Mercury

•January 9, 2011 • 8 Comments

This has absolutely nothing to do with Warcraft.  Pass by if you like.  It’s not fun either.  I’m mostly posting this for myself.

I’ve debated for a bit how to make this post…or whether to.  I’ve been distracted by Cataclysm, and gearing for raids.  I’ve even been too distracted to post my (very much appreciated) Guest Posts and other posts I spent hours writing.  There were also the the holidays, which I have, unfortunately, generally find depressing the last few years.  And also, inconveniently or not, I needed to get my computer repaired again, causing me to be completely off the radar for a bit.  But it’s really been something else.

My favoritest cat passed away recently and this hit me a lot harder than I expected.

Again, feel free to bypass this post if it doesn’t call out to you.

He was a really delightful guy.  He slept with me – right by my pillow – every night for years.  He curled up right next to me when I got on my computer every day, resting his head on my wrist as I played.  Most people I raid with don’t know how often he was there too, nuzzling me when we all wiped.  He spent time with me every single morning when I woke up; every day I came home late from work.  Friends got used to hearing him bleat like a little lamb in the background in vent during quiet times, when he’d come up to me with his favorite toy – a stuffed cherry – and beg me (quite audibly) to throw it for him and play fetch.

He was the bestest cat ever, and I can’t begin to say how brave he was in facing a chronic illness for more than a year.  How he woke up every day ready to play and have fun and love me, regardless of being weak or sick.  He’s made every single day better since I took him home five years ago.

But one day, he couldn’t.

His sister and I are trying to figure things out.

She’s lonely and doesn’t get what happened to her lifetime companion…and I know better and I’m still wondering what happened to the sweet guy who got me through the last few years of trials in my life.  I think we may be adopting soon (since someone won’t let me sleep for trying to play for hours at a time.)  Meanwhile, I’m trying to help her…and find a little peace myself.

I seem fine until I try to talk about it.

So I don’t.

If you have a beloved cat (or even a dog *gasp* or turtle or parrot or petofanysort), please toss him or her a toy or a special treat today.  Just for Merc.

Cataclysm Faction Rewards for Priests

•December 4, 2010 • 9 Comments

Greetings, fellow priests and priest supporters!  My name is Oestrus and I’m the holy priest contributor, over at Divine Aegis and the former resto druid voice behind The Stories Of O.  The creator of this fine site is busy with some exciting real life endeavors and put out a call for her fellow bloggers to provide some guest posts to this page.  The fantastic Beruthiel provided the last one and now it is my turn.

For my turn at the podium, I decided that I would talk about the recently released updates on the new factions that are going to be featured in Cataclysm and which factions should be at the top of your list to grind and why.

So, without further ado, here are my top 3 factions to grind in Cataclysm – in order of overall quality of rewards for priests.

Third Place: Therazane (Deepholm)

Therazane is to Cataclysm what Sons of Hodir were to Wrath of the Lich King.  This is the faction that most of us will be getting out shoulder enchants from.  Unlike the Sons of Hodir offerings, there is no choice between a intellect/critical strike and an intellect/spirit enchant.  There is only one choice for all casters and that one involves intellect/haste. As luck would have it, these are terrific stats for any priest to have, so the lack of choice is not really a bad thing.

Like the Sons of Hodir, this faction has very little to offer other than the shoulder enchants for those that are Exalted with Therazane.  There is a lesser version of the shoulder enchants, which you can receive at Honored with Therazane and then a blue quality caster DPS ring that you could possibly reforge to include spirit on it.  Otherwise nothing else of real value can be found with this faction.

Second Place:  Guardians of Hyjal (Mount Hyjal)

The Guardians of Hyjal have much more to offer, starting with the de facto head enchant for all casters, which includes intellect/critical strike rating.  Critical strike rating isn’t too wonderful for holy priests, with the exception of being useful for Inspiration, but discipline priests should enjoy that small boost to their character sheets.  Similiar to Therazane, there are no real choices for casters seeking a current head enchant.  This is the only one we get.

This faction also offers two blue cloaks to choose from, the Cloak of the Dryads and the Thousand Bandage Drape .  Both have very similiar stats and only require Honored reputation with the Guardians of Hyjal.  Personally, I would lean towards the Cloak of the Dryads, because you can obtain it at level 83 and it offers more spirit and stamina than the other cloak.  The high amount of mastery can be reforged into something else, based on your needs (such as haste) or you can keep it on there, if you feel you are at a point where large amounts of mastery are useful for you.

The most enticing reward from the Guardians of Hyjal, next to the head enchant is the Cord of Raven Queen, an epic quality belt you can receive at Exalted.  It comes with a healthy amount of stamina and spirit and a blue gem slot, which you can place a intellect/spirit gem in and receive a nice socket bonus of 10 intellect.  Again, the mastery can easily be reforged into something else, based on your personal tastes or needs at the time.

First Place:  Horde – Hellscream’s Reach/ Alliance – Baradin’s Wardens (Tol Barad)

Tol Barad has been described as a combination of Wintergrasp and the Isle of Quel’danas, from Burning Crusade.  One portion will consist of an outdoor PVP zone that the Alliance and Horde can fight for control of, which will unlock Baradin Hold and provide encounters similiar to Archavon, Toravon and such.  The other side of Tol Barad will consist of a daily quest hub and will contain more dailies for the faction in control at the time.

First up is the Shimmering Morningstar, a great one handed mace with a strong amount of initial spellpower and nice all around stats, which you can pick up at Revered.  If you prefer staves, there is the Insidious Staff, which could be reforged to include spirit and would also make a nice initial offering for an up and coming priest.  The staff is also available at Revered with your particular branch of Tol Barad faction (depending on whether you’re Alliance or Horde).

The real draw to being Exalted with the Tol Barad factions is the Mandala of Stirring Patterns.  This epic quality trinket is an amazing find and I could easily see this being equivalent to the Majestic Dragon Figurine or the Spark of Hope, in terms of being a solid overall regen trinket that got us through a lot of initial content.  The sizeable amount of spirit works well with Meditiation and Holy Concentration, for holy priests and could go along nicely with the Heartsong enchant that is thought to be a top weapon enchant for priests.

Another trinket available at Exalted is the Mirror of Broken Images.  This one comes with a lot of mastery and has a chance to increase resistances to certain types of spells for a brief period and it comes with a short cooldown.  I wouldn’t rule this one out, just yet.  It could be useful for fights like Sindragosa, where having any form of resistance is certainly welcome.  This trinket could also see more use, if you’re at a point where you are good on all of your other stats and you feel your mastery rating could really use some improvement.  A lesser version of this trinket is available at Honored and comes with the ability to summon a Fallen Grunt to your side temporarily.  No real word yet on what exactly the Fallen Grunt does, but I can’t imagine it would be terribly useful for healing priests.

In addition to the weapons and trinkets available, this is the only faction that appears to offer some form of drake as a reputation reward, available at Exalted, along with a very neat looking ground mount.  For pet enthusiasts, there is a Rustberg Gull available at Honored that you could add to your collection.

Runner Up:  Ramkahen (Uldum)

They have camel mounts.  Need I say more?

Last Minute To Do List

•November 26, 2010 • 1 Comment

The Shattering is upon us!

I’m impressed with the changes to Org.  I’m going to miss Dalaran, and I’ve been a little disappointed to get stuck in that same old city my bank alt has lived in for years.  But it’s really not the same old city.  I like moving the zeppelins and flight points to Upper Org.  I love how there are several little enclaves you can choose from to make your home base.  The colors are wonderful, as is the contrast between the lush ponds and plants to the preparations for war.

I enjoyed the Plants vs. Zombies mini game as well, and went ahead and got it done on two 80s so far.  My only disappointment is that they appear to have removed the endless mode and the related achievement.  Pout.

That’s all I’ve done so far.  I have to admit that I’ve been a bit distracted with The Move.  All has gone well, and I am in the new place, and I have The Internets back, which is a huge relief.  I did manage to catch a bit of a cold though, so I’m trying to take it easy and drink orange juice and stuff and not kill myself unpacking.  There are a couple more guest posts in the works for your enjoyment while I am occupied with Kleenex and endless boxes.

There are still a few little things I’d like to do before December 7th though…

  • Get lit on fire by Deathwing. A girl can hope.
  • Finish leveling fishing on my Priest. The new food and fish are going to be very expensive to purchase, and I would like to have my buff food ready for raiding with as little fuss as possible.  As boring as fishing is now, it’s going to be worse when there are levels to gain and new and wondrous things to see.  I’m somewhere in the two hundreds now, so this shouldn’t be too hard.
  • Keep up with the new cooking dailies. Why not take a few minutes a day and get a head start on this?
  • Complete Pilgrim’s Bounty on my Shaman. I guess I’m weird with holiday achievements.  I can only bear to do one character per holiday per year (if that), but I get inspired to pick a different character for each one.  (Except for Children’s Week.  OMG cute pets.)  There’s no real reasoning much of the time…it just happens.  This year I wanted to take the opportunity of boosting my new to 80 Shaman’s cooking skill up, and it just feels right to complete the achievements.  I have most of it completed…I just need to run around and turn in a couple days worth of dailies for the rouge shooter dealies, and do the PvP achievements.  (I’m really not looking forward to that part; I hope I can drag a few friends along with me for it.)
  • Farm more Justice Badges for my Shaman. My Priest of course is maxed out already, but my little Shaman was busy buying his T10 gear.  That’s done now, but I’m only at about 900 badges left.  I’d like to get at least another 2K for him.  We’ll see if I can get motivated enough to get that done.
  • Pick out a leveling build for my Priest…and write a post about it. Yes, you can expect at least one post of substance before December 7th.
  • Pick an alt to level. It is time to decide on a companion for my leveling buddy’s Goblin Rogue.  I’m vaguely considering a Hunter or a Warlock…but I just don’t know.  I like the idea of having a pet class that can competently “tank” for soloing and paired questing.  I feel weird playing a class without a healing spec, but I don’t really want to level a duplicate.  I have heirlooms for tanking or for any caster, but I’d need to get the shoulders and chest for the Hunter.  (I do already have the bow.)  I’m strongly tempted with reports of how fun and new questing is to give Loremaster a shot as I go instead of doing nothing but five mans until Northrend.  I’ve played both classes until 20, though of course that was before all the changes.  I may need to give one or both a try again to see which appeals more.  Anyone have an opinion?
  • Review my financial plan. I didn’t make as much money as I could have on my old server with glyphs.  But I have more than I can really imagine ever spending and feel like I’ll “never have to craft again”.  And plenty of inventory left.  But I want to start out Cataclysm on my new server with my main in a good position.  I don’t have very much capital at all, and honestly don’t have much of a plan.  One thing I do know is that I want to start by focusing on my professions and be diligent with my Jewelcrafting dailies.  I know I under-utilized that as a source of income.  I suppose I should list and plan out ideas for each profession.  And plan out any non-profession related plans I have as well.  I should probably set out at least an hour each week for auctioning and crafting and reviewing how things are going.  Maybe a weekly blog post would motivate me?
  • Create a guild for my bank alt. Yeah, it’s time.  I need to get myself organized, and I need a little more space.  But mostly it’s a good way to keep track of how much I’m investing and spending (since I can “deposit” my savings.)

P.S.  Tam lead me to this amusing commercial for the new Smite spec.

Zen and the Art of Healing Assignments

•November 22, 2010 • 3 Comments

Hello! I am Beruthiel, Ecclesiastical Discipline is busy moving to some shiny new digs (with a great view of Manhattan as I understand it *jealous*), and has asked some folks to help her with some guest posts in her absence while she’s busy drowning in boxes, packing tape and peanuts! I offered to lend a hand, and ED let me know that she is quite curious on how I make decisions with regards to healing assignments. And so I thought I’d take the topic up and explore what goes behind my thoughts when I assign my healers during a raid.

When I’m working through raid strategies before our first pull on any boss, I try to work out in advance what we may be looking at as far as healing is concerned. The following are some of the things that I take into consideration when I make preliminary decisions – keeping in mind that sometimes you have to change things if “plan A” doesn’t work out!

Know The Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Healing Class.

The first thing that I try to make sure I am familiar with are the strengths and weaknesses each class possesses. I follow the changes for each of the 4 healing classes, and do fairly regular research on each class. My feedreader has at least 2 blogs for each healing class, and I make regular visits over to EJ to help me get some perspective on how other end game healers are dealing with the current raid content. On top of that, I also have one of each healing class that I try to raid with, to one extent or another, so that I have some first hand experience with what my healing team is experiencing during raids.

It’s imperative to make sure that you thoroughly understand where the strengths and weaknesses of each class lie – so that you make assignments that play to the strengths of each healer. This will help to make the raid smoother, and your healers feel more confident because you are playing towards the strengths of their toolkit.

Know The Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Individual Player.

I think that this is almost as important as familiarizing yourself with each healing class. It is imperative that you know the team that you are working with inside and out.

  • Know who has fast reflexes, or who is slower to react.
  • Know who plays with some lag – which has a tremendous effect on healing.
  • Know who has trouble making snap decisions.
  • Know who may struggle with a complex healing assignment.
  • Know the play style of each member of your team.

Regardless of the first point made above, you always want to make sure that you make assignments that favor the individual players on your raid team. If you have the member of your healing team that is running at 6 fps during a damage intensive encounter (think Festergut or BQL), you probably don’t want to give them the assignment of “heal the raid”, or if you do, make sure that they have adequate support in that assignment.

Knowing where your players will excel will make your chances of success increase tremendously. And, really, this is true for your entire raid team, not just your healers!

Learn to Work With What is Available to You.

Just as important as knowing your players, is knowing your raid team. I am a firm believer of always thinking outside of the box, and learning to work encounters with the raid team we have. Sometimes this makes some encounters more challenging than they need to be, but our guild puts a lot of focus on the person behind the computer. As such, we are unlikely to bench someone because we think we need more of “class x” to succeed. Every encounter can be achieved with almost any reasonable raid composition.

Hell – we did the majority of this expansion with only one Holy Paladin. That’s right, during the course of this expansion we healed every encounter, save Lich King, on heroic with only one Holy Paladin. And sometimes, we did them with zero Holy Paladins. And yes, folks, no matter what else you may read – you can heal Valithria to full without a Holy Paladin.

However, it also means that we had to give out some healing assignments that may have seemed “unconventional”. For almost the entire expansion, because we had only one holy paladin, we had a disc priest that spent most of their time tank healing. We’ve also had resto druids and resto shaman help out in the tank heal category as well. I guess what I’m trying to hammer home is that you should never box yourself in with a “it can’t be done” mentality. Because yes, it can be done. You just have to work with the tools that you’ve got.

Honestly, with the homogenization of the healing classes coming with Cataclysm – it’s going to be even easier to work with the healers available to you. And you know what? We’ve got a foot up on that one – because we’ve been playing with that mentality for the past 6 years! Who needs Holy Paladins anyhow! ;)

Become Familiar With An Encounters Demands

I think that this one is probably fairly obvious, but it probably needs to be said! In making a healing assignment you need to know what to expect from an encounter – and if you are going into it blind, you need to be ready to make adjustments where they are needed. Some of the key things to take note of when preparing healing for an encounter are:

  • Will the tank be getting hit like a truck?
    • Will there be spike damage on the tank?
    • Will there be steady, but heavy, damage on the tank?
  • Will there be multiple tanks?
  • Will there be constant raid damage?
  • Will there be periodic raid damage?
  • Will there be spike damage on the raid?

Once you’ve established what you will be dealing with, you can then plan on how to counter that through heals.

Be Open to Making Changes if Something isn’t Working.

No strategy will be perfect and flawless outside of the gate. If something isn’t working – be ready to explore more effective ways to deal with the problems that have been presented. After a wipe, I will often ask in our healing channel “What happened?” and try to evaluate if it was a poor healing assignment, or an error on any given healer’s part. Once that’s been done, I then try to work through how to either fix the problem, or ensure that we don’t have a repeat of the problem.

But sometimes, things just really aren’t working. It’s those times that you have to step back and decide if the entire healing strategy needs to be re-worked. If that is the case, try to work with your healing team to get feedback on what they felt was successful and what wasn’t, and then subsequently what changes can be made.

Don’t Believe Everything the Meters Tell You

This one is important enough, that I think I’d like to reiterate this: Don’t believe everything that the meters tell you.

The problem with meters in evaluating a healer, is that they can’t take into account if the healer truly did their job. I think it’s also important for raid members to come to this understanding as well. What? A disc priest looks like they were outhealed by the shadow priest on Recount? Well…did you look at what their absorbs were? No? Go take a look at World of Logs and then get back to me and tell me what you think. Druid X isn’t healing as much as druid B? Do you know what their healing assignment was for the night? Ohhhh…I see, Druid X was asked to heal the tank and druid B was asked to heal the raid? Well, that would make a huge difference in their numbers then I would imagine, no?

There is so much more to healing than “winning” the meters. When push comes to shove – I don’t really care what the meters look like if the raid stayed alive and we succeeded. Quite frankly, I’d much rather have a healer that put their assignment first – and succeeded at that, than a healer that let their assignment die because they were “healing someone else”. Don’t get me wrong, healing meters can tell you a lot. But make no mistake about it – they will not always tell you who is a good healer.

Looking Forward – Giving Strict Healing Assignments

During WotLK we gave out strict healing assignments when we were learning an encounter – or if we needed to change healing up based on who was present in the raid. However, once we got familiar with content and it went on “farm” I stopped giving out assignments. People largely knew what to do – and we just did it. At most I’d give “xyz on the tanks, abc on the raid”. And frequently I’d give very loose assignments where others were far more rigid – because I felt that it was a better way to heal.

Take Heroic Sindragosa for example. I know that there were many people who were quite rigid in healing assignments allocating certain people to the tanks and certain people to the raid. However – due to the mechanics of the encounter – and the fact that you could not predict who would be affected with Unchained Magic – the only healing assignment that I gave to our team was “everyone is responsible for the entire raid and the tank”. That’s right – I basically told my healers that they were all responsible for…well, everything. And honestly, I think it was probably one of the best healing assignments I gave the entire expansion. We never had the tank die because too many “tank” healers were debuffed…because we had 7 tank healers.

Anyhow – I digress!

Looking forward into Cataclysm, I suspect that healing assignments are going to have to become much more rigid, as they were in Vanilla and TBC. Healers are going to have their assignment, and largely, they aren’t going to be able to stray too much from that assignment because their mana won’t let them. There is a good chance that on some encounters we will have to give raid healers assigned groups that they are responsible for, and not just “heal the raid”, and tank healers are not going to have a lot of leeway to vary from that assignment.

I think it’s going to be an interesting change – and perhaps, if it’s done well – a good change. I truly believe that we have yet to see what our new tool kits will do for us – I, for one, have been religiously trying to do more than just rejuv/wg spam in my raids since 4.0.1 landed. I’m making sure that I always have a Lifebloom active, that I make smart decisions on who I heal, and that I think about what I’m doing. Now, granted, you can only do that to a certain extent in this content, but going forward I think it’s going to be very interesting indeed.

What Kinds of Things Do You Look for in Giving Healing Assignments? What Kinds of Things Do You Look for in Receiving Healing Assignments? Have you ever done things unconventionally, or does thinking outside of the box make you nervous? What are you looking forward too most with Cataclysm Healing? Conversely, what are you least looking forward to?

And for those of you that read this post hoping to get a level of philosophical insight regarding healing akin to that of Robert M. Pirsig, I do apologize! I’m not sure I’ve had the right level of herbal assistance and motor oil to achieve such insight ;)

Contest!

•November 11, 2010 • 11 Comments

In my pathetic inability to even catch up with the hundreds of blog posts in my reader…I give up.  I can’t post real stuff right now.  Here’s where you come in.

I’d love to see a few guest posts in the next couple weeks.  Fun or serious, priestly or healy preferred, but anything is game.  Respond to this in a comment or a personal email with a topic, and I’ll throw you into the running for a Nifty Secret Handmade Prize*.

OMG I has prizes!  Really.  You know not my excitement.

*And it’ll take me a few weeks to, you know, hand make it and send it to you, but it’s totally nifty.  And secret.

On the Value of Comments

•November 11, 2010 • 1 Comment

This last week I posted about feeling stressed about some in process life changes that are both complicated and exciting.

I was really a bit blown over by the comments I got on that post.

A lot of people dropped by to take the time to offer some words of encouragement.  Some of whom I know a bit in the blogoshpere, and some of whom I don’t know at all.  Okay, it really wasn’t that many people…my readership isn’t even all that huge.  But I found it very touching that anyone took the time.  Thank you so much.  Little bits of encouragement every time I logged on really made a difference in keeping my spirits and motivation up this week.

Once again, I think I’ve gotten so much more out of joining the blogging community than I ever expected.  You guys rock!  It’s really made me feel like I should push myself a little more to comment when I see a post I find helpful or someone could use some encouragement.  I could definitely find the time to do that more often.  It was the first non WoW related post I’ve put up, and that in itself makes the responses surprising.  I feel blessed to have you all.

You may have also noticed that I have a cute new icon for comments now instead of the default WordPress orange thing on both my blog and twitter.  That’s all the doings of Beru.  She took the time  and initiative to Photoshop up some character art for me.  She made me icons in several sizes, and let me know the easiest way to upload them so they’d show up everywhere.  She even remembered me saying a while back how much it meant to me to complete the Algalon quest and see the Dalaran sky turn all dark purple and stary…so she chose that as a background.  It was just about the best surprise ever.  And it was even better that I got her email just as things seemed the worst.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make everything better.

Forgive Me…

•November 8, 2010 • 7 Comments

Look.  I’m not the world’s most regular poster.  But…this month?  It’s just not going to happen.

I’m moving.  I got my new apartment lease signed today, and I can move in as soon as I want to.  (/insert terror).  Obviously this is cool.  I really like the apartment.  High ceilings, hardwood floors, and views of Manhattan are all exciting perks.  I’m excited to live alone again for the first time in years.  (OMG closets I can put things in.)  I’ll even have an amazing vintage bathtub, something I can’t even imagine how I survived without for the last two years.

All of this is a Good Thing.  But it’s stressful.  And time consuming.  And I could move as soon as a week from now (though it’s more likely to be two weeks out).  And I can’t be sure when I’ll get Internet switched on there.  But I’m buying appliances, planning my packing, cleaning…everything.  I’m a busy girl.

Oh, and there’s breaking up with my boyfriend, drama with my living situation, problems with work, a cold coming on, and a downturn in my sick cat’s health.  Vet visits!  Post-break-up attempts to be “friends” and raid together!   Unpredictable fights with my roommate!  Sigh.

All I want to do is drink tea, cuddle, and eat comfort food.  At least I can regularly do two of those.  So raiding and blogging are going to get shoved into the “gee, if I have time and an Internet connection” box as needed.

Update:  Thank you for all the support.  I’m sorry if I sound whiny.  That’s not how I really feel right now.  I’m bouncing off the walls.  I’m really thrilled about everything.  I just need to get the energy going to get it all together.  My life is going to be so much better in a month. Or even a few weeks.  I’ll let you know.

Also, you can beg for pictures.  I’ll have to see if I can make that happen with my cheep phone this weekend.

 
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