Monday, January 31, 2011

What will the PoH & CoH changes mean for our healing?

I've already had some say on our recent changes to PoH and CoH, back then I wrote;

"Prayer of Healing effectiveness has been reduced by 15%.
Let me just say I am not suprised. I don't know if I mentioned it before but I always thought of PoH as the best aoe healing in the game right now, especially when combined with the PoH glyph. Add to that Lightwell, Sanctuary, CoH and PoM and holy priests were pretty dang good. So good in fact that some guilds preferred to bring them for aoe heavy raid fights. I know those guilds weren't many and probably fighting heroic content, but that is always a sign that Blizzard will take notice of and probably act upon. Just as they did with dk tanks in Ulduar"
"Circle of Healing effectiveness has been increased by 30%.
This is to counteract the nerf on PoH, and welcome of course. Last time I wrote something on CoH I said something along the lines of "this spell doesn't feel like it does much difference, I use it more like a spell to top people up than to actually help me with healing". This will hopefully make CoH a little more worth casting, although I already liked it for when moving around (which we do alot in raids)."

No one is happy about a nerf. In fact I had a commenter who seemed rather devastated by these changes and vented some interesting thoughts;
"I am unhappy with thh [sic] change to Holy Con. Less mana regen does not give me a happy feeling.

Coupled with the fact that PoH took a hit which means less hps, hence more mana needed as it takes more casting of this spell now. CoH got a buff, but its on CD and in current healing mechanics would not be wise to bring off CD due to mana consumption and probable over healing waste."
I simply thought that Blizzard will never allow for anyone to be too good. And PoH was really a little too good. So we were getting an aoe healing nerf.

But wait a minute. Are we really being nerfed? A guildie and fellow healer friend of mine pointed out that the current changes actually point to an overall buff to our aoe healing output, albeit a very minuscule one (around 1%). I was shocked, I hadn't even thought about the possibility. Could 30% CoH actually over-compensate a 15% reduction to PoH? Let's take a look!

I checked the recounts I had posted for the tactics of Cho'gall, Ascendant Council and Maloriak. Here are the numbers I got (and please remember I am daft when it comes to maths, I even had to retake the second simplest course back in high school);

  • Cho'gall - 15% less PoH = 265500 less healing. 30% more CoH = 277200 more healing. Total = gain of 11700 healing.
  • Ascendant Council - 15% less PoH = 118500. 30% more CoH = 131000. Total = gain of 12500 healing.
  • Maloriak - 15% less PoH = 56400. 30% more CoH = 96600 more healing. Total = gain of 40200 healing.
As you can see the gains are close to neglible, but they don't point toward a minus, they are actually a gain although as mentioned a really small one.

But, there will always be a "but". Nerfing PoH also means nerfing Glyph of PoH. If we remove 15% from the total heals from the glyph on these fights we get;
50500 less healing on Cho'Gall, with a total loss of 38800 healing.
22650 less healing on Ascendant Council, with a total loss of 10150 healing.
Less than 20000 less healing on Maloriak (didn't have exact numbers on the glyph there) with a total of approximately 20000 extra healing.

Because CoH is on cooldown
and PoH isn't it means that we "lose" healing the more we fill the time between CoHs with PoH. At face value, CoH buff vs PoH nerf, they actually stand on equal footing. The one compensates the other. But if we add the glyph to the mix, we will find that we fall down on an overall loss in healing.

But look at these numbers. At the fights exampled here we're looking at a couple of thousand in loss over a couple of million in total healing. We're talking about less than a percent in total loss in healing. Less than half a percent for these particular fights. There is really no reason to think anything about our aoe healing output. These numbers are taken from real time fights where I have used both CoH and PoH as much as I thought was necessary, and that is how I, and the rest of you, will continue to use CoH and PoH. And in that situation nothing has changed in our aoe healing output.

So how about disc? They don't have CoH to compensate for the loss of PoH. Even worse, with less PoH, we get less DA. Actually disc are really the ones who should be crying about this. Sure, we are getting buffs to shields and Penance, but that also comes with an increased cost in mana (and disc already had more trouble with mana than holy). Those buffs will not compensate for the nerf to PoH because they affect different areas in our healing. When we want to aoe heal we won't look at our shields and Penance, we use PoH. If we look at the Cho'gall fight I did in 25 man we see that as disc I would lose 292000 healing from PoH, an added 92000 from less DA, and 50000 less from Glyph of PoH, without any compensation. That is an reduction of 9,5% of my total healing output on that fight. Did we really need that as disc? We get buffs to our point healing, but a rather big nerf to our aoe healing, and we were not the ones with the awesome aoe healing to begin with.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

How can I improve my priest?

There are always things in which one needs to improve. Listing them is an important first step, and then you actually have to do something about it. I can often think "oh that keybinding doesn't work very well, have to fix that after the raid" and then when the raid ends I am dead tired mentally and have forgotten all about it and only remember it when I start healing again in the next raid. This can go on for weeks. So yeah, I've already found one thing in which I need to improve. What else is there?

So I mentioned keybindings. Tweaking my keybinds so that I have what I need when I need it as handy as possible is an ongoing project of mine. My biggest issue right now is Prayer of Healing, which I have bound on the same key as I have had for the last years, namely button 6. It worked well in Wrath since I didn't use PoH that much, but it's my main spell in raids, and usually number one on healing done. So I will press number 6 a whole lot of times and that makes me ask if it doesn't deserve a better placement. Well actually there is no question about it, it must get a better placement! As it is now I have to actually lift my fingers to press that button. Sometimes when things go heated I press 5 instead which is Heal and well that won't have the desired effect at all. I don't even use 5 to cast Heal since I have Heal bound to my Vuhdo! So... where could it go? I can't have it at 4, because that is where I've got my Binding Heal. 3 is for Flash Heal, which I don't have bound to Vuhdo since I use it only for emergency healing. 1 is my Holy Word: Chastice. And on 2 I have Holy Nova, which I use quite alot. So where could I put PoH? You see my dilemma here. Sure I could place it on 5 but that won't do much of a difference, and I don't want a double keybind, like shift/alt/ctrl + something because that's too tricky for a spell I use that often. I see no easy solution. But I will have to find one.

Not waste my spells on the wrong person
Speaking of Prayer of Healing, I have to become better at judging who to cast that spell on. A good example is the other day when we were doing Atramedes. Usually I just target the player on top of his group when I want to heal the group with PoH. But this time Love was on top of his group, but he was also the only melee in the group. All the rest were ranged. So targetting him meant using PoH to heal only him, and that's extremely wasteful. So even if the best solution would be to ask the raid leaders to sort up the groups better (and it feels like I do that constantly) I still have to become faster at noticing something like this. This time I must've used something like 3 casts on him before I noticed it was no good. "Damn, why isn't the group being healed?" I thought. The same goes with Prayer of Mending. It's not always easy to see, but I should try to aim at becoming better at not using it on people who stand all alone. Maybe wait with throwing it on the tank until I see that some melee are in the vicinity to further benefit from it. On the other hand I will give myself recognition for good handling of B&S and Leap of Faith.

I suck at getting food. I am totally spoiled. During all of Wrath I got all my food from people who brought fish feasts or Love. He used to fish alot so he always had loads of mats for good food for me. But now in Cata we don't usually have anyone who brings a raidwide food buff, and Love isn't fishing as much. So I really should learn to bring my own food to the raids, lazy bastard.

I'm a goblin!
I should really learn to use my gobliness to the max. I think until today I have still yet to use Rocket Jump in a raid, and I sure know plenty of times when it could be useful. To my defense I've often made it with B&S, but on the other hand there are plenty of times where Rocket Jump would've done a better job or I was playing disc and couldn't use B&S. The other day I did some tries on Nefarian (which seems like a fun fight btw) and the Rocket Jump would've been nice when trying to get out of the lava in phase 2. Did I use it? Nooo? Shape up!

Where should I place my DBM timers?
There's not only an issue with keybindings, there might be some other things about my UI that need to be fixed as well. I have yet to find a good spot for my DBM timers. The problem is that whereever I place them they seem to be in the way of something. Or fall behind something. Right now they're in a pretty good position, but maybe a little too far away of my regular visual focus so that I have to switch focus quite alot to look at those timers. I could probably improve that a bit.

And after all that whining, maybe we should look at some of the things I actually do fairly well;
I already mentioned the usage of B&S and Leap of Faith. I think I usually very good at acknowledging when it is needed and use it accordingly. Another thing I've really improved is healing while moving. I used to limit those heals to PoM and Renews/Shield (depending on spec), but now that Renew/Shield isn't as spammable as back in Wrath I've had to figure out new things to do. Usually I use Holy Nova, if there are enough people around me. And CoH of course (if I am holy). There is usually quite alot of healing that can be done on the run, and although we don't have skills that allow us to use casts while running, like Spiritwalkers Grace, we don't really need it. One thing I really sucked at back in Wrath was to use my Lifeblood cooldown. I think it was because I had hardwired into my brain that it just wasn't very good. Back then it only healed, and for a rather modest amount. Still, using it is only a gain so I should've have learned to do that. Interestingly enough, now that it also gives haste, I use it all the time. Just need the proper motivation it seems. And lastly, I am quite proud of my general environmental awareness. I rarely fail on killing half the raid by missing out on some debuff that I've got or moving from fire. Fortunately this is true of most of the people that I raid with, but I still think I deserve a /pat for being so good at avoiding damage. One does deserve to feel good about stuff occasionally aswell.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Deep Space 9 - Why it kicks TNG ass

Being wrong isn't always a bad thing. In some cases it might actually be an awesome thing. So let me say this at once - I was terribly wrong about Deep Space Nine. I thought it sucked, when it in fact might be one of the best Star Trek Series.

I have been wanting to write this post for a long time. Ever since I had seen the first season of DS9 I thought that I needed to tell the world how wrong I was about it. But there are always those post where you know you just won't be able to make it justice. No matter what you write it just won't be what you are thinking. But it can't be helped. I have to give it a try. I have to try to explain why DS9 is so awesome. Oh and be warned, this is pretty spoilerish.

The reason I initially thought DS9 wouldn't be good is probably simply because it's based on a space station, instead of a star ship. With only this information to guide me I quickly drew the conclusion that it just couldn't be as compelling and interesting as the other Star Trek series. How could a stationary station offer the same diversity and adventure as a moving space ship? I did know that DS9 was situated on what is known as the far end of Federation space, which of course opens up the opportunity for weird things to happen just as in any series. What I didn't know is that the DS9 was situated by a worm hole leading to the Gamma Quadrant. Suddenly alot more possibilities open up. But in the end my quick drawn conclusion wasn't all wrong. DS9 isn't about exploring space - instead the creators have tried to offer something that isn't present in any of the previous series up until then, at least not anywhere near to the same extent - personal relationships and in depth characters.

Before I had seen DS9 I liked Voyager the best, then TNG and then TOS. What I liked about Voyager is exactly this, it builds on the characters in a way the previous series hadn't done before. Or at least if you don't count DS9. Well actually it's more complicated than that. TOS does build on the characters alot, but only on the four main characters, that make up a sort of quartet - Spock, Kirk, McCoy and Scott (Chekov, Uhura and Sulu having minor sidekick roles). But the surrounding characters come and go. There is no background story that binds all the episodes together, the only common denominator is Kirk and Co becoming the hostages of some evil omnipotent being who wishes to test them and in the end they prevail because if their awesome humanity (seriously, this desribes 90% of the TOS episodes). But TOS is TOS, and I don't wish to compare DS9 with it, because the age difference is a big factor in just how and what you'd like to produce in order to entertain between the two. TNG on the other hand ran simultaneously with DS9, at least to some part, so comparing between those two seems more logical.

I really liked TNG. And then I watched DS9. And I realized TNG had some really big flaws. Sure they fly around in their fancy Enterprise ship, while DS9 just sit around there in their space station, but DS9 has so many things that TNG lacks. Like interesting characters. Throughout the 7 seasons that is TNG, the designers have decided to develop two characters more than others. Those are Picard and Data. Sure every character get their own episodes in which we get to know them a little better. Worf gets a child, Troi has her annoying mother, Dr Crusher gets to be all moshimoshi with her extremely irritating son Wesley (the most hated character in Star Trek?), Riker is a womanizer and so on. But once you've seen DS9 and what the writers have done to the characters in that series you'll startle at how bland... and dull... and extremely boring all the characters in TNG are. Ok, all the characters except Data. Data is awesome. Let's just make that one clear. I mean he gets to play Sherlock Holmes and everything. Why can't the other characters be interesting like him?

What especially annoys me about TNG, as opposed to DS9, is that the characters don't get to evolve together. The relationships they have at the beginning of the series are exactly the same as they have at the end. Picard has some dry fling with Dr Crusher, or whatever you'd like to call their daily breakfasts together. Troi and Riker have had something together that died long ago and never gets to resurface (except when Rikers teleport twin shows up). Worf gets a child, but doesn't care for it or the woman until she dies, and actually not much after that either. The relationships are robotic to say the least, making Datas tries to become a human all the more ironic. He's nearly the only one who has some casual sex, tries to raise a child of his own accord, find out more about his family and all the other things that all humans are interested in. Just because you're in space you don't stop caring about other people. But the characters in TNG just go about their daily business. The only times they're in distress or start loosing control are when they're under alien influence. When you compare the TNG characters to the DS9 characters you realize that they're not really alive.

And honestly, that doesn't have to be a bad thing. According to some anonymous contributor at, Roddenberry wanted the series to focus on space exploration and how people would react when they came into contact with unknown things. The people are only substitues for anything that interacts with something else. But it is clear they are doing this to highlight difficult questions about what it means to be human. They're doing this already in TOS. Some of the best episodes of all the Star Trek series are the ones that make you think "well, does it really have to be this way?". Like all the times the captains have to make a decision between saving people and standing by the famous Prime Directive about not interfering with other cultures. Star Trek is so good because it raises all these questions in the best of settings - space, where anything can happen. And if you want to ask questions about humanity, I think you'd like to have characters that feel human. TNG have failed in this.

And DS9 excells. The writers have really managed to come up with some of the most interesting characters in all the Star Trek series, and also connections between the characters that make the series never grow dull. DS9 also introduces another theme to the series which I really like - the continous background stories. Like mentioned there are none such in TOS, and there are only a few in TNG. You've got Q, and the occasionaly double-episode, but that's about it. In DS9 however, you've got storylines that run in the background of episodes for seasons. I know TOS and TNG are designed so that anyone can jump in anywhere and still get what's happening. But honestly, being drawn in by some fascinating storyline really beats anything. That is what makes you think "oh.. but just another episode", "I just have to know what happens next".

So in DS9 the characters are highlighted.
The story wouldn't be the same without those very characters, and this is the big difference between DS9 and TNG. In this sense DS9 is much more like TOS, but with the added great story telling that TNG has. Another thing I really enjoy about DS9 is that communication with Starfleet High Command is cut to a minimum. Overall Sisko (read more about him further down) does all the decision making and I sometimes wonder if he really has the authority to do what he does. In TNG it feels like Picard calls back to home for directions in every other episode. This is probably also the logical course of action. Sisko is involved more than what would be logical, but on the other hand he is the commander of the station that is the Federations closest real outpost in the areas of action, so giving him close to full authority and picking him for every mission musn't be such an odd thing to do.

But everything isn't perfect about DS9 of course, just close to. There are some characters I don't really like, even here. But overall they are great.

Benjamin Sisko - Commander of the station and played by the semi-known Avery Brooks. Brooks is making a very special character out of Sisko, and if you don't like the way he portraits him, you'll have a problem. I love it myself, but I would understand people if they didn't. I think Sisko is one of the most believable characters in the entire Star Trek series, only rivaled by Janeway.

Jake Sisko - Benjamins son. The Crusher family had left me with a bitter aftertaste when it came to Star Treks tries to portrait families. Worf & Son weren't exactly interesting either, but they were at least not extremely annoying as the Crushers were. Jake and Wesley are similar in that they've both lost a parent at young age - Wesley his father and Jake his mother. But that's where the similiarities end. Jake is played by a fairly unknown actor who is doing a great job. Eventhough he's a kid, and I generally dislike kids in shows like these, I never ever find him to be "acting". They guys' actually a really good actor. The relationship between Benjamin and Jake is also a believable one and filled with comic relief suitable of a father-son relationship. All the things that should've been an issue between the Crushers finally get to surface here. How will a parent react when child wants to find a girl/boyfriend? When they ask questions about life? When they are misbehaving? Or trying to do the right thing but in the wrong way? None of these things are being touched upon in the Crusher family, all we ever get to know is that Wesley is the best son ever.

Odo - Every series has to have an outsider. The one character that is there to point out what it means to be human, by being extremely unhuman. TOS had Spock, TNG had Data and DS9 has Odo (and I think in Voyager it is a mix of The Doctor and Seven of Nine). Odo is a changeling, which means he can take any shape and form. At first you don't get to know much about Odo, but just as with Spock and Data he has a very special personality, and special quirks. Just as with Spock and Data he has issues with his identity, interestingly enough. At first, Odo doesn't know where he comes from, or even if he's alone in the universe or not. It turns out Odo is part of one of the major storylines of DS9. I won't spoil it more for you than that. Odo isn't as interesting as Spock and Data, but on the other hand I think this is simply because Data and Spock stand out as the only interesting characters in their respective series. TOS has several really interesting characters, but honestly Spock is the only one who's a little special and different. I suppose the creators didn't dare to go too crazy with their first series. As I already mentioned, Data is the only really interesting character in TNG, and nearly the only character that gets to develop at all. Odo is as interesting as those two, but since most other characters in DS9 are really interesting too he sort of drowns in the masses. This is a good thing.

Major Kira Nerys - Before I saw DS9 I had only ever encountered one Bajoran in the Star Trek series, and that was Ro Laren from TNG. I wonder if the actor of Major Kira took inspiration from her, because they are both very similar. Headstrong women, to say the least. As with Benjamin Sisko I would understand if people disliked the way Kira is portraited, because she is very much of a person, so to speak. But on the other hand, if one accepts that thats part of the personality of the character it fits perfectly. Kira Nerys does bring something unique to the series by being the way she is. She is strongly religious and will go against better judgement for her believes. This puts her in interesting situtations, and that makes for an interesting show.

Garak - One of my favorite characters of the show. The outcast Cardassian, and we don't really get to know if he's on the good guys side, or on the bad guys (just as Snape, and everyone loves Snape!). This kind of character has never really existed in Star Trek before. We've got Q, but he was more of the omnipotent being who liked to play around with people like in TOS. In the end we all knew he was one of the good guys. With Garak you do get the feeling he's one of the good guys, but then he goes and does something not so good and you'll start to wonder again. I absolutely love the way Andrew Robinson (who also was in Hellraiser) portraits his character. Garak is extremely lovable, not because he's such a nice guy but because he's so a damn cool character, and the more you get to know about his background story the more you understand what a complicated person he really is.

Quark - Also one of the best characters of the show is Quark, the Ferengi barkeeper. Quark has an easier job being interesting since the Ferengi are such a funny race in Star Trek. Everything about their customs and rituals is basically designed to humour us viewers, and in my case they succeed perfectly. Quarks brother Rom and nephew Nog are also great characters of the show. Even sidekicks like these get their own episodes to build on their personalities.

Chief O'Brien & Family - Was already in the TNG series where we occasionally got to see him as the teleport operator. O'Brien was definitely not an interesting character in TNG and it took him quite a while to become interesting in DS9 as well. O'Brien and his wife Keiko symbolize the family life of Star Trek. Actually I read, again by an anonymous imdb contributor, that their family were added to the TNG series because Roddenberry was afraid the future looked to glum when it came to family relations. Eventhough the O'Briens arent't the most interesting characters of DS9, they're still way ahead of most characters of TNG.

Dr Bashir - I really didn't like Dr Bashir initially. He has what has to be the snottiest british accent I've ever heard. Unfortunately I belong to those people who ascribe much of a persons personality based on how they talk. And I'm sorry but Dr. Bashirs accent is horrible. Overcoming that and liking Dr Bashir for what he is has taken me some 4-5 seasons, and I still have trouble hearing the guy without becoming irritated. Fortunately for Dr. Bashir he's been paired with Garak as the pair that are supposed to be opposite poles. And that does make the character more interesting. But that accent... *shiver*

Jadzia Dax - The only character of the show I haven't come around to enjoy yet. And it's sad because she really has everything going for her - being a Trill she's a joined symbiant, meaning she has a creature in her body that has lived for hundreds of years and in several other symbiants. Jadzia therefore has the memories of several other people, an interest in Klingon culture and a strong relationship with Benjamin Sisko since he was a good friend of her former host Kurzon Dax. And the actor is making a good job, but somehow I just can't get myself to find her interesting. I can't really put the finger on it, but somehow I just see too much of overachiever girl trying to prove herself in the character. The only times I really enjoy Jadzia are the sad episodes she's in because the actor can really make a convincing sad face.

Worf - Is added to the series after a couple seasons. Worf has a bigger role in TNG, but it's quite stereotypical. Whatever situation they come into you can be sure Worf will recommend something that is very violent and completely against what Picard will probably do. I don't think his "security advice" are ever heeded. Just as with O'Brien, Worf gets a much more interesting character in DS9. We don't get to know what happened to his son, but I don't miss that brat much (ok, honestly I thought Alexander was rather cute). Worf resembles one of my friends very much, so I like him for that reason as well, but in DS9 we also get to follow the problems that arise from Worf being part of the Federation as a Klingon much more than in TNG. There is family vs moral in conflict here, that is interesting!

They've just got too many characters in TNG and each had to get a piece of the character development cookie, they just all ended up with a very small piece. In TOS on the other hand they have focused on a few characters but don't have that much story telling instead, and yet I like that better overall. DS9 takes the best of these two worlds and puts it together. Great story telling told by great characters, and it all comes together into a lovely series. They managed to do it again, and maybe even better, with Voyager. Now I just have to see Enterprise and see if that is as good as DS9 and Voyager.

Friday, January 28, 2011

How to use Leap of Faith

Ever since Cata was first announced and the betas first opened, the spell on every priests lips, and many other classes lips too, was Life Grip, aka Leap of Faith. Everyone wanted to see how it looked, how it worked and ponder what uses it could have in the new instances and raids, and now we have the answer. In this post I thought I'd take you through a couple of areas of usage for this great spell, so that you can get the most out of your Life Grip!

Saving the forgetful
As I have been saying many times before, no one is perfect. There will be times when a great try on a boss is ruined by someone being absent minded for a split second. One great example is the tank (or anyone actually) being caught by tornadoes on Al'Akir. Just use Life Grip is to simply drag these people out of harms way and be the hero of the day, you might very well have saved a wipe with one single spell! To help you help them you can have them tell you if they happen to get caught in shit, it happens to everyone. Just make it perfectly clear that this isn't going to be a standard way of moving out of fire!

There are a couple of bosses in which things need to be kited. One example is Atramedes where, during the airphase, the one who is targetted by his beam should try to kite it for as long as possible to avoid using gongs. In normal you can use many gongs, but trying to work towards lowering the usage is an important step to managing this fight on heroic eventually. Being able to work together with the kiter to drag him out of the beam in a critical moment will make wonders. Just let him burn all his speed cooldowns and tell you when he needs that final pull, and you can give it to him. Another example is when Chimaeron shifts into phase 2. Drag the tank out of harms way asap to allow him to kite the boss as long as possible while everyone else burns him down.

Positioning the slow
Some bosses do knockbacks, throwing people all over the place. One example is Feludius on Ascendant Council who will knock the tank back with his frost aoe. If you have a tank that can't charge, it could be nice to try to help him get back to his target by pulling him there. Or if someone is having trouble getting to a Sink hole/Tornado to get their Grounded/Airborne buff.
Another example, which is similar to the first point, is when someone needs to get out of a group asap, but runs too slow. If you happen to be in the right position, and don't mind taking a blow (which in any case could be a better idea than having many people take the blow) you could pull him out of the group to you. An example is yet again on Ascendant Council when people get the Lightning Rod Debuff, or on Valiona & Theralion when someone has Blackout (although in that case you actually want to pull them into the group).

Winning corpse runs
I don't know if many guilds do this, but in my guild it is common that people compete to get to the boss chamber as fast as possible after a wipe. Any means necessary to achieve this (except pulling mobs and killing people) is allowed, and one great way to win over your fellow comrades in this kind of run is to pull them back to your position with Life Grip and then use B&S to run past them on the finish line.

Killing people by deception
There are a couple of things the Life Grip won't do. It won't clean your house or do your dishes, and it won't save people from falling off cliffs either. It is important to note that. So another fun way to use Life Grip would be to tell people that you'll pull them back when they jump off a cliff and see them fall to their demise while you cackle above their heads. Just don't do this during a fight or you might have an angry raid leader on you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Using a Guild as money maker

So I decided to level another shaman. But unlike what you might think, this isn't going to be a post about me having an OCD about leveling shamans and warriors. No it is going to be about something else completely.

When the new guild perk system was first announced many questions where raised as to how it would work in practice. Blizzard had hoped for it to be a special reward for those longer lasting, dedicated guilds. Critics immediately pointed out all the ways it could be exploited. Blizzard has gone through some precautions to avoid explotation of the new system. It is unfortunately so that people will exploit any system, so that alone isn't an argument that a system is bad. It's only when exploitation takes over the intended usage that one has reason to raise a hand and say "dear sirs, this isn't working very well". For one you have to have a certain guild reputation to get at the really good rewards. Let me tell you that you get guild rep really, really slowly unless you do alot of guild dungeons, so becoming honored with your guild is really nothing you achieve over night. It really does filter the dedicated guildies from the hangarounds in my opinion. The guild perks however, at least most of them, will affect anyone in the guild. From the newly invited with "loser" rank to the 3-year standing officer will be affected equally by most, if not all, guild perks. So the other day I encountered a really clever thing.

I was running around on my shaman in one of the starting areas for goblins (which I really enjoy by the way) when I randomly got a guild invite. The guy hadn't whispered me beforehand and I had never heard of the guild before. This isn't unusual behavior, as soon as I play an unguilded character I can expect to get random guild invites left and right. I usually just ignore them, or start my own guild to get rid of the hassle. But not this time. The guild in question didn't have a horrible name (like... Defenders of Alliance) and most importantly, it was guild rank 7. There I was, lonely goblin without any BoA or friends since I was on an off-server and the possibility to join a guild with some nice guild perks became really tempting. So I thought - sure, why not? As rank 7 I get 10% more exp from mobs and quests, faster mountspeed and less durability loss upon dying. Quite the bargain for simply being in a guild!

I quickly checked the roster and noticed that the guild had over 750 members, with more people joining the guild by the minute. Whoever was the head of the guild was clearly just inviting anyone, as they had with me. I wouldn't have looked twice at such a guild any other time, but now I was actually gaining quite alot from being in it. But the guy who owned the guild probably gained even more by having us in it. At rank 7 the guild bank gains 5% of all the money looted from mobs, and as the guild rises in rank, so will that momey flow. And all those golds flow into a guild bank run by... whom? I had no idea. Did I care? Not really. I had my perks and whoever had invited me would get 5% of everything I looted (actually it's an added 5%, so no money loss for me). Fair deal? I thought so, and any time I didn't like it I could just skedaddle my way out of there.

5% of my earnings is quite modest right now (we're talking copper). But imagine 750, by now probably even more, people who run around looting various amounts of money. How much gold could that be per day? And no one is actually doing any real work to get it. The members just do what they would've done anyway - quest. And whoever holds the guild just has to clean out the inactive players now and then (which takes no time at all) and invite new players continously (which just is a /who [lowbie zone] or /who [lowbie level] and invite everyone on the list. Sit back and profit.
  • Is this a bad way to make money? No.
  • Is there any deception going on? Not really.
  • Is this a good deal for everyone involved? Yeah I'd definitely say so. My shaman is damn happy about those guild perks.
  • Is there any drawback of this system? Well I can only see of one. You have to do it first. A server can only provide so many players for huge lowbie guilds like these, so once this idea catches on it might be as tedious snatching lowbies as it is to snatch glyph buyers before being undercut. And these guilds will naturally have a huge movement of players coming in and out of the guild. But so what? No one has to stay longer than they want, and as long as they are there everyone gets something out of the deal.
I could never have thought that the guild perk system could be turned into this Guild Business thing, and I'm not entirely sure what to think about it. Overall I actually think it is a great idea since no one comes to harm and it really is a win win situation. Eventhough this particular guild has 750+ members and you might think of it as an abomination, I had some nice chats with people and when I get high enough level to do instances, chances are high that there will be at least one player my level who might want to do an instance with me. It's also yet another great example of how people really can turn anything into a profit making system.

This guild also allowed me to confirm my view that people from GB seem to have the worst english (he later states that he is from England).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Could I quit WoW?

Haha, don't worry. I don't intend to quit WoW. But the other day I read a short post over at Planet Raid about what you could do in case you got bored with WoW and wanted to try something else. It got me thinking - what could make me want to quit play WoW, and how difficult would it be?

I've known plenty of people over the years, both irl and in game, who for various reasons have decided to quit WoW alltogether or just take a break. Sometimes people take breaks that last forever (ie they quit although that wasn't the initial plan) or they quit only to come back a couple of months later (a friend of mine has done this like 4 times, it's like smoking or something). But I've never actually taken a break or wanted to quit WoW. I have been "not playing" WoW for longer periods of time, but I wouldn't call it breaks. Once was when I was out of internet for two months, so that wasn't much of a choice there. And I mostly take a month or so WoW break during summer holidays, because I'll just not be home or close to a computer often enough to warrant paying the monthly fee. That is probably the closest I have ever been to a break. My friends who have quit playing WoW have all either had too much work, too much school or got a baby. I suppose what could get me to take a longer break or even quit alltogether would be one of those reasons as well. At the moment I don't study, and I don't work much... and no baby either so I have plenty of time. Some of that I spend on WoW, some I spend on other stuff (atm Settlers, FFIII, FFVIII and some really interesting books, I am also pondering writing my own book).

So how much do I need WoW? What do I use it for and what would I miss if I stopped playing? A big part of WoW for me is the social aspect. I live far away from family and most of my friends, so WoW has become a great way for me to hang with them on a regular basis, and not just the rare visits during holidays. Unfortunately my mom and dad don't play WoW ^^ But being able to hang with people I'd otherwise rarely see is definitely a huge factor in this for me. Could we hang someplace else? Of course! We could play other mmos together or you know, hang on Facebook all day long. The good thing about WoW is that everyone likes it and there is something to do while talking (unlike facebook, I refuse to play the fb games). I have actually tried to get some of my friends to try new mmos with me, and I sometimes I even get them over for a couple of weeks but they always seem to work their way back to WoW. I suppose hanging with me isn't their only incentive for being in WoW, just as being with my friends isn't the only reason I play WoW.

WoW has also proven a great way for me and Love to do fun stuff together. Yes we're totally the nerdy couple, but we met through WoW so it only makes sense, right? We do go to the cinemas, read books together, take walks, go to restaurants and all those things that everyone else does. But inbetween that we can also do stuff together through WoW. There is truly nothing more romantic than leveling two chars together, honestly. Being poor students as we are this has given us a great chance to do romantic stuff together without having to "get away" by travelling or buy eachother expensive gifts irl. We can do all that in game, and it works just as well for us. It's not like we don't want to travel and buy eachother expensive gifts, but when our economy says no, it is great to have an option.

And then there is the game itself. I wouldn't have played the game for so long if I thought it was dreadfully boring and the only thing that kept me in it where the people. That I love the game itself is a final boost that makes me spend so much time with it. It allows me to have something to do when bored and no one is online or everyone is working or at school, at least for a short time. Because I know that if no one I knew irl played WoW anylonger, I probably wouldn't either. Would you? So it is a fine balance, and one that no other mmo has been able to achieve yet. I think that is really the trouble for new mmos. They might be just as good as WoW, but if they can't get the community, they won't get the players anyway. It's cruel, and sad in my opinion. I usually try to give all new mmos that have some sort of free trial at least a shot, because I want to know what the game is all about. But in the end I return to WoW because that is where I know people. A good example is now just before Cata. I was quite bored with WoW and thought that would be the perfect opportunity to go try out another game I had always wanted to give an honest shot - Warhammer Online. Problem was I had just joined a new guild who wanted to raid, and so I felt obliged to help out. Don't get me wrong, I've never done anything in WoW so far unless I wanted to. But I know that if I hadn't had that guild I would've spent all my time in WAR (I did end up spending some time there anyway) for the last couple of weeks before Cata. So that was the people rather than the game keeping me, and that is usually the case eventhough I really like the game.

And then we have this blog. It is about WoW so what would I write about if I stopped playing WoW? I think it would be difficult for me to write as much about something else that I do about WoW. The reason I can go on and on about WoW is because of all the abovementioned reasons. It is a game and a community and the interaction between these two huge establishments allows for alot of thinking and musing. I'd probably write more about all the things I do outside of WoW, them things that occasionally sneak into this blog anyway.

I think if I quit WoW I'd only replace it with something similar. I love gaming so why would I give it up alltogether unless I had a really good reason? I suppose I could have to cut down, I am raiding 4 times a week right now and I wouldn't have a problem with doing less of that if I had to. It's a matter of filling your time with what you enjoy. Some people watch tv, some people collect stamps, I play WoW. If I couldn't play WoW I'd spend my free time doing something else. I'd miss being able to hang with my friends mostly I think. And leveling my alts :/ And all the crazy people you get to meet when doing pugs. Yeah I'd miss alot of things. But I managed well before WoW existed and I'd manage well without it again. That being said, I won't quit WoW just yet ;)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 5 Talent Icons

It is time for this years first top 5, and I can hear you all cry with happiness already. About half a year ago, or probably more since time flies by so fast, I was thinking about icons in the game and what they look like. The amount of icons in the game has totally exploded, from back in the day when most items seemed to share icons to today where we have loads of icons that are barely used. Just scan through the various icons you can choose in the in game wardrobe and you'll find several which seem to exist nowhere else in the game, at least I haven't seen them before. I know that initially many, perhaps even most, icons where quite simplistic. Not a lot of what we in sweden call "krusiduller" or "tingeltangel" or curlicues in plain english, but usually a simple helmet, fist, shield or whatever it was supposed to be. And as mentioned, most shields shared some five different icons (if even that many). The reason for this was probably pretty simple, Blizzard wanted to make it easy for themselves whilst also give old faithful gamers a little feeling of homeliness by reusing alot of the icons they had in their previous Warcraft games. Icons like Healing Wave, some Sword icons, Shadowmeld, Thunderclap and a bunch of others.

And then BC and Wotlk came and Blizzard though it was time to give the icons a little fresh looks. They kept most, if not all, of the old icons but added a bunch of new ones. And initially my post was going to be about all the new icons and how I half of the time couldn't make out what the heck they were. I could sit squinting in front of the screen talking to myself saying "it's a... plane... no.. it's a bird...". Love probably thought I had really lost it then. But before I ever got around to making that post Cata was released. And it seems like Blizzard has yet again had someone go over the icons, because this time around they actually all make sense. Well no they might not all make sense, but I can at least nearly always tell what the icon is supposed to be. So instead, this is going to be a post about my top 5 favorite talent skill icons, and here you have it.

5. Icy Veins - Frost Mage
Icy Veins was initially one of them icons where I wasn't completely sure about what it depicted, so I asked Love for some input. "It's simple" he said, "it's a frozen heart you dummy". So yet again I squinted, leaned forward toward the screen and yeah... it sure looks like a frozen heart. I really like it because there are few icons that describe their skill as well as this one does (Gouge is another good example). Well there is nothing in the picture that says "this will make you cast your spells faster" of course, actually rather the opposite. But what would say "I've got some Icy Veins" better than a frozen heart? I love it.
4. Marked for Death or Hunting Party - Marksman/Survival Hunter
I just couldn't decide. I really liked both of these icons. Yet again they depict the name of the talent really well but otherwise I like them for slightly different reasons. Marked for death for the humor - it's a skull with an arrow through his head. I don't know why, but I find it really slapstick. I could really see it next to a guy slipping on a banana peel. And Hunting Party for its detail. It took me a while to see at first (my first thought was that it was a sailing boat, don't ask me why) but when I checked closer (squinting again, maybe I need glasses) I could make out three little people there on the icon. Hey that really is a whole hunting party, because one of the guys actually has a bow!

3. Seal Fate - Assassination Rogue
If you look closely on this icon you see this hooded and masked figure who holds up two fingers in front of him. He is probably, you know, sealing someones fate by jinxing them with some voodoo magic (or whatever rogues usually use) but what I see is the Star Wars mind bending technique. You know when they wave their hands in front of the guys face and say "you will let us pass" or something like it. So when I see this icon I always think the rogue is saying "you will let me add another combo point". Totally silly. But ehm... it's also pretty!

2. Owlkin Frenzy - Balance Druid
Moonkins are really funny. Do you remember when they were first implemented in the game back in Vanilla? Everyone were totally excited and then totally shocked when they saw that the balance druid shapeshift was going to be a big fat chicken. Big fat chicken shooting lasers from the skies has been something of a trademark of World of Warcraft and I know of people who've said they could never take a game that allows for such abominations seriously. Be as it may, the first reaction people had to boomkins, and their dance, just never seemed to go away. I still think they look totally deranged and it's still something of a "laugh at the funny looking guy" over them. The thing is, so does Blizzard seem to think about them. They haven't made anything to change the models and boomkins still sounds really funny when you hit them. And the Owlkin Frenzy icon definitely proves my point. Look really closely at the icon. A frenzy could indicate someone going berzerk, being furious, frown and growl and yell and smash your head in. Something scary. Instead, an owlkin frenzy is a boomkin going bananas and looking like something from Munchs The Scream. Like now he finally lost it, watch out or he'll chew on your leg. Those poor boomkins, when will people ever start taking you seriously?

1. Static Shock - Enhancement Shaman
Static Shock reminds me of some villain from Spiderman. Static Man! But maybe the reason I really like it is because it makes me think of a couple of friends of mine who were going to rewire part of their electric contacts. They're a couple and as he sets out to do this she asks him "well honey, you've made sure to turn off the electricity now, right?". And he looks at her like she just questioned his manhood or something, you know like guys are. "Of course I have!" he says. And she shrugs and says "Ok fine, just making sure. It's kinda dangerous you know" and walks out into the kitchen. It takes a minute or so when she suddenly hears a scream and runs into the bedroom. She finds her boyfriend standing zapped looking totally shocked, in both meanings of the word. Apparently he had turned the electricity off in one part of the apartment, but not the one he was currently in, so that could've gone bad. But now that it didn't (he was totally ok!) we can laugh at it instead and when I see Static Shock I imagine that is what my friend must've looked like for a moment. Poor guy, hope he learned his lesson *chuckle*.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Impressions on Discipline Healing Raids

The other day I decided it was time to stop being a wuss and give discipline healing a real, honest try in raids. How could I call myself a dedicated priest healer otherwise? I had been chickening out from it for too long, and now that I heard changes where coming around the corner I realized this was as good a time as any to get an idea of how disc healing works at the moment, so that I at least know what difference the improvements (as I hope they will be) have made. It's not quite this simple of course. In a 25 man there are 24 other people to take into consideration. I don't know how many would jump with joy when I announce that there might be some wiping, but at least I am getting the hang of discipline healing! There is no denying discipline is performing a little less good than holy right now. But wait a minute, is it really?

I hadn't planned for it initially, but when my raid started we decided to begin with Halfus, the one boss where discipline really, really shines and actually outperforms most other healing specs. And once he was down I thought I'd be a little wild and crazy and try discipline for a fight that is rather movement and aoe-heavy, Valiona & Theralion. When things didn't go miserably bad (for one the Engulfing Magic was no trouble at all when playing disc since we don't have any hots up) I decided to stick with it and see how far it could go. I ended up doing entire Bastion of Twilight and Argaloth as a bonus, and I must say... I loved it. Yes you will end up last, or at least further down, on the healing done meters. But who cares? Discipline is a strong healing spec, and I am ashamed I ever doubted it. Ok, before I go religious on you let's see if I can take a step back and look at this objectively. What where the good and the bad things?

That's a disc priest kicking ass

The good things
There are a couple of things I really enjoy with discipline healing, when compared to holy healing. As I have mentioned before, not having to keep track of your chakra stance is one of those things. Also discipline healing comes with a little more oomph. You actually do feel like you'll save someones life when throwing those Penance and Greater Heals, instead of just throwing a bucket of water on a blazing fire like holy is doing with their Heals. Unlike holy I can actually save someone from the brink of death without having to spam my mana pool out. My initial impression was that discipline aoe healing was alot less good than holy, but that's not entirely true. It wouldn't suprise me in fact if Prayer of Healing is better, yes you heard me right, when cast by a discipline than by holy, thanks to all the Divine Aegis procs (don't forget to glyph it). We can cast just as many PoH when being disc as when being holy, so there is no difference in the amount of healing that spell can do in a fight depending on spec.

And let me get to the best part of it all - the bubble (aka Barrier). Can you imagine how much damage it prevents when you throw it on ~20 stacked people who each take some 10k ticks per second on Cho'gall? I'd like to see another healer beat those hps. Unfortunately the barrier won't show on any meters, since it prevents damage, and you won't get any of the glory (unless you tell people about your awesomeness). Timing and placing of a Barrier really makes a huge difference and is one of those defining factors between a disc who knows what to do and one who isn't so sure yet (I placed one on the wall while raiding so I'm still probably in the latter category). Another impression I had from discipline was that it was way less mana efficient than holy, I oomed faster it seemed. It couldn't be further from the truth. When raiding now I spammed heals like there was no tomorrow and still rarely went under 70-80% mana on most fights, and that's not even bragging. They placed me away from the mana tide group (we were 6 healers) since I obviously didn't need it. With buffs like Power Infusion I can decide for myself when I want my own little Bloodlust for those heavy to heal moments (and it also eases up on mana consumption).

The bad things
There are a couple of things I feel like I lack, or like I really could've needed in some situations when playing disc. But none of these are horrible, none of them are things that make the spec useless or puts it into situations it can't handle. For one I miss my lightwell. But people suck at using it anyway, so that doesn't matter much for overall healing. Secondly I miss my Circle of Healing, but on the other hand I can just spam Holy Nova instead, problem solved. A poM and a shield here and there... there's plenty to do! Thirdly, and this is the worst one, I miss my Body & Soul. No more slacking around for me and saving my own ass in the last minute by using B&S to get out of fire. But if all the other healing specs manage so will I. Overall these are mostly due to me being more comfortable with holy healing right now.

So how come holy still outperforms disc?!
Holy is easier. I have been saying it over and over. You don't have to know much about holy to do a good job, just know to use CoH each cd, PoM each cd, keep your lightwell up (which people use for you) and spam PoH and you're set. And remember to keep the right chakra. With the extra mana regen holy have they don't even have to think much about mana! Discipline on the other hand is about keeping track of Inner Focus, knowing when to best use it, when to best use Barrier, using shields when necessary but not otherwise, using Power Infusion at the right moment (love that spell btw). No it's not that tricky either, but it's trickier. And like I said, don't forget alot of what we discipline priests do doesn't even show up on logs! But there is another thing. Unlike holy priests, the signature discipline priest spell Barrier, scales better the more people use it. There is no other healing spell that works like this. Barrier reduces damage taken by 30% for 10 seconds, and will also make anyone in it will not have their spellcasting interrupted. This is independent on the amount of targets. You can have 100 people take 100.000 damage each and the Barrier will still reduce damage taken by 30% for 10 seconds. Add a player and the Barrier just scales straight up in effectiviness. Add to this the glyph that increases healing taken by anyone affected by 10% and things go mindboggling. But it also means that the discipline priest is alot more efficient in 25 mans than in 10 mans. In a 10 man you can hope to have some 4-8 people within the Barrier, depending on fight. This can easily reach above 20 people in a 25 man. That will more than double the effectiviness of the Barrier, and easily make it the most efficient "healing" spell in the game when used at the right time. If we could only calculate the amount of damage such a barrier could reduce, I am sure discipline priests would be  alot higher on the meters than they are now. Why not try to find out?

Caustic Slime does 322000 damage per target (4) on 25 man. That is 1288000 damage split on 25 players, which is 51520 per player, sounds about right? What if we could reduce that damage by 30% for two slime bursts?
1288000 * 2 = 2576000
2576000 * 0,3 = 772600

A well timed Barrier would prevent nearly 800.000 damage over 10 seconds. That's 80.000 hps exactly when you need it, yeah baby.

Blizzard knows of this and it is therefore they're not giving discipline huge buffs but moderate ones to make the spec a little more user friendly.

Discipline doesn't shine until there are many enough people to feel the absorbtion love. But discipline is definitely not far off from holy, and if you're playing a dedicated discipline priest I can only say, don't think less of your spec - it holds awesome potential. After the raid the other day I was excited enough to exclaim "I'll never go holy again!".

Sunday, January 23, 2011

State of Healing

Love showed me a site called the other day. Well actually it was more me hanging over his shoulder than him actively showing something to me, but anyway. is a site that "lists the DPS for each class as compiled from the top parses from World of Logs". It does show healing done too however, and I immediately set out to investigate. How are we healers doing in Cata? Is there some class that is outperforming the rest of us at the moment? Let's have a look.

Finding your way to the healing totals isn't an easy thing to do. One way to go about it is to click "charts", mark "healers", press "update" and then go back to "index". It should show healer totals then. In any case, this is what it displayed when I last checked (19/1)

Class             H/DPS (Avg)    Median    Variance    %     Samples
Paladin           12217                12221       22.02         100     2339
Priest - Holy   11293                10881       23.85         92       2340
Druid              11160               11166        22.74         91       2340
Shaman          9882                   9619        20.71         81       2340
Priest - Disc   9603                   9446        27.18         79       2289

Let me explain the columns first.
  • Class is quite obvious, if you didn't figure that one out by yourself I don't think you understand this text either.
  • H/DPS (Avg) is the average total hps of the class. Paladin shows the highest hps and discipline the lowest. The easiest way to interpret this is that paladins have the highest average healing output at the moment while discipline has the lowest. This doesn't automatically mean that paladins are good and discipline is bad (yeah it does...) but only that the way paladins and discipline heals will give them these numbers. Overall though, being able to keep a high hps is better than not being able to, although not all fights necessarily require alot of hps. In current raid content however, I'd say bad hps = fail.
  • Median describes the middle value from highest to lowest on the list. For most classes this comes really close to highest, which tells us that the performance of the sample doesn't vary much ie the best player and the least good player are performing about equal.
  • Variance is another way to tell us how big the spread of the sample is. Shaman has the lowest variance and discipline the highest. This means the difference between the best and the least good discipline player is bigger than for all the other healing classes, and for shamans that it is lower than for all other healing classes. The way I'd interpret this is that discipline is the most difficult to get the hang of making it more noticeable when someone is doing a good job and when someone is doing a bad job. Someone who really knows how to get the most out of discipline healing will differ alot from someone who doesn't. For shamans it's the opposite, whether you know much about the class or not won't affect your performance a whole lot. Note however that the variance between the classes still is small, so these differences are probably marginal (like mentioned above).
  • % indicites the percentage of healing output the class has compared to the best class. This shows us that holy priests and druids lie on shared second place with 9/10 of the healing output of the best class, paladin. Shamans and discipline priests are at shared third place with 8/10 of the healing output of the best class. These aren't big differences, but still too big in my opinion.
  • Samples is the amount of players that have provided data. Statistically one usually says that something has to have a sample of at least 100 (depending on what is being researched) to have somewhat reliable data. These samples of about 2300 players should be considered reliable data. But I suck at statistics. I took a course in it at the University and I hated it. Also I am amazed that they actually found samples from nearly 2300 raiding discipline priests. Are there really that many raiding discipline priests out there? Crazy!
How does this conform with my general idea of how healers are doing in raids right now?
I haven't had a good chance to raid with a holy paladin, but the other day we had loaned a holydin from another guild for our 25 mans so I at least got to see some holydin action. Fortunately we've at least got active priests, shamans and druids to give me some base to make this analysis. Overall I totally agree with the numbers. I feel like holy priests are really strong, but not much stronger than druids. We don't have more healing throughput than druids, what we do have however is better average mana regen. Fortunately our druids manage their mana at least until the last 10-15% of the fight so they keep up with priest throughput most of the way. They probably have higher throughput the first half of the fight, and then priests catch up towards the end because we just never oom. When watching logs I have noticed that druids, just like back in Wrath, is the class with the most overhealing done by far. I don't think it's the druids in my raids that suck at healing, I think that is the way druid healing is designed considering much of their healing revolves around keeping LB stacked on the tank, using WG each cd and other things that usually lead to overhealing. Most other healers are more responsive, with discipline probably being the most responsive healer (shamans pretty much too).

Yet again when looking at logs I do feel like shamans and discipline are performing in the lower half of the group right now. As soon as I switch from holy to discipline in a raid, even for the same fights, my healing done drops me from first or second on the list to last. That doesn't mean I feel like discipline are doing bad (more about that tomorrow), but clearly there is a difference. The shamans in our raids are also usually last on healing done. I don't mean to tell you that healing done defines the value of a healers performance, but when doing a boss fight where everyones hp is on the edge and every choice of heal could mean death or survival for the target, and you have someone who is doing 70% of the other healers healing, you've got a reason to question those numbers. Either the player isn't doing a good job or the class is having issues. In the case of my fellow raid members I am inclined to think it's the second option. We've had plenty of shamans and they all usually end up last on healing done. Maybe this doesn't have to be a bad thing, maybe a class that brings op totems and BL to the raid doesn't have to, or shouldn't, do competitive healing. I don't know. What do they lack that the top healers have? Good aoe heals of course. Shamans have one - Healing Rain. Discipline Priests have one - Prayer of Healing (and Barrier, but that's difficult to count). Resto druids don't have awesome aoe healing either, but instead they can dish out what probably is the best single target healing. Alot better than that of discipline priests, although that is supposed to be their healing niche and signature healing style.

What to conclude?
Shamans and discipline priests need a buff! Clearly. Disc priests are getting some love in the upcoming patch (which hasn't been implemented when writing this) and I can only hope that it will be enough to make discipline as good as they deserve to be. I don't require for all classes to be exactly in line with eachother, I feel like every class brings some unique feature to a raid that warrants their existance even if they're not performing exactly as well as the top class. But right now the differences are too big. Either they need to re-design the way the fights are right now, so that they require less aoe healing (and that won't happen) or they have to buff the aoe healing of the classes in the bottom. What they are doing now is buffing the point healing of the classes in the bottom, and I think that is because they want to keep the signature healing of these classes. Blizzard doesn't want 4 classes that will spam aoe heals in raids. In a way I agree wtih that view and discipline for one is alot about avoiding damage (barrier, PS) instead. But in the end we all want to feel like we are pulling our weight as much as the other guy. We'll see how it turns out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chimaeron 25 Man

This will be the first tactic I write from downing a boss on 25 man (although I posted a 25 man tactic yesterday, that post was initally written as a 10 man tactic and I added the 25 man parts afterwards). There is no special reason for this, only perhaps that our 10 man groups have been progressing faster than our 25 man group. Note that there is no difference to the tactics whether you are 10 or 25, beside the obvious - you are more people and Chimaeron has more hp to counter that. Some skills deal more damage too since there will be more healers to deal with it. But the tactics are exactly the same.
Chimaeron is one of those fights that require minute preparation and execution to be able to pull it off. It's probably as far from a fight where you can "wing it" half the fight, as possible. Although we have seen this pattern for many Cata raid bosses, I couldn't say it is more true than when fighting Chimaeron. If you don't know everything about his abilities, you will wipe and you will wipe fast. As most other bosses, Chimaeron has two different phases of which the first one is a "handle the shit"-phase and the last one is a "nuke him down" phase.

When you start the fight you will get a buff called Finkle's Mixture through the Bile-O-Tron. As long as this buff is active, no skill or attack done to you while you are above 10k health will be able to be a killing blow. The first phase revolves around this fact and all healing will have to be done with this in mind. This fight is a healer fight. Whether you have good or bad healers will make all the difference here, and they will all have to pull their weight for you to be able to pull this off. We used 7 healers and assigned one healer to each group and the remaining two to the tanks. Sticking to your assignment has never been more important, because you will never know when you'll need that gcd to save someone. As a healer you will just have to trust your fellow healers in that they are doing their job, dpsers should of course help out whenever they can. In any case, make sure you have covered who is healing who in greatest detail and make sure people stick to it. Everyone will have to spread out 6 yards apart and you should have the position of everyone in the room set before starting the fight. Everyone will have to remember where their position is and make sure to get there after the aoe.

Phase 1
- 100-20%
Keep complete focus on your healing and make damn sure not to overheal, and this phase won't be so horrible. Because of the Bile-O-Tron, you don't have to keep anyone at more than 10k health as long as it is active, with the only exception being the off tank. When Chimaeron gets to 20%, he will enter phase 2.

Caustic Slime - The reason you should stand 6 yards apart is because of Caustic Slime. It is thrown at 4 random players for 280.000 damage (10 man) and approximately 400.000 damage on 25 man (don't have exact numbers). Because of Finkle's Mixture this won't kill you, but bring the affected players to 1 health. These players need to be healed above 10k hp asap, so that they will survive another throw of the Caustic Slime (if they are unlucky enough to get it twice in a row) and most importantly, to survive the Massacre (explained below).
Massacre - All players take maximum damage. This means the entire raid will be at 1 hp, and need to be healed above 10k asap to survive the next Caustic Slime.
Feud - Chimaeron will stop his melee attacks for 15 (?) seconds, giving you time to heal everyone up to max health to deal with the massacre when the Bile-O-Tron is inactive.
Double Attack - A really annoying buff on Chimaeron which will have him strike twice on his next melee attack. The offtank needs to taunt asap and be at full health to be able to take this blow.
Break - A debuff placed on the current tank that will increase the damage taken by 25% and healing taken by 15% per stack.

How to handle it;
  1. Have everyone spread out 6 yards apart. 
  2. The tanks will be taking the most damage in this phase, except during the aoe. Make sure everyone knows what to heal and that everyone has an assigned healer. 
  3. Stack Break on Tank A, as soon as Chimaeron casts Double Attack, have tank B taunt to take the blows. Tank A will taunt back asap (but after the blows of course) to make sure that Tank B doesn't get any Break debuffs, so that he will always be able to take the Double Attack when needed. For this reason Tank B has to be topped off at all times. 
  4. Deal with anyone who is affected by Caustic Slime by healing them above 10k. Healing them anything above this is a waste of mana! 
  5. As soon as Chimaeron casts Feud, have the entire raid stack up on a designated target and start spamming (yes spamming) your aoe heals to top the entire raid off. Use any aoe heals necessary, but don't waste mana of course. Chimaeron will still be casting Caustic Slime, and you have to be stacked to spread the damage to be able to survive it (remember it does several hundred thousand damage per slime, spread amongst the targets). 
  6. As soon as the Feud is over, spread out again. Make sure everyone are keeping their range to eachother. 
  7. Rinse and repeat until 20%.

Phase 2 - 20-0%
Healers really get to relax here when compared to the first phase. When Chimaeron gets to 20% he will cast Mortality, which will reduce all healing done by 99%, meaning it will be completely useless to throw any heals whatsoever. Therefore, all healers should instead start dpsing in any way they can. He will also take 10% more damage, so this is a burn phase if ever. The Bile-O-Tron will be active so everyone in the raid can take two blows from Chimaeron before they die. He will also do his Double Attack, which will one shot the target. You basically have two melee strikes times the amount of people in the raid and any time you can gather from kiting him on you to burn him down before you wipe. People will die during this phase, but all cooldowns should be used and anyone who becomes the target of Chimaeron during this phase should try to kite him as much as possible, buying time for the rest of the raid to burn him down.

Priest specifics
This fight was iffy because I felt like I wanted to be disc to handle the Caustic Slime and the burn phase, and holy to handle the horrible aoe damage during Feud. This is one of very few fights in Cata so far where I did go very oom towards the last phase, because the aoe healing is pretty intense. It is imperative that you keep track of the hp of your assigned targets and don't heal a drop above the amount necessary, 10k, to save as much mana as possible. Having an UI that will help you with this is recommended. Remember that any heal above this amount is both wasted mana and a wasted gcd, since it won't do any difference whatsoever if the target is at 10001 hp or 90000 hp. I liked this fight actually, it gave a fresh take on healing, really putting emphasis on the Cata way to deal with things. Maybe a good way to get your raid healers to learn how to conserve casts and mana? Chimaeron isn't a fight with alot of movement, unless you happen to be positioned far away from the stack target during Feud. Therefore I recommend Inner Fire. Try to switch to Chakra: Sanctuary before the Feud, to get as much aoe healing throughput as possible. I think Disc could handle this fight well, as long as there is someone else to pick up the aoe-healing somewhat. You could use the bubble during one or two Caustic Slimes when the Feud is up, but it won't compensate the Lightwell, CoH and Sanctuary. If you got a choice between the two I recommend Holy (when writing this, before the disc buff 4.0.6 patch). Alas, aoe healing is what cata raids are about, and aoe healing is what holy priests do best.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cho'gall 10 & 25 Man

It's funny sometimes how you can bash your head against a boss for a couple of weeks and suddenly he just goes down, like that. We hadn't been doing that many tries on Cho'gall actually, but more than the average boss so far for sure. Therefore it was extra fun to manage to down him as fast as we did this time around. Had we really improved that much? And then, a couple of days later, we one shot him in my 25 man group. Half the raid were doing the fight for the first time and we haven't one shot a single boss so far, and this was a raid who wiped several times on Ascendant Council due to people not moving out of the raid with the Lightning Rod debuff, so that's just hilarious. What that tells me is that this fight is alot easier on 25 man than on 10 man. The tactics are the same, but there is one important difference (Worship) which I will discuss further down.

Cho'gall is a fight, just like Magmaw in a way, mostly about moving out of "shit on the ground" and handling the adds. Once you've got that nailed down, he's a goner. Unlike Magmaw however, Cho'gall doesn't just have two shit on the ground, and not just one set up of easily aoeable adds. Magmaw can be seen as Cho'gall light, but Cho'gall really has alot of things to think about. It still means however that he favors a raid group which can handle adds in a smooth way so yet again - a ranged heavy group is favored here. There are a range of tactics out there and I am not saying this one is the best - but it worked and we downed him.

Our raid comp was (when doing 10 man);
  • Prot Warrior
  • Prot Paladin
  • Holy Priest (me)
  • Resto Shaman
  • Resto Druid
  • Feral Cat Druid
  • Balance Druid
  • Affliction Warlock
  • Fire Mage
  • Unholy DK

Like I've mentioned, Cho'gall is yet another fight that favors ranged dps. You want dpsers who can handle adds in a ranged manner because you want to avoid players getting too close to the small adds that spawn (more explanation further below). Cho'gall is a fight divided into two phases which differ quite much from eachother. The first phase is a typical "either be spread or stacked" kind of phase, like Maloriak. The second phase is a burn phase with some things to think about, again pretty much like Maloriak. Alot of the damage can be avoided, but you do need a certain amount of dps to be able to handle the adds fast enough.

Phase 1 - 100-25%
This is the more difficult phase in that there will be alot of things to think about. When Cho'gall reaches 25% he will go into phase 2.

Corrupted Blood - Most damage taken will increase your Corrupted Blood meter, kind of like the sound meter on Atramedes. The more Corrupted Blood you have the more damage you take from the aoe that Cho'gall does every once in a while. Corruption will also give you further debuffs the more you have, getting to a 100 Corruption will make you unhealable (among other things) but you should preferrably never even get to 50. Sufficient to say you should try to keep your corruption as low as possible at all times, and you do this by avoiding "shit on the ground". If you want to know exactly what every level of corruption does, check it out here. The Corruption seemed to stack alot slower in 25 man than in 10 man, so making mistakes was less forgiving in 10 man.

Shit on the ground - Cho'gall will empower himself with two different buffs during phase 1. The first one is a fire buff which will make him hit harder and spawn lava pools on the ground. Don't stand in them. The other is a shadow buff which will make his melee swings deal aoe damage and needs to be dealt with accordingly. This aoe damage is not very heavy in fact, and can be dealt with by a single focus aoe healer and one off aoe healer.
The big adds, also known as Corrupting Adherent, will spawn from the purple portals in the room. They will do a classical shadow crash with the benefit that you can see exactly where they will land, since there will be a purple swirl, just like on Valiona & Theralion, in that location. Move out of it.

Buffs and debuffs - There are a couple of debuffs and buffs (on the boss) that needs to be handled in a special way. Fury of Cho'gall will make the tank take alot of extra damage. To avoid having this on the tank currently tanking Cho'gall you will need to do a tank switch after this is cast. The new offtank will be the one handling the big adds. Accelerated Corruption is a debuff that looks just like the Corruption icon and is cast on players who have reached 25% corruption. This should be dispelled asap. Conversion, also known as Worship, will stun two/five (10/25 man) random players (not the main tank) and have them cast Worship. If they finish their cast Cho'galls damage done will increase for a short period. Worship is one of the trickiest things to get right in this fight, since it requires players to interrupt eachother. As far as we tried, any typical pvp interrupt will work towards doing this (Typhoon, Fear, Kick, Dragonbreath, Mind Freeze and so on). The interrupts used will stay on their targets for their full duration unless removed! This is really important to note because that means you want to use the interrupts that will interrupt the target the shortest amount of time. Fear for instance will stay on for 10 seconds unless dispelled. Hammer of Justice will have the target stunned for 6 seconds and so on. This was alot easier to handle in 25 man because wherever you were, someone else would be close to interrupt. This wasn't so in 10 man where it is alot easier to spread out and get out of easy range for your fellow raiders, so keep this in mind.

Adds - There will be one big add (Corrupting Adherent) spawning from the purple portals that need to be handled by the offtank. As soon as they are up, the raid should spread out to avoid shadow crashes. Remember to not spread out too much since you want to be close to someone in case you'll get the Worship debuff, which needs to be interrupted asap. They need to be killed before Cho'gall casts Fester Blood, otherwise they will wipe the raid. The Corrupting Adherents skills will also increase your corruption meter, and their skill Depravity should be interrupted. When Cho'gall casts Fester Blood, and if the big adds are dead, which they should be, 5 adds (Congealed Blood) per dead Adherent will spawn from the pool of black blood from the dead Adherent. These need to be nuked down asap, and you should avoid getting into melee range with them. Think oozes on Professor Putricide. Being hit by a Congealed Blood won't kill you, but it will increase your corruption meter fast. The Congealed Blood move very fast, so ber ready for that.

How to handle it all - this is how we did it;
  1. Have tank A tank the boss in the middle of the room. You want to be placed stacked behind the boss, make sure you've arranged who is interrupting and who is interrupting the guy that is interrupting in case he gets into Worship. 
  2. As soon as Cho'gall casts Fury of Cho'gall, have tank B taunt the boss, standing in the same place as tank A. 
  3. When Corrupting Adherent spawns, tank A picks him up and tanks him towards the entrance. Not too close to the door since that will reset the fight as we noticed. All the way up the stairs does work though. Make sure to be in range of a healer, we had one healer follow that tank around. All dps will nuke the big add and interrupt the Depravity. 
  4. As soon as the Corrupting Adherent is dead, everyone stack back up behind the boss. During all this you must remember to interrupt Worship. 
  5. Just before Cho'gall casts Fester Blood, have all ranged ready to handle the Congealed Blood. There will be more Congealed Blood the more Corrupting Adherents you get, since 5 will spawn from each corpse. That means you'll soon be overwhelmed by Congealed Blood, and should aim at not getting more than 4 or so Corrupting Adherent during phase 1. 
  6. Rinse and repeat until phase 2.

Phase 2 - 25-0%
This is a typical burn phase, but with a few things to think about.

Cho'gall will have a damage aura during this phase, which means there will be alot of aoe healing. This damage is in itself not overwhelming however, so don't waste your mana needlessly. Cho'gall will spawn four Darkened Creations, aka Tentacle Eyes, that need to be burned down asap (untankable). They cast a Debilitating Beam on a random raid member that reduces healing and damage done by 75%, deals a moderate amount of damage and stacks up Corruption (on your Corruption Meter).

This phase isn't too tricky actually, and if you get the first phase done in a smooth manner (ie don't get hit by stuff) this phase will be simple.

10 Man holy healing
25 Man disc healing

Priest specifics
Movement isn't that important in this fight, since you only have to either stack or spread (and move from the occasionaly fires/crashes), so I chose to use Inner Fire. In phase 1 most of the raid damage is avoidable, except when Cho'gall gains his shadow debuff. The aoe damage in phase 1 is fairly simple however, instead the tank healing is a little tougher. We had a designated healer for each tank and one who focused on a little bit of everything. The tanks will be spread out alot when the Corrupting Adherents come, so you might not have all healers in range for both tanks at that time. The tank can drop quickly and all healers should be ready for that. In the last phase there will be mostly aoe healing, but not so much that one has to spam aoe heals continously (not like last phase on Ascendant Council for example). Switching between stances for the tank heal and aoe heal is nifty on this fight, but you can get around with just being in Chakra: Serenity. For 10 Man I recommend holy for mana efficiency. Disc worked well in 25 man, and you can help out on adds in the last phase, but as you can see the healing throughput is alot lower and should be taken into consideration. I don't think recount can see the Bubble however. This fight isn't that tricky actually, because a failure isn't the end of the world. Instead all the failures add up into making the fight more and more difficult until it becomes unhealable. Except for getting aggro from boss/Corrupting Adherent, there are no one shot mechanics in this fight or attacks that deal a big portion of damage in one blow on anyone but the tanks.