Friday, April 30, 2010

The death of my FoL build

Well, I finally did it. After the good times we had, I decided to let my FoL spec go. It was a lot of fun, and I still think it's a viable spec in some situations. (Un)Fortunately we're working on 4/12 H ICC25 and 9/12 H ICC10 - and it just can't keep up. Especially when we're pulling healers out to DPS. The raw throughput of Holy Light is just pushing past what I could dump out with FoLs.

Haste is a factor

I'm also at a point now where I'm pushing the 1.2 second Holy Light barrier. With gear and a Manta Ray, I'm at 832 haste when the fight starts. Even though my mp5 (and possibly crit) are a little lower than I'd like, I can still pump out the HL for a good while. It also doesn't hurt that I can usually count on one or two innervates throughout the fight. While I can certainly manage my mana without them, it prevents me from juggling the Divine Plea debuff. Using the 2pc T10 and Avenging Wrath cooldowns certainly help, but it's still not 100%.

Of course there are times when I have to call for an innervate because I've gotten tunnel visioned - but that's something I can fix. More mp5 can't hurt, and I've got some pieces I can start swapping out now that I'm over the base 680 haste cap.

The real reason

The real reason that the FoL build died though, was that I just can't afford to be without the buffs that 51/20/0 provides - and that spec doesn't provide enough crit (imo) to make a FoL build viable. Losing out on Imp Devo aura (in 10s) hurts as well, and DS/DG is still an amazing talent. Unfortunately, there's just not the HPS I need, and there's no point in having a 2nd Holy build for FOL, if I'm never going to be able to use it.

So it's time to spec Holy PvP and annoy people.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I knew it was good, but this is rediculous

Alright - first, yes, I know the bloody thing has been out for a year and there's probably log parses galore for it. This is my blog though, and if I want to get giddy for a day about my new toy, I'm going to. Also, I hope that in some teeny tiny way, someone can use this information to convince their guild to help acquire one.

As an aside, my first night of WoL logs for this is also the first night we tried Hard Mode 25s, and we went 3/11. I'd say 4/12, but really - the gunship should be a given (Marrow, Gun, Fester, Rot). The numbers in the below log are with the 15% ICC buff, but what I'm mostly looking at is the percentages done. Feel free to knock off 15% of any number if you choose.

A small disclaimer

I really have no idea how the WoL parses absorbs, since I know Blizzard's own combat log isn't the best at it. I am, for purposes of this discussion, assuming that it is only counting actual absorbs and not shields that fall off. I am willing to concede however, that a large portion of the shield may indeed be falling off. If someone knows for sure, please let me know.

Overall up time

A comment made by the raid leader really put it all into persepective. "Every time I look at my screen I see your bubbles"! This of course caused us to question what he was looking at the other 2/3 of the time. It would explain some of the issues with Festergut though.

Throughout the night though, PoAK (the actual shield, not the buff on me) was up 2355 times, absorbing 5,282,162 points of damage. My Holy Light (for the whole night) was slightly over 7.4 million - and 71% of that was overhealing.

A look at Festergut

First - HM Fester is a royal pain. Granted, the fight is the same on 25m HM as it is on 10m, there's just a lot more people in melee range trying to dodge the malliable goo. Emphasis on the word trying. You can be a super-speed swinging DK with a .2 attack speed - but a 300% debuff is gonna knock your DPS in the dirt. Even with the 15% ICC buff we still only pushed him over with 2 seconds left until the enrage.

That's not the point of this post though.

For Fester I stood at range, and was covered by another healer when I ate a Vile Gas. On normal I stand in melee, but in HM standing at range meant that I had to move a whole lot less. Even with running in/out for a spore, it was worth it.

Now - for this fight I stuck with HL for pretty much the entire fight - using a snap HS or FoL when moving (or to keep the HoT up).

Holy Light - 683, 497 - 36.3% of healing done, with 69.2% overheal (I kept BoL on myself and healed the tank).
PoAK - 365,322 - 19.4% of healing done, with 2:07 uptime in a 5 minute fight.

Even if all of that shield wasn't 100% used, it's still amazing.

Weapon comparison

A claim was made that pretty much any ICC weapon would outshine the Val'anyr. Here's some basic numbers.

We had one Trauma in the raid for the fight - used by our shaman who was responsible for healing the melee. His Fountain of Light healed for only 50,800 - with 1:26 uptime, and 49.8% of it being overheals.

Switching from my 258 LK mace, I lost 80 SP and a few points of crit. Those 80 sp, with the 166% coefficient for HL, would have equated to a whopping 14,608 extra healing for my main heal. Even with 300 extra SP, I'd be looking at 54k extra (maybe a bit more with the splash).

Either way, I'm tickled pink with it.


Is it game breaking? No. Do I think you should do anything you can (beg, borrow, steal - all bets are off here) to get one? Oh yes.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Val'anyr - a year in the making

By the time this post publishes (It'll be on delayed publish), I should be the proud owner of a Val'anyr - more than a year since I started the grind. First, I have to say thanks to Burdell (our raid organizer) and the officers of for putting this together and making it a priority. It's not something I asked for, and it's certainly not something I would have pushed - but it will be nice to have finally closed the door on this.

Is it still worth it though?

Back when the Val'anyr was first announced, there was a lot of debate about it - from the proc effect to the (lower) stat values. It certainly falls behind in the stat value now, when compared to loot off say ToGC Anub, or H 25m Lich King. I think that's appropriate though, as it is two full tiers behind in content. I will say though, that other than the Spell Power, it isn't really that far behind the other weapons. Compared to my LK mace, I'm losing a total of 80 SP, 6 INT, a few crit, and swapping mp5 (LK) for Haste (Val).

Plus, there's the proc.

Now, I don't know how the proc will really stand up in H ICC content, but I'm fairly sure I won't be missing the other stats. 150 SP certainly won't break my HL spam (since there's a lot of overheal anyway), and I can see the shields being a nice perk in our 10m raiding. Much like the absorbtion of Sacred Shield, even absorbing 1500 points off an attack is still something - and 1500 I don't have to heal back.

The fact that it puts the shield on your Beaconed target is just pure gravy.

There was a thread on our forums where someone was debating the validity of the Val'anyr, when compared to weapons like Trauma or the LK weapons. After seeing Trauma in action on our resto shaman, I can definitely see the value of having that weapon in the hands of a shaman or druid, but for pure tank healing - I think it falls short (amazing for healing raid members though).

The other advantage to having a weapon like this, is that I won't be competing against the warlocks/mages for the LK caster sword. I won't be taking a mace away from the priests, shamans, or druids - and it's not like I'm eligible for staves.

What I don't like

Val'anyr, like so many other items/trinkets, is a proc based weapon, meaning there's a 'chance' it will go off on every heal/HOT tick. I've also found that it can proc when casting Sacred Shield and Beacon of Light. The issue with this is you can't count on the proc to be up when you really need it. Proc in the first 15 seconds of Festergut? Nice, but the tank isn't really in trouble. Proc after three inhales? That would be priceless.

Of course, I don't like 'on use' trinkets either. I always wind up saving them until it's so far along that I never use them. Kind of like my Lay on Hands, though I'm getting better at that.

Wrap up

In the end, I don't think having the mace will make a world of difference, except psychologically. It's nice to have, and seeing the bubbles pop up is amazing. I'm glad I had the opportunity to get it, even if it was late in the game, and I'm sure it will be something I use for a long while. At least until it gets the Thunderfury nerf treatment.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On the fly changes/reactions

Anyone who's ever taken a First Aid course has recieved the following line of instruction "Never tell someone to dial 911, always single someone out. Telling someone specific to dial 911 has a much higher chance of success". You (point someone out), dial 911 and come back, seems to be the chosen phrase. This kind of follows the thought process of "Everybody thought somebody would do it, so nobody did".

This same reasoning can be applied in raids, especially when things have gone sideways - or you need someone to do a task that could be considered "un-fun".

Assign someone specific

This holds doubly true when assigning a task that requires a high level of personal responsibility (say, cleanse bot), or will drastically reduce their personal DPS (block breaker on Sindragosa). If you ask "who's breaking the blocks", you'll be met with a wave of silence that could crush Godzilla. Instead, assign the task to someone specific.

Raid leaders (or at the very least, your heal lead if there is one) should run some type of addon that will track major cooldowns like Rebirth, Lay on Hands, etc. A glance should tell you whose battle-rez is available, allowing you to call xxxCatDruidxxx to get someone up - instead of calling for just anyone to do it. Simply stating "get Jimmy up" will result in one of two actions, either multiple battle-rezs will be wasted - or Jimmy will lie there for another minute. This will generally cause your blood-pressure to shoot up 50 points, which isn't healthy for anyone.

Dig deep and volunteer

Know a tough job is coming up? Just saw a healer get folded? Volunteer to fill the role before someone has to assign it. Not only will you save someone a small headache, you'll show that you're paying attention to more than just your personal DPS/HPS. This all ties back to having Situational Awareness, and knowing what's going on all around you. Something as simple as typhooning a mob back, while momentarially inconvenient for a tank, may save someone's life. Ultimately, it's worth much more than losing a mob position for a moment. Note, I'm not advocating running around doing this all the time - I cursed GC when typhoon was first introduced.

My own moment of fun

Last night on our 25m Rotface kill, our kite tank DCd right as the pull happened. I tossed up RF, and called out that I was kiting the oozes, which I'd honestly never done. A quick judge/Holy Shock combo got it on me, and I was able to keep it out of the raid long enough for the tank to log back in. While this could have been handled by anyone really, by thinking quickly I helped prevent anyone from dying to loose oozes, and let the DPS focus on their jobs. By calling it over vent, I allowed the other healers to pick up my slack on the MT, and things went smooth from there.

I also picked up my 30th Val'anyr fragment (much thanks to the raid leader for organizing this, and the guild for participating), and since nobody else wanted them - I have the pieces for making a Shadow's Edge now. It'll be useful when I'm Holy/Ret and leveling in Cata - or at least for some PvP shenanigans.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cheesing the freeze - Sindragosa 10H

Well, we finally did it - Frostwing hall is down in Heroic. All we have left is Putricide and Arthas - and a few achievements for our drakes. All told, I think we spent 30 or so attempts on her - until finally we came up with a method that worked.

Stained napkins are bad

I love napkin math. Some of the best ideas/strats/setups I've ever come up with have been whipped up at lunch or on a piece of scratch paper on my desk. A crazy drawing that looks like it came directly from John Madden's desk, or some scribbled theorycrafting that has me running around in a 14/45/18 spec (yeah, I know the numbers don't work - roll with it) - I always learn something from the process.

Sindragosa was no different.

Unbearabull did a lot of math on resists, DPS times, Sindragosa health, etc. The theory was that if the raid could put out 7k DPS on Sin, with 3 heals and 1 tank, that with 550 FR he could solo tank Sin without dropping stacks of the buffet. The raid would have approx. 1:58 to burn her down before he'd need multiple cool-downs to survive the breaths.

In addition, the raid members all added 100 FR by changing cloak enchants to FR, helm arcanums to FR, and using resistance flasks (50 resist to all schools).

This plan failed.

So what happened?

First, while Unbearabull's math was correct, what he failed to consider was the reduced DPS put out by the raid. We were unable to keep up with the DPS requirements, partly due to RNG of debuffs, and at the 1:48 mark we were only at 18%. Our goal was to hit 10% by 1:30, where we could just ignore any debuffs/blocks and put the pedal down. We anticipated the raid blowing up after she died, because we'd all have 10 stacks of unchained and 9 stacks of buffet.

This wasn't going to happen, so our warrior went back to his prot set, and we settled in to do it the old fashioned way. The way that hadn't worked for us yet.

Where's my Sandbox Tiger?

Generally when we've been at something for a while, Mongrr will link the Sandbox Tiger as a motivator for the raid to pull our collective heads out and focus on the task at hand. This time though, it was an argument between our mage and the rest of the raid - regarding his FR choices and gear setup. We spent so much time cussing at each other that it was P3 (P2 for those that don't count the air as a 'phase') before we realized it. And nobody was dead.

Miraculously, in spite of the griping, nobody had died to a suck in, frost breath, overload, etc. Here we were, staring 35% in the face - and every CD was available. We hit the perfect storm almost immediately - with one healer being Frost Beaconed, one having unchained, our 2nd shaman having unchained (he was responsible for healing the raid in a situation like this) and Mongrr standing there with 6 stacks of Buffet he needed to drop.

Throughout all this, communication was clear; healers were calling out for tank switches, tanks were calling for cool-downs, and Reaganomics made the greatest LoH save in the history of the world. With one healer blocked, one dropping stacks, one with unchained, and Unbearabull catching a nasty string of poor resists at high stacks - Reaganomics bought us time with a 63k crit LoH.

It was, in a word, clutch.

The final word

This fight was, in my opinion, the perfect example of why worked so well. Even with all the chaos at the start, when it came time for a clutch LoH, or a Rebirth less than 5 seconds after Mongrr went down at 8%, the entire group came together to pull off an amazing kill.

10/12 H ICC 10.

This video sums up how that fight went.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The way of the Jellyfish

I've said some strange things in my life while raiding - most of them while in a drunken haze. Recently though, a new strategy has emerged that has placed my list of "dumb sayings" at a new level.

In my defense, it makes perfect sense. Everyone can instantly picture it in their head, and more importantly, they can remember it.

I call it - the Jellyfish Strat.

How it works

The base principal behind the Jellyfish Strat is that you have to be flexible, and ready to move in a moment. Also, like a jellyfish, the movement is really just a flex - in and out - as your spread apart and come together. It's really nothing new - I just put a dumb name on it.

Of course it's a name that has now stuck, just like a jellyfish stinger, in every raid.

Really though, it's what you have to be - flexible. Some nights things just go insanely well. For example we got H Sin down on 3 or 4 attempts, after weeks of beating our head on her. Then we ran down to Festergut (who we normally 1 shot on Heroic) and wiped 4 times. What the heck?

Flex. Move. In. Out. Be the jellyfish...

Friday, April 16, 2010

DS/DG Revisited, Aura Mastery hotness, and Sacred Shield love

This post originally started as just a heads up to the 25man raid leader and our Paladin tanks, but I realized that it covers a trend that has been cropping up lately.

All of this started last night when I was giving a few tips to another 10m H-ICC group that was working on Saurfang. I was giving tips on how to handle the healing and such, and I mentioned that the Pally tanks could trip DS/DG to help out with the damage done by the Boiling Blood. It would only mitigate some of it - but every tick saved extends the time before the first Mark comes out.

I was then told that neither of the tanks had spec'd into that particular talent.

I've also seen a growing trend in Pally tanks not using their own Sacred Shield when there's a Holy Paladin in the group/raid. We'll cover that in a minute though.

Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian

I posted on this back in October, but it's worth going over again here. In 3.3 DS/DG changed to the following

  • Divine Sacrifice - 30% of all damage taken by party members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin (up to a maximum of 40% of the Paladin's health times the number of party members). Damage which reduces the Paladin below 20% health will break the effect. Lasts 10 sec.
  • Divine Guardian - When Divine Sacrifice is activated, your party and raid members within 30 yards take 20% reduced damage for 6 sec. In addition, increases the duration of your Sacred Shield by 100% and the amount absorbed by 20% (2/2).
Math Time

It's fairly easy for your tank to have 50k HP raid buffed at this stage in the game. This means that when using DS, you can absorb 100k (.4 * 50k * 5) worth of damage taken by your party. This damage is halved before it ever hits the Paladin, and can then be mitigated further by other cooldowns (such as Pain Suppression, Divine Shield/Divine Protection, etc).

DS/DG also only reduces the damage that would be actually taken by your party members, so this is factored in after any resistances, or the 20% in total damage reduction provided by DG alone. These reductions can result in a huge level of reduced and absorbed damage - all for spending three talent points.

A side bonus

An additional bonus of speccing into Divine Guardian is the doubled length of your Sacred Shield, plus an additional 20% absorbed. Sacred Shield can, every 6 seconds (after taking initial damage) absorb 500 damage, plus 75% of your spell power, plus 20% from DG (500 + .75SP)1.2 for the math heads. So a prot paladin, with only 1000 SP, would absorb approximately 1450 damage every 6 seconds while tanking. In addition, by keeping it on himself, any FoLs cast on him (probably by a Holy Paladin) will have an added 50% crit chance - virtually guaranteeing a crit heal.

Of course if there's a Holy Paladin in the raid, you might be asking "Why don't they use their SS on me instead"? This is a valid question, as they may have 2k-3k SP, resulting in a much stronger shield (2200 every 6sec from a 2K SP Holy Paladin). The advantage however, is that it is very easy for the Prot Paladin to self cast their Sacred Shield, allowing the Holy Paladin to place another shield in the party/raid, where they feel it's needed most. By not keeping it up 100%, especially in a raiding environment, you are removing another helpful tool from the raid's kit. Sure, the shield isn't a game breaker - but 20k/min of absorbed damage isn't anything to sneeze at either.

Aura Mastery

Finally, I want to touch on Aura Mastery, and why it seems to be the new hotness for some raiding Paladins (especially for Retadins). 11 points down in the Holy tree, it's not a very attractive talent - but offers some serious benefits to a raid in a high resistance scenario.

Resistance mechanics in Wrath are such that the base resistance of any Paladin aura will result in a minimum 10% resistance. By popping Aura Mastery - you can increase that minimum resistance to 20% for six seconds. This is enough to cover the loss of a spore on Festergut, or to mitigate additional portion of a Sindragosa breath.

AM is of course situational, and it may be better to spec into DS (for ret) - if it is a low resistance fight.

Wrap up

Individually these talents aren't make/break - but combined they provide some powerful mitigation for the raid. Next week I'll cover some talent builds to get these bad boys, and go over some Holy setups for picking up AM without sacrificing the world.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

That epic feeling is still there

Last night we had our 3rd repeat LK kill on 10s, which felt great after our repeated face smashing on H Sin. We probably would have one shot him too, but see there was a small mistake. An honest one really. One that anyone could make.

Our Boomkin is named "Cowculus" - our Warrior tank is named "Cowntzero".
In my Grid, druids are burnt orange, warriors are brown.
They were in the same group, on top of each other (in grid).
My grid is only set to show the first four letters of someone's name.

At one point Cowculus pulled about a million zombies with her AoE, so I slapped a quick Hand of Protection on her.

Reaganomics (Retadin) promptly fell over dead. Cowntzero was standing there with a crown on his head.


That feeling

Still there. Never mind that he's basically on "farm" now, I still got the tingles when we hit 10%, and it was still awesome to watch Tirion drop a Falcon Punch on Frostmourne (sorry if I just ruined it for you). The thrill of the kill was still there, and it was an awesome cap to an otherwise poor night.

A mood killer

First, nothing kills your mood like a 25man raid failing because 22 of your 30 or so raiders are online.

Second, wiping for hours on a boss, at the same spot (or close to it) really saps you. Especially when everyone is holding themselves to a high standard, and we still rip into each other. It can make for some tense moments.

Hopefully the 25m that we joined settles down and the great group of 25-30 that I know exist can get it together for some great 25m raiding. If not, we'll be back to 10s and unfortunately that will probably be the death knell of . I just don't think there's enough to keep us occupied until Cataclysm.

Hopefully the Ruby Sanctum and the core of the 25s prove me wrong.

I hate the emo dragon

Something is missing - something small. We're right on the cusp of knocking H-Sin 10 down, but we're missing something in a transition. Every wipe it's about the same, 24 to 20%, then the wheels come off. At this point, the only thing I can figure is it's a lack of communication between the healers, and letting the tanks know they should use a CD or two.

Of course it doesn't help when your tank eats a 41k frost breath. Or someone dies to the frost nova, or your priest doesn't realize he has Unstable magic and explodes in the raid for 20k.

And I'm certainly not blameless - I've chained ice blocks more than once.

The frustration

I think for all of us the frustration comes from the simple fact that next to the Lich King (who took us fewer attempts), this fight is insanely difficult in terms of raid coordination. It's amazing, yet frustrating at the same time - simply because over the course of the expansion we have been handed bosses that were fairly easy. Truth be told though, regular Sindragosa isn't that hard.

I can't believe Blizzard had the stones to make Heroic modes Heroic. The nerve.

Also, is it too much to ask that our tank actually get some heroic tank drops instead of DPS plate? I feel bad for the guy. He's got a rocking heroic 10 set of DPS gear, and is still sporting the shield from regular 10m Anub.

A side note

So I saw that the Paladin notes are being released on Wed now instead of Friday. I'm not going to get too excited, as a huge chunk of it will probably never make it to the Beta, let alone go live. It will be nice to see what direction they have planned for Paladins though. I'm just glad that I have some ret gear all set to be enchanted and gemmed. I'm going to blow some stuff up come leveling time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

Speeding up your raids

Time. It is by far, the commodity most prized and coveted, yet the single thing that we cannot gain more of. Talk to anyone for a few minutes and you run a good chance of hearing the phrases “There’s not enough time”, “I don’t have enough time”, “Where did the time go”, etc.

Even in WoW, we face time limit constraints. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and most players are juggling jobs, education, family, and other activities. Very few of us have the luxury of playing any time we want, and as often as we want, especially if we’re looking to share that time with our WoW companions who may not have that flexibility.

What we can do however, is make the most of the time we have by changing a few very simple things in a raid. While there will always be down time for things like explaining boss mechanics to new members, or the requisite snack-time break, we still have some control over our environment. Here are a few things I’ve picked up/used in my five years of raid leading that will help us maximize our time – just like Kanai’s tips will help us maximize our DPS and raid survivability.

If you want some real eye opening numbers, look at a WoL. Taking the one from Tuesday the 6th as an example, the raid log duration was 3:26, with an active time of 1:44 – just 50% active time. While some of that time includes running back from wipes or going over Sindragosa strats – some of that time is just plain wasted.

You can’t save time if you don’t start on time

This is by far the most basic principle of time saving. Everyone knows what time invites go out, what time the raid is supposed to start, and (for the most part) what the raid location is. If you know that you’re going to be logging in moments before invites go out, take the extra minute to log out in front of the instance. While summoning one person doesn’t take more than 20 seconds, summoning 15 people at 20 seconds each, plus the 2nd summon for those that “didn’t get it” – and now you’re talking about real time. Buffs, mage tables, and group setup cannot be completed until everyone is there.

Use the teleporters

Back in the days of MC, where the graveyard run alone was two minutes, waiting to be resurrected made sense. If one or two folks died to trash, it was usually faster to rez them than it was for them to find their way back, then navigate the instance, hopefully without picking up another Core Hound in the process.

Those days are long gone though. It takes approximately 15 seconds to fly from the GY to the entrance to ICC. From there it’s a quick run down the hall, pop the teleporter, and (if you died early on the trash) you’re probably going to make it back to the group before the next pull. This allows the tanks to keep moving forward, without having to pause long enough to scrape up one or two folks from the floor.

Be proactive on switching out

Personally I’m not a big fan of swapping out players for this boss or that boss, but if it’s going to happen – be responsible and understand that this is something being done for your benefit. Keep tabs on the raid’s progress, and get to the raid zone before the boss you’re coming in on. Sure, you lose some farming time, but you’re not stopping the big raid train.

If at all possible, coordinate who you’re swapping with before hand, this way they can hearth out as soon as one boss dies, and you can run in and use the teleporter (see above). Even if they’re only stepping out for one boss, there’s more than enough time to get back to ICC (unless their hearth isn’t in Northrend – then use your head and arrange a port early).

Be prepared

With the wealth of information available to raiders today, there is precisely zero excuse for not knowing exactly how any boss fight should work. Yes, seeing it yourself is different than reading about it, but a fifteen second search on YouTube for “Tankspot X-Boss Y-Player” will pull up a tutorial video that we could only dream about having back in Vanilla. This will, at the very least, show you the basic positioning and abilities in the fight.

Being prepared also includes simple things, like having your gear repaired and enchanted. Making sure you have the consumables you need, before the raid is supposed to start. Ensuring that you’re not in the middle of a Heroic run, or some VoA PUG.

Use your raid frames

This one is primarily for the tanks and healers. There are few, if any, trash packs that require a full raid complement. Look at your raid frames, and as long as you’re not missing a significant portion of your DPS, and your healers have a decent percentage of mana – keep on pulling. Don’t run off and leave your support behind though, make use of the range checker included in most raid frames. And if you’re not using raid frames, don’t tell me. I prefer to live in ignorance.


Let your raid know if you’re going left or right around a pack, or up some stairs. A quick “pulling” will give the heads up needed to keep you alive, and it keeps the momentum moving. Since a raid can’t be 100% srs bsns all the time, use the trash to get the jokes out and laughter going. In between bosses is a great time to reduce the stress from the last encounter, and prep you for the next one.

Between bosses is also a great time to coordinate things that you know will need to be setup in advance. Healing assignments, burn orders, etc – don’t add this coordination to the Raid Leader’s plate, they have enough to do already. Once you’ve covered it successfully a few times, the issue won’t even be raised, because everyone will know that is in place already.


First, no five minute break (probably in the history of 5 minute breaks) has ever lasted five minutes. Someone is always late getting back, or alt-tabbed out and misses the ready check, turning your five minute break into a seven or eight minute one. Add in the multiple ready checks (this one just to see if you’re back, this one to let you know we’re going, ok one more for real now), and you’re now at ten minutes.

You can however, do a few things to help minimize this downtime. Scheduling breaks (if you know your raiders will need one) can really help. If someone knows that after every wing boss, or after a certain time, they will get the three minutes they need to smoke or bio – they are more likely to hold out for that break.

Breaking before trash, and then pulling as soon as you have ‘most’ of your raid back, can also help speed things along. Impatient tanks, who have a good relationship with their healers, can really save time in this aspect. If you instead break before a big boss pull, you’re stuck waiting for Johnny McSlowperson to mosey back from chatting with the neighbor.


Watch your own actions, and do everything you can to reduce the load on the raid leader, and maximize your raid time. When you figure that the average ICC boss fight lasts about five minutes, just shaving a few moments off in some places can give you enough time for one more shot on a difficult boss. Plus as we all know, there’s no feeling like that of a well oiled and smooth running raid. The smoother the ride, the more fun it will be for everyone.

A change is happening

Right now is in the middle of a guild merger with on Bladefist. They were an existing 25m guild having issues, but having a good core of players. We're sitting on the verge of completing 10m H-ICC, and need something else to do.

It's a decent match.

There are of course some growing pains, which I'll cover a little later, but for now things are going fairly smooth. There's still one detail that has to be hashed out however, though I'm confident that things will go smooth.

More later.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Still 5% - Seriously, what's up?

So it seems that Bladefist-US is still the only server in the farm that is running a 5% buff in ICC. While I'm all for getting kills in before nerfs, this really does hurt our 25m raiding scene, where we're really working with a shallow talent pool. We don't have guilds PUGging past 5 or 7 in 25m ICC, we don't have guilds deep into H 25ICC, heck I think only one guild has even killed the LK 25m.

It's just irritating when every server has it, and they can't figure out how to fix it on one server.

I'm off to kick a puppy.

Upcoming changes - Cataclysm style

So we've all seen the upcoming 'proposed' changes to the cleansing mechanic, and nobody can deny that this is clearly meant to help balance PvP. The ability for every healer to defensively dispel magic also tells me we're probably going to see some bosses with polymorph and other CC abiliities in the future.

I don't really care what class can dispel what, though I guess some shamans are up in arms about the potential loss of cleansing disease and poisons, but I'm more interested in the way they are going about it. Specifically for Paladins.

Fixing the PvP problem

One of the big issues for Paladins, specifically in PvP, is our ability to be effective healers in any tree (with the right setup, of course). From Sheathadins in early Wrath, to ProtHeals dominating General Vezack, these strange healing specs have been popping up like the proverbial mole. Blizzard is obviously working to make healing something you have to spec Holy for to be effective. I imagine we're going to see something similar for all the classes.

Now don't get me wrong. I loved having the ability to cleanse while tanking, it was something that set the Paladin apart from the other tanks (besides the lack of a closer move). We could be fully defensive, tanking the world, and still help ease the healer's load (especially if you had a priest healing in AN/OK). Fortunately, as of the current postings, the ability to cleanse disease/poison isn't being restricted to the Holy tree - just magics.

So what does it mean?

First, I think you're definitely going to see a shift in Cata arena tactics. While this is designed to ensure that you can't stack dispellers without gimping your team's DPS, it means that keeping the CC off your healer is going to be that much tougher. It also means that there could be issues with fights like say, Sethhik Halls, where your healer runs the risk of being crowd controlled by the boss.

Say it ain't so. Difficult encounters again? I can definitely see more of the "miss this mechanic and you die" type fights in Cata - something I felt was really missing in Wrath. But I digress.

I don't want to get all Chicken Little, and really I think the changes are great. I'll miss the ability in my other specs for sure, but it isn't the end of the world. This doesn't break a class, it just brings it in line with everything else. When you have healers who have less than 21 points in their designated healing tree, something is broken.

Monday, April 5, 2010

H Sindragosa - not yet

Friday was a night filled with frustrations and /headdesk moments in ICC. We went for H Sindragosa, which on paper at least, looks fairly easy. In practice however, we were finding it quite difficult.

Our raid makeup was 3 healers, 3 casters, 1 hunter, 1 melee, and 2 tanks. Phase one and two were easy enough (once someone figured out how to get out of the frost nova), and we were regularly getting into P3 without issue. This is where the wheels would come off.

Unchained Magic AoE

This is the debuff casters get during the encounter. In regular, you can eat six or seven stacks without issue (and you can in Heroic during P1/P2), though in Heroic there's a new twist. When the timer goes off and your stacks reset, you don't just take damage, you do AoE damage based on the number of stacks you have.

This can pose a problem in P3 when the Buffet stacks are going out. If someone has six or seven stacks of the Buffet, they're probably fine (providing they don't get a debuff), until you run by and AoE their face off.

The other problem you'll have is that if you don't drop your Buffet stacks on every ice block, you run the risk of getting insta-gibbed if you happen to be the next beacon target. So not dropping your Buffet stacks is kind of like playing Russian Roulette.

Our issues

First, with 3 healers and 3 casters - we could guarantee that every Unchained CD one healer and one caster would have the debuff. Every Frost Beacon one healer would be basically standing with their hands in their pocket (dropping their buffet stacks), one healer would be responsible for the tanks, and one would be avoiding anything because of the Unchained debuff.

Some things were just not working smooth.

  1. Blocks dropping too fast - tanks weren't able to drop their Buffet stacks, get one shot.
  2. Positioning - people chaining blocks because they were in the wrong spot.
  3. Healer who had to not drop stacks gets next Frost Beacon. HNNNGGGGGG (CDs can help here).
  4. Missing Unchained debuff and running up 6 stacks in 6 seconds.
Next week

Hopefully Blizzard fixes the Hellscream's Warsong buff on Bladefist this week. While we shouldn't need the buff, I won't say no to it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

OT - Yup, it's that day again

I have about 150 blogs in my reader. Some are great, some average, some are just data mines. So I don't understand it when suddenly everyone thinks it's hilarious to start lying about what's going on.

Yes, that's right. If you pull an April Fools joke, you're really just lying to your friends (and readers in the case of a blog).

It's not funny, it's annoying. You don't have to come up with some crazy nonsense post for me to read your blog - I'd rather you just didn't post that day.

Save your jokes for open mic night. At the very least, be up front that it's a joke. Don't let some gullible fool stumble onto your writing and think "AMG THIS IS THE GREATEST NEWS EVAH!".