I took Wyn on a guided tour of Northrend. You might not recognize this, but we’re on a giant turtle.
Quote of the night?
“No Matt, you’re not flagged for PvP. Honest.”
I took Wyn on a guided tour of Northrend. You might not recognize this, but we’re on a giant turtle.
Quote of the night?
“No Matt, you’re not flagged for PvP. Honest.”
Image courtesy of Xanderalex What do you think mana-pots taste like, anyway? I vote for blue-raspberry kool-aid.
Note: I wrote this piece BEFORE the news announcement about down-ranking spells in WotLK. I anticipate that this will make a tremendous impact on mana-regen, along with the possibility of debuffs like Potion Sickness, and I look forward to finding out how new talents like Serendipity help mitigate this situation. (I’m not specc’d into Serendipity right now on the Beta, mostly because Matt says it doesn’t work yet.)
In the 2.4 game mechanics, mana-regen for any class whose relevant stats include spirit is nothing short of phenomenal. Still, some of my colleagues occasionally have trouble making it through particularly intense fights with only self-sufficient regen tools. I’m of the philosophy that in most situations, Holy Priests can and should keep their own mana up just fine. If you are having trouble doing that, here are some troubleshooting tips for improving your own self-sufficiency:
It’s not that you’ll never need any outside support to maintain your mana pool. If a lot of healers have died, or you started out short-handed, or you’re truly under-geared for your content, you could need some help. Obviously, Vampiric Touch, Mana Tide, and Innervate are in the game for a reason. The idea isn’t that you should never need them, just that if you always rely on them, you’re cheating yourself and your raid out of the exceptional contributions that you can make, not to mention hogging resources that could go to other players.
Have we been teaching wrong? Image courtesy of gozdeo
There’s a gearing question I get asked more frequently than any other. I also see it all over the Priest-related interweb. It goes something like this:
My Priest just started running Kara/Heroics, and I have the Primal Mooncloth Set. I’m dying a lot. When can I/ should I break PMC bonus so I can get more stamina?
The answer is invariably along these lines:
PMC has no Stam and makes it hard to stay alive. As soon as you have 2 of the 3 slots replaced, go ahead and break it. Shopping List: Robes of Heavenly Purpose or Gown of Spiritual Wonder, Light-Mantle of the Incarnate or Mantle of the Avatar, and Belt of the Long Road or Cord of Braided Troll Hair.
This always kind of bothers me a little bit, probably because I’m a crotchety oldster who was working my way through T5 content before the 2.3 badge rewards and ZA were introduced. Back in MY day, the only pieces that would add stamina to your stats without gimping your +healing and regen abominably were your Tier tokens. Which, with the infamous Warrior-Priest-Druid combo, in most raiding guilds, went to tanks first. And especially since Druid tank itemization meant they needed the T4 set bonus, preferably from their chest, Priests were pretty much out of luck. (I’ll spare you a very compelling QQ-anecdote about the injustices visited on my Priests specifically when it came to Tier-gear. Just know that it was very tragic, compelling, and you should pity me. Thank you.)
Basically, Primal Mooncloth meant you could keep your raid alive, and whether or not YOU stayed alive was your own business – weren’t you the healer??
As a result, many, many healy-Priests (myself and Matt included), worked their way into T6-level content with dramatically less stamina than recommended. For me, especially given the pressure-cooker of being the first and only female in my hardcore raiding guild, it meant I had to learn to stay alive. This is the origin of the “Oh s***!” macro, and why my UI is painstakingly designed to keep my field of vision clear.
My point is, I’ve done the content that the Priests asking about Primal Mooncloth have done – and I stayed alive. So I know it’s possible. So it bothers me to blame the prolific Priest-mortality rate on the gear and nothing else. If I wasn’t positive that people would feel attacked, accused, and offended, here’s what my response would be:
“Primal Mooncloth is perfectly adequate for the content you’re running. Rather than worrying about what gear to exchange to boost your stamina, let’s treat what I think is the real problem. Tell me about your raids: What’s killing you? Loose mobs, or AoE damage?”
And working from there, I’d like to go through a trouble-shooting dialogue. If loose mobs are running around and slaying healers, either your Tanks need to work on tanking, your CC needs to work on CC’ing, your DPS needs to work on not breaking CC, or YOU need to work on heal-timing. These are all very important skills, and, often, healer-deaths are simply symptomatic of underperforming raiders.
If AoE damage is killing you, then you simply need to learn how to keep yourself healed.
And the biggest one:
It’s not that good Priests never die – Spirit of Redemption points out that Blizz KNOWS we’re going to die. It’s that the best Priests know that gear is not the major limiting factor in your performance. And as much as I advocate using the best gear available to you, it should be to augment your skill as a player, not to replace it.
Notice: I hesitated to post this entry, for the same reason that I hesitate to reveal my real answer to the pertinent gear-question. I realize that my opinion will hurt some feelings, and it is not my intention to imply that people looking to break PMC with any of the numerous options in the post 2.4 game are bad players. It is my intention to imply that perhaps, as a community committed to improving our gameplay, our first instinct shouldn’t be to swap gear, but rather to ascertain how we can out-perform our pixilated limitations. If, after determining the REAL cause of death, we find a certain stat to be lacking, then we can recommend gear to augment that stat.
Image courtesy of 78thelemen
I’ve read a lot of the posts on preparation for WotLK, and, probably because I’m a farm-a-holic, I still don’t think the topic has been overdone. For the casual player, an xpac is a time of new experiences. For the more hardcore, it’s an opportunity to Scattle out ahead… and experience them before anyone else.
First, you need to decide if you’re going to play the xpac. A whole new WoW opening could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to ease back into real life.
If you are going to play WotLK, you need to decide to what extent. Are you looking to make a mad-dash to 80 with your guild to shoot for server (or world?) firsts? Or are you going to take a slower pace, either solo or with a few friends and enjoy the lore and depth-of-content? Are you going to play the same character you play now, or pick up a new one? What class? What race is best for that class, and what you want to do with it? Will it be your new main? Will you roll a Death Knight?
Honestly, if you’re planning to enjoy the content at a laid-back pace on your current character, there’s not a lot of prep-work you need to do. The idea behind preparing is to make the process of leveling and gearing up more efficient, and if efficiency doesn’t matter, neither does prepping. Personally, I’ll grind Wynthea to 80 as quickly as possible to be ready for end-game raiding, then back track later, when it’s less crowded, to enjoy the quests and content that I skimmed through.
I’d also like to have as few headaches as possible so I can focus on learning the new game mechanics, so my prep is a bit more elaborate than stockpiling mats. (Although there’s a lot of that going on, too.) Here’s my EXTREME to-do list:
Image courtesy of iwanbeijes
First of all, when I joined my current guild, I came as part of a package deal. We were a Prot Warrior, Holy Priest, and Rogue. My compadres have since leveled and geared up a Hunter and a Mage. (Yes, I’m the slacker without an alt. But I rolled the perfect class on my first try, so there’s really not much incentive…especially since I’ve done it twice.)
So we have 5 ‘toons to work with. Here’s how we’ve got it worked out:
Warrior: Mining and Jewelcrafting. (Has literally EVERY pattern.)
Rogue: Herbalism and Elixir-Alchemist.
Hunter: Skinning and Leather Work
Mage: Tailoring (Scryer) and Enchanting
Priest: Tailoring (Aldor) and Herbalism (Herb is going bye-bye in favor of Inscription.)
We decided that Blacksmithing and Engineering didn’t provide enough benefit to us all as a group to justify picking them up, since most of the best goodies are specific to the person with the profession. The idea is that no matter what we need to improve our raiding abilities, we can have it made among ourselves – Gems, Enchants, Spellthreads, Armor Kits, and Consumables. This way, too, if there’s a specific older pattern we need, we can just farm for it rather than counting on finding someone via trade. The Mage is the newest 70, and we’ll be starting his Kara grind this week. We did manage to get Death Frost for him during the Summer Festival, and have made good progress on the arduous task of getting him Exalted with all the outlands factions. Since Blizzard decided to update the better AQ enchants for TBC, we didn’t want to assume they’d be available for WotLK mats.
Although we all raid and contribute heavily to our actual guild, we also have a personal alt-guild and bank set up. (We probably house the wealthiest lvl 1’s on our server) This way, we have the storage space for the mats to get the first few notches up in each of our professions. This means taking a look at whatever patterns are orange or yellow in your profession-window, and getting a good idea of what mats they use. Sure, with the xpac will come new mats and probably entry-level patterns, but getting a few bumps in from “old” outland mats will put you ahead of the curve as far as what materials you need to farm, and what patterns you can access in Northrend. Think about holding enough materials to get 10-15 ticks for your professions, including primals and other odds-and-ends. A few examples:
Even if your set-up isn’t so elaborate, decide what professions you want on what characters, and level them up now. Designate your gatherers and your crafters, and get them ready to tackle Northrend. Also, finish grinding rep that is required for pertinent profession-related items. Even now, some of the best items require old-world rep (Brilliant Mana Oil requires Friendly with Zandalar, for example.), and for at least the first several patches, Northrend will probably be the same. JC’s will likely still want lots of scale of the sand and consortium rep, Enchanters will want exalted with outlands factions, etc. It gets harder to grind rep for these things in the “old zone” so do it now! Besides, even if you change your mind about your professions later, rep is something that stays with your ‘toon. It’s kind of like saving your place with some hard-to-get patterns and recipies.
The tank and I have both stashed some decent gear for DPS grinding – I’ve read about the changes to gear coming up, but without knowing anything for sure, it just seems more prudent to be prepared with a second, specialized gearset. It’s nothing fancy; gear from badge-runs and farm content that would otherwise have been sharded. One thing I noticed about vintage gear was that even with the dramatic stats swell moving into Outlands from Azeroth, some things kept their value. Trinkets, especially, can hold up particularly well since they often grant percentages of stats and scale with the rest of your gear. If there’s a trinket or two that you think you may want, farm for it now. It’ll be much harder to get the runs you want when everyone is focused on new content. Even if you don’t PvP regularly, contemplate getting some gear with some stamina and resil for those packed starting zones on PvP servers. It’ll save you time and frustration – and it’s easy, since you can buy blues from Outlands factions that will have enough resil to make you less tempting.
Image courtesy of designkryt
This may be so obvious that I could skip it, but the single most helpful resource you can stockpile is cold, hard cash. Whatever Northrend holds, you can bet your sweet bippy that being able to buy gear, patterns, skills, and materials without difficulty will be handy. I don’t know if we’ll manage it, but I’d like to have about 10k per character. That’s in addition to each one having their epic flyer already. (The mage is the only one left without his.)
Finally, in order to give yourself plenty of distraction-free WoW, look into taking some time off work. If the xpac hits in November or December, as has been suggested, those silly people with families and holiday obligations instead of video game addictions may have requested all the available time. Let your boss know now that you may need to take a few personal days.
edit: I always ask Matt to look over my posts before they go live – he’s the one that finds the great stock illustrations. Of course, he also likes to randomly bold things….
Let’s all give him a hug!
Image courtesy of andrewatla
A few words on Spell Haste: I can tell that Spell Haste is going to be the next big epeen-measurement stat. There are a couple of reasons behind this, the biggest one being that Sunwell fights are so demanding that Spell Haste is indispensable to heal all the incoming damage. The thought process runs something like this: If it’s good enough for Sunwell, it’s good enough for everyone, right? In fact, the more you have, the better you must be, right? Nope. Of course not – if that were true, I wouldn’t have a reason to post.
Sorry, I missed a left turn at Albaquerque. What is Spell Haste? Simply put, Spell Haste allows you to cast the same spells – faster. 15.67 of Spell Haste is a 1% casting-time reduction. Haste can also decrease your global cooldown to a minimum of one second. (That’s at something like 475 – effectively haste-capped. At this point, I’m not entirely sure it’s even possible to stack up that much spell haste. It certainly isn’t possible without running your other stats into the ground.)
As cool (and useful in Sunwell) as Spell Haste is, there are a lot of reasons it just doesn’t live up to the hype:
Once in a while, some misguided soul will compare healing a raid to playing whack-a-mole. Maybe it’s accurate for your first few raids – before you figure out much about game mechanics and set up your UI properly you might have no idea who was going to take damage next. This is probably why you see so many entry-level wws reports showing an abundance of Flash Heals; the healers just aren’t experienced enough to not play a reactive game. But good healers know their fights, know their raid-mates, and know their raid frames well enough to start a cast before damage happens. Giving those same, inexperienced healers spell haste before developing their other, more relevant stats first, simply reinforces that gut reaction o-m-g-he’s-gonna-die-i-gotta-toss-healz-nao mentality. Spell haste won’t make inexperienced (or bad, for that matter) healers better, but it will train them to think faster is better – when really, planning ahead and paying attention is better.
Flash back to Economics class with me: Opportunity cost is the cost of resources that must be given up in order to obtain other resources. You’ll notice a pattern with pre-Sunwell Spell Haste items – to get the haste, you have to give up mana regen.
Exception: Brooch of Nature’s Mercy, which is worth farming Eagle Boss in ZA for its Spirit alone.
As you’re working your way through content, you have a lot to think about in terms of stat-balancing. Your +healing must be high enough to handle the incoming damage, you have to have enough regen to last the entire fight, and you have to have enough Stamina so that you can actually do some healing. If you’re not to the point where most of your slots have few upgrades, you probably don’t have stats to spare. If you think you do, you probably don’t have enough regen. These other stats are so important for T4, T5, and BT/Hyjal content that giving them up for a stat that is not required is foolish. Wait to stack Spell Haste until you really can afford the cost to your other metrics.
One thing that I notice most often with premature Spell Haste stacking is that casters run out of mana.
Bear with me. (Warning: I like easy math, so I’m using VERY rounded numbers and assuming no Quartz, Lag or other fun stuff)
Say I have a 10k mana pool, and that each Greater Heal costs 500 mana. This means I can throw out 20 of them before I go out of mana. But, I also have 250 Mp5. Each of those 20 casts took 2.5 seconds – a total of 50 seconds.
So I accrued 10 full ticks of my Mp5 – an extra 2500 mana.
An extra 5 Heals. An extra 12.5 seconds of casting.
Which, thanks to the magic of Mp5, bought me ANOTHER 1094 mana.
ANOTHER 2 casts, ANOTHER 5 seconds – and I’m done. (Because that only bought me 250 mana, which added to the 94 I had left over isn’t enough to cast another heal for this experiment.)
So TOTAL, my 10k mana pool and 250 Mp5 bought me 27 heals over 67.5 seconds. (There is a FABULOUS mod called Dr. Damage that will show you all of this in a tool tip.)
If my G.Heal hits for 6k, I just healed for 162,000. But what if we trade regen for S.Haste? Okay, now I have a 10k mana pool, each heal costs 500 mana, so I still get to throw 20 of them before I go oom. But NOW, each of those 20 casts took TWO seconds. So NOW, it only took 40 seconds. Which means I only got 8 ticks of my Mp5, which is now 200. So I only got back 1600 mana. An extra 3 heals. An extra 6 seconds of casting. Only 300 mana back. Suddenly, I’m done. (Sure, I could wait 1 second, and buy a 24th heal but then i’m REALLY done – and it takes me longer to get back in the game, because my regen is less.) Total: 23 heals over 46 seconds. 138,000 healing. Down 24,000. Down by more than my Main Tank’s pool.
For what? To get that 138k out fast enough so that it’s overheals? Because in 95% of the raiding-game, you don’t need to throw ‘em out that fast to keep up with the damage, so they would be wasted. But you’re not chain-casting? You’d have more time to regen mana? Great. Then you really don’t need the Spell Haste.
Another reason not to fuss over Spell Haste too much is how little gear there really is out there with Spell Haste on it. WoWhead lists 29 Priest-friendly healing items with Spell Haste GAME WIDE. Of these, 16 drop in SW, 1 in Hyjal, 2 in BT, and two require Hearts of Darkness. So unless you’re very wealthy or your guild is working through advanced End-game, you have 8 options total – and a few of those are for the same slots!
As Priests, we have a couple of talents that reduce the casting time of certain spells. Could be divine fury, could be shortening up our Mass Dispel or Mana Burns. But, there is no far-reaching talent option to truly take advantage of this stat wholesale. Yet. I anticipate that WotLK will bring a lot more viability to this stat as a whole, with the introduction of talents like Improved Holy Concentration. The new content will probably require a decent amount of Spell Haste, but, as currently implemented, the fact that Spell Haste gains no help from any available builds further decreases the value of gaining it as compared to other stats – spirit or +heal – that DO gain multipliers from our available talent trees.
Sunwell fights are a holy-crap-did-you-see-that-by-the-skin-of-our-teeth kind of experience. I know a guy who, before the 2.4.3 nerfs, was spending nearly 1,000g on Mu’ru attempts PER NIGHT. (Scrolls, haste pots, elixirs, repairs, etc. He’s actually leveling an herbalist just to take the pressure off.) The best comparison is to old-school Naxxramus. You just don’t do Sunwell unless you’re really dedicated to the game, and long after WotLK comes out, veteran raiders will be swapping stories about how hardcore the fights were, and what a mind-bender it was.
I am truly blessed in that I have always managed to have consistent friends to group with in the game. My Human Priest leveled with a darling Paladin, and a Warrior has always had my back on my Troll. In fact, if I ever need to run an instance or three, all I have to do is find a willing Druid, Pally, or Warrior, and announce that the two of us will be running _____. I don’t think it’s ever taken more than 5 minutes for us to get our DPSers and go. This has lead me to a startling revelation about our class: Priests do have pets. They are called Tanks. I believe this should be added to our official class description.
Please forgive me for squealing like a little girl, but….
I HAZ CRYSTAL SPIRE!!!
4 months of Illidan kills, and it finally drops. The sweetest part? Every healer in the raid whispered me Grats, before it was loot counciled out. They’d gotten together… and decided to pass it unanimously to me.
No lie. I nearly cried.
Usually, I’d crank out a full-fledged post to tell you what to do, but I’m too busy having fun! So here’s the official press-release from Blizzard.
They’ve added a lot of fun stuff… so what are you waiting for?? Grab some matches, and GO PLAY!!
Update: There is neat stuff dropping off the new boss in Slave Pens – most notably, a very interesting new enchant: Deathfrost. That and the icy-theme of the gear drops seems to be a preview of things coming in WotLK.
Also, some people collect non-combat pets; I collect holliday outfits. I’m pretty pleased with myself this time around.
I decided not to go for the shoulders – I just don’t like how they look.
….Or at least another Priest.
It could be a Soulstone, a Divine Intervention, a vanished Rogue with a pair of cables, or a clever Druid with a well-timed battle rez taken once the coast is clear. The idea is to save the raid the lengthy corpse-run, and to pick up and move on as quickly as possible.
Wipe Prevention – (n.) – \?w?p\ \pri-?ven(t)-sh?n\ – the concept of having at least one raiding member with the ability to Resurrect other members still alive after all other raiders are dead, and the boss or mobs have reset.
Because the entire purpose of wipe-prevention is time-efficiency, it has always frustrated me when the player charged with reviving the raid seems to have no concept of whom to rez first, second, or last. It gets worse when no one else in the raid seems to know what to do, either. After my guild’s last efforts in Sunwell, I decided to write a quick tutorial:
This is the most crucial point, but even within this simple concept, it makes the most sense to pick some rezzers over others. Three classes have out of combat resurrection spells. Priests have Resurrection, which costs 60% of our base mana. Shamans have Ancestral Spirit which costs 72% of their base mana, and Paladins have Redemption which costs 64% of their base mana. It makes sense to pick up your Priests first, since they will be able to resurrect the most people without having to stop and drink. Remember that HEALER doesn’t necessarily mean REZZER. Druids can obviously not help here, but non-healing Priests, Shamans, and Paladins should. Don’t let them be lazy.
Personally, 60% of my base mana is 1,500. My Shammie brothers-in-arms’ rezzes cost as much as 3,000. I only have to drink to the point where I have 3,000 of my mana back and my regen will allow me to chain-cast rezzes without stopping until the whole raid is up. It makes more sense to pick me up than to pick up an ele shaman with only 250 mp5 and a 9k mana pool.
This means warlocks who need to summon healthstones and demons, Hunters who have to revive their pets, and buff-classes who will need to fill their mana in order to buff. (Mages, Druids)
Rogues who may need to apply poisons, non-buffing (usually feral) Druids, and Warriors.
That can sound like a whole bunch of rules, but the underlying principle is very simple: Rez the people who can help get the rest of the raid up as quickly as possible first. Rez the people who need time to get ready second. Rez the people who need the least time last. You can save enough time this way to get in more attempts, avoid re-clearing trash, or keep a night of farm content from drawing out much longer than it should.
Matt’s going to kill me for this one, but he’s off studying for mid-terms and left me with the keys. I have a couple of actually informative and opinionated posts in the making, but they’re not yet ready for public consumption – and most people wouldn’t read them on a Saturday, anyway.
One of the really cool things about WoW is how much time and effort Blizzard put into making our virtual home visually stunning. Most of us probably have at least one screenshot of a sunset or moonrise. Here are a few of my favorite non-landscapes from over the years. If you decide to link to your own in the comments, or click on a link provided, please use caution.
I took my dog fishing with me. He’s good company
We all got naked for the Illidan pics – There was a lot of reshuffling and “Can you hold this for me? My bags are full!!”
Very artistic, for a duel, don’t you think?
It was one of the other girls’ ideas….. The surprise was that the raid went along with it.
That big moon you can see from places in Black Temple is actually Azeroth. You can see the Maelstrom in the middle, there. This is on Illidan’s spire.
Still one of my favorite shots – my human wasn’t 70 yet, and I was puttering around in Nagrand. Yes, I farmed the rep for a real Darnassus tiger.
There’s a better action shot of this duel… But the speech bubble makes the joke.
Some back-story here: I met Tras while I was leveling through STV. He’s one of those 70’s that likes to gank all day. When I didn’t see him for a while, I got a little worried about him (I know, carebear.), so I asked a friend to roll hordeside and send him an in-game mail. We started talking on vent, and became good friends. One day, world defense was spamming about STV, and I thought I knew who it was. I showed up to watch the chaos, and a lowbie (no doubt tired of corpse-running) asked me to DO SOMETHING. Nevermind that a Holy Priest in full PvE gear is no match for a Fire Mage atop a yardarm, I went in swinging. I don’t think the lowbie thought it was very funny…..
So I was walking through Shat one day…. and saw this nonsense going on. Proof that Shamans are powerless under a full moon.
I raided with stock UI all the way up to Vashj and Kael. No lie. And this was on a 15” monitor. Yeah, I don’t know how I did it, either.
This appeals to my girly aesthetics.
Learning Archi is fun. Thankfully, fire doesn’t damage your armor.
And that’s pretty much a round-up. There are more, of course, but most of them are more meaningful to the people and guilds that they feature. If you haven’t done it in a while, I recommend flipping through your screenshots. The nostalgia factor is enough to make it worthwhile, and you just might find yourself some new wallpaper.
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My name is Matticus and this is my World of Warcraft blog. Here you can read about my thoughts regarding healing as a priest. As a guild master, I also write about guild and raid related topics. The blog has expanded to include thoughts from other regular contributors. The aim of this blog is to help you grow and improve. My unending goal is to have something relevant and useful in every post. or more, you can check out my columns on WoW Insider. Visit Plus Heal to talk shop with other healers. Or if you're looking to join a guild, check out my guild Conquest.