Monday, January 31, 2011

Don't bother me - I'm Ret

No, I haven't suddenly lost my head and decided that I'm going to go plate rogue and become a Retadin. What I did do was roll a brand new baby Paladin on a server that a few friends and aquantancies are on. The guild they're in is social to the point that I'm pretty sure it's the exact opposite of Gevlon's PUG guild. Explored Dustwallow Marsh? Grats! Every achievment is greeted with cheers and salutations - like hitting level 20 and getting a mount has somehow become a major achievment.

Now, lets get to the heart of the matter here - playing a Ret Paladin. I will admit that I started with every heirloom item I could get my hands on. We already know that this is pretty much a ticket straight to OP land, and with the now 35% bonus to XP (10% guild, 10% Shoulders, 10% Chest, 5% cloak), I think I was almost level 10 by the time I left the starting area.

What I like so far

I'd probably have a different opinion on this if I'd played a Retadin seriously in Wrath, but I'm finding the spec to be downright enjoyable. I was a little depressed when I found out Divine Storm hit like a wet noodle and doesn't generate HP, but I got over it pretty quickly. Having several buttons to push as you level is certainly a step up from the seal refresh we had every time we judged in Vanilla. To be honest I'm still wondering why I even have to bother casting it now. You'd think it would be a static buff already.

I can see where some of the issues come from in later levels regarding HP though. Right now I'm practically drowning in it, but a lot of that seems to be from the returns you get when killing a mob. You're not going to get that in a raid instance. Even so, I've been tearing it up in the instances. It's tough to benchmark when you might outlevel the guy standing behind you, but I figure if I'm a full 3 levels behind anyone else and I'm out DPSing them - I'm doing something right.

RNG - She is a mother

Trying to stack up 3 HP can be a challenge, this I'm starting to see. I know there's an ability coming in 4.0.6 that will let you use an ability as if you had 3 HP, but I don't know if that's the fix for some Paladins.

To be honest though, I think part of the issue is similar to the one I had when the 4.0a patch launched and we got all our talents in Wrath. I couldn't stand healing then, and couldn't wait to get playing on a class of a different color. Now though, I love it and am definately going to ask for a head check if I decide to abandon the Paladin again.

Adgamorix - a healer no more

One thing I'm trying to stick to on this re-roll Paladin is that he's going to be Ret only. No healing, no tanking, etc. I've got a tricked out pony on Stormscale if I want to mess with those talent trees. Since I don't have any real intention of doing much with this guy beyond socializing with a few friends, it should work out ok. Not that I won't throw out a heal or Ret tank in a 5 man if someone rage quits. I'm not THAT selfish.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A shift in healing - and a Halfus trifecta from hell

First, we had a shift in our roster recently. Monger is back on his priest, and he's brining the lightwell back to the front of our raiding. Our resto druid switched back to his mage (so we still have a bloodlust type buff), so our overall healing/dps makeup is going to have to adjust to a shift in our play. We did fairly well last night though, especially since we wound up pugging a DK DPS (our now mage was out).

Before we made this switch we sat down and looked at all the buffs/debuffs we were going to gain/lose, and weighed the chages carefully. We also laid out some basic goals and stipulations, so we wouldn't be going in with the 2nd healer wearing greens and inappropriate blues. In the end, I think this move will really help us out, as both of these guys are now back in the roles that I think they excell at instead of just do well at.

Halfus nightmare

Last night we got a combination on Halfus we'd never seen before - all three drakes that buffed Halfus. Storm, Scion, and Slate - so we had Shadow Novas to interrupt, a stacking MS debuff, and increased attack speed.

With this combination we had to release the Storm drake first - there was no negotiating that. Having an increased attack speed mixed with the MS debuff was also a challenge, and this combination casued to to rethink our standard lineup. With no Bloodlust available, we tried to reduce the MT damage by releasing two drakes, plus holding the boss. This ended in tears and teeth gnashing, so we made a composition change.

Halfus is one of the only bosses we currently three heal, but last night we dropped back to two healing instead. While this might seem counter-intuitive if our tanks are getting rolled, it actually fits our healing model (Monger and I). By putting our 3rd healer back on Shadow DPS, it reduced the overall time that we had two drakes chained down. There wasn't an excessive amount of raid damage, so Monger could sit in his single target chakra (don't ask me what that is) with occasional raid heals if a shadow nova slipped through.

I will say that while this worked well, the healing was really tight. I never felt like I had an opportunity where I could safely use Divine Plea, but it was a great check to see if I was using all my other cooldowns well (I wasn't). There's obviously still a lot of room for my personal improvement, things I'll need to fix if I plan on being successful in heroic raids.

What this means

Is Halfus tough? You bet. With the right combination of drakes he can be extremely taxing for some guilds. I don't think the fight is overly complicated though. There are certainly more complicated fights in the game, and even those aren't too tough to understand. Execution is a different story obviously.

There's a lot of talk right now about Halfus being too tough, or overly complicated, becuase every week the boss add composition changes. Some compositions can be easier than others, depending on your group makeup and raid size.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spec and glyph for what your do

As much as many of us would like to claim otherwise - we are not in one of the top 25 guilds in the world. Hell, I'm pleased that we've managed to eek into the top 10 on Stormscale - though I'm hoping that we'll be pushing a little higher and faster with the content patch that we should see around May or June.

Now, I mention this because I've seen quite a few blog posts and forum threads about proper raid specs and glyphs. Discussions of Tower of Radiance vs Blessed Life - Improved Judgements vs Eternal Glory - and should you go for Cleanse, Aura Mastery, or the Last Word. There are a lot of discussions about how you should spend your Holy Power as well - on Light of the Dawn or Word of Glory.

The bottom line

Unfortunately, there's no hard and fast answer for any of these questions. What you can't do however is look at one Paladin's build and copy it, and expect it to work as well for you. The reason for this is, we're all raiding different levels of content with entirely different groups. Lets look at some of the more common builds I've seen, and some reasons why they work better (and what glyphs you should be using) in certain instances.

A baseline build

This is what I consider to be my baseline build - 33/5/3. This build will server you well in pretty much any circumstance you might find yourself in (PVEwise anyway). You have access to all the tools you might need, loads of hit from your Spirit, and a 10yd boost to your judgement spell. You gain the ability to cleanse magic debuffs, as well as all the defensive and offensive cooldown reductions. This spec works very well when you're starting out in 5 mans and heroic dungeons, and has served me well so far (11/12).

Gaining more Holy Power

Now, if you're getting into tougher content, or need to generate more Holy Power, this build is looking to work really well. It's still a 33/5/3 build, but we're giving up 5yds of Judgement, and one point in Last Word. This build requires you to have enough spirit to support getting hit from only 50% of it, which you should have by the time you're in 346 gear (unless you've just said bugger off to Spirit).

You can work this build a little bit, depending on your raid composition. If you have enough cleansers in the raid, you can drop Sacred Cleansing for 1/2 Imp Judgements. I would highly recommend you keep Aura Mastery though, as it is an excellent mitigation tool.

Switching to Light of the Dawn

This is a setup I would only recommend for 25m progression raiding. All of your Holy Power will be going to LoD casts, so go ahead and drop the points in Eternal Glory in exchange for Imp Judgements. You will want the extra range, plus you'll want to make sure you glyph for it.

Glyphs you can move

Beacon of Light - Until recently, I've been running with BoL glyphed, but I've found that I don't have to recast it often in raids. I've even begun to doubt its usefulness in heroics, since you can always stop and drink. If you're switching BoL targets regularly in raids this will really help, but you're spending a GCD to save about 1400 mana. Why am I using this again?

Cleansing - I only run this glyph on Cho'gal, and only because it's so important to get the corruption cleansed ASAP. Once we're ruining with two priests in the raid, this will go off my list even for that fight. A great mana saver in 5mans though, especially when you're first starting out.

Word of Glory - If you're not using all your HP on LoD, this glyph is definitely worth having. Feel free to swap it out with Divine Favor though, especially if you're dumping most of your HP into LoD.

Light of Dawn - A must have if you're doing the LoD build above, as having the 6th transfer to your BoL target is what really pushes this spell's HPs over WoG.

Divine Protection - 40% magic damage reduction every 40sec. This is a clutch glyph.

Divine Plea - I don't use DP as often as I should now, but when it drops to 9sec in 4.06, this will give us 18% of our max mana in 9 sec. I don't see how this will cease to be a standard glyph.

Divinity - We just have too many great glyphs in our majors. If you use DP more than 2x a fight, you'll get more from that glyph. Having 10% return on call though is really nice.

What I'm really getting at

Don't change a glyph or a build just because that's what the boys in Vodka/Paragon/local awesome guild are doing. Think about your build, and how it ties into your actual play style. More importantly, think about the encounter and what's required. Don't drop Sacred Cleaning if you don't have sufficient backup for it. Don't lose your range increase if you shouldn't be in melee. All of these things have to be considered.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution. You can't heal stupid, and your HPS when dead is zero.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Holy Paladin FAQ

Here is a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions that I have gotten, seen, or look up myself. Note that some answers may vary depending on what content level you're at, healing composition, etc. Think of this as a starting place for answers, with the final answer coming from your own esperience.

Q: What build should I be using? This question comes up a lot, and it can vary depending on your current content level. Personally I think this 32/5/4 build is solid enough to cover any content. You can shuffle a few points around here and there, but it's a good place to start.

Q: Who gets my Beacon of Light? Generally this will be your tank in 5 mans, and whichever target is going to be taking a ton of damage. Beaconed this costs you zero mana to cast, so don't be afraid to move it around.

Q: Mastery - super good or super bad? Right now I think our mastery is pretty terrible. The shields don't stack, and they won't abosorb much damage. It's better than nothing, but I don't go out of my way to pick it up.

Q: Do I gem Intellect, or is the Christmas Tree the way to go now? In Wrath we put Intellect into everything, Ret did the same with Str, and Prot with Stam. Now the socket bonuses seem to follow the trend of +10 to a stat for each socket (i.e. a piece with 2 sockets will have a +20 bonus). We obviously want to activate our meta, after that it's personal choice. Right now if the socket bonus is Int or Spirit, I will shoot for the bonus. 20 INT plus 20 Spirit with a 10 INT bonus is a fair enough trade.

Q: OK, so I'm going Christmas Tree - which gems do I use? Red: Brilliant Infernal Ruby (+40 INT). Yellow: Reckless Ember Topaz (20Int, 20Haste). Blue: Purified Demonseye (20INT, 20SPI). Meta: Ember Shadowspirit Diamond (54INT and 2%Mana).

Q: Which glyphs should I use? This is one of those questions that will vary depending on what you're doing. I'll cover the highlights.

Prime Glyphs:
  • Holy Shock (+5% Crit) and Seal of Insight (+5% healing) are non negotiable.
  • Swap Word of Glory (10% boost to WoG) or Divine Favor (+10 sec to DF, for 30sec on a 3min CD). Personally I use WoG, but I run only 10s and I use WoG a lot.

Major Glyphs: We have a lot of options here, and I change mine out depending on the encounter.
  • Beacon of Light - Reduces the mana cost to zero. Great if you're changing BoL targets a lot - not as good if you don't.
  • Divine Plea - An extra 5% mana (6% in the patch) is worth a glyph slot.
  • Divine Protection - I use this in raids, since almost all the damage we take is magical. 40% damage reduction every 40sec is insane.
  • Divinity - 10% mana return when you use LoH. If you're using LoH during boss fights, take this.
  • Lay on Hands - Takes another 3min off the LoH CD, putting it at 7min. Useful in heroic 5 mans, not as useful in raids (fights don't last long enough to use it).
  • Cleansing - reduces the mana cost of cleansing by 20%. I use this in 5 mans and on Cho'gall.
  • Turn Evil - Makes it an instant cast. I use this if I get SFK so I can help CC the adds on the 3rd boss.
  • Light of Dawn - hits 6 targets instead of 5. Great in 25m raids, situational in 10s, useless in 5s.
  • Long Word - I haven't played with this as much as I need to. I think it has promise for 10s and certainly for heroics. Probably not very useful in 25s.

Minor Glyphs: Kings, Might, and Insight. It's the only spells we use anyway.

Q: Spirit, Crit, Haste, or Mastery? What do I reforge? My personal setup was to get my Holy light under 2sec, I stopped around 1.9. I stack Spirit like it's going out of style, and Crit is pretty nice. I'll sacrifice Mastery for the followign order Spirit>Haste(to 9%)>Crit. This is a personal choice. The more mana I have, the more DLs I can cast without feeling like I'm going to OOM in the first minute.

Q: Just how big is Light of Dawn anyway? This depends on how you look at it. According to our melee DPS, it covers their whole screen and blinds them. I think of it as showering them with love. The range on LoD is 30yds, and the cone effect seems to be about 20yds wide at the furthest point. It's certainly wider than the animation suggests.

Q: OK, so how do I make the most of my HP? This all depends on your setting. Right now using a 1HP WoG, followed by HS, and then another 1HP (2 if you're lucky) WoG will do about 20k-30k in healing to your beaconed target in 3 GCDs. This is due to the mechanic between PotI and BoL. In a raid setting, using a 3pt LoD on a group will do significantly more healing than a 3pt WoG on a target. For some EJ style math - you can go here.

Q: I'm running out of mana every fight - what am I doing wrong? This is a really tough question to answer, but a few things come to mind. First, this isn't Wrath. When we first started doing heroics I didn't even look at the DPSers unless they were under 50% HP. Anything over that and they might catch a HS or WoG if I had a moment - They don't need to be topped off. Second - FoL is an emergency heal, and DL is the same. Good tanks will be helping to heal themselves, and you're just there to keep them from hitting the floor. Finally, use HoSac and Aura Mastery all the time. The tank should also be using thier damage reduction talents - since the days of 10m Shield Wall CDs are gone.

Q: Any other tips? Judge early, and judge often. Positioning will vary by fight, so use the appropriate AoE heal or WoG. Remember that it's a new healing game, and the pace is a little slower than Wrath. Don't rush to heroics - run a few normals to get a feel for the encounters and pick up a few of those hard to get items.

In the end remember that you should enjoy what you're doing, and that the game has changed. You can't heal stupid, ignore boss mechanics, or take on extra trash when you're starting out. Don't be afraid to ask that they use CC, in fact I'd insist on it until you've done a few. You'll run into the occasional group that refuses to help out with this, but those groups generally aren't worth your time.

Also, don't give up after one or two failures. You will wipe - I gaurantee it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Updated patch notes - poor new Paladins

Well, I was writing about a new baby retadin I rolled and how ridiculously OP he is in full BoA gear at level 11. Like, seriously sick OP. No, instead I'm going to touch on the latest round of hits to the Holy Paladin.

From the folks over at Blizzard comes the following hits to our supreme awesomeness.

  • Flash of Light cost has been increased by approximately 10%.
  • Holy Light mana cost has been increased by approximately 10%.
  • Denounce now has a spell overlay (go go shockadin!)
  • Aura Mastery: This ability no longer increases the effect granted by Crusader Aura (because that speed boost for 6sec was game breaking in AV).
  • Protector of the Innocent now heals for 30% less.
  • Divine Plea down to 9sec, but restores 12% mana (18% with glyph)

My face, it stings

Obviously there are too may people playing Paladins and GC must play a priest. I mean look at all the buffs they got, and we just got a little buff to our Divine Plea. Oh sure, Druids have a 3 min CD on their innervate, but damn it - we're supposed to be the chosen ones. And nerfing PotI? Wasn't removing the triple dip of having it proc on yourself, with BoL on, and getting 45k healing from one Holy Light enough of a nerf! That's it, I'm off to the forums to write my QQ goodbye post and maybe start a petition and protest.

(end sarcasm)

In reality

These changes are all pretty standard I think. The writing was definitely on the wall when it was announced that DP was being buffed. Our mana regeneration is already amazing, when you consider that we can generate a positive 2500 mana (mana returned minus the cost of the judgement) every eight seconds, plus another 1k per melee swing. Add to that the gearing slide, and we were going to get out of control very quickly.

Currently I'm sitting at an iLvl of about 356 - obviously this doesn't mean jack, but it does give you an idea of what we're looking at here. I'm still 3x pieces short of optimal 359 gear, haven't downed a single heroic raid boss, and I have (unbuffed) 2563 mp5 in combat, and 98k+ mana. Now if my math is correct, a single Holy Light (in live) clocks in at a cost of 2107 mana (.09*23422). So assuming I have BoM, replenishment, and no other buffs - we get the following.

Base Mana = 23,422
Unbuffed MaxMana = 98,651
Casting mp5 = 2,563
BoM mp5 = 326
Replen = 493 per5 (1% over 10 sec)

So - casting for twenty seconds I will get off 10 Holy Lights, with one extra second left over. Let's assume I don't judge, though I should be, in that time. I will spend 21,070 mana on Holy Lights, get 2 full replenishments, and 4 cycles of mp5 (BoM and spirit regen). Meaning we have the following formula.

(2,107*10) - (2,563*4 + 326*4 + 986*2) = 7542. That's it - 20 seconds of healing for about 7% of my total mana. While this isn't massive throughput, there's something to be said for metronome healing. As spellpower, INT, and spirit all go up on our gear, this would continue to get out of control.

Some other changes

The change to PotI is going to affect us a little, but I think it's more to address the bug that Chase pointed out a few weeks ago. It seems that regardless of how small of a heal we landed, we'd get 6k or so from PotI, which then became 3k more on our BoL target. This change won't be game breaking, but PvP will probably see an impact. I know I'll feel it on a few fights though. It was pretty nice to heal one tank, knowing your BoL target was getting 75% of your total healing.

The change to Crusader aura was probably PvP oriented as well, unless it was working on Al'akir. That's the only fight I can think of where having a speed boost might help (is there even a heroic Al'akir?), since it may count you as flying like it did on Valithria. I can see that helping if you were say trapped at the bottom and needed to fly through the clouds to the top (apparently they despawn 2 or 3 levels above you). Hit Aura Master and Crusader. Certainly something to think about till the patch goes live.


The patch is still in the works, but I don't see these changes getting reversed. Paladins are ridiculously powerful right now, and we do scale well with gear. I also have to admit that while I absolutely loathed healing Wrath content with Cata skills, I'm loving the current design and setup of the Holy Paladin.

Now if I can just get Tirion to quit hogging all the damn credit.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The post in which I lose my mind

Last night was a big night for us, as we finally picked up our first piece of token gear and dropped "He with too many eyes" - aka Cho'gall.  The fight was awesome, stressful, and pretty much a giant blur in my mind.  I know we two healed it (Druid and Pally), used two tanks (Pally and DK), and made one teeny tiny change to our hunter's spec (2/2 in entrapment) that made all the difference in the world.  I felt like the fight was really well tuned, and I'm hoping we can repeat fairly quickly next week.  Al'akir is our current hurdle, but at least we're getting into P2 fairly regularly with 9/10 alive.
While I was thinking about writing about Cho'gall, or more Twitter style heroic boss write-ups, my brain today has settled in on a topic that drives me crazy.  The blogsphere has been alive this week with talks of social responsibility, the fact that Cataclysm is the worst MMO expansion ever, and that WoW is dying.  Rants about LFD ruining the social aspect of the game, difficulty of heroics, idiocy of PUGs, and why I can't have the best and most shiney at 85.  Some folks want a return of EQ 1.0 - where "Train to zone" was the order of the day, and you had to keep your spellbok open to regen mana (or whatever it was called, I never played it).  All the stories I've heard though make it sound pretty terrible - but hey, you might have loved it.
This isn't Vanilla, EQ, Darkfall, or any other game
While I appreciate that my grandfather walked uphill (both ways), in the snow (sans shoes), just to get to his child labor camp (forget school) - I didn't have to do that.  The bus came and picked me up, dropped me off at my place of education, and returned me home in the same manner.  My grandmother picked dirt out of the carpet with tweasers, and washed her dishes by hand.  I use a Roomba and a dishwasher. 
My point here is that things change, and not always for the better - or for the worse.  Those danged kids and their rock and roll drove my grandparents nuts, probably the same way my father doesn't understand my music tastes, or how I can listen to Maynard mumble through another album.  I wonder if my dad actually listened to Jim Morrison - talk about your mumblers.
So WoW has essentially had a reset, brining it to WoW 2.0.  Six years ago, it was all about the quest to 60.  Walking until you hit lvl 40 and getting your first mount.  Struggling through the general channel to find a group that wasn't full on rogues.  Praying your group had a warlock, so you could summon people to the instance, because getting from the Barrens to Molten Core just plain took time.  Warriors were the only real tanks, boomkins were mocked (you're a healer - get over it), and you might get a token spriest or MS warrior for that one drake in BWL.  Raids were huge affairs, where a full quarter of your group could sleepwalk through Molten Core without you noticing. 
BC brought us heroic dungeons, epic gear for the non-raider, and the biggest farm fest in the game (arguably one of the greatest instances - Karazhan).  The Looking for More tool was a joke, and good luck getting into H-MGT if you didn't have some sort of CC at your beck and call.  The Horde got Blood Elves and Paladins, while the Alliance got Draenai and Shaman (AMFG GAME BREAKING!!).  Drama spewed as 25m raids tried to gear up through Kara, and attunement chains of epic proportions were required to even open the front doors (one vial per week outta keep you outta Mt. Hyjal).  Badges were introduced, and we saw our first glimpse of getting raid ready gear, without actually having to raid.
Wrath brought us the return of Naxx, the complete lack of required CC, and two weeks of glorious Retadin OPness.  DKs covered the land, and the ranks of terrible tanks began to grow.  We got ToC - the most boring raid ever (one room and no trash - wheee), a full on cross server LFD, and more daily quests than we could blink at.  Our pockets overflowed, and we laughed at the return of Icecrown Radience.  Dungeons were speed runs as players forgot what it was like to do them at level, but instead ran in decked out in gear 45 to 75 iLevels above the final epic drops - much less what you were wearing the first time you stepped in there.  A brand new baby toon could be leveled and raid ready in iLvl 245 gear in a week, having never stepped foot into a raid, but ready for ICC and its 30% buff.
Finally Cataclysm arrived, and with it a whole shift in the dungeon perspective.  Heroics were actually hard again, CC was requried, and oh man are they long.  Almost as long and as epic as BRD, BWL, or heck - Scholomance.  There was trash that could wipe you, boss mechanics you had to actually pay attention to, and a leveling system that kept you on rails.  No longer were we the juggernauts of the land, but instead we were aspiring heroes again - struggling to take on the terrors of the land.  Rapid changes were made to the system, guild leveling took a hit, and six weeks after release we finally have seen the first defeat of the final heroic boss.
This may not be the game you're looking for
Now, you may not love Cataclysm any more.  Maybe the last two, three, or five years have ruined your appreciation of what the game is today.  Maybe it doesn't fit your idea of what the game should be, and you may even have the best idea to fix it.  Personally, I think Blizzard knows exactly what they're doing, and that's making a ton of money by creating a game that millions play.  Even of there are only five million actual playing subscribers, and only half of them are actually enjoying the game, that's still a lot of happy players. 
So if you don't like it, quit playing.  Vote with your wallet and not with your mouth.  Quit.  Unsubscribe.  Play another game, go outside, or take up knitting.  If you aren't having fun, I don't see why you'd bother to log in every day, or at all.  Fish or cut bait.  Put up or shut up.  Shit or get the fuck out of the bathroom. 
I'm out of usefull cliche's now, so just quit pissing in my ear about how broken the game is.  It's not broken, you are. 
Evolve or die.

Adgamorix (Amathalanea)
Parabola - Bladefist(US)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Boss explanations - Twitter style - 5 mans

Matt over at World of Matticus had a great post the other day about explaining boss fights, especially in a PUG. Even in our raid group, lengthy explanations just cause players eyes to glass over, assuming that they even bother to stay at the keyboard. Our ADD brains can't process it, and many of us learn better by doing. Also, the DPS probably don't care about increased raid damage during a certain phase - but they probably do care about the need to kill an add.

These types of instructions are really valuable when you're bringing one new person on a run, and the rest of the team is chomping at the bit. This is one of the biggest reasons I love our 10m group - everyone learns together. There's nothing worse than learning a fight, and then the next week your have 5 people working on the LK who got the "you have discovered Icecrown" message when they zoned in.

This post is primarially for my buddy Minispherist, who is a casual gamer by choice. He doesn't have a lot of time to play, but he likes to be successful where he can. Feel free to use this list for your own boss fights - just give credit where credit is due.

Note: This is for the heroic encounter, for regular just tune it down a ton.

Blackrock Caverns

Rom'Ogg Bonecrusher - Avoid quake, kill chains then run away, kill adds.
Corla Herald of Twilight - Intercept beams till 70, fall off and repeat, don't get to 100. Interrupt boss.
Karsh Steelbender - Stand on inner ring. Kite boss through flame every 10 sec. High DPS, more stacks = more healing needed.
Beauty - CC Pups. Stay away from Runt. Avoid fire pools - fears.
Ascendant Lord Obsidius - Kite small adds, switch to possessed add. Cleanse.

Throne of the Tides

Lady Naz'jar - Avoid waterspouts and tornados. CC and control adds.
Commander Ulthok - Avoid the shadows. De-enrage. Heal through grab-and-throw.
Erunak Stonespeaker - P1 - avoid spikes, cleanse, interrupt, burn to 50%. P2 - don't DOT the MC, watch your casting, LOS the beams.
Ozumat - P1 - kill adds, avoid shadow. P2 - CC/Control kill adds, avoid shadow. P3 - target thing on wall and DPS hard (DPS race).

Tomorrow - Stonecore and Grim Batol - wrap up with Uldum on its own. Next week I'll try and cover the raid bosses in a by role fashion.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kill Videos - 2 PoVs

Personally, I like kill videos. While they generally aren't informative in the pure educational sense, they do give you an idea of what's going on in the fight. Some will use annotations or other objects to point out key parts of the encounter, but usually it's just music and a caster PoV.

Back when I was tanking all the time, I was always looking for a tank PoV. I wanted to see where the boss was positioned, how the pull was executed, etc. Granted once the fight starts you're pretty much staring at the boss's crotch for the entire kill, so hopefully either the camera is paned way out, or you're REALLY intersted in seeing what buttons are pushed.

For me, I enjoy watching all our kill videos from multiple angles, because well, I don't Fraps them myself. It's interesting to see what's going on in the fight, especially when you compare it with the logs.

Either way - we have a couple of budding Spielberg's in our guild, so if you're looking for all of our kill videos, this is where to start. - Shot from our MT's PoV (Paladin) - Shot from a Resto/Ele shaman PoV

Remember to watch in HD.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cho'gall - giving pucker a new level of tight

This week we moved to 9/12 and started working on the first of the three end bosses - Cho'gall. We started with him over say, Al'akir or Nef mostly because we were there already, and I hate switching gears mid wipe work. So it was back to Cho'gall on Sunday, where we spent three hours trying to figure out which end of the room was up, and how to deal with all the chaos.

We started off three healing, but were having problems killing the adds in time (particularly the little blood adds), so switched to two healing. Part of this stems from us not having a mage or lock in the raid, and I really think our spriest is supposed to be using Holy Nova. Right now this is our main hurdle. We got to P2 a few times, but our handling of these baby adds is just cleaning our clocks. That, and our MT is trying to complicate things with odd tank swaps.

My biggest fear when we get to P2 is that we won't have the gas to finish it off. I'm able to enter P2 with about 80% mana, but the damage we're taking is horrendus. My main fear with swapping back to a 3rd healer though is that we won't have the DPS to finish off the adds in time. We could pull one or two of the melee off the boss, but for the little adds that's kind of pointless - and dangerous. Plus that reduces the DPS on the boss, which means it'll take longer to get into P2.

We do have a coupld of crazy ideas to try, like me using RF to pull the adds my way, or changing how we move. Mostly though, I think it's another week of gear and practice - and then we'll be moving on to Al'akir.

Also - I can't wait for the change to Divine Plea to go live. 3% more mana returned in 60% of the time (18% in 9sec instead of 15% in 15sec). Deelish.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BIS vs Damn Good

Reforging brought a whole new change to the way that we can look at gear. Wasted stats can be optimized slightly for better performance, meaning that a piece you might normally ignore, can be made passable. This is important to remember when we start heading into raids, especially for DKP type guilds, where you can help stretch your purchasing power a little farther.

Here's some examples.

I've been unlucky on the weapon drops (unusual for me - I know), so I'm still sporting the Blade of the Burning Sun from Rajh in H-HOO. This sword sports 129 INT, 93 Crit, 76 Haste, and 1729SP. Since the SP and INT are the same for all the weapons here, I'm going to just focus on the reforgable stats. Now what I'd really like to get my hands on is the Scepter of Power - which sports 86 Spirit and 86 Haste.

What I've done though, is simply reforged my Blade. By swapping out some Crit, I've got a weapon sporting 37 Spi, 56 Crit, and 76 Haste. While I'd love to get that extra 50 Spirit, I've at least got something functional. I'm not quite ready to drop the money on an epic enchant for it (I also really like the SPI from Heartsong), but it's certainly better than nothing.

To Epic or to Sell

This leads me to my next issue though - Maldo's Sword Cane, or the Twilight's Hammer. There's also a caster sword from Al'Akir, but without knowing the stats, it's hard to weigh in on it. Now, the sword is BoE, and neither of these items have Spirit. Personally I like swords, just because there's four others in our raid that can use maces. By reforging though, I can make the Hammer workable, though it's not as nice as the drop from Nef. With Nef being so far away on our kill order, I imagine that as soon as that Cane drops, I'll spend the 5k to buy it from the guild bank - even though I know it would sell for a lot more.

Making the most of it

I guess my point here is a lot of times you can get an item that isn't quite BiS, and turn it into something passable, just by reforging it a bit. Something to keep in mind though, is weather or not the item might be best for someone else. By passing on an upgrade you might reforge, you can often prevent two people from having sub-par items, just because you wanted an upgrade. This is the primary reason I'll pass on Cho'Gall's hammer. It's not perfectly itemized, and it would certainly do better in the hands of our shaman, druids, or spriest.

Of course if you can snag something on the cheap, there's no reason not to.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Picking a boss kill order

With three raid zones of varying length, 8 kills under our belt, and no end bosses downed yet - picking where to start your week can be a challenging decision. Leaving out that everyone wants something different off the bosses, you still have to take into account travel time (unless you pre-seed your warlocks) and trash clearing.

So what's a guy to do?


I still want to call this BRD for some reason. Also, why didn't Nef just fly away when he started losing in BWL? Raid bosses are so dumb. Anyway, BWD offers us the following.
  • More trash drops in total, but fewer mobs to drop them.
  • Five bosses we've killed, though three of those have only been downed once.
  • A summoning stone, more for the PvP hyjinks than any summoning.
  • Low trash to boss ratio.


The trash in this place in insane, it feels like Molten Core or maybe TKE. I suppose that instances in Wrath kind of set the wrong tone for this, but still. After ToC and ICC (even Ulduar to some extent), it just feels like a lot of trash. On the upside, I think we've gotten at least one BoE a week off it, so that's something.

  • Lots of trash to give us BoEs - even if we can't use them, that's a lot of gold for repairs.
  • Two bosses we're fairly comfortable with.
  • Halfus - he's kind of a crapshoot, especially if our MT tries crazy bubble rotations.
  • Did I mention the trash?


I don't know if there's a better acronym for this place, but for now let's call it the temple of suck. The drops are even more random than normal, and it feels like it's out of the way, even though you just hop the portal and fly over. Technically it's cloer than BWD, but with only one boss we're doing right now, it seems far.

  • One boss - hopefully in and out.
  • RNG is fickle - it could be one and done or a wipe-a-thon.
  • Interesting council mechanics, though the wind gusts seem to be random as all get out.
  • Short enrage, so at least it's over quickly.

As far as getting loot in our hands and moving on, I'm sorely tempted to repeat last week and do Twilight first. That's more gear in our hands, which will hopefully make the three 'new' bosses in BWD a little more manageable. While no amount of gear will help you if you wind up getting 100 sound, it does buy a little more time from either a DPS, mana, or stamina position.

Now if we could just get our OT to stop trolling the drama club for his dates, we'd be set.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cooldowns - when should I use them?

If you've read my last few posts, you already know I'm bad at using my CDs. I hoarde those babies like they are solid gold, and that if I hang onto them long enough, the perfect moment will occur when I can use them and shine like the Golden Throne itself. Of course what generally happens is either a) they don't get used and we die, or b) they don't get used and we just muscle through it.

Either way, it's a bad thing.

So, over the last few weeks I've been really scouring the logs to try and improve the use of my CDs. I look for inconsistencies and places where the healing was really heavy, and did I use a CD there? While this is all well and good, I need to develop a better habit of when to use my CDs in the moment - not after the fact.

Listening to DBM

While DBM doesn't yell 'now would be a good time to pop wings', it does warn you of in incoming event. After you've done the fight a few times, you'll figure out which of these are AoE warnings, and which are just informative for someone else. This can give you an idea of when it might be a good idea to hit something, and if you can afford to use Divine Plea.

What CDs are you talking about?

Really, I'm talking about all our CoolDowns - offensive and defensive.

Avenging Wrath - Our golden wings, these babies give us a 20% increased healing/damage bonus for 20 seconds. Talented down to 2 minutes, they can really provide that extra oomph you need to get through a phase change.

Divine Favor - On a slightly longer 3 min CD, this gives us 20% haste and 20% crit for 20 sec (glyphed to 30). A powerful CD, this also can grant an extra tick from Holy Radience. Personally I don't glyph for this, but if you use LoD over WoG, it may be worth having.

Hand of Sacrifice - Talented down to 1.5 min, lasting 12 sec, it transfers 30% of the damage taken by one target to you. With the healing recieved by PoTI, you shouldn't run into a issue with insta-gibbing yourself. I like to cast this on the pull, and whenever I know a large damage spike is coming out.

Lay on Hands - Immensely powerful, talented and glyphed down to a 7min CD (it was an hour in aVanilla), it will heal any party member back to full, and (if glyphed) give you 10% of your max mana back. I've often used it just for the mana return, but it's definately a better safe than sorry cast.

Guardian of Ancient Kings - 5min CD, this big boy will heal your target for the ammount you heal, plus everyone within 10yds gets 10% of that healing - for 5 heals. I'm torn on this CD, on the one hand it's some good free healing - on the other, it seems like a really long CD for only 5 casts.

Hand of Protection - Another 5min CD, makes a single player immune to physical damage for 10 sec. Situational, but great for saving an overeager warlock from imminent death.

Hand of Salvation - 2min CD, this reduces a players threat by 2% per second for 10 sec. This is a permenant threat reduction, not just a quick patch. You can glyph it to give the 20% reduction instantly, but the threat will return when the buff fades. YMMV with this one.

Divine Plea - While this is getting buffed in the next patch to 12% over 9 sec (18% glyphed), it currently returns 10% (15% glyphed) of your max mana over 15 seconds, but comes with a 50% healing debuff penalty. You can cancel the effects with a /cancelaura macro, so you can at least get a few ticks of it. With the healing debuff though, you may find that you spend more mana trying to keep up than you actually get from it.

Divine Shield - The infamous pally bubble, it's down to 8sec (goodbye bubble hearth) but it does prevent all magical and physical damage. It's got a 5min CD though, so use it wisely.

Divine Protection - Talented down to 40sec, this reduces all damage by 20% for 10sec. I've taken to glyphing this, which changes it to 40% magical damage reduction and 0% physical reduction. With the ammount of magic damage flying around in the raids, this has proved to be quite benificial.

Aura Mastery - Doubles the effects of any aura for six seconds. While the duration requires some good timing on your part, doubling the effects of your resistance aura can really reduce the damage your raid is taking. It's on a 2 min CD, so use it liberally.

Wow - what a list

Wow - that is a long list of CDs that we have at our disposal. From throughput to damage reduction, and a host of utilities, our toolbox is pretty full. With all those options, it's tough to know when exactly to cast them. While maximizing them is certainly everyone's goal, the first step is to actually cast them. With that in mind, take the voting mantra from Louisianna and change it up a little.

Cast early, and cast often (as opposed to vote early, and vote often). A cooldown unused is a cooldown wasted. While there's obviously no good reason to cast HoP on your hunter (unless you just like killing their DPS), you may save yourself some mana by putting it out early. Every bit of damage we can prevent is one more cast that you don't have to make. Same with having bigger/faster casts.

So, even if you're casting them at imperfect times, you're better off (generally) using a CD than not. As you get used to casting them all the time, evetually you'll start to 'feel' for those right moments to use them.

A second look at the logs

So there's really no point in setting goals for performance if you don't go back and check yourself. Last week I checked my logs and was disappointed to see that not only was I lax in my CD use, my overall performance was lower than it could have been. So now, I'm going to look at a repeat of the same fight we did last night. It certainly doesn't work to examine antoher fight side by side, though you can see if your overall play has improveed.

So, here's a link to our Halfus, Double Dragon, and Conclave of wind kill from last night.

First thing I wanted to note was that Sodapopinski was ranked 8th on the Dragon kill for Ret Paladin DPS. Granted this only compares him to others who've uploaded their logs, but it's still cool to see.

Things I changed

As part of the 'scientific process' it's important to note what was changed between attempts. I added a Hyjal helm enchant and fixed my meta. How I missed those two is beyond me. Fail Paladin is fail.

On to the examination

First a quick look at the healing done. First, the kill was 5:48 instead of 6:28, so we cut 40 seconds off our kill time. My personal overall HPS was down some, but as a group our HPS was closer to being even - which means that one person doesn't have to work as hard to keep the raid up.

Mana returns - I managed to get quite a few more judgements off, which resulted in approx 20k more mana returned. I didn't recieve an innervate on the fight, but this may have been because our druid was cranking out a few more heals, and I was having to cast a few less 'emergency' heals.

Cooldowns - Aura Mastery x2, great for helping on the AoE shadow damage. Avenging Wrath x2, I alternated this with AM since we got 2 AoE shadow damage dispells per rotation. I popped Holy Radience each time, and that seemed to work well. I also popped HoSac 2x.

So on the surface, it looks like I made some good overall changes to my play style. I'll have to work to keep these changes permenant, but it is the foundation for good future play. I was excited to see that I used the same thought process on all the bosses we faced, and that my CD usage has gone up. I'll be keeping an eye on the logs, to see if there's any noticble changes that I need to correct.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pouring over the logs - where I can improve

I like using World of Logs reporting to analyze a fight and do a post-game analysis. So we're all working off the same info, here's a link to our most current log - WoL.

Now, looking at just the pure e-peen screen, I could head off to the corner and stroke myself into giddyness. 7622 HPS - more than 1500 over the next healer. Over 50 million more healing than our Druid as well. Hang on, I'm going to make the O face now. I'll let it slide that I was 15% higher in Overhealing. Cause I'm AWESOME (obviously).

Of course, this screen doesn't mean diddly. It's the overall healing done on the night, and is about as useful a tool as a rock for a hammer. Sure, it tells me something, but nothing really useful. Even looking at the overall healing done for a boss kill doesn't tell me anything beyond pure output. Great for epeen, useless for improving play.

My first real stop

One of the first places I stop when I'm looking for information is the individual Buffs Gained screen. This is generally where I can find the most information that will help me become a better healer, and boy does this log show how bad I really am.

First, I thought my mana management was fine. I never had to call for an innervate, I thought I was using my mana CDs appropriately, etc. Well, the log doesn't lie. Let's look at what really happened on the kill fight.

Innervate - This happened not once, but twice - restoring a total of 42,146 mana.
Judging - 18 judgements - and a total of 74,483 mana returned. This means 63,234 from the judgements and 11,249 from melee swings. In a six minute fight, with an eight second cooldown - This is unacceptable. In the words of the Emporor to Lorgar - Son, I am dissapoint. Judging on CD I should be getting 7 off per minute. That would return 158,000 mana in 6 minutes. At the very least I should be getting off one every 15 seconds. This is an area to work on.
Detonate Mana - This is the buff that shows up in WoL when you use Tyrande's Favorite Doll. I hit it three times, which is perfect for a 6 min fght. Well done.
Arcane Torrent - I hit this twice, probably because I was staggering it with the Doll. I could have eeked out another one for an extra 6k mana.
Divine Plea - I only used this once, because the 50% healing debuff scares me. There are probably more opportunities to use this, especially with a /cancelaura macro.

So in total, my self return of mana can use some improvements. Judge a little more, and that will really help. If I could have gotten six extra judgements in, plus another torrent, that would be 26,876 mana extra - equivalent to an innervate.

Self Buffs and CDs

This is an area where I am a giant pile of fail. I have three healing boost CDs, Lay on Hands, and two damage reducing CDs. Guess how many I used? If you guessed zero, you'd be right. Avenging Wrath? Zero. Divine Favor? Nope. Hand of Sacrifice or Aura Mastery? Again - no. I didn't even use Lay on Hands, even if it was only for the mana return.

In short, this shows me where I have a mASSive area for self improvement, and things I can really work on for future raids. If this log was included in a Holy Paladin app, these are the first things I'd zero in on.

Other things to zero in on

First, Tower of Radiance. This three point talent resulted in me getting a whopping 4 Holy Power in the six minute fight. Four. Now, maybe I'm leaning on Holy Light too much for the work. Maybe I'm leaning on BoL to do too much of my healing. Out of 14 Divine Lights, and 12 Flash of Lights - only 4 of those were on my beaconed target (the only tank in this instance).

Now, maybe I'm leaning on Holy Light too much, that is certainly possible. I had 55 Holy Lights, and 47 Holy Shocks. My Holy Lights were spread fairly even around the raid, so were my Holy Shocks - but only 17 Word of Glory? A 6 minute fight should give me closer to 60 Holy Shocks - and that's assuming I don't get any Daybreak procs. 60 Holy Shocks is 20 Words of Glory, and again, that assumes no Eternal Glory procs. Since WoL tells me I got 18 Daybreak procs - 47 Holy Shocks just isn't enough. Since I'm only showing 6 Holy Power from Eternal Glory, I guess that wasn't too bad.

The last dig

Finally, I can look at some of the other buffs and procs to see just how effective they are.

Giant Wave - from my Darkmoon card, this had a 99% uptime. That's a bonus of 400 spirit for the entire fight.

Heartsong - My weapon enchant, this was up for 59% of the time, with 16 procs. This means I had a bonus of 200 Spirit for 4 minutes of a 6:23 encounter. That's certainly nothing to sneeze at, especially given the cost.

Conviction - 96% uptime. This means I have enough crit to keep the buff up, and don't need to worry about stacking more - I can focus on Spirt and Haste instead.

Infusion of Light - only 12 procs out of 47 Holy Shocks. Maybe I do need more crit after all.

Healing by spell % - So even though it looked like my numbers were way off above, my overall healing breakdown looked like this.
Holy Light - 55 casts, 14% overall, 12% OH
Divine Light - 14 casts, 10.5% overall, 11% OH
Holy Shock - 47 casts, 9.7% overall, 8.1% OH
Flash of Light - 12 casts, 6.8% overall, 0% OH
WoG - 17 casts, 5.1% overall, 8.5% OH

Holy Radiance - 6 casts, 9.5% overall, 36% OH (ouch)
Light of Dawn - Tough to call, WoL counts each person hit as a cast - so 28 people hit overall, for 3.5% of the healing and 17% OH


My spell selection is fine. I need to work on using my CDs a lot more, judge a little more, and use Holy Shock a touch more. This week CD usage will definitely be my focus, and this gives me some clear goals to work on. After all, it's tough to know if you're getting better, if the only guide you have to go by is "did we win?".

In short, I'm bad, and I should feel bad too.

This tells me I'm casting a wide mix of spells, not using FoL on the wrong person, and probably have a fairly solid healing rotation and grasp of what heal to use when.

Valiona and Theralion kill

Last week was really productive for us. A quick repeat of Magmaw and the Omnitron, a council kill in the wind tunnel, and two bosses dead in the Bastion. Crib sheets to follow, but for now here is the kill vidio for the Double Dragon fight.

Remember to watch it in HD, and I hope you like Tool.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Controlling your own destiny

RNG - she is a fickle woman isn't she? I'm probably about to shoot myself in the foot here, but I've had pretty decent odds with this lady. From getting both my Thunderfury bindings in under a month back in Vanilla, to winning a roll on the Val'anyr, to snagging a certain favorite doll - my luck has always been fairly good.

There are times however when you can't really depend on luck, and when you can really put forth the energy to control your own destiny (so to speak). About a week or two ago, I took a gander at Kurn's BIS (pre-raid) list. Most of the items were pretty self explanatory, but two distinct items stood out in my mind.

The first was an old friend that I remembered from Wrath, though he'd grown up some and gotten some beef on his shoulders. I'm talking about the latest healing Darkmoon card here - the Darkmoon Card: Tsunami. Packing 321 INT and a stacking Spirit buff (up to 400 SPI), this is the ultimate pre-raid trinket as far as I can tell. No on use to worry about, and lots of what we love.

The second item was the little doll - Tyrande's Favorite Doll. With the same 321 INT buff, as well as a on use mana return (up to 4200/2min), this looked like another serious contender in the pre-raid setup. While there can be lots of arguments made that 4200 mana every 2 min isn't a whole lot, it really starts to look good when I stack it with Arcane Torrent.

When I last logged out, I had about 91,000 mana. 6% of that is 5460, about the equivalent of 1.5 returns from judging, though this will scale with maximum mana instead of remaining static. The point though, is that when I combine Arcane Torrent with the Doll, I get 9600 mana back - more than I would get back with an unglyphed Divine Plea. And without the 50% healing debuff as well. These returns are also instant, which means I'm not waiting on DP to tick, and I will be able to use them multiple times per encounter. Mmmm.

Now about the control

Over the last week I dropped about 33,000 gold, and a whole lot of time, to farm these two babies up. Yes, I farmed the AH. While I didn't have any control of the posting of the Darkmoon cards, or the RNG that Blizzard would assign to my archeology, they were things that I could work on without needing a group/raid to do. I didn't have to worry about losing a roll to someone in a PUG, or if someone in the raid might benifit from these items more.

Like enchants and gems, these kinds of itmes are things that you can work on as an individual to set yourself up for raiding. All it takes is time (and/or a lot of gold), and a little bit of RNG luck.

Many thanks to Kurn for posting that list, otherwise these two gems might have escaped my notice.