Thursday, August 4, 2011

WTF Happened?

I've certainly had my ups and downs with WoW, but I think this one may be the one that gets me to swear off finally.

For the 2-3 weeks, I've barely been playing. I went on vacation to visit a few conventions and on coming back, it felt like a completely different game I was playing.

The biggest reason seems to be 5-man dungeons. They're nigh unplayable at this point. Unlike in Wrath, many of the Cata bosses have mechanics that people must perform or it's a wipe. Early on, you expected wipes as people learned the mechanics, but eventually everyone knew them. At this point, there's no excuse for someone not to know how to do the beams on Corla in Blackrock Caverns. Yet the past 3 times I've been in there, someone's gotten themselves transformed.

Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines are lengthy, torturous instances full of wiping on trash because people can't focus fire. ZA and ZG people seem to know now, but they're also painfully long.

And queue times keep getting worse. It used to be 20ish minutes if I queued as dps, 5 as healer, and none as tank. Now it's 45, 25, and none respectively. Only to wipe repeatedly due to poor players looking to be carried.

Raids haven't been too bad though. The biggest issue is that we're still having to pug 1-2 spots every week and the result is having to waste large amounts of time teaching someone new how we do things every week. I'm not interested in sitting around and waiting for them to get it while we wipe repeatedly, so after a few hours, I generally quit.

So the only thing that's been left for me to do lately is dailies. And then I log. And I'm done.

That's not worth my monthly subscription fee anymore. So we'll see if that changes by the 23rd when my time expires.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Tuesday!

The guild finally downed Cho'gal last week. I capped a vid of it. Oddly enough, our feral dps druid was in the wrong gear (healing) and as a consequence, only pulled 3.7k, and we had no problem.

Meanwhile, last night, we spent 3 hours on Al'akir, hoping to get him down before patch today, but it wasn't destined to be. Our best attempt got him to 11%, but we only made it to phase 3, a few times, so people weren't able to get the handle on moving with the clouds. But it looks like nerfs are coming, so we'll get it down soon, we hope.

Because it's patch day! 4.2 is out and I'm downloading it as I type this. I've looked ahead to what daily reward vendor I want to unlock first and.... they all suck for me. Each vendor has one item I can use, but every one of them is itemized with crit/mastery, the two worst stats for a shadow priest currently.

The only thing that does look pretty nice is that there are some blacksmithing plans to create an ilvl 365 dagger I can definitely use. Guess I need to start making truegold again. I guess this might be some incentive to work on my warrior again, who's a miner. Might also be a good idea since it's the Midsummer festival and I can get the XP buff.

Aside from the gear, however, it looks like there's 2 new pets. The Crimson Lasher and the Hyjal Bear Cub. As a pet collector (up to 127 now!) those are definitely on my list. I think those may determine which vendor I go for first more than the gear. >.>

Sadly, it's looking like most of my new gear is going to have to come from Valor Points. There's a ring and wand I'd definitely like since I'm currently using 353 items in both of those slots, as well as a neck, and wrist.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Is it Tuesday yet?

So 4.2 comes out on Tuesday.

I pulled my main out of the guild I joined a few months back and joined another new guild, . They're not quite as far along (they still have trouble with Council and haven't had many tries on Cho'gall), but they're a larger guild, so they have 2 raid groups and one of them fits my desired times perfectly.

Plus they needed a shadow priest.

I'm still somewhat disenchanted with WoW right now, but I figure I'm going to see how 4.2 goes before giving it up. In order to help bust into the new patch, I've been leveling my paladin alt as a tailor to make the craftable gear for my main.

Yeah, weird, I know to have a plate wearer as a tailor, but she was only Enchanting so I had a free profession slot open and don't care to make her a blacksmith to help herself out since she is just an alt.

Doing this was made somewhat easier since I'd just finished my Shatari Sky Guard rep grind on my main and had about 300 stacks of Netherweave cloth. I was able to do all my BC tailoring and still had a ton leftover. Guess I'm going to have to find something to do with all of it.

Meanwhile, Frostweave Cloth is sucking. My tailoring is at 395 right now and getting to 425 (where I can begin the Cata levels) is estimated to take another 150 bolts. At 5 cloth per bolt, that's 750 cloth I need to pick up. Joy.

So far I've farmed up 77 of the bolts... 73 more to go...

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Well, raiding hasn't been happening. The new guild has gone to pieces. Everyone went to spring break and only a few people came back.

I tried pugging a few times. Several have fallen apart before the first boss. Most get me saved to two bosses. One did get Cho'Gall down to 0.01% and then wipe which was frustrating.

But for the most part, I have nothing to do anymore.

So I finished Loremaster.


Storm Peaks:

Zul Drak:


Grizzly Hills:

Howling Fjord:

That puts me up to 8735 achievement points. So my next goal is to polish that off to get the "Over 9000!" Achievement. Hopefully by then, things will be interesting again.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

So bloody close....

Finally raided again last night. Got in on a Bastion of Twilight with one of the top guilds on the server doing an alt run. Despite some problems with some of the other pugs, we downed the first 3 bosses and for only the second time since the expansion came out, I got to stand up against Cho'gall.

Our first attempt was pretty miserable. I was healing at that point and the DPS wasn't quite sufficient to keep the blood boils out of the raid so we barely made it into phase 2. At that point, they had me switch to shadow and decided we'd two heal the fight. We easily got the boils down that time and got the boss to <300k health before wiping. So bloody close.

One of the tanks had to go shortly after, but we got in one more attempt and again got him down to just a few percent. The tentacles kept killing us because people were getting them too early on (including me; lesson learned, the shadow crash graphics are slightly smaller than the actual radius of effect). I'm hoping we'll continue it tonight. About the only gear I still need comes from Cho and Nef.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Killin Critters

I don't have a tendency to join large guilds. The one I'm in currently has a full raid team, but that's pretty much it. As such, trying for the Critter Kill Squad achievement so I can get the Armadillo Pup is a ways off. Thus, I'm always looking for ways to murder some critters.

I found this post on another WoW blog that suggested using stormchops and standing in the Ironforge side of the tram where rats spawn indefinitely and then just letting them do all the work while I take a shower or something.

The idea sounded pretty good for 2 reasons:
1) I don't have to do much - I don't even have to be at my computer!
2) It's close - Hearth is in SW, so quick tram ride over.

Sounds like a sweet deal, so I figured I'd try it. So I dropped by the auction house to pick up a few.

None there.


Oh well. I have the recipe. Just need some lightning eel.

Crap. None of them on the auction house either.

Oh well. I know how to fish.

Unfortunately, the drop rate sucks. Whatever. I fished 5.

Bought some clefthoof meat. Slapped it together and have five stormchops. Great. Let's kill some rats.

I used two of the five I made and watched some TV. In total, I netted about 600 dead critters, so all said and done, about 300 per 30 minutes. In other words 10 per minute once you're all set up. Factor in the time taken to fish up the damned eels (another 10 minutes) and you're probably getting 6-8 critters a minute.

Not too shabby.

Except that I can kill about 300 critters in 1-2 minutes up in the cave on the west edge of Eastern Plaguelands. They don't respawn instantly, but do in about 10 minutes. Do the math there and you're averaging closer to 20-30 critters per minute. Far better.

The real exception is whether you want to travel all the way to EPL. It's not too bad if you take the portal to Twilight Highlands, but still, rather out of the way.

However, I get a lot more satisfaction out of seeing the kill count shoot up so much. So I think I'll stick with the latter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I've been working on trying to get the From Hell's Heart I Stab At Thee achievement the past few days in my spare time.

As a shadow priest, it's not hard in concept. Dots. Kite. Mind Blast and Mind flay when you got the room.

I'm averaging 7.5k dps as I go, but it's still taking 20 minutes to do it.

The issue is that he's been liking to glitch a lot. Suddenly, he's "not in line of sight" in the middle of a freaking ocean. And then he evades, wanders off, and resets.

And then of course, there's horde around who love to be pricks. Which is why usually do it at night when the kids are in bed.

So tonight I had the shark down to 1% and a 81 horde lock comes along and fears me into it.



Nearly 2 years ago, while living with my ex-girlfriend (rogue), I first got into real pet collecting.

One of the pets we wanted the most was the Phoenix Hatchling. We farmed the ever loving hell out of MgT back when we were both 80. She rogue tanked, I healed and did some dps. We got to the point where together, we could clear it in 10 minutes and were hitting the instance lock out for too many instances in an hour.

Months of doing this when we had nothing better to do and neither of us had one.

When Cata hit and removed the portals to get to Shattrath to get to Sunwell Plateau easily, I pretty much gave up on ever getting it but went back a few more times just to see if maybe I'd get lucky.

And tonight I finally did.

PS: If you want to see all my pet collection, check out my profile at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Word of Glory

My tanking spec on my paladin is somewhat different than what's popular right now. In particular, most specs include Word of Glory which allows a tank to use their holy power to heal themselves.

Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I still play with the mentality that it's a healer's job to do the healing, and the tank is supposed to have armor, parry, dodge, defense, and other mitigation to avoid taking as much as the damage in the first place as possible. As such, I obviously didn't take points in other associated skills like Eternal Glory or Guarded by the Light.

Arguably, the latter does put up a shield on any overhealing that would fall under the mitigation I just discussed, but to make using Word of Glory its best, you're using 4 talent points to support it. That's quite a few.

So the question becomes, is there anything better?

As usual, this is a tough question. To me, it depends on what you might be needing. As a tank that still hasn't gone beyond heroics, I consistently find myself running my daily heroics with raid geared players and as such, threat is a consistent issue. To help with this, I spent those 4 talent points in Seals of the Pure and Hallowed Ground. This has worked out pretty well for me. This past week I was in a group with a guildie on his hunter pulling 14k dps average, and he never pulled aggro. Apparently this was novel for him and he greatly enjoyed it. I can't chalk this up to these two talents alone. It could be my fabulous button mashing. Who knows.

So where do I see the extra healing coming in as more important? Easy: Entry level raiders. They'll need that extra healing until they're sufficiently geared to be mitigating the damage in other manners at which point, I think going back to more threat can be great since it lets your DPS go all out.

I bring this topic up because the most recent patch preview for 4.1 mentions that Word of Glory is going to be reworked some to give Paladins self-healing without having to blow holy power. I'm interested to see where that's going.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms - Thoughts

Looks like Blizzard has announced another new feature for the 4.1 patch. It's the Call To Arms for the dungeon finder which offers bonus rewards for people that queue as the least represented role (tank/healer/dps) to help reduce wait times.

Cool idea but I don't actually see this being a good move. I think it's simply going to increase problems I've already seen, namely, people queuing for rolls for which they're not properly geared, spec'd, or proficient.

A few weeks ago, I was healing an instance in which the tank was simply taking ridiculous amounts of damage. Crits were landing for half his total health left and right. Additionally, he couldn't hold any aggro. I inspected him to see that he dropped all his points in the prot tree, and was wearing about half pvp gear, some healing gear, and only one actual tanking piece. He'd never tanked before and only queued because he "wanted fast queues".

Unfortunately, the timer prevented us from kicking his ass out of the group so we agreed in whispers to let him pull, not heal him or get engaged in combat, and let him break all his gear and hopefully rageface enough he to drop group. It eventually worked.

While this was a pretty extreme example, I've seen it several times. People think that PVP gear = tanking gear because it has tons of stam and that tank threat = dps. It doesn't.

And it's not just tanks. When not healing, I'm very curious to see how priest healers break down their healing. Using Recount, I can see just how much of their healing is made up by what spells and I think most priests are doing it dead wrong. There's a ton out there that are still using Flash Heal as their primary heal and burning through their mana in 30 seconds. Bzzt. Wrong. Sure, you'll probably keep the tank up pretty well in that time, but you're wasting your party's time having to stop to drink after every pull. Additionally, those healers are lucky to have enough mana for longer, boss fights in which they're blowing every cooldown and requiring tanks to do the same. Big cooldowns (Lay on Hands, Last Stand, etc...) are generally considered "oh shit!" buttons. Not "my healer sucks" buttons.

Players that really don't know how to play a particular role can't be stopped from doing it, but this new system looks like it will encourage them.

In some ways, I don't mind this: Hopefully they'll learn quickly, or go read up on how to play, or someone in the group will give them some friendly tips. However, I also know from my experience both in game and out, that telling people they need to improve at something or what they're doing is wrong is something they don't take kindly too.

For example: Shadow priests have had the ability to cast Mind Sear on friendly party members since the last major patch. But I frequently see them casting it on enemies, which reduces the number of targets it will hit for an already underpowered spell. I generally remind them they should channel it off the tank if they're going to bother casting it at all (they can do more dps single targeting currently). The last time I tried this, I was met with a curt, "STFU! I kno how 2 play".

Obviously not.

Again, getting people to try out new things is awesome. It gives the game variety that will hopefully help to keep players entertained and keep playing.

So by all means, Blizzard should give the carrot of rewards gold, gear, and pet bonuses that the Call to Arms feature promises. But as with other things, there should also be a stick.

What I'd really like to see is Blizzard put in a ranking system where players were given a brief "thumbs up/thumbs down" for each member of their party after a random instance. Players that suck and get voted down repeatedly would be punished by getting pushed further down on the queue next time.

The problem with this would be that some players just have a hard time because they're not sufficiently geared. For example, a tank that is absolutely awesome, when first transitioning to heroics would likely suddenly find his rating dropping as people blame him for wipes that were simply caused by not having sufficient skill. Thus, there should be another factor: Some sort of algorithm that included the gear level appropriateness for the particular instance (and perhaps the gear type as well which could knock people for thinking that they're a PVP tank).

So while I think the idea is an OK one, I worry about the side effects. It may fix queue times, but I think it's also going to bring a lot of stupid players out of the wings and into the spotlight.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Catching up & Looking at 4.1

So I took a few weeks off from WoW to prepare for Naka-Kon. Before that, I'd joined the guild I'd mentioned previously, that I'd raided with before being bitched at by the GMs of Legions of Azeroth. Now, I'm a member of Guildbook on Stormreaver. I raided with them for one week before Naka and we beat down the first two bosses of Bastion of Twilight pretty quickly. That was more bosses in one night than in two months with LoA.

I then took two weeks off, and upon returning last week, we again downed the first two bosses and wiped a few times on the Twilight Ascendant Council. This week, we beat them in just a few attempts, before heading on to Cho'gall where one of our raid members decided to afk for 30 minutes without telling anyone. We pulled without him and wiped fairly quickly and no one felt like waiting for him, so we called it there.

Still, I managed to get myself a new healing neck. I also won the roll on some healing boots but passed them to one of our healers since I'm main spec shadow (why this guild doesn't do main over offspec, I don't know, but we're all cool enough that it's worked out fine).

So I'm currently quite pleased with how the social dynamics and progression in game are going for me right now. My real life friend quit last month to go back to playing Everquest (and subsequently quit that too), so I'm out one friend on there, but another friend just rolled up on my server and we've been playing together quite a bit the past few nights, keeping things fun outside of raiding.

But in upcoming news, Blizzard has announced some of the things coming for the 4.1 patch. Probably the biggest news is that Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub are being retooled into heroic 5 man dungeons. I'm not a huge fan of simply retooling things, but similarly, I wasn't thrilled about ZG being taken out, if for no other reason than I really wanted the damned mounts! The week before Cata hit, I got the raptor, but I'd still never gotten the tiger. Similarly, in ZA, my guild had gotten to the point where we could manage to get the Armani War Bear, but I always lost the roll and eventually, it was no longer available. Thus, I'm excited that similar mounts will be available again, even if they're not the same ones.

Of course, with patch comes class changes. Not much is changing for us priests. The biggest change I see, is that our mind sear damage will again be increased which will hopefully, again, make our AOE respectable.

My hunter is also now 85 so I glanced at their changes. Again, not much, but our multi-shot damage is getting a huge buff. That will be swell, but given that hunters already have good AOE, I don't know that it will stay that way.

I recently started leveling my paladin again to help tank instances as he levels. Currently, she's at 81 so possibly 85 by the time 4.1 hits. Again, not many changes here. We get a holy power when our Grand Crusader pops and we use our Avenger Shield. But given holy power isn't a huge issue for tanks, it's not something I'm jumping up and down over.

So that's where I'm sitting currently. Cool story.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Some pro tips for anyone who runs a guild:

If your guild is too small to raid and you consistently fail to put a group together, and the guild doesn't do anything else together, you're not much of a guild. Thus, don't try to enforce rules saying that your members can't pug content that you're not anticipating to do that lockout period.

This week, I decided to run a Bastion of Twilight with another guild to try to squeeze out a few more Valor Points and get another piece of Tier 11 gear before our guild's raid night so I could hopefully be more helpful with the DPS. So I checked with our GM to ensure that BoT wasn't one of the instances we were planning on running got in, downed two bosses, got my new tier piece, and passed my hit cap. All things that you generally want your raiders doing.

But the GMs in Legions of Azeroth decided otherwise and instead, decided to enforce rules written when we were a 25man raiding guild in Burning Crusade in which we didn't allow raiders to PUG content on the current tier level because we could always get raids together and clear everything. Meanwhile, at present day, there's three raid instances with at least four bosses each. In none of them can we down a single boss yet, and we don't even have 8/10 players necessary to pull a guild group. So the rule doesn't make much sense to enforce. But they decided to anyway. So last night, when they realized I'd gotten saved to an instance on the current tier level, I was demoted from my guild rank, which essentially lost me all my guild privileges (what little there were).

So I dropped that guild. I expect I'll be joining the guild I've been PUGing with which is in much the same situation: They're lacking a second tank and need a ranged DPS. I can fill the DPS position and my real life friend has been (slowly) leveling a paladin tank, so we may be just what they need to fill off their raid group. But while they can't, they don't seem to be twits about who's allowed to raid what.

Still, I'm rather frustrated that I now have to start entirely over with guild rep. Not being in a position on my main to redo all the quests through Cata (which earned me a good deal of the nearly revered rep I had) means it will be a long time before I can gain some of the guild bonuses. Plus, I'm rather annoyed with the amount of time I spent cooking, fishing, skinning, herbing, and doing other things towards guild achievements. You'd think that, in absence of raiding, someone who was one of the top contributors to the guild (even higher than the GMs) I'd get a little love. But not. Not even close.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I've been thinking about leaving my guild lately. This is a tough decision since I've been with this group since the middle of Burning Crusade when Karazhan was still the highest level of content all but the most elite guilds would ever see.

Our biggest problem getting further then, and then in Wrath, and again now, is just members. The guild is tiny. We only have about 10 really active members and with people changing mains for Cata, we don't have a good raid balance, even if everyone can make it. Three druid healers isn't good for a raid. I've been voluntold to heal for the time being which I don't mind terribly, but we're still lacking a strong tank healing class.

Or a second tank for that matter.

Several weeks ago, we'd had a guild meeting and discussed recruiting, but in the intervening weeks, we've not gained a single member. We found a paladin tank that's decently geared that's willing to come with us although not join the guild. So we're able to get in to content now, but this new tank didn't seem entirely comfortable at tanking.

Additionally, our GM has been telling us to watch videos for a fight so we can learn it, and then tries to tell us to do something different which confuses everyone and suddenly people are running all over getting themselves killed. It's been a mess. Poor leadership all around.

So I've been watching trade chat and LFGuild channels to see if I can find a guild looking for a good shadow priest and no one seems to want us right now. It's quite sad.

Tonight is supposed to be a raid night, but I'm taking it off for RL stuff and don't really care. The entire game has turned into nothing more than logging in to do dailies, blow my alchemy transmute, run my daily heroic, and log out. Raiding hasn't been worth it thus far.

So in 2 weeks, my paid time will expire and I think I'm going to let it lapse. I'll see if I can find some friends elsewhere to play with, but so few guilds seem to have my desired raid times or need my class the game hasn't been seeming worth it lately.

Perhaps this will mean I'll have more time to write my book

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

4.0.6 Patch

The patch notes for 4.0.6 are out and, as expected, there's quite a few changes.

First off, class changes:

For priests, I'm not entirely surprised, but they're buffing shadow a tiny bit. Our Mind Blast is going to be "significantly increased". Given I'm already pulling 10k dps, I'd expected they'd feel shadow was sufficiently strong and leave it alone given we're, in a very real way, a utility class, restoring mana and health. Additionally, our Vampiric Embrace no longer has a duration to it. I remember when it had to be cast on every target! Our AOE is currently weak. Even with large pulls (think the whelps right before Sindragosa), I used to be able to pull 16-20k dps. After the nerf, I was doing 5-7 and other classes were consistently doing 12-15. Obviously we're lacking there as our Mind Sear was nerfed into the ground. I got better DPS single targeting. So finally we're getting an upgrade on that. A paltry 15%. Not enough to scale it back to on par with other classes. However, now we can channel it off friendly targets too, so that may help increase overall output some since we won't have to worry about our enemy target dying and breaking our channel.

Discipline priests are also being buffed, but not nearly as much as I'd expected. There's a slight buff to Pennance, making it cost 7% more, but heal 20% more as well. Grace can now apply to numerous targets, but when you're spam healing the tank with mana efficient spells so you don't run out, that doesn't much matter. Shields are getting buffed in a similar manner though. Mana cost up by 31%, but absorbs (and thus, instant heals when glyphed) for 208% more too. Not bad. Our only heal that we can truly cast on a party member quickly, Renew, is getting less expensive by 24% too. I'm wondering if this is being rolled into a talent or will be carrying over to Holy healers as well.

Speaking of Holy, we're not bad in this spec, but there's still room for improvement. On a good boss fight, I'm averaging about 6.4k HPS. This could easily be higher but given the need to conserve mana still, I limit myself in some ways. Our Circle of Healing will be going up 30%. Desparate Prayer will be getting buffed significantly whereas previously it was nearly worthless (although I was still spec'd into it).

My other class I've been playing is my hunter, mostly to level my Leatherworking and help all our leather and mail wearers in guild out a bit, so I glanced at their changes too. As predicted, they're getting some pretty hefty nerfs as well. Which makes sense since they're crazy strong right now. Our Cobra Shot now gets affected by haste, that's good. But our Black Arrow and Explosive Shot are both being reduced in damage and our passive agility (and thus AP bonus) on Into the Wilderness is being reduced by 33%.

So that's the changes for the classes I play. Priest will be getting a tiny bit easier. Hunter a tiny bit harder. Overall, pretty much what I expected.

Now for the instance changes:

When I first started doing heroics, I was not happy with them. Completely new mechanics and tricks made the learning curve far too steep for most players. The DPS gap was similarly prohibitive given that, aside from rep grinding and completing the Cata Loremaster to get all the ilvl 333 items from the end of them, there's not good ways to get gear to be ready to walk into heroics. The ilvl 316 stuff that drops on normal just didn't cut it. So heroics just weren't fun.

Slowly, as people have been getting gear, they've become more manageable. Tanks are finally walking in with 140k health unbuffed where earlier, they'd walked in with 110k. I have that much as a freaking clothie. You're not cutting it as a tank if that's all you got.

Heroics previously had been damn near impossible, now they're just challenging. Some more than others. I still haven't completed Deadmines. The sheer amount of burst DPS needed on Ripsnarl to manage the ghosts makes it impossible for most PUGs even now that many people are getting geared. So I expected some nerfs.

But I think Bliz went overboard. For example, in SFK, Baron Ashbury has 3 skills to worry about. The Stay of Execution, which needs to tick once or twice and then be interrupted, the Mend Rotten Flesh which also needs to be interrupted, and the Pain and Suffering, a DOT that can be interrupted or dispelled if it's not. So essentially what this requires is that your group have 2 interrupts and 1 dispell. It's pretty hard to find a group that doesn't. Getting people to do it properly is a bit harder, but that's fine. People should be required to be on top of their games on heroics and raiding. Blizzard has decided to completely remove his Mend Rotten Flesh. Now there's tons of room for people to fail again since you can double up on the interrupts.

Another over nerf, IMO, is completely removing a pup from Beauty in Blackrock Caverns. This was a pretty tough fight to keep 3 CCs up at all times. But now that nearly every class has some kind of CC, it's not impossible. And if you don't have 3, well, kill a pup. Every group should have DPS. Not super hard.

Ones that make sense? Giving an extra half second on Ozruk's Shatter to allow the tank to get away since there's issues with the dot ticking at the right time as I discussed previously. Tornadoes on Altarius don't knock you randomly around into other tornadoes or off the edge where the boss will kill you instantly. Reducing the flame breath on Valiona (although I had issues last night with it hitting me when I was clearly not in front of the boss; my archangel was at her back foot!).

There's several other small changes, but those are the big ones to me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Holy Heroics

I changed my healing spec to Holy this past week on the advice of a guildie. Keeping a tank up as Discipline was still pretty easy, but Disc lacked any ability to heal DPS without having the tank lose a huge chunk of HP or have to use mana inefficient spells.

With the changes made to Holy, introducing Chakra states, it's become more viable as a tank healing spec for heroics but still is strong with party healing. For those not familiar with the Chakra system the idea of it is that you cast your Chakra, then the next healing spell you cast puts you in one of two Chakra states for the next 30 seconds.

If it's a direct healing spell, you get 10% additional healing from all direct healing and the basic heal refreshes your renew. If it's an AOE heal, then it reduces the CD of our instant cast heal by 2 seconds (out of 8 so 25%) as well as improving our renew's overall healing. So one state is meant for tank healing and one is meant for AOE. And since you can switch between these every 30 seconds, it's made Holy a very flexible spec that's a lot of fun to play.

There's a few other procs that we get too. From our talent tree, we get Serendipity which turns our Greater Heal into a pretty fast cast. Generally, Greater Heal is not great for mana efficiency (Flash = 2.4, Greater = 3.3, Heal = 3.8), but since Serendipity also decreases mana cost, it becomes the most mana efficient non-CD spell we have! This is pretty awesome and since I tend to take an extra second to react to standing in things since I'm staring at health bar, I tend to use Binding Heal a lot, so it's up pretty often.

Surge of Light is another nifty proc that helps a lot. Instant cast, free, big heal? Yes please! Oh, and it procs Serendipity. Cute little chain reaction there.

The last pretty sweet new thing Holy Priests have gotten is our Power Words. The normal mode for this is a strong instant cast DPS spell on worthlessly long CD. But depending on our Chakra state, it can change one of two ways. The first is into Holy Word: Serenity. It changes into this when entering the Chakra state corresponding to the direct heals. This is a pretty large (~10k) heal that's also super cheap, and instant cast! Moderately long CD, but factored into the longer run of keeping a tank up, this is a pretty good boost.

In the Chakra state that goes with AOE heals, it becomes Holy Word: Sanctuary which is a ground targeted spell that drops a healing zone. The zone apparently spreads past the visible boundary but falls off quickly beyond there. I can see this helping a pretty good deal on Assad in Vortex Pinnacle. A lot of players don't like to move too much after the grounding field so chain lightning takes its toll. Popping some AOE heals while everyone's in the next field tops them off well and this well help greatly.

Another bit of coolness we get: Body and Soul. Shield someone and they move 60% faster for 4 seconds. One of the absolute hardest fights in heroic right now seems to be Ozruk from Stonecore. Just after doing his AOE stun he does his shatter. The tank barely has sufficient time to get far enough away to get out of range before, generally being one shot. The timing on this has been pretty glitchy and seems to depend very heavily on the lucky coincidence of the DOT they apply to themselves to break the stun happening just after the stun goes off, giving the maximum time to run. If you're unlucky, you can lose nearly a full second of run time and the tank is doomed. If a healer with Body & Soul can break themselves quickly and toss the shield on the tank, the extra move speed will help them make up for lost time.

Lastly, we now get Inspiration. With a good deal of crit (I'm currently sitting at 9.34%), this can be pretty much kept up continuously. While it's only physical damage, it's still a pretty huge chunk. Since it's a percentage, that means it scales with damage, not your gear! And since a lot of what a tank takes is physical, this is pretty amazing for us.

Overall, the whole field of Holy healing has changed. There's a lot more buttons we have to press and a lot more to think about, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's given us some great adaptability and the result is a fun and flexible build.

I still want to stay shadow as my primary raid spec, but I'm not entirely against the guild needing me for healing now.

Meanwhile, heroics have started to become tolerable again. I'm still dropping about 25% of them within the first 10 minutes when tanks think that AOE pulling and not watching CC's is a good idea, or when some scrub in full PVP gear waltzes in and expects to get carried when they're only doing 3k dps but we can't kick him due to the vagaries of the whole voting to kick system.

I'm managed everything except Deadmines on heroic now. Ripsnarl kills us every time, mostly due to poor DPS. I haven't tried it yet as Holy, but I'm suspecting I'll be able to keep people up much better and make up for their mistakes than as Disc. Time will tell.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

So..... Cata

Cata's been out for nearly a month now and I haven't posted much on my thoughts on it thus far.

I headed out at midnight to get the expansion. I wasn't planning on getting the collectors edition since I'd heard it was pre-order only. Turns out Best Buy had some extras, so I got one. I installed it and waited for the server to switch over.

Release night was crazy. The line to get to the flight master was insane. And when I say "line", I mean "cluster fuck".

After about 10 minutes, I finally got it, grabbed my quest to head to Vashj'ir, and headed out there. Release night was ridiculously laggy. I was having 2 second delays on all spells. Oddly, there didn't seem to be many people in the zone compared to later nights when lag was lower.

Regardless, I leveled through Vash, headed to Deepholm, realized I hadn't picked enough herbs to be able to pick the ones there, headed back to Hyjal, did the quests there, grabbing herbs along the way, returned to Deepholm, and Uldum.

Our resident rogue was our guild first 85, followed by one of our warriors, and then a hunter. I was fourth through the gate, having done quite a bit of healing through instances for that last level.

Since then I worked to get my real life friend to 85, and try to get us both enough gear to run heroics. And dear lord what a pain that has been. The number of places and methods required to be sufficiently geared to run heroics well has been painful. Some gear has come through quests. But the ilvl 333 stuff only seems to come from the end of long quest chains from an entire zone. Thus, I netted the quest achievements for every zone except Uldum and Vash. The former because I just quit for awhile, and the latter because it was bugged and not enough quests existed for the first few days. Seeing that, I left a few undone and apparently they've gone and fixed it, so I need to pick up those last few for the achieve.

Meanwhile, other slots can only be well filled from running non-heroic instances. And some.... well, there's just nothing there for some slots. Want a good set of druid healing boots right now? There's an ilvl 316 pair, but absolutely no 333 pair. Instead, you'll skip straight to ilvl 346 boots. Either you get those from the heroics you won't be able to heal, or you get these boots which only drop from a rare spawn with a 9-14 hour respawn timer in a cave that's heavily traveled by questers. My friend took the latter route. Other gear comes from Justice Points. If you saved some from Wrath, you're a step ahead. But since my friend blew all hers for boomkin gear, she's been hurting for JP gear since she can only get 70 JP a day, being unable to heal most heroics due to poor gear.

As a priest, I haven't been suffering nearly as bad. The healing is brutal, mostly due to severe mana issues. But as I've improved gear, that's slowly being mitigated. Still, I've been having some problems with my regen skills. Hymn of Hope takes far too long to channel. A tank will likely be dead by the time it's done. Shadowfiends have had their attack changed. Previously, they were permanently set to aggressive and would go after whatever your target was. Now, you have to be attacking the target to get it to attack, or actually press another button to tell it to. Obviously, as a healer, I'm not attacking anything, and having to actually tell it to attack both wastes a bit of its time attacking as well as takes my attention away from the people that need healing. I think this was an extremely poor choice.

Alchemy has been a help. The new mana potions are potent, but requiring Whiptail makes them expensive to produce since it can only be (reliably) farmed along the banks of the river in Uldum (also around a lake in Tol Barad, but have fun getting ganked). It's a very limited area and since it's so well defined, you can bet that you'll be competing to get it. Still, this isn't nearly as bad as the Azshara's Veil which only comes from Vashj'ir, and is extremely spread out. Super slow, yet required to make my flasks.

Aside from healer mana issues, heroics just haven't been going well. I've tried running several with PuGs, but generally drop within the first few minutes when it becomes clear the tank still thinks he's playing Wrath, and tries to AOE tank everything and not worry about cleaving the CC, if he even waits for it. Similarly, few people have been paying attention to boss mechanics and people standing in things has been a reoccurring problem, and a waste of healer mana. On the first boss in Halls of Origination, none of our three dps knew the lever mechanics (on normal) leaving the tank and I to be the ones to have to do their work for them.

Sometimes, I can't entirely blame people. The green healing circle druid healers drop frequently does a very good job of obscuring any ground effects from the bosses. The faint blue tornadoes on the first boss in heroic Throne of the Tides blends in with the blue room and are easy to miss when you're staring at health bars. Overall, it's requiring an ability to multitask that many people don't possess nor have the gear to compensate for.

In the meantime, I've also been working on archaeology a ton. I've maxed it out in Eastern Kingdoms, hoping to get the DPS caster staff, but no luck so far. After maxing my alchemy, I switched over to Kalimdor to put together Canopic Jars and attempt to get the Vial of the Sands recipe to turn myself into a Sandstone drake. So far, I've put together one jar and haven't gotten it. I've collected most of the materials, and almost have the 24k gold necessary to buy the Sands of Time.

Cooking has been a pain as well. I've finished leveling it, which wasn't too hard. But getting recipes requires the daily cooking quest. In this case, I wish Blizzard had gone with some more of the variety they had with gear: You get recipes from daily quests, instance drops, chefs in various cities, or reputation rewards. Nope. Instead, there's the painful bottleneck to collect the recipes.

I've been mostly concentrating on fishing recipes and haven't quite maxed that out, but am slowly working on it as I help the guild with the That's a Lot of Bait! achievement. Annoyingly, the main fish I want for the best dps caster buff, doesn't come from pools, making fishing them completely useless for the guild achieve.

Next week, the guild is hoping to have its first raid. I'm quite skeptical that we'll be geared enough. Additionally, we're lacking several spots. One of our tanks plays primarily on another server now and, even if he does sign on to play with us, is now playing a shaman as his main. Our third healer was an alt of another guild's member's, but now that she's concentrating on her main, we don't have her either, leaving me to probably be the 3rd healer for some time.

Another of my real life friends recently started playing and is leveling a Death Knight to be our new tank, but it's a long process. I'm not sure why Blizz didn't extend the cutoff for recruit-a-friend XP since the level cap was raised as well. He's currently 70, but it's probably going to be another 2-3 weeks before he's sufficiently geared to take up tanking, if he can even handle the responsibility with such a challenging difficulty as a new player.

So that's what been going on for the past 3 weeks with me. Overall, I like Cata. It's a good challenge, but there's some annoying oversights, and it's showing just how bad many players really were.