Thursday, August 30, 2012

Patch 5.0.4 Healing Priest - This and That

After a week abroad (I always seem to time my holidays with the release of new major patches) I come home to a completely revamped talent system (again), new skills everywhere and a sense of dread of having to relearn everything from the ground up (again). So what has this patch in store for us, and what should we think about the priest changes?

First things first, as far as changes go healing wise not much is different, so you can all take a deep breath of relief if you were as worried as me that healing would change as much as it did between Wrath and Cata. Admittedly we're "only" looking at the patch preceding the expansion so much can still change, but the way it looks now I am healing pretty much the same way I have the last couple of months. Holy looks and works pretty much exactly the way it has whereas discipline has been tweaked a little more towards the absorbtion style healing, which is very welcome in my book. Spirit Shell that was long said to be a Heal-version of shields has now turned into a cooldown which turns all your healing into absorbtion mechanics instead for 15 seconds. This is an awesome cooldown, that when used at the right time can cushion your raid just before a big hit - the way discipline used to do it back in Wrath.

Although healing looks and works about the same, things have changed of course. What the new talent system means, in essence, is that your spec of choice comes with preset skills suitable for that spec. Rather than making people play slightly different discipline or holy specs, they're throwing in all the good and/or necessary skills for that spec (like Train of Thought, Strength of Soul, Rapture for discipline). The choice comes in the new talent tree that works differently enough for me to not want to call it a talent tree really anymore (not in the way we know it anyway). Think Diablo 3 style - it will alter your pre-existing skills, or add a few new skills to change, or fit, your playstyle.

A perfect example is the choice between Mindbender and Power Word: Solace.
On the one hand you have a mana return-skill that allows you to heal while gaining mana, but with a cooldown. On the other hand you have pretty much the opposite - a mana return-skill that requires you to dps to regain mana, but that can be used anytime. What you choose will not only depend on your playstyle, but probably also on the fight. A fight that requires heavy mana usage for short periods of the fight would probably work better with Solace, whereas a fight with steady mana usage throughout the fight will prefer Mindbender (I've chosen Mindbender for now).

The fact that you can change skill anytime simply by using a Dust of Disappearance and some clicking makes me think that Blizzard want us to swap playstyle within a spec more than ever before, and I am welcoming the idea.

Other changes of note include;

Hymn of Hope being holy priest exclusive. I've discussed this change before, somewhere, but essentially it makes total sense. With the 8 min cd it had for disc and shadow it didn't seem like it was something Blizzard really wanted us to use (it normally wasn't up for two consequitive tries for instance) but didn't really have the guts to remove either. They've finally made up their minds about this.

Rapture being based on spirit rather than intellect. I don't mind this change because hopefully this means that holy and discipline will move even closer stat wise, making it fully viable to swap between specs without gimping out too much on either one because of lack of a stat. As someone whos preferred discipline throughout Cata I've been intellect heavy and spirit weak, which gimped my holy healing somewhat. I've seen my Rapture procs half in mana return this patch. This means I will have to re-gear, but since I will do this anyway in MoP this isn't a problem at all.

Dispel now has an 8 sec cd.
A change I do not mind, possibly to prevent the solo-dispeller syndrome we've seen in Cata, where a few healers are set to do all the dispelling throughout the fight (most notably on Spine).

Glyph of PoH has been changed. A lot of glyphs have been changed, but this one is one that strikes me the hardest because it has been completely removed and I really liked that glyph...

On the other hand we've finally gotten the Lightspring I have been nagging about since Wrath. It only heals people under 50% but I can still see it being a lot more useful during tense situations than the current Lightwell is, even in the click-friendliest of raids.

There are a ton of new glyphs that look potentially good - Will Glyph of Holy Nova finally bring Holy Nova properly into the game? Probably not. Glyph of Penance looks really interesting, allowing us to run while casting Penance but with the drawback of an added 20% mana cost, could be awesome in the right setting.

For the time being I've chosen
Glyph of PoM, Glyph of Lightspring and Glyph of Fade in my holy spec and
Glyph of Pom, Glyph of Inner Sanctum and Glyph of Fade in my disc spec.

All of which obviously is open to change at any point, a lot of things still need to be tested before anyone can say anything.

If you're curious about my talent choices (or whatever I should call them);
Void Tendrils, Body & Soul, Mindbender, Angelic Bulwark and Divine Insight in my holy spec.
Void Tendrils, Phantasm, Mindbender, Angelic Bulwark and Power Infusion in my disc spec.

My real struggle was between Twist of Fate, PI and Divine Insight as they all look very useful and good. I've chosen two differently to test them out, but I think they all come down to fight mechanics. ToF seems mostly useful for very intense healing fights, PI can come handy in any kind of fight and Divine Insight can come handy where you either want to throw a lot of shields on one target (disc) or need that extra push in aoe-healing (holy). Overall I am leaning towards PI being more useful because you can choose when you need that extra output (not to mention mana cost reduction), but on the other hand PI comes with a 2 min cd. A tough choice indeed.

I am looking forward to doing the first raid with the new skills,
and even more to seeing how healing will change further in MoP. What do you think of the new changes?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Guild Housing and why I want it

I'll let you in on a little secret - I never understood the thing about Guild Housing. I will admit that I have been afraid of saying so for the last seven years, because everyone around me are all like "oh yeah Guild Housing, if only we had that, that would be so awesome!" and "if we don't get Guild Housing next expansion I swear I'm gonna cry" and etc. Some people seem so rabid about the idea I normally just nod and smile and don't say a word about the fact that I couldn't give a crap about Guild Housing because I simply could not get behind the idea of it. What would it be good for?

See, I've never been a big fan of decorating and furnishing. I've played The Sims for about ten minutes, I never bothered with the little Pokemon-pillows, tables and posters in the Pokemon games, even my own apartment is very pragmatically furnished making sure only that my computer is as close to the internet outlet as possible (and the rest of the furnitue adapting to that) - and I sure as heck wouldn't be interested in putting any time into rolling out the guild crested carpet in a potential Guild Housing. Eventhough I've not really been a guild swapper, historically, and mostly been in guilds that have lasted at least a couple of years (with or without me), guildies come and go normally and I found it difficult to believe you could get the consistency needed to make a Guild Housing interesting.

But in reality I hadn't really given Guild Housing much thought. I saw the idea and dismissed it, until today when someone (can't remember who anymore) mentioned it again on Twitter. My first reaction was the usual one - why? But it got me thinking. What if what everyone was so worked up about wasn't the furnishing, but other things? What if Guild Housing could provide a guild with lots of cool features and basically become the foundation for the consistency I thought many guilds lacked in the first place? If so, what could these features be? What would Guild Housing require to be really awesome and more than just an empty room decorated in the guilds pink and yellow bunny crest?

I had envisioned a Guild Housing to be not much more than a room, initially overcrowded with guildies, but soon emptying out as the whole concept of Guild Housing crashed down upon itself (as I imagined it would). But we're in a virtual world, there is really nothing that forces a Guild Housing to be small (except maybe realism). The Guild House could really be a mansion, or farm, with several different rooms filled with stuff for the guildies to work with. For instance there could be;

A Hall of Fame

There are always a couple of people in a guild that work a lot harder than everyone else. Some of these people are obviously so, normally guild leader and/or proper officers (far from every officer actually does anything worth mentioning). But then we have the background strugglers, I'm thinking about the people who log in two hours in advance of a raid or just take a couple of hours during any free time to farm some fish/herbs/meat/whatever needed for the guild to be able to provide the raiders with raiding materials. I've never been one of those people. I'm ready to do a lot for my guild, farming is not one of those things. But I do admire those people, eventhough they might just be doing it because they think it's so much fun, I still think they deserve some acknowledgement.

Same thing goes with basically anyone in the guild that has done something noteworthy. Someone got the Insane title? Server first kill/level up? Legendary? A lot of these things are already noted in server wide messages, cool titles or weapons, but I think it would be really cool if these people got their own little statue or name on a sign/in a book in the guild own Hall of Fame, with some information about the character (name, race, class, time of happening) and preferrably a little picture of what the character looked at the time of the deed. I think it would encourage people further to go out and get cool stuff done if they knew they'd be immortalized in the guild.

Or how about;

A Guild History Book

Basically a ledger/book where you can read about characters in the guild and noteworthy happenings of the guild. Some of these things are available on the internet and in the guild tab like for instance who's left and joined the guild and what bosses have been downed and when. These are a few things that could be added to the book (although I'm not sure if every player joining and leaving the guild is necessary). What if, along with getting exalted with the guild, you get a permanent page in the History Book with some information about the character. Even if your character leaves, if you've gotten exalted with the guild you will be permanently featured in the History Book.


Class Specific Rooms

What about rooms where you can throw in class specific items? I would totally love it if for instance there were rooms where you could outfit mannequins with the different tiers, but only if someone in the guild has actually acquired said tier piece. These rooms could also house class trainers for instance.

Or maybe;

A Museum/Showcase Room

A room where someone with proper rank, say Guild Leader and/or officer could display certain noteworthy items. I mean it basically as a bank tab that is visible in the "world" rather than as icons in a tab, and where you can put in anything for display, even bop items (meaning you don't actually leave the item, you just put it up for display, if you get my meaning). Say I have Anathema, I put it into the tab allowing it to be shown on display if someone with the proper rank further allows it. The item would still stay in my bags however.

And this is obviously where the;

Guild Bank

has to be.

Now all of these things would be even cooler of course if other people, not in the guild, could come into your Guild Mansion somehow and oogle the things you've put on display. There is nothing like proudly showing the world your accomplishments, personal or guild alike. I think if that was the case it'd be good if they were phased so that people in the guild didn't have to see people not-from-the-guild running around (suppose you could get to choose which Guild Housing to go into from a list when zoning into the Housing zone, or something like that).

Giving this some further thought I am certain that things like these would give new guildies a perfect way of getting the feel for the guild, and old guildies the consistency and "homey" feeling that many guilds lack at the moment. Unfortunately I know this is only a dream of mine and eventhough I will probably cheer the idea of Guild Housing as much as the next guy now, I know it will never be anything like I am hoping it will be. Ah well.