Monday, January 25, 2010

Raid times.

Latest bug from our GM- He wants us all to do as much as possible in 10mans... which are to be done OUTSIDE of scheduled raid times...

We are 3 nights a week, tuesday thru thursday, 3 and a half hours a night. AND HE'S BEEN HAVING US DO ToC25 INSTEAD OF SPLITTING RAID INTO MULTIPLE 10s.

This slightly annoys me being as I'm juggling 60+ hours at work a week, a girlfriend who I think is feeling neglected sometimes... and friends/family. I love raiding, but I mean it's been quite crazy lately.

Anywhoo, I realize that I just have to sit sometimes in these situations... That because of my schedule and life I won't be able to make every raid AND every 10man... And I know I'll pass on 10s because they want me in 25s... It's just irritating and all.

Truly, I am probably most annoyed at the inefficiencies they are ran at. Among our guild we have a TON of gear, and a lot of geared alts. Almost every raider has one, or sometimes more geared enough alts to keep up in ICC10. Now, what simply baffles me is that in each group it seems like we have a few mains, a few alts, and a random friend of someones or something... This is great and all in gearing purposes... but then people get all hot and angry over the fact that the 10s aren't making progress... I don't get why we don't make one raid a super-duper stacked out the ass raid who is going to lay down the law to ICC and all of arthas' minions. Then the second set would be almost as stellar... followed by groups that will have more and more alts in them. Instead it is just "we'll be running 3 10 mans this week. Here are the days and times. Please reply"

Yet, I digress. I left my guild that I ran for a reason. I want organization and all, but I refuse to be the one to step up and take the reigns. Being as such I really can't criticize too much...

Or can I?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haste Gearing, and where it should be on your gear.

I am always talking about haste this, haste that. Haste is the new sliced bread... Truly. The one thing I get asked most about haste.... "How do you get so much haste!?!" And it got me thinking, I really never tell them the items that they really ought to not be picking up more Int/spellpower/crit for because of the Haste. (The right amount of Int/spellpower/crit can in my mind outweigh some haste... I'm looking at you...Crappy and what I tried to replace it with...)

So here are a few tips to those of you trying to balance where you can drop off the haste pieces so you can get to be more uberpwning...The bolds will give you a generic balance of where you will be at with these items.
Total(0 haste)

You want about 100 haste from your rings. I find it VERY difficult now to pick up a ring that DOESN'T have haste on it. Really, you need 670, and this helps bucketfulls to get.
Total (100 Haste)

Again, 100 haste. Seems logical right? Get in this neighborhood on these 4 slots so far and you are already 1/3 of the way to cap... more or less.
Total (200 Haste)

Roughly 50 haste combined is all you can expect out of this I suppose. Everyone wants these drops. Really though, this is something I strongly recommend, but I was wearing a ilevel 200 Cloak and picked up this so it was difficult for me to keep it... I was also sporting the 226 badge neck until I had the fortunate circumstance to get this. So I was forced into wearing more haste on my main set pieces as a result of this.
Total(250 Haste)

Tier eligible Pieces: (Head/shoulder/Chest/Hands/Legs):
300. No lies. The offset pieces that tend to drop for me are filled with nummy intellect, but I can't get the haste on them so I generally stray from our 4pc bonuses... being as we haven't had a good one since T7... it's really nice to be able to snag the two that you want with haste on them, leaving the rest for offsets.
Total(550 Haste)

Offset Pieces: (waist/wrist/booties)
100. Between the 3 of these, In areas >ilevel232 if it has haste, it's got about 50 or so on it. This means you are able to snag two out of three of these in haste and the other can be without. Currently I run a setup where wrist/boots have haste and the waist does not.
Total (650 Haste)

Given that you can snag this or that, you are so damn close to your 677 you will be set!! Good luck getting your drops! As always, if you have questions just toss them my way and I'll do my best to get you a response timely!!

Some notes on my personal gear, and advice I'd give to those not in raids
that are full buffed with everything:

In our 25man we haven't had a ret pally or boomer druid in a long time at raider rank show face frequently... This means I need a lot more haste than usual... I roll with around 800. The way I keep this up is I wear ilevel 245 gear, and I drop
about 1k int. Dropping 1k int from 38k buffed to 36+ isn't going to
destroy your mana pool, but you will land your heals more reliably and in a better rhythm with the 1 second GCD that the haste cap provides... The way I get to that 800 is my shoulders go back to haste, same with my waist. Also, at this point I am wearing haste in every slot on my toon with the exception of my neck and back. I do have decent alternatives for them with haste on them... but they are not that fantastic.

Second note: These numbers are very difficult to hit when you are
just starting out... Take what you can get when you can get it... Just don't
break your old gear just because you think it is better now. I have a LOT
of gear sitting in my bank that gets pulled out when I need it... And I never replace it until I have an item that fills the role it filled COMPLETELY (I.E. New shoulders? Don't have haste on them? Save your haste ones, even if you can wear the ones without... Because let's say your chest drops without haste on it, and it's a greater upgrade over your current one than those shoulders were... you can decide to go back and wear your other ones!! Seems smart to me.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My guilty pleasure.

Of my many, I must admit... I absolutely love pop-music. There is just so much beauty in a catchy tune that is more or less manufactured in a sound studio with no skill by the "artist" at all.

Really, It's true. When I raid, I bounce around in music styles, depending on what I am looking for. Lately it has been this though- Pull up, hit the button for "Most popular" and hit "Play all" so I hear what is most recently the most popular. Anything that can hit a top 40 chart is fair game... Ever. As in, I get all the new Gaga, Jason DeRulo, Britney, and what have you. But it's the Afroman, and Tom Petty that really gets me hot and heavy.

Mid-battle going from Taylor Swift to Kanye always makes me smile.

I can't raid without good tunes playing. It used to be just straight techno/trance, as techno has the same effect as classical does on me, helping me focus with no lyrics in the background at all, but I just can't get enough of some of the music and singing along to "Replay" by Iyaz or "One less lonely girl" by the Biebs, simply stellar and out of this world.

Cringe if you will, hate me for doing it, but I love it. It makes raiding more enjoyable for me. I mean come one, if you are going to listen to music while raiding, it better be enhancing your experience!!

Princes, and how they screamed like little girls in the end.

Well, I must say... I should never have cleared my recount from last night...

  1. Our tanks have enough gear and do (overall) a pretty darn good job.
  2. Our healers (As I realized last night) are really an amazing team. We had our 1 Disc/1 Holy Priest/2 resto Druids/and ME*.
  3. Our DPS do decently well. But I feel that they are meeting raid reqiurements rather than exceeding them.

This being said-We have some amazing heavy hitters. All our rogues rip and gnaw and claw eachother for being top dogs, while 2 of our DKs hit like mack trucks. Our 3rd DK who raids was what I would have said was underperforming, settling around 5k, and last night was pulling the potential for her gear. I was quite pleased.

I don't expect every single person who is dealing damage to the boss to do 12k dps. (I wish they would though.) I just expect that when you are in 4pc T9 ilevel245 you do >5k. I would garner the expectations (depending on the fight ofc) that they are capable of hitting 7k in really nice conditions.... Enough about this right now though... Because...

LAST NIGHT, the dps cleaned house... AND avoided shit really well. And let me tell you amigo... Princes is make or break with your DPS ultimately. Here is my quick and dirty explanation of what I do in that fight-->

  • Tur bacon's one tank who he will be out of range most of the time (on Mr. Fire Prince.)
  • Tur Heals like a mofo on the Warlock tank (on Mr. Shadow Prince, easily the easiest one to deal with once your warlock goes pro in catching black balls**)
  • Tur Heals like a mofo on the Paladin who he enjoys healing because pally on pally action is hawt... especially with AD! (Tanking Mr. I-like-to-blow-shit-up-Prince)

  • Tur avoids the crazy crap that all three Princes toss out which are...

  • Mr. Fire Prince sends out big ass balls of fire, if they target you, be leet
    and show how well you can kite! This reduces the damage it does when it gets to you, so turn and run like those mages do!!

  • Mr. Shadow Prince makes the big black balls appear. They aren't good for
    you-insofar as your buddy the warlock tank- he needs them for increasing his
    shadow resist so he doesn't take as much damage when Shadow Prince gets all big and angry!
  • Mr. I-like-to-blow-shit-up-Prince decides every once in a while he'll cast
    this big explosion that if you are within 30 yards, you blow up... and so does
    anyone around you... GAH! So I'd just stay far away from him and we'd be

This is Fire, stay out of it!

So, with all this going on, and we have 2 or 3 ranged making sure the prince's balls don't drop (GET IT? BALLS DROPPING?) it seems like quite a bit, but just take it a step at a time and try to control the fight. It's really not that long of a fight in the end.

Couple things that could totally help people out:

In our healer setup we broke out into 2 groups for "general spatial placement" even though through the fight you will end up running everywhere. It helped to spread us out among the raid so all the tanks were getting enough heals, and I suppose the raid as well.

I let our raid leader know an idea might be for the ranged keeping the balls up to each have their own mark and to mark the one they will be responsible for keeping up. That way we aren't having 2 stay on one and 1 falling. Seemed to help keep things more organized.

Your melee need to focus on staying alive. As much as I toted how awesome our damage was, this fight really doesn't show your brute force. If they aren't diligent with the explosion dodging or swapping targets the fight is incredibly harder.

Your warlock needs to be a skilled professional. If he isn't, then you may be better off having a tank just run around doing that job. We tried this a few times and it isn't horrible... It's just a lot easier with a warlock. Threat is an issue with a non-lock. Warlocks are surprisingly resilient in PvP gear and stam trinks+tank setup to spell damage. Kinda awesome.

*This is my favorite setup for 25man. I don't *mind*
squeezing a resto shammy between us, but losing any of us makes me cringe, and taking more heals leads into the raid dps issue...

** Do not mistake with Blue Balls, could cause serious damage to your health and personal well-being.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Raid Progression

NOTE: Most of the time frames discussed here are my personal thoughts and feelings about how long the time felt and how much I was in a specific instance. I did not go back and look at exactly how long each one was out, and I wanted the post to come from feeling rather than fact to express those feelings about raiding progression. Catch mah drift?

Lately I had been going over a lot of people talking about where they were in wow a year ago and what their characters looked like. It's funny because I don't think about this often and when I do I am always suprised that when it comes down to it... I'm a battle tested veteran.

I think about the encounters I've mastered. The raids I've lead. The people I managed and the guild I used to run. All of this experience I forget about frequently, but when it comes down to it... I can still rattle off boss abilities, class abilities, min/max specs, and the general gist of all of this. And not for just wrath... Even though I only got up to ZA in TBC, I have since experienced/learned about many of the encounters.

I keep looking at it and thinking about why I still play wow over all the other games that have come and gone in my life. I have binged on wow over long periods of time for ridiculously long playtime periods. Yet if I burn out, I generally come back. In fact, most of the time when I burn out I simply roll a new class, or on a new server to see new things (like the time I rolled alliance).
With Arthas not even out yet I think about the time gaps between each of the raids. Naxx was out for soooooooooo long. It was all we had to raid. It got to the point where PUGing it was expected to get and kill KT, even on my fail server (truly fail). Ulduar was not out for long enough, in my opinion as I wanted to attempt hardmodes but we were still working through it. On our server only a handful of guilds actually killed Yogg on 10 or 25. It wasn't hard, it just required people to actually buckle down and stay focused the entire instance. But the actual time that it was out does makes me laugh becuase the content was available for a long time(relatively... I think), and yet those who cleared it in the first few weeks had to have been so bored.

ToC was out for far too long, considering it was only one room(2?) that you fought 5 bosses in. It had to be the ultimate show of laziness imo on Blizzard's behalf. At the time when everyone was grilling Blizz about it and complaining about how much it sucked, my guild leader decided we would be attempting ToGC25 (we had 10man on farm) even though I KNEW 60% or more of the raid did NOT care to be there. Over 60 wipes later we killed beasts. Once. That kind of wipage made my brain hurt. We had no other content to do... We would run Ony and VoA simply because it was free loot... But even that could have been done on our own quite easily. Usually those who needed loot from there would be looking for one or two items specifically. And thats about it.

Now we have ICC being rationed out to us, plus there is a limiting factor/waygate that will hinder many from getting into the depths of the instance early on. I'm unsure about how I feel about all this, yet I'm not sure it's going to work out for the better.

See, I'm a big fan of linear progression. There once was a time when I thought I wanted choice over everything... Well not anymore. As I got older and matured I realized that much of the world is out of my control, I believe in everyone having control over their own actions (for the most part... Sophie's choice being one of the few exceptions) which means I can only choose for myself. What I also found is that sometimes, especially when I'm trying to have fun and enjoy a game... I like choice. I like being able to choose which weapon looks cooler, what instance to run, what role to be in a raid. Yet... there is strange comfort in having those choices made for you. Less thinking and responsibility involved.

All in all, I enjoy this game... Sometimes a bit too much, and I am completely undecided about what kind of raid structure I like best. After all of ICC is out, I am leaning to thinking that we will burn out less and learn the encounters better over time being as we will have had our hands held by Blizz the whole way... This is probably a good thing if you have ever read any of my posts about my guild raids or have raided with the general populace... In the end, hindsight will be 20/20 and I am refusing to pass judgement until I get that vision.

P.S. If you really want my opinion... I think that we'll all burn out of ICC eventually, but the tiered releases and self-nerfing instance will keep it looking fresh for longer. The bleeding-heart, cutting-edge raiders will be distraught as they are being held back... But Blizz is done catering to them methinks...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Specs of DS/DG

The DS/DG argument: In one location and what makes it good/how to use it. And a smattering on the discussion of the underutilized utility of the holy paladin. (Because I can’t find anywhere else that is user friendly and easy to understand)

NOTE: This was originally a part of my How To: Holy post, but it became a behemoth in and of itself that it required its own post.

Now you have your basic healing down. I would allow you to come heal with me in my raid. You would do your job as needed. You would be better than 80% of the paladins out there. What makes you a top-notch player you ask me? Well the rest is understanding the finer points of your class. I chant my boots with runspeed and forego the 15% in ret for the wondrous magnificent beautiful Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian.

Couple of notes about the differences of specs, the ret spec gives you these benefits:
1. 15% runspeed AND free boots to enchant. Note that the 15% is up from the 8% of the enchant.
2. 8% crit
3. 3% crit to the raid on the boss, if your raid doesn’t have this already.
4. Imp BoM (if you are giving it out)
5. 10% reduction in instant cast spells
Just so you know, I listed them in importance of most valuable to least imo. Disagree if you like but I’ll share my rationale why you don’t need these things after I tell you the advantages to the DS/DG subspec:
1. DS. A still awesome RAID WALL. Truly unique in the game, I have saved entire wipes with this one button and it got nerfd because it is THAT good. It’s safer to use than before with its current form and a little less potent.
2. DG-Means your SS lasts 30 seconds longer which can be converted into saved mana as you cast SS ½ the time you were before (assuming you are not a baddie and you keep it up on the tank at least 80% of the time)
3. 6% personal damage reduction with RF, plus your other heals should absolutely LOVE you. Adds spawning go to healers, with RF up you know WHICH they will go to and if your tank can’t out-threat you with RF up (which is like 1-2k threat… I mean come on… that’s when I’m bombing fully effective HLs!) you need new tanks, not a new spec.
4. 6% healing when touched by your aura, doesn’t stack with tree of life, so I guess if you didn’t have a tree it’d be nice?
5. Divinity, 5% healing increased (nominal amount for us) and 5% healing received (actually can make a difference!).

Now, the runspeed from ret is actually AWESOME. Truly, but I get half that from boots. When it comes down to it though, a raid wall IS better than run speed increase. Prot 1-0 Ret

8% crit? Well being as if you tell me crits help you heal more… I say FALSE. Crit is an unreliable stat for healing. Healing is about “this spell heals X” when it crits it’s a bonus and if the crit is effective healing it saved you your next cast. Win. But Murhpy’s law clearly says if you rely on crit, it will bend you over like a little boy from MJ (Too son?) and your tank will get gibbed when you fail to crit 3-4 times in a row. I know, crits are awesome and 25k+ HLs are cool, but you cannot seriously tell me you rely on it. As for mana regen since blizz nerfd illumination in Naxx mp5 is a better stat pound for pound… and you get about the same mana back from DG and your less applications of SS. No mana regen argument here folks!

3% crit to the boss? Well if your raid doesn’t have this… I can see why you would want it. But this can be brought by many many classes. Which leads me to my next point… Imp BoM, also if you don’t have this or imp bshout then it would probably be really good to pick up, if you do… then it’s pretty much worth nil. In a 10man hmode guild I could totally see a pally specing into these for the raid, because they ARE worth it. In a 25man where these buffs are nearly guaranteed it’s a true waste.

After that the talents you are getting are very slim, the 10% from instants really doesn’t net to much, unless you are chain casting HS… which you should not do! 6% damage reduction and RF can be debatable depending on your players, divinity CAN save a life, but you wouldn’t really feel it… and aura healing is obviously brought by the trees.

When it comes to using DS btw, you really do need to figure think it through beforehand when would be nice to use it. The best situation I believe is when you have your bubble ready, don’t think you will need it during the fight, and the whole raid is about to take massive damage (I.E. Hodir frozen blows, Anub hmode P3 after tank CDs are down to name a few) but it has a short CD of 2 min and your bubble is 5. This being said if the melee or even the tanks are about to be punished and you can heal yourself or call to the other heals to help you out, then you can really help there as well. Just think though- if there is major raid AoE and you are taking that damage, you are also taking the channeled damage and can bring yourself low with DS and then off yourself quite quickly while that pulsing AoE nails you like a 5 copper hooker.

I have no idea how many times I’ve saved a raid with this talent… 15? 20 times? Granted I’ve also wiped us from dying to my own stupidity before as well… Just make sure you don’t kill yourself to much using this CD, or it may just really not be for you.

Hand of Sacrifice is not used enough. It’s another tank CD you can use, just announce it to your other heals, and then make sure you are not in fire to add to that damage as well. With the DG it does pretty well.

Make sure your dpsers love you by giving out buddy bubbles when they pull threat. The shorter CD helps here becuase it really can save their life. And it doesn’t hinder casters at all. Frequently in ICC already my buddy the DK knows I have his back and he doesn't mind pulling aggro... Knowing I'll BoP him pretty swiftly.

Hand of Salvation is also really nice. Make nice with a feral kitty and you just got yourself a keen CD swap. Create a whisper macro to scream at them when you want their innervate and they do the same when they are about to pull. With both on relatively short CDs you can swap them back and forth many times in fights. Also eating innervates allows you to use less FoL and more HL. (A note about this, if you really want to be awesome and get your dps loving you, tell that druid on any fight where you think you won’t need it to feed the arcane mages innervates it really will boost their dps a LOT. Allowing them to 4 stack arcane barrages and be ok with their mana levels makes bosses die a lot faster.) I find I actually eat innervates when we are down on tank heals or when bosses are progression and there is a lot more damage on the raid that will later be avoidable with understanding the fights better.

Conclusion on the Specs debate:
Really if you are looking to HL bomb, I'm not one to see a lot of value in the ret subtree. As much as I like crit for the big bombing numbers, I still sit just below 50% raid buffed, which is generally *enough* for throughput. Then again, if you need throughput, haste is your better friend than crit...

At the end of the day, do what you like, this is just what the theorycrafting pans out as. I will tell you experience weighs in a lot more... (More on this later)

A few notes on utility as a Holy pally:

Seal of wisdom procs. This one here used to be the bread and butter in naxx fights. On most of the bosses you could step up to the bosses unnoticed by him and just swing away feeling all warm and fuzzy with no care or worry about getting eaten. Now blizzard likes to keep us at range for many fights with things like knockdowns, interrupts, and random AoE in close proximity to the bosses. Well, when those are NOT there. Get right up on his ass and laugh as you realize your swing timer will go off between casts and is not reset by casts. Truly an amazing way to get “free” mana. AND remember that 40k mana you have with buffs? Yeah, your SoW procs give you mana based off of that sucker. So that int helped you out AGAIN. Just be careful, there is a reason why ranged stay at RANGE usually…

Be aware and use your CDs. With the short CDs of raid wall and AM, it should be used once, twice every fight. Get used to using your CDs on trash... As a healer I always found it difficult to pop CDs, but doing it more on trash really helps by conditioning you to check when they are on CD and when not, keeping them more on CD. They will be back up for bosses, I promise.

Monday, January 18, 2010

LFG Anger

I have to say, This post by ferarro made me think of just the other day in a heroic Gundrak.

I zone in (as tank ofc, becuase I don't like waiting!) where I start putting on my tank set and buff the whole party. I throw up a readycheck (as party lead) and everyone is ready but the healer. I hate to say it, but I was actually in a threat set and knew without the dps, I could still live and be just fine. So naturally I pull, even though the priest said no to a readycheck and had half mana. (I actually assumed he'd do what I do in that situation, sit and keep drinking, as he just clearly stated to me"NO, I AM NOT READY") Where he starts flipping out in chat calling me a baddie asking if I saw the readycheck I threw up!!

Now we kill the first three bosses with me just silently pulling and self-healing as much as I need becuase he thinks somehow it is a smart move to NOT heal your tank. His friend in the run is pulling a whopping 1.2k dps, and decides to thunderfuck mobs I'm tanking. I would have said something being as I was annoyed with the guy about his leet dps... but one of the other dpsers is pulling under him at 1.1k and I wasn't about to be a super-ass.

So instead I calmly type out that either he thunderfucked while not glyphed (which is bad for raiding anyway) or the Boomkin hit typhoon(who was talented in it), I didn't know who did it, but it wasn't real cool, please refrain from this. The healer takes this as "RAWR YOU ARE INSULTING MY GUILDIE AND YOU MADE ME ANGRY B4" So he claims I don't get any more heals. The DK (who is pulling 4k =D) is like Come on... were so close to the end and won't have to talk to eachother.

Here's where I do something out of my element:

Usually I would succumb to nerdrage and just unleash fury upon this poor soul (no really, I can get brutal) becuase lets face it... Most of the people who get angry right from the get-go will end up much much more angry after talking to me. I'm not the greatest, but I'm pretty good at utilizing logic in making my points, which I have found most wow players understand when I walk them through it, yet can't do on their own... I'm also very hurtful if I want to be... ALL THIS ASIDE, because I actually chose to NOT do this! Is that I deleted the mean comments I already had typed out (no really) and filled it with simply this:

TUR:"Hey man, I didn't mean to offend anyone. I was just trying to be helpful as I know not everything is explained and many tanks would get angry at that sort of action, luckily I'm not one of them =D"

BH(Baddie healer):"Well most healers would be pissed if they said no to a readycheck and their tank rushes in."

TUR:"I'm sorry about that, but really I knew what I was pulling and that I could keep myself, and the whole group up against 3 trash mobs. If I pull on a no to a readycheck, I expect my healer to be afk filming a porno, making coffee, or curing cancer, clearly."

DK:(randomly interjects):"This group isn't that bad and were looking at the last boss, lets just kill him and go our merry way."

TUR:"Shhh, didn't you know that all DKs are bad? Jeez, try showing up on recount sometime, baddie."

*Tur pops DP and barrels into the boss, waiting for a 5stack of SoCorr to pop wings and AP trinket and unload on the wittle bossie. All the while taking nothing for damage."

The boss dies

BH:"Hey man, you really are a good tank, take care!"

Moral of the story for me... I was actually nice when things got heated and the guy didn't end up being unreasonable for once(I mean he acknoweledged how awesome I am... He has to be at least awake to the world then!)!! Hallelujiah!

Amusing LFG.

Too funny imo:

On my warrior alt, doing LFG while leveling (I have so far refused to tank for the sheer ability to not have to do anything but kill stuff) and I ping up Dire Maul for the 27th time (no, really. the 56-60 range it's all that queue's up, which isn't horrible because everyone seems to get to know it pretty well) and we get this pally tank. Yay, I have more HP than him... AND HE USES A POLEARM TO TANK.

2 trash pulls in, he face pulls too much... Dead. NOT ME THOUGH. EFF THAT YOU BIG TREE/LOTR-ENT-THINGY. /equip sword/board /defensive stance. TCLAP TCLAP TCLAP SUNDER SUNDER SUNDER

Ok, everything is attacking me, now I look at my bars and realize I have no idea where I put my CDs or other abilities... SHIT.

Meh, healer is competant, Everything dies, tank says good job. I say, buddy, shields help. He goes "Oh yeah."

Later on an epic BoE trinket that restores Hp5 (Yes, health...) falls, we all need.... Hunter wins. tank complains... I begin explaining in 2 sentences that "CLEARLY you haven't played this much... as ALL loot is HUNTER loot. DUH." Noobs don't get it.

1 boss later- The pally starts waiting in place for a pat to move away while were headed to the final boss. Someone comments that were all here for xp and why are we avoiding trash. Tank starts berating him for not knowing he is there for gear, not xp. DUH.

Lowbie LFD is fun.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hard Thoughts About Hard Modes

What I do love, are hard modes. They have become my new passion. I had been of the opinion that I am not leet enough, not hardcore enough, too casual, didn’t play in Vanilla or raid seriously in TBC. I enjoyed the nerfs. I play a paladin. I try to think realistically.

A few months ago I decided I didn’t like that a smattering of my friends were dispersed into different guilds and that we were not able to raid together, logical next step? I formed up a once a week Uld10 (best instance in WoTLK so far imo, and this was before we had ToGC down) for 3 hours and we went in with the idea of first, we will kill yoggy, as we had yet to even spend some quality time on him without pugging in horribad fail, then we’ll take it from there. We go in and clear the entire instance (Alg not included) with a person in full blues all in under 4 hours. At that point we knew that we were going to be able to make a dent in hard modes and we set forward from that week on to work on them! 3 weeks later we began working on Alg. I must say, putting the time limit on Alg did make that fight very fun, and very challenging. Adding to the fact that Alg was quite buggy and would sometimes just despawn, or kill people during big bang for no reason if they were cutting it close with their hopping into holes. This lead us to working around it and being more methodical and diligent in our movements, helping us work as a well oiled machine better. The more challenging the fights, I found out simply required more teamwork. (This being said that we overgeared the encounters, and they were still difficult to us. And yes I know, months behind.) I became very proud with our progress, but after the high that was Alg, we didn’t see much else as a challenge. We had cleared out ToGC with over 45 attempts remaining, and even that was more of a crapshoot in that bad RNG could hose you, and it felt more like the undying runs in naxx that I personally never enjoyed. I understand putting fun limitations on a fight (like the 1 hour on Alg) but no wipes is a little too far past what I enjoy. Like I said, I feel that I am pretty casual.

Of the many things I felt I got out of doing the different hardmodes, I value those experiences that made me a better player. After doing FireFighter, which is essentially the same exact fight as reg but with fire going all over the place, I felt like my awareness for watching multiple timers, healing a raid, and positioning not just myself, but my range tank, mobile tank, heals, and dps as we moved around the room. Working together with the whole raid to take down targets only when we needed them(emergency fire bots), and to unload on the boss at all other times was quite the experience.

The sad part is though, after all of that, the regular ICC modes frustrate me when the only reason we are wiping is because not our whole raid has the experience I had learning more challenging, demanding content. At the end of the day, we are all sitting in front of a keyboard with mouse and monitor and pushing buttons at the right time. It’s not exactly like were pro athletes. But I feel that I gained the ability to basically multitask in the way that the game wants me to, and that is what determines if the raid will win. Can each person in each role of the raid execute their specific duty?

The good news through all of this is that our hard mode group of 10 will most likely begin work on the ICC ones when they come out, as opposed to being drastically overgeared making the hard, less hard. This will again force us to all play at a high level if we expect any sort of success. This excites me. To be a part of a team that works together to achieve.

ICC is...

(This was a post I wrote a while back while in a car or airport or something where I didn't have internet. Figured I'd post it before it goes out of date)

Lately with time at work being so high and full weekends of work consuming my life, I found that the crawling pace of ICC releases is actually helping me out. With the release of Ulduar, and previous to that with Naxx there was so much pressure to clear because we were able to. (I was in college barely going to class, I pretty much played whenever I wanted to) This allows you to go as far as your raid is capable of and choosing when to stop. Now that blizzard decided that they would control the flow of raiding by only releasing the easy content one step at a time, the challenge in ICC just isn’t there for me.

I really do enjoy the new scenery and the new fights, yet at the same time I find it difficult to get really enthusiastic about content that everyone *should* be downing.

After re-reading that proclamation I realize that it can come off as very elitist and in the same tones as the “Why is everyone allowed to raid and see the content I deserve to see after all my hard work” but I really don’t mean it in that sense. I love the accessibility that blizzard gave to all players into the endgame. When I first started playing I mentioned casually one time to a person that I really enjoyed Wow. He claimed that after he reached level cap there didn’t seem to be a whole lot to do except raid. At the time he was playing (vanilla) it really did take a long time to gear up to actually contribute, then you are looking at being a dpser in a 40-man? Let’s pretend for a moment they even HAD recount (they didn’t). You have no idea who is doing well, and who is afking for anything they like. The content isn’t challenging except for the fact that the raid coordination and leadership. (Think of the nightmare that was Thaddius for 40 people. Granted it was high enough up in progression that any guild that got there had enough people committed to actually paying attention… but still… It was bad enough when we were pugging it before Uld. with 25…)

Back on topic, the accessibility that blizz has given out for raiding is awesome. The logic that they design uber-awesome content (like AQ or Sunwell) that not very many people were able to experience is not really logical. It’s like James Cameron being like “Avatar is teh sex, and you can’t watch it unless you are a well known movie critic. I realize I dumped a massive amount of money into this, it’s extremely popular, received amazing reviews, but unfortunately you all have not watched all my other movies leading up to it so you do not deserve to even be in it’s very presence. You are not 1337.” That just makes no sense.

I want Icecrown to be the pinnacle of raiding, I want the Arthas fight to be just phenomenal. Anything else would be a letdown. We all played WC3 (assumption here) and no one got irate when everyone was able to beat the game!! It had amazing story and the story comes to a close here. It is 100% logical for most people to get to the Arthas fight and to see it. The self-nerfing raid instance is what will assist this as well.

Here’s to hoping it cracks up to everything we want it to be!

Healbot, and why it really is better- No matter how you feel about addons.

To begin- I first used Healbot when I was around level 40 on my paladin, my first character and used it all the way up to when I got bored with it and how it looked in ToGC and decided to finally give Grid+Clique a fair shake. I still am using Grid+Clique on my main computer, but my backup laptop still has healbot on it. So I love them both.

First off, I’ve never liked the whole “Addons make the game less pure, and I’m a purist.” I said that once to a good friend (and healing companion) and he lol’d at me so hard I couldn’t talk to him for a week. Maybe if you had an addon that took over your toon for you, or actually moved you out of the fire, and chose what spells to cast, when, and on who- Sure, that’s like using steroids in baseball (Mark McGwire, you suck!) as it just plain hurts the game. Now, if you have an addon that just makes your choices and abilities easier to use, and more streamlined in your gathering of information then it is simply like you are deciding to use a glove in center field, not just your bare hands. And you decided to use signals to your base runners, instead of them just figuring it out. Limiting yourself to not have these things does not make logical sense unless you are a masochist or you are looking for a challenge. Hardmodes do the same thing- Do this fight, but with one hand behind your back. Quite the feat, but you chose to make it harder.

Also, Blizzard supports addons now a day. If you don’t believe me look to the quest interface; I dumped my Questhelper on my alts because I more or less have the utility it provided from Blizzard now in their built in UI. They have an in game threat meter. They made arena enemy frames. These are all very useful and popular addons that they decided to make a part of the main UI. One part of the game that I really feel is lacking in the UI is simply the raidframes. To be frank, the ones in game have to be pulled out manually (I think? I haven’t used them since I was leveling in TBC on my first char) they are ugly, and don’t provide the necessary information or customizable options needed from all classes for raidframes to be effective. On top of this, Blizzard has a built in, easy to use, macro writing tool. And who doesn’t love macros??

It always amazes me that people who claim addons are useless and not needed claim their macros work just as well. Well good sir! I have only this to say to you- “Your macros work almost as, or just as effective as my addon does. But my addon’s benefits come from the fact that it is more malleable to multiple classes/uses AND better at processing information than your macros are.” In fact, macros just DO what your healbot or Grid+Clique do. The problem is that both those setups outstrip your prewritten macros when you say… Use a different character, a different spell, decide you want to respect, your targets change, your raid change, your tanks respect, the encounter messes you around, and so on. I can think of thousands of scenarios here, but instead I’ll just get into personal experience where my addons allow me freedom to do more things in a raid.

On my pally specifically, I hated having to target people before I healed them, I found it clunky and cumbersome. To be honest, I became a monster at being able to raid heal on my paladin specifically because I did NOT have to select the target for where my heals were to land. Also, having to judge (and wanting to do so as much as possible) means that a paladin must target the boss/adds from time to time. Even if you have raid frames and are clicking them then using a macro, as druids always tell me is so easy to do… you are losing fractions of a second. Fractions of a second? What’s the big deal Tur?!?!?!?!111ONE111!!??? It’s not like a fraction of a second is going to do much for you on that heal! Sure, that one heal may not matter and it could have been delayed… that one time… but let me tell you, in a 10 minute fight fractions add up into real seconds, and seconds mean GCDs, which means more raw healing output. Plain and simple, you will be more active. Secondly, if you think that fraction of a second won’t matter… well go heal ToGC25 Gormok when the worms are about to come out and have your tanks tell you their CDs are all, well… on CD. You will WISH you had fractions of a second there (especially considering you swap tanks many many times there).

On my priest, How could I swap targets with so many different spells if not for the click-casting of either addon? I couldn’t. I just heal more efficient, and the same raidframes I click on also tell me if they are in range, have debuffs, or anything else I need to know. About 70% of the druids I met did not use any sort of healing addon when I first met them. I convinced about half of them to give an addon a try. All of those who tried looked at my addon and said “Hey, it does exactly what I do already… except it just eliminates one little step in between, making me just slightly faster. Why wouldn’t I use this??”

Shaman?? Well that healing companion of mine who laughed at me in that conversation way back when, he’s been my healing shaman partner my entire raiding experience. He’s always used healbot, and he has the worst setup for his buttons. His mouse wheel click button is Chain Heal. He claims it made sense back in 5mans when he set it up, but I just lol at him now, Cause he has to hit that thing so often in raids. Anywhoo, Shaman healing is more similar to Pally I guess in that it is more stand in one spot and cast with cast times, and I just got him to try the swap to grid+clique after he’d been using HB for as long as I had.

All in all, there is literally zero downside to using one of these addons, other than resources on a slower computer. I will say though, Healbot does NOT use a lot of resources and is pretty much all you need considering if you use decursive, you may disable that as HB does that as well, and either addon can be used as a full set of raidframes as well. To me, healbot or Grid+Clique is like using PallyPower, and to not use that just does NOT make sense? Even the “I don’t have a nice computer” argument makes sense! All it says to me is “I’m really lazy and I don’t like to be efficient.” This is odd to think that people ACTIVELY MAKE THESE DECISIONS TO HURT THEMSELVES, yet they do it on a daily basis. Hell, I make those decisions when others tell me they are no-brainers I suppose. I decide to stay up 4 hours playing wow and go to work for a full 11 or 12 hour day on 2 or 3 hours rest? Sure, why not. Makes sense to me! Most of my RL friends don’t get it.

*here’s to hoping everyone sees that I am the smartest one and they should all do what I say*

The foolproof way to be awesome at holy paladin-ing:

This will also be known as my "How To: Holy" Post

Covered in this post:
• Gearing goals/choices
• Talent choices (but not the discussion on DS/DG, that is another post entirely)
• Spell choices/”rotations”

Main points:
1. You are a single (dual) target healer, don’t try to be more than that.
2. Int.
3. Holy Light.
4. Int.
5. Intellect.
6. Haste is very very nummy, and crit has gone away for the most part… kind of.
7. Int.
8. Utility is nice, and you can bring a lot of it.
9. Int.

Now, before I get into the meat and potatoes of how to get ‘er done, I just want to clarify to those who are reading to see WHY you will be gemming/gearing/chanting towards these specific goals. If you have illusions of being some monster raid healer who tops everyone off whenever they get hit with any damage, think again. Roll a holy priest, a resto drood, or a chealing shaman. They all do very well at that job in different ways. CoH is fast, hits hard among many people and a 3 stack serendipity hasted PoH will unload on more people (even more so when glyphed). The pure HPS potential of the raid healers is just inherently higher than ours in current raiding situations. That being said, they can’t even come close to single target bombing a tank (or two!) to keep them alive for as long as we do. If you do this right you will be able to fully unload on your target (or two!) for well over 2 minutes self buffed, and with raid buffs you will near 5 minutes going at full bore.

The end goals for being that monster tank healer:
Currently I aim to at these goals for healing as a pally-
-The 2500 spellpower (raid buffed) minimum.
I used to consider the minimum at 2000, but with ICC having things hit slower and more consistently, our HLs have become more effective and I have seen more times where one is landing and not topping off the target (or the beacon target) which means more spellpower could have been utilized. This being said 2500 spellpower is still quite low and I generally sit above 3k in raid buffs. If you hit the other minimums and can’t tote 2.5k spellpower you are probably doing something wrong.
-The haste softcap.
670 haste (I think it’s actually 677? I’ll math it out after I post this and edit it up). This pulls your FoL to 1 second and your GCD at 1 second (which makes you using your other abilities faster too… I.E. reapplying your SS, beacon, or hitting the magical DP button.
Just so you know, wear more haste when you don’t have full buffs in your raids, meaning you need shaman for wrath of air (5%) and a ret pally (ret aura 3%) OR boomkin (3%) to make sure you hit that cap. I have 2 sets of gear that I actually raid in consistently, one sits around 800 haste for our 10mans where I don’t get all my favorite buffs, and another that sits at 668 which is close enough to cap for me in 25mans. The one with less haste has about 1.5k more mana on my bar for it.
-Intellect, as high as that sucker can go.
After you hit your other two minimums, the rest is pretty much stacking int. There are many reasons why you do this, but the first being that above all else, it makes you able to cast longer and longer the more mana you have. More int=more mana=more mana back with DP. DP is wonderful, it scales with your MAX(ask your friendly priests to hymn sometime, its amazing) mana. Also, Int is fantastic because A. it scales with kings B. it gives you extra spellpower via talents C. it gives you extra crit from naturally being int D. its sexy

Now, those are the basics for gear and what you want on it. Honestly past that it doesn’t matter *AS MUCH*
Here is where many people scoff at me for not talking up crit and mp5. I say that they are “not great” but clearly they are good stats for us, just not even as close to as good as Int/Haste. I’d take free crit or mp5 over extra SP, sure. But, really mp5 and crit just kind of “happen” on your gear choices when you gear for Int and haste. (if you stay in mail and plate that is) Really though, my sword currently is awesome, it’s absolutely stellar, so nice… And some of our caster dps hate me for having hit on it. I don’t care about it, it’s truly a wasted stat (Hey! I judge!) but the other stats make the weapon better than most of what was available in T9 for sure.
If you didn’t get it already, the meta to use is insightful earthsiege (Int plus mana back!) and all your gems should be yellow Brilliant King’s Ambers with one Nightmare tear for the meta activation (10 int!) or a purple with spellpower and Mp5. Almost every socket bonus is not worth dropping some int for like 8 spellpower, or haste, or crit, or mp5. It just isn’t even close.

Now you know how to gear!

Let’s put those talents into place!

For the most part we will all agree that beacon is one of your best assets and maybe your most valuable talent point spent. I have seen some fun combo specs that could probably do decently well, but beacon (not-effectively) doubles your healing output for 1 GCD every 60 seconds. I suggest taking it…

So you go into the talent choices and find that for the most part it’s pretty easy to see what is for PvP and what is for PvE, you get your cookie cutter going in the tree and find you can spend 51 points easy. There are only a few real choices:

Aura mastery- I have seen a lot of people tell me this isn’t that great because holy pallys usually have Concentration aura up…. I don’t get why people think we need to only use that aura?? If a fight has no pushback on the ranged, it is useless. Literally zero use, throw up ret aura if you have nothing better to throw, or a resist if there is some form of resistible damage… which MEANS! You now have a 6 second CD to double that resistance. Last I checked it gives something like 40% resistance to your aura’s defense at level 80, which is nice being as blizz now loves to send predictable AoE onto your whole raid which has to be healed through. Truly an underrated talent. I have found so many uses for this and all smart raiders will as well.

Imp Conc aura- This is a raid buff, not for you. With conc aura up and your holy talents you cannot be pushed back, at all. Realize this. Also- if you have one paladin with this in your raid there is simply no reason two need to have talent points in it. Why would you stack conc auras? I can think of a handful of fights where you could claim that the raid breaks up into groups… but really? You will break up the paladins and NEED that extra help from pushback where you wouldn’t rock a resist aura?? You have got to be kidding me.

Spell rotation!!

Now, it’s difficult to claim that healing has a “spell rotation,” but really we can describe what using different spell rotations will net you as each and every one will change in your HPS output, the speed of your output and your mana usage.

Ideally we’d be just chain casting flash of light. Coupled with SS on a target FoL is in my opinion (at 1second cast time 1 second GCD) just a really big hot ticking for like 7k a second. This sounds powerful because it is at high gear levels. Unfortunately though, it is not always big enough. In 25man ToC and above even with much ICC gear you will still have tank deficits far greater than what your FoL can do. And let’s face it… if the raid wanted a big hot-casting machine they would put a geared resto druid in your role and have 6k hots ticking on multiple targets, not just one. BUT with an understanding that in our “downtime” or when tank damage has slowed down for a moment there really is no need to queue up monster HLs (unless you know the pain is coming down the rails and your tank is standing in the tracks) and then cancel-casting them or even worse burning mana on pure overhealing. Also with small tank defecits you can do some decent healing with FoL. During the majority of the fight though you will fall into HL spam and the length of your mana pool will be extended by squeaking FoLs between HL casts and relying on your other healers to be actively healing that target as well for those moments.

So there you have your best case scenario, FoL spam, with your most likely scenario, HL spam, but both of those require you to stand almost perfectly still to execute. Due to Blizz enjoying tossing fire at you frequently you will be on the move, a lot. How do we keep tanks up during this arduous task of NOT EVER USING YOUR S-KEY WHILE HEALING (more on that later) well they gave us the wonderful Holy Shock!! It is our most mana-consuming spell per healing which makes it BAD to use on CD if you care about not ooming. BUT it is our only spell that is instant which heals. This means people can die during cast times of FoLs and HLs, but you can use HS to keep someone up if they are on the verge of death, but that’s about it. Either moving, or your cast time is just not going to cut it.

Getting used to using all of these in their correct ways simply takes feel and practice, but once you get it down you end up being a monster. Just remember that HL is the only spell that allows you to continue to tank heal WHILE DPing. FoLs cut in half hit like wet noodles, while HLs cut in half hit like small vehicles, instead of cement trucks. Understand when you need a cement truck do NOT DP. Also try to use your wings or trinket during DP phases as it is about the only time when you can say you need a boost in oomph in your heals. If you need to boost your non-DP’d heals… then you need more gear to be in the instance anyway and should just leave. (or get better healers to heal with you.)
The most wonderful thing to ever happen to paladins- DP. With the inception of DP we became infinite mana machines until Blizz nerfd us (rightfully so) to where we are competitive with the spirit based healing classes and the shaman who has the mighty mighty water shield. I get asked more often than not about healing the most simple question- When do you use DP? My answer for this All the time. My first DP is when I get somewhere between 80-90% mana. Yes, 90% mana. I’d rather stay topped off at 100 for the first 45 seconds of a fight and have DP come back off of CD early to keep me up in mana than to chain spam HL and melt my own mana pool during a heavy tank healing phase. If I’m healing ANYTHING during DP I try to use a healing increasing item per DP to make the healing reduction slightly less. I also note before I hit it with the quick thought of “is this an awful time to plea?” If the answer is even remotely yes, do NOT hit that button, but use it at your next available moment. After that every time it comes off of CD you need to be finding a moment to use DP for as long as you can (you can always let it tick for a few seconds and cancel it so you keep your tanks alive). Currently I don’t have an addon to tell me it is off of CD, omniCC/Bartender4 aside. I’ve been in the market for one, considering PowerAuras.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Some posts are just THAT good.

So short, so sweet, so amazing. I don't even read this blog that much yet I have to share it with anyone who stumbles upon mine. Here it is.

Things seem to be getting better (or rather, I’m being optimistic again…)

I would like to tell myself that all the baddies are starting to learn how to play. I believe that we all keep getting better (I do, why isn’t everyone else?). Then again it is more likely that most of those I raid with do not actually get “better” but they learn the encounters we are working on. 4 weeks of the first 3 bosses of ICC may be boring for some… but let’s face it… most guilds didn’t even SEE yoggy (I’m not even talking about hardmodes.) I’m just talking from a “people get disinterested” point of view. A massive instance like Uld overwhelms many guilds from the standpoint that they have to keep killing the old bosses again and again, and rather with less time in Naxx I assume it would have done it as well. Granted with the new lockout extending feature you can keep your farm bosses down to save time and keep raid time on the new bosses (not to mention trash) where the tradeoff being that you don’t get the loot off of the easy bosses and trash that could have dropped had you decided to spend the 2 hours clearing them out.

We kill Saurfang last week for the first time on 25man (apparently disc priests help slow down the rate of him gaining power… it was our first week one of our 2 priests were there, and last night I went on my alt priest who I respecced to disc for the encounter) and this week it was a “clean” 1-shot. This inclines me to think that people have learned the encounters and they fail less… but then again Lady D and Marrow both saw nerfs, and Saurfang had been wiped on enough that the bulk of the raid had to learn sometime.

We get to Rotface (is that his name?) and really as the strats say, he’s basically grob on crack. Except the adds do a little different movements and we found the little adds basically untankable so the entire raid when they got little adds needed to pay attention and keep it near the OT. All in all though, I felt like people weren’t messing up as bad as they could have and seem to have gotten the hang of it fairly quickly. The mark of good raiders to me is not knowing the encounters through and through (though that definitely helps you know where damage coming from/to and how to beat an encounter) but instead should be a group of people who know their roles, their spells, how they work, why they work, and the best way to use them… then you come at a big ugly and if everyone does their “job” while remembering the basics of raiding the boss will die. That’s all the strat you technically need.

Basics of raiding: Tanks take damage, healers heal them. Bosses hit tanks, generally cleave, spit fire at the raid which the raid should avoid. Novas one-shot. Glittering areas should be stood in for buffs, but check your debuffs. If you are the only one in the raid to get a buff, you should probably move away and then check to see what it does. OTs pick up adds, they should mostly be killed by ranged as they can swap faster, but should be tanked next to the boss (unless they are AoEing) so the melee can destroy them faster too with random AoE (via sweepin strikes, cleave, heart strike, consecrate, divine storm, blade flurry, killing spree… it goes on).

Not much more to it than that, a smart raider learns the mechanics of fights they have been in before and know how to apply them to the future fights they encounter. They are the ones that never forget.

Anywhoo, a boy can dream right? I hope dearly they are all getting better because if we all keep getting better we’ll eventually get ahead of the ‘norm’ of what blizz tunes encounters to and we’ll dominate all the new reg content while taking a pass at hard modes!