Sunday, December 5, 2010

Troll Druid Levels 1 to 15... or Big Bear Butt Bounce

After reading, Bigbearbutt's Post about troll druids, I decide to roll a little troll myself.    First, I have to agree the starting area is fun and fast.  I especially liked how the rescued raptor hatchlings which were following me around jumped onto the face of the Big Bad Naga.

Cat form at level 8 is great, except that casting thorns breaks form, and returning to cat form leaves you with no energy for a long time.  I guess thorns is designed for the caster specs.  I know that on my Resto druid I cast thorns on the tank as much as possible.  Of course moonfire also breaks form as expected, leaving no way to range pull except to switch to Troll Form, pull, switch back to Cat Form, which would be okay, except for the energy problem.  Getting 3 points into Furor will solve the problem, but assuming you take Feral Swiftness first, it's going to be level 15 before you have a couple of points in that talent.  Faerie Fire is a level 24 spell unfortunately.

At first I used a rotation of Rake, Claw(Mutilate at level 10), Bite-- the idea was to put up Rake first, so you could get max ticks out of it before the mob died.  During these levels nothing lives that long.  Claw, Claw, Bite pretty much killed anything.  Sometimes, I would just save the energy, just Claw/Mutilate twice and skip Bite.

The troll cat form itself is very trollish and Blizzard did a good job of making them very unique compared to Taurens and Night Elves.  I've always preferred the sleek dark Panther look of the Night Elves, very Jazzy, just like the Cat Form dance.  On the other hand, the trolls are punk rockers who think punk rockers are all posers.   I was admiring my cool unique cat form appearance at level 8, when a twin druid ran up the trainer.   

I hit level 15, trained up the Bear spells, and next time I have a couple of hours, I'll queue up as a tank.  It'll be fun comparing low level instances between tanking and healing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lower Blackrock Spire... or Lets pull the whole room, again...

My level 57 priest appears in LBRS for the first time with a level 60 Death Knight.  This DK was one of the don't-stop-pulling-until-someone-dies variety.  While I'm picking up the quests, he's already pulled a couple of groups.  I pop a renew on him and a couple of them run right towards me.  I'm not sure if it's this DK's tanking style or what, but for the entire instance I was fighting heal aggro.  It didn't help that the tank's pulls usually ended up getting every group in the current room.  It was close a couple of times, but I was able to keep everyone alive.  It was a good change from the never ending Blackrock Depths runs.

During the Urok Dooomhowl event, where waves of ogres appear, I found that staying right on top of the tank was the best approach.  The tank would eventually get control of them, and binding heal kept me alive until then.

Body and Soul lets me drink and then quickly catch up to the group.  I ventured way out to the AV entrance in horde control Hillsbrad to pick up some manna biscuits which helps a lot for restoring mana quicky.  It's crazy that alliance has no flight points in this zone anymore.  It could be that when Cataclysm goes live and Gilneas is populated that some things will change in these zones.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chakra Bleu ... Binding Pray of Healing.

How to heal level 50-60 dungeons using a Holy Priest.  Renew, Chakra, Heal, Heal, Heal, Heal, ..., Chakra, Heal, Heal, Heal, etc.

Things have changed now that my lowly priest has gotten the Chakra and Revelations talents.  The Chakra has too different modes, the Serenity Mode, which is activated by casting Heal after hitting the Chakra spell, and the Sanctuary Mode which is activate by casting Prayer of Healing (and Prayer of Mending but that's a level 68 spell).    Each mode lasts for 30 seconds at which point you have to start it again.  (There's a talent State of Mind that can be used to extend the time of the state, but I don't have enough talent points for it yet.)

In the Serenity mode a Heal will reset the Renew duration on the Heal's target.  It also adds 10% extra crit on all direct heal spells.  It's my Chakra of choice at level 55.

The ability to keep a Renew spell running just by hitting the tank with the very mana efficient Heal spell is great.  I have enough mana regeneration to spam the Heal spell.  This keeps Inspiration up on the tank, and procs Surge of Light for free Flash Heals.  If you have an aggressive DPS that likes to off tank, keeping up renew on two targets is pretty easy.

The Chakra spell itself does not cause a GCD, so it can be added directly to a Heal macro.  Such as:

#showtooltip Heal
/cast Chakra
/cast [@mouseover,help]Heal; Heal

The Revelations talent changes your Holy Word based on Chakra mode selected.  In Serenity, it becomes Holy Word: Serenity.  This is an instant heal that increases crit heal chance on the target by 25% for 6 secs.  Obviously a great spell if the Tank is going to be slammed with big incoming damage or a DPS pulls aggro and will need big fast heals to survive until the tank gets control back.  The problem is that at this level of healing, nothing is hitting tanks that hard and DPS can be saved with a shield and Flash Heals.  I also really liked the ability of Holy Word: Chastise to interrupt an NPC casting a nasty spell.  

Also, there's a bug which makes a simple mouse over macro impossible with the Holy Word spells.   I have to select the player to target the Holy Word: Serenity spell.  It's a very annoying for someone that's used to mouse over healing, and I hope it's high on Blizzards to do list.

The Sanctuary Chakra is a lot more spectacular looking, with the big white AOE heal on the ground, but it's pretty pointless at this level of healing.   Except when pulls go bad...

Prayer of Healing
Binding Heal + Serendipity + Prayer of Healing is a life saver when pulls go bad.  Imagine you're in the Grim Guzzler and suddenly all the patrons are attacking.  You plant a Renew on the tank and 15 "Change Targets" flash up, the Mage starts spamming Arcane Explosion, and the Tank is turned to the wrong direction, trying to figure out where to spit his Cud.  Binding Heal, keeps you and the target with the lowest health alive and makes the next 2 Prayer of Healings go fast.  Rinse and repeat.  BH, POH, POH, BH, POH, POH, ...  The party will be amazed when everyone is alive afterwards.  The 15% heals from Chakra Sanctuary can't be discounted in this situation, but in general this shouldn't be happening very often.

Next Talents
Next I have to decide, do I take the Circle of Healing talent or the State of Mind talent.  Circle of Healing seems like a great spell in theory, but with the long cool down, I'm thinking its more of a Raid talent then a low level healing talent.  Where as with State of Mind, all I get is the ability to extend the Chakra state that doesn't really take any time to restart.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Goatee -- or can I change into a Tauren?

As a healer, I think the Blood Elf racial skills are going to keep my goatee safe.  The arcane torrent restores mana which will be more important then ever.  The Blood Elf's magic resistance works against all spells, not just nature spells like the Tauren's racial.  An extra stun would be nice, but I would miss the silence effect of arcane torrent.

I have not been healing with my Paladin much since 4.0.1 released.  I ran him through all the Elemental event bosses, but I didn't use anything but Beacon, Holy Shock, Holy Light, and Word of Glory.  I think Light of Dawn would have been useful, but by the time I remembered it, I had done all 4 bosses.

The patch notes for 4.0.3a shows the designers have been fine tuning paladin healing.

Holy Radiance now has reduced effectiveness on targets over 8 yards away from the paladin.  /RW Radiance Active, Move to me!   A talent that encourages Holy Paladins to move is unnatural.  We stand in one place casting Really Big Heals.  But, maybe not so much anymore.  Holy Shock, WOG, Light of Dawn, and Holy Radiance, makes us so much more mobile.

Beacon of Light now lasts 5 minutes, up from 60 seconds.  In Wrath the Beacon of Light was a signature spell of the Holy Paladin.  It was a priority to keep it active and learning the best times to refresh it was important.  It's possible that the new Beacon with a zero mana cost (Glyph of Beacon of Light) will be a more strategic spell.  I don't know, and I won't until I get some experience with actual level 85 encounters.

Blessed Life: the effects of this talent cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds, up from every 2 seconds.  I'm guessing the PVP players won't like this very much.  Free Holy Power from attacks is a powerful ability.  This talent would also be useful while leveling from 80-85, if you insisted on doing it as a Holy spec.

Illuminated Healing absorb shield now absorbs 10% of the total amount healed, up from 8%. Each point of Mastery increases the effect by an additional 1.25%, up from 1%.   Shields are good.  Shields that absorb even more damage are gooder.

Light of dawn has been redesigned. It no longer has an enforced cooldown, now costs Holy Power instead of mana, and scale in direct proportion to the amount of Holy Power used. In addition it now heals the 5 most injured group targets (including self) in a 30-yard frontal cone. A smart heal for the paladin.  Glyphed this will be very powerful in a 10 man raid, healing 6 of the most injured.  The cool down has been removed, but getting three Holy Power is a more organic cool down.  Decision time, WOG or LOD at three Holy Power.

Protector of the Innocent no longer triggers from self-heals.  Smells like another PVP tweak.  I imagine the Holy Paladin spamming heals on himself while laughing at the player attacking him.  This talent appears to address the common, I forgot to heal myself syndrome many healers experience.  A personal mini beacon.

Fine tuning pass number 41 or whatever.  I expect there will be more tweaks in the weeks to come.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why Does Blizzard Hate Wrath Design?

“Why Does Blizzard Hate Healers?” - World of Warcraft

I'm glad the designers are spending so much time on healing.  But, this article is bad.  It's not surprising to see comments like, "...No reason why heal[e]rs should have it easy..."  The article needs to own the design decisions.  In Wrath they decided on a model that lead to very fast fights.  If the raid's DPS was below average then healers were definitely going to run out of mana.  If the raid didn't dance correctly then it didn't matter how much mana the healers had.  The Wrath model was as valid as the next expansion's model, but instead of saying that, this article props up the next design by breaking down the old one.

Stay on message, the next expansion is going to be different and just as fun.   


Friday, November 19, 2010

low level holy priest healing talents... or lightwell!?

The low level Holy Priest's Talent selection is frustrating because many of the talents do not apply to low level healing necessary in Random Dungeon Finder groups.

I know that the Light Well spell is improved and easy to use, but at levels 30-40 there's really no reason to use it.  I plopped it down and the couple of people that used it, ran up right next to it before clicking it.  So be ready to tell people how it works.

Empowered Healing and Improved Renew.  I'm not sure why they didn't just roll the renew buff into Empowered, but renew will be a low level holy priests friend.  Heal takes a long time to cast, and Flash Heal will eat your Mana up fast.

Note: Renew is good for the tank or anyone else taking constant damage.  Casting renew on everyone that takes a hit will eat up your Mana.  Use the very mana efficient Heal spell to top off a player that took a hit.

Divine Fury.  Faster heals is a good idea.  Still the Heal spell ends up being a 2.5s cast which is a long time when the tank has pulled too much trash.  Keep refresh running, when the tank starts dropping hit them with a Power Word: Shield spell, then start the 2.5s Heal spam.  A shield + heal is less mana then one Flash Heal spell.  Also, the shield is sometimes enough to let the renew catch them up and a heal isn't necessary.  It's okay to cancel the heal if it looks like they aren't going to need it.

Inspiration requires a critical spell hit which at lower levels requires spamming Heal.  Not real useful.

Surge of Light has a very low proc rate, which would be fine in a raid, when heal spamming is going to happen.

Desperate Prayer.  Free self heal, not exciting...

Divine Touch... Renew is great at this level, any extra healing from it is great.  Pop in the Prime Glyph of Renew for even another 10% extra.  Here's what I do, let the tank pull a group, they will drop a bit, hit them with Renew.  This allows the direct heal to land, plus allows the tank to establish could aggro control.  The smart play isn't always to keep the tank topped off.

Holy concentration.  Mana can be a problem especially in low level Random groups where Aggro Control is not always great.

That's it.  Two very useful talents, Improved Renew and Divine Touch.  Three okay talents, Empowered Healing, Divine Fury and Holy Concentration.  The second level (Desperate Prayer, Surge of Light, Inspiration) barely register.  Lastly, The Light Well, which shall always seem like a great spell but is just not useful at the lower levels.

Forcing a player to stay in a single tree at lower levels prevents some very effective low level healer builds.  It's Frustrating to spend a talent that's not going to be useful until I'm healing a heroic.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Healing the Elemental Invasion Bosses

I've lost more players to "standing in fire" then any of the other mechanics. The first time on the flame boss, the tank and melee damage just stood together in a huge fireball of flames. I hurled heals in as fast as I could but nothing was going to save them except a little movement.  So every flame boss attempt since then, "/p Please don't stand in the fire."  Every tank so far has understood, but the DPS still have trouble moving and still die because of it.

The water boss is good place to practice your interrupts.  The long spell, "Gahz'rilla Glacier" is the best "Ice Block" of all time.  It prevents all damage and restores a lot of health.  Interrupt or end up killing him twice.  You can see the ice spikes below your feet before they go off, so move, move move.  The pool is full of hungry fish, so try not to go swimming.

The air boss is good place to practice healing on the move since you can see those cyclones coming. 

I've only healed the earth boss once.  The damage spiked, requiring burst heals on 2 or 3 players at a time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Greater healing waves and Lifeblood...

I have to admit, my shaman rarely used Greater Healing Wave during 5-man heroics.  I have it in a macro with Nature's Swiftness, so I "saved" it for when I need an instant big heal.  This has been a mistake.  With the Rapid Currents and Tidal Wave buffs from a Riptide, the first GHW has a 1.1 second cast time, the second GHW hits in 1.3 seconds.  When incoming damage is high, I can Riptide, GHW, GHW, Healing Surge and then repeat since Riptide will be ready again.  This rotation puts out a ton of heals very fast.  During normal damage, I can Riptide, HW, HW, HW, repeat.  The last healing wave will be slow, but the sequence is very efficient.

I have haste in every socket.  I have reforged when possible to add haste.  I don't have top end gear, but I imagine it's possible to get those GHW's down to 1.0s.

I recently skilled up my Herbalism to 450 to check out Lifeblood.  A macro activates it when I use GHW.   When it's available, I can Riptide, GHW(1.0s), GHW(1.2s), GHW(1.7s) matching my Riptide cool down exactly.  The haste buff lasts enough time for about 3 sequences.

The shaman is a true Big Healer.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Heroic Boss Skip, Kingslayer Shaman, and Who Needs Healing Touch, Nourish Talents

I run heroics on my alternate healers for fun, practice, and justice points.  I keep getting tanks that want to skip bosses, like they are just there for the two Frost Emblems.   I would go along with this during those runs.  I understand that people were doing the dungeon only for the emblems.  But now, it doesn't make sense to me.

I tell them, hey all the bosses give Justice Points.  This is especially weird when the party is blowing the content up quick.  The other day doing Old Kingdom, I got the tank to go down and do the Mushroom Boss.  Three players got the Heroic Dungeon achievement even though it was obvious they had done the dungeon before.  I haven't gotten a calculator out to see if the extra couple of minutes to kill Dred is worth 16 Justice Points, but I'm guessing even if you have killed him 1000 times before it's going to be worth it.

My alternate Restoration Shaman got invited to do Sindragosa and The Lich King even though he has never been inside ICC before.  I know the fights well.  I kept up my earth and water shields, hit riptide on cool down, blasted out fast lesser healing waves and healing surges to low health players, and chain healed when everyone looked good.   Even under geared with no experience healing raids my heals were close to 35% of the heals.  I realized  I never used my Mana Tide Totem.  The extra Mana might have been useful to the damage classes, but I'm not sure.  I'll remember it next time.

We had two restoration druids.  One of them was blowing up the meters (45%) with rejuvenation, regrowth, wild growth.  He didn't cast a single Nourish or Healing Touch (not even with a Nature's Swiftness), but had both of them talented in his tree.  On my Alternate Restoration Druid, I decided to not take any talents buffing those spells, specifically Naturalist and Empowered Touch.  Instead I put the points in the Blessing of the Grove, and Nature's Majesty to buff rejuvenation and Critical heal chance.

The other druid barely used Wild Growth and as a result was very low on the meters.  I think he must have been concentrating on tanks.  We could have easily replaced him with a damage player.

I was pugging with a bunch of people I don't know, so I kept my mouth shut and just enjoyed the ride to Kingslayer.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thorns is Number One

My alternate Druid healer runs Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle and using a cute little mouse-over Thorns macro, and the Thorns glyph that reduces the cool down, to put it on the tank.  I only used Thorns at the beginning of pulls.  Overall damage done by the tank at the end showed 14% by thorns, which was ranked number one.

Druid healing post 4.0.1 at level 80 is over powered.  During the Bone Storm I went to tree form, put instant cast regrowths on anyone taking damage, carpet bombed lifeblooms on the whole raid.  During the raid I never casted a nourish, and I only used Healing Touch when Nature's Swiftness was up.  I swiftmended on the tanks constantly, whether they needed it or not, just so I could see the pretty green circles.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

denounce removes nouns?

Denounce is one of those talents you skip over if you are looking to maximize PVE healing performance.  I put a couple of points in there and started machine gunning exorcism during heroics.  The first time I ever felt like my "holy" DPS was fun.  Watching those 5k and 6k hits roll over the targets was so distracting sometimes I would forget to heal.  Not that heroics require much healing anyway.

It's all about Holy Shock now.  I put on my 4pT10 gear to get the extra fast Holy Light after a shock, now Holly Light takes about .4s after a shock.  Most of the time, I just wait for Holy Shock cool downs to heal during heroics.  Working on using the combinations and procs more effectively is going to be fun when serious raiding starts again.  I am looking forward to a totally new healing experience.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Plate Specialization

Why not just remove the ability to wear mail, leather and cloth items?

During my career as a Holy Paladin, I have always had some cloth, leather or mail armor equipped.  In most cases the gear was less then optimal, which was the punishment for using it.  It will now also cost 5% of our intellect to use a non-plate drop.  This is also a 5% drop in spell power and mana regeneration.

With mana and heal pools skyrocketing the 5% bonus will always trump any upgrade a non-plate drop could provide.

It feels like Blizzard is trying to influence raid loot rules.  Why not just put class and SPEC restrictions on all the items?

Meanwhile, my mail iLvl 277 bracers have be replaced by my old iLvl258 bracers.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New 80 looking for Naxx guild... want to enjoy tier progression...

  • Hero Points -- Low-tier, easier-to-get PVE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most dungeons. (most like the current Emblem of Triumph)
  • Valor Points -- High-tier, harder-to-get PvE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, as well as a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from Dungeon Finder daily Heroic and from raids. (most like the current Emblem of Frost)
Is this a "welfare" system to allow players who don't raid to get top end gear by grinding the same heroics day after day?  Or is it a system that allows more players to see top tier content without having to slog through the lower tier raids first?  The answer is both.

This system just like the current badge system ends up making top end content more accessible, but unfortunately closes older content.  New guilds won't be formed around running lower tier raids, because players can farm better gear by just grinding heroics. 

The casual player that doesn't want to spend 3 hours in a single raid can still get some top tier gear by playing an hour a day.  This casual player base pays their subscription and deserves access to top end gear.  This is a good system for them.

I think the goal of getting more players into top end content is a good idea.  The idea that some content is exclusive to raiders that are willing to spend 20 hours a week just raiding will lead to less subscriptions, not more.

Blizzard should come up with a system which meets these goals without removing low tier content from progression.  There should be some incentive even now for a new guild to form and start progression at Naxx.  

Currently gear is the only incentive for raiding.  The achievements, titles, and special mounts are a good start.  Those don't provide an incentive for guilds to start progression at a lower tier level.  There either needs to be a completely new incentive or gear has to gated.  

Gating gear leads to exclusiveness and barriers to top end content.  So a new incentive needs to be created.  

Monday, April 26, 2010

Goodbye to Johnny Train Set?

Cataclysm Raid Progression changes (source):
  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids will share the same lockout.
  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids difficulty will be as close as possible to each other.
  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids will drop the exact same loot, but 25-man will drop a higher quantity of items.
  • Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel
  • For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid.
I'm not sure if a larger number of drops will be enough incentive to do 25-man raids.   

Dealing with Johnny Train Set for 16 hours a week has never been a fun part of raiding.  It's been more of a necessary evil to fill out the 25-man roster.  In most raids a 25-man team will include Johnnies who are brought along only because raid leaders need to fill out the roster.  A lot of raid leaders would not include these players given a solid replacement.

Not to mention the job required to schedule 25 players and deal with players that don't show up consistently, are tardy, just leave without notice, etc.  I believe a lot of the "no show" problem is directly related to the current pace of raiding.  We all love to play the video games, but when it becomes more like a job then fun,  there's a tendency to blow it off every once in a while.  A new slower progression requiring less hours per week should lower the "burn out" rate of Raider rank.

If the pace is a lot slower, I imagine their will be an explosion of ALT raiding.  

Thursday, April 22, 2010

10 man heroic BQL or why you need to trust your healers...

I am almost sure I've written about this topic before, but it's important enough to write about again.  

Last week my 10-man team lacked Replenishment. On our first heroic BQL attempt my mana got low, even with a mana potion and casting Plea and Trinkets on cool down.  We had three healers, a restoration Druid, a discipline Priest, and Big Healer(me).  Being a Holy Light spammer, I was tossing out big heals on the raid liberally on anyone that didn't have a full health bar.  This attempt failed when a Pact'ed pair didn't close in fast enough. 

Attempt #2.  My plan is to only use Holy Light when another healer has Pact or Swarming and during the Air phase.  I would Aura Mastery Shadow during the first Air phase, pop wings and blow out heals to everyone.   The second Air Phase would get Aura Mastery and Divine Sacrifice and of course Holy Light spam. 

This plan requires that I trust the other healers in my team to be healing too.  On most fights, I don't run out of mana, so I don't really worry about over healing and it all goes to the tank via Beacon anyway.  My Flash of Light heals range from 7k to 10k, which is between 1/4 and 1/3 of a typical raiders health.  I have 2 other healers backing me up so that should be enough.  Of course if anyone looks like they are going down fast, a big heal will be coming.

This plan worked great, the raid stayed up, vampires all hit their marks, and the Queen died just as she was going into the second air phase (maybe Divine Sac during 1st air phase next time).  I was spamming my 1 second Flash like a Hyper healing machine.  My effective heals were lower then on the first attempt but people didn't die and I was never too low on mana to cast a big heal.  Trying to top the meters and playing smart are not the same thing. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Party? What Party? Cataclysm ends wow Parties. Or Divine Sacrifice nerf not in the Spirit

Tranquility will always be raid wide, just because the concept of a "group" within the raid is kind of a strange one. What does that group refer to in the game? It's not distance for example. We'd like to do this with every spell. (Source)

Divine Sacrifice was changed in Patch 3.3 to be "party only" to the dismay of many raids who now had to shuffle paladins around to groups that needed the extra protection.

I imagine in the new party-less world of Cataclysm, we could get something, like 
  • 30% of all damage taken by the 5 lowest health raid members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin...
which could fit well into the new Healing Hands model of paladins radiating heals and protection to players around them.  

If the goal is to make Holy Paladins be better raid healers, then I think it makes sense for them to more like Discipline Priests then Holy Priests.  A Holy Paladin should be a damage shielder, redirecting damage from the raid into some mechanic that sheds the damage.  Currently the mechanic is Divine Sanctuary, but The Bubble is too powerful to be on a lower cool down.  Some sort of Divine Aegis that absorbs redirected damage but has to be managed carefully by the paladin.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Two Blessing is One too many? -- or "one dude would prefer the opposite"?

The Cataclysm preview provides details on a new buffing system for paladins.  At first glance, it looks great, based on the current complex coordination required.  There still a problem with the new system, more on that after a summary of the new system.  Directly from the preview:
    Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes.
    Kings and Might can just be raid wide. There should be no need to target individuals. We're trying to make sure there isn't a circumstance where one dude would prefer the opposite buff to everyone else.
The need to coordinate with add-ons such as Pally Power is no longer required.  

The problem with this new system is when you have only a single Paladin and raiders who want different buffs.  This can easily happen in 5 and 10 man groups.

FeralPause whispers, "can I get a 10 minute might instead of kings, please..."

So now I need to remember to rebuff FeralPause with might every 10 minutes?  That does not sound fun.  I will probably still want a version of Pally Power just to manage who does and doesn't want to the global buff.

How are the developers going to avoid the "one dude would prefer" circumstance while providing two different Paladin buffs?  

I can think of two different solutions.
  1. Combine Kings / Might / Wisdom into a single blessing called "Kings"
  2. Allow more then one blessing from a paladin, so they can do both Kings and Wisdom.  Like a Priest that does both Fortitude and Spirit...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Selling mounts is nothing new... or get your underoos unbunched.

The spectral tiger mount isn't very common, but it can be purchased with real money.   A friend of mine ordered several boxes of the WOW Trading Card Game in order to get this mount.  The only difference is that Blizzard didn't get his money directly, but they definitely got paid.

The upcoming Starcraft II collectors edition will have a Warcraft non-combat pet included.

Pets and Mounts have been provide as part of the Blizzcon ticket price.

If anything it's more honest when blizzard provides access to these "paid" vanity items directly instead of through some sort of marketing gimmick.

Blizzard Store has a good day...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cataclysm Paladin Preview or stuff to activate on every COOL DOWN!

(Apparently clarifications have been posted already, will get to those after the raid!)

The early class previews are almost always wrong, in the sense that what actually gets into the expansion resembles it only slightly.  The early class previews for Wrath had us thinking casters would be constantly worrying about mana.  So, that said, here's my take on the Cataclysm Paladin Preview. 

If healing was the same in Cataclysm as is in Wrath then it would get boring.  The expansion would just be a bunch of new content which will play exactly like the content in Wrath.  A new expansion should change up our play style, force us to learn new ways to be excellent players. 
  • Crusader Strike will be a core ability for all paladins, gained at level 1.
  • Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins
Holy Paladins can Crusader Strike and Retribution Paladins can Holy Shock.  The world has truly been turned upside down. 
  • Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.
This sounds a lot like the description of Beacon when it was first "previewed."  Proposed macro text, "Come close Brothers, so I can touch you with my Healing Hands!"  Seriously, based on the lack of any more information then raids will no longer be constantly topped off, ACTIVATE ON EVERY COOL DOWN.  I expect this to be a lot different once they actually start to implement and test it.
  • Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85): Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. ... For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. ... 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears).
It's a smart bomb HOT.  Does it only heal one target, or does it constantly switch to whichever target is the lowest?  Too many questions to have any opinion on how this works, so I say, ACTIVATE ON EVERY COOL DOWN.  
  • We want to increase the duration of Sacred Shield to 30 minutes and keep the limit to one target. The intention is that the paladin can use it on their main healing target.  That said, we would like to improve the Holy paladin toolbox and niche so that they don’t feel quite like the obvious choice for tank healing while perceived as a weak group healer. 
The intention is for healers to be making smart decisions instead of just making sure they get something off every GCD.  It makes sense to remove the need to refresh the SS every couple of minutes since that is a pretty mindless behavior.  

Making SS last 30 minutes on a tank is reinforcing the tank healing niche.  They want to improve the toolbox, but not really saying how that will happen.
  • We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains the expensive, fast heal and Holy Light is the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. 
Surprise! Just like all the healer previews (except Druids) the three heal model has been presented.  A fast expensive heal, an efficient heal, and a slow big heal.   I have to admit that I rarely concern myself with overlapping other healers while healing the raid.  The idea that target selection and heal selection will be more critical is going to be a challenge.
  • Beacon of Light will be changed to work with Flash of Light. We like the ability, but want paladins to use it intelligently and not be constantly healing for twice as much.
The Beacon is what enabled raid healing in the first place.  This seems to reinforce the tank healer niche which they are trying to fix.  The question will be, does the tank need a big heal, if not then Flash the raid, if so heal the tank.  That puts them squarely in the Tank Healer raid spot.
  • Critical Healing Effect: When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more.
Critical heals will heal for more.  So it's basically a critical heal bonus talent.  Sounds pretty underwhelming to me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I am spending less time playing wow and I blame the Dungeon Finder

Do you remember those days when you logged in and did your 25 dailies while keeping your eyes open for a group of friends that might want to do the daily heroic?  I have a route through Icecrown where I completed all my dailies in one to two hours.  Once I found a group for a heroic, we had to get to the dungeon, wait for everyone to show up, and wait for people to go deal with noisy kids and dogs.  Just assembling and arriving at the dungeon could take 30 minutes easy.   Do you remember those days?

Now I log in, pop into the Dungeon Finder queue, a couple of minutes later I'm rushing through an instance with 5 strangers.  Usually done in about 30 minutes.  I feel no urge to do my Icecrown dailies anymore.  I have realized that a lot of the time I spent online was "busy work" I did while waiting for an opportunity to run an instance.  There is no need to do this busy work anymore.  So, I'm not online as much.

This is great for the casual player that only wants to play a few hours a week.  I confess that besides my main Big Healer, I have two other max level healers, a Druid and a Priest.  I don't play them often, but once or twice a week, I'll log one of them in and run a heroic.  Although geared well enough for heroics (a mix of heroic, crafted, and badge gear), their gear is usually on the low level of the groups I get, but I still manage to get the job done.  It's fun, challenging and only takes 2 or 3 hours a week.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

7 minutes!

After downing our first heroic mode 25-man kills (Marrowgar and Gunship), 5 of us assembled to get the heroic daily out of the way.  Paladin Tank, Paladin Healer (me), Fury Warrior, Destro Warlock, and Enhancement Shaman.

Queue up and get Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle. We skip the first two bosses, finish the entire instance in a little less then 7 minutes.

Just counting in my head, that's about 25 pulls (including 2 bosses).

Reminded me of those videos of Paladins pulling the entire Scarlet Monastery in one pull.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I am not a game designer... but I know where some live.

I understand the desire to know what changes will be coming in future patches and expansions of WoW.  I read the blue posts, the PR releases, convention coverage, and the info from data mining.  I read the blogs of people who suggest changes to blizzard.  I've even made my own suggestions on fine tuning my own class.  I've spent a short amount of time on the Public Test Realms to see upcoming features.

I am not a game designer.  This job requires experience and skills which are not gained from simply playing a game.  It's not that players, especially those who spend a lot of time dissecting the game, wouldn't be good designers, but the skill to play and understand the mechanics is different then those of the game developers.  If you are going to make a suggestion to the Blizzard designers then make it a simple and focused suggestion.

Create a simple description of your idea.  If this takes more then a sentence or two, then it's probably needs to broken down into multiple smaller suggestions.
  • Add a new Guild Bank tab option that works like a guild member only Auction House.
Identify any impact on existing game features.
  • Guild Bank access for the tab:  Withdraw only = buyer only, Deposit only = seller only, Full Access = buyer and seller. 
  • Limit the number of listing and purchases per member.
  • UI interface changes???? I'm not qualified to suggest or understand the implications... Ugh.
Identify any problems which the suggestion would need to consider.
  • Tab is just used as a very large regular tab by listing items with very small buy out prices.
Identify possible solutions to the problems.
  • Limit the number of listings.  
  • Charge a minimum fee for each listing regardless of buyout price.  Minimum or percentage which ever is higher.
Identify edge and test cases:
  • Standard AH test cases (I'm sure blizzard testers have a test plan for this already)
  • The guild master disbands the guild.
  • A lister leaves the guild.
  • So many test cases and I'm not being paid to think them all up!
This is a simple example and I don't even feel like it's complete.  I am sure there are more problems which could be identified.  I am sure there are more test cases which should be considered.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Judging light and parse envy...

The Story
Recently another Holy Paladin joined the ranks of my regular 25 man raid team. We have a good team of healers. The parses show load is balanced with everyone doing basically the same effective healing. There's only so much effective healing and if everyone is doing their job a natural balance will occur.

Looking at some parses of  failed  Blood Queen attempts (missed bites!) and the new Big Healer was doing a good 2K more HPS on each attempt. A little analysis shows the difference was Judgement of Light. He managed to keep his Judgement active.

The Mana
Every time Judgement of Light is cast with the Seal of Wisdom active you gain mana. As long as no one needs a heal, then Judgement should be used when it's on CD.

Again, Judgement should be cast when it's on CD when no one needs a heal.

The Timing
A 10 second cool down (not improved) allows 6 judgments a minute.  If you are the only Paladin casting Judgement of Light, it will take 4 casts per minute to maintain the debuff.  The talent Judgement of the Pure provides a 15% haste bonus and requires the Big Healer to judge at least once a minute.

The Wisdom or Life Decision
The Judgement of Light provides health to the Raid, the Judgement of Wisdom provides mana.  Providing more mana to the raid increases the raid's DPS.

The Who
Relatively recent changes to the way the Judgment debuffs work means it doesn't matter which spec of Paladin is doing the Judging.  The Retribution paladin should be Judging as part of their DPS rotation and will have no problem maintaining the debuff.  Assign them the wisdom debuff and the mana deeps will be happy.

The Conclusion
This Big Healer has started to be more aggressive on Judgments and as a result the balance has been restored to the parses.   

Friday, April 2, 2010

/leave 2 or why I don't need to hear your opinions, ever!

The Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) has always been bad on WOW's city connected trade chat channel.  A perfect trade chat channel would only have posts concerning WTS, WTB, LFG, LFW and Guild Advertisements.  Everything else is noise. During the slow time of the day on a server as few as three ignores can significantly increase the SNR on this channel.  Many more ignores are required once the server gets busy. There will always be noise on this channel as long as players are allowed to post free text.

A solution is for blizzard programmers to create an interface for the channel, Trade Finder!  The interface allows the person to select the buy or sell they want to advertise and then it posts to the channel.  The interface would allow a sort of real time auctioning, where players can place bids on sell items or offer a sale price to buyers.  The Looking for Work advertisers could be provided a long distance trade interface with the ability to craft items with materials provided but not traded.   Guild advertisers would simple have their guild info be available to anyone interested automatically.  A little work could make the Trade Finder as awesome as the Dungeon Finder.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Two tanks, one beacon, lots of splash

Big heals is a tank healer.  It's the role most expected from people with spell power plate.   The Beacon of Light allows for raid healing when there's a single tank taking damage, but several encounters require two (or more) tanks to be taking damage at the same time.  Depending on the number of melee in your raid, the Glyph of Holy Light can be splashtastic.  Beacon a tank, drop continuous Holy Lights on the other tank, and watch the Glyph splash heals to the melee.  It is very similar the Shaman's Chain heal.  A shaman will start the Chain Heal on a tank and keep all the melee topped off.  This splash is significant and should be respected by the raid.  As Big Healers we need encourage players to stay grouped together when possible.  Planting a Holy Light on a player at range can splash too if they aren't all spread out.  On fights where the raid takes continuous damage, this splash damage will often be a significant chunk of the effective Big Heals.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Prevented damage is +healing or why I'm usually Righteously Furious.

A basic rule, which every player should know, is that preventing damage is almost always better then healing. Every time a player avoid's Rotface's Slime Spray they have avoided 5K of damage which otherwise would need to be healed.  Healers (and Raid Leaders) should look at the damage taken meter and have a private chat with any DPS or Healer that seems to be consistently near the top of that meter.

I say almost always better, because you can't rule out situations when players do too much to avoid damage and end up not doing their primary jobs.  In most encounters damage must be taken for the raid to be successful otherwise Big Heals would be a very boring job.

Improved Righteous Fury reduces all damage by 6%...  I have RF up whenever I can get away with it.    It's good not to have RF up on fights where you might pull aggro from adds.  For example, the Big Ooze can be a problem during the Rotface fight.  You don't want the Ooze tank to fight you for aggro or even worse pulling aggro and having the Ooze running into the center and decimating the raid.  But this fight does not have continuous damage like his brother Festergut.  During the Festergut fight, keeping RF up will mean you will personally need 6% less healing and that is a good thing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sorry the tank died because my beacon wasn't refreshed....

Dear Blizzard,

The Beacon of Light is amazing and has made paladin healers rejoice.  Using a entire global cool down (GCD) to refresh The Beacon  can sometimes be a problem.  You see, now that I don't need to just stare at the Tank's health bar constantly, I've started dropping heals on the raid.  A warlock life taps, BOMB goes the Holy Light.  The resto-druid gets hit by an orb, BOMB goes the Holy Light.  In fact, I'm so busy healing the raid, I sometimes forget about the tank and The Beacon expires and the Tank stops getting my Big Heals. This is usually not good.  So, I suggest the following change to the Beacon of Light.  In same spirit as say a Warlocks corruption being refreshed on every shadow bolt, shadow word pain being refreshed by mind flay, the Beacon of Light can be refreshed whenever a Holy Light is cast on The Beacon's target.  It still takes a GCD to refresh it, but the tank gets a Big Heal at the same time.

Thanks and Sincerely,
Big Healer

Dungeon Finder Grind

The dungeon finder is a boon for every healer (and tank).  With a queue time of <1min for most healers, it's just a matter of grinding to get more badges then you will ever need.  The grind will bring you different healing challenges.  I've earned over 2000 triumph badges since it went live.

My first rule about any attempt is to be positive. Avoid the dark side and use the force (Luke).
  1. The geared group will be fast and need hardly any healing.  This group is fun, because you can see how much damage a Big Healer can output.  Pop the wings whenever you can, make sure you have Shield of the Righteousness on a key bind to use when everything else is hot (waiting for cool down).  The tank in this group might get bored and start pulling insanely large groups.  Be ready to switch back to Big Heals when this happens.  I had a tank pull every mob in the first Protodrake room of Ramparts once.
  2. The geared damage versus under geared tank (usually a DK!).  This happens a lot now, because everyone is looking for a shorter queue time and switching to a tank spec gets you that.  This group will have your Big Heals flying as the tank won't be able to hold aggro and the DPS will end up tanking.   It's more like raid healing since you'll be bombing heals on everyone.  Hand of Protection can be very useful in this group.  I sometimes mark a Skull and X in pulls to help the tank and DPS coordinate.   
  3. The under geared group.  I get these groups a lot.  Their alt just made level 80, and they jump into heroics immediately (who doesn't do this!).  The damage per second is less then 2000, if not worse.  The tank needs constant attention to stay alive.  I can carry this group with my Big Healer, but I feel sorry for a new healer when they get in this group.  Encourage the tanks in these groups, give them props and back slabs aplenty.  The more tanks in the dungeon finder the better. 
  4. The slow tank group.  Can be any of the above groups, but the tank seems to be preoccupied and the pulls come slow.  The party might get impatient and start pulling just to get the tank to move faster.  Healing can be challenging if this starts happening.  I like having a two-monitor setup, so I can be browsing the web when things get slow.
  5. The timid tank.  This like the above group will be slower.  The tank will ask if everyone is ready before every pull.   They will diligently mark up every mob in the next pull with a kill order.   The healing in this group is usually easy and boring.  Like first group, I can usually add some damage of my own into the mix.
Note that I never drop a group because it's under geared, but I will drop a group if the players are rude.  There is nothing worse then a player constantly abusing another player for what they consider bad play.  If a vote to remove this player doesn't work (it usually does), then I'll excuse myself.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to HoP for fun and profit

The Hand of Protection (HoP) is a valuable tool in the pocket of every Big Healing Paladin.   It can save the life of a aggro pulling toon with a quick immunity from all physical damage.  The mob will turn in disgust back to the tank, just waiting for the Protection to end.  I can't count the number of times I've HoP'ed a caster who pulled aggro on a big AoE pull.  It's not unusual for my HoP to hit right as they Ice Block or Soul Shatter.  Too bad most mages don't know how to cancel their own ice block (hint: cancelaura Ice Block, macro it to the same key that ice blocks, hit once to block, hit again unblock) to take advantage of it.  I've also saved a lot of Fan of Knives crazy rogues.  The rogues usually don't like it because it prevents them from doing damage until they remove it or it ends.  For a paladin it's a must have tool, since it can quickly save the life of DPS or Healer that suddenly has aggro.  I practically use it on every CD during the Faction Champion encounter.

Don't wait for special occasion to pass out this protection.  Often there isn't a lot time between getting aggro and getting dead.  I tend to HoP quickly and often.

The HoP can also be used to clear of some debuffs.  Cast HoP, then quickly cast Hand of Freedom (HoF).  Since a player can only have a single Hand on them, the freedom will immediately clear the HoP off of them.

Just remember it only protects physical damage, if the attacks are magically, they will need Big Heals instead. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Trauma shouldn't go to the Holy Paladin first...

Blessing of Kings: Trauma and Paladins

I have seen Trauma drop twice and haven't bothered to bid on it. Instead I made the case that if anyone should get it, then it should be our Resto-druids. Both drops went to druids. Looking at the parses, it appears they are getting 2-3% of their heals from it.

The only upgrades besides this are, Lockjaw and H-Lockjaw from the 10-man version of ICC. Of course getting a battered hilt would be a nice upgrade, but my luck on those hasn't been great. I will just have to stick with Heartsmasher, until our guild gets back into farming TOGC.

I'm guessing that there are also drops in ICC which haven't been revealed yet.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Holy Paladin 2pT10 bonus and some mouse over nonsense.

While your divine illumination talent is active, your healing spells are 35% faster.
That's 35% more heals at 50% the mana for 15secs every 3mins making Divine Illumination (DI) a very valuable 1-point talent.  So why not maximize the uptime with a simple macro:
#showtooltip Holy Light
/cast Divine Illumination
/cast Holy Light
DI does not cause a GCD, so there will not be a delay on the Holy Light.  This macro can be used as the main heal Nuke.  A version that allows mouse over targeting is here:
#showtooltip Holy Light
/cast Divine Illumination
/cast [target=mouseover] Holy Light; Holy Light
Just move the mouse over your raids unit frames and bomb the raid with Big Heals.

I actually have another line in my macro to clear the spell not ready error that pops up while DI is on CD.  I also have error speech turned off, so it doesn't say anything to me about it.
#showtooltip Holy Light
/cast Divine Illumination
/cast [target=mouseover] Holy Light; Holy Light
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear() 

I actually have three Holy Light macros on my action bar.  The first is just a basic mouse over Holy Light.  The second the DI version above, the third does a DI and Avenging Wrath.  This allows me to increase my heals more selectively by just shifting to a different heal button.  This level of control is only necessary on the hardest fights.  For the most part the above macro is great when the plan is to just bomb away with Holy Light.

I heal while wearing plate armor (mostly)

A Paladin healer can wear cloth, leather, mail, and plate armor. This is a talent that should be exploited. I know the shaman healer is going to complain if you bid on the mail boots, but it's not the paladin's fault they rolled a class with limited armor type selections. A paladin no matter which role they are filling needs to look at every armor type as a possible upgrade or "best in slot" for them.

For example, from Ice Crown Citadel raid zone, there are crafted healing boots for all the armor types. Two of them have no spirit or spell hit. The mail Earthsoul Boots and the plate Protectors of Life. Comparing the two feet warmers gives the following differences, if a paladin decides to get the mail boots.

  • -799 armor
  • -16 crit
  • -red socket
  • -blue socket
  • +16 haste
  • +yellow socket
  • +yellow socket
The socket bonus on these booties are the same, +7 spell power. Unless the paladin is a PvP or Flash of Light speicialist, those yellow sockets are going to be very attractive. Slot in two +20 Intellect gems and get some extra spell power.

The Paladin then has to decide if +16 crit is worth more then +16 haste/+7 spell power. Assuming of course, they are going to plop in the Intellect gems regardless of the socket bonus. The answer will be different for each paladin as they try and fine tune their gear. But, for a lot of them a pair for non-plate boots will be the best pick.