T11 Bonus Comparison for Healers

•November 6, 2010 • 7 Comments

The more I look at the tier 11 bonuses to healing, the more I am underwhelmed.  Not only are they fairly boring and unexciting, they seem to be badly balanced between the classes.  After spending ten minutes ranting to a friend about it, I figured out I had enough material for a full post.

Two Piece Bonus

  • Shaman – Increases the critical strike chance of Healing Wave by 5%. Basic.  Simple.  Boring.
  • Paladin – Increases the critical strike chance of your Holy Light spell by 5%. Sound familiar yet?
  • Priest – Increases the critical strike chance of Heal by 5%. This is a much better bonus for Holy than it is for Discipline.  As Disc is balanced around Smite being the go-to spell, rather than Heal, this is one more reason I don’t really want tier gear.  Even for Holy, its pretty bland.
  • Druid – Increases the critical strike chance of the periodic portion of your Lifebloom spell by 5%. Interesting.  A push towards tank healing rather than the default basic heal.

Okay, so it’s the first tier set for the expansion.  I keep getting told it’s supposed to be a bit boring, so there’s somewhere to go with it.  This yawn inspiring?  Sigh.

Four Piece Bonus

Every one of the four piece healing bonuses is an increase to Spirit.  I know Spirit is going to matter more when (and if) mana becomes an issue to manage during a fight.  I get that.  But more Spirit isn’t exactly fun and exciting.  It’ll either turn out to be more situational (because mana only matters on some fights) or it’ll be a required buff to maintain constantly in order to heal at all (kinda think this is Blizzard’s aim).  Either way, I’m not impressed.  What I find particularly lame about it, is how much harder it is for some classes and specs to maintain than others.

  • Discipline Priest – Each time your Penance heals someone with Weakened Soul, you gain 540 Spirit for 10 seconds. Penance is one of our best spells, and with raid members consistently low on health, this is the perfect mana efficient option to give them a big boost up.  I’d expect to Penance on most fights on the cooldown (every 10 seconds glyphed).  But it’s a little awkward to have to use it on someone with Weakened Soul…particularly as it’s one of the most useful spells in a emergency when a friend is desperately low on health.  It also takes a little effort to make sure someone is infected with the debuff before each Penance; to maintain this perfectly, one would need to shield the best Penance target in advance – or loose the Spirit boost for 10 seconds.
  • Holy Priest – Chakra state grants you 540 Spirit. With the way Chakra works on the beta right now (30 second duration and cooldown), there’s no reason at all you can’t maintain a Chakra state at all times with the most minimal of efforts.  It’s one global cooldown every 30 seconds that’s necessary for healing regardless of the Spirit proc.  Facerollingly easy.
  • Druid – Whenever your Lifebloom is stacked to three, you gain 540 Spirit. This is the hardest of all of the bonuses to maintain.  While I always try to give my Lifebloom to a tank even when I’m raid healing on my tree cow, depending on the fight, I’ll only maintain one stack.  Or I’ll let it drop off when the tank is safe but the raid is in critical shape.  Forcing a druid to keep up three stacks of Lifebloom every ten seconds to maintain their mana seems a bit too much.  Most importantly, if it drops off, it would take a minimum of three global cooldowns to renew this proc – assuming the raid is stable enough that you can afford the time to fast-stack Lifebloom.
  • Shaman – Grants 540 Spirit for 6 seconds after casting Riptide. By far, the most reasonable proc to keep up.  Riptide is a good enough spell that you’d likely want to cast this on cooldown anyways; now you just have more reason to.  Doesn’t require thought or create more interest for the play style at all.  It might occasionally drop off, but it’s simple as pie – and instant – to pick back up.
  • Paladin – When your Holy Radiance is active you gain 1620 Spirit. This amazingly powerful aoe spell lasts for ten seconds and has a 30 second cooldown when talented.  This gives Paladins a bigger burst of mana regen than other classes.  It works out to the equivalent of 540 Spirit constantly.*  The question is will Paladins need to hold off using Holy Radiance on cooldown regularly in order to time it for particular boss abilities?

Does anything about this seem reasonable or fair?  Disc priests didn’t need anything to make their rotation more complex…the rotation is already a bit much.  Shaman could easily handle a little less simplicity.  Meanwhile, Druids are getting pushed heavily back to tank healing.  And Paladins appear to be getting the short end of the stick.  But at least it’s simple.  I have never been the best predictor of things, but I don’t see these going live as they are.

* (10 seconds / 30 seconds) * 1620 Spirit  [thank Kurn for better Paladin math]

Me + PvP

•October 30, 2010 • 3 Comments

…a topic courtesy of Alas.  Kiss My Alas celebrated her first blogoversery this week, and she’s celebrating by nagging all her friends…errr…suggesting blog posts.  If you don’t read Alas, she’s a mage and a GM of a ten man guild that seems to have a lot of fun while killing internet dragons.  There’s quite a bit of silly going on over there, and we all need some comic relief sometimes.  Also, she has the bestest rewrite of Pride and Prejudice ever.  So check her out.  Meanwhile, here’s what she talked me into writing about:

“You said recently you were doing some of the holiday achievements and that usually means some PvP. PvP isn’t something I have seen you talk about much so I am curious how you feel disc priests hold up in battlegrounds. I personally find them impossible to kill. How does it look from the other side? With your cheaty, cheaty bubbles?”

First, it isn’t an accident that I don’t talk about PvP.  I don’t do very much of it.  What I do partake of, I’m bad at.  I wouldn’t begin to offer anyone else any insight or advice on the topic.  So I don’t write about it.  Long ago in a galaxy far away, I played a mage as my main.  As much as everyone talks about how mages are all nice and stuff for PvP, I always hated it.  It wasn’t until I had my priesty at 80 and got drug around by my guild that I realized “Hey, maybe I don’t hate this quite as much as I thought.”

Healing in battlegrounds is totally different than dps or PvE healing.  I enjoy how challenging it is, but without all the high stakes of hardcore raiding.  (Feel free to disagree with me on that.)  People in PvP seem to expect to die…so I didn’t “fail” when they did.  It’s nothing like wiping on a boss.  Yet there are complex, always changing, spiky damage healing situations that are really fun to attempt to salvage.  Discipline Priests are perfect for it really.  Disc has always been wickedly overpowered for prevention and spot healing changing targets.  We’re a great mobile healer.  We have cooldowns.  We have a fear.  I’m not convinced at all I’m good at it, but I rely a lot on bubbles and penance, then anything else that makes sense to keep people up.  Healing priority is Me, then people I like who are hitting things, than anyone in range.  Oh, and drink some Pigmy stuff, hide if you can, and get the fuck away from anyone mean.

My priest got the horseman mount this year.  First day of the event, first character I logged on to, first try.  (My guild-mates summarily demoted me and refused to talk to me for…well…all of five minutes.)  Then I realized that I’d actually done all the painstaking candy bucket stuff in a previous year while leveling her for fun XP.  I had the Squashling; I was just missing the Helm and the PvP achievement.  Easy enough, right?  So, it became obvious that I needed to get her the achievement this year.

I dread such things.

So I prodded a PvP loving friend into coming with me for moral support to kill mean people who attacked me and explain what the heck I was supposed to do.  Also, PvP is always more fun with friends and vent.  I was actually a bit surprised at how much I *did* know about what I was supposed to do.  It felt more intuitive than it used to.  Somehow I picked up the basics at least.  Somewhere.

I die though. Seems like melee classes can really kick my ass.  I hate Death Grip.  I hate rogues.  They eat me.  Mostly I try to resolve this by staying with people, hiding, and running away from guys with sharp things attacking me.  Oh, and some Psychic Scream.

I really have a mixed feeling about requiring PvP for holiday achievements.  Hopping around as a little bunny and such or escorting an orphan to the Dark Gate may or may not be considered fun by everyone…but they don’t mess with other people doing what they love in game.  I hear a lot from PvPers stating how obnoxious it is to have uncaring tourists showing up to get their achievements without any care to wining the battles.  And I certainly get how frustrating it can be to experiment with PvP just to get them.

The Hallow’s End achievement is not hard at all.  First, you need to run around the world a wee bit collecting candy from baskets to be able to give yourself the appropriate GNERD buff.  (You really don’t need that many.)  Then you need to remember to buff yourself with it.  (Very important.)  Then queue for a random BG and profit.  I got mine in a single Eye of the Storm.  It took me longer to queue because the system is being all weird than to get enough kills for the achievement.

So it was fun for me, and encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone – without making it overly intimidating or messing up how the BGs work.  Other holiday PvP goals are a lot more challenging.  Might I try them this year?  Oh, probably.  But only if I can get some friends to keep me company.

P.S.  Anyone have any favorite places for Discipline PvP resources?  I know I could use some help.


Catching Up…

•October 21, 2010 • 2 Comments

It’s been a hell of a couple of weeks for me personally.  I’ve had issues with my roommate, huge reasons to move out months earlier than I planned, a suddenly sick(er) cat, working double shifts to save the money so I can move, drama at work, reasons to hate all men, and well…what more to you need for an up and down and all over the map stressful as hell week.  Except of course a new patch!  Problems with addons, two new specs to learn, and bugged mechanics.  Combine this with my current inability to feel rested no matter how much sleep I get and…I’m at the breaking point.  I just don’t have the energy to do much other than Trick or Treat and show up for raids, and I’m finding even that totally draining.

I made a guest post over at MMO Melting Pot this weekend – a guide to the changes in the dispel mechanics.  And I’ll have some ideas on priestly healing in 4.0.1 soon.  Meanwhile, it seems an appropriate time to consider how well I did at meeting my pre-Cataclysm goals.  Well….

My Shaman

…was leveled and raid ready just in time for 4.0.1.  I farmed a bit of triumph before it hit, so now I can pick out several frost level items which will set him up quite nicely.  I even managed a few attempts at ten and 25 man raiding.  What I’m most proud of though is that I completed an Ulduar drake run with him just in time to get grandfathered into 310 riding.

My Protadin

My baby Protadin got stuck in her fifties and never recovered.  I’d been leveling her with my boyfriend, and he got distracted with other games and had less free time because of holidays, and then a two week trip out of town.  It became obvious I wasn’t going to get her leveled and geared before the patch hit…and with the state of Paladin tanking right now, I’m almost glad I’m not fighting with it myself.  I have to admit I’m sad that I’m going to miss out on tanking Wrath raids.  I’m a little nervous that when I pick her back up, she’ll  be in that awkward place of not really having her toolkit anymore.  I hope she gets picked back up, but who knows when that will be? 

Money

I continue to fail at making money on my Priest on my new server.  I’m just trying to leak gold more slowly.  I’ve decided I’m waiting for the brave new world of Cataclysm when professions get updated to push hard at that.  I feel like I’m just too far behind the curve to catch up this late.  However, on my old server I managed some wonders with glyphs when 4.0.1 was released.  Okay, “wonders” is overstating it a touch.  I did prepare well and make a decent chunk money though, and as my goal was simply to “get rid of my stock of glyphs” and “have more than 10K gold” I succeeded quite well…and profits are still rolling in.

Professions

My Shaman now has mining at max level, and is ready with mats on hand to level his engineering when 4.0.3 profession changes hit.  My Druid is at Northrend level herbalism, and I just need to find a wee bit more time to finish that off.  Then she’ll be set for Alchemy for 4.0.3.  Conveniently, that will again give me the appropriate gathering on each server to support my Jewelcrafting and Inscription.  Yay.

Plans for the Future

My banks and bags are all in order, my gathering is almost leveled on two toons, and I’ve been spending time auctioning and doing holiday achievements.  Can you tell I’m a bit bored?  It’s time to start doing my dailies like a good girl and max out my badges for all my raiding characters.  I’ve been thinking I might try some Glory of the Hero achievements while I’m at it, just to add a fun goal.  Other than that, I’m ready for the world to implode.  I’m a lot more focused right now on settling everything in my personal life so that I can be moved and settled and stress free for the expansion.

I Can Haz Totems!!!!!!

•October 21, 2010 • 4 Comments

Last I left things off in the world of totems, I was 79 and thrilled about turning 80 the next day.  Well, I did.  And then I wrote up this post.  And promptly forgot to…you know…post it.  So here are my belated thoughts on Shaman healing at 80 – now with some post 4.0.1 notes.

I have to admit I’ve never enjoyed the last leg of leveling quite so much, all do to my wondrous leveling friend.  In celebration of the long-awaited moment, he was thoughtful enough to surprise me with end game glyphs for both of my specs, gems for all my crafted gear, and a complete set of enchanting scrolls to save for when I got my first good piece for each slot.  Along with all the crafted gear, I felt positively pampered.

I’ve been sluggishly gearing my way through randoms…but I’ve also done some Big Boy Raiding.  An ICC 25 even.  (What imbecile lets someone without 200 level gear into an ICC 25 anyways?  No idea – but I was doing well on the healing charts, which was scary enough.)  I did the Malygos weekly as well my first week, and two versions of VOA.  I’m happiest about getting together a pug (pug, no less!) for an Ulduar 10 mount run that was so successful we came back and did Algalon.  Yay for the 310 drake!

I hate that part.  Being 80, but not quite geared.  Desperately needing randoms, and the hellish impatience and GOGOGOGO atmosphere of heroics.  Who even considers mechanics anymore?  Politeness?  The entire experience feels like jumping into a vast pool of rabid sharks and choking on their combined bile.  Okay, it really hasn’t been that bad…but I can only attribute that to my leveling friend, who has kindly pulled out his nicely geared alt to tank for my first week.  I truly do find heroics wear down my general faith in the intelligence and competence of humanity at large.

I’m really enjoying the healing style.  I’m particularly fond of how the spells interact with each other…it makes a healing with a small toolbox interesting and flexible.  I’m surprised I’m not finding the immobility more of a restraint since I’m used to very mobile healers.  I’m really not though.  Again, when I’m doing more serious raiding, I may very well notice it a lot more.  Thankfully, Shaman will have a movement cooldown soon, and that should alleviate that issue.

I’m completely surprised at the one thing that has been bothering me.  Whether it’s using Pain Suppression for particularly nasty moments or stacking the tank with HoTs before a Evil Boss Move or a Penance at just the right time…  I miss my cooldowns, particularly a nice short powerful heal like Penance.  Unleash Elements to the rescue.  (Pity I’ll have to wait until 81 to try it.)

The State of My Priest (4.0.1 Edition)

•October 20, 2010 • 2 Comments

User Interface

I didn’t have as much issue with this as I would have thought.  The most important addons I use to heal were all up and (mostly) working for our first Wednesday night raid: Clique, Dominos, DXE, OmniCC, Pitbull, Power Auras, and Quartz.  A beta of Grid was released and was working well so I decided to stay with that rather than switching back to Vuhdo.  (Hint: Go directly to the WoW Ace site for pre-release updates.)  It was a little awkward with out plugins, but workable.  I quickly checked “on” the most critical debuffs in the Center Icon.  (I have custom debuffs for everything in ICC, but I generally display them using GridIndicatorIconBar.)  I turned on the standard  box displays for Power Word: Shield, Weakened Soul, Prayer of Mending, and Renew.  GridStatusRaid debuff has been a bit buggy, but I hear this version might be working.  And that was it.  Grid was a lot more simple and clean than I’m used to, and it wasn’t too challenging to heal fights I know so well without every single bit of information I’m used to.  Things I definitely missed: mana bars and raid icons.

Most of the major plugins for Grid have been updated (if only as a beta version) at this point.  I am saddened that my beloved GridStatusPWShield appears not to be in development.  (This allows you to see timers for Shields and Weakened Soul color-coded to show how quickly it will expire just like GridStatusHots does for everything else.)  I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with replacements…  But wait!  I noticed just recently (after an hour of trying to figure out how to turn off that lovely shield monitor on my druid when the addon wasn’t even loaded) that PWS and WS functionality has been rolled into GridStatusHots.  I am thrilled.

Another issue I’ve run into is in creating Power Auras for the three Holy Word spells.  It’s a bit annoying since I’m still trying to get used to them, and they are each on a different cooldown.  For some strange reason, I can’t get them working.  But wait!  Derevka  comes to my rescue! Just today, I reworked all of my Power Aura settings into a beautiful spiral of circles to show every meaningful cooldown I have.  The goal is to get more used to casting the new spells and using them effectively on each fight.  There are 12 for Discipline and 11 for Holy.  Geez.  I’m trying to embrace the complication of the priest right now.  I can only hope I won’t find all those indicators distracting.

There are two non-healing addons I’ve been surprised to find that I miss a great deal – RatingBuster and DrDamage.  The benefits of simple numerical comparison between the stats on two items of gear is obvious.  With all the changes to mechanics and spells, I’m pining after the ability to mouseover a spell and see how much it actually heals for with my gear, how many ticks it has, and what the mana efficiency is.  If it isn’t updated soon, I’ll have to find the time to test every spell out by hand.  Meanwhile, I turned on a mod for scrolling combat text, so I can get a better feel for what is effectively healing (or not) as I play.  Unfortunately I’m finding scrolling combat text obnoxiously distracting on many 25 man ICC fights.

Reforging

Yes, I have played around a little with reforging.  I took the four pieces of gear specifically for my “bubble spam” set, and shifted the spirit to mastery.  I can’t seem to run out of mana as a Disc priest now no matter how hard I try, and picking up another 7% to absorbs increases my happiness.

I have not yet bothered to reforge to balance out my haste.  I use a single haste set for Discipline tank healing and Holy…and they both have different hate cap needs.  With Holy I’m looking for that extra Renew tick…while with Disc I’m looking for that extra Penance tick.  (Also, I hear that extra Penance tick is broken right now.)  Throughput is not a problem doing this level of content, and I’m still experimenting with mana consumption for Holy.  So I’m waiting another week or two, playing with the mechanics, and seeing which spec I’ll be playing more and want to fine tune my gear around.

Talents

For Discipline, I’m going with a 31/3/0 build.  I wanted to try out a lot of the new talents, even if I wasn’t convinced they’d be useful at present.  Much of this is obvious.  I opted for haste over mana returns because my haste is a bit low still and mana is infinite.  I might shift around Inner Focus, Train of Though, and Strength of Soul depending on my priorities.

For Holy, I’m liking 3/31/2.  There doesn’t seem a lot that’s up for decision here.  I’m just filing things in where needed to progress, again taking haste over mana returns.

Glyphs

Prime

  • PenanceReduces the cooldown by 2 seconds. This is a staple Discipline glyph.  I know two seconds doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a great glyph now.  It’ll be even better at 80.  Penance is a comparatively strong, quick, mana efficient heal at 85.  You’ll want to use it every chance you get.
  • Power Word: ShieldInstantly heals shielded targets for 20% of the absorb. While we won’t be blanketing shields as much as we used to, this has always been a great glyph for Disc.  Beyond the actual heal amount, this allows your shield casts (which don’t count as heals) to proc trinkets and assorted healing effects.
  • Prayer of HealingAdds a HoT to your Prayer of Healing targets, healing them for another 20% of the heal over 6 seconds. I always liked the idea of this glyph, but I never felt like the long cast time of PoH and the current state of overhealing made it very useful.  I am trying it out now in both specs now, and think it’ll be a very decent glyph in Cataclysm.
  • Power Word: BarrierIncreases healing under the barrier by 10%. I can’t make up my mind about this one.  On one hand, shields are intended to be preventative, and PWB breaks quickly in a raid.  This makes throwing it up just after heavy damage a more appealing option – to keep people stable and boost AoE healing to get them back to full.  Interesting.
  • Renew10% to Renew. A solid Holy choice if you favor a Renew Holy style.
  • Guardian SpiritReduces the cooldown by 30 seconds. I really miss the old glyph.  I liked feeling like a “wasted” GS didn’t rob you of your cooldown for the full time period.  I might use this for fights where I foresee the tank needing help with cooldowns multiple times, however this feels like a very situational choice.
  • LightwellAdds five charges to your Lightwell. I have trouble imagining this glyph truly shining.  But right now it’s useless; I’m still trying to train my raid to touch the Lightwell at all.
  • Flash HealPlus 10% crit on targets below 25% health. This is useless in current content, but I could see it being a strong option for progressive encounters in Cataclysm.

Major

  • Holy NovaReduces the cooldown of your Holy Nova to half a second. I’m still trying to figure out how best to use Holy Nova nowadays, but I’m trying this out to see how I like it.
  • Divine AccuracyHit cap for Smite. A must have for an Atonement Smiting priest.
  • Circle of HealingHeals one more target. Need I say more?
  • Dispel MagicAdds a heal to your dispels. I’d consider this for specific fights if I was assigned to dispels.  I’m not though, so I doubt I’ll use this much.
  • Fear WardReduces the cooldown and duration by a minute. Very situational, but I’d use this on Blood Queen or another relevant predictable fear fight.
  • Phychic ScreamEnemies will cower in place now. A must have for crowd control in Cataclysm, but not so useful right now.
  • Spirit of RedemptionIncreases the duration by 6 seconds. My raid leader calls this the “fail angel”.  As much as it can be embarrassing to die (and to have everyone in the raid see the wings and know it was you), it’s nice to make that death be as meaningful as possible.  Besides, there are not a lot of non-situational compelling options for Holy.  Why not?

Minor

  • FortitudeReduces mana cost by 50%. Helpful for mid-fight rebuffs.  
  • Shadow ProtectionIncreases the duration by 10 minutes. Eh.
  • ShadowfiendRestores 5% of your mana if your cute shadowy pet dies. I don’t generally find this to be a problem now that pets take reduced aoe damage.
  • LevitateNo more feathers. Why not?

In summary:  Power Word: Shield and Penance still feel like requirements for Discipline; choose between Power Word: Barrier or Prayer of Healing depending on your style.  Renew and Prayer of Healing are the strongest Holy prime glyphs.  Consider Guardian Spirit, Lightwell, or Flash Heal depending on the fight and your raid.  Divine accuracy and Circle of Healing are the winners for Discipline and Holy respectively.  Fill in the rest however you prefer for your situation.  There simply isn’t much to say about minor glyphs; it’s the same choices we’ve had for months.  Only Fortitude and Shadowfiend have a chance of (barely) affecting your performance in a raid.

Discipline Mechanics

I have to admit that the initial bugs where Atonement wasn’t healing consistently really turned me off my first tries with this spec.  I want to like it…really I do.   But it’s feeling underpowered and clunky right now.  Maybe I just need to get used to it?  Maybe I needed to fine tune my Power Auras to show the buffs and cooldowns better?  I’ve done that now, and it still feels a bit awkward.  There were a couple fights I didn’t feel like I was consistently in range of a dps target.  For instance, healing the off tank on Blood Princes or on Gunship.  There were times it wasn’t appropriate to dps the boss (say, when managing transitions on Putricide.)  There was the distinct lack of satisfaction in not healing very much…and doing it brainlessly.  As much as smart heals are nifty, having a default heal be non-targeted isn’t an engaging process.  I’m honestly just not sure I can really get used to the dps feel of this.

I also just can’t get over how wimpy my shields are.  Shields are hitting for maybe 2/3rds what they were a couple weeks ago, and I’m having trouble swallowing that.  Shields are such a core part of Disc…having them hit like soggy noodles isn’t helping how I feel.  I don’t need to spam them, but I’d rather have harder hitting shields that sucked my mana dry, than lame ones.  Sure, this will scale better with mastery and intellect, but that’s not making me feel better now.  Also, I simply must set up a Power Aura for my Barrier cooldown.  (Done!)  I cannot ever seem to remember to cast it.

I still prefer playing Discipline on fights with a lot of direct spot healing and little aoe (like Saurfang).  Mana feels limitless, and I haven’t bothered using mana cooldowns.  I’m reserving judgment on how much I’ll enjoy the spec for now.

Holy Mechanics

Chakra is fun.  I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews, but I’m enjoying it a lot.  I really love the idea of having the flexibility to shift one’s synergies mid-fight to accommodate the encounter.  It’s going to take some experimentation in raids trying out particular states on different fights to gauge what will work best.  I’m finding the spec engaging and enjoyable to play.  I wish I was convinced it was balanced well.  It feels like the much of the problem is with cast times and renewing various Chakra states using State of Mind.  Most of the complaints I’ve heard about this mechanic is how it feels like we’re getting forced to spam a particular spell to artificially maintain a state we need for our throughput.  If Blizzard does reduce the cooldown on Chakra to 30 seconds as it is now on beta, this concern would evaporate.  One could maintain one’s throughput with Chakra, and still cast what was needed at the moment.

  • Renew is laughably easy to maintain with it being instant cast on a half second cooldown.  You can almost keep it up 100% of the time accidentally and spend most of your time healing as you like.  It’s the most forgiving state, and I see why many healers are using this as their default.
  • Prayer of Healing is a lot harder because of the cast time.   It’s never been a good spell to spam anyways.  It can be rather nice on Decimate for plague wing trash or for aura heavy fights like Blood Queen…but it’s situational.  Sanctuary is brilliant though, so I’m giving it my best.  I wish this state was tied to a different aoe spell or combination.  It seems like there should be excellent results using this on many of the fights where we all stack up and there is lots of raid damage.  (Hi Sindragosa!)
  • Heal is…well…we aren’t there yet.  I like the idea, but the current content doesn’t support using Heal as a mainstay.  I have found the Heal Chakra useful when tank healing though.  In that case, I’ll use heal as a filler spell when the tanks are topped off and don’t need healing – just enough to keep the state going – filling in the rest with boosted direct heals, Prayer of Mending, and Circle of Healing.

Update:  All the recent reworkings of Chakra on beta are leaving me to think that Blizzard agrees this still needs some balancing.  I refuse to go more in depth on this until it is more settled.

The Circle of Healing cooldown feels too long now.  I know they increased the cooldown for Wild Growth as well, but that still feels fine when I’m playing my druid.  Circle of Healing is just a bit painful to wait for.  I can’t explain why.  Speaking of which, it feels like Holy Priests have an overwhelming amount of aoe choices: Circle of Healing, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Holy Nova, and Sanctuary.  Plus Divine Hymn.  I like big toolkits.  It just started to feel like a little much.  WTB theorycrafting on the priority here.

Of course there’s also Lightwell.  Blizzard has tried hard to revive this spell, and I’m determined to give it a fair shot.  The increased clicky distance and ability to retain your dps target are promising.  I did make some attempts to use it appropriately this week, and was relieved to notice that some people actually clicked on it. There’s still a long ways to go, but it seems worth some time to invest in it.  I’m concerned that some people received nothing but overheal from clicking on it, but that quick topping off definitely won’ t be the same issue in Cataclysm.  I was pleased that when I mentioned where I was planning on putting it down in advance of a pull, my raid leader was enthusiastic and encouraging, reminding people to use it mid-fight.  Here’s hoping this under-loved talent gets a little more opportunity to shine.  I think I might start sending guildmates who click on it cupcakes.  (Everyone needs more Happy.)  I’ve been meaning to post a bit of helpful information and some macros for my guild.  (Note to self: try out some macros this week.)

I need to work on using the Holy Word spells more often.  (I’m sure tracking the cooldowns more efficiently will help.)  I need to get a little more comfortable so that using my cooldowns comes more naturally.  I need to remember I have Body and Soul talented.  I find playing Holy on the fights with Malleable Goo distressing.  I know I shouldn’t be getting hit with it, but it’s scary to have my toolkit break down so much if I make a mistake.  Discipline is a lot more forgiving with instant cast shields.  Mana can also be a bit tight when things get hectic.  That’s a little concerning at a time when other healers aren’t having difficulties.  Ultimately though, I’m enjoying Holy more on most fights.

Raiding

We’ve been clearing ICC (Heroic but for LK), RS, and Ulduar on 25 man on my Priest.  I’ve also done various bits of things on alts.  I have to say that aside from some very silly bugs (like Putricide sending out 25 Malleable Goos), raiding has worked extremely well.  The  biggest impact bug we noticed was projected textures not projecting.  This made fights like Lady Deathwhisper, Sindragosa, and Hodir much more…interesting.  Sure a few things took longer than normal (mostly do to addon issues and disconnects), but there were very few wipes.  Some fights even seemed significantly easier due to the dps increases (Saurfang for instance).

Healing as a team has worked itself out with much less fuss than I imagined.  I know Holy Paladins are flailing right now.  I know they had to be nerfed since they felt “required” on a number of progression fights…but I don’t think the solution was nerfing them into the ground and burying them alive.  Druids and Holy Priests feel a bit overpowered right now, and Shaman seem well placed.  It might not be the greatest balance, but it adds up to people getting healed and bosses getting downed.  I can hope it will work itself out for level 85, but it’s certainly hard to tell.

A Rose By Any Other Name…

•October 4, 2010 • 5 Comments

I haven’t done a Shared Topic in forever…but I was poking around Blog Azeroth today and found one that sounded fun.  It’s simple enough – How did you pick the name for your character?

I’ve always struggled with names.  Sometimes it takes me days of sitting at the character creation screen to find something that works for me.  I’ve done all sorts of things over the years to help me come up with the right name.  All of my Diablo II characters were named from mythology or legends.  Both of my Warlocks are named after favorite heroines from novels (Dianora and Daenerys if you’re curious).  My Paladin is named after one of my ex’s ex’s…though I really just thought it was pretty.  A lot of them just sounded nice…but a few of my methods really stick out to me.

The first video game handle that stuck with me was something my boyfriend came up with.  I was signing a check at dinner one night and he was trying to decipher my signature, and said “It looks like you wrote (fill in giberish here).  So, somehow that’s what I used when I was starting my Zelda game, and that was that.  Then it became my email.  And then my personal journal.  So many years and games later, it doesn’t feel quite right to use in a game.  Aside from being difficult for people to spell and pronounce, using my email address prefix as my WoW toon name is a terrible security faux pas.

My Druid is the only character with a real English word for a name.  Myriad just seemed appropriate for a class with so many possibilities of playstyle, when I had no real idea which I would end up with.  Maybe it was just a rebellion against all those trees you see out there with Moonkin or feral references in their names.

My Shaman has a lore appropriate troll name.  I consulted the Internet to find lists of appropriate prefix and suffix combinations for a male of his tribe.  I then spent days going back and forth between them, even creating and deleting a few trolls before I felt like I’d gotten it right.  Why?  I have no earthly clue.  I think I had run across some information on troll naming conventions a few months before hand and thought it was pretty darn interesting.  So when I started brainstorming, it was the first thing I thought of.  I imagine it helped that trolls feel to me like they have a stronger cultural identity than many of the characters I’ve played.  I’m sure that’s just my personal perception, but it felt right to me.  (I’m still annoyed I can’t put the apostrophe in there.)

The source of my Priest’s name is really the most amusing.  I created her very early on to romp around in the starting zone with a friend of mine.  I was rushing through character creation just to help him out, and wasn’t feeling inspired, so I just hit the Random button and went with the first thing that looked good.  A year later when my boyfriend suggested I level a Priest to try healing, I barely even remembered she existed.  So I gave it a shot.  I’m sure I was level 60 before I really realized that if she was going to be my new main, it might help to decide how I was going to pronounce it since people would probably start calling me by it.  /facepalm  Regardless of its accidental origins, I really do love it now.  When I server transferred I had the option of changing it, but I truly can’t imagine her as anything else.

P.S.  Oh, and my cats are named after elements of the Periodic Table.

I Can Haz Toems…Almost

•September 24, 2010 • 8 Comments

Northrend has been quite an adventure.  While my general leveling plan is to run back to back five mans, everything changes for Northrend.  By seventy, I seem to be getting maybe a tenth of a level each run which is really not enough compared to questing xp.  More than that, I don’t want to burn myself out on the Heroics I’m going to be spamming the heck out of to gear up.

My fast pace in getting here is definitely due to my fabulous leveling partner.  We’ve both around the same hours.  We’re both driven at about the same pace.  He’s easy going.  And he knows all the quests, so I can gratuitously abuse my follow macro and count on him to let me know when I should be using that quest item hidden in the mess of my bags. Plus, hanging out on vent chatting makes it all go so much more quickly and painlessly.

Mostly I’m playing a bastardized version of Elemental.  I throw totems.  I Fire Nova and Chain Heal.  I Shock and Wind Shear.  And I heal the silly Fury Warrior who is my Meat Shield.  It’s fun.  I’m still excited about trying Elemental out end game.  Not as a main spec mind you, just sometimes.  I say that, and wonder who is this person?  It’s been years since I’ve liked a dps class, so wow, that’s pretty exciting.

I still do a few instances.  The daily random and anything I have quests for.  They’ve been a lot better than I thought, and at the same time just as hellish as I remember leveling my druid.  Half of them go by and I’m bored out of my mind healing with Earth Shield and Healing Stream Totem.  And half of them have such awful tanks that aggro is running rampant.  Tank gearing for the seventies is still obviously an issue.  I’m not having an OMG save the squishy tank issue the same way I did with my druid.  Is that because I’m just a better player now?  Or is a Shaman toolkit a little more oriented to spot healing?  Druids have this 0-60 issue it took me a while to work with.

I’m going to bed tonight a few percent away from 79, so tomorrow should be The Day.  Expect fireworks.  I have my 213 BOE bracers, and I even splurged on a pair of crafted 264s to get him started on the right foot.  I’ve been gleeful about that.  (You wouldn’t have wanted to be in vent with me tonight.)  I’ve never given so much gearing love to an alt.

There are plans for 80 as well.  Oh the Plans! I’ve been getting an Ulduar meta group together.  We’re a little late for getting him amazingly well geared through running tons of ICC, but I can sure figure out how to save 5K on 310% flying once the expansion hits.  Plus, Ulduar is fun and pretty and they’re great achievements.  After that, I’ll try to do a bit of ICC and see how that goes.

I expect the 4.0 patch is going to drop in a week, maybe two.  So, I’ll be grinding emblems, but I won’t be spending them if I don’t have to.  I’d hate to spend a week getting my T9 set only to have the patch drop and have those same badges buy T10.  With my crafted gear and a friendly tank to heal, I think I’ll be fine with the healing grind until the patch hits.  Hopefully then my stockpile will get me a fairly decent set.