How about a training dummy/event for healers?

OK, so there is this awesome new set of training dummies in the Mists beta that gives someone facing, raid buffs, food buffs and flask buffs, can be killed and has about 50 million health. It’s a pretty damn cool new tool for players to try to more accurately judge their DPS in a raid environment without having to actually go in to a raid. It’s a wonderful idea, a great idea and a necessary idea.

But how about one for healers?

So, lets lay it out there, healing is a stressful job, accompanied by a certain sense of anxiety and dread that accompanies healing a group for the first time. I hear horror stories of people getting booted out of instance all the time when they first start healing because they are new and not perfect. It’s a huge fear. One of the things I always suggest to new healers is to pop into a battle ground. As folks on twitter have pointed out, and I’ve agreed with for years, it helps you sort your UI, and it helps you learn some of the aspects of healing like triage. But it doesn’t teach you everything. Healing a PvP group isn’t quite the same as an instance, especially when you have to manage cooldowns and mana usage for boss mechanics, tanks, DPS and yourself.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t heal in PvP, by all means you should as it’s a great way to test out your UI, spells and what they do as well as key binds, but I still find fighting against another group of people is much different than fighting against a raid or boss design. I just want to make it clear I’m not discrediting PvP healing as a learning tool, but there’s no elegant solution to it. I mean, even Rift has healing dummies to help you gauge yourself.

Now here’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a couple months now. In The Secret World there’s a test you have to take for your preferred role to access nightmare content, and it’s called the gatekeeper. What the gatekeeper does is it forces you to respond to mechanics and use your toolkit. When I stumbled upon this I was immediately reminded of a very old class quest in Vanilla World of Warcraft , and I’m sure some of you will already know where I’m going with this.

Remember when you went for your Benediction priests? Do you remember the difficulty of that class quest and how it made you use everything you had to smartly complete the quest? It was an awesome class quest that worked within the confines of the character class at the time.

So here’s my proposal, lets have something, an event,  that you can go into that gives you NPC party members to heal and a faux boss fight. Through this, players could individually test their mettle, get logs and see if they were having issues without having to risk embarrassment or ridicule. Yes I know it’s an MMO and yes I know there are social requirements to be had, but DPS can go to a dummy and test out their numbers, why shouldn’t other classes get something similar? Why not a faux encounter like the Gatekeeper in TSW that lets you test out our abilities in relative safety. Think of how something like this could benefit healers.

Lets take that a step further, how much would something like this benefit tanks as well, or DPS. It would be an amazing boon. It would relieve so much pressure by eliminating at least partially the notion that you have to be perfect on your first time out. You could test to some extent and get an idea before ever having to walk into an instance. I would wager that if something like this was implemented there would be a lot more willing healers, and a lot more willing tanks. I can’t count how many times people in my own guild have said that they would want to try healing or tanking, but don’t want to do so in a manner that would waste someone’s time while they were learning. It’s nice to have friends to call on to learn this stuff, but sometimes they just aren’t around to help at the times you need them.

Yes you could make the argument that you can learn this while you level up and learn your abilities, but at the end of the day I’d be willing to be the amount of people that level through instances isn’t nearly as great as those that level through questing. Even though questing as a healer or tank has gotten better, it’s more often than not more effective to level as a DPS spec anyways. I’ve had healers message me for advice, and then when they get ridiculed in a 5-man or an LFR, or a new raid they just stop because while they were learning, not everyone understood that and made it twice as difficult.

The Gatekeeper system is one of the best things I’ve seen implemented into an MMO in years, it is something I would love to see re-purposed in other MMOs, if only tooled a bit differently. In our case a repeatable event or quest that lets you test yourself, your new gem setup, your new talent choices, your new reforging or just learning how spells work without the opportunity cost of failing publicly before you’re ready. Lets just make it more of an event and less of a test, make it something healers and tanks could use to get a feel for their respective roles.

Is it  a perfect solution, I can’t really say, but healers and tanks need some love too. Having a new tool for DPS to check their numbers with full raid buffs is really nice, but don’t leave out the healers and tanks, the two most stressful jobs you can choose to undertake in just about any game. I just think adding something like this would be amazing, useful, and combined with everything else at our finger tips would just further strengthen our healers and tanks, and their confidence in their roles.

I’ll write more on this later I’m sure, something more in-depth and detailed, but for now I’m curious to see what you think. Would this be something you’d like to see implemented for healers and tanks?

MoP Shakes up healing, Lodur’s thoughts

Well folks, it’s been a while, since I posted. Life has been quite busy for this little shaman. Things are calming down so you’ll see me posting more often (hopefully!). The past week was BlizzCon 2011, a fine time for everyone who got to go. For those of your readers I got to meet, it was an absolute pleasure! Shaking hands with readers is always fun, and sharing a drink with them is even better. Possibly one of the most exciting bits of news was the announcement of the new Mists of Pandaria! Not only will we finally get to play as our kung-fu pandas that we’ve been waiting for since the days of WC3, but it will bring with it a new class, the Monk.

The Monk class is an important addition to the World of Warcraft game for many reasons. Chief among them it is a hybrid class capable of filling all roles in the holy trinity of MMORPG; Tanking, DPS and Healing. This marks the third class capable of all three roles, with the other two being Druids (OP!) and Paladins.  The monk class promotes active playing. It’s a twitch class, and will be in all of it’s roles. While in DPS there is no auto attack, so you will constantly be hitting buttons. In tanking that will still be the same, and in healing well that’s where things get interesting.

Healing for a monk is not just about playing green bar whack-a-mole. The healing monk will be an incredibly active monk. Weaving into close combat to keep their orbs charged and then running around the raid/group to place healing statues or cast effects. It makes use of the monks base abilities of tumbling  and generally being a high mobility class while making you do things like deal damage or do other non-specific healing things to generate healing power. Well, that sounds pretty familiar to me, I mean this is exactly the type of healing I was talking about in March of 2010 here on the site!

It will not be your grandfather’s healing, or at least that’s the idea behind it. Since we’re still in an alpha phase, things will likely change. I personally hope they won’t. I revel in the idea of an active healer. I love the idea of being a hybrid and having to do different things in my role as a healer. I really think that it’s about time that something like this was brought into the world of warcraft as well, if for no other reason than the fact that other games are doing this as well.

T.E.R.A Online will promote active healing. Healing classes there will not just have to do multiple things besides healing in combat, they will actually have to actively target their spells for them to heal. No more just clicking an interface and a key, you will have to duck dive dip and dodge while healing, and target the right person too!  Healers in SWTOR will be healers with teeth, capable of not only healing those around them but fulfilling other roles as well. The Smuggler combat medic smacks of a billy bad-ass that runs around with wookies and will make sure you don’t die… for a price.

The point is, that the future of healing classes in games is moving away from the tried and true method of select unit frame, select spell, and to see the adoption of this in WoW in the next expansion speaks volumes to me of the IP’s survive-ability. The willingness to adapt to the market is important, and to me is exciting.

I play a healer in every game I play that allow it. I love healing, it is my passion in gaming outside of story. I’ve been healing a long time though, so anything that mixes up the normal click and click method of healing to me is exciting. Making me throw punches to charge up my healing? I’m OK with that. Making me have to run around and place my healing wards to actually heal things? I’m OK with that too. Don’t get me wrong, I love healing on my shaman, it’s always a lot of fun for me, but something like this has me seriously considering the possibility of switching to a monk to heal. It depends greatly on execution and how it feels being a healer in the expansion with the class, but I can honestly say I haven’t been this excited in a long time. I can certainly tell you that the vast majority of my play time when I get my beta access to MoP will be playing with the monk healing style to see how I like it.

So, what do you think? Does the idea of monk healing excite you? Do you think it’s silly and hate it? Do you bring PANDAMONIUM!?

POLL: Will you raid 10 man or 25 man in Cataclysm?

POLL: Will you raid 10 man or 25 man in Cataclysm?

One of the best — or worst things depending on your view — to happen to raiding in a long time was the inclusion of smaller group sized content. I talked a little bit about this over on BDTU with my pieces on the Evolution of WoW part 1 and part 2.

The trend started with the addition of Zul’Gurub, a troll instance of now infamous reputation, when it broke from the 40-man raid standard and offered 20-man content. It hailed back to the days of Blackrock Spire being a multiple group raid, and people loved it.

Karazhan further stoked the fires of the smaller group raid desire, and did so while offering epic and story filled content. Players loved it so much that the forums were filled countless replies asking for more smaller group . With Wrath came the revelation that all raid content would be be available in 25-man flavor as set forth by Burning Crusade, but also  in new raid 10-man flavor (all of the raid, less than half the calories). Different levels of gear purchasable by badges came out (as well as loot tables that varied between 10 and 25 man), and both 10 and 25 man raids dropped the same badges. The trick, and the problem, was that people felt compelled to run both 10 and 25 man versions to maximize badges. Some people felt that you absolutely had to run both to “beat the game”.

This is also a result of how loot was distributed. Badges gave you the entry level gear for the items at the end of this expansion cycle. Badges gave you the “entry level” piece for the tier set, this was considered the 10 man version of the tier. Tokens in 25 man raids would drop that allowed you to upgrade the 10 man piece to the next level up. Heroic 25 man dropped yet another token that allowed you to upgrade it to it’s maximum potential. You can see how it would be assumed the more badges you had the better gear you had and the quicker you could climb the gear ladder right?

Well, the devs didn’t like that, nor did less hardcore players (or those of us who don’t have the time to devote to constantly running raids all week long) and a new system was proposed for Cataclysm. The system says that the same content will be provided for 10 and 25 man versions, and the reward levels will be the same. That is to say that the Ilvl of gear will be on par between versions, and they will share the same loot tables. The major difference will be that 25 man will have more damage and more health to worry about in boss fights and such, and you will get MORE loot drops than the 10 man content does. Also, a raid regardless of being 10 or 25 man, all share the same raid ID and lockout. Do a  25 man version and kill a boss? Cool. Split into two 10 mans of the same thing and that boss is still dead for both groups. You can’t up-convert from 10 to 25, but you can down-size if attendance becomes an issue or some such.

So this brings up an interesting question for a lot of guilds and raid groups right now. Is it worth it to run 25 man content if the rewards for 10 are the same? Is the extra loot enough of a benefit to keep you raiding in 25 man content or do you give up and just say screw it? I know a lot of guilds are going through this debate right now. I know some of them personally. This happened in a smaller capacity when Wrath was announced to have 10 man content. Some guilds decided the smaller size was for them and paired down into tight-knit, more tactical 10 man groups. So now that the gear is equal level between 10 and 25, aside from quantity, I know many guilds that have weighed the pros and cons of both formats and decided to go for the smaller size.

My guild Unpossible recently had this discussion. We pulled all of the officers into a private vent chat and hashed it out. it was about even split on the case of 10 vs 25, and there were a lot of good points made. After a good half hour discussion, we decided that we would stay a 25 man raiding guild. Our structure was already in place and had been since the release of Burning Crusade, and it has been stable and working since. We have a dedicated group of raiders who love the group we are in and the dynamic we have going. We also decided that we just felt more comfortable in the 25 man environment.

For me personally, I voted in favor of keeping the 25 man raid group. I love the logistical challenge of tracking so many players — and yes I know it’s not the 40 man content or raids from vanilla but I served my time in those — and the dynamic we have set up between all the various parts of the raiding group works well together, and I’d hate to break that up. I also didn’t like the idea of balancing multiple 10 man groups. Something I’ve seen over the last few years, people have an easier time being benched for a raid than they do taking part in a raid that is behind another group. I didn’t want to breed an environment of Group A vs Group B and cause any unnecessary drama.

So with Cataclysm on the horizon, has your guild discussed this at all? Has your raid group decided whether it will raid 10 man or 25 man content? Were you already raiding as a 10 or 25 man group? What do you think the benefits of both are? What about the drawbacks? I’d love to hear your opinions on this and see how the community as a whole has decided.

Will your guild raid 10 man or 25 man content in Cataclysm?

  • 10 Man / 10 Man Hard Mode (69%, 346 Votes)
  • 25 Man / 25 Man Hard Mode (21%, 103 Votes)
  • Banana (12%, 61 Votes)

Total Voters: 498

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Until next time, happy healing!

Understanding New Talents and Thoughts on Priests

Last week, it was announced that talent trees would get sliced. Reason being that there was too much unnecessary crap and not enough fun talents. Most of us sort of got the idea of what they wanted to do. Include more talents that do something tangible, that we can feel or use.

Potentially free Lightning Bolt after casting a Lightning Bolt? Cool.

Gradually increasing healing by some random percentage of which you can’t really see? Not quite as exciting.

Preview the new trees and see what they’ll look like

How specialization works

Okay, so the way I understand it, the moment you ding level 10, you get to start specializing your character. The moment you invest your first talent, you get access to a myriad of spells and abilities which define that particular tree.

Let’s use a Priest for example.

As Holy

I get access to:

  • Desperate Prayer
  • Holy Priest (Pushback reduction on discipline and holy spells)
  • Meditation

As Discipline

I get access to:

  • Penance
  • Pushback resistance
  • Meditation

From what I can see, no special training is required. You are well on your way to becoming that specialized priest of your choice. There won’t be any 20/21 type builds either. You need to fully invest your points down one tree before you can fork over to a different one. The rate at which you receive talents points have been roughly halved as well. Figure you get a new point every 2 or maybe 3 levels.

What do I think?

My opinion though, I’m not sure what can be done to entice players to select holy at the lower levels. I notice a few sad face Priests when they notice that Desperate Prayer is the innate spell we get. Desperate Prayer makes the most sense for balance and logistical reasons (like what’s the point of getting Circle of Healing at level 10?) At that stage of the game, you’re hardly doing much in a party anyway. At least with the prayer, you can fire off a desperate heal if you pulled one too many murlocs.

I can’t count the number of times where I could’ve easily leveled the murlocs and their huts if I had access to Desperate Prayer.

Anyway, I can certainly see the foundation of Holy taking place. I’m trying to remember what the original 41 point talent was back in vanilla (Spirit of Redemption? Lightwell?). Now if they can just somehow throw in something new in place of Renew or Empowered Healing at the first level under Holy. What would be a decent ability at that level?

Holy seems quite top heavy in the sense that any of the deeper talents could easily fulfill the role as the 31 point talent. Guardian Spirit is the current one. Circle of Healing used to be the end talent back during Burning Crusade, if memory serves. I wouldn’t mind seeing Chakra and Guardian Spirit switched. From a symbolic perspective, I think a talent like that which gives your spells nifty bonuses whenever you string them together should be an ultimate skill.

But that’s inspired from assorted limit breaks from Final Fantasy.

From a logistical and practical standpoint? It might be better off if priests get a feel for Chakra earlier in their leveling life.

The Discipline side of things looks great! Power Word: Barrier as the 31 pointer? Awesome. It appears that Discipline is destined to be the leveling spec (due to Evangelism and Archangel).

One thing I noticed is the placement of Inner Focus. At 11 points in, it will not be accessible to Holy priests. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. Inner Focus has been one of those taken-for-granted type talents that all healing priests usually get. For it to be cut off like for those that choose the path of Holy is going to be quite the impact. Here’s hoping it gets switched with Archangel.

Anyway, I like the direction the talent condensation is going. Obviously they’re not all complete or finalized yet. Some classes still have a few placeholders or leftover talents from live that aren’t supposed to be there.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have a heck of a time figuring out which healing priest type I want to switch to. I’ll probably end up dual speccing both anyway. I might just go back to my roots and be straight up holy again in the expansion.

How are you liking the talents so far? (And it doesn’t have to be restricted to just priests either)!

Putting The RP in MMORPG

Putting The RP in MMORPG

dice_phixr

So, recently I’ve been talking more and more about the story and lore of gaming. The games that create a rich background and intricate story for you to be a part of. As such I’ve been talking with a lot of RPers lately. I’ve been reading very interesting RP posts, and fan fiction stories, and have even begun writing my own for Lodur’s background. It can be a lot of fun to think about where your character has been and where they are going and how they might interact with their fellow raiders. This side of the game does appeal to me as I’m an old school D&D Role playing geek. It is however something I haven’t fully explored in game yet.

Blizzard has set aside entire servers for people to Role Play with each other, and no I’m not talking about the seedy dirty stuff, but honest interaction between players acting out their characters. There are a few different types of Role Playing you’ll come across in the game.

Spontaneous RP

This is a spontaneous act between two or more players who play out a short scenario on the spot. These players typically do not have background stories that cross paths and have a low likelihood of interacting again in a role-playing context. This is coming across someone randomly while questing or bump into in one of the major cities. These RP sessions can sometimes lead to further contact later on and might develop into character friendships later one.

Deliberate / Planned RP

Some role players will set aside specific times to be online to interact with others. This can be in a raid, a group that quests together as a party or simply a meeting in the local inn to throw back a pint or twelve. Many interesting interactions happen here. Friendships are made and lost, sometimes characters pair off in the way of couples, and sometimes they break up and throw bottles at each other. I have a group of friends I talk to on a regular basis that do set aside specific time to role play during the week, and I always enjoy hearing about what happened afterward.
Out of Game RP

Probably one of the more important things to mention here. Out of game RP happens in emails, forums and blog posts. This exists between spontaneous and deliberate RP events and honestly has no true end point. These can serve to flesh out backgrounds for your character, can help turn spontaneous RP encounters into full on character relationships and can really give some creative license to tell a very intricate story. I’ve seen posts that filled in the gaps of a raid, and some rather humorous explanations for why the group wiped on a particular boss fight. The forum posts I’ve run across or have been linked to are often the result of people working together in emails to get the story together before it’s posted. People have even created twitter accounts for their toons so they can RP with other characters through that media as well. The results are almost always a very very fun story to read. It’s like being an actor in a movie and really getting into your role, or playing out a scene in your favorite books. You get to be a part of a story of your making.

The community surrounding MMO’s has always interested me, it’s one of the most important reasons I got into MMOs in the first place. We make friends as we play the game (or enemies) and we get to share our triumphs and defeats. There’s something very gratifying about working with 24 friends and downing a big nasty boss. The community that has sprung up from the Role Playing elements of Warcraft is very strong as well. The people that RP have most definitely set up a community for themselves (and their characters) within the game. You can sit on twitter and see just how deep the interactions go. To them there is more to the game then the grinding of levels or the end game content. Now it’s not to say that all they do is interact in character, many times the OOC (Out Of Character) chat channels are hillarious with the Real Life interactions. It’s refreshing sometimes to take a step back and look at the other side of the fence.

Does this mean you’ll see posts here about role playing in game? Possibly, depends on how deep down the rabbit hole I go. (or how far @justanna from toomanyannas.com can drag me =P)

So, what about you? Have you tried RPing? Have you ever written a fan fiction about your character? Have you thought about it? What would your characters background be?

That’s it for now, I’ll have more for you later this week. Until then, Happy healing!

Sig

Image courtesy of madbrewlabs.com

Raid Warning Podcast Giveaway and Interview with Matt!

contest_article

I found some time this week to join my new friends on the Raid Warning podcast. Normally podcast requests are made at times where I have to respectfully decline (my guild comes first) but we managed to work something out.

So what did we talk about?

  • Matt’s preferred drink!
  • And his alcohol tolerance
  • Patch 3.2 thoughts
  • Priest Q&A thoughts
  • Qualities I look for in healers
  • And more!

Anyways, the Raid Warning crew has been feeling awfully generous as of late! They’re giving away some pretty cool prizes in a contest they’re holding!

Like what?

Do you have rage problems? Prone to extreme anger? Throw your headset across the wall because that Priest stood in the fire again?

They’re giving away a Razer Carcharias Gaming Headset!

carcharias

A SteelSeries World of Warcraft Gaming Mouse!

9185339_ra

And last, but certainly the most important, a WoW 60 day time card!

Enough already! How do I get in on this?

Your mission is straightforward and simple. You need to read this blog post and listen to episode 12 of the Raid Warning podcast. There’s two phrases you want to make note of:

Key phrase

I cannot heal damage of this magnitude! It’s inconceivable!

That’s the phrase from this blog. Now you have to tune over to the episode 12 podcast and listen for their key phrase.

Once you have it, Email both the phrase from here and the one you heard on episode 12 to raidwarningpodcast@gmail.com. Your subject line should include Raid Warning Contest!

Hurry! Contest closes September 1st! (I know that blog pots says August 18th, but it’s been extended).

Yes You Can Multi-Box with Battle Net Account Merging
Matt’s Hodir Impressions

Matt’s Hodir Impressions

hodir

First, check out this awesome video by Siha. Some great teaser footage regarding the Hodir encounter. You can see me around the 22 second mark. I’m running away to the bottom right corner of the screen. Great choice of music, to boot!

To all the players who said Blizzard didn’t know how to create challenging content.

You guys are in for a treat.

At around 3 PM Pacific, it was announced that Hodir would soon be available for testing. In fact, he would be open at 4 PM. That left me an hour to scramble the players necessary to give it a shot. I knew there was no way I’d be able to field a full 25 man raid group. Conquest managed to bring in 6 players to jump in. I posted on Twitter looking for volunteers. No avail. I checked my GMail for online contacts. Apathy was free. Quick glance on AIM? Siha was free. After 90 minutes of struggling with UIs, server crashes and the like, we were one of the first groups that were able to zone in. The entire zone is quite breath taking. Check out some of the shots I sent into WoW Insider.

WoWScrnShot_022609_171253 After my making my way through most of the instance where we pass through the exterior lightning charged towers (where the Flame Leviathan is, no doubt) we enter a door that takes us into another part of the area. It looks like we hit the inner sanctum. The main chamber branches off into a multitude of rooms which takes your party to different bosses. Naxxramas has four wings. Ulduar has many different wings. I was’t able to get a count. But I think there were at least 5 or so hallways that led out. We managed to find Hodir with little difficulty in a circular cavern.

And we were joined by Daelo! Poor guy! He’s the lead encounter designer for Blizzard. General chat exploded the moment he announced his presence. People were asking him to unstuck them from various areas inside the instance. It got to the point where he had to bring in his alter ego (Daelotwo) to help with the unsticking process.

omgdaelo

What you’ll find is a large, oversized blue Dwarf-like individual. He’s got four NPCs encased in ice in front of him. Looks like they are integral to the encounter somehow. Our Death Knight tank starts the dancing process of kiting him around. We kind of deduced there was a Keristraza like ability where players had to keep moving. Siha and I were the only healers. We danced around. She covered the main tank (our Death Knight) while I tried to handle the rest of the raid.

 

 

For the past several years, we have all been conditions to aim the camera toward the floor. Illidari Council especially taught us to get out of fires. Blizzard has thrown us a curveball. This time, the raid need only look up. If you see snow, look out below as a chunk of ice is going to fall from the sky!

We barely lasted 2 minutes. But oh my was it such a blast!

WoWScrnShot_022609_171939I have to say something on a side note. It’s an exhilarating feeling to come to a new boss for the first time with zero idea of the boss does. It’s interesting in the fact that as players one of the first things we have to do is figure out what abilities and attacks the boss uses. Once we iron that out, we isolate what we can do or what the environment around us can do to help counteract boss abilities. I’ve never really been at the forefront of progression before. Literally. Bosses in the past have been done with explanations from other players or strategy guides or videos. For the first time, everyone is more or less on an even keel because no one knows what the heck is going on. There’s a huge rush after the fact where everyone chimes in trying to deduce what just killed them. Then theres a myriad of suggestions on how to go about preventing or adjusting for it. We don’t actually know what works. I mean testing raid content is like a big giant algeba problem: It’s literally guess and check.

As far as healing goes, we didn’t last long enough to get a good handle on healing. This instance feels like Zul’Aman: Reloaded (in terms of relative difficulty from Karazhan up).

Notes and observations

4 frozen NPCs in the middle of the room. Of the 4, you can break up to 2 on Normal and all 4 on Heroic. They assist the raid and hand out buffs.

Breaking out the Moonkin offers a haste buff to the raid (Unsure if its spell haste, haste, or both types of haste). You currently have to stand on the circle of light in order to use it.

On Normal, Hodir has 10 million health. On Heroic, around 30 million.

His attacks are melee and frost based.

Frost novas are dispelable. I believe they are cleansable as well. Hooray for magic effects.

This encounter is inspired by Keristraza in the sense that players have to move around to reset the damaging frost aura. It starts off at 200 initially and then continues to double to 400, then 800, then 1600 and so forth.

After the initial 45 seconds, Hodir does an ability called Flash Freeze. It’s a 9 second cast capable of nuking everyone in the room regardless of line of sight. It is possible to fully resist it. If it connects, you get encased in a chunk of ice for 5 minutes. The only other way out is to get busted out by DPS. Don’t forget that when you’re frozen, the aura is still on you.

Frozen Blows: Physical damage reduced by 70% but attacks deal 17750 additional Frost damage.

Special thanks

I’d like to extend a hearty thanks to the brave players who were willing to wipe with me.

Eridan – WTB more soulshards *grin*
Siha – Being online at the right time. Probably would not have gone in without her healing presence.
Wukki – Helping me with the notes and boss observations (and doing some research on her own)
Apathy Inc – I forgot your blog address again
Superkathoid – For offering her services as DPS even though I was already full on DPS :(

I plan on leading another team back in there tomorrow (Friday) at around 3 PM PST. We’re setup on Broxigar. Iron Council is scheduled for 4 PM PST. If you’re interested, I’ll on the PTR around then to get my present guild organized. I’ll most likely need an extra set of hands. You’ll recognize me on my character (Matticus).

If you’re interested, follow me on Twitter. Or else bookmark my Posterous (or subscribe). I’ll be updating my Posterous more often with screenshots and a live braindump of everything going on.

In hindsight, I shouldn’tve formed the group the PvE server. Way too many people.

Being the Shaman Behind the Meat Shield

Being the Shaman Behind the Meat Shield

meat

Back on the 13th, Mera asked a question that I felt deserved a post to fully answer it.

“Can shamans make good MT or OT healers, as in to the same standard of other healing classes?”

I provided a short answer of yes on the 13th, but I’m going to try to flesh it out a bit more here.

Shaman have been given a lot of tools when Patch 3.0 was brought live. These tools allow us to be competitive with other healers in single target healing. Really we can break this down into a few sections – Spec (talents), Glyphs and Strategy.

Spec/Talents:

There are three very popular specs out there right now:

  • 0/16/55 This has been referred to as the cookie cutter spec.
  • 0/14/57 This spec. This spec moves points out of Elemental weapons to buff ancestral healing.
  • 0/14/57 A build which takes a few points out of Thundering Strikes in order to have a maxed Healing Way and Ancestral Healing while forsaking Improved Water Shield.

Each has different strengths they bring to the healing fight so to speak so lets take a quick peak at some of the choice talents.

Let’s take a look at the talents we pick up in enhancement first.

Thundering Strikes: This talent is five points of wonderful. It boosts your crit by a solid 5%. This is great because when you are on a Tank there can often times be spikes in damage. Having a higher crit ensures a better chance of being able to top off the tank with one healing wave instead of two or three.

Improved Shields:  This talent increases the bang for the buck you get out of your Earth Shield. That 15% counts for a lot in the long run, and your tank will thank you for picking it up.

Elemental Weapons: More spell power is always good.  This gives you an additional 45 spell power, no reason not to take it.

Now, those are very straight forward. One can argue the same about the next set but I’ll highlight the talents in the restoration tree that, in my opinion are great main tank healer abilities, or have been updated recently and can fill that role.

Healing Way: I’ll start with Healing Way, which is second only to Earth Shield in my book when one thinks of Shaman healing a tank.  This talent recently underwent a change that make it a very useful talent once again. The full affect of the talent is applied when you use the spell once. This means that you no longer have to spam the ability 3 times to get it rolling. Front loading the effect means that you can toss a Healing Wave on the tank, and then burn another 15 seconds worth of spells and Global Cool Downs until the ability expires. Tossing another healing wave on the tank will immediately receive an 18% boost and keeping this in mind it’s very very easy to net 20k crit heals and higher. I personally feel this is a must for shaman doing tank healing.

Earth Shield / Improved Earth Shield: These are pretty self explanatory. Earth Shield is a bread and butter talent. For as long as we’ve had it, we’ve been using it and rightly so. You toss this up on the main tank and it can help to create a very nice reactive buffer for health loss. This talent also underwent a fix recently. Previously the chance for the shield to crit heal was based on the person you put it on. Meaning a fire mage was more likely to get crit heals then a prot warrior. They’ve fixed it now so that it has a chance to crit based on your crit at the time of casting. Looking at your talents you have 14% built in before gear and INT are calculated. This just helps improve something that was already golden.

Ancestral Awakening: A lot of people don’t like this talent, but I personally love it. Taking a look at it, Ancestral Awakening really fits well with a main tank shaman healer. It procs off of Lesser Healing Wave, Healing Wave and Riptide. If you are on a tank, you’re going to be using a lot more Healing Wave then you usually do, and as a result this will proc more often. It heals for 30% of the amount healed. Lets say it procs off of a nice Healing Wave crit for 20,000 hp. The talent (like beacon of light) only spreads around the part that’s effective healing. Lets say 10,000hp of that heal is actually healing. That’s still a 3k heal that lands on someone who needs it.

Tidal Force: Again, pretty self explanatory. Having something that boosts your crit for Healing Wave is always a good thing

Tidal Waves: This talent is also very nice. It procs off Chain Heal and Riptide. We can assume that you’ll be using Riptide pretty liberally as it’s an instant cast hot with a flash heal at the front (so yes you should be using it if you’re not), and so this should be up all the time. It reduces the casting time of your Healing Wave spells by 30%. That extra little bit of haste helps to deliver your big heal faster.

Glyphs:

For Glyphs it might be a bit hard to choose for tank healing duty but we do have some good ones to choose from.

  • Glyph of Water Mastery: More mana! I hope I never hear anyone complain about more mana =D
  • Glyph of Mana Tide Totem: Again more mana, in this case taking full advantage of all the INT you have.
  • Glyph of Healing Wave: This takes advantage of your Healing Wave casts by returning 20% of the effective healing done, ignoring overheal amounts. Great glyph for AoE bosses and fights where you might not be able to heal yourself.
  • Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave: Less mana to cast, and faster then it’s big brother, this glyph lets LHW strike an Earth Shielded target for a respectable amount on par with non crit Healing Waves.
  • Glyph of Earthliving: This helps make sure you have a HoT up as much as possible. 5% more Earthliving procs can help cushion your healing a bit.
  • Glyph of Chain Heal: Even though you’re going to be casting more heals then Chain Heal, it still remains our most efficient heal. Casting it in between Healing Waves can help keep Tidal Waves up, and if you happen to catch any low melee in the process, so much the better.

Pick glyphs that help fill in gaps in what you need. If you need more mana, two glyphs will go along way to help that. If you find yourself taking damage and not being able to peel away from the tank, there is a glyph that help you keep standing long into the fight. Now these are just the Resto ones, I’ve heard people using ones to finagle more crit and such.  Take a look Here and find ones that work for you.

Strategy

Lets face it, loling around and chain healing a raid isn’t rocket science. Using our tools to their full potential while raid healing take much more finesse. Switching gears from Raid Healing to Tank Healing takes a different mindset. First thing to remember is Resto Shaman don’t really have any preventative measures to help mitigate incoming damage beyond Stoneskin Totem and Strength of Earth Totem to add armor or STR/AGI for mitigation. Our healing is all reactive aside from maybe our two HoTs, and even then we only have full control over one of them. Earth Shield requires the person you put it on to be hit before it goes off. As a result we spend a lot of time overhealing when we’re on a tank in an attempt to keep them topped off. With the amounts of mana regen we usually have, it’s not hard to keep the spells constantly streaming while keeping up on mana. You will also make full use of all your healing spells as a tank healer. Be adaptive to the situation and be ready to move with your tank. With raid healing it’s easy to sit put and plug away but a lot of times with the tank you’ll have to move with them to keep them in healing range or line of sight.

Conclusion

With all this in mind my answer to the question is Yes, I feel that shaman are more then capable Tank Healers, on par with other classes. We have all the tools necessary to fill both roles of the Raid Healer and Tank Healer effectively. There may be fights were a certain type of healer is better for the job (like a Discipline Priest healing the Sartharion Tank on Sarth 3D) but that doesn’t mean it’s the case every time. We can keep up with the Priests, Paladins and Druids in single target healing just fine.

Image courtesy of www.plan59.com

SYTYCB: Week 2 – The List

This week’s blog posting format, with some special dice rolling help from Anna, is the list post. It should be a little easier for the bloggers to do now compared to week 1 when I dropped the rant bomb on them. However, while it’s easier for them to produce something, I think it’s only going to get much more difficult for me to judge and critique them accordingly.

An excerpt from the EMail I sent out:

The list post is my baby. I don’t think I’d be far off from the truth if I said that it’s one of my signature style of posts ;). Again, like last week, you think up your topics and your points… I’m expecting top quality stuff here. You guys know who you’re up against and what everyone has to offer.

Examples of lists:
13 Things Every WoW Player Should Know How to Do
9 Traditional WoW Posts (with examples!)
11 Excuses: How to Tell the Real Life Professions of Your Healers
20 Characteristics of a Mature Guild Member
10+3 Personalities Every Guild Leader Needs Around

Note, I couldn’t think of any other lists that were off site off the top of my head so I poked around my archives.

Remember length doesn’t matter but you do want to provide enough to show that you’ve put some work into it instead of just randomly listing stuff. Think to yourself how you can not only list your points, but elaborate on them further.

In the critique post, I mentioned that you should look at different blogs and authors and find out what makes them so appealing to you and that you should try and emulate their style. Use their elements. Take that extra step. The rant post, while not the best week 1 post, helped demonstrate to me who’s a writer and who’s a blogger. The bar has gone up.

A successful list post provides just enough information but also leaves the option open for readers to comment and contribute, to agree and disagree, etc. Look at each other’s critique that Wyn and I wrote and see if there’s anything from there that you can apply.

Speaking of List Posts, I said that I had trouble scouring the WoW blogosphere for list posts. If you have any that you’ve written in the past that you’d like to share, please leave a comment with a link! I’d love to check them out and read (or re-read them) again!

3 more upcoming posts today at 6 AM, 10 AM, and 2 PM.