Friday, December 31, 2010

Maloriak 10 Man

We finally got Maloriak down the other day. I say "finally" because eventhough this actually is a really easy fight, he proved to be quite the challenge. The last phase is basically a "burn him down before you die" phase and we had trouble getting the dps we needed, even when doing everything else perfectly. In that sense you can see this as the first fight that requires you to both have decent gear and decent skills. This is how we finally made it.

Our raid comp;
  • Prot Warrior
  • Blood Dk
  • Holy Priest (me)
  • Resto Druid
  • Resto Shaman
  • Fire Mage
  • Elemental Shaman
  • Balance Druid
  • Assassination Rogue
  • Feral Cat Druid

We had an average item level of 348 (I had 349).

Like I mentioned, Maloriak is divided into two different portions. The first portion of the fight, or the first 75% of his health he'll go through various phases which have to be handled differently. There will also be adds. So the first portion of the fight is about dealing with fight mechanics. When he reaches 25% he'll go into a soft enrage, which isn't too difficult. Actually it's easier than the first part of the fight because there is way less things to think about. The trick is to down him before his real enrage which comes after 6 minutes. If you have enough damage this shouldn't be any problem and this fight will be cakewalk. We noticed that we had just about exactly the amount of damage needed and that made the last 25% a little trickier. Try to get about 100k total raid dps and this shouldn't be a problem.

During the first 75% of the fight, Maloriak will use different abilities. He'll either use a blue vial, a red vial or a green vial, and depending on which he'll use you'll have to react differently. He'll always start with either red or blue, then use the other of the two (i.e, if he starts with blue, red will be next and vice versa) and green vial will always be third. There will also be adds that have to be dealt with in a special way. Rinse and repeat until he gets to 25%.

Red Vial - During this phase he will do a flame breath on the tank, which does 750.000 damage split among the targets. This means everyone except the offtank tanking adds must stack up on the tank during this phase, or the tank will be one shot. The aoe damage isn't too horrible if everyone is stacked up, so keep some healers to focus on tanks at all times. Especially the add tank can drop low when you least expect it.

Blue Vial - During this phase he will randomly ice block one person, dealing 50k damage, and the block will jump to any other target within 10 yards, also dealing 50k damage, so have everyone spread out enough to avoid this. The target in the ice block must be freed. The ice block only has 5k hp, so this is easily done by just about anyone, but when the ice block breaks whoever is in it, and any target within 10 yards will take an additional 50k damage. Breaking the target free asap isn't advisable, you must make sure he'll survive the extra 50k damage first so communication is imperative. Deal with this as you would a mix of the blocks on Sindragosa and Kel'Thuzad. You could have a healer focus on the ice blocked targets (as one usually had on Kel'Thuzad). He will also put a dot debuff on a random player, which will deal a low amount of damage to the target and anyone else within 8 yards.

Green Vial - Maloriak will throw a debuff on the entire raid, and all adds, that make them take 100% more damage. This is the phase in which you will nuke down the adds, so have the offtank(s) gather them up for everyone to aoe. Maloriak will also buff himself with a spell called Remedy, which must be dispelled/spell stealed asap as it heals him for a million hp each second, this could make or break a try.

Adds - Maloriak will spawn 3-5 sets of 3 adds each phase. We had different amounts for some reason, so this is a factor that could make the fight easier or more difficult. There are 18 adds at the beginning and when Maloriak reaches 25% he will release all the remaining adds. You want to get rid of all the adds before 25%, which means you have to release 9 before each green vial (this is what you have time to do before the enrage timer). Our tank couldn't take the damage from 9 adds, so we had our Feral Cat Druid tank up the last 3. Whether you use one or two offtanks is really up to you and what your raid could handle. We chose to use two, or maybe rather one and a half.

Let Maloriak spawn 9 adds between the red and blue phase and make sure to interrupt the subsequent casts. Have the offtank(s) kite them around (making sure not to be ice blocked with someone during the blue phase) and kill them off during the green phase. Do this again for the next red and blue phase.

Each add has a buff that makes other adds in the vicinity hit 20% harder and take 20% less damage, so the more they get the harder they hit. This also means you never should let the adds get close to Maloriak who also can be affected by this buff.

Arcane Storm - Throughout the fight, until he reaches 25%, Maloriak will use Arcane Storm, a really nasty aoe that needs to be interrupted asap.

Once Maloriak reaches 25% he will go into soft enrage, releasing all the remaining adds (which all should be dead) and two additional bigger and meaner adds. The bigger, meaner adds will fixate on someone, but they could be tanked as usual. It is recommended that you have the offtank do this because they hit hard and will hamper the raid if the roam free. Same deal with these adds, tank them away from Maloriak or else they will make him hit 20% harder and take 20% less damage. Maloriak has some new skills during this phase;

Magma Jets - A sort of flame wake targetted at a random player that deals damage and leaves a dot. Move away from it. You will notice him doing hit by him raising his hands. Even the tank must move away from it.

Absolute Zero - An ice sphere that deals a little damage and does a knock back. I honestly didn't notice this once during the fight, but keep an eye out for it nonetheless.

Acid Nova - Aoe damage that needs to be healed through.

Each of these skills aren't difficult, it's just if one person happens to get them all at once that you'll have a problem.

Priest Specific
The trickiest part of this fight was keeping the various tanks alive. The addtank(s) could really take alot of damage and you had to be on your toes at all times. Boss tank too could take some heavy blows occasionally. This made me really love Holy Word: Serenity, which also worked wonders on the ice blocked targets. None of the other skills were very difficult to handle. The aoe damage on Magmaw is alot more difficult than the one on this boss so if you could down him you can handle this. Having one good aoe healer focus on raid during the red phase and the other two focus on the tanks is a good idea, depending on your healing setup.
As you can see from the recount, Heal was on top for the first time since I started raiding. This is because good single target healing is the key in this fight. Only in the final portion of the fight will you have to use both alot of aoe healing and single target healing, so make sure your healers know what to heal. I switched between using Chakra: sanctuary for red phase and Chakra: Serenity for the blue and green phase. Mana depended alot on how people handled stuff like the Arcane Storm. On some tries I had issues with mana, on our kill try I was at full mana when we got to 25% (but oom when he died). For some reason the resto druid kicked our asses in healing done. Shamans seem to have issues with healing overall at the moment (although our resto shaman was awesome), their throughput is generally lower than other healers right now. I think the reason is that when a fight is focused around single target healing, druids come out stronger. Holy priests still seem to excel in aoe healing.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hard Mode > Heroic Mode

Wrath had us see the rise and fall of one of my favorite features in the game - the hardmodes. Unlike heroics, which had been around since BC, hardmodes offered difficulty through diversity rather than just the increased damage and health of bosses. For some reason Blizzard chose to only implement hardmodes in Ulduar, which is sad because I enjoyed it a great bit more than I do the concept of heroic modes. I do agree that heroic modes probably is the better solution for instances, since you'd want to be able to run those with the occasional simpletons and buffoons that make up a big part of the random player community. For raiding, most of us are alot more picky however, and the depth of hardmodes wins out big time over heroic modes if you ask me. It is true that some heroic modes throw in some new fight mechanics, but these are usually few, and instead incredibly difficult. Hard modes allowed for not only one but often several new ways of handling a fight, of which each was rewarded differently and the hardest of course rewarded the most. Heroics don't have this. You can either do it the simple or the difficult way, offering no learning step inbetween. Let me give some examples;

Freya could either be done with or without her keepers.
Since she had three, each with their own abilities, you could choose which to add to the fight. By adding only one at the time everyone had a chance to learn how to handle that particular ability in addition to the regular ones, before proceeding to the next. The same thing goes with Yogg-Saron, who also could be killed with or without keepers. Matters were reversed, since it actually made things easier to let the keepers join in, but there were nonetheless 5 difficulty levels of this fight. 4 keepers, 3, 2, 1 and none. Even more if you consider the possibility to add or remove keepers as you pleased. You could have keeper 2 and 4, or 2 and 3 or 1 and 4 or just 3 or 1, 2 and 4 and so on. Each change would change the way the fight would have to be handled. Maybe not by alot, but there was still a difference. In some cases, even activating the hard modes was part of the hard mode, like on XT-Deconstructor. If you didn't have the dps to nuke down the heart fast enough to start the hard mode (believe it or not, that was once the case), you clearly weren't ready to do the hard mode in any case. Same goes with Thorim, where the skill and gear of the people in the gauntlet decided whether you'd be able to start the hard mode or not. In some cases the hard mode worked alot like a heroic mode, like on Mimiron. And in some cases the hard mode was simply to nuke really hard, like on Hodir. In most cases the hard modes offered a diversity that heroic modes don't today.

In an instance this wouldn't work well, because like I mentioned we're supposed to be able to play those with random people. The diversity and need to make a choice on the run that comes with hard modes doesn't fit that evironment. When joining a heroic the choice is already made. You won't be grouped with people who want to do the instance in normal mode. But how would you handle the hard modes? Who decides in which fashion the instance is supposed to be done? The simplicity of heroic modes works well when we're just supposed to be able to throw us at it without much thought. But raiding is supposed to last longer. It is supposed to be the last bastion against boredom. It is clear that Blizzard has taken many steps to ensure that they don't have to take the same road to prevent us from being bored too soon as they did in Wrath, and also in BC. Constantly giving us new content, new gear, which only made us outgear the old content and made that boring even faster. Heroics were laughable towards the end. The difference of ICC gear and heroic gear nearly as big as the one between expansions. In Cataclysm, Blizzard have made sure that gear isn't something come by easily. Craftables take a long time to complete and the raids are generally very difficult, making epics hard to come by.

It also means we'll be fighting the bosses we're fighting now for a very long time. This doesn't have to be a bad thing, Karazhan was interesting throughout BC, because of the amount and design of all the encounters. But if ICC is any indiciation of how the raids will work in Cata, I think we'll be bored quite fast with the encounters that are available today. Out of the four fights I've done so far, only Conclave of Wind was really interesting. Being able to eventually do it in a heroic mode doesn't really sound that enticing. I could be wrong of course, but imagine if the fight instead could be fought in two, three or four new ways, instead of just one rather predictable?

What could be the reasons that Blizzard have chosen not to use this form of raiding, and instead decided that heroic would work better?

Balancing a fight so that it becomes alot more difficult could be tricky if all you got to work with is changing the game mechanics a little here and there. On the other hand we saw this in work on the Iron Council. Killing one boss before another lead to the other hitting harder. Depending on which one you killed you had to handle their different skills in various ways. Some skills where more difficult, so saving that boss for last was of course the most challenging. Overall I think that although it is more of a challenge to design hard modes rather than heroic modes, it would be a really bad excuse for not having hard modes. The amount of money we pour into Blizzard and their designer team, one would think they'd do just about anything to keep us happy and interested. Just making the boss hit harder and have more health, and maybe add one or two difficult extra fight mechanics, is edging on an insult of our intelligence. Do they really think that will suffice? Apparently so.

Hard modes will of course resemble eachother. Adding element of difficulty by having the players decide in which order to attack elements of a fight, or if they want extra aid/fight mechanics will of course make it resemble the fights we've already seen in Ulduar. But this isn't a valid excuse for not using hard modes either. Every heroic fight resembles the other way more than a hard mode the other. And it is inevitable that portions of a game will resemble eachother when it's been around for so long as WoW has. I don't ask of Blizzard to reinvent the wheel with each new raid encounter. I just want something a little more mind challenging than "boss hit hard" or "boss hit really hard".

Alot of achievements are designed to work like hard modes do. They don't necessarily add extra elements to the fight, but they often have you play the fight in a more challenging manner, which would resemble the way you fight Iron Council for example. Although achievements were around when Ulduar was implemented, it is possible Blizzard thought hard modes were too much like achievements and removed them for that reason. It is true I've made alot of achievements just because we tried hard modes. I see some sense in this argument, but on the other hand achievements don't give any extra reward beyond the achievement, so there is generally no inclination to ever fight the fight in that manner again. It would offer amusement for one fight only, and maybe an extra couple of fights if you want to give some new people the achievement. Better gear is a much better reward for fighting a fight in a more difficult manner, and for keeping peoples interest up.

I'm wrong
Yeah, that could be a possibility. Maybe Blizzard simply scrapped hard modes because most people actually prefer heroic modes. Maybe all the things I like so much about hard modes, the able to vary a fight in many ways instead of just one and the need to learn many ways to handle a fight instead of just two, might be things other people disliked. I do find that hard to believe however, but I have no idea of course.

I wouldn't even ask of Blizzard to use hard modes for all the raid fights. Maybe if I got that this post would be about how much I like heroic modes over hard modes. People always want what they don't have and all that. But I would really like it if Blizzard at least implemented a couple of fights like these. What I personally loved so much about Karazhan and Ulduar was the feeling that Blizzard has really put alot of effort, time and love into those instances. That in turn made the instances alot more enjoyable. I never once got bored of Karazhan, and Yogg-Saron and Freya are still among my favorite boss fights overall. I don't want to be a party pooper but the fights I've had so far in Cataclysm aren't that entertaining. I've done them a couple of wipes and I already feel like I know them like the back of my hand. All there is to it is minute execution, but there isn't anything new to learn or discover about the fight. The Conclave of Wind still has me interested since I haven't seen every aspect of it. I healed one part, but I could also try healing on another platform, which will give me something new to experience. Am I asking too much? Is wanting more depth in our raid encounters, what's supposed to be the biggest experience of WoW, too much to ask for?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 5 Bad Things About Cataclysm

Although I am really enjoying most things Cataclysm has brought us so far, especially the new way of healing, there are always a couple of things to complain about. Or as we say in sweden; "even the sun has spots". Here is my top 5 list of things that have annoyed me so far in Cataclysm.

5. Pop-up quest - Where did it go?
Blizzard implemented alot of things that made questing alot easier. The "pop-up" quests were one of those things. Whenever entering a zone that had a quest, or kill a certain mob, you could get a little pop up that asked you to accept that quest, rather than have you run all the way to the other end of the zone to pick it up. Or even worse, realize after the fact that there was a quest to be done in that area. But eventhough the pop-up quests are great, they're far from perfect. If you for some reason miss to take the quest, it's horror trying to get it again. It has now happened to me twice that I accidentally didn't click the "accept" or "complete" button fast enough and missed the quest.

Once I got a pop-up just when I dinged, and I automatically pressed N to get my talent tree up so I could place the new point I had gotten. Not thinking about that Blizzards ui unfortunately doesn't allow the stacking of frames. Quest gone. Another time I entered a lfg-queue and after having waited ~30 min I finally got a group. I accepted and was just waiting for the last person to accept when suddenly I got a pop-up quest due to flying into some zone. Unfortunately that last guy decided to accept in that exact moment and I was teleported before I could accept the quest. Quest gone. These might be extreme situations, but still not that uncommon. There should be an easy way to solve this, but I still haven't found it. Depending on the quest there are various ways to solve it. You can try re-entering the zone, or re-kill the mob or in any way re-do the action that first triggered the pop-up quest to appear. This doesn't always work however. If you have any good tips on how to find a quest you've lost this way, please tell me!

4. Elaborate death emotes - Just die already
Blizzard really did an amazing job with designs in Cataclysm. Overall I don't have much to complain about, except one thing. Some mobs have so elaborate death emotes that you actually have to stand and wait for them to be done with their squiggling and writhing before you can loot them. This was a little cool the first kill and started to annoy me with the second kill. Considering the amount of mobs you have to kill in some areas, not because of quests but because of spawn rates (more about that below), there is actually alot of wasted time just having to look at mobs die before you can move on to the next. A little less elaborate and a little more time saving would be great.

3. LFG - Nothing random about it
Let me just say that I like that the new instances are difficult and that you need to have some brains to complete them. This still comes with a darker side however. It is clearly scaring the casual player away. You know them people who haven't played this for years or who don't know their class like the back of the hand? They exist, and they deserve to enjoy this game as much as the other guy. How many pure random pugs have I done from 80-85 and all the time I've been 85? I probably wouldn't be lying if I said that it had to be fewer than 5. Admittedly I don't do many instances at all, but I still avoid doing randoms. It's both because I dread being stuck with people who know nothing about what's going on, making the heroic take hours and because in most cases the wait time is just too damn long. I can't just log on, join the queue and maybe do a daily or two while waiting. I'd probably be done with all my dailies (if I did them) before I got a group. On my healer I have 10-15 minutes wait time, on my dpsers it's at least 25 minutes. People have always wanted simple and easy, and so they prefer running with friends and guildies as much as possible. All the tanks out there probably don't want to be stuck with dpsers who can't cc and healers who can't heal so they stay away from the lfg tool, creating insanely long queues. I'm not sure how this could be solved, because I don't want the "just brute force it"-heroics of wrath back either. But maybe the normal instances could be a little more forgiving?

2. Linearity - But I want to go over there
I really want to take my hat off to Blizzard for trying to create quests and events that will involve us in the story and lore of the expansion. I actually thought they did a great job already in Wrath, but now they have taken phasing and cinematics to a whole new level. Some bloggers I've read think they've taken the whole "Oh the savior of the world" thing a little too far, but I don't think that's the problem at all. I don't mind having all my characters called "the savior of the world", all you need is a little imagination to believe it, and that's how a game like this works. I do think they've taken the whole phasing and immersion part a little too far though. If I miss one, -one-, quest somewhere, it is probably very likely that I can't continue anywhere in the zone. This has happened to me several times. I quest in Hyjal, suddenly I notice that I'm out of quests although I am far from done in the zone and I just can't find where to move on. In some cases the next step is some item in your bags, that's a good solution. But sometimes it's just some dude you have forgotten to talk to somewhere. Just "don't forget to talk to all npcs" feels a little too much like RPG anno 1990 to me. "You can't leave this town till you have talked to the kitchen maid and bought 3 stouts of lager and fed them to the dog behind the church so that he digs up a key for you so that..." and so on. The linearity would be ok if there was some easy way to find a lost trail, but there isn't. If the npc I encounter that refuse to give me any quests could say something along the lines of "oh, I think you should go see X over at Y", or something, that would be great! Now I have to search the entire zone for that one npc I have missed, or move on to the next zone where I can start from the beginning.

The phasing has also brought other issues, as I am sure all of you have noticed at least once. When questing in Uldum I got a quest from Harrison Jones. I completed another quest first, phasing me away from him, making it impossible to complete his quest once I was done with that. I could see his question mark on the map, I new exactly where he would stand, but I couldn't target him since we were in different phases. I read a blue post about this basically saying "well this is the price you have to pay for phasing, tough luck", but I feel like quests that will phase us could come with a warning. Or would that destroy the immersion? Invisible quest givers are pretty destructive for my immersion too though.

1. Respawns - They just keep coming!
As I mentioned above, respawn rates are insane in some areas. I have seriously been stuck on the same spot for minutes just killing the same spawn point over and over because it spawns the second I kill the first. There are some ways to solve this, but none are perfect. Firstly you could just slowly move away from the spawn point, so that when the mob dies you'll be too far away to aggro the new spawn. This is how I usually deal with this issue, but it doesn't work on ranged mobs unless you have a good interrupt. Also another problem arises - when moving around you will aggro more mobs. Constant respawns will assure that there always will be plenty of mobs around you, so if you try the second tactic, running, you can be sure you'll have a trail of mobs after you in no time. Considering the density of mobs and how hard they can hit, this is a sure recipe for death.
Having really high spawn rates was a good idea the first week, seeing as there were loads of players killing them off all the time. But now when I level my alts I have two competitors at most. Mostly none. I have to deal with all those spawns by myself and it can be more than overwhelming at times. Not to mention annoying. I want to go on with my questing, not be stuck killing this Twilight Cultist 25 times. I find myself relieved when encountering other players because they can ease the burden of all the spawning somewhat. If Blizzard decided to have really high spawn rates in the beginning of Cata, which was a good idea, I really hope they now decide to tune that down a bit. A big bit actually.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dear Dps

It is time to grow up and stop acting like children. Gone are the days when you could do anything you liked and knew that the healer would save the day, kiss away your booboo and make everything better. Now you have to think before you act. I do not have time to pamper your behinds. If you stand in fire I will grant you heals sufficient for you to react and move out, but nothing more. I will only help you with the things you can not avoid, not with the things you can. Your rotation is only as good as your lifespan and your life is your biggest priority. We both benefit from keeping you alive, so don't leave it all in my hands. Remember that you dying probably is a bigger set back for you than it is for me.

Don't tell me that I could've healed you because I have mana. You see, mana is alot like money. Just because I have some doesn't mean I can spend it. And it definitely doesn't mean I can spend it on anything. I have priorities too. Would you use your energy/rage/mana on any skill? No, because that would lead to bad dps. I don't use my mana on any skill because that would lead to bad healing. And you don't dps just any target, because that would most likely lead to a wipe. I don't use my skills on any target, because that too will most likely lead to a wipe. We are not so different after all. If you don't understand this I will assume you have the mental capacity of a 5 year old who complains when mommy doesn't buy him candy.

And even if I had unlimited mana, which I don't, I definitely don't have unlimited gcds. Just like you I can't throw out all my skills at once if I like to. I can use one skill each gcd, so each gcd I have to choose between you, every other guy in the party and the tank. Who do you think I should prioritize?

When you take alot of damage you can safely assume that everyone else is too, so remember that if I'm not healing you it's not because I'd rather sit around with my finger up my nose and count the dots on my walls (lost count at 2000). Believe it or not but I am as eager to succeed with the fight as you are! I dislike corpse run as much as the other guy! And if our goal is to kill the bad guy without dying ourselves, we should be able to agree that we'll all do anything in our power to attain that goal together. In your case that includes staying alive, by any means necessary, whilst also dps. In my case it means staying alive, while also keeping you alive.

You don't like to move from your dps target any more than I like to waste mana healing your ass when I don't have to. So we have to compromise. You avoid the damage you can avoid, and I'll heal the damage you can't. Deal?

Regards Zinn

Monday, December 27, 2010

Discipline Priest Cataclysm Talent Build

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TL;DR - suggestion for a disc spec at the bottom.

Back in Wrath healing differed alot from what it is today, as you've probably noticed by now. When I tried healing in 4.0, mana still wasn't an issue and we could go on healing pretty much as we always had been. When Cataclysm finally hit us, everything changed and initially I was completely set back by how much disc healing sucked when compared to holy healing. Fortunately enough this was due to a little bug, which made atonement completely useless, and because priests had huge issues with mana. These problems combined made priest healing overall a pain in the ass, but holy seemed like the least horrible of the two. People even specifically asked not to get a priest, when lfging for healers in trade. That is how bad the situation was when I made my first assessment of disc healing. Blizzard have now finally made something about it, buffed regen for both specs and made Atonement work properly. So I gave disc healing another try, and I want to give it thumbs up again. It's definitely working for heroic healing! So let's take a look at the disc tree, what talents should we pick?

Here are some worth discussing;

The main tree (disc) - the talents not mentioned here are then ones you probably should talent.
  • Mental Agility vs Veiled Shadows – As I wrote in an earlier post, the mana efficiency of MA is alot bigger than the one of VE. Combined with the new regen buff and some stacking of spirit, and mana isn't that big of a problem as it was initially in the beginning of Cata. You should definitely go for MA, but I think there are better things to take instead of VE. I'll use Twin Disciplines, but if you still feel like mana is your biggest problem, you could spec 2 tp into VE instead of TD.
  • Inner Sanctum – Not a bad talent, but considering the alternatives we must see this as mainly a pvp-talent and not worth 3 tp.
  • Inner Focus – Back in Wrath this was one of those talent which some priests liked and some didn't. Now, combined with train of thought, this will be one of your best talents for mana efficiency and healing throughput. This should definitely be used.
  • Rapture – A no brainer really, still as awesome as it always been, and for basically the same reasons. This will be your main source of mana.
  • Soul Warding – Spamming shields isn't very mana effective, and in most heroics you won't be doing this either. We simply don't want to use a spell unless we know it will be fully needed. This is how healing works today. If you know you won't be doing raids for a while, I wouldn't tell you that this is a must have. Still, shielding is alot what being a disc is all about (but way less than back in Wrath I can tell ya), so this is still a really good talent, just in case.
  • Reflective Shield – Good for leveling and grinding (if you'd ever be silly enough to grind as a disc), but won't do much difference in heroics or raids, and are 2 tp spent better elsewhere when in endgame.
  • Strength of Soul – Heal is a great skill for holy, but not as useful for disc. We've got Penance, shielding, smiting and Greater Heal already, and using Heal for this talent would only over-complicate things without much gain. I don't see much use for this talent right now.
  • Grace – Has been significantly buffed and since disc healing is alot more aimed towards single target healing than it was in Wrath, this is now an awesome talent.
    The offspec trees - remember we can only place 10 tp into holy and shadow
    • Divine Fury - Scorned by healing priests alike since Wrath came out, it seems to make a grand re-entrance as a really great healing talent. Not only will this buff your Smite healing, but even more importantly, it'll buff your Greater Heal healing, which will be one of your most important spells.
    • Empowered Healing - Increasing the healing done on several of your main heals seems like a good thing to do, plain and simple.
    • Improved Renew - Seeing as disc priests probably will have their hands full anyway, smiting, healing and shielding, renew isn't any more part of our healing arsenal now than it was back in Wrath.
    • Desperate Prayer – It's a handy talent, but we want to go elsewhere for even more handy talents. I wouldn't go this far into holy, and especially not for this talent that isn't ”all that”.
    • Surge of Light – If SoL was good, I'd tell you to get this talent right away. Unfortunately, even when spamming your pants off with smite, and you won't, this just procs way too seldom to be of much use. Even when holy, and really using Heal alot, I feel like this talent is lacking alot at the moment. These Tp are alot better spent elsewhere until Blizzard finally get around to buffing this talent.
    • Inspiration – We could either grab this, or Darkness. Personally I went for the extra haste, because with all the Penance and Greater Heal we're going to throw we'll want as much haste as possible. Reducing physical damage taken on the tank is great, but it's not that necessary in a heroic and we can hope someone else can do this instead in a raid. I definitely think you'll get more healing throughput from 3% haste.
    • Darkness – Haste is as great as it has always been. Just because spirit and mastery are stats we also want alot of, doesn't mean haste has become less important. Even with borrowed time, you'll notice that getting your heals off fast enough is a serious issue. This talent is one of your best ways to deal with that problem.
    • Veiled Shadows - Already mentioned above.
    This is what I would spec.

    I'll talk more specifically about disc healing in heroics in a separate post, but in short; combine Inner Focus heals with Greater Heals, Shields and Smite-heals.
    This means we'll Smite for Evangelism, use up our Archangel, start shielding and healing, and then go back to smiting (ideally, fights are always dynamic of course and will require adaptation to the moment).

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    1 Year Anniversary! Almost.

    For some reason I thought my one year anniversary of this blog was going to be in December, but apparently it was already in November. So for one year, and one month ago, I decided to start blogging on a more regular basis. I've tried to make a post each day, and at first I thought that would mean to force thoughts out of my head. Make things up or write about things that didn't really interest me. Fortunately, and suprisingly, my filler posts have been really few! And even those have been posts I could've posted anyway. What differs them from my regular ones are simply that they're a tad shorter. Actually I had started this blog already several years ago. But I didn't start blogging "seriously", i.e with a plan, until a year ago.

    Wow, 1 year... When I first started out I just felt like I wanted a place where I could vent my thoughts on things. What triggered it wasn't any experience or happening in WoW actually, but a movie I saw that was so abyssmally bad that I just had to tell people about it. And from there on it just snow balled away. Initially I wrote my posts the same day, so some days when I was just too busy, I didn't have time to make a substantial post and that's when my filler posts entered. Later on I learned to write posts ahead, and nowadays I always have a couple lying around just in case. Some of those have been in my "bag" for months, they just never get an opening to slide in! Most of the time there are just so many interesting and fun things that happen in WoW and around it for me to comment about, I don't think I've ever been completely out of ideas. Time, sometimes. Ideas, no.

    How many hours have I put into this blog? Well I am closing in on 400 posts and I've put approximately 2 hours into each post, some less, some more. 800 hours? A month worth of pure writing over little more than a year? Doesn't sound impossible. Those 2 hours per post are rarely just writing, there is alot of editing, getting pictures and researching done too of course. At first I just posted whenever I was done writing. It still happens quite often that I write the posts I'm posting the very same day. Some things need to be talked about as soon as possible! Nowadays I always post my posts on the same time however, 5 minutes after midnight, swedish time. That gives every post 24 hours before the next one comes up. I do occasionally feel like posting two posts in the same day. Sometimes alot of stuff happens and I feel like waiting even 24 hours is too much. But on the other hand I want to give each post a chance of being read before I throw up another. On a site like, having loads of posts each day works because most of them get alot of screen time. Also they write posts with very different audiences. I don't read their dk-posts, for instance. Also they have alot of writers, whereas I am only one. I should limit myself just so I can find time to actually play the game ;)

    Some people write many small posts, I prefer the larger article ones. I don't mind reading the smaller, notice like posts, but I don't like writing them. I want to muse, elaborate and evaluate a subject. Just telling people I found something cool, or read something interesting, or did something fun isn't enough. I want to tell people why it was cool, interesting and fun. In all honesty I prefer other bloggers that do this as well. After all that is what sets their blogs apart from all the others - personal input.

    It took me about half a year before I decided to let people know about my blog. I told guildies and friends, looked up various sites that will showcase your blog in different ways, and most importantly - I started reading other peoples blogs. I don't know why I hadn't done it earlier, but once I got started I couldn't find many blogs enough. I was set back by all the blogs that had discontinued, and even more blogs that just don't post often enough to be interesting. By now I have collected some 50 blogs that I follow with great interest. I always try to comment on the posts I find extra interesting, although I quite often forget to check back for a reply.

    I was considering going on a small break now during christmas, not because I feel like I have to, but because I should. Can't become a blogoholic! But apparently I am since I love writing. It's really difficult for me not to type down something once I've started thinking about it, and there are alot of things to think about. I might still force myself away from this for a couple of days, just to see if I can shut up.

    During this year, was there any posts I particularly enjoyed writing? I belong to those crazy people who love reading my own posts. In a way this blog works like a kind of diary, and since I only write about stuff that really interests me, I love to look back a couple of months to check out old stuff I've written about. It also prevents me from accidentally writing the same things twice. Sometimes I read a post from several months ago and think "didn't I write about that just some weeks ago?". Time flies.

    I did love writing about leveling my warrior tank. Unfortunately those posts are outdated, when it comes to facts, but they still represent one of my favorite projects of WoW.
    I've written plenty of posts about the gaming community and I love musing over why people behave the way they do. Here are a couple;
    I like to pretend I know stuff about this game, and write guides on how to do things. Some are mostly for fun, and some are actually to help people out;

    There are some posts I put alot of time and/or brain energy into, and that I like for that reason. Although I actually kind of wish I had put even more time into them, like more research, to make them even better. I still think they deserve a chance, even if I don't have the means to give them all the love they need.
    As always I could go on linking forever, but needless to say I like to write about stuff. Hopefully you'll stick with me for a while longer, and we'll see what 2011 has in store in terms of interesting things to blog about. Live long and prosper!

    Saturday, December 25, 2010

    Healing Priest Tier 11 Set Bonuses

    When I first checked out the new tier 11 (Mercurial Vestments) for healing priest they didn't have the set bonuses ready so I focused on the visuals. It got thumbs down from me. I actually think it might look slightly better on my goblin than it did on my undead, but I still think it could've been alot better.

    For some reason it took me until just the other day before I checked the set bonuses, and even then it was merely by chance. I wanted to see if I was getting close to being able to buy anything with my valor points (which I wasn't), and Love recommended I save my points for the tier. I agree the tier looks good, but expensive. It'll take at least a week of daily heroics before I can afford my first piece, probably more. And then I glanced down on the set bonuses. Hmm, I haven't seen these before. So are they any good?

    My inital impression was a good one. It finally seems like they've managed to give us set bonuses that are good, without being so op that we don't ever want to switch that tier for something else. I really didn't like tier 10, and never used any of those set bonuses. Overall going with off sets was the better choice. But this time the tier might actually be worth having. I also noticed that disc, yet again, falls in grace when compared to holy. Let's take a look.

    2 set;
    Increases the critical strike chance of your Heal spell by 5%.

    Heal is the bread and butter of any healing priests arsenal right now. Both disc and holy have some good synergies going which include using Heal, but that doesn't mean they'll use Heal equally much. First of all, holy uses it more than disc. Holy has Chakra:Serenity, which give your direct healing spells, including heal, an extra 10% crit and refreshes renew. Most priests have also Surge of Light, which procs from Heal (no holy priest will smite). Whenever there isn't intense aoe going around, you'll be spamming heal as holy. Disc on the other hand only has Strength of Soul to benefit from heal, unless you count Grace, which most disc priests will use Penance to stack up anyway. And many disc priests don't even use Strength of Soul, since it counteracts Renewed Hope. Also, if I understood anything about disc, they prefer to use Greater Heals together with Train of Thought. So although Heal is supposed to be the core spell of both specs, which can be seen in this set bonus, reality says something else. This is a set bonus that favors holy healing at the moment.

    4 set;
    Each time your Penance spell heals a target with Weakened Soul you gain 540 Spirit for 10 sec, and being in a Chakra state grants you 540 Spirit for the duration of the Chakra.

    This on the other hand, clearly favors holy. Let's compare the two prerequisities for getting our 540 spirit.
    • As disc you'll get 540 spirit for 10 seconds when healing someone affected by Weakened Soul with Penance. This means you have to use two spells on one specific target to get a 10 second buff.
    • As holy you'll get 540 spirit as long as you're in a chakra stance. Even if we assume that doesn't include just having the buff up but not active, which I think won't count, it still means you'll get a 30 second buff for healing anyone with either Heal, Prayer of Healing or Prayer of Mending.
    Acquiring the buff will be alot easier as holy, and it stays on longer.
    And here is an even funnier (?) thing. Penance has a 10 second cooldown, when glyphed. This means you have to use your Penance exactly every cooldown to keep the buff up. Chakra on the other hand can be maintained indefinitely, keeping the spirit buff up undefinitely. Not only that, the cooldown on Chakra is as long as its duration, while the stance can be prolonged by throwing a Heal/PoH/PoM, so by throwing one heal every 30 seconds (two if you count the activation heal) you can make sure to never clip your spirit buff as holy. So not only will it be easier to get the buff as holy, it will be alot easier to maintain. The buff is as good for holy as it is for disc (actually it is probably even a little better for disc, since they have more mana issues and can use spirit more at the moment), but holy wins out alot in simplicity. Keeping the buff 100% throughout the fight will be simple as holy, but rather tricky as disc.

    Overall I like the set bonuses, but they're not balanced between the specs at the moment. In a way it does point at a general issue with disc right now - it is as good as holy in many ways, but it being alot less intuitive and alot more tricky will scare alot of people away. Unfortunately it seems like Blizzard is taking this even to the tier bonuses.

    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Merry Christmas!

    Wish List
    1. Reins of the Volcanic Stone Drake
    2. Darkmoon Card: Tsunami
    3. Buff to disc healing
    4. Conjured food that is based on %
    5. A cool looking tier set
    6. More stuff to buy for Justice Points
    7. Revamping Surge of Light into usefulness
    8. Remove the sound of Chakra
    9. Hard modes instead of heroic modes
    10. Flask crafts that proc more often
    11. Fix Meta gems
    12. Make int food fish obtainable from pools
    13. Make Stampeding Roar good (Love specific wish)

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Conclave of Wind 10 Man

    We managed to down Conclave of Wind in Throne of the Four Winds the other day and I thought I'd help other people who are interested in doing this fight by talking about the tactic that worked for us. As with many other fights, Conclave of Wind is alot more about skills than gear and because of this it is a good starter boss for people looking to gear up for the tougher encounters.

    I really liked Conclave of Wind actually. It is tricky and requires good timing from most people involved, without being too repetative like I felt Magmaw became pretty fast.

    Our raid comp was;

    • Blood Dk
    • Feral Bear Druid
    • Holy Priest (me)
    • Resto Druid * 2
    • Arcane Mage
    • Fire Mage
    • Fury Warrior
    • Balance Druid
    • Subtlety Rogue
    Our average item level was about ~347, I had 344.

    You'll be fighting three bosses at once, each one on their platform. This fight is alot like Four Horsemen in Naxxramas in that the raid will have to split up to handle the bosses, and no boss will ever have to be left alone or there will be hurt. One big difference to the Four Horsemen fight is that the bosses differ significantly from eachother in matter of skills, and must be handled very differently. Some tactics we saw and read recommended using a DK tank for the Frost Boss, Nezir, since a Dk tank would be able to remove the frost debuff with Anti-Magic Shell. Either our dk tank sucked (which he doesn't, he's awesome) or they've fixed it since, because that didn't work anylonger. This means you will have to switch tanks between platforms, and that does make the fight tricker. It's still not a very tricky fight, and I especially like it because it's equally challenging for all involved, be it healer, dps or tank. Everyone has to think about alot for it to work, without it turning into an RNG fight like Lich King. Passive raid buffs won't reach across the ramps, which makes stacking melee and casters into the same groups preferrable. Since the groups are rather small on this fight however, I don't think it will make a huge difference. Just remember that bringing a certain class for their pasive  raid buff is a little wasted on this fight.

    You get to the boss by jumping onto the ramps. The ramps work by increasing your movement speed, so if you're a class that can already increase your movement speed (mage blink, cat/rogue sprint, rocket boots) you might fly off so fast that you miss the platform. Out of fight this doesn't matter since you'll me transported back to the first platform again, alive. In combat this could be troublesome since it wastes alot of time.

    Each boss has an energy bar that when loaded to 90 (why 90 and not 100?) will have them do an ultimate attack that has be dealt with in separate ways. I will discuss this as a final. The bosses don't share hp, but have to die within 1 minute or they will kill you. The fight also has a 8 minute enrage timer, and each energy build up takes about 1,5 minute.

    The bosses
    Anshal - Life Boss (West when entering) - Tank, Healer, 3 dps
    Anshal has two abilities which need to be handled properly;
    • Soothing Winds - Looks pretty much like the druid skill Efflorescence, only bigger and with some added textures. It heals Anshal and his adds for alot, so you don't want to have him or they to ever stand in it if you can help it. Have the tank kite Anshal around the platform edge. You don't want the circle to get into the middle, since that will make things difficult when Anshal goes into his Ultimatum (more explanation below).
    • Nurture (aka Adds) - When Anshal is about 30 energy he will start summoning adds. I don't know if the summon is energy dependant or time dependant, but it was always around this time we got the adds. You can clearly see where the adds will spawn, as they first pop up as little flowers. All dps on the platform should go for them asap, and nuke them down with single target dps. You don't want to aoe them down since that usually goes too slow, giving the adds too much of a chance to heal back up (which they do when crossing a green circle). They do an aoe damage, which is manageable by a healer. Each dps could tank one add, but the tank should try to aggro as many of the as possible. Just note that having one or two slip won't be the end of the world. In the case of a wipe these adds don't always despawn as they should and can be found aggroable on the platform. They can safely be killed without engaging the boss.

    Nezir - Frost Boss (North, behind Al'Akir, when entering) - Tank, Healer
    Nezir too has two abilities which need to be handled;
    • Permafrost - Cone attack. Have the tank face the boss away from other players on the platform (which in turn should avoid getting in front of Nezir). This attack won't kill non-tanks, but it hurts.
    • Ice Patch - Nezir will place an Ice Patch underneath a random player of the group. Try to avoid getting it exactly where the jump ramps are. It will slow anyone in it and deal a fair amount of damage, so get out of it asap.
    Nezir also stacks a debuff that increases frost damage taken. It will become unhealable on the tank at 15+ and should be dealt with between each ultimate (more info on how below).

    Rohash - Wind Boss (East when entering) - Healer, 2 dps
    Rohash has hurricanes going around the platform throughout the fight, these need to be avoided of course. Rohash is the easiest boss, you don't need a tank here and you can safely put your least geared healer to do the job, as long as they're fairly good at moving and healing at the same time. You'll want to avoid having melee dps on Rohash, since meleeing him and avoiding the hurricanes is alot trickier than being ranged.
    • Wind Blast - Every now and then Rohash will do an attack similar to Mimirons "Spinning Up". He'll face a random direction and start doing a Wind Blast, going slowly clock wise around the platform. It doesn't deal much damage, but it will knock you off the platform and should be avoided.

    Each boss has a special attack that they do when reaching 90 energy, and that has to be dealt with in a special way. All bosses transport to the middle of their platform and channel their Ultimate. Because of this you don't want a green circle ever in the middle of the platform where Anshal is, since it will heal him while he channels his ultimate.

    Anshal - Zephyr - Heals all targets on the platform to full health and increases their damage by alot. You must have all adds dead before this happens. This is a great opportunity for the healer on this platform to regen some mana for a short while, since Zephyr deals no damage. Just afterwards, Anshals damage will be greatly increased however, so both the tank and the healer should be ready with cooldowns. Kiting Anshal is tricky, and it worked better for us to just bite it through.

    Nezir - Sleet Storm - Deals about 30.000 damage to all targets on the platform each second, this damage is divided among all targets. This is the most difficult Ultimate to handle. When the bosses are at 75-80 energy have all dps jump over to Nezirs platform. This is also the best time to do a tank and healer switch, which is the only way to reset the stacks you get from him that increase frost damage taken, stacking. The tank and healer from Anshal and Nezir will switch at the same time as the dps are jumping over to the frost platform. Timing this is crucial, since anyone left behind on the platform for too long will risk being killed by the rampaging boss. You also don't want to leave a platform empty of players since the bosses then silence everyone which will lead to a wipe pretty fast. The bosses don't hit so hard that a non-tank is one shot. I could survive two strikes as a clothie (the third killing me). Once everyone has landed on Nezirs platform, have them stack up. We did this in melee range so that we could get some dps on him while he channeled. Ice Patches will still be thrown out and must be cleared asap. There will be heavy aoe damage, so have anyone who can help out with some aoe healing. Once Nezirs Ultimate is over, all the dps will return to their platforms but the tank and healer will wait until the next switch.

    Rohash - Hurricane - Is pretty much what it says. A hurricane launching people in the air, but not knocking them off the platform. This doesn't deal much damage (~ 40.000 over 15 seconds) and can easily be healed through.

    This tactic will allow you to get the Wind Boss and the Frost Boss fairly low. Once they're at below 10% (depending on how much your dps can burst), you'll want to nuke down Life Boss, then Frost Boss and finally Wind Boss. Anshal goes down low too, but will self heal during each Ultimate, which means he has to be re-nuked, although not entirely from scratch. The bosses don't have much hp, so handling the various mechanics is alot more important than nuking each boss down. The healer that starts at the Frost Boss should be your best geared healer, since that is the one that will have to handle the most Slate Storms, and therefore oom fairly easy.

    Priest Specifics
    Unfortunately my recount decided to die on this fight, so I didn't manage to get any data on my healing. I was one of the healers jumping between Frost and Life and overall my healing depended much on which platform I was on. Life required more single target healing (although the dpsers took damage from the adds occasionally), so I chose Chakra: Serenity here, and Inner Fire. Frost mainly needed single target healing as well, except during the aoe damage of course. Timing a Chakra: Sanctuary for the incoming aoe damage did help alot. Ideally I should have switched to Inner Will when on the frost platform, since that would've allowed me to get out of Ice Patches faster. Unfortunately I wasn't skilled enough to think about this during the fight ^^. Fortunately that didn't make a big difference. I'd recommend using the Lightwell on the frost platform during the aoe damage. Don't place it too close to the boss since his footplate is alot bigger than he is and that obscures targetting the Lightwell. Placing it on the Life platform isn't a bad idea either since it allows dpsers to heal themselves when they had aggro from adds. People were pretty spread out on that platform, and having range to everyone was difficult at times. Being ready for the various amounts of incoming damage was the key here, and we wiped a couple of times because I was caught off guard. When healing Life/Frost, remember Anshals increased damage after the ultimate and don't underestimate the amount of damage that your raid will take from Sleet Storm. Good luck!

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Traveller's Guide to Blackwing Lair

    Seeing as Nefarian is yet again one of the great antagonists of the game, I thought it could be fun to check out what it looked like the first time we were sent to whoop his ass. I took an evening to help my friend get Chromaggus as a pet, and travelled into Blackwing Lair. I hadn't been there back in Vanilla, I think it actually took me until Wrath before I first set foot into BWL. I had watched some friends play it back then though, when being stuck on a raid boss for months was considered normal. I wonder how much of that Blizzard has tried to implement in the new raid instances? The first couple of bosses I've tried are quite difficult, but I remember thinking bosses like Emalon, Patchwerk and Ignis were pretty tough cookies too. And then the bosses became fairly simple until LK. Maybe it was just me being bad then.

    Ah well, onward into Blackwing Lair!

     There is a swedish pro-verb that says; ”Don't wake the dragon that sleeps”. Well actually in sweden we talk about bears (we don't have that many dragons, honestly. Unless you count my spanish teacher back in school), but anyway.

    Drat. He just had to poke her. I remember this fight being really, really tough (or so my friends who played it said). I actually died both times I came here, I think it must've been the bomb or something.

    This is a room that greatly illustrates how Blizzard thinks sometimes. ”Hey guys, no one brings rogues to raids anylonger!”, ”oh really? Well, how about we implement a mechanic in the instance that can only be handled by rogues? That way they have to bring at least one!”, ”Oh my gosh, that's a great idea!”.

    These rooms have pillars slowing your movement by alot, like 80-90% (unless you have a rogue deactivating them), while throwing tons of trash dragons in your face. It even makes the gauntlet before Loatheb in Naxxramas look like child's play. And this is no small gauntlet, it goes on forever (it sure feels like it)!

    Many dead goblins. And some other stuff too. I wonder where that felguard is going?

    Fireballs falling on my head.

    Ebonroc, who looks like all the other dragons in this instance. They must be twins... times ten. Decimins?

    Hello Flamegor! You know your crowning days are over when you're whooped by a rhino. Oh wait, a rhino would whoop me easily.

    Entering the chamber of Chromaggus. He has a bad taste for decorating.

    Congratulations hunter on your new and cool pet. Wonder what the Vanilla hunters would've thought if they new this would ever become possible.

    Nefarian should really lighten up the place. He'll never get a lady dragon friend having the place look like this.

    This was the last that was seen of Nefarian, also known as Lord Victor Nefarius. I've got a feeling he'll be back.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    Magmaw 10 Man

    My guild managed a double kill of Magmaw the other day (two 10 man groups) and I was part of the first kill. Magmaw is interesting because you'll probably either love or hate the fight. The first couple of times you try him you definitely get the impression that he is basically impossible. I oomed when the boss was at 80ish % all the time, the aoe damage is completely murderous and you feel like you don't have a chance in the world to kill him with current gear. But Magmaw perfectly illustrates what a huge difference a good working tactic will do to a fight. Magmaw is alot about being on your toes constantly throughout the fight, much more than the other two fights I have been writing about earlier - Halfus Wyrmbreaker and Valiona & Theralion. In that way it resembles the Lich King fight alot, since every slow thought actually could lead to a wipe.

    Fortunately, Magmaw only has two "phases", of which only one is difficult (but on the other hand that one is really difficult). Those are a "handle the shit"-phase and a "nuke the boss"-phase.

    Our raid composition was;

    • Blood Dk
    • Restoration Druid
    • Holy Priest (me)
    • Restoration Shaman
    • Balance Druid *2
    • Arcane Mage
    • Frost Mage
    • Feral Cat Druid
    • Affliction Warlock

    Our average item level was about ~347 (I had 343).

    The thing that needs to be handled in the Magmaw fight are the Parasitic Infections (aka Larvas). Once you've got those under control, most of the rest of the fight is fairly simple and straightforward. Because of this you'll want to pick some dpsers who can help out with slowing and kiting the Larvas. We had boomkins and a frost mage, but other options include elemental shamans and hunters (slowing traps) and basically any dpser who can do the above. Because of this, this is a fight that heavily favors casters. You don't want melee to attack the larvas, so bring as many casters as you need to be able to nuke the larvas down within a 30 second period (which is the time you get before more larvas spawn).
    Some tactics will tell you to have a tank for the larvas. This is only recommended if you don't have dps who can slow and kite. Having the dps handle the larvas themselves worked alot better for us, since any player who gets into contact with the larvas, even a tank, will complicate stuff (explanation given below).

    Phase 1 - Handle it
    This phase is about handling the larvas and intense incoming aoe damage. Get this right a couple of times and you've got this sucker.

    • Lava Spew - An unavoidable aoe attack to every player in the room, deals about 100.000 damage to everyone over 3 seconds. As a healer this is the trickiest part of the fight, no doubt. This is tricky because you have to be able to together dish out 100.000 healing over 3 seconds, and most importantly, not oom while doing it. It will seem impossible the first couple of times, but you will find a way. When we finally managed to kill the sucker I never oomed, and didn't even go below 50% mana (using mana cooldowns of course). You will have to learn just how much aoe healing to push out, and try to limit it to that. Dpsers with aoe heals can also help out when needed of course.
    • Pillar of Flame - Every 30 seconds Magmaw will spew fire on one raid member. It will spawn a pool of lava under that persons feet, and after a few seconds (4?) errupt into a pillar of flame. This can be on either melee or ranged, so everyone has to be ready to move from it. The Larvas will spawn from this pillar.
    • Larvas (Parasitic Infection) - Anyone who gets bitten (attacked) by a Larva will eventually spawn another larva. This means that if you don't handle the larvas in a ranged manner, you'll soon be overwhelmed by them. Once bitten, you can't get rid of the infection, you will spawn a new larva throughout the fight. This is the singlemost important thing to deal with properly during the fight. Getting too many larvas will quickly make everything else in the fight impossible to deal with.
    • Ignition - Ignites half the room, have everyone move out of it.
    • Random Spit - A skill not mentioned on wowpedia is a random Lava Spit he does every 10 seconds or so throughout the fight (not when stunned), dealing about 30.000 damage to the target. I'm not entirely sure, but I think it hits 3 targets, and I know the damage is individual, aka stacking or not stacking doesn't change it.

    Magmaw also has a couple of attacks that make him deal massive damage when no one is within melee range. This is easily handled by always have the tank tanking :P

    The best way to deal with the above mechanics is to have all ranged stack up on eachother. This makes it easier to handle with the aoe damage, and alot easier to predict where the pillar will land. As soon as a pillar has spawned, have everyone move some 30-40 yards away, ranged dps dealing with the Larvas while healers try to heal up the massive aoe damage. When a new pillar spawns, move back to the original location, rinse and repeat.

    UPDATE: There is also another way to deal with phase 1, which some feel is easier. Instead of having all the ranged in one group, it suffices to have one ranged outside (10 man) and the rest stacked up in melee. This way you know exactly where the Lava Spew will land and also only one person will need to move from it, reducing the risk of failure. The handling of the adds is just as important, and you should always have as many ranged needed to kill them down easily.

    Phase Transition
    To get into the nuke phase, you have to have two dpsers shackle Magmaws head to a spike on the ground (ouchkerbibble). After about 1,5 minute you'll be able to jump on to his back (you'll notice the regular mount up mouse over). As soon as you have people do this, Magmaw will start chewing on the tank (Mangle), dealing massive amount of damage. Assign at least one healer to deal with this! The tank won't be stunned while chewed upon, and should use any means necessary to stay alive (heal self, use cooldowns).

    The riders will get a marker (green circle) which they have to aim on the spike on the ground to shackle down Magmaws head. The faster they do this the better, since you don't want to have the tank Mangled for longer than necessary. It is worth noting that you can start doing this as soon as you've mounted, eventhough Magmaw hasn't finished his emote yet.

    Phase 2 - Nuke it
    Once Magmaws head is down, finish off the final larvas (they should preferrably be all dead when this happens), and have everyone start nuking Magmaw. Dpsing Magmaw at any other phase isn't unecessary, but it will overall make the fight more difficult since you want to save mana and brain power to deal with the larvas during Phase 1. If you have dpsers who are really low on mana and Magmaw still isn't close to death, it is better to have them regen than nuke during this phase. Dealing with the larvas the next time is still top priority!

    There will be no damage going around, so this is the perfect time for healers to just stand around, take a breath, and regen mana through any means necessary. We had one assigned healer who topped everyone off during this phase (the shaman, since he could LB up his mana during this phase), while the others just stood idle, regening. Be ready for massive incoming aoe as soon as this phase ends, as it goes right back to phase 1 again. Just after this nuke phase, he will do a melee hit on the nearest target in melee. To avoid having a melee dying from this, have them stand as far away from Magmaw as possible when nuking. Once the tank has aggro again (there might be an aggro reset here) they can stand in their regular position again.

    The first phase 1 is the trickiest, since after you have shackled his head once, you can do it again faster than before. If the first phase 1 takes about 1,5 minutes, the ones after only take about 40 seconds, so if you get the first phase 1 right, it'll only become easier (as long as you don't oom).

    Priest specifics
    As you can see from the healing recount, aoe healing is what you'll do during this fight. The trick is to be able to deal with the aoe healing, while moving from the  Pillar of Flame, and as mentioned not oom. On the other hand that is all you have to deal with. Our Sanctuary, Healing Rain and Efflorescence did some good aoe healing, but it also made seeing the Pillar of Flame a little tricker. Overall it is worth it however. Have someone assigned to look after the tank, someone to focus on the aoe healing and one who does a little bit of both, and you'll be set. The lightwell is gold in this fight, since it can be used while moving between the two assigned areas. I stayed in Chakra: Sanctuary throughout the fight, and actually used Inner Will for the extra movement (and to ease up mana consumption on all the CoH and PoM I used). Use PoM every cooldown, use CoH basically every cooldown, tell everyone to use the lightwell and use a buttload of Prayer of Healings. Prayer of Healing is a really mana efficient spell when you've got so many to benefit from the heal, like on this fight. When moving between places you can spam some Holy Nova, which is a great aoe heal on the run (it's not on the recount because I forgot to use it :P ). Once you have figured the bare minimum you have to heal everyone, which is based on how your other healers heal as well, you will probably have found a good way to keep mana at a reasonable level and still keep people alive. People will be low on health. Most of us healers know now that that isn't an issue. You should try to keep everyone above 30% at least, so that they won't die from the next Lava Spew aoe.

    With less than 1000 mastery, I want you to note how awesome mastery seems to be for us holy priests. At nearly 10% total healing done this sure makes a difference during an aoe intense fight like this (more than PoM although PoM was up every cd). Right now I prefer mastery over spirit and crit for sure.

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Archaeology 101

    I'm having great fun with Archaeology at the moment, and I bet most of you have tried it out and probably come even further than I have. I still thought I'd take a moment to talk about it, since it works quite differently from other professions.

    Archaeology is trained just like any other profession by a trainer in one of the big cities and has the same skill values, aka 1-75, 76-150 and so on up to 525. The big thing that differs archeology from other professions is that the material gathered - fragments - are personalized. No one else but you can get to them. This gives archaeology (hate spelling that word btw) less of a farming feeling than the other professions, eventhough it is actually more about farming than any other profession.

    I don't recommend anyone below level 60 to start skilling archaeology, since it will take you into any zone in the old Vanilla world (don't know about Northrend and Outlands). To be able to dig in any zone without being killed by the local fauna, you'd want to outlevel them. As a commenter pointed out, it will only take you to areas of your own level or below (being max level I had no idea ^^). I still highly recommend having a flying mount for this, but I suppose that goes for any kind of questing and/or gathering.

    Zones & Digging
    When bringing up your map you'll see little shovels scattered across it. These indicate zones to dig in. Each continent (Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms at first)  has four zones and each zone has three sets of fragments. Everytime you've digged out a zone, a new one is added somewhere on the map. At first you only get a few fragments per dig, later on you get between 3-5 (and eventually maybe even more). The amount of fragments needed to complete an item increases too however. To find a fragment you have to enter a zone and press the survey button. This will make you place on out of three different survey scopes, indicating closeness and direction of a fragment.
    The red scope means your still far away. This also has a pretty high fail level, meaning it will only show you in the general direction. In my experience it seems to be about 50/50, which means it will basically just indicate whether you are south/north/west/east of an item and not much more.
    The yellow scope means you're pretty close, but still got some 40-60 yards to go. Also more reliable.
    The green scope means the fragment is nearby, usually between 5-20 yards. Highly reliable. You actually have to stand within some 5 yards of a fragment to unearth it.

    Find the fragment in the picture!
    As mentioned, what you gather as an archaeologist are called fragments. The vast majority will be fragments that are automatically added to the item you are currently finishing. This means you can only acquire them from farming digging zones. The fragments you gather can belong to one of 10 different types. These are spread out lore wise, which means that if you are surveying in an old night elf ruin, you'll find night elf fragments. You'll occasionally get a more rare green quality fragment, which is boe and an item put into your bags. These are sellable, and can be found on the auction house. These fragments belong to certain types, just as the regular fragments do. They count as 12 fragments in one, and can be added to any item of that type (aka night elf to night elf).

    In the beginning you'll mostly find fragments belonging either to the troll, night elf, dwarf or fossil type, simply because those people are common (and old) in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms. The first 75ish skills can be had just by digging. Later on you'll only get skill from completing items. Some people therefore recommend to not complete any items until you reach this limit. It's up to you really, it won't make a difference to whether you'll get that cool, really rare item in the end anyway. I heard that digging zones in Uldum are especially rare, so if you ever happen to get one there you should dig it out!

    Once you've hit the limit of getting skill through digging, you'll generally need about 35 fragments to complete an item, and as mentioned you get about 3-5 fragments per dig, and 5 skills to solve an item. To this can be added the green quality fragments to further boost item completion, if wanted. Simply grab the green fragment and drag it into the little indentation underneath the bar. Not all items have this option, and some can have several indentations. Whether or not you'll want to save the green quality fragments for later or not is also up to you. Yet again I hardly think it'll make much difference when it comes to finding rare items or not.
    The thing about archaeology is that you always know ahead which item you're completing. So you don't just gather a set of fragments and get an item on random, instead you get an item at random and gather fragments to complete it. The difference might seem minor, but it is a really smart way for Blizzard to get you hooked. Occasionally you'll get a rare item, which requires alot more fragments to complete, and you'll have a big motivation to complete the item so you can get that rare item. If you didn't know which item you'd get until you completed it, I think people would stop digging more easily. Evil Blizzard!

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Holy Priest Healing Heroics

    I wanted to write a post about instance healing for some time now. First I decided to wait because I felt like I needed some actual experience before I could claim to know anything. But then I didn't really know how to get started. Should I mention how hard the mobs hit? All the cc that is needed? What gear you should have to even dream of keeping people alive? How fast you'll oom? So many things worth mentioning, because they are important to know to do a good healing job. And then Lissanna saved my ass by writing a great post about instance healing that also mentions a couple of these things. I recommend you go check that post out! In the mean time, I'll focus on the priest specifics over in this corner.

    Holy vs Discipline

    Holy and discipline are pretty much alike in their ability to handle heroic healing at the moment. Holy has better mana regen and aoe healing, disc has better point healing. But none of the specs handles any area badly. I'd say holy is slightly easier on lower gear levels, and disc picks up later on, but there is a buff coming up to disc that might change this. What you decide to go for should be based on which spec you feel most comfortable in.
    If you feel like you'd want to know more about disc healing, Malevica wrote a good post on it. It's focused on raid healing, but heroics sure feel like small raids nowadays. She does point out that aoe-healing is a weakness in disc healing, and you'll notice this even more when you're all alone to handle it, like in a heroic. I've also written a post on How to heal as Discipline in heroics.

    Evangelism and Archangel?
    Without Atonement, Evangelism and Archangel aren't very useful. The net profit from casting smites to regain mana is very low, in fact I think it is nonexistant. If anything you'd want this for the increased healing done, but it comes at a high price. We wouldn't be able to take some nice talents in the shadow tree for one. Another problem is actually being able to throw those smites. In most heroics there won't be much time for this, in raids it is definitely non existant. I strongly recommend against going for these talents.

    Serenity vs Sanctuary
    Choosing Chakra stance will make alot of difference for your healing. Both because they buff different spells, and also because that will make you want to use slightly different skills. Throughout the various heroics I've done so far, I can however say that I choose Serenity 95 times out of a hundred. Even when there is tough aoe damage. Right now the main reason I choose Sanctuary in a heroic is when I want to place a Sanctuary. The conditions that need to be filled for me to want to do this are many, so this doesn't happen often at all. I'd have to know that nearly everyone will stand in one place, where I can use Sanctuary, and the aoe damage has to be pretty damn high. Another reason would be if I know I won't be able to throw a Heal. If I know for sure I will never be able to stand still to do the cast, Sanctuary will be better than Serenity. Fortunately (?) these extreme conditions are rarely met, and so I decide to stick with Serenity. This isn't always true in raids, but very often the case in heroics. There are several reasons why Serenity is a better choice for heroic healing;

    • You get an instant cast in Holy Word: Serenity. It's cheap, it heals for pretty much (comparatively) and best of all, it's instant, like mentioned. I love this skill in heroics, because it really helps alot with the healing in the damage environment that I feel heroics have. You don't have the need to place a Sanctuary very often, but a Serenity heal is always useful. All you people who are pro SoL should really love this skill.
    • If you have the possibility, there is great mana efficiency in refreshing Renew on the tank with the occasional Heal throughout a fight. I will talk more about rotations a bit further down, but right now this is my main way of healing. And refreshing means no extra mana cost, which makes your mana pool happy. When there is moderate aoe damage you can do the same thing to the whole party. Just throw a renew on affected targets and refresh if damage says they'll need more healing.
    • Serenity increases the critical strike chance of your direct healing skills by 10%, which makes it alot easier to keep up Inspiration, which will further lower the damage of your tank and save you mana.

    I did initally use Chakra Sanctuary alot more because I felt like the 15% extra aoe healing would make a big difference. I quickly learned however that you only want to resort to aoe healing when you really have to. Your mana won't allow for much more. As long as you can you want to keep things alive with hots and Heals. So let me get this clear - Chakra Sanctuary isn't bad because it's bad, but because it doesn't suit the healing needed in heroics very often. You only want to get into that wasteful way of healing when you have no other choice.

    Like I've mentioned the beauty of Chakra Serenity is that it will make your direct healing skills refresh Renew, so it could be good to know exactly what a "direct healing skill" means. It's not as simple as you'd think.

    Direct Healing Skills are;
    • Heal
    • Greater Heal
    • Flash Heal

    These don't count although you might think they would;
    • Circle of Healing
    • Prayer of Mending
    • Holy Word Serenity
    • Prayer of Healing
    • Binding Heal
    • Lightwell Renew

    Inner Fire vs Inner Will
    The best thing to do would be to switch between these skills as needed. Unfortunately when things go rough that is an ideal that is difficult to live up to, so you usually have to decide for one of these when starting a fight, especially boss fights. Since I usually stick in Chakra Serenity, I often choose to keep Inner Fire up. If I am capable of refreshing my renews I won't need to recast them so often to benefit enough from the mana reduction from Inner Will. But this is during the "simple" fights, aka when I will be able to refresh Renew fairly often and don't have to use CoH, PoM and other instants. Although heroics are difficult right now there will be plenty of trashpulls where you'll only have to focus on the tank, or at least only have to focus very little on the rest of the group. For those pull Inner Fire is ideal.
    But then there are the pulls and boss fights where you will actually have to do alot more. Inner Will is great in that it not only reduces the mana cost of the majority of your skills, it also provides run speed. Run speed is so awesome Blizzard completely removed it from Unholy Aura (party wide that is) because it was OP and even gave feral druids a skill that does nothing else (Stampeding Roar). So do not underestimate how valuable it is to be able to position yourself quickly. There will be plenty of fights in heroics where you'll be glad for those 10% extra run speed.
    So to recap - Inner Fire as long as you can heal people mainly through Heal, and Inner Will when you have to start using other skills more.

    As for any healer there isn't much of a rotation to talk about, but I'll mention the most mana efficient way of healing in different situations. Of course the fights don't always agree with you being mana efficient, and that is when you have to pull out the more expensive tools.

    • Easy damage on tank and group - Inner Fire, Chakra Serenity. Keep Renew on tank, refresh with Heal. Heal is so cheap you can throw it even when it is a complete overheal. If a dps goes down low you can give him the same "treatment", aka throw up a renew on him and refresh it until he's fully healed.

    • Medium damage on tank and group - Inner Will, Chakra Serenity. As above, but also throw in Holy Word: Serenity where needed. It's best used on the tank since it boosts your crit chance on the target further which will proc more Inspiration. For small aoe damage the occasional Circle of Healing works good, or even Prayer of Healing (I feel like the range on Circle of Healing is alot more than 15 yards btw).

    • Difficult damage on tank - Inner Fire, Chakra Serenity. When the tank dips use Holy Word Serenity followed by two flash heals and a Greater Heal to top him off. This is emergency healing and shouldn't be used too often. If damage is hard on the tank for a longer period of time, consider placing a lightwell beside him to have him help you with his healing.

    • Difficult damage on group - Inner Will, Chakra Sanctuary. Things rarely go this tough and when they do you often have some dps who can help you with some aoe healing for a short period of time (in any case you should tell them to be ready). If you know aoe damage will be tough, place a lightwell at a good spot so everyone can heal themselves in addition to your healing. Place a Sanctuary if people are huddled. Get PoM going every cooldown and spam Prayer of Healing (throw in some CoH too). This is the "easiest" healing since all you have to do basically is loose all restraints and hope you don't oom too fast (but you will). This is what resembles Wrath healing the most.

    Skills, and when to use them
    Cataclysm has put a big "ah ah ah" tag on all our heals, and we have to take them through custody before even thinking of using them. Here are a list of our heals with the general area of usage;

    • Heal - Our basic heal, can be used as often and as much as you like. That sounds awesome, but that is only because it is insanely slow and small so even if you spam it around it won't make a big difference. Spamming is what you'll do with this spell. Use it to refresh Renew on your tank target mainly, and rest of the group if minor damage is going around.
    • Greater Heal - Is nearly 3 times as effective as a Heal and costs 3 times as much. As such it is almost like casting three Heal at once, and should be used instead of Heal when damage requires it. Note that it is slightly less efficient than Heal, so it is always better to use Heal when possible. Also refreshes Renew.
    • Flash Heal - Costs as much as Greater Heal, heals for little less and is twice as fast to cast (note that you can talent down Greater Heal to cast faster, but not as fast as Flash Heal). Should only be used when damage on the tank (or someone else) is too high to handle with Greater Heal or Heal. Could be combined with Greater Heal through Serendipity for better throughput.
    • Prayer of Mending - Alot of healers are using it like they did in Wrath, aka always keep it up on the tank. PoM is only half as mana efficient as Heal, which means it has to jump at least twice to be worth to cast instead of Heal. Because of this it should only be used when you know it will do this. Most trash pulls won't require you to use PoM. It is pretty safe to use for most boss fights however.
    • Circle of Healing - Costs little more than two Heals, and heals for about half as much, making it 1/4 as effective as Heal. This means you should try to use it only when 5 people can benefit from it, or when aoe damage is such that you need to complement Prayer of Healing.
    • Prayer of Healing - Heals for about as much as a Heal and costs little less than 3 times as much. Can safely replace Heal when 3 or more targets benefit from it, note that it doesn't refresh Renew however!
    • Binding Heal - Can basically be used as it was back in Wrath, with moderation of course. Even when hitting two targets this is slightly less mana effective than using Heal twice, but extremely more time efficient of course. You shouldn't hesitate to use it when needed. It stacks serendipity but doesn't refresh renew.
    • Shield - This used to be one of the least mana effective spells for holy, but nowadays it is actually more mana effective than Flash Heal. Because of this it can safely be used in any situation where you'd feel inclined to use a Flash Heal. Just as with Flash Heal this kind of healing will oom you fast however. Mostly we save Shields for using Body & Soul.
    • Divine Hymn - Extremely mana efficient and should always be used in a pinch.