were to receive a stack of papers with the blog posts on them, without any images, formatting, or bylines, you should be able to identify the author. If you can’t, you’re not reading well enough to catch an author’s style or tone. Style refers to the mechanics, rhetorical figures, and structure that an author uses, while tone refers to their word choice, overall attitude, and “sound.” If you can’t understand the style and tone, your comment runs the risk of misunderstanding the post altogether. You might have missed the humor or irony if you’re not reading for it.

2. What is the date of the article? My second pet peeve about blog commenters arises from reading negative comments on outdated posts. For example, one commenter noted that my observations about Ulduar mana regen were completely wrong. Of course they were! The post in question was written on February 7, before the PTR or concrete numbers were available. If you’re going to criticize someone’s argument, make sure you understand the context in which their article was written.

3. What is the article about? Certain blogs have certain preoccupations, and articles run in series. In addition, multiple blog authors enter into dialogue with each other. If you’re just reading one thing, you might be reading in a vaccuum. Before you press that comment button, try to make sure you know what the actual topic is.

4. What argument does the writer make? The classic, and in my mind the best, way to construct an argument is to have a thesis and an antithesis–or in other words, a point and a counterpoint. I see some commenters read so quickly that they mistake someone’s antithesis for their thesis. The commenter thinks they’re arguing against the blog poster when in fact they’re reinforcing the original author’s claim. These comments usually have me shaking my head.

5. What are the author’s strong points? I learned in my grad school classes that while anyone can identify a literary critic’s flaws, it’s much more difficult to pinpoint their strengths. Before you comment, especially if you’re going to argue with the writer, make sure you’re able to understand them well enough to identify the potential merit of the post. It’s rare that a seasoned blogger creates an entirely off-the-wall argument–well, except for those who do it on purpose. As for those guys, you should be able to identify them by their tone and style.

Tip #3: Read Both Deeply and Widely

Some blog readers follow one or two blogs exclusively. In particular, I know of many readers who consult only WoWInsider and occasionally the outside posts that it links to. Learn to be critical of your media. One blog, even a great one like World of Matticus, is only one perspective. All blogs have a certain ideological slant, and if you’re not aware of that, it will influence you. However, if you just read random posts here and there, you’ll never understand any of the particular writers. The ideal blog reader will choose 10 or so writers or sites and consult them fairly regularly. How much reading you do depends on your time, but think about it this way. If you read just one guide or watch just one video of a boss fight, what is your chance of success? There’s only a slim chance that one specific strategy will work for your guild. However, if you read/watch 10 different guides, you have 10 potential paths to boss death. Even the most careless reader’s chance of success would go up.

Conclusions: The Benefits of Reading Critically

Reading isn’t easy, folks. We learn to do it in elementary school, but many of us grow up blind to all but the most obvious meaning of the things we read. Critical reading takes time and care, but the effort is well-spent. There is a certain delight in understanding a skilled writer’s metaphors or wry sense of humor. The process of careful reading, particularly when your reading material comes from writers who are worthy of imitation, can enhance your own writing. I urge you to beg, borrow, and steal style and inspiration from other writers. If I were giving advice on writing fiction, I would tell you to go read your favorite genre voraciously for a year, take notes on what you like and don’t like, and only then start your own novel. My advice to aspiring or current bloggers is much the same. Read authors you admire and let them teach you.

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How to be a Tree in 3.1

How to be a Tree in 3.1

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Even though the new patch has been out only a week, I thought it might be interesting to share what I’ve observed while raiding the first few bosses of Ulduar. So far, Conquest has brought down Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, and XT. The first night we spent a couple hours on a bugged Ignis. I’ve also tagged along on a short 10-man raid whose purpose was to reach Ignis and see if he’s still bugged. All I can say is that he seems a little easier than he did, but I’m not sure if the two pulls we were able to do on him before we ran out of time can be taken as evidence. At least he didn’t melee any of us in the Slag Pot–those of us who were chosen got to be happy little Hot Pockets.

I also spent some time going over two combat log parses, WoW Meter Online and WWS, to check on my performance in these raids. There is a long-standing debate about meter reading among raiding healers, and I stand in the middle. I use reports mostly to see my ability rotation and how effective each thing I cast turned out to be. I do look at overall numbers, though, when I can compare myself to another druid who had the same assignment.

General Impressions

I’ll confess that in two nights of Ulduar this week, I had one bad performance and one very good one. Our first night in, I managed to patch just moments before we pulled, and I only had one spec. I also used that spec very, very badly. I’ll explain below, but first, here are some of my first impressions of the new instance.

1. Flame Leviathan is really cool. The encounter doesn’t feel like the rest of WoW, but it’s quite fun. On the 10-man version, I begged to be one of the people launched onto the boss. I absolutely loved that part.

2. I’m not really running out of mana. I pretty much did what I usually do, except that I let my Lifebloom bloom almost all the time. They really did reduce OOFSR regen, so all I can think is that druids must not have spent as much time out of the five second rule as we had previously thought. My observations match up to Lissanna’s, so I bet it’s a common experience.

3. Dual spec is really convenient. At current, I have both a tank healing and a raid healing spec on my druid. On our XT attempts, I switched specs when I traded places with Mallet to heal the main tank through spiky damage. Being able to do that so seamlessly with just the talents I wanted was brilliant.

4. The difficulty level of Ulduar is quite high. I was expecting Serpentshrine Cavern, and it seems that I got Black Temple. Think about the look and everything–it’s actually very similar to BT. Now, I didn’t raid on the PTR, and I’m at my worst when I’m surprised, but I swear that Ignis fellow is overtuned for his position in the instance. Even his trash is challenging! It seems at least as difficult as the Tempest Keep trash pulls leading up to Kael’s room, which is pretty much wrong for its position in the instance. Ignis’ trash should, at most, be at the level of Morogrim’s trash (remember all those pretty murlocs?). In our attempts on Ignis on 10 and 25, healers were able to learn the abilities and adjust to them, but the adds are still out of hand. I think that the melting, freezing, and cracking mechanism is a little much to handle at that speed. In contrast, I thought that both Razorscale and XT were pretty manageable.

5. The gear in Ulduar seems odd. Granted, I’ve only seen a few pieces, but they don’t seem to be much better than the stuff from Kel’thuzad or Malygos. In contrast, the gear requirements for the dungeon feel very high. Briolante, our warrior tank, is full best-in-slot from Naxx, but Ignis was still ripping him up. He got a new weapon from Flame Leviathan, but it’s a marginal upgrade at best over his previous weapon–and the new weapon is an i-level 232. Weapons, in my opinion, should be significantly different between tiers. I can imagine that the ordinary 226 items might not be an upgrade at all over the scattered 226 items that a player is likely to have from the opening tier of raid content. I’m not sure why they decided to have Ulduar gear not be a progression from our current best-in-slots. I think the claim is that it’s better-itemized, but that’s certainly not true for druids. It’s the same old crit/haste itemization that we dealt with in Naxx.

6. I seem to always want my fast heals. I was skeptical about glyphing Healing Touch for raid healing, but in the middle of our attempts on XT, our other resto druid went to respec and glyph for it as well. Healing in Ulduar is quite spammy. There are some breaks, like the exposed heart phase on XT, but when damage occurs it seems to be both deep and wide. Ulduar uses a combination of heavy hits on the MT with directed raid damage and also AoE splash damage. This is a change from previous content, which seemed to test only one skill at a time. The only thing I can think of to compare some of these fights to to is Gurtogg Bloodboil, who ripped up raids with a combination of hard hits, regular AoE damage, and targeted damage to a raid member.

Trees on the Meters

I won’t go over the exact details of my meter performance, but I’ve been lucky enough to be able to compare my numbers up to two other resto druids who were more or less doing the same tasks as I was. On our second night of raiding, I put in a competitive performance and I thought I did my job well. Here are my tips for putting in decent numbers.

1. Remember that you are a HoT healer. The buffs to Nourish may have distracted you, but HoTs are stronger in Ulduar than they are in Naxx. Both HoTs and shields are at their strongest when damage and difficulty are high.

2. Let your Lifebloom bloom. You could probably roll it on some bosses, and the bloom will be mostly overheal, but if you never let it bloom, you are wasting buckets of mana. On some fights, I got as much mana “back” from blooms as I got from Replenishment.

3. The druid talent Revitalize is still bad. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to other sources of mana return, and I’m going to take it out of my build for a while and see if I feel the effects. If not, it’s staying out.

4. Do not use Nourish without HoTs as a raid heal. It’s slow compared to other Flash Heals and it has low throughput. This mistake is what led to my being at the bottom of meters the first night in Ulduar.

5. Glyphed Healing Touch (with talents) is very strong. This is the Flash Heal you want, not Nourish. I was skeptical about putting this in my raid build but both my own comfort level and my effectiveness on meters improved. I was actually fast enough to save Slag Pot victims, and I was well able to heal Light Bomb and Gravity Bomb with a glyphed HT.

6. Lifebloom is an okay raid heal. It still ticks fast, which gives it an advantage over Rejuvenation. I’m actually using Rejuv less than I did in Naxx or Sarth 3D, because the chance of imminent death for my targets seems higher. I really, really want my 4pc T8 set bonus, however, which will effectively fix Rejuvenation.

7. Innervate is still useful. I have mine glyphed, and I get not quite a full bar out of it.

That’s about all I have. I’m still working out the kinks, so to speak, in Ulduar, and I’ll report back again if I have any startling new observations as we progress. The jury’s still out on whether I like this instance. It’s much better than Naxx, but I’m still comparing it in my head to my favorite BC instances, Serpentshrine Cavern and Black Temple. Ulduar has a lot to live up to. I really enjoyed the bosses we took down, but Ignis disappoints me. In addition to being overtuned and buggy, this guy reuses a model from a 5-man instance. That’s pretty disappointing to me–the art is one of the aspects that most affects my enjoyment of the game. In addition, I like Thorim’s new golden-boy model much less than his old, crusty, blue-skinned look. The old Thorim was much more melancholy, which really fit his quest line. Hopefully once I get into Ulduar proper I’ll be able to ooh and aah at the new art.
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Healing Ulduar: XT-002 Deconstructor

Healing Ulduar: XT-002 Deconstructor

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Welcome to Ulduar folks. If you made it past the lag, the vehicles, and the guard-dragon, and you didn’t get sidetracked by Ignis’ Hot Pockets, chances are you’ll soon find yourself standing in front of my favorite shiny robot in the game, the XT-002 Deconstructor. She just wants to give everyone a big hug . . . a spine-cracking hug, that is. She reminds me of eeeevil pet collector Elmyra from the Animaniacs. In all seriousness, Blizzard outdid themselves here. The boss’s animations and voice are oh-so-entertaining, and this fight provides a juicy-yet-manageable challenge for healers. Conquest downed XT on 4/21 using this strategy.

Essential Abilities

To effectively heal this boss, all healers need to make sure that their unit frames show the following three abilities. If you are a Grid or Pitbull user, add these to your custom debuffs.

Gravity Bomb
This ability places a debuff on a player. They need to move away from others to avoid causing AoE damage. This debuff does not tick immediately but rather does a significant chunk of damage at the delay of a few seconds. A player with Gravity Bomb will need a large heal once the ability triggers.

Light Bomb
This ability places a debuff on a player, and as with Gravity Bomb, the player must move away from others to avoid causing AoE Damage. This debuff is a strong, fast-ticking dot, and it lasts 9 seconds, dealing 3500 damage each tick. A player with Light Bomb needs immediate and steady attention.

Tympanic Tantrum
Of the three abilities, this one is the most dangerous. Tympanic Tantrum deals damage equal to 10% of each player’s maximum health every 1 sec for 12 sec. Nearby enemies are also dazed for the duration. Every player in the raid needs to receive a medium amount of healing in order to survive this ability. AoE and group heals (Divine Hymn, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Healing, Wild Growth, Tranquility) are good solutions.

Healing Assignments

In order to meet the dps minimum for the boss, you will probably need either 6 or 7 healers. These assignments will assume 6. Consult the following diagram for the optimum positioning of your 6 healers.
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As always, the diagram is coded by class color. Our favorite arrangement uses a paladin and a tank healing-specced druid on the MT. On the raid, we have had good luck with using two priests, one shaman, and one raid-healing specced druid. In this diagram, you’ll notice that H3 and H4 are standing together, as are H5 and H6. The raid splits into two groups, and ranged dps stacks with raid healers. This grouping makes it easier for the person with Light Bomb or Gravity Bomb to run away. Your MT healers will have to cheat forward a bit of the pile of players in order to be in range of the tank. XT is big–approximately 10 yards across–and your tank will be on the far side.

Techniques

I’ve had the pleasure to both MT and raid heal for this fight, so I can share with you my top strategies for both positions. The key to this fight is using your abilities wisely.

MT healing
Two healers are necessary because this bot hits hard! Damage is spiky because the boss hits hard but swings slowly. We found a combination of a Resto Druid and a Holy Paladin to be very successful. The druid can keep some HoTs on the MT even through the Exposed Heart phase, in which there is no damage to the tank. We’ve lost the tank before when XT has come back with a vengeance, so be prepared with some HoTs or shields. Throughout the fight, the druid will probably be able to make a small contribution to raid healing. During Tympanic Tantrum, both MT healers will raid heal, and during the Heart phase, the paladin can probably dps, with the druid contributing as well if she is able to afford the mana hit.

Raid Healing
I learned the hard way that HoTs won’t cut it for Gravity Bomb and Light Bomb. For Gravity Bomb, have raid healers shield or pre-HoT and then time a big nuke heal to land as the bomb explodes. For Light Bomb, the player will need a series of quick heals (Flash of Light, Flash Heal, Lesser Healing Wave) or a combination of HoTs and direct heals. A Rejuv+Swiftmend is not enough. With my raid healing build, I was using HoTs + glyphed Healing Touch to good effect. Light Bomb is the more dangerous of the two bombs because it hits fast and hard.

For Tympanic Tantrum, HoTs and AoE heals are king. I was having great luck with Tranquility, Wild Growth, and Lifebloom during this phase. When you assign raid healers, make sure you distribute your AoE healers evenly on both sides.

Melee and Offtanks
There’s no way to get around doing double duty on this fight. At least one offtank will assist a couple of ranged dps with controlling the adds. Specific Raid Healers (perhaps H4 and H5) should be assigned to keeping the adds team alive.

Melee will need some attention, but Judgement of Light, if you have it, goes a long way towards keeping them healthy. We assigned our Resto Shaman to chain heal the melee group when she could.

DPS the heart!

All of the non-tree healers in your raid should switch to dps-ing the heart when it is exposed. Every little bit helps you meet the very high dps demand! I also recommend that any raid-healing druids switch forms and dps the heart. However, the MT healing druid should keep her HoTs on the tank, because XT returns suddenly and with a vengeance. If she can sneak a Moonfire in there too, by all means.

Mana Control

This fight has a few moments that will allow for OOFSR regen. It’s fairly tough on mana, and you will probably use a potion and your mana-restoration abilities (Innervate, Shadowfiend) if you are only carrying six healers. The fight is short with a 6 min enrage timer, but it’s fast and furious, so you can blow your mana if you’re not careful. If you find yourself running out, take a break instead of using your mana for offensive spells when the heart is exposed.

A Healer Check?

This boss tests healers in more ways than one. I like to think of it as a healing assignment check. Everyone has to do his or her specific job, and there’s no time for sniping. Moreover, you need a good balance of single-target and AoE heals to pull this off with 6 healers. There is both heavy Main Tank damage and extensive raid damage. Expect to use all of your skills.

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Resto Druid Specs and Glyphs in 3.1

Resto Druid Specs and Glyphs in 3.1

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For the record, Moonkins are wonderful. I love them, and I love their dance. However, I am not going to be shaking a tailfeather–at least not for a little while. I might be the only crazy tree out there, but I’m going to use both of my specs for healing, at least for the time being. I expect to be in Ulduar tonight, and quite honestly, no one really knows how difficult it’s going to be. None of us have raided with our usual setups on the PTR, and many of us, me included, never made it there at all. We quite simply don’t know how we, as individual raid groups, will confront the challenges. Thus, it’s a great time to take two healing specs–one for raid healing, and one for tank healing. The changes to mana regen and to some individual spells (ahem, Lifebloom) may make your usual healing assignment no longer the order of the day. Are two healing builds overkill? Maybe. But are they fun? Oh yes, for me anyway.

Build #1: Single tank focused

I am working on the assumption that rolling Lifebloom on multiple tanks is good and dead, so that technique is not part of my calculations. My talent build for tank healing focuses on propping up Nourish, Rejuvenation, and Regrowth. The druid tank healer will do a version of what she’s always done: load HoTs on the tank and then cast a direct heal. The only change for me is that this heal will now be Nourish instead of Regrowth. My tank-healing spec is a version of the 14/0/57 build many of us have been using throughout Naxx, so there are very few surprises. Follow this link to see the build, but I’ll mention the key talents here.

#1: Nature’s Splendor
This talent makes direct healing much easier. The longer your HoTs tick, the more casts of Nourish you can sneak in the rotation.

#2: Nature’s Grace
This talent has been updated to benefit Nourish-heavy rotations. There’s no need to worry about Nourish clipping. An extra haste proc, of course, benefits direct healing much more than HoTs.

#3: Tranquil Spirit
Once an optional talent, Tranquil spirit looks better with the new mana constraints. Druid healers who rely on Nourish for tank filler healing should pick this one up.

#4: Nature’s Bounty
This talent replaces the old Improved Regrowth. It is the one change that cements Nourish’s place in the druid’s rotation. Do not leave the trainer without it.

#5: Living Seed
This talent used to account for less than 1% of my healing, which encouraged me to drop it altogether. Now it procs from overheal in addition to effective healing, making it a better safeguard for a tank target.

Glyphs for Tank Healing

I am going to glyph for Swiftmend, Nourish, and Innervate for my tank healing needs. Your mileage may vary. The glyphs of Lifebloom and Regrowth might still be interesting for certain playstyles, but I’m keeping Innervate until I’m sure I don’t need it.

Build #2: Raid Healing with Healing Touch

What I’m going to share with you is a bit unorthodox and is NOT to be used for tank healing. This build only becomes possible if you have another healing spec to switch to for tank healing or multitasking. In this particular raid healing build, I am going to take the opportunity to try out some new techniques. The basic idea is that Ulduar is an unknown quantity. This build de-emphasizes HoT combos, which is the druid’s strength in tank healing or in normal content. This build features a glyphed Healing Touch, which I know from experience can help when 1) the druid is undergeared for the throughput needed or 2) the druid is running around like a chicken with her head cut off. Don’t worry, there’s a second build coming up later that’s a more standard build for raid healing. The basic technique with this first build is to use Wild Growth and Rejuvenation very liberally and to save that quick HT for heavy damage targeted on a small number of raid members. Mana survival in this build depends on not spamming HT, but rather using it judiciously. The reason I’ve preferred it to the similar Nourish is that it has a decent throughput with no prior HoT setup. Regrowth might work in this role too, but it tends to be a little too slow when the healer is surprised by damage. Just as a note, with this build, Nature’s Swiftness gets used with Regrowth.

Caveat: Yes, I know I’m advocating a flash heal as a raid heal. If your team has extra paladins who end up raid healing, it wouldn’t look as good. However, if you’d been reading my guild’s WWS reports for early Naxx or harder heroics back when we were undergeared, you would have seen glyphed Healing Touch kick the ass of Nourish, Regrowth, and Swiftmended Rejuvenation as a raid heal. I credit Sthirteen with putting a glyphed HT to great use (and outperforming me and my conventional build every time).

Naturalist: Clipping be damned. Yes, your Healing Touch casts will be so fast they’ll clip. With this build, I don’t intend to use more than one at a time. It’s not set up for constant heal bombs on a tank. This is more of a run, run, heal, run, run kind of build.

Tranquil Spirit: Necessary for survival with glyphed HT. The spell is a resource hog, and you’ll need every ounce of mana efficiency.

Revitalize: With this build, the druid will be seeding the raid really heavily with Rejuvenation and Wild Growth. This little talent puts the damage buffer of those two HoTs to a secondary use. One of the things that remains to be seen is how effective Revitalize really is. I’m not counting on huge benefits, but if I’m using the affected spells anyway? Might as well.

Glyphs for HT-oriented raid healing

I’ll be using Healing Touch, Wild Growth, and Innervate for this build. I know, no Swiftmend. Believe me when I tell you that I’ll need the glyph of Innervate to sustain any amount of HT usage.

Build #3: Raid Healing Standard Build

I will likely switch to this build when I get more comfortable with Ulduar. It has more mana efficiency than the HT build, and thus it might let the raid healing druid sneak some HoTs onto the tank. My experience with the HT build is that it’s only really great when multiple healers are undergeared or don’t know WTF to do. I’d never take it as an all-purpose build, because it really reduces the druid’s rotation. With this second raid healing build, I will continue to cast Wild Growth and Rejuvenation liberally. Additionally, once I complete the 4pc T8 set bonus, raid healing with Rejuvenation will be positively delightful. I won’t need my direct heals nearly as much. However, I’ll be using Regrowth as a direct heal on targets with no existing HoT and Nourish as a direct heal on targets that already have one HoT. Swiftmend will also be extremely prominent with this build. For healing on the run, both Rejuv and Lifebloom might be cast on the target, particularly if the raid is spread out enough to make Wild Growth wasteful. The key talents are below.

Swiftmend: I can’t emphasize this enough for this build, but well, any good tree has this anyway.

Nature’s Bounty: I need to buff my two direct heals in order to deal with targeted boss effects.

Revitalize: The very heavy reliance on Wild Growth and Rejuvenation ensures the inclusion of this talent.

Glyphs for Raid Healing

My “standard” raid healing build uses the glyphs of Swiftmend, Wild Growth, and Innervate until I get the 4pc T8 bonus. With the bonus, the glyphs become Swiftmend, Wild Growth, and Rejuvenation.

As a final comment, why would I carry two healing specs when one would do? Because now I can! And also, I apparently didn’t get enough fun out of doing dailies with a Resto spec. At least that gives me a little time to look at elf-Syd instead of a tree or a bird.

My Newfound Respect for Melee

My Newfound Respect for Melee

melee_is_hard

Remember how I told you all, on April Fool’s Day, no less, that I was going to run off and play Ret Paladin? Well, it wasn’t entirely a joke. Yes, I’m still raiding on Syd, and still healing, but I’ve been playing my paladin this weekend as both Ret and Holy. I have a lot more confidence when I’m healing, and I have a few amusing stories about that stemming from a Naxx-10 PuG that I healed last night, but today I’m mostly here to talk to you about the special challenge of melee.

Not many healers have a melee class as their alt, and now I can see why. I’ve done ranged DPS before in group settings. I’d say it’s more of a challenge to me than healing at this point, but I can see how it could be done well. However, I was determined to take my Ret Paladin to some heroics. As I’m in a confessional mood, here’s a list of the Melee Failures I’ve indulged in over the last five days.

Failure #1

Accidentally taunting off the tank. Sorry, Brio. I’m still not sure how I managed to hit Shift 1 with the back of my hand, but I certainly did it.

Failure #2

Pulling mobs by accident . . . with my butt. You know, when you’re a melee class, you have to get behind the mobs. I think that my time as a healer has made me scared of them, and I tend to stay at max range, which can be rather dangerous with patrols around.

Failure #3

Hanging out in the green stuff. I was so happy when we defeated the first boss of Heroic Gundrak. So happy, in fact, that I stood there doing the Macarena as the poison slowly killed me. As always, I was suprised when Marfi hit the floor.

Failure #4

Staying in for whirlwind. I realized belatedly that the last boss of Heroic Gundrak was doing his little spinny thing. By the time I strafed out, I was low on health, and a ghost rhino charge made me go splat.

Failure #5

Standing in front of the boss. Now, I know I’m not supposed to stand next to Brio. I’ve made many jokes in my life about melee humping the hind legs of bosses. I’m not sure why I ended up in front of Heroic Anub’arak, but I do know what happened to me when he cast pound. Pound equals splat, for something like 10,000 overkill.

Failure #6

Getting ahead of the tank. In Utgarde Keep, I was getting antsy. Guess what happened when I edged in front of Brio? More pulling mobs. I’m glad Brio and I have a stable relationship, because I know exactly what he would have said if any other melee did that. Oh well, at least I can bubble and save myself.

Failure #7

Getting too far behind. Also Utgarde Keep. I have no excuse this time, only that I had to pee, and that turned into rather poor dps for a minute there. It turns out that you have to keep up, all the time, as a melee player.

Failure #8

Ignoring the kill order. Skull is for decoration, right? I’m issuing an apology to Amava, who was tanking Violet Hold on his cleverly-named druid Moodyswinger.

Failure #9

Panicking about my own health instead of trusting the healer. No, I didn’t say, heal me please, but I definitely used my Art of War procs whenever they were up, mostly on the tank, but also on myself. I have also bubbled a record number of times during the weekend.

Failure #10

Incomplete gear switch. I’m sure both Ret Paladins and Feral Druids face this one all the time. I don’t use any inventory manager addons, because my laptop’s poor performance means that I can only run necessary addons–nothing extra. This Sunday I DPS’d about seven heroics wearing my Holy libram. . . from Karazhan.

That’s my list of spectacular melee failures. The only one I didn’t check off this week was Die in a Fire. In my defense, Sartharion was the first instance I did with Marfi as DPS. I didn’t realize at that point I was making a checklist. I did die in that fight, not to a void zone or lava wave, but to a stray add. I also did about 1000 dps in my full suit of greens, but hey, I’d just dinged 80 10 minutes before. My dps has improved a bit now, but the failures keep mounting.

The Value of Failure

I’ve always told my students that failure is instructive. Errors are acceptable–even a good thing–while you’re learning a language, and they’re acceptable when you’re learning a new class role as well. If you never allow yourself to make mistakes, you’ll never learn. You’ll just continue doing what is comfortable and never branch out. However, I know my limits. I’m practicing in Heroics because they’re the minor leagues. The next time I see the green stuff, I’ll be running away.

There’s a very good reason that I haven’t let myself DPS in Naxx yet. Even though the paladin is different from my resto druid, it’s the same raid role, and I have a wealth of experience healing on both toons from Classic to current. In a raid, I owe more to my group members, so I have to know what I’m doing to some degree. Sure, I messed up my Holy spec last night and forgot to even get Bacon of Light, but it didn’t matter. I still beat the other healer, a better-geared Holy priest, on the meters. It is true that I only pulled ahead because she died on the first pass of the Heigan dance, which then continued for 10 more minutes with about five players alive, but I was proud of myself nonetheless. It’s absolutely amazing how much energy playing a new character can give me on this very, very stale content. However, the Flash of Light spam nearly killed me. Syd uses such a variety of spells, which I have mapped for both hands (left hand for direct heals, mouse for hots), that I never feel stress in my wrists. This morning my left wrist is killing me from repeatedly hitting the C key. I don’t know how full-time paladins do it.

No More Healing, Ever!

No More Healing, Ever!

marfi_triumphant

Well, here it is folks. Phaelia’s left the World Tree behind to go tend to her sprout, and BRK is likewise taking a break from WoW to spend time with family. And now me–I’m announcing today that I am changing my main character to my ret paladin Marfisa. I regret to inform you all that I will no longer be healing, ever. This blog is now exclusively about my determination to hit things upside the kneecap with a blunt instrument.

The Top Ten Reasons to Switch to Ret Paladin

10. Sure, I’m good at healing. But I’ve got a lot more room for improvement in the dps department.

9. I absolutely love regular 5-mans. I haven’t been to one on Marfi since Scholomance, but that’s not about to stop me.

8. I adore PuGs. No one ever, ever hears me complaining about fail PuGs. In fact, I love it when people play badly on purpose. As soon as I finish this post, I’m going to join a regular Nexus group and jump off all the ledges to my death, repeatedly. Bonus points if I can aggro some stuff onto my group while I’m at it.

7. Ret paladins are good at ganking people (or, at least, they’re better at it than resto druids). From now on I’m going to harass innocent people trying to do their Hodir dailies. I’ll be watching for someone to pull a couple of mobs, and when their health’s at 50%, bam! paladin burst damage, right to the face.

6. Crusader aura makes my gryphon fly faster and thus helps him burn calories. Everyone hates fat gryphons, so I’m doing the world a public service.

5. I really love the Macarena. It’s so much better than the Night Elf pole dance. Watching Marfi do her /dance emote brings back fond memories of that Carnival cruise I went on in 1997. . .

4. No more unit frames, no more mouseover macros. Just me and the numbers 1-6. I now have a free hand for gin and tonics while raiding.

3. I can pop wings every time I take a screenshot of myself. I am the angel of death!

2. Using Seal of the Martyr makes me feel superior to all the other dps. Look what I sacrificed to kill this boss! I deserve a medal. Whenever I have Seal of the Martyr up, I can throw my self-sacrifice in the faces of my selfish guild members and make them hate themselves for being such indulgent slackers.

1. With her new haircut, Marfi could be singer Lady GaGa’s twin. Don’t believe me? Check out the photo below. They were separated at birth, I swear. Maybe if hitting things doesn’t work out, Marfi can have a career as a pop singer. Half psychotic, sick hypnotic, indeed.

marfi_and_gaga

Oh and, by the way, happy April Fools Day kiddos.

PTR Alchemy Changes

Hang onto your Frost Lotuses, people. MMO Champion has just datamined a huge change to alchemy for 3.1:

All flasks recipes will now create 2 flasks for the same amount of ingredients but now last 1 hour instead of 2.

Oh noes! The sky is falling!

Maybe not, but the prices of flasks certainly will be. The only silver lining here is that PTR sellers say that flasks are stacking to 20 (a net buff) and proccing up to 10 per combine.

Quick Analysis

1. This change benefits flask buyers. Now they will be able to buy flasks to suit the typical raid time for their guild as opposed to “wasting” an hour or so on a flask.

2. This change is a slight disadvantage to elixir-specced alchemists. We didn’t usually mind wasting an hour on our 4-hour flasks. On the whole, I predict less sales volume for those of us who sold large amounts of flasks. Our customers will probably stay the same–raiders. You can’t make a noob flask just by making it more convenient! He’ll still say it’s too expensive. The customer’s gain here is the seller’s loss. The same players will buy less total flask hours. I’m not sure what will happen to the price–it may all settle out to about the same margins, but it may not.

3. This change is a HUGE setback for stockpilers. Thankfully I’ve been selling out my stock every day. I’m down to 5 flasks of the Frost Wyrm and 4 flasks of Mojo. I guess I’ll sell the former before the market reacts and drink the latter.

4. The biggest losers here are guild banks. Many of those–including Conquest’s–have stockpiled hundreds of flasks. To those guilds (psst, Matt)–I recommend selling what you can now or just letting raiders drink them for the full effect. Hold off on all future combines at least until there’s an answer on what happens to old stock. My guess is that all flasks, including ones made before the patch, will become 1 hour duration, but players and guilds will not receive doubles. That’s in line with past policy changes, for example, already-acquired Je’Tze’s Bells did not change from soulbound to BoE when the item lost its BoP status.

Anyway, time to rethink my flask business!

Edit: Stockpilers are safe! We’ll be able to trade in one of the old flasks for two of the new. Read the blue post on the subject below.

As many of you have learned, we will be reducing the duration of flask effects so that they only last one hour. However, all recipes that create flasks will create two instead of one for the same material cost. Additionally, we will be increasing stack size from 5 to 20 as we anticipate players will need to carry more flasks at a given time. Vendor value for flasks has also been reduced to keep the auction house deposit low.

Our goal with the change was to allow players greater flexibility when determining how long they plan to raid, as currently we were seeing many players balance time spent raiding around flask duration. We also anticipate that this change will make using flasks in dungeons and battlegrounds a more reasonable decision for players. Though this change will not occur until patch 3.1.0, we wanted to give as much advance notice as possible in case some of you who are stockpiling flasks would prefer to wait to do so until the change is implemented.

We realize players who currently have stockpiled a lot of flasks may feel like they will lose money with this change, since their current flasks will only last for half as long once 3.1.0 goes live. To partially remedy this, we are going to allow players to exchange any current Northrend flasks (Flask of the Frost Wyrm, Flask of Stoneblood, Flask of Endless Rage and Flask of Pure Mojo) for two flasks with the shorter duration. Flasks from older content will not be grandfathered in, and going forward, it will only be possible to make the flasks with a one hour duration.

A Guide to Mouseover Macros

A Guide to Mouseover Macros

mouseover

One of my buddies from Conquest, the resto-shamantastic Catrii, asked me a question this week about setting up mouseover macros. I thought the explanation might benefit the community as a whole, especially as many of us are cleaning up our UIs in an attempt to be faster and more accurate once Ulduar hits. Here’s a short guide to my preferred UI-altering technique: the mouseover macro.

Mouseover what?

A mouseover macro is a series of commands that lets you press a single button (on either your keyboard or your mouse) to heal the target that your mouse pointer is currently hovering over. It replaces tab or click targeting as a quick way to pick up heal targets. With the standard, unmodified interface, healing is a 3-step process: 1) decide who to heal, 2) left click to target her, and 3) click the spell on your action bar or press the keystroke bound to it. This is a very slow process that requires you to move your hand not once but twice. Mouseover macros let you target a player and cast a spell in just one movement. As a note, I’m using druid spells as examples in this post, but mouseover macros will work for any healer. Just substitute in your spells of choice!

Examples

To make a basic mouseover macro, go in your character-specific macros window and click “New.” You’ll be prompted to choose a name and an icon for your macro. I usually assign a two-letter code for the spell. For example, I use LB for Lifebloom and RJ for Rejuvenation. But you can call it pizza, and believe me, it won’t matter. After a while, your fingers will learn the key binding and you won’t need to look. I prefer to choose highly individual (and funny) icons for mine, but you can also duplicate the original spell icon, as I will explain below.
macros-interface

Once you have your name and icon, go into the dialog box and type your commands one per line. Each command line starts with a / just like when you type commands manually. I don’t personally mess with cast sequences, and I actually think it’s best if healers make each macro cast only one spell.

Here are a couple of simple examples for what you might put into a mouseover macro. As you can see, the name “mouseover macro” comes from the first line, the one that lets you target by hovering over a player’s health/information bar in your unit frames or the Blizzard default UI.

/target mouseover
/cast Lifebloom

/target mouseover
/cast Rejuvenation

If you want the Blizzard standard spell icon to display instead of using a new one of your choice, write your macro as shown below and choose the red question mark as your icon. The #showtooltip command will update that question mark to the default icon for that spell.

#showtooltip
/target mouseover
/cast Lifebloom

As per reader Llanion’s suggestion, if you would like to cast a spell on mouseover without switching your target (keeping your target set to the MT or the boss), write your macro as below:

/cast [target=mouseover] Lifebloom

Fellow blogger Keeva contributed another version, which you’ll see below. And if you haven’t been to Keeva’s blog, go now! Well, as soon as you finish reading my post, that is.

#showtooltip
/cast [target=mouseover,help] Lifebloom; [help] Lifebloom; Lifebloom

As per Keeva’s explanation, this macro means:

“If I have a mouseover target, cast Lifebloom on them
If I don’t have a mouseover target but I have a normal target, cast Lifebloom on them
if I don’t have a mouseover target or normal target, cast Lifebloom on me.”

These examples represent the very simplest incarnations of the macro, no frills. You can add lines to your macro if you’d like to, say, use a trinket with your spell.

Here’s a macro you might use to link up your Swiftmend spell with the effect from the Living Ice Crystals. Doing this is called “slaving” a trinket to a spell.

/target mouseover
/cast Swiftmend
/use Living Ice Crystals
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

Don’t forget to put in the line to clear the error message! Otherwise you’ll get annoyed by red text and alarm sounds if you hit the macro when the trinket isn’t off cooldown. There is some debate about whether to slave a trinket with an on-use effect to another spell, but personally I’m all for it. Your trinket has a greater impact overall if you use it any time it’s up.

Ok, I wrote my macro–now what?

Here’s the tricky part — keybinding the macros to a particular position on your action bars. I keybind my macros to a position on the standard action bars as I don’t use mods like Bongos or Bartender. Follow these steps to bind a keystroke to a particular location on an action bar using the Blizzard default UI.

1. Press the escape key
2. Click on Keybindings

key-bindings

3. Scroll through the long list until you see the name of whichever action bar you are planning to populate with your mouseover macros. I favor Right Action Bar, as you can see below.

4. In the Key 1 column, click one of the red boxes. Once you’ve selected it, just press the key you want to bind to that place. You’ll see the results displayed on your interface, illustrated below.

key1-column

5. Once you’ve selected your new key codes, hit Okay. If you don’t, kiss your changes goodbye! Go ahead and laugh, but I’ve made this mistake many times.

hit-okay

6. Next, hit /macro to bring up your macros interface. Click and drag the icon for the desired macro onto your action bar. Match it to the space now labeled with the keystroke you want to assign to the spell.

drag-icon

Special Cases

Action bar mods like Bongos or Bartender generally have different names for action bars and you have to configure the keybindings from within their configuration menu. Chances are if you’re savvy enough to set them up in the first place, you’ll know how to configure the keybindings.

A gaming mouse also takes an extra level of configuration, and you’ll need to consult your mouse manual to figure out how to bind the extra mouse buttons to keystrokes. The software always comes standard with the mouse. On my Razer Death Adder mouse, I assign the special buttons to F9, F10 and F11. They now function just like keys.

Charting your key bindings

The point of this exercise is to set yourself up for comfort and speed. Here’s what I do. In addition to the mouse buttons, I always bind some keys I can easily reach on my left hand: 1,2,3,4, F, G, R, C, V. Sometimes I overwrite a function I actually use, like the command to toggle the character panel, and I make sure to bind it somewhere else on my keyboard. If you really never turn with the keyboard, A and D are available real estate as well. I recommend that you never, ever, ever bind Q or E: you will need to strafe some time or other. If you want to use Q or E, make sure you have strafe available somewhere else. The same applies to the space bar–don’t be caught on the ledge without a way to jump! I have smallish hands and a short reach, so 1,2,3, and T are a little far out for comfort. Somehow I can reach 4 really well…it’s a mystery. I have offensive spells on 1-3 and push-to-talk on T. I keep my mount on V on all characters for those quick getaways. Below is a chart of where I put the mouseover macros for my major heals.

Click wheel: Lifebloom
Additional mouse button 1 (thumb): Rejuvenation
Additional mouse button 2 (thumb): Swiftmend
F: Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch
G: Wild Growth
R: Regrowth
C: Nourish
4: Innervate

My key bindings are based on personal preference, and yours should be too. I have an approximately equal number of casts on the left hand and the right hand, and that helps reduce repetitive stress injuries. I made sure that I could easily reach my “best” spells and that they fit comfortably in my hand.

You can use your macros to modify your behavior and correct bad habits. Rejuvenation is the very easiest spell for me to reach–do you think I would have put Healing Touch there? I also use the letters to remind me if possible. I tried Wild Growth on F, but I kept wanting to hit G for Growth, so I just went with it. Muscle memory ensures that you will grow accustomed to your keybindings–wherever they are–with practice. The only trouble I ever have involves the click wheel. My best click wheel advice is to either stay away from binding the scroll up/scroll down function or to bind them to the same thing. If you can differentiate those two movements well, more power to you! As for me, I only bind the button press function. Even so, it can be awkward to Lifebloom while mouse turning, but I’ve gotten used to it (and I don’t spam LB as much as I did back in BC. In Hyjal, I had the click wheel AND F bound to Lifebloom). If you want a clean-looking interface, you can set up all your macros on one action bar (for example, RightActionBar) and then un-display it once you know the keybindings and clicks by heart. Your macros will work whether or not an icon actually displays on your screen.

What unit frames do I use mouseover macros with?

Mouseover macros pair really well with most unit frames. I’ve used them with both Grid and X-Perl. Pitbull works just as well from what I hear, but I’ve never tried it.

Are there mods that can set up mouseover macros for me?

Healbot supports them to the point that they’re pretty much built-in, and Clique is essentially a mouseover mod. I prefer my homegrown solution because it’s extremely customizable, and now that macros sync between computers, keeping them in shape is a cinch.

But what if you like the mouseover idea and want less set up? Try Healbot or unit frames + Clique. The one drawback to Clique is that it encourages you to do double key combos, as in Shift+right click for Rejuvenation. Any time you have to press two keys to hit a heal, you lose precious time. I know this quite well–I used to use Shift+F for Rejuvenation, with the result that I almost never cast it. Lifebloom (F) was a lot faster. Since then, I’ve gotten a 5-button mouse and I have all my heals bound to a single key or click.

Common Macro Mischief

Here’s a list of the mistakes I’ve seen some players make. Try to avoid them as you learn to play with mouseover macros!

1. Binding the left and right click of the mouse to a spell. Don’t do it. You still need to be able to target, inspect, invite, etc. Some unit frames (I think Healbot) let you use left and right click to heal when you’re hovering on the frames and return those clicks to their normal functions when you’re not mousing over health bars, but I wouldn’t try it without the mod. That’s a macro that’s too complicated for my taste.
2. Letting your macros do too much for you. As I’ve said, I don’t like cast sequence macros for healing. Healing will always be at least partly reactive, and you need to be fully in control of spell choice at all moments.
3. Combining two abilities that invoke the GCD in a single macro. You’ll have to hit it twice. I believe this is the case with castsequence macros as well–you have to click for every cast in the sequence.
4. Misunderstanding trinket cooldowns. If you slave two trinkets to a spell, it’s very likely that only one of them will go off at a time. They might share a cooldown, or there might be a hidden cooldown of 45s or so preventing you from blowing both at once.
5. Changing targets without meaning to. Make sure you’re in control of where your pointer is at all times. Mouseover macros work not only on unit frames but on the avatars themselves. You can use mouseover macros for what Matticus calls “heads-up healing,” but beware that you could also switch targets unintentionally. This is why mouseovers are dangerous for dps–they were more so in the age of crowd control.

Disclaimer

I’m no expert on mods or UIs. I try to play with the standard interface when I can because I like as little clutter as possible, and macros are part of that. If you want to learn more about UI building, I’ll refer you to Keeva’s Healbot v. Grid series. I’ve learned so much from her. There’s also a topic going at PlusHeal forums with more macros for other classes, including some that are more complex than the ones I’ve talked about here. Some of that information is outdated, so be sure you read the parts of the discussion pertinent to WoTLK. I’m also interested in hearing what the community has to add to my thoughts on mouseovers. If you have an idea or clarification, please post it in the comments and I’ll try to keep this little guide updated and corrected.

Us v. Them: What can I do when guild members disagree?

Us v. Them: What can I do when guild members disagree?

us_them-banner

Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m writing this article as an excuse to showcase Conquest member Lagniappe’s amazing stick-figure artwork. In the midst of other business, Conquest is currently working on a new logo. In my mind, nothing is better than dead stick figures, except for maybe hungry stick figure kitties. Or stick figure vampire kitties. Anyway.

On Guild Drama

Inevitably, even very healthy guilds experience moments of dissent. An organization can easily split into factions, especially when the issue at hand takes on personal importance for the members involved. Right now we’re having some discussion and debate in Conquest over the role of achievements in raiding.

Syd’s Patented Disclaimer

Usually when my students want me to bend the rules, I blame “the department” and claim that I’m “neutral” towards their request. Sometimes it’s a way of hiding my real opinion, but usually it’s a cover for “deviating from standard procedure is a pain in the butt and I’d just rather not.” There’s a window into my personality, I think. I’m going to repeat it again. I’m very pleased not to be the final authority in my guild, because I don’t have to be the one to make this decision. However, that’s not going to stop me from writing about it!

The Achievement Drama

So what’s going on in Conquest? As we get closer to Ulduar and time runs out to complete the Glory of the Raider achievements for the Black Proto Drake reward, some disagreements have arisen among the raiders as to whether the harder achievements are worth trying for. I’ll go on the record saying that I’m “neutral”: and this time I mean that I understand both points of view. It can be very cool to get achievements, and they do require the raid to work harder. However, as implemented in the current raid content, most achievements are a little irrelevant. They don’t award better loot, and there’s no vanity reward either without going for the meta-achievement. For some players, there’s no incentive to extend the raid week for achievements’ sake.

The Allure of Achievements

The main argument for achievements is that they train the guild for harder content. Some people care about the vanity reward, but most of the overachieving guild members are just striving after perfection–there’s not a lot of obsessing about mounts or titles going on. Part of me understands this need for perfection. I think Larísa of the Pink Pigtail Inn is much more eloquent on the subject than I could be, so I’ll link you to her thoughts here.

The Downside

The question here is not “why aren’t we good enough to do achievements?” but rather “are achievements worth our time?” Conquest isn’t the most hardcore guild out there, but we’re capable of doing anything that we 1) plan for and 2) really want to do in the first place. When we fail at a certain achievement, I’m more likely to look at motivations than the skill of players as the cause. We’ve lost some players recently, and we’ve had others take a break. There’s a good reason for this–it happens any time the content goes “stale.” At the individual level, interest wanes, and the die-hards in the guild have to scramble to hold the house of cards that is any guild together until the pendulum swings in the other direction. The moment is coming when our old friends will return and good recruits will be easy to find–and it will coincide with the release of 3.1. However, it will be too late at that point to get a Black Proto Drake.

Pushing the Limits

While I’m sympathetic to the achievement-hungry players, the feats we have yet to accomplish are the very hardest: 6 minute Malygos and Immortal for everyone, and maybe a couple others. To push ourselves to do that now would be to complete those achievements while undermanned and while training new raiders. Our raid leader, who I have come to like and respect despite his caustic attitude, thought we were doing pretty well considering the team we were able to field. I concur. But I will repeat: if we can’t get 6-minute Malygos down now, it doesn’t mean we suck. It means that if we had wanted to do it, we should have started trying while we still had our best team on the field. We’ll do better at the Ulduar hard modes because there are built-in loot rewards for each of them. I know from my day job that it’s pretty much impossible to get people to do something for nothing.

Setting Goals

I think that a raiding guild should always have a goal. Maybe the leadership of Conquest (who are all, interestingly enough, in the we-don’t-care-about-achievements camp) should have made those clearer early on. If I were steering the ship alone (thank goodness I’m not), I would have said let’s work on one achievement per week. I don’t think we need to push ourselves to raid 4 days a week and wipe over and over when we could clear the content in 2. I always believe in the Middle Way–and that might mean one day set aside to Achieve, but not two.

Abstracting from the Situation

I’ve been sidelined from raiding–or doing anything at all–for the last few days, as I injured my cornea (ouch). I had a lot of time to think, and one of the things I thought about was the achievements issue. The bottom line for me is that my guild is important to me. I’ll do things to make them happy that I wouldn’t do otherwise–that darned no-spore Loatheb kill included. I’ll go along with the achievements and I won’t gripe about it. However, I’m going to take a more active role in governing the guild at moments like this. I can’t just defer to Matticus and our raid leader every time. They’re great, and they usually know what to do–but sometimes Professor Syd could be useful. I’ve had to mediate between factions in the classroom and faculty meetings, and if I’m not participating in the decision-making process in game, I’m shirking my responsibilities. In my last guild, I took on too much–I wanted to fix every problem myself, and it backfired big-time. However, now I have to be more active, and at least get involved in the debates. “Out to Lunch” is not a leadership philosophy–so I’m putting in my two cents, both here, on Conquest forums and in-game. Both for myself as an officer and for my guildies, moderation is the key lesson gaming has to teach us. If I have to print “The Middle Way” on a T-shirt and mail one to all the raiders, I will do it. It will also, by the way, have a cute kitty on it, so they can all think of me when they use it to wash their cars.

So, dear readers, how are your guilds dealing with achievements?