Friday, May 29, 2009

Knowing when you've been beaten

Last night we managed to whip Hodir in 10man in under 3 minutes, earning us the rare cache - and another server first on 10 man. I'd gone ret for this fight, since it worked for us on Ignis, getting us the Stokin the Furnace achievement. I am humbled to say however - I didn't bring the pain.

After several attempts, some of which I was pushing 4600 DPS, we just weren't getting it done. We were riding the line so fine, that one slip and we were off the edge. We made a quick swap out - I went back to Holy and our Disc priest swapped out for his Elemental Shaman. I was humbled.

I know I'm not the best Ret pally out there, and maybe I was doing my job as well as I could, but this was embarrassing. My only saving grace was that I was able to keep up my end of the healing. Keeping all the cleanses up was also interesting, and I was definately having to scoot and heal. Holy Light - move. Holy Light - move. Over and over. Fortunately I could always grab one or two shots on Hodir when he cast his big ice storm and stops hitting the tank. I remember being shocked when I went to judge him and seeing my Hammer icon light up...I have to admit - I snuck one in there.

In general - I really like the hard mode encounters. I like that there are challenges that you can elect to shoot for, yet still clear the content if you don't want to deal with them (or can't). For example we did Mimiron on regular (we pushed the button once to try it) - but decided we want to spend our time on Freya++ this week. The nice thing is, if we hit a wall, we can do Freya+, then knock out Vezack and on to Yogg. We know we can beat Thorim and Hodir on hard modes now (though it'd be nice to not have to switch the shaman in), and I'm looking forward to a repeat on Yogg.

Next week - a tribute to Richard Dean Anderson - but I've got a rant to do first.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Response to Apoktenio - Part 1

My response was so long that I couldn't actually reply, so I had to make a new post. This next series of posts are in response to Apoktenio's comment on my "Change is is the wind" post.

Such a great comment...Going to have to leave multiple replies just so it's not jumbled...

First - the mp5. GC has said numerous times that they want to make mp5 more attractive - and that Illumination, combined with Divine Plea and replenishment, may be too powerful. MP5 was put on our gear in Ulduar because the Devs thought we'd need it after the nerf to DP (50% healing debuff) - with the thought that if we had mp5 we woudn't stress about the debuff and might not use it as much.

The issue comes to light when you look at the mana returns int/crit give vs mp5 - even with the DP penalty. For those 15 seconds, if I need to, I can pop a haste trinket/gloves and still have smilar throughput, even if the base heals aren't as large. More heals going out, equals more crits, equals less cost. I'm going to test this tonight, but I'm fairly certain that the mana return while using Divine Illumination is still based on the original healing cost. I'll get solid numbers on this tonight and post on it tomorrow though (add in the mana reduction of 4pc).

I'm going to need more paper - but here's some math on what would happen if we kept on the same track as we are now - and replaced all our mp5 with int/crit. Hell, this math assumes no replacement as I’m going off my own gear.

Let's assume 50% crit - which isn't even close to out of the potential range given the gear I have and full raid buffs. Let's also assume (for balance) that we get a 1:1 ratio of crit and non crit. We all know that there's streaks of both - but let's suspend reality for just a moment.

Note - for this I am assuming the HL Libram of Renewal and the Glyph of Seal of Wisdom - putting base HL costs at 1098 and crit costs at 333.

At 50% crit - with enough haste to push our HL to a flat 2.0 sec cast (I know we can get faster, but for math this works better) we are going to expend 1431 mana every 4 seconds. Assuming a 22,000 point mana pool, with no DP or Replen (or mp5) - I will go OOM in 1 minute of solid casting.

Now - if I DP at 15 seconds in, I'll return 25% of my mana, so I'll get 4,500 back extending my casting by another 12 seconds, just enough to push me into the next DP CD, buying me another 12 seconds of healing. I'm now at about 84-90 (depending on how much was left in the tank with fractions) seconds of non-stop push to you drop healing.

Replenishment, which even GC assumes will always be up, returns 3.75% of your max mana every 15 seconds - or .25% per second. So at 22,000 mana, I'm getting back 55 mps - or 275mp5. So every 26 seconds, I'm earning another four seconds of healing. Add that to our timeline above, and even without the fractions we're going to get 3 26 second replenishments - adding another 12 seconds to our healing, pushing us to almost 112 seconds, which is enough to get another full replenishment so we're now at 116 seconds - almost two full minutes, just by adding replenishment and DP.

Add in a strategic Divine Illumination and Divine Favor (you'll use that 2x in the illustration above) and you've now pushed your healing into another DP cycle - extending our healing out even further. Without going all EJ with the math and a simulator, I could easily see this pushing us into the three minute mark (more numbers tomorrow). At three minutes of solid healing - with no mana pots, just DP and Replenishment - we've cranked out 90 Holy Lights - for 1.125.000 healing - and that's not counting the two free crits we'd have.

I see a change coming – but I don’t know what it’s going to be. GC’s concern is that we can ignore every stat other than int and crit. Spirit? Useless. Mp5? Useless in it’s current setup. What’s happening now with Paladin’s is exactly the same thing that was occurring with DPS warriors in BC and early Naxx. They went for leather over plate because it had superior stats based on the way that warriors worked. This was one of the reasons they added Armed to the Teeth (gives AP based on Armor) – to make plate more attractive.

As long as our current regen abilities and in game mechanics (DP, Illum, Replen) are this good, we’ll continue to play within those guidelines. There have been some suggestions on making those abilities work off mp5 so that we find elemental shaman mail less attractive. I’m at the point where I’m wearing cloth because it’s better than my plate T8. Intellect is king, and so much so that the trinket off Mimiron (Pandora’s Plea iirc) which gives a flat boost to Int is quite possibly the BIS trinket for Paladins. I’m even working on a Greatness card – simply because popping DP when it procs will return that much more mana.

Check out this threat at MMO – GC goes through all the points and really does a great job (IMO) of explaining that mp5 shouldn’t be useless, but they don’t know what the fix is yet.

How you leave counts too

It happens in everyone's career. Play this game long enough, and eventually you'll be faced with the question "Is this guild right for me". You'll weigh the pros and cons of sticking with it, and eventually, you'll reach the point where you pull the trigger and leave. How you leave is up to you though (unless it's a gkick), and depending on the guild and server, you might want to think twice about how you go about it.

First though, look at why you're leaving. Often times it's a simple case of walking away from a super casual leveling guild for a shot at end game raiding. It may be a difference of opinion on the way things are handled, or maybe you just can't stand seeing the idiots type in guild chat any more. Regardless of your reasons, make sure they're right for you, and make sure you aren't getting your feathers ruffled over the wrong thing.

Every guild I've ever been in has a few core elements. Officers, loot rules, and some sort of charter or mission statement. These three things are your guiding stars when it comes to being happy in the guild - read them, know them, talk to them. Most officers are willing to listen, and please - if you have a problem - bring it to thier attention. I don't know how many times I've been approached by the player on his last thread, yet this was the first I'd heard of an issue.

Before you start your talk though, make sure you have your facts straight, and be sure to pick your battles. Sinners and Saints is a NC-17 guild, and one question on our application is "are you easily offended" - right out there in the open. Now, this isn't No Dice - where racial slurs and homosexual references were made with every other breath - but we do have a guy who likes to post pictures of himself in foil underpants. It's also not uncommon to have our conversations go off the deep end of adult conversation.

Knowing this, if you come and complain that someone used words that offended you in guild chat or vent, our response will be "ok - what do you expect of me" - because we aren't going to do anything unless it was a direct attack against you. You have the choice of ignoring/muting on vent, or leaving the guild entirely.

Sometimes though a guild may just not be meeting your progression needs/desires. Maybe you want more, or maybe you can't handle the schedule, or maybe you're looking to change your main and your current guild isn't open to that.

Regardless of your reason for leaving, in the end it all comes down to how you do it. Do it right and you'll be welcomed back and included on friends lists for patches to come. Do it wrong, and we'll care your name in stone and remember you forever.

In all honesty, I don't care why you want to leave. I've quit my fair share of guilds and even managed to take a few down with me when I left as well. At this stage in the game though, I'm just looking for an honest heads up. Don't tell me you're working on finals while you're really looking at greener grass. If you're not getting the raid time you want, say so - and then if we can't work something out - I'll wish you the best of luck as I see you out the door.

My least favorite now is the "I love you all, come find me when you want to run a heroic, kisses and hugs FOR EVAH!!" post and gquit. I'm not going to look you up, and if I remember your name at all it will be with bile in my mouth. My first act is kicking all your alts out of the guild, and making sure you don't have any sleeper agents. Unless you happened to be someone that I've run with for years, you're probably going to be dead to me. Seriously, just post your goodbye if you heel you have to, and go.

Of course if you want to go out in style - I recommend talking with my friend Tobias....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Change in the wind

I think it will come as no surprise, at least to those that can read tea leaves, that Paladin healing changes are on the horizon. Right now things are just being 'evaluated', but I have to guess that we're going to see a fairly significant shift come 3.2.

What others are saying

I have to tip my hat to Ferraro, she's a smart lady and obviously a great Paladin. In a recent post she talks about the itemization on healing plate in Ulduar, and points out some logical flaws in the thinking behind it. I have to agree with her, at least until the next expansion, that the gear is poorly set up. I actually traded out my Tier 8 chest for some cloth robes off Kologarn last night (don't ask me why the priests/mages all passed) because they were a solid upgrade for some encounters.

Ghostcrawler has come out saying that Illumination may be too good. For those that were healing before the big nerf in BC, this is troubling news. He does list off some possible changes, such as basing Illumination off mp5, or replenishment off ooc mana regen, but I don't really like those changes. The impacts will have reachings far past the healing community, as I'm fairly certain I don't have mp5 on my ret gear.

What I see

Right now there is probably something wrong with our healing/mana, but I really don't think it's an Illumination problem. The other day I asked the question "how do you heal" and a response was left along the lines of "say no to FoL". This bothered me, but I'll get to it in a second.

At this stage in the game (at least for us), I see many Paladins still sporting 4pc T7.5 in favor of Ulduar pieces, simply for the mana cost reduction of HL. Combined with the libram and glyph of Wisdom, it's simply too powerful for current HL spam fights. Warning, math follows.

HL Math

HL is our nuke heal, and runs a whopping cost of 29% of base mana. This means at lvl 80, every HL will burn up 1275 mana per cast. If you run Glyph of Seal of Wisdom (5% mana cost reduction), 4pc T 7/7.5, and the Libram of Renewal (HL cost reduced by 113), you are cutting almost 20% off your HL cost right from the jump. Our nuke is now down to 1034 mana per cast - and it gets even better.

Illumination works off the original cost of the spell, not the final cost. On a crit HL, with the setup above, you will get back an amazing 765 mana per crit - lowering your final overall cost of HL to 269 mana. Compared to the 308 mana cost on a non crit FoL (123 mana cost on a crit) and you can see why HL spam is so popular. Delivering up to 4x the healing (love 20k HL crits on rogues) at just double the crit cost - FoL begins to pale in comparison.

The problem(s)

First - crit and int. They are just too damn good. Intellect is amazingly powerful, delivering a huge boost in throughput by giving us mana, spellpower, mana return (via DP and Replenishment), and crit (more mana, and bigger heals). What we're already seeing is Paladins able to stretch HL bombing out for extended periods of time, with little thought to mana conservation. I am last in line for gear upgrades in Ulduar, and even I am sporting a base 38% crit on Holy spells. Add in another 6% from Sanctified Light, raid buffs, and full auras (plus the Arcane Mage 3% crit buff - he loves me) and I'm pushing 50%+ without breaking a sweat.

Plate gear isn't even near the top of my list right now for upgrades, though since we got that elemental shaman in I've been having to pass to him now, and I'm looking at mail and leather/cloth with a serious eye. I'm concerned with two of six stats on healing gear, crit and Int, everything else is secondary. Lose 30 sp for 1% crit? Done. Lose 1% haste for 20 int? Done. My heals are bigger and last longer the more of these stats I have - and nothing is slowing me down right now.

Second - T8 bonuses are fairly lackluster when compared to T7, especially if you're doing nothing but rolling HL all day. 4 sec buff on SS vs 6 sec? This would have been really awesome if I could put it on more than one person - but 5% mana reduction edges it out. The 2 piece bonus isn't that great either, though I do love me some HoTs (15% of a crit HS applied as a 12 sec HoT). When you compare this bonus to the no ICD instant starfire 4pc for Moonkins, the no ICD AP buff for Hunters...well, you get my drift.


But what if this was all by design, and not just some developer falling on his head while working on Paladins? GC has stated many times that they like how simple Paladin healing is compared to the complexity that is Priest or maybe even Druid healing. They want a healer out there that is simple to play, while still having a decent tool-box to choose from. Our problem though is our hammer is just too good.

I think Paladins are falling into the same trap that held Shaman's in BT/Sunwell days - where they bound every key but one (Heroism/Bloodlust) to Chain Heal and just mashed the keyboard. We have our BoL (60/90 sec if glyphed), SS (30 sec), HS, FoL, and HL. Sure we have hands of xyz on two minute cooldowns, and a powerful cleanse, but those are usually discounted since they aren't direct heals. Divine Protection is nice as well, but I hate that it puts forbearance on me...

Even though I use my 4pc T8 and FoL spam for some fights, I keep my 7.5 around for fights that will require non-stop HL spamming. It's a dangerous trap we're hovering over right now - one that I'm not quite sure we can see the bottom of. They didn't put all that mp5 on our gear for nothing, but I don't know what the answer is.


Changes are coming - of that I'm sure. I don't know if it's going to be a change to Illumination or one to Replenishment, but I think Illumination is probably the one going to get hit first. What's worse is just like the Spirit nerf, this will probably affect more up and coming Pladins working to 80 and through first heroics than it will end game healers.

I may just have to run EoE for the mp5 trinket if it gets bad enough.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Testing new tanks

I mentioned a few days ago that one of our tanks has moved on from 25 man raiding, which while being his choice, has put us in a bit of a lurch. We're examining several candidates for our 3rd and possibly 4th tank slot, but here is the tough spot.

How do we test them out?

Heroics are easy enough, and once we're at this level of gear they really aren't a test of skill. I suppose we could have them run some undergeared alts through, but that isn't a real test. In all honesty, the tank could be Kungen reincarnated - but if they can't work with the team we have, we won't restructure just to get them.

Establishing goals

It's unfair to test someone when you don't have an established set of guidelines and goals. Here's what we (or I) am looking for when I test a new tank. Really this can go for any player, but this post is about tanks so we'll go with that.

  1. Can they follow directions? We're not looking for a new raid leader - I've got that covered thank you very much. We don't need a screamer or someone who get's pissy - I need someone who can tank what they're supposed to, where they're supposed to.
  2. Can they not taunt when they aren't supposed to? Nothing gets my goat like a tank who taunts off another tank - just because he wants the glory. If you're taunting because there's debuffs, 42 adds, whatever - that's fine. But don't taunt adds or bosses just because you think you're the magical MT.
  3. Can they hit their CDs? If a tank dies, the first thing I look at is my raid cooldown timer and recount/GrimReaper. I want to know what happened, and if there was any way to prevent it. If his Last Stand/IBF wasn't burned, or my LoH is still available, we have work we can do.
  4. Don't be that guy. You are not the greatest tank since Kungen (I only assume he's great - I really wouldn't know), nor are you the greatest tank I've ever seen. If you think you're going to waltz in and take over, this probably isn't the place for you. Yes, tanking requires a certain level of play - but some of the best tanks I've ever raided with never said a word outside of organizing pulls.
  5. Interview well. It's going to happen. Don't tell me "I don't need any tank gear from Ulduar because I've got all 216/219 anyway". Awesome. Let me know how Freya +3 works for you in your other guild.
I think for now we're going to take new prospects to Sarth 3D and throw them to the wolves. There's no tank swapping, but that fight involves being at your best the whole time. One 'ooops' and you've wiped the raid. We might try an achievment run in Naxx to pick off those that we missed pre 3.1 - but Sarth 3D should test them in the right ways.

How do you test new tanks? What can I do different?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gimmick free Vezack

So a few weeks (posts?) ago I talked about healing Vezax while using a Sheathadin or ProtHeal spec. Both specs are kind of gimmicky for this fight, and while they certainly have a place, it seems silly to spec into them for one fight only.

This week we got him down in 25 man as well, and we did it (at the end) gimmick free. We would have had the server first, but Solace beat us by about 30 minutes (did the same to us on Mimiron /shakesfist) due to a gimmick going bad on our 2nd or 3rd pull (explained below).

Abilities and Counters

Shadow Crash - Fires a shadow missile at a target, dealing 11,310 to 12,690 Shadow damage to all enemies near the impact point and knocking them away. After impact, leaves an energy field that lingers for 20 seconds, increasing magical damage dealt by 100%, increasing casting speed by 100%, reducing healing done by 75%, and reducing mana costs by 70%. He will not cast this on players within 15 yards of him.

Counter - Stay on your toes. DBM will put a mark up on whomever is being targeted, and everyone needs to move away. One of two easily avoidable sources of damage to the raid - nobody should ever be caught in this. I will admit it was funny the first time I saw our entire caster group fly across the room though.

Epic fail - It's possible to avoid this by standing with the melee/tank, however our server first attempt was blown due to a healer getting about one yard too far away, and having a shadow crash land on the tank. This was one of those moments that happens in slow motion - I saw the tree standing too close, hit my PTT button, and started to say something - right as the raid warning came up for the crash. "Shit, move man - too close to the tank..NOOOOO".

When we finally got him we pulled everyone out into crash range where they were supposed to be. Stupid gimmicks.

Searing Flames - Deals 13,875 to 16,125 Fire damage to all enemies within 100 yards, super heating their armor and reducing its ability to protect them by 75% for 10 seconds (2-seconds cast time, 5-seconds cooldown, interruptable).

Counter - We had two groups of two, with two backups. Our groups were two rogues, and a rogue and Fury warrior - with a DK and ret pally ready in case they twitched and fired the interrupt early. You can't miss the swirly red rings around him when he's doing this, you don't even need your cast bars turned on.

Epic Fail - Rogues were messing around and one put ToT on the other. 2nd rogue died on the pull, got a BR, but rogue one was so confused that he lost the rotation count. Resolved this by beating rogue one (sounds like Star Wars call signs) with a rubber chicken. And making him listen to a train set for five minutes.

Surge of Darkness - Empowers the caster with dark might, increasing physical damage by 100% but reducing movement speed by 55% for 10 seconds. (Self-buff on Vezax; you have to kite him around the room while the buff is up. Lasts 10 seconds)

Counter - Kite/shmite - our tank just knuckled down and ate it. It occurs about once a minute, so it works well with Cooldowns. In 10 man we just use one (same tank), his Icebound Fort, then Pain Suppression, then Hand of Sacrifice, repeat. In the 25 man we had to double up - one DK CD and one healer CD. We rotated through our Divine Pleas and Hand of Sacrifices with nary an issue.

Mark of the Faceless - Inflicts an ancient malediction on a target, siphoning 5000 health every second from enemies near the target, for 10 seconds. Heals General Vezax for 100,000 per tick.

Counter - I'm sure we hit him with a few ticks, but basically you have to be smart and run away when this happens. Nothing but raid awareness can beat this.

Aura of Despair - Prevents mana regeneration throughout the fight by all means, except for Judgements of the Wise, Spiritual Attunement, Aspect of the Viper, Thrill of the Hunt, and Shamanistic Rage. Note: Unlike the public test realm version of this encounter, mana potions and active abilities such as Evocation and Life Tap do not function.

Counter - Our seven healers were broken down in to two three man teams. Each team would rotate doing nothing/standing in Saronite while the other would heal the tank. Our seventh healer was our Disc priest who shielded the healers in Saronite, and topped them off.


Gimmicks may get you through once in a while, but doing it the right way felt so much better. I really enjoy this fight because I can't just spam my heals - I actually have to stopcasting and watch my mana bar. I wouldn't want this mechanic all the time, but I'm glad to see Blizzard working to keep the encounters different.

Now on to Sara and her clouds of gas.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Ebb and Flow of Membership

Throughout the life of WoW (or MMOs in general I suppose), there has always been a trackable rise and fall in guild participation over the course of a year - especially as pertaining to 'progression' raiding. When the BC release date was set, and the battlegrounds saw a major overhaul to the ranking system, raiding all but ceased. Why spend hours every night breaking your skull on super hard bosses when you could get a fair share of gear in less time by PvPing?

School, work, summer, and vacations all take thier toll on raid participation. When you add in the frustration, or lack therein, of difficult content - it's quite easy to lose some of your raiders. Regardless of thier role, losing a seasoned raider is never an easy thing, and there are always challenges with replacing them.

So long, and thanks for all the fish

How you lose members reflects greatly on both the members, and the guild as a whole. Recently (like within the last 48 hours) we lost our Warrior tank and his Mage GF. Both handled their removal well, sending a PM to the officers stating that they were going to step down from 25 man raiding, and focus on the 10 man stuff. A little bigger heads up would have been nice, especially since there is the expectation (on their part) that they would remain in the guild. In the end though, it's their decision to raid or not, and I'd rather have folks in the raid who truly want to be there.

In all honesty, nobody was caught off guard by this move, which makes it slightly easier to deal with. When they joined the guild they had originally stated that 10 mans were their preference, and they pretty much raided 25s with us so they could see the content. Plus, they joined with a few friends who have either quit raiding, or been demoted due to attendance/perfromance issues.

A different type of flow

With summer on us, we'll probably see a slight drop as folks go on holiday or attend family functions. I know I've got three weddings and four races to attend this summer. Depending on the dates, that's up to seven raids I might miss. School will start again, and the college kids will disappear for a few weeks until they get a handle on school. Holiday breaks will see another dip, and so the cycle will continue.

In BC there was the flow of participation as guilds that had TKE and SSC on farm waited for BT, and again for Sunwell. This isn't a huge impact on guilds that aren't on the bleeding edge of content, except that you lose members going up to higher guilds that suddenly have openings. When Wrath was set, and 3.0 nerfs rolled over the land, guilds that had already been gutted scrambled to fill thier ranks for Wrath raiding. The time was perfect to get yourself set in a new guild, ready to push into Naxx and beyond.

The Naxx Bomb

Naxx failed to deliver real raid content from the moment it was released. It didn't help that Ensidia et al. cleared it in 48 hours or so. PUGs were downing KT in a week, and you can't run the LFG channel for 10 minutes without seeing some sort of Naxx come up.

Where Naxx really failed, and yet was at the same time insanely successfull, was that it failed to teach raiding skills. AoE was the order of the day, and facerolling could get you through most of the encounters. Lost were the skills of chain sheeping, saps, and overall CC and tank positioning. Now we've got hard modes that are truly hard, and the everlasting challenge of not standing in Sara's green gas. Guilds are breaking against the rocks of Ulduar, and the shakeup has begun again.

S-a-S is positioned nicely, in that it's always easier to recruit if you're on the top of the food chain. Our biggest challenge will be finding members that mesh well, and getting them geared to handle the hard mode encounters. Hopefully we'll keep rolling over content - but only time will tell.

How do you heal?

This question was posed to our heal core by one of our (now ex) tanks.

I was curious what the most used spells are from each of the healing classes. I noticed a weird (from my point of view) change since BC and classic wow healing...I'm curious what abilities people use because back in the day people used big spells, like druids would use their weird half balance half resto specs and use healing touch, and priests would use greater heals and pallies would use whatever their big heal is.

But now it seems people use their 1.5 or faster spells to heal. I don't think i've ever seen anyone cast a greater heal on someone except to heal a rezed person after a wype.
It was a pretty valid question, though my guess is that it stemmed from his dying a few times the night before on trash or 'farm' bosses.

Unfortunately this question has no clear cut answer. There's no optimized rotation for any of the healing classes, as every boss/trash/5man is different. As a Paladin tank I knew going into a pull that unless something went really wonky, I'd run a 9/6/9 rotation and take a nap. On my warrior it's a priority system, I think DKs have a rotation, and druids are like warriors (I think).

A lot depends on the enouter in question, and the party/raid makeup. Is it my 10 man with a disc priest and a tree? 5 man with no healing stream totem or ret pally JoL? Hard mode encounter? Is my paladin partner there? There's too many variables to give a straight answer.

FoL vs HL - Round 1

I'll admit it - I'm a FoL spammer still. 5-6k crits, 1 second cast times, and endless mana - this makes for a great buffer. Now, there are those out there that will flame this style of healing, saying it's dead and gone, and that any paladin who isn't spamming HL is being carried. To them I say...maybe.

When I say I'm a FoL spammer, that doesn't mean I'm stupid about it. It takes knowing the encounter and knowing your team to plan your healing. When the tank starts to get a lot of Kologarn debuffs, or Mimiron does his Plasma Blast - you bet, I'm on HL. Regular Ignis hits? FoL.

What I've found is that while I 'can' sit on HL nukes all night, the deficit is being picked up by our priests and druids. While I'm winding up the bomb, they've sniped all the healing. If I use FoL instead, it slides in nicely and keeps us all from wasting our heals. As fights dip into the intensity bucket however (more stacks on Thorim, hard modes, Frozen Blows, etc), my healing picks up as well. If I've been managing my CDs and mana properly, I can dip into the HL well and start cranking them out.


This is the real key between your healers, well, communication plus trust. Trust that your raid mates are doing their assigned roles, and communicate when things start going sideways. Announce your HoS or Pain Suppression so multiple CDs don't get blown on the same save. Let people know when you're out of tricks to get mana back and that you're sucking on the fumes of Replenishment.

Good communication lets you work through a double trash pull with a faceless one on Vezack. Poor communication lets you work it out on the corpse run.

***Edit - it seems I have more than one blog, and I accidentally posted this yesterday to my personal blog (which I'd forgotten I had). So there will be a double post today.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hard mode shenanigans

Last night my 10 man group attempted a few hard mode encounters in Ulduar. Some were met with success, others...well, less so.

Flame Leviathan

This was the 2nd week we did FL with a tower up (I missed the first one), so it's no surprise that we rolled over him with nary a loss. What does shock me though is that our 25 man fails with great fanfare doing the exact same thing.

We left the blue tower up (Thorim?), and I had my first shot at driving a Siege Engine on this encounter. Normally I'm part of the assault team that flies through the air, but I wanted to see just how difficult it actually was to kite and stay out of the blue beam.

I failed. Epicly. With fanfare, and much applause. I failed to get agro (I think) and he went after a demolisher. I thought that the mechanics were such that he went after the closest Siege (I was) and we'd take it from there. Oops.

I also got frozen, but in my defense it was my first time. Once I figured out what was up, no more issues. Save enough energy to Steam Rush when it gets close, and you're home free. It was pretty straight forward.


No hard mode, but we did get the achievement and had no shaman for heroism. Let's hear it for Holy Paladin and Disc priest DPS (the tree just shook his leaves).


Oh. My. God. Are you serious? I wish I had recorded vent for this. We made the call to push him to hard mode on a whim. It took some push of Holy DPS (I'm sure it was my last HS/HoW that got it), but we kicked him over. Then the world exploded.

Void zones? WTF is that? Life Spark? Quick, shove it into Megatron's chest! It was Benny Hill redux Ulduar. I was laughing as we wiped.


Got this achievement (both arms) by complete accident. It was pretty funny though. The right arm was going down fairly quickly due to splash damage and DoTs (I may have consecrated), and we were caught by surprise.

Cat Lady

AHAHAHAHAHA - that's all I can say for this. At like 10% someone (not me, nooooo) called all DPS off so we could kill all the defenders. We had plenty of time, and who knew? So everyone stopped DPS (even the tank) and we just stood there. 5 seconds later the raid was 80% dead. I can't even tell you what happened. She cast something we hadn't seen (I think it was the shock you have to interrupt) and BAM! It's the disc priest and the tank left standing. She had <2k when the tank died.

My sides hurt 20 minutes later we were laughing so hard.

Iron Council

Through generous use of battle rezes (3 druids - one of each flavor) we got him right as the 2nd tank died to ,the buff. Once again, no Heroism. We did it by having the feral tank take the first buff, run to the corner to die, and then get a BR from the brocolli/chicken. The DK taunted, and off we went.

We did discover two neat tricks though. First, he doesn't stay on the person with the buff. So the Pally could Bubble/Taunt to get the buff, and then have the DK taunt it back to tank it. Same with the feral druid. Have him long enough to get the buff, DK taunts off, bear goes cat for incresed DPS.


I think these really showed that a lot of the exclusive buffs aren't needed for the encounters. We didn't have Heroism, any Int buffs, no lock or warrior...In fact our team was a complete hodgepodge. Hunter (Survival), 2xSpriest, Disc/Holy Priest, Holy Paladin, Doomchicken of Love, Tree, DK, Rogue, and a Feral Druid. Definately not the best mix for buffs - but we work well together and that's important.

I also got it reinforced that wiping can be good times too. Especially when you turn around and knock the boss silly on the next attempt/regular mode.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Getting called up

This week we added a slew of new recruits to S-a-S, not the least of which was a pair of shamans (not one, but TWO, TWO HA HA HA) of the elemental and resto variety. Over the course of the raid our mewmewkitty started getting lag issues and one of our hunters was having her hair held back by her rogue bf. I do have to give them props though, they were still both doing great DPS.

As we were sitting on Freya (two guardians left to pull) I whip up the guild roster and look for DPS...ahh, ret pally and the new elemental shaman. The retadin was sitting outside, and had called ahead to let us know he'd probably be late, but the shaman was in Naxx. Naxx! On a progression night, as a new recruit no less.

I decided right there it was time to initiate guild readiness test #1. I let him know he was being called up to the majors and it was time to knock off the AA ball. He probably had a clue, but if he'd turned us down he'd of been hitting the bricks soon after. Like a trooper though he dumped his Naxx* (see note at the end) and was in Ulduar by the time we'd finished clearing the trash.

Time for test #2. "Is Telroc on vent", and yes, yes he was. Quick brief of the fight, and away we went. I double checked, and sure enough, flasked and well fed. I love it when recruits meet some nomal minimums.

Over the night our two shamans did well, a few extraneous deaths, dps that was a touch low...but overall for being tossed head first into the deep-end, I was pretty pleased.


These guys did everything right on their first night of raiding with us. On time, ready to go, and fully set on consumables. No complaining or turning down of a raid spot because they were Pugging with friends...yeah. They even both scored some loot, which is always a bonus.

*Note - when Telroc dumped his raid, I'm really hoping that there was the "Hey guys, my guild needs me for 25 man Ulduar" - and that he'd warned them before hand that he might get pulled. We don't replace a member willy nilly from the raid, but when we do it's nice to have someone ready to go at the drop of the hat.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sharing the buff love

The other day WoWInsider had an interesting article about Heroism and the homogenization of buffs in Wrath. Very few raid buffs were missed, and I'm torn on how I feel about this. On one hand, we have a lot more flexibility in the overall raid makeup. No longer is a spriest required for mana regen, or a boomchicken for crit. On the other hand, some very powerful buffs are still limited to a single class, and in the case of my guild - a class that's very under-represented.

What's not shared

Blessing of Kings is arguably one of the single most powerful (long lasting) buffs in the game. Giving a flat 10% increase to all stats not only scales, it scales extremely well when coupled with Trushot Aura or Shamanistic Rage. In 3.1 this was made a baseline spell for all paladins, and if your runs are like mine, you've got more of them than you can shake a stick at. With only four buffs (maximum) that can be passed out, getting BoK on your raid should be fairly straight forward.

Fortitude is still a priest only spell, and it stacks with Blood Pact and Commanding Shout, giving the raid a healthy bump in Stamina - 215 (ok, 214.5) if it's talented. It's all that more impressive (like every other stat buff) in that it recieves that extra 10% when BoK is on the raid. That's a serious chunk to miss if you don't have a priest available.

Mark of the Wild is another single class buff. Talented it hands out 51 points to all stats, as well as a sizable chunk of armor and resistance. Scaling with BoK, MotW is not a buff that is missed lightly. Even the resist gives a touch of extra if your other resist providers are slow on the ball.

Heroism. Good golly Miss. Molly, talk about one insanely powerful buff. 30% increased speed for 40 seconds is so powerful that guilds in BC would stack this across the raid. Even now, we finally got the achievment "A Close Shave" because for the first time, we had a shaman available. With the ammount of DPS needed for many of the hard mode encounters, Heroism is a game changer.

Mana Tide shouldn't be discounted either. Returning 24% of max mana, this is an extra Divine Plea for the Paladins, without the pesky heal reduction. No matter which mana using group gets this totem, it's a big buff to throughput. It's only limitation is range, so you have to gather up to really benifit.


Scorch brings a 10% Spell Crit Debuff to the fight, and can only be applied by mages. I haven't seen this in action yet, as I think all our mages are Arcane, but I know our Doomchicken would love it. Now that we have an elemental shaman in our guild, we might see this pop up again.

What's left?

Every other debuff or buff is represented by multiple classes, even though it may not be even.

For example, Sanctuary lost some of it's luster when it was changed to only provide mana back to the tank; as opposed to mana/rage/runic power. The 3% damage reduction is nice, but a discipline priest does a good job of keeping that buff up on the raid as well. The improved healing from Improved Devotion aura is nice, but it doesn't stack with your resto druid.

A warlock's Fel Hunter can provide both Sprit and Intellect, but with a 20 yard radius and a smaller base value, Arcane Intellect and Divine Spirit are preferre

What it means

None of the buffs listed as being class only are, in my opinion, REQUIRED buffs for completing the current content in a normal/heroic mode. Sure, we've had some 1% wipes where heroism would have potentially pushed us over the top, but tightening up our gameplay did the same thing. In all honesty this type of thing is fine for those guild and server firsts, but on a regular basis, this type of buff shouldn't be necessary.

Hard mode attempts are supposed to be exactly that - hard. Blizzard has stated that only the top guilds will be completing them, and even then it's going to require raid stacking. Last night we did Hodir in six minuts - twice the alloted time for hard mode. We had three tanks and seven healers however, and an elemental shaman who'd never seen the fight and was only cranking about 2,500 DPS (we just picked him up, so I'm cutting him some slack while we evaluate him). This fight obviously will require fewer tanks and healers, and a lot more DPS to crack that three minute mark.


I'm glad Blizzard has left some buffs with specfic classes. Sure, it'd be nice to see another DPS class with Heroism for raid purposes, but they have an entire game to balance. I'd also like a smart AoE heal while they're at it. And a pony. Oh, and to shoot lazor heals from my eyes (that really should have been a bonus for the T7/7.5 helm).

In short I think the game is very close to being well rounded. We're not required to min/max raid stacks for normal bosses (keyword: normal), and more buffs are covered by a wide variety of plaerys than ever was before. Here's to keeping some individuality in the classes. If you want to play with just three classes, I think Dungeon Siege is still free.

*note about Dungeon Siege - the gnome that picked up your loot and then shat out piles of gold and epics was a genius idea.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Utilizing your dual spec

Now that we've had a few weeks of raiding with dual specs under our belts, we're still wrestling with some of what this brings to our raids.

Official Policy

Our official stance on dual specs is that they aren't required, and the player's off spec is theirs to do with as they wish. We decided that we recruited someone to fill a specific role, and just because they can switch on the fly, doesn't mean we should require it.

We also wanted to avoid situations where say, a healer, could switch to DPS for a fight, preventing a dedicated DPS from getting in and having a shot at the loot. Of course, this also brings up situations like General Vezak where only one tank is needed in normal mode. Should we swap out one of the tanks we needed for Freya? What about dropping healers so we have DPS for hard modes?

Recent incident

Last night we had an incident where a shadow preist decided that we needed more healing and changed specs while we were working on Mimiron. Now he didn't ask anyone, he just swapped specs and started healing instead. So now we've got some faulty info, and there are some who think we seven healed it instead of eight.

Should we have swapped him out for the tree or shaman that were sitting outside? Is it fair to sit a guy who's busted his hump for the past two days for a main spec'd healer? Is it fair to the other healer?

I think this is where the line between friend/family guilds and 'raid' guilds gets drawn a little finer. Our goal is to get the content done, and are currently neck and neck in the race for our server first kills. While we can't go pissing off our members (because they can leave and then where are we), we've also been raiding with some of the same folks for four years.

It's a tough challenge, and one that I'm sure will cause more drama in my guild than the distribution of the legendary mace shards has in other guilds.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Apoktenio's Questions

Apokatenio posted a great response the other day when we were talking about new applicants to a guild, and how we investigate and vett them. In his comment there were 10 questions he asks, and I liked them so much I thought I'd turn them into a post - with my own answers of course.

Apoktenio's questions

1) Playing a holy paladin in WotLK is a lot different from playing one in BC. What are some of the key differences between the spells you used to get the job done in BC and the tools you use now?

The first difference that should be readily visible is that there is no more downranking. In BC you could spam rank 7 HL, pulling rank 11 out when you were really in trouble. Holy Shock wasn't a part of a regular rotation, and the nerf to Illumination meant you couldn't actually go up in mana while casting.

In WotLK my healing rotation depends largely on the encounter and my assignment. Typically I use BoL on an OT, SS on the MT, and spam FoL until my finger breaks. Most encounters will give you some type of warning that massive raid or tank damage is about to occur. During that time I will switch back to HL spam to cover the damage. Keeping Light's Grace up is also important, so threading in HL with the FoL spam is a good tactic.

2) Along the same lines, the stats that are valuable to a holy paladin have changed some with this expansion. List these stats in order of most important to least important: mp5, spell power, crit, haste, int. What benefits do you gain from each stat? Is there a certain number or percentage of each stat you are aiming for?

Intellect is still the best 'all around' stat for a Paladin. Taken from Elitist Jerks, you can see the following effects of Intellect on the Paladin.
  • 126.5 Intellect, with BoK and Divine Intellect
  • 1897 Mana at the start of the fight
  • 39.5mp5 from Divine Plea, if its used on CD.
  • 21.3mp5 from Replenishment, with 90% uptime.
  • 4.7mp5 from Arcane Torrent, if you are a Blood Elf.
  • 25.3 Spell Power
  • 0.759% Spell Crit
Crit is still my second favorite stat. Divine Illumination is a big part of my mana return, and while I don't gem for it, I do take crit over anything besides Intellect. Spellpower is another stat that you just can't get enough of. Haste is a nice stat, however with Infusion of Light and the 15% haste buff from Judgements of the Pure, my FoL are already getting close to clipping the 1 sec GCD mark. Mp5 is only slightly greater than Spirit in my opinion. Yes, having a flat mana regen during combat is nice, but it takes too much to see any real benifit.

3) There is a whole lot of debate about different builds and healing styles right now. Some paladins use a 51/20/0 build and primarily heal with FoL while others spec 51/0/20 and throw out a lot more HLs and rarely use FoL. What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of both builds and both healing styles? What types of encounters (type of incoming tank/raid dmg) would be ideal for each spec? Also, are there any other specs you’ve considered using?

I traditionally run the 51/0/20 build, and consider that to be the 'cookie cutter' Holy build. I've been toying with 51/20/0 a lot though, as it's my PvP build as well. We also don't always have a prot paladin in the raid, so someone with Improved Devotion Aura is nice to have.

I can definately feel the difference between the two builds, especially on my mana bar as I use the Glyph of Light in my 51/20/0 build. I've played with a few 'gimmick' specs like Sheathadin and ProtHeal, but I don't feel that they are ready for prime time in raids - though they do have a place in certain encounters.

4) What is the way you regen the majority of your mana during boss encounters?

I use a combination of Divine Plea and whacking a mob when there is a moment of down time. It takes time, but it seems that every encounter has a moment where you can safely Divine Plea without suffering too greatly from the imposed debuff. It's all about situational awareness and knowing when your tank/raid is about to take a significant ammount of damage. As a bonus, after the next mini-patch, Innervate will be a viable mana return tool in an emergency.

5) What addons do you use to heal? Is it important for you (as a healer) to have an addon like recount?

Grid is my bread and butter heal mod. I have it set to show beacon targets, people with Sacred Shield on, dispellable debuffs, etc. Recount is useful for the Grim Reaper function - letting me see the last 15 seconds before someone died.

6) What criteria do you use to determine who to beacon and when to beacon them?

I set the healing assignments in S-a-S, so I assign OT/MT beacon/healing assignments, or let them beacon themselves if the encounter doesn't have an OT in range. Basically we're looking for who is going to be taking sustained or unpredictable damage. I beacon myself on Throim when I stay in the arena, simply because I have RF up to draw the mobs in.

7) What judgement do you judge during boss fights?

With the change in distance to Justice, Holy paladins should judge Wisdom. Ret paladins will see much larger returns on Light, and if we have a Prot paladin he can judge Justice without fear of it being overwritten by another paladin.

8) If you were called on to salv a dps, bubble/sac a tank, or beacon/SS a different tank mid-fight, how would you do this and how long would it take you?

Click thier name on Grid and hit the appropriate hot key. I've been toying with Clique, but I'm not comfortable with it yet. The hardest part is knowing who someone is if I'm in a PuG. Hopefully though my Omen will show me who is at the top of the threat meter for Salv, and Grid will let me know if someone has agro.

9) What glyphs do you use and why? Consumeables?

On my 51/0/20 build I use Glyph of Holy Light, Glyph of Flash of Light, and Glyph of Wisdom. The splash heals from HL are great, FoL crit is never bad, and 5% reduced mana cost is also nice. When I run 51/20/0 I swap Wisdom for Light, giving that build 10% more healing to offset the loss in crit. I will occasionaly swap out Divinity or Holy Shock, depending on the encounter.

For consumables I generally go with a Fish Feast and Flask of the Frost Wyrm. If I need to get a specific buff I will go for crit, but the spellpower is enough.

10) In your mind, what is the difference between a good healer and an exceptional one?

A good healer can do an assigned task, stay out of the fire, and manage thier mana effectively. An exceptional healer is almost proactive in nature, anticipating needs before they happen. As a paladin this means putting Salvation out before they pull agro, Protection on your tank to assist with tank swaps, and using your cooldowns to maximum effect. It also means being able to triage effectively, and know that letting one person die is often times necessary to let the raid survive. Oh, and an exceptional healer will recognize the incrased DPS that pets do in fact bring, and will heal them.

Those are my responses. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.

Ret and Sacred Shield

I'll be the first one to admit that my experience with a paladin has been primarily limited to Holy and Protection builds. I played with Ret a bit when dual specs came out, or when I was running Sheathadin (I've even raided as ret once or twice) - but it's certainly not my bread and butter build.

One thing I really enjoyed was being able to pop SS on myself, and then get crit FoLs off on myself when Art of War procd. It may be that it was due to my healing background, but I didn't see any issue with spending 1 GCD to hit myself with a quick heal while in a party or raid. Granted, my DPS may have suffered occasionally, but it took a touch of strain off the healers and a dead Ret pally's DPS is zero.

Am I Alone?

My question though is, why do I never see Ret pallies casting Sacred Shield on themselves? Looking at the spell, it absorbs a base 500 damage (plus .75 of your spellpower) after you've been struck to actually proc the shield. In patch 3.1 they changed it to benifit from Sheath of Light spellpower, so a Ret paladin with 1000 spellpower will have a shield to absorb 1250 points. Granted, that's not going to help you if Ignis suddenly decides that you're much tastier than the tank, but it will help in the slag pot (or Mimiron phase 2/4).

Is the Ret DPS cycle so tight, or mana such an issue, that using this ability once every 30 seconds is a game breaker? I understand that we all have our roles in the fight; tank, DPS, heal - but come on. Using SS is the equivalent of a preventative Health Pot and Healthstone, without using your potion cooldown. Add in an Art of War instant FoL, which should crit with SS up, and now you've got a Sheath of Light HOT as well.

If I'm wrong, certainly hope someone will let me know, but this seems pretty basic to me. There are certainly enough moments in the fights where you're moving and have a free GCD to refresh the shield.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Evaluating new applicants

Right now Matt is running a series of posts concerning guild recruitment, and had collected a wide array of knowledge from various bloggers and guild leaders across the net. Since it's Friday, and we're currently recruiting a healer or two (Lodur, where are the resto shamans at?), I thought I'd cover how our application process works (and what I'm trying to get implemented).

The application

Our application is pretty straight forward. We have the standard questions you see everywhere: why us, why did you leave your last guild, explain your build, etc. I've recently added a section at the bottom specifically asking for a WWS report and UI Screenshot. I got a few questions regarding this (and as of yet none of our new applicants have provided this information), and here's my base justification.

WWS reports tell me a lot more than how much DPS or healing you're doing. I can see if you bother to decurse, if you're a hybrid who tosses a heal on themselves, and what kind of DPS cycles you're using. I can see stupid deaths "Joe died to Void Zone", and the combat log has all kinds of fun information.

Screenshots just let me see if you're running raid frames, some kind of boss mod, omen, etc. Plus I can get that heads up that on patch day (which we raid on) that your UI will probably be broken to all hell. One of our healers just uses the WoW raid frames to heal, and he's probably the best healer I've ever met - so I don't judge that you're not using grid.

First Impressions

An app has about 2 minutes to catch my eye, sometimes less. Poor grammar, cut and paste answers, or overall lack of conviction will set me off and I won't go beyond this point. Your app will die before I even do an Armory check.

I'm also looking for an ability to follow directions. Our first line says "Name, Class, Spec" - but someone who answers 'Suicidal Pyrotechnic' gets dismissed. Give me the meat, but don't use this time to express your inner comedian.

Sherlock Holmes

If the application holds my eye, or comes with some good guild recommendations, I put on my hat and grab my's time to use the Internet.

First stop is the Armory - quick look at your talents and reputations. If you're not exalted with the Sons (or an inscriptionist), you're pretty much done at this stage. Also if you're in RP gear, offset, or something other than your raid gear.

Talents are another key look. We don't' require 'cookie cutter' builds, because there are times when someone can pull off a non-cookie cutter run. But if you're applying as a Holy Paladin and don't have Beacon of Light - you better be ready to defend it.

My last stop on the Armory is the statistics page. So many little details are available here, you just have to dig em out. I can see how often you're flasking or using mana potions (not in context to be sure, but it gives me an idea), and I can see how many kills you really have. Achievements do a good job of tracking some of these, and this is just one more tool in the arsenal.

Next I hit for a quick look at your gear. I like the layout better than the Armory, because at a glance I can see if you've got 'BIS' gems and enchants, and what your gear is. Basically it saves me from mousing over everything on the Armory.

Background Check

If you've made it this far, you're just one quick check away from getting a trial run or three. This is where I hit the realm and general forums looking for your name. I have a low tolerance for folks that troll the forums posting nothing but garbage. Sure, you can use an alt to do it, using your main just shows a special level of dumb in my book.

I'll try and gain access to your old guild forums, especially for server transfers, and look for any drama you might be involved in. I also hit to see if you're a guild hopper. It also let's me know if you've had a name change, because there will be a big gap in your data.

The Phone Interview

This is usually handled by one of our other officers, but we'll contact you to chat and make sure you aren't a blathering idiot on vent/chat. At this stage you've got one foot in the door, and your future is squarely on your shoulders.

Trial Period

This is where I'm trying to enact a change. Typically we've just invited new members and judged them on runs we happen to be on with them. We might slide them into a 10 man or something, but we don't have anything official.

I'm fairly certain that starting next week we're going to stick 3D or something similar on our raid calendar for tryouts. 3D might not be the super bowl of not standing in fire, but it's definitely the most chaotic thing outside of Ulduar. Besides, I want a blue dragon.


Everyone's application process is different, and where you are progression wise has a lot to do with it. Right now we're the big fish in the pond (yeah, it's a little pond, maybe a glass) so we have a bit more flex in which applications we take. If we fall off the front of the wave though, who knows what might happen.

What tools do you use that I don't?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Briefing in 3 minutes or less

We've all been there. First night in a new instance, or the first time you're facing a new boss. The raid is alive with energy. Everyone is excited, feasts are popping up, buffs are flying around like fireworks...and then the raid leader starts talking. And talking. And talking.

Ten minutes later and he's read you the entire strategy from wowwike and bosskillers, drawn four virtual maps using pings, and lost 95% of the raid's attention. Your paladins started surfing port two minutes ago, your tanks are still epeening it up, and your rogues are in the middle of a Peggle duel.

At the end, the raid leader asks if there are questions, and you can instantly tell that the only person listening was his cat (and that one raider who knows everything).

Something has to change - and here's a hint - it's not the raiders.

Holding the focus

Studies have shown that the average attention span in humans is approxamately 3-5 minutes per year of age, up to about 20 minutes in adults. This number obviously fluctuates depending on the interest in the task, and the ammount of interaction going on.

I'm sorry to tell you, but unless you're the tactical equivalent of Patton, you were tuned out at the 3-5 minute mark.

How to fix it

Unless you're in the top .1% of the WoW gaming world, rocking the content with Ensidia and Vodka, my guess is you're going to have to explain things a few times. The problem is, not everyone learns the same way. Some learn by reading, watching, listening, or just by doing.

Instead of going over every nuance of a fight, just pick five key elements, and brief them in two or three scentences. Obviously fights like Sara will be more complicated, but (and be honest) are you really planning on getting to phase three on the first shot?

Hold thier hands

Yes, some raiders will resent it, but the others will love you for it. Here's a way to brief a fight like Hodir, which is simple in effect, yet has a lot going on.

1) His big killer is the Deep Freeze. When this is called out, melee stand on the X, ranged stand on the moon. Move with them, don't anticipate. Watch for falling snow.

2) Stay in motion or jump, think the last boss in Nexus. (don't even worry about breifing the Cozy Fires at the start).

3) After the Deep Freeze, pick up your assist targets from the Moon and X. Switch to Hodir when they do. (don't worry about briefing the individual buffs the NPCs give).

4) If you have lightning shooting from your body, this is the one fight where it's ok to run into a group of people. If you have a choice, stand in the light.

5) Lots of raid healing after Frozen Blows. Healers, stand in the light if you can as well.

That's it. That's all that needs to be said - the first time around. Pull the boss and let everyone see the falling snow, the big snow mounds, the light (maybe point out a fire if one is nearby), and feel the raid healing after a Frozen Blow.

If you wipe, hit some clean-up points, but don't spend more than 2 or 3 minutes going over it. Theorycraft all you want on the run back, make the small adjustments, but don't spend 15 minutes talking about NPC buffs.


Keep it short and sweet, and don't sweat the small stuff. Even the players you think are bricks will pick it up, and you'll certainly help keep thier minds on the task at hand.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Once more into the breech - PvP build

So I know I was going to talk about a 28/43/0 build today, but I haven't had a chance to try it out on my own yet. On paper it looks doable, but I need to do some more theory-crafting before I can really write on it.

Getting the gear

In addition to needing some theory-crafting, I'm missing some (ok, all) of the PvP gear required to make that build work. So to help with the research, I've been sticking my head into BGs this last week.

I started out with my standard 51/0/20 build, putting Beacon on me, and SS on my pocket DPS (or myself if I didn't have one). This worked fairly well for a few BGs, but eventually they are going to recognize that the guy wearing a skirt (It's a kilt!) and sporting glowy hands needs to go.

Surviving the burst

Without any resilience, yeah - I'm that PvE guy in your BG, I can get burst down pretty fast. Even putting SS on my own head doesn't do much for my longevity. One on One it works alright, and I think I made a rogue cry at one point, but it's not going to hold up against multiple opponents.

I did a little digging for specs, but I quickly realized that there are a lot of opinions out there. I decided early on that I was going for survivability and throughput, with cleansing options taking a back seat. With the ammount of damage being tossed out, and the speed in which poisons can be applied, trying to cleanse between healing GCDs was enough to make anyone cry.

How it looks

I finally settled on a variation of the 51/20 build, but swapped out a few talents.

Holy talents

Spiritual Focus - 5/5 - stopping pushback is pretty mandatory.
Seals of the Pure - 0/5 - does any build really use this?

Healing Light - 3/3 - more healing is always good.
Divine Intellect - 5/5 - more mana never hurts.
Unyielding Faith - 2/2 - nerf fear.

Aura Mastery - 1/1 - Immune to interrupts is great, but I have to play with the changes to auras more.
Illumination - 5/5 - mmm, mana.
Imp. Lay on Hands - 0/2 - it's not that I don't like LoH, but I don't have the points to spare.

Imp. Concentration Aura - 3/3 - more silence and interrupt resist
Imp. Blessing of Wisdom - 0/2 - most PvP I've been in lately I don't have time to regen mana, I just use Kings for the HP and Int buff.
Blessed Hands - 0/2 - more absorbed damage is nice, but I didn't have the points to spare.

Pure of Heart - 0/2 - with poisons getting stacked on so quickly, they'll either fall off, or I'll have a moment to cleanse them. Usually after someone is dead.
Divine Favor - 1/1 - guaranteed HS crit, which gives me an instant FoL right after. Plus it gives access to HS.
Sanctified Light - 3/3 - mmm, crit. The crit for HL is fairly wasted since HS/FoL are the order of the day in PvP, but you can't turn down the free crit.

Purifying Power - 0/2 - if I have time to cleanse, the mana shouldn't be an issue either. If Exorcism could still be used on players this might have some viability for that extra punch to finish someone off, but again - if I have time for real DPS, the fight is probably going well enough already.
Holy Power - 5/5 - mmm, crit (really - 11% combined with Sanctified Light for Holy Shock).

Light's Grace - 0/3 - this would be worth picking up if Infustion of Light still gave a haste bonus to HL. With the change in 3.1 though, I'm still sitting at a fairly long HL, and winding up the first one really hurts.
Holy Shock - 1/1 - cant say anything about an instant that crits for over 7k and gives your an instant FoL. It's also an effective offensive spell. Killing someone while I'm holy always makes me giggle.
Blessed Life - 3/3 - we need points to get deeper to Beacon, and a 10% chance to take 50% damage isn't a bad way to spend them.

Sacred Cleansing - 0/3 - getting resistance never hurts, but I'm running out of points and as I've mentioned a few times, there's not a lot of time to cleasnse anyway. Maybe I'm doing it wrong though. If this made someone immune it'd be worth it, but a 30% increase to resistance when they probably don't have much to begin with doesn't seem worth it (another one I may be doing wrong).
Holy Guidance - 5/5 - more spell power never hurts.

Divine Illumination - 0/1 - if I had unlimited points I'd take it, but I'm getting miserly with them now.
Judgements of the Pure - 4/5 - i'm torn on this one. 3% more haste and a little more damage might be worth putting that 5th point in, but I like the range I get from the next tier, and pulling a point out for that is something I have to play with more.

Infusion of Light - 2/2 - instant FoL. Nuff said.
Enlightened Judgements - 2/2 - personally I like the range on this, but I'm looking at dropping a point out to max out JotP.

Beacon of Light - 1/1 - 2 for 1 healing. I can't say no to this.

Prot talents

Divinity - 5/5 - 5% more healing done and recieved. Tasty.
Divine Strength - 0/5 - leave this for the Retadins.

Stoacism - 3/3 - reduced stun time, and may keep your Divine Plea and SS from being dispelled.
Guardian's Favor - just in case you can get a 2nd HoP off during the battle. These points could go to dodge as well.
Anticipation - 0/5 - dodge is nice, but I need the points to get down two more tiers.

Divine Sacrifice - 1/1 - I just pop this when I pop my bubble for good measure. I'm really going for the next tier, but this is just bonus.
Improved Righteous Fury - 3/3 - 6% damage reduction is nothing to sneeze at, and it's not like I'm going to pull agro in PvP.
Toughness - 1/5 - this point can go anywhere, we're just heading deeper in the tree. The increased bonus to armor and slowing effects is just a bonus.

Divine Guardain - 2/2 - personally I love my SS, and making it tougher seems smart to me. These points might be better spent in Hammer or back down in Toughness, but for now, I'm putting them here.
Imp. Hammer of Justice - 0/2 - for arena play, the two points from Divine Guardian might be better spent here. I'm still playing with it.
Improved Devotion Aura - 3/3 - increased armor is a bonus, but odds are I'm going to be running Concentration arua to synergize with Aura Mastery. 6% bonus healing though, that's waht we're really after.


This might not be the best PvP spec out there, and I'm open to other thoughts. It seems to give me some longevity, and I don't have to waste all the points in ret to get Divine Purpose. Losing all the crit from the Ret tree hurts some as well. We'll have to see.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Sheathadin

So last week I mentioned that I had tried going as a Sheathadin for a certain General in Ulduar. I'd used this spec for a while before 3.1 when dual specs weren't an option, since I could heal any heroic and could hold my own in Naxx.

What it's not

First, I didn't dream this baby up. Hell, it wasn't even my idea. I found it while stumbling around the Plus Heal forums and thought I'd give it a try.

It's not a "AMG RET DPS" spec, but at least you shouldn't embarass yourself. I may, or may not, have finished below the tank once. Don't judge me.

This is not an Ulduar main spec - at least not yet in our guild. It's fun and fresh, but your spot is in the rear with the gear buddy. Holy Light bombs are the order of the day.

This is not your daddy's holy spec.

What it is

It lets you farm easily, do respectable DPS in a dungeon/raid, and it's pretty funny when you Divine Storm someone in the face while you're packing a shield.

You can realistically heal heroics, or be a second/fourth Naxx healer.

It's also slow, and (even more so than normal paladin healing) dependant on crits.

How it works

Basically a Sheathadin spec is a Ret pally in healing gear. You lose pretty much every Holy talent, as your spec is 15/5/51. If you're using this spec for pure healing output you can go 28/0/43 or 23/5/43. There's lots of options, more depending on your playstle and gear.

What you are shooting for at a minimum is a high Crit chance for your heals and your judgements. Procing Sheath of Light for the HoT and Art of War for the instant FoL give you flexibility to heal the rest of a party/raid. Pre 3.1 having multiple Sacred Shields out helped as well, but that option is gone now.

For this build you also want a high AP, which is why you bless yourself with Might instead of Wisdom. If you can get Kings, so much the better. You'll be standing right in there with the melee, giving them your ret aura buff, and judging light every eight seconds. I've found it nearly impossible to run out of mana with this build, even if you rock Holy Light bombs every 2.5 seconds.


This build is kind of gimmicky, though it is fun to play with. With dual specs though, I can keep one full Holy and leave the other as ret, so I don't play with this too much any more. Tomorrow I'll look at the 28/43 build Apokteino mentioned in the comments last week.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Healing General Vezax

Finally got the General down this weekend, once we took our heads out of our collective backsides and got smart about it. I'm not going to cover the mechanics of the fight per-se, but I will cover what we tried a few times before we finally got the hang of it. I won't lie, I made the most pathetic sound when I realized Illumination didn't return mana on this fight. Imagine a puppy being kicked. It was like that, but more sad and pathetic (especially since I'm not a small man).

Raid composition

Tank - DK
Healers - Disc Priest, Paladin, Tree
DPS - 2xRogue (interrupts were huge), Retadin, 2xSpriest, Kitty Druid

Pull One

DK tank runs in and it's off we go. We'd already decided that we weren't going to kite/run during his Surge of Darkness buff - instead doubling up on DK/healer cool downs. Between Icebound Fortitude and Pain Suppression/Hand of Sacrifice, the damage was definately manageable.

Why this pull failed

1) Range checker either lied, or the Mark of the Faceless debuff has a range greater than 10yds. Since both the person with the debuff and the person who died swore they were out of range, we dialed up the range checker a notch. Problem solved.

2) Stacking in the Saronite Vapors led to increased Shadow Crashes on the casters/healers. We put the feral druid on killing the crystals, and rotated one healer and one dpser a time through the cloud. Problem pending.

Pull Two

Same thing but with less suckage.

Why this pull failed

1) Rogue missed a kick and the tank got insta-gibbed. Kick harder. Problem solved.

Pull Three

This time we decided to get creative, as if somehow Blizzard hadn't thought of these things. We figured that since the melee don't get the Shadow Crash or the Mark of the Faceless, we would just have everyone stand on the melee.

Why this pull failed

1) Blizzard > us. The whole melee group was Shadow Crashed within 5 seconds. Put the ranged back at range and try again. Problem solved.

Pull Four

On this pull I decided to whip out my Sheathadin spec (I'll post on this spec later). Basically this spec is deep ret and gives me access to Judgements of the Wise and Sheath of Light. The theory was I could stand in melee, get my mana back, and still heal.

Why this pull failed

1) The ret pally, while confirming that JoTW was giving him the full mana return, failed to actually read the tooltip of his debuff. Short version, you get your mana back, but your heals are cut to 20%. Imagine my horror when I saw my HL crit for 3k. I spent the next 15 minutes running around trying to see if the debuff was a range or event debuff (it's event based, or the range is over 9000). Spec back to Holy or get creative. Problem pending.

2) This probably would have worked anyway, except I failed to put my healing buttons back in the right spot. This was my ret spec setup, so HoS and HoF were flipped (really, how often do you HoS as ret?). So while the tank was free to move around the cabin, he got squished instead. Move buttons. Problem solved.

Final pull

I stayed sheathadin, the other casters went ranged, and our rogues kicked thier tails off.



I still think I will need to either go back to either 51/0/20 or 51/20/0 (or some variation) for this fight. 3k HL crits aren't going to get it done in 25 man. The other option would be to go full Ret. More DPS = faster kill = less mana needed by the healers.

On to Sara now. I hate her screams.

Nicked by the razor

So last week I wrote a post talking about the fine line my guild walks with it's raiding core. Saturday we slipped a bit, and nicked ourselves right in the butt.

To be fair, it wasn't the system that failed, it was the people. Of our 35 invited we had 28 accept/confirm the invite (we use the in game guild calendar), 6 decline, and one who never changed his status. 28 accepted is an acceptable number, and it gives us enough room to flex and bend through the raid.

At invite time there were 21 people online.

Fifteen minutes after the raid was supposed to start, and we're staring at Thorim with 24 folks - four of which are tanks, and only six healers. Our doom-chicken logs on, and when he gets harassed for being late his response was "when did the raid change to 30 minutes early?". The mind boggling thing is that our raids have started at the same time for over a month.

The real kick

I don't mind that folks decline raid invites. Real life happens, and sometimes you just have to miss a raid. We only raid one weekend night (Saturday), so Friday and Sunday folks are free to do whatever they want.

What gets me is the no-call/no-show people. Those that accept, but don't show up at all. In today's electronic world, how tough can it really be to let someone know you won't be around? Half our officers have their cell phone numbers listed on their guild info, the calendar is available through the armory, and we're a small enough guild that everyone knows at least one other person in real life.

The Knee Jerk

The inital reaction of course is for officers to freak out, loot rules to be changed, and yelling to commence. I've been that guy before (it was a dark time), and I think I present a more even keeled approach now.

Expectations have to be clarified, and people need to know there's a stick behind the carrot - but there's a limit. In the end, this is a game. And while 24 other people are counting on you to show up, we can always replace you if it comes to that. I think it's a fear of change that keeps us from doing it more often.

Once we make a decision I'll share it - and hopefully get some opinions on how we've adjusted.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Giddy about Innervate

I can hear the laments now, "A post about innervate on a blog called Divine Plea? What the deuce?". Four posts in and I'm already deviating from paladins and guild running, all to talk about this (soon to be better) wonderful druid spell.

Patch 3.1.2

When I first saw the patch notes, I approached with a careful eye towards any upcoming paladinesque changes. After my recent post about how paladin healing was fine, ret and prot are in good places as well - PvP may be a little different, I was afraid that an incoming change would screw with my place of zen.

Much to my delight however, I've seen nothing at all about paladins. Then I stumbled across this little gem.

Innervate: This ability has been redesigned to grant 450% of the casting Druid's base mana pool to the target over 20 seconds.
Oh this is interesting after all.

What it used to be

Right now Innervate works off base spirit regen. Specifically you gain five times your normal regen from spirit, plus you regain mana as if you were outside the FSR. Using the formula from wowwiki, I can estimate my regen to be approxamately 2700 mana. The priest standing next to me however would gain close to 9000 mana. The same spell gives him half of his mana bar back, and barely makes a dent in mine.

How the worm has turned

Innervate now returns a flat 450% of the casting druid's BASE mana, which has hidden implications that I didn't realize until I was writing this. Base mana never changes. Every druid has a base mana of 3496, which means even if I catch an innervate from a feral druid, I'll still get 15,732 mana back over the duration. This. Is. Huge. You can read GC's response here.

No longer will the paladin be the very last choice to recieve an innervate. No longer will my druids cringe when they cast it upon me and fail to see my mana bar move.

Not that I'll get an innervate anyway.

With the paladin mana regen working like it is, I'm lucky enough that unless I need a battle rez, I shouldn't ever have to depend on an innervate. It's nice to know that the option is there though.

See. It really was about paladins after all.