Monday, February 28, 2011

In which I defend the T11

Stats. The number one thing we look for on our gear. Is it an upgrade in these key areas? Unfortunately, we don't have a secondary stat that screams "pick me!", since we have effective caps on everything.

Got enough mana? Stop picking up spirit. Conviction up 100%? Your crit is probably fine. You can't reach the GCD haste cap at the moment (3489 or 27%), so don't stack beyond what you're comfortable with. Mastery is still kind of a big question mark, and most of us reforge it to something else.

Set Bonuses

Generally the saving grace of Tier gear, and the reason we all want those tokens, is the set bonuses. Sometimes they're amazing, other times they're lackluster. Either way, they are what we have to work with, so we better get used to them.

I disagree with Chase

This won't be the first time I've completely disagreed with WoW Insider's Paladin blogger (Holy anyway), and I'm sure it won't be the last. Here's my executive summary of why he doesn't like T11.
  • No Haste - none of the pieces have any haste at all, putting you 700 haste behind the non set pieces. Haste is great for throughput, and for extra HR ticks.
  • 5% crit to Holy Light - Since it's only about 10% of his total healing (20% for me on Nef, but that's a specific fight), adding 5% crit to that spell isn't a huge bump. I think it's the same bonus for every class though.
  • 1620 Spirit whenever Holy Radience is up - this comes out to about 2000 mana returned, or about 20% of the spell cost.

Now these points are solid, don't get me wrong. I just disagree (and I'll take the math with me) that the pieces, haste, and set bonuses are really that bad.

Haste and Holy Radience - how much do you need?

Right now, any time we cast Holy Radience (as Holy) we're automatically getting 12 ticks instead of 10 - assuming we're fully raid buffed, spec'd properly, have Judgements up, etc. Adding 773 Haste will gain us one additional tick. The next break point is 1859, then 2954. That's a lot of haste.

Now I hate trying to do the Haste math, but the short version is 100% haste will cut your cast time in 1/2. So if you had a 3 sec cast, you'd be at 1.5 sec if you had 100% haste. So 6% haste will give you .15 sec off your 2.5 sec cast, 14% will give you .35, and you'd need 20% haste (2562) haste to cut .5 sec off your 2.5 sec cast.

So while haste is great, you have to be careful. I lose about 393 haste (counting socket bonuses) when I switch from my non-set gear to my 4/5 T11 (I have the Chim shoulders). I also pick up 70 int (sockets), and 5 spirit. Now, that 393 haste rating comes out to about 3% haste, or a whopping .075 sec off my Holy Light/Divine Light casts. This would have 'saved' me about 8.85 sec of casting on my last Nef fight (DL+HL casts), and for argument's sake I'll assume it pushed me over the threashold for the next HR tick.

Since I had 10 HR casts in that fight, that would have been about an extra 1500 healing done (assuming every tick was a crit and in very close range), which is 15,000 healing over the course of the fight to one person - about what I get from a Holy Light crit. With the spirit buff, I would have regained about 20k mana, or about 20% of my total bar - about what we get from Divine Plea.


At the end of the day I don't disagree that our tier pieces aren't perfectly itemized, but I do disagree that the T11 is really that horrible. Unless you're really rocking the haste for that next tick of HR, or your raid is wiping because you're a tenth of a second off on a heal, I wouldn't spend a lot of time stressing over which gear setup is better. Personally as long as my main heals are sub 2 second casts, I feel like I'm doing alright. I'll take any free mana I can get, especially if it means I don't have to hit Divine Plea. I would even go so far as to say it's worth taking a tier token from someone else if you can get that 4th piece (if you're using HR regularly).

Monday, February 21, 2011

I don't believe in RNG

This last week we started working on H-Halfus and H-Chimaeron (10s), which opened up a whole new world of hurt on the raid, and ultimately resulted in a bunch of repair bills and some good learning moments. I'm still not convinced that we've got our strategies worked out (since we never actually killed them), but the progress was measurable.

Also measurable was my Blood Pressure increase every time I heard this phrase. "It was just bad RNG".

Come again?

I have a real tough time swallowing that excuse, execpt in a very few circumstances. For DPS it can be an issue, say with Ret HP generation or maybe a mage's crit streaks - but for tanking and healing, it's generally unacceptable.

Shouldering responsibility

Here's a specific instance where it wasn't "Bad RNG", but a case of folks not doing their jobs properly. While it may be tough to narrow it down to the start of a chain of events, it's pretty evident when you start examining the situation.

During one of our many wipes on Nef, our Nef tank in P3 died to a shadowflame breath. Now while this was the killing blow, a look at the death log shows him going for six seconds (or more) without recieving a single heal. Not one. Normally I'd say that's impossible, but it was right there in black and white.

Now since I am generally responsible for healing the tank, this death falls on my shoulders. Since he didn't even get a BoL heal, I was obviously doing something else for that time (sleeping?), instead of keeping him healed up. Now, maybe he didn't have my BoL on him yet (my fault), or maybe I was using DP without calling for backup heals or using a CD to mitigate it (again my fault). Who knows what was really going on during that time. Maybe I was busy healing up the raid because we got a bad crackle, or I was OOM because of a bad P2.

It really doesn't matter. My job is to keep the tank alive first, raid second. Any deviation from this is on my shoulders. The same goes for keeping your platform alive in P2. If a Shadow Nova gets off due to a missed kick, that's not bad RNG - that's your kicker not having enough hit. Something that can be fixed.

RNG Gibs

This is another area where I have a hard time with RNG being blamed. Yes, it is entirely possible that you eat some back to back attacks that gib you down. Blizzard's design though is that you won't be folded in a GCD (or maybe 2). Even if you are though, maybe there are some cool-downs or abilities that aren't getting used. Basically if you die, and have a single CD that isn't used - that isn't RNG, it's you (or your team). Here's an example.

Back when I was in High School I played baseball (and every other sport, but this story is about baseball). In our last year of being in the B-11 division (we were a small school in a farming community) we made it to the state championships. This was the big time for us, and we loaded up to seek fame and fortune.

The tourney was a multiple day affair, with several games each day, and was single elimination for the first two rounds (lose once and go home). Once you'd won two games it went to double elimination, but you had to get there first. Our coach, in his infinite wisdom, left our star pitcher on the bench - with the mentality that we'd want him for game 3 to secure a spot in the winner's bracket. Unfortunately we lost game 2 with our 2nd baseman, 1st baseman, hell anyone who had ever pitched (ever) taking a turn on the mound. Our ace went home having never thrown a single pitch.

This holds true for your CDs

I am terrible at this. I hold onto LoH like it's gold, and that I'll never get to use it again. For example on H-Chim I save it for when we go into P3. I can usually use it to push our tank over 10k, so he can take 2 killing blows. Unfortunately we're losing tanks during the fued phase, where a LoH may have allowed us to continue. In this case, that LoH is my star heal that never gets off the bench. No point in saving it for P3, if we can't get there.


I think it's too easy to blame bad luck, or some other metric when we fail. It's difficult to say "this was my fault" when it's questionable to begin with. It takes in-depth analysis and a lot of guts to admit that you could have done better. It's certainly easier to blame someone else for what happened.

So go away RNG - get out of my raid. You might exist for loot tables, but I often doubt that as well. Seeing as our hunter has 5 pairs of T-11 shoulders, I think you're just broken.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A plug for Mr Robot

So listening to the Matticast podcast this morning, I heard about an optimizer tool that would help with your reforging and stat selections. While there are tools like Rawr to help figure your best DPS, and Reforger to help you in game, I was looking for something that was a little bit of both, but that was easy to use.

Enter Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot (MR) is a site that will allow you to upload your current character from the armor, make optimization choices based on a couple of preset stat weights (i.e. healer longevity vs. throughput), allow you to edit stat weights, and allow you to find BIS gear for each slot. Pretty handy. You can even change your professions so you can evaluate the difference between being a JC/BS and an ENG/ALCH.

What really sold me though was that the site was extremely easy to use. A few clicks and I could see what items I should be reforging, some enchants I could change, and get a quick comparison of what BiS items I'm missing. I can even look at my final stats after optimizing, though there's no real way to tell what kind of throughput or longevity you'd get.

All in all it's a pretty nice tool, and I give it the old two thumbs up for ease of use and desired information. Check it out at

Dungeon Finder Changes

So Blizzard has made a couple of changes to the LFD system recently, but it seems they're still not happy with the way players are interacting in random dungeons. Recently it was announced that a few changes were coming down the pipe to hopefully curtail some of the more bothersome behaviors.

Here are the highlights.

  • If you que with a tank or healer, and that tank/healer drops soon after entering the dungeon, the playsers queing with the tank/healer are kicked as well.

Holy *#&@ is this great. First, it should kill the WTS/WTB instant que nosense that we're seeing now. While it's fine and dandy that you're next in line for a tank if someone pulls this on you, it's still gaming the system and shouldn't be allowed. I'm looking forward to this change.

  • Players outside the instance for more than 3 minutes are now immediately able to be kicked.

Just another quality of life issue resolved. I'm sure someone will do the 2:45 jump in/out, but I'm guessing there will be another underlying mechanic to help negate this.

  • Groups queing together will be watched more closely. Groups of 3 will require a 4th vote to kick someone, groups of 4 will incur more severe penalties for kicking someone.

I don't know how this will really work, but it's a good thought to prevent a group queing with a non-tank as a tank, kicking the 5th player, and then requeing to get a new tank.

Overall I think these changes will help with some good quality of life changes. There may be some issues where legitimate players/groups get stuck with a poor tank/DPS, but you can see what they're trying to fix. We should see a little less of the annoying behaviors, though there will still be general idiocy in your standard 5 stranger PUG. These changes don't do anything to help out in that regard, they just try and fix the things that are actually manageable at this stage.

Personally, I'm more excited about the change to Guild Rep for killing raid bosses. The fewer randoms I have to do the better.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A second look at Blessed Life

A few weeks ago I changed my raid spec to look something like this. I went to 1/2 in Last Word, 1/2 in Eternal Glory as well. I'd read that Eternal Glory was suffering from an ICD of 8-15 sec, so I figured the points could be put to better use elsewhere. I'd read mixed reports about the HP generation from Blessed Life, and wanted to give it a shot. I kept Sacred Cleansing and Aura Mastery, because I run 10m only, and sometimes your cleanse is the only cleanse. Aura Mastery is just too powerful to skip, as it can really help reduce raid damage.

To the cloud!

Sorry - I really hate those commercials too. Don't these idiots realize that saying "to the cloud" is just like saying "to the internet"? Anyway...

Looking over several logs, I'm seeing a big swing in how BL is performing. Here's my HP generation for a couple of different fights - Cho'gall, Nef, Chimaeron, and Atramedes.

HS - 38, ToR - 6, EG - 1, WoG - 6, BL - 0

HS - 21, ToR - 1, EG - 3, WoG - 7, BL - 7

HS - 41, ToR - 2, EG - 3, WoG - 17, BL - 12

HS - 55, ToR - 6, EG - 5, WoG - 8, BL - 22

ToR + BWD (-Nef), + TB
HS - 273, ToR - 22, EG - 24, WoG - 92, BL - 41

Well what the heck? Now obviously these are four very different fights, and the last one is the totals from all boss kills in a raid night. Once again, the numbers just aren't looking very promising. There's quite a bit that I can garner from these numbers, so let's start at the top.

Holy Shock
Where to start with this one. Obviously I'm not using HS on CD, the numbers just don't add up, especially when you factor in Daybreak procs. So there's one place I can pick up some free HP. Of course the healing situation may be calling for something different, so it's just something to work on, not something to really dwell on.

Could this talent possibly provide me less than it is now? Obviously I'm not putting a lot of FoL or DL on my Beacon target, instead leaning on HL to do most of the heavy lifting. It's tough to say if this is good or bad since we're killing bosses. Given the way Monger and I work together though, I'm going to say this talent just isn't putting out. I might see more in heroics when I'll be focused more on the tank and less on assisting with the raid.

Talk about hit or miss. Having 1/2 in EG cuts the percentage down to 15, but still. This may warrant a point if I decided to cut points in ToR or BL.

Yeah - the point of this entire post. 41 HP generated in 10(?) boss kills? Cho'gall gave no HP, and even Atramedes only gave 12. Nef topped the charts at 22, but I'm sure a lot of those were from P2 when he's pelting the raid with shadowflame (why doesn't my Ony cloak work still?). I'm sorry, but ladies and gentlemen, that dog just ain't gonna hunt.

Let's assume for a moment that those 41 HP were used for 14 (I'm giving one extra HP for the sake of math) full point WoGs (even LoDs that hit six people). My WoG is critting for about 28k, so that's about 392k in healing that I got for 'free'. Not bad, except it's spread out over 10 bosses, so I'm now averaging about 39k in 'free' heals per boss. Conversely, in those same boss kills I judged 141 times, healing myself for about 151k. 2/2 in EJ bumps that up to 300k in free healing - though only for myself (and 1/2 to my BoL).

So is it worth it to have those points in BL? What about ToR? As I mentioned to someone on Kurn's blog the other day, it's not a question of "Are those points worth it", but one of "where else will you spend them". Is an extra point in EG or LW worth it? Maybe for H-Chimaeron. If all those HP came from P2 on Nef though, I'd be a fool to lose those points for that fight, just because healing in that phase is already tight.


At this point I guess those points are still discretionary. I don't need to judge from Texas, so that's not worth the points. I may spend a lot of money switching back and forth between BL and WoG talents - or take them from ToR. In the end, I'm going to put this decision in the same boat as the Heartsong vs Power Torrent debate - it's just too close to call. It's really a question of how you raid, healing assignments, and raid size/comp. The numbers aren't so overwhelmingly awesome that you think "I must have!", but they aren't so bad that you immediately dismiss them either.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heartsong vs Power Torrent

A few weeks ago I was able to nab Twilight's Hammer, and I did a mad dash for the enchanters. I was quick to slap Power Torrent on it, as I'd been running with Heartsong on my weapon up to this point. I mean, Power Torrent is an epic enchant, with epic mats - it HAS to be better - right?

Unfortunately, the math doesn't seem to pan out. Here's what I've been able to put together so far. For the mp5 numbers I used this formula - .0025 + SPI * sqrt(INT) * .0083625


Awarding 200 Spirt for 15 sec, this enchant has a 20sec ICD and results in about a 57% uptime. Right now this means I'm picking up an additional 121 mp5 every time it procs. Over the course of a five minute fight, this averages out to about 4356 additional mana. Figure that each proc will give you 3 ticks of your mp5 boost.

Power Torrent

Awarding 500 INT for 12 sec, this enchant has a 45 sec ICD and results in about a 17% uptime. Plugging the additional INT into the formula above, and adding the returns from replenishment, this averages out to about an additional 185 mp5 for me right now. With the INT bonus only lasting 12 seconds, you only get 2.4 ticks of the boost.

What isn't factored here is the mp5 you would get if you hit Divine Plea while PT is up, or the additional spellpower you recieve from the INT.


I've never had a tank die becuase the heal that did land wasn't big enough by a thousand or so points. I have lost tanks because I've run out of gas though, and that's the final deciding factor for me. If Power Torrent gave your current mana the boost that your max mana recieved, then Power Torrent would win in a landslide - in fact I'd say that it would almost be borderline OP. Since it doesn't though, you're really just pushing your top end up.

At the end of the day, it doesn't seem worth the cost to put Power Torrent on. Your total mana return is going to be higher with Heartsong, you'll pull in about double what you will with PT. You might see some slightly larger heals during those 12 seconds, but unless you're able to time your other CDs with it, you won't see noticible increases. For now, I say leave PT for the DPSers, and stick to the regen.

Quick update

Not dead yet, though I swear my wife tried to kill me by introducing me to the 200 some odd people that were at our wedding last weekend. We took most of a week off from raiding so I could handle the wedding business (it's strange trying to type with a ring on), and then I got the friggin plague.

On a plus note, we finally downed Nef this week using a 2 tank, 3 healer strategy (Disc, HPriest, HPaladin). I'm sure we'll have a kill video up soon, but you can check out the WoL here if you're into that kind of thing. On the docket this week will be our first attempts at heroic bosses, as well as a shot at a repeat Nef kill - since this one was pretty sloppy. Our add tank went down at around 5%, and it was a race to the finish line after that.

I'm open for any tips on the heroic bosses, as they look to be quite a hand full. It seems only one guild on our server has managed to kill 2 heroic bosses, and only two others have done one. This last patch may push those numbers up some though, so it's still anyone's ball game.

Now to finish my post on Heartsong vs. Power Torrent - and why you shouldn't do math at 5am.