Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is this melee trinket Best-In-Slot for my resto shaman?

Two posts on ElitistJerks recently about the Herkuml War Token made me do a doubletake. Because of the 153 passive haste rating on the trinket (despite the completely wasted attack power proc), this trinket is still a really good throughput trinket for a resto shaman-- due to our voracious hunger for haste. In fact, a quick glance at my lootrank would actually indicate that for the content I am doing (non-25 man), this trinket is actually Best-in-slot for my HEP calculations! (Note that lootrank will show Muradin's Spyglass higher because it can't distinguish between healing and dmg procs). Is this correct? Should I really be spending Emblems of Frost on a melee trinket instead of a healing one? Perhaps.

Up until patch 3.1, melee and casting haste ratings were completely different. When they merged them at first, it seemed like a nice way to simplify stats. However, .2 patches later, I think we are seeing that this stat is scaling so differently for melee and casters that we are seeing odd phenomena like this trinket. Consider that for a melee cast (combat rogue) for example, haste is maybe 4th or 5th in their stat priorities. For a caster, including both my resto and elemental specs, haste is far and away the best stat I can stack, and only reaches diminishing returns for a resto shaman at ludicrously high numbers.

It's still very early into Icecrown Citadel- so far, the devs have not made mana regen a priority stat for healers like they had claimed to. Perhaps later wings will prove more challenging, mana management wise. For now though, mana regen trinkets like the Purified Lunar Dust are just going to pale in comparison to throughput trinkets for cutting-edge content.

So which troll shaman has two thumbs and may be sporting a melee trinket in a few weeks? This guy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From 70 to Icecrown in 2 weeks!

Since I knew I'd have some time on my hands during the Christmas holiday, I decided to pull out my old 70 priest and level her, since she hadn't seen any action since Black Temple. I was also really interested on how the gearing up process would go with all the changes in 3.3.

Fortunately, between the new LFG system, changes to questing, and the newly available gear, I found I was able to get my priest ready to heal Icecrown Citadel in just 2 weeks!

Leveling through the new LFG system

I leveled with a Shadow spec (for soloing) and a Disc off spec to heal some dungeons, and my initial thoughts on the new LFG system were very positive. From 70-80 I ran each dungeon once, with VH 2-3 times. During this time I was only in 1 pug that didn't finish the instance and probably only had a total of about 4 wipes.

I also found that the new quest/map system was really amazing in zones that I didn't know very well, such as Sholozar Basin. It replaced the need for extra mods like TourGuide or Carbonite.

Overall, leveling from 70 to 80 took about a week.

Gearing up a fresh 80

Once I hit 80, I decided to concentrate completely on Disc (I queued as both but, unsurprisingly, have never been selected for dps). After 3 days and about 40 heroics later, I had amassed full iLvl 200 gear with a few 245 pieces from triumphs: the Talisman of Resurgence and the Band of the Invoker.

Hitting the new 3.3 content

Once I had at least 200s in every slot, I felt comfortable running the regular version of the Icecrown 5-mans.

After running them all once, I'd picked up a few pieces of 219 gear. Since I still didn't feel completely ready to dive into the heroic versions, I just kept queuing for these 3 and continuing to pick up the free 219s, and noticed that after another day or two of this I was finding it hard to OOM. The only way I could do it was spamming Holy Nova even on packs of 1-2 mobs. When healing regularly, I never even had to drink between my Hymn of Hope and Shadowfiend cooldowns, so I decided it was finally time to start into the heroic versions. Besides 1 failed PoS run, I've found them to be pretty smooth.

Ready to raid!

Overall it's been a really good experience, the new emblem system mixed with the new LFG system makes it very easy to get into full 232/245 gear and ready for Icecrown Citadel in a matter of a few weeks. Compared to the BC days where hitting 70 during Black Temple meant you were about 9 Karazhan runs away from doing anything higher than SSC/TK, I have to congratulate Blizzard on catering to the alts of people who love the game and know how to play but don't have time to raid off nights to gear up.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Updated Emblem of Frost Pull List

So yesterday I explained why I'm only going for 2 pieces of T10 at this time, and that I generally value the bonus around 150 HEP.

Looking at the actual itemization, I'm going to go for the shoulders and the head. Basically, the handguards and the legguards, having 0 haste on them, are actually overall downgrades for me from my current gear. The chest is a nice upgrade, but not nearly as nice as the cloth chestpiece purchasable from Emblem of Frost as well.

So I'm going to plug in the 2 pieces of tier that I want to buy, plus the craftable leatherworking patterns (Frozen Saronite can be bought for 23 Emblems of Frost each), and update the pull list I made about a week ago. In the meantime I've run new HEP numbers based on a night of ICC healing. You can see the new rankings here.
The tier pieces are augmented by half of the projected HEP bonus from the set, so 62 each. In addition, because the trinket and the totem are so hard to model, and I'm not really that excited about either, I'm probably going to hold off on even attempting to acquire them until I see some real numbers on them. I've also left on the non Emblem gear that is available in Lower Spire before the next content expansion (which is only in like 3 weeks, so it's not really that long).

Updated Emblem of Frost Pull List
Best Upgrade HEP Acquired by? Cost HEP per Badge Current HEP
Frost Witch's Spaulders 123.3 Emblem of Frost 60 1.067666667 Pauldrons of the Spirit Walker 59.24
Frost Witch's Headpiece 142.18 Emblem of Frost 95 0.758315789 Helm of the Spirit Shock 70.14
Waistband of Despair 70.31 Emblem of Frost 60 0.391166667 Darkspear Ritual Binding 46.84
Drape of the Violet Tower 42.42 Emblem of Frost 50 0.2622 Shawl of the Caretaker 29.31
Meteor Chaser's Raiment 96.12 Emblem of Frost 95 0.259052632 Thrall's Tunic of Conquest 71.51
Earthsoul Boots 72.99 Leatherworking 115 0.250956522 Sabatons of Tortured Space 44.13
Blizzard Keeper's Mitts 70.01 Emblem of Frost 60 0.242833333 Thrall's Handguards of Triumph 55.44
Lightning-Infused Leggings 96.64 Leatherworking 184 0.121467391 Leggings of Concealed Hatred 74.29
Purified Lunar Dust   Emblem of Frost 60 N/A
Totem of Surging Seas   Emblem of Frost 30 N/A Totem of Calming Tides
Hammer of Purified Flame 127.23 ICC5 Drop/Quest  
Ashen Band of Endless Wisdom 51.21 Rep   Ashen Band of Wisdom 41.13
Pride of the Kor'kron 48.09 TOGC10    Pulsing Spellshield 43.01
Soulcleave Pendant 45.68 10N Drop   Arcane Loops of Anger 36.31
Coldwraith Bracers 44.22 Marrowgar-10N Drop   Cuffs of the Shadow Ascendant 29.29
Signet of Putrefaction 41.13 Marrowgar-10N Drop   Band of the Invoker 34.7
Sliver of Pure Ice Marrowgar-10N Drop  

So that's why I'm getting the pretty deer shoulders first. MATHS MADE ME!

[Update: Thanks, Gritz! Yeah I meant T10, and I messed up on my spreadsheet and used an old HEP value I had from older haste valuations, of 125 for the HEP bonus.]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How good are the T10 Shaman Boni?

Uhh, it's a word, right? Anyway.

2-piece set bonus

According to my log parser, Riptide accounts for 23% of my in-combat casts. This makes sense because my normal rotation is something like RT-LHW-LHW-CH, and with the Glyph I try to keep Riptide rolling on 3 separate targets if the fight mechanics allow it. The Shaman T10 2 piece set bonus grants 20% haste on your next spell cast immediately after a riptide. At level 80 1% of haste is 32.79 haste rating so 20% haste is about 655.8 haste rating.

Unfortunately, as I'm already sitting on 995 passive haste rating, that haste boost would actually push me over the GCD/LHW haste cap of 1639.5. It's not a total waste, but in my normal rotation it would lower the value of this set bonus to 644.5, and this value will get worse and worse as my gear gets better. So I'll stick with the value of 655.8, and assume that I'm going to be switching to something like RT-HW-LHW-CH. Assuming I can keep a pretty steady rotation of this, the rough theorycraft would be that this haste bonus affects a quarter of my spells, but loses a little utility because it's not really controllable, and due to the riptide cooldown, I may not have the haste proc up during a burst when I really need it.

For the purpose of future loot rankings, I'm going to say the T10 2 piece set bonus is worth about the equivalent of 100 haste to me, which probably stacks up to about 150 HEP.

4-piece set bonus

The Shaman T10 4 piece set bonus, as it is basically an uncontrollable hot, which we already have one of, and looking at the 251 T10 items there are much better upgrades from other sources for a few of the slots. I can't really think of an effective way to model it, but I am hoping it is something stassart will model and get HEP calculations on. I suspect it will account for a lot of overhealing.

Until then, I'm pretty much going to ignore it for the purpose of loot ranking, as 2 of the 251 t10 items are downgrades for me right now. I'll probably revisit it when the next iLvl of T10 items become available, or when some number crunchers on EJ find out that it's actually awesome or something.


Anyway, I'm up to I think 35 Emblems of Frost on my shaman now, so I'm probably going to revisit my planned pull list with some updated HEP stats based on these calculations, and the availability of other gear. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Patch 3.3 after 1 week

Here's a big bag of my impressions of patch 3.3 after the first week.

Shaman changes

Not many changes for Resto, but the hot sexiness for Elemental came in the form of Fire Nova. Even when I'm healing instances, I find myself watching this cooldown and hitting it on big trash packs if no one is really in need of a heal. LOTS of fun. It's like when I spam Holy Nova for easy 5 mans on my priest. I can see it being a headache to keep up on big aoe raid pulls, as you actually have to get right into the cleave zone and drop a fire totem to get to use it, but so far I find it to be a really nice addition to the shaman arsenal. I haven't had time to tweak my elemental gear/spec (and I should, because I end up 5-manning as dps a lot), but I think my new spec may include the talent and glyph for fire nova, just because it's fun.


So I think everyone is probably in agreement that the darling of patch 3.3 is not actually Icecrown Citadel, but the entirely revamped cross-realm LFG system. It is really refreshing to be able to sit down at your computer, and within 5 minutes of logging in and checking auctions, you're suddenly good to go for exactly the instance you need, or the random heroic, with pretty much no hassle.
  • Nobody talks! You just zone in and start thwacking bosses and it's all good. Once or twice on the new instances I've stopped the tank and made sure that they knew a boss strat before charging in all crazy-like, but for the most part, silence is golden. And that's actually fine.

  • People are surprisingly nice! I hope this lasts. The other nice our tank accidentally hit need on a boe green, and then fell over himself apologizing and made me take it.

  • The one or two bad apples don't ruin it. I've had the odd unenchanted, ungemmed ret pally pulling 400 dps and generally being a noob, but the Luck of the Draw buff goes a ways in letting the other people compensate for it. When you're well geared guildie warlock is raking down 6k dps on trash packs, you can ignore the non-dpsing pally noob.

  • Versatility is key! After the first day of waiting around for a while for a LFM random, a guildie switched his fury warrior to fury/prot so he could get in pugs faster, and discovered that he LOVED tanking. Similarly, I was surprised to find that I'm getting into a surprising number of groups as dps when i select heal/dps on my shaman, and given the recent ele changes, I'm having a blast!

New Instances

The new 5-mans are really well done! They are visually striking, as is all of icecrown citadel. They're actually kind of challenging; you can't just faceroll and expect to collect loot. Like I said last time, I still find that first boss of Halls of Reflection to be a little too punishing as a healer who can't dispel magic, but it's nice to have a challenging 5-man for a change!


A new instance always brings new casually and hardcorely acquireable loot and this was no exception.

4 of my guildies already have Quel'Delar, or some derivative of it. I'll get there eventually...

I was surprised to see people are already selling Primordial Saronite, some for as low as 3500 gold!

So some people on my server farmed trash in ICC for the Ashen Verdict Rings and supposedly some of them already have the improved versions. It's pretty easy to acquire; Marrowgar's trash can be AOE'd down really easily. Maybe if I get some free time... we'll see.


Only got one real night of progression raiding in, though I did get to go back and kill Maly on both my shaman and priest for emblems. On the one night we did in ICC, we got Marrowgar down after a little struggling on positioning issues and dps. Though our raid probably slightly undergeared for ICC, I think we'll be fine. We got in about 2 attempts on Deathwhisper, but then we had to cancel our other raiding night due to holiday party complications.

Blue reactions?

One of the most interesting meta-games that wow-enthusiasts like to play is reading too much into blue hotfixes and posts immediately following the patch. The ones that made me think a bit were:
Quote from Crygil
Recent In-Game Fixes - Decmeber 2009 - 12
  • The chance for epic items to drop off trash mobs in the Frozen Halls 5 player dungeons has been reduced.

  • The Ephemeral Snowflake trinket now has a very short cooldown to prevent it from restoring inappropriately large amounts of mana.


I suppose this explains why I saw 3 Battered Hilts drop in the first 5-man I ran, and then I have only seen one since then. Le sigh.

The "inappropriately large amounts of mana" is what I had refered to a few posts back. Some druids were theorycrafting the mp5 value of this trinket to be over 400 mp5. Hehe, good stuff.
Quote from Bornakk
Recent In-Game Fixes - Decmeber 2009 - 12/14
Lord Marrowgar will now do significantly less melee damage in both the 10 player normal and 10 player heroic difficulty. (Source)

Given that we ended up going in with mostly iLvl 232 loot and we downed him after one serious night, and other bloggers were posting that they facerolled him, I was a little surprised to see this nerf so quickly. This certainly will make farming him easier, but I actually thought he was pretty decently tuned, and it was cool to have a tiny bit of a challenge on the first boss there.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who gets your innervates?

Back when Innervate was spirit-based, you had basically 2 choices. You could give your innervate to a holy priest and let them go nutty with circle of healing (pre-nerf), or you could give it to an arcane mage and let them rack up the deeps. Now that innervate is based on the casting druid's base mana pool, any mana user (probably a healer) will benefit from it.

We got our first boss down in ICC10 last night, and I found myself getting all the innervates (from a resto and feral tank druid). Now, the funny thing is, I actually think my mana regen is pretty great right now compared to a while back. I got a usable mana regen trinket, and the new 3.3 gear has been mostly itemized for haste/mp5, so I've been able to pick up mp5 along with my delicious delicious haste.

Compared to the other healers, though, shaman have the fewest mana regen tricks. Other than mana tide totem (which affects all healers really), we live and die by our own mp5 and the mana we get back from critting a Improved Water Shield bubble. Pallies have Divine Plea/Divine Illumination, Priests have Shadowfiend/Hymn of Hope/Inner Focus, Druids just don't seem to have that bad mana usage, and our resto druid is glyphed so that her innervate gives her mana back too. Right now our mage is trying out a frost spec to see how the 3.3 changes affected him, so that's not really a valid option either.

So this shaman is sitting on mountains of mana, chain healing his ass off. Woo!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Emblem of Frost Pull List

So lootrank isn't showing emblems of frost items yet, so I've plugged my latest HEP stat weights into a wowhead filter to plan what items I should save badges for. I've gone over my HEP-based loot selection methodology, and I generally try to get the highest HEP per Badge item, unless there are oustanding considerations.

Keep in mind that I'm in a group that does 10 man casual raids, so I'm not really expecting to have access to 10 man heroic loot that early, or 25 man loot.

Emblem of Frost Upgrades
ItemUpgrade fromCostHEP gainHEP per badgeEasy Alternatives
Drape of the Violet Tower (49.09)Shawl of the Caretaker (35.79)5013.30.266Flowing Sapphiron Drape (45.35)
I've had really bad luck with cloak upgrades in Ony and ToC. This would be a big upgrade for me, but if there's a chance I'll be running some legacy raids, There are intermediate upgrades that would make this slot less of a priority for me.
Meteor Chaser's Raiment (120.05)Thrall's Tunic of Conquest (86.78)9533.270.350Frost Witch's Tunic (101.04)
I'm still unclear on exactly what the purchasing method for tier 10 with emblems of frost will be. Regardless, the Meteor Chaser chest piece is a huge ugprade over the base level tier 10 chest. It is MUCH better than the mail piece, which has no haste on it.
Gloves of False Gestures (86.65)Looming Shadow Wraps (62.64)6024.010.400
The cloth gloves are a touch better than the mail ones, due to the increased haste and the usable socket bonus. No real easy alternative glove upgrades without going into 25 man raids.
Waistband of Despair (85.58)Icehowl Binding (56.76)6038.820.647Cord of the Patronizing Practitioner (69.53)
The belt is a huge upgrade from what I already had. There is a potential upgrade from 10 man Marrowgar, BUT it is cloth and it has spirit on it, so it would probably be a while until I was allowed to roll on it.
Totem of Surging Seas (255)Totem of Calming Tides (234)30210.700
The totem upgrade is basically a flat 21 spellpower upgrade. Not that sexy, but easily the cheapest and most effective badge purchase.
Purified Lunar Dust (216.232)Eye of the Broodmother (195.296)6020.9360.349
The trinket proc was modeled to be 76 mp5. While it would be a fair upgrade, trinkets are very situational, and I would be swapping this one out for fights that I'm not mana constrained on. Not a high priority for me yet.

I still don't understand how the iLevel 251 tier 10 gear is purchased with emblems of frost, and this data doesn't seem to be on wowhead or mmo-champion right now. If someone knows, please give me a heads up. Obviously those numbers would change all my badge priorities going forward, but until I figure that out, my upgrade priorities based on these numbers are probably:

Totem, Waist, Gloves, Cloak. The Trinket is a situational sidegrade, and the chest is nice, but blocks a possible tier bonus which I'm hoping to get at least 2 pieces of as soon as possible.

Playing with the new 5-man Healer Trinket!

When I finally got on to Borean Tundra last night, some guildies and I blew through the 3 new heroic 5-mans, and I got 3 upgrades! Also, 3 Battered Hilts dropped, but I didn't roll on them because I had already gotten some phat loots, and since they were dropping so readily I figure I'll get mine soon enough.

One very interesting upgrade I got was the new trinket, the Ephemeral Snowflake. In addition to a kickass on-use haste proc, it also gives you back 11 mana every time one of your healing spells heals someone. This is incredibly interesting to me. What I've found from half an instance of testing is:
  • It procs off heals from hots and directly applied spells. For shaman, this is Lesser Healing Wave, Healing Wave, Riptide (including its hots), Chain Heal (including jumps)

  • It does not proc from passive heals, like Healing Stream Totem, Earth Shield, Ancestral Awakening, or Earthliving Weapon.

  • The proc is maximized for multi-target spells and hots. Riptide can return up to 66 mana (88 if glyphed). Chain Heal can return 44 if glyphed.

  • The proc does NOT happen on overhealing, so it will only shine in heavy raid damage situations where hots are not overhealing and your AOE heals are actively healing all of their targets.

On Elitist Jerks, they've modeled it to be about 147 mp5 in ideal Chain Heal spam situations, assuming 2 riptides rolling. Obviously this would only be sustained by constant damage to be healed, and assumes perfect Chain Heal jumps and Riptide target selection. It's still not as good as either of the Solace of the Fallen trinkets from TOTGC, but it is very easy to acquire, and a lot of fun. And I just love weird trinkets.

I am dying to get it on my priest, to see if it procs on every target of CoH, every target of PoH, AND the PoH glyph hot? I can't imagine it does for that last one because that would be insane, but it's not like I really have mana probs on my priest anyway?

Speaking of which, the new 5-mans were really fun, but also REALLY healing intensive. Even with a pure guild run, we had some wipes on some bosses in there. The hardest one for me was the first boss in the Halls of Reflection, Falric. He has a really nasty AOE horrify that will do 10,000 shadow damage to all party members, and can be amplified by various debuffs he puts on you; he also has a magic debuff that can stun you if not removed in time. Like Violet Hold, if you wipe on this boss, you have to reclear the waves of trash up to him, which is non-trivial. The packs spawn all around the room and have a lot of caster mobs that have to be LoS'd to stick to your tank.

Anyway, despite some server trouble, yesterday night was great fun. I didn't get to play with the random heroic tool yet, but my guildies all said it was pleasant and easy to use. So far, 3.3 wins!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

3.3 patch excitement!

Yigi's original predictions were correct! While we're all waiting for the servers to come up, what are you planning to do when you get on first?

As a rule, I don't like to raid on patch days- there are too many possible headaches, and it's been a while since I've been in a guild that was really competitive for server rank. I think I am definitely going to try to hit up the daily random heroic on both my shaman and my priest, and if I have time, I probably want to run the regular and heroic 5 man as many times as possible for new loots and triumphs. And remember, the MOST important patch note if you plan on going for perky pug?
Quote from Zarhym
Fall of the Lich King: Patch 3.3.0 Notes
  • A Player will not be placed in a group with people on his or her Ignore list.

Learn it, live it, love it.

I also want to get some battleground dailies in, now that they grant arena points. But there's also the Kalu'ak fishing daily...

And of course, just staring at my new totems...


Saturday, November 28, 2009

A truly terrible plan

I don't know how I thought this was a good idea. Somehow I'm on my warlock alt, waiting for Level 1 Dwarf rogues to spawn in Coldridge Valley so I can blast them and finally get my Turkey Lurkey achievement.

UPDATE: GOT IT! Thanks guildies!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

3.3 Release predictions

With the coming of Thanksgiving, I can't help but wonder when 3.3 will be released. The gating system and (almost) completion of testing on the PTR realms leads me to believe that it will be very soon. However, a WoW Dev DID hint a few days ago that:
Quote from Daath
Re: is there a mirror for 3.3.0?
We only provide mirror links for full client patches. Background downloads do not count. You have around 1+ month to download this file so we're not really worried about your speed. :) (Source)

Does this mean that 3.3 is still a month away?
If 3.3 dropped exactly 1 month after that announcement, it would make the release date December 22 (23rd on EU realms), which is the week of Christmas. I have a very hard time believing that Blizzard would release a major content patch, even if it isn't the full instance, that close to Christmas.

My best guess is a few weeks earlier; either next week (December 1) or the following (December 8). This will give us December to work through the first 4 bosses and adjust to any buffs/nerfs and also give Blizzard enough time to finish off the Arena season. I would think that wing two of Icecrown would then drop right after New Year's, with Arthas FINALLY coming near the end of January.

Although I cannot WAIT for 3.3 and to finally face Arthas, I have to say that in this case anticipation is half the fun.

I will leave you with my guesses:
Patch 3.3 launch: December 8th
2nd wing unlocked: January 5th
3rd wing unlocked: January 26th
Arthas unlocked: February 16th

Monday, November 23, 2009

Return to KZ

Back from my vacation!

5 bored guildies completed all the easy achievements for Pilgrim last night, and with nothing else pressing we decided to go clear Karazhan (3 of them had never seen it). It was pretty fun, mostly because the two of us that had done it before we're trying to remember all the fight mechanics on the fly, and because we could easily pull all of those big middle-of-the-room trash pulls that you had to strive so valiantly to avoid back at 70.

The hardest fight for 4 level 80s and a 1 level 74? CHESS. Sometimes the best old jokes are the ones with a ring of truth to them.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Icecrown Gate System Info Released

Blizzard has just announced the exact gate system they will be using for Icecrown Citadel:

Quote from Daelo
Icecrown Citadel Raid Access Progression
As we're now getting closer to the release of 3.3.0, we wanted to talk about our plans for access progression within Icecrown Citadel. Icecrown Citadel is going to be broken up into four distinct sections: The Lower Spire, Plagueworks, Crimson Hall, and Frostwing Halls. We plan on releasing these four sections of Icecrown Citadel over time and not all immediately when patch 3.3.0 goes live. At this point we can't give precise dates for these release dates as they are determined by when patch 3.3.0 goes live. Once dates are known with more certainty, I'll update the community so they can plan appropriately. (Source)
Basically, this means that we'll get the Icecrown wings at 4 different times. When Patch 3.3 first drops, we will get The Lower Spire:
Lord Marrowgar
Icecrown Gunship Battle
Deathbringer Saurfang
Lady Deathwhisper

And we'll only get a chance to kill these bosses on normal mode. This will last "several weeks" until The Plagueworks is released:
Professor Putricide

Also of note, we will only be allowed 5 attempts per week on Professor Putricide before we are locked out.
After several more weeks, The Crimson Hall will be released:
Blood Princes
Blood Queen Lana'Thel

At this time, we'll have a total of 10 attempts for Putricide and Lana'Thel, and our attempts on Blood Princes will not be limited.
Finally, after several more weeks, we'll get The Frostwing Halls:
Valithria Dreamwalker
The Lich King

And we'll get a total of 15 attempts to kill Putricide, Lana'Thal, Sindragosa, and The Lich King.
After Arthas is killed on normal mode, heroic modes will be unlocked.
The FINAL catch is that in order to get to the Lich King (heroic) on ANY given week, we will have to kill Putricide, Lana'Thel, and Sindragosa ALL on heroic. Remember that our attempts will still be limited to 15 total for the 4 bosses. Over time, the number of attempts will be increased.

This will be good for prolonging the time until The Lich King heroic is finally killed, but in what I feel is a VERY superficial way. It will be at least 6-8 weeks until the Lich King is even unlocked, and then the following week we'll finally get a chance to try hard modes. After that we will have 15 attempts a week to kill Putricide heroic and continue on to Lana'Thel, Sindragosa, and finally, Arthas.

Personally, I dislike this system, even though I don't think my guild will personally be held up too much by the gates. Whether or not I am personally affected, I feel this will kill the race for world first Arthas heroic by just making it take too long until it is released.

I will reserve my final judgment until I see how difficult each of these encounters are, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Going out of town for a wedding!

Really hope the patch doesn't drop while I'm gone, heh.

Probably won't be posting much, but Yigi will still be posting about druid and PTR stuff.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hit & Run: New Emblem Gear

Not a lot of new stuff, but I thought I'd weigh in on some of the new gear.

New Emblem gear has been announced on the PTR. I always wonder how in-touch the devers are with the actual player community, but it is very nice to see that the itemization for the mail gear, for the most part, is very much in line with Resto and Ele prioritization. Other than that mp5 on the chestpiece, it is all very well itemized for the current Shaman HEP weights that are being thrown around at EJ.

REALLY like the new healer trinket too. It's a lot more interesting than the current badge one.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shaman T10: GHOST DEER?

OK, I know shammies have been bitching about having to wait to see our tier 10, but it was TOTALLY WORTH THE WAIT:

Druids may be wearing yogg-saron as a scarf, but I have DEER COMING OUT OF MY NECK. Shaman Win.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Zigi's Choice

The Pandaren Monk?

or Lil' K.T.?

Let's be honest- Lil' K.T. looks AWESOME... but 5 bucks of the Pandaren Monk purchase goes to an awesome charity- the Make a Wish foundation. Walking around with a Lil' K.T. is a big skeletal middle finger to sick kids and their dreams!

Eh, who am I kidding? I'm getting both.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Circle of Tanks

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?
Yigi, Druid, 0/58/13

What is your primary tanking environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Mostly 10 mans, some 25s

What is your favorite tankng spell for your class and why?
Swipe. I love it's spammability and it's high threat. I would LOVE to say Maul because it just does so much threat and dmg, but I hate the way it works.

What tanking spell do you use least for your class and why?
Druids don't have a very large arsenal of tanking spells, so I tend to use all of them in a normal 10 man setting. In 5 mans i rarely use Lacerate, since it takes 5 GCDs to really make it worth it.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your tanking class and why?
I hate to use the standard "swiss army knife" cliche that druids get, but it really is true. Our burst threat, sustained threat, and survivability are not the BEST, but they are all really good. So I would say, we are very well rounded. A huge strength we also have (while it's not necessarily tanking), is the ability to switch to a very solid healing spec.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your tanking class and why?
Snap threat is our biggest weakness that I can see. The only way we can REALLY frontload a lot of threat is through berserk, which only works if you have 1-3 targets and really gimps your sustained threat in a single mob encounter.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best tanking assignment for you?
Bosses that hit for big numbers, whether it's a spell or physical attack. Our high health pool and good defensive cooldowns really make us perform great during a Plasma Blast, for example.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with most and why?
I tank with a DW Frost DK every day, and I love it. Their AoE threat is amazing, so it really counters our lack of burst AoE threat during fights like Mimiron P3 or Jaraxxus adds.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with least and why?
I haven't tanked much with paladins in Wrath, although they seem ok. I haven't met any GOOD pally tanks on this server, so I think my view of them is skewed.

What is your worst habit as a tank?
Probably hectic fights where I tend to watch how my raid is performing rather than concentrating on tanking.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?
DPS who try to run the show. I love suggestions, but when DPS feel like a certain strategy is better because it involves less DPS movement, it irks me.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other tanks?
I feel like we are pretty well balanced. DKs have gotten the shaft a lot recently, but since they started so high during 3.0 and 3.1 they are about on par, if not a SLIGHT bit behind.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?
Mostly just seeing how well the fight is controlled. In most fights, the tanks control the fight. If the tanks are doing their job, there is minimal movement, minimal add rampages, and an overall cleaner encounter. I do look at Omen to see my TPS on occasion, but for the most part if I am holding aggro and know I'm using the right rotation, it's all about the same.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?
The fact that we are "mana sponges." Uneducated people feel like the druid class is just supposed to be a high health sponge that soaks up the hits, while they fail to realize that our high dodge and armor make us take a lot less damage than they may think.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new tanks of your class to learn?
How to properly gear. Since druids don't have a "def cap" to worry about, a new druid doesn't have any stats to "aim" for. It's all about knowing the proper balance, and how to gem/enchant properly. The only thing that seperates leather feral tanking gear from feral/rogue dps gear is the gems and enchants.

Effective Health or Avoidance and why?
I raid with a Disc Priest, Resto Shaman, and Resto Druid healer, so I feel like in a lot of cases avoidance really ourperforms EH. If I raided regularly with a holy paladin, or raided 25 mans, EH would be much more important to me.

What tanking class do you feel you understand least?
DKs, although I understand the basics, the ins and outs are foreign to me.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in tanking?
I don't use any tanking specific addons, but I use omen, grid, and spellreminder to keep track of my threat, raid, and cooldowns respectively.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your tanking stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
At this point I mostly stack Agility. To an extent I DO balance it with stamina, but mostly only in blue slots (using agi/stam gems) and in certain enchants where stam is just better than agi.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Showing WoW achievements in Blogger

The first thing I noticed when I started this blog was that all the wordpress dudes had awesome achievement feeds on their blog, and generally the blogger implementations were a little hack-y. Given that the armory is XML and the achievements are all accessible through that, I figured that it wouldn't be that hard to put together a Yahoo! Pipe that shredded the data and made it a nice little RSS feed. You're welcome to copy or use the Yahoo Pipe that I put together however you like, and here are a few suggestions on how to display it on your blogger blog.

  1. Go to Yahoo Pipes!
    You can roll your own if you're comfortable with XML and Pipes, or you can just use the one I set up here. Feel free to copy it if you want to make minor changes.

  2. Enter your data
    Server name, character name, like so:

  3. Select a display format
    You have 3 choices for displaying the format. The first and second are both Yahoo! Pipes embedded badge; which you can choose either the image format or the list format.

    For an example of a blogger blog that's using an image badge from this pipe, check out druidmain.

    If you want something without images, like what we have here in our sidebar, just pick the "RSS" output from the Yahoo Pipe, and copy that URL into the standard Google RSS badge.



Monday, November 2, 2009

The fight where HPS is DPS

Hehe... Right after I soft-whined that healing becomes less fun as the raid gets more gear, I read about this new fight that just got tested on the PTR: Valithria Dreamwalker. This fight is backwards, in that you find an NPC that is at 50%, and your raid's healers have to heal that NPC before adds can take her down. They do a lot of nasty healing mortal-strike stacking debuffs too, so the adds have to be managed carefully.

Basically, they turn the tables- in normal fights, the dpsers do the measurable work while healers support them by keeping damage off them and healing them through the unavoidable damage. In this fight it's now up to the healers to get an NPC from 50% to 100% health, while the dpsers take on a support role, and manage the adds to let you do your job.

And the achievement for killing her quickly? Healbot.

I love blizz sometimes. Cannot WAIT to see this fight on live! I think I'll make a macro "/ra cna some1 link healing meterz plz?". Yep, I'm gonna be THAT GUY.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Healing is most fun when everyone around you is dying

OK, this is going to start off a little unfocused, but I kind of want to make a big generalization based on some somewhat unrelated items I've been thinking about lately

  • One thing I love about the healing blogs is there is a real sense of dialogue and community between them; Jessabelle's questionaire being a recent example (and not a meme). The topic of "making healing fun" has come up a lot recently, and I've said in general that I enjoy healing and would probably be bored dpsing in endgame.

    That being said, the raids I'm in are currently on a "farm" state of the instances we can comfortably clear, while we gear up for the achievements and heroics that are slightly out of our grasp.
  • Blizzard recently announced that the new patch will introduce a debuff in Icecrown Citadel that will reduce your tank's dodge chance. It is basically Sunwell Radiance 2.0.

    Quote from Blizzard staff

    Chill of the Throne, Tanking, and You!
    For Icecrown Citadel, we are implementing a spell that will affect every enemy creature in the raid. The spell, called Chill of the Throne, will allow creatures to ignore 20% of the dodge chance of their melee targets. So if a raid's main tank had 30% dodge normally, in Icecrown Citadel they will effectively have 10%.

    Why are we doing this?

    The high levels of tank avoidance players have obtained is making the incoming damage a tank DOES take more "spiky" than is healthy for raiding. Ideally, tanks would be receiving a relatively constant stream of damage over time. This allows healers to better plan their healing strategy, broaden their spell options, and simply give more time to react. Tanks could use their cooldowns more reactively. Instead, the current situation is that if we make a hard hitting melee boss and a tank doesn't avoid two successive swings then the tank could very well be dead in that 1-2 second window. The use of reactive defensive abilities instead becomes a methodically planned affair, healers have to spam their largest heals just in case the huge damage spike happens.

    We've been trying to do a fair amount to mitigate the effect of high tank avoidance on the encounter side of things during this expansion with faster melee swings, additional melee strikes, dual wielding, narrowing the normal variance of melee swing damage, and various other tricks. There's a limit to what we can do, however. So to give us a bit of breathing room we’ve implemented Chill of the Throne. Going forward past Icecrown Citadel, we have plans to keep tank avoidance from growing so high again. (Source)

    I think in general people are pissed about this because it was considered a hack back in BC, and it's a hack now; Blizzard planned gear itemization wrong, and now tanks overgear content. That being said; I agree that at current levels of tank avoidance, they would basically have to make the mobs deal so much damage that they would 2-shot a tank if it lands, or else the tanking and healing would be super boring.

So where I'm going with this is; when you first encounter new content, tanking and healing is very dynamic and exciting. However, once everyone in the fight knows the encounter really well, is avoiding the predictable damage and interrupting the spells and moving out of fire, healing becomes really easy. Similarly, tanking becomes boring when you have enough stam and avoidance to survive the bosses super power move without needing to use cooldowns.

Better gear for dps means bigger numbers and more procs; better gear for tanks means less need to manage cooldowns efficiently; better gear for healers means more overhealing and standing around. As my raid members have gotten better at avoiding stray damage and my tanks have gotten better at mitigating the boss's damage; I find more and more that I am spending fight time dpsing and arranging my bags.

This is just an observation, I don't really know what the game designers could do to make it so healing and tanking stays interesting as you gear up and have the encounters memorized. Any ideas?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heal Naked: Healing with the Stock UI?

In a previous post I mentioned casually that NO raiding healer uses the stock UI, and of course that was a complete overstatement, because I'm sure there are plenty that do, and do it well. I even got smacked down in a comment for it.

So I have been playing around a bit on the PTR, and was asked to come try healing some 10 man ICC PTR bosses, and as I was going through the dreaded initial UI set up for my Shaman, I thought I'd itemize what I consider to be the barebones essential healing mods for me, and considered what the alternatives are if you want to just use the stock UI.
  • SmartBuff

    Description: SmartBuff provides a little icon and a text warning if you are missing any buffs, or if people in your party are missing buffs that you can provide. This is highly configurable, and has different configurations based on your talent spec, and whether or not you are soloing, instancing, pvping, or raiding. When you are out of combat, you can automatically apply these buffs by clicking a button, or even have it set to when you scroll in and out.
    Use: This was much more of a necessity when I played a level 70 disc/holy priest and was responsible for applying different buffs to 5 different parties every time we wiped. Now as a shaman, I just use it to make sure my Water Shield is up and my weapon imbue is applied before going into any fight.
    Necessity Level: Low
    Other Mods: I don't really know of other mods that duplicate this functionality.
    Stock UI Alternative: This one isn't so bad for a shaman to do without addons. I can easily monitor my own buffs via the default buff tracking UI. It's much more of a headache for priests, though.
  • Grid

    Description: Grid is a compact raid unit frames mod that optimizes space by filtering down to only buffs and status indicators that you care about.
    Use: On my shaman, I have it optimized for notifying me about health and debuffs that I can dispel.
    Necessity Level: High. The default raid frames are not as I claimed "impossible" to fit onto your screen, but in a 25-man raid, it's pretty much going to be a mess.
    Other Mods: Vuhdo, Healbot.
    Stock UI Alternative: Pull your raid frames out from your raid tab onto your screen. In order to fit a lot of these in a 25 man situation, you should scale them down a lot. As for the debuff filtering... it's not pretty.
  • Clique

    Description: Clique allows you to bind spell casts to chorded mouse-clicks on a unit frame, rather than pressing a keystroke.
    Use: This allows me to fit a number of healing and dispelling spells into mouse click combos. For example, I can bind Cure Toxins to shift-left click.
    Necessity Level: Medium/High.
    Other Mods: Vuhdo, Healbot mentioned earlier have the same functionality, bundled in.
    Stock UI Alternative: Kae from Dreambound swears by "mouseover macros" as an alternative to Clique, which provide the same level of reactiveness, without needing to diverge from the stock UI. So as an alternative to the clique binding I mentioned above, you could make a macro:
    /cast [target=mouseover] Cure Toxins
    And bind that to a key, like "2". Then instead of shift clicking a unit frame, you can mouseover the unit frame and hit your "2" key to have the same effect. I think this is a very reasonable alternative, but it does take up macro and keybinding space.
  • ForteXorcist

    Description: ForteXorcist a buff/debuff/cooldown timer mod. This was actually originally a warlock mod (as they have all these DoTs to track), but they've expanded it to be customizable and to work for all buffs and debuffs; I find it to be perfect for my shaman.
    Use: I use this for tracking the duration of my Riptide HoT on multiple targets, as well as my Earth Shield buff's charges on a tank.
    Necessity Level: Medium. Without this mod I would probably be wasting a lot of mana refreshing Riptide unnecessarily, or letting it fall off.
    Other Mods: SpellReminder is what I used for a long time on my priest, and I liked that as well.
    Stock UI Alternative: The default UI is really bad for tracking buff times on multiple targets.
  • Power Auras

    Description: Power Auras provides a visual indicator based on highly configurable conditions, such as gaining a certain number of stacks of a debuff, or losing an important buff.
    Use: For my shaman, I use this to ensure I have 100% uptime on my Water Shield. In a heated battle where I'm taking damage, it's very easy to let that fall off, and if I don't pay attention, I'll suddenly be out of mana. I have Power Auras to have a giant red bubble pop up when my Water Shield is down to 1 charge or fewer. You can set up even more Power Auras based on other conditions, like missing your weapon imbue, or having full stacks of Tidal Waves. On my priest, I have this pop up when I get to max stacks of Serendipity, for example.
    Necessity Level: Low
    Other Mods: The shaman Mod Shields Up does exactly the case I mention in the Use Case, but it is not as configurable as Power Auras.
    Stock UI Alternative: Uhh, you gotta just watch the buff/debuff indicators in your upper right hand corner like a hawk, I guess.
So these are the mods I wouldn't raid without. I'm sure you can do it with the Stock UI, but one of the amazing things about WoW is the UI's expandability, and it's awesome to have such amazing and talented addon developers cranking out these awesome mods with healers in mind.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

RE: Jessabelle's Healing Questionnaire

Jessabelle at Miss Medicina posted a Questionnaire with the intent of spreading knowledge between healing classes, and among the healing bloggers. The idea is you answer all the questions, and then "tag" another healing blogger that plays a different class.

In typical priest ethnocentrism, she calls it a "Circle of Healing Bloggers", when I'm pretty sure any impartial observer would agree that "Chain of Healing Bloggers" or "Totem of Healing Blogs" would be a far superior name... but I suppose the damage has been done ;)

  • What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
    Zigi, Resto Shaman.

  • What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
    At the moment, I am primarily healing in 10-man raids.

  • What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
    Chain Heal, because it's spammable, looks cool, and is a good example of a spell that Blizzard has made useful ever since level 60, and is still a staple of shaman healing today

  • What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
    Hmm, Shaman really only have 5 healing spells in our arsenal (6 if you count the totem), so there are no spells that I never use, but based on my meters since 3.2, I rarely cast Lesser Healing Wave. With the changes to Tidal Waves and a high level of haste, a Healing Wave cast is usually only 2/10ths of a second slower than a Lesser Healing Wave. The only benefit of that spell is mana efficiency (from the improved crit), which has not been a problem for me recently. I still use it situationally to top off raid members when CH is totally inappropriate, but it is not the go-to spell it was before 3.2.

  • What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
    Our strength is very high throughput in both aoe and tank healing roles.

  • What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
    Our weakness is mana management, and scaling to 25 man raids.

  • In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
    I haven't done a ton of 25-mans, but having read some of the big-boy shaman blogs, and from my experiences in PUGs, I do feel that resto shaman are better suited to tank healing roles, with backup AOE. If a holy priest is not available, then a resto shaman is pretty good at the dedicated aoe role too.

  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
    I'm gonna second Jess here, and go with Disc priests. Their damage prevention buffs, passive talents, and spells, all make healing noticeably easier on everyone.

  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
    I'm going to answer this in an extremely selfish way and say Holy Priests. Keep in mind, that this is JUST in the context of this question. Obviously I love holy priests because I played one for 2 years, and they do amazing throughput healing, but in terms of buffing other people in the raid, holy priests actually provide no raid buffs that a disc priest can't provide as well. Sorry Jess :(

  • What is your worst habit as a healer?
    Probably refreshing my HoT, Riptide when I don't have to, or even worse, Riptiding the tank and instantly Chain Healing it off instead of letting it tick a little bit. I definitely have to consciously think about it to get the full value of my Riptide, considering I have the set bonus and the glyph for it!

  • What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
    I have mentioned this in comments on Jess's blog in the past, but it's gotta be linking/asking for/bragging about healing meters. This is not to say I don't look at healing meters, or feel an irrational swell of pride if I top them, but I am also completely conscious of the fact that healing meters are misleading, incorrect, and can lead to bad healing habits. For one thing, disc priests are horribly represented on healing meters, as Blizz has provided no official way to track absorbs. If this caused all guilds to avoid disc priests, it would be a disaster!

  • Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
    At my niche yes; in 10 man raids, shaman shine. I do feel like we don't scale as well as any of the other healers into 25 man content, just because our AOE heal hits less than everyone else's; I know a lot of shaman feel like they get shoehorned into tank healing or sidelined, but right now I'm definitely enjoying my niche.

  • What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
    I think the most important metric for a healer is the ability to follow an assignment and keep those people you're assigned to alive. If there are no assignments, then my success criteria is no one dying.

  • What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
    I think that people who played WoW prior to WOTLK know shaman as AOE raid healers, and honestly, prior to playing one myself, that's all I thought they were good for too. However I was surprised at 80 to find that we're probably comparatively better at tank healing than raid healing.

  • What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
    I think mana management can be tough- especially coming from other classes. We only have one "trick" to get back mana, our totem, as opposed to Priests (Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope, Inner Focus). Keeping up 100% uptime on Water Shield is ESSENTIAL. Get a mod for that.

  • If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
    My overheal is between 20 and 30% usually depending on the spell, which I think is probably a little high, but not the worst I've seen. I'm pretty happy with my healing output. If anything the criticism would be what I mentioned before- I probably use Healing Wave on some occasions that Lesser Healing Wave would be the right spell.

  • Haste or Crit and why?
    HASTE! All shaman now live and die for haste; chain heal spam is AGONIZINGLY SLOW if you don't have enough of it. NOM NOM HASTE.

  • What healing class do you feel you understand least?
    Well the only class that I have not healed at 80 on is a resto druid, so definitely that. They just have so many spells that seem very similar in function: Lifebloom and Rejuv; Nourish and Healing Touch and Regrowth.

  • What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
    I use Clique/Grid for healing, ForteExorcist for tracking my hots and buffs, and Power Auras to let me know when my shield or weapon imbue has fallen off.

    I use a TON of macros, but mostly just things like binding my two big cooldowns: Nature's Swiftness and Tidal Force into one giant OSHIT button.

    The other one I like, and this is just to save space on my bar, is I have a macro that casts Stoneclaw Totem if I'm in combat, or my Resurrection spell if I'm out of combat. The idea is I can't cast Res out of combat, and I'd never need Stoneclaw out of it.

  • Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
    Right now Shaman are stacking haste to the sky, and I'm not different. I do feel that when newer content comes out in 3.3 I may move back toward a more balanced approach with mana regen, if the fights are long.

So for choosing new bloggers to add to this questionaire, I would normally pick
BobTurkey or Healing Way, but I think Bob is on vacation, and Llyre is a Shaman so I can't pick that, so I'm going to go with a blog that I just discovered recently because of their awesome illustrated boss guides: Kae from Dreambound!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Yogg Saron Down

Yay, we killed Yogg!
I might do some editing on this video, but here it is for now:


Saturday, October 24, 2009

RE: Healing and fun

Llyra from the Healing Way blog is starting a series of posts on Healing and fun from the perspective of WoW development. I thought there were a lot of interesting points which I wanted to give my perspective on.

Can healer's enjoy solo-ing? With dual-spec, does this even matter anymore?
So from 70-80 I actually ended up preferring a holy/disc leveling spec for my Priest rather than Shadow. This is mostly because my spirit levels were so high from my raiding 70 gear, that any build with Spirit Tap would have zero downtime, and my spellpower was high enough that mobs would never live long enough for the very long dots to tick to their full extent. In contrast, holy has a spammable damage-up-front spell, and can spec to actually make this damage totally fine for solo content.

With the advent of dual-specs, Llyra discards the idea that this will make hardcore raiders pick a dps spec as a second spec, as they can now min/max even further. While this is totally true for Priests, and I actually do have 2 healing specs on my priest even though I am not a hardcore raider; I don't think this is very true for the other healing classes. I'm not even sure what talent points I would want that I'm not already getting on my Shaman. Maaybe Healing Focus. I've already told you why I don't like Improved Reincarnation. Other than Priests, who have two very different healing trees, the other healing classes are viable in their cookie cutter specs.

How can Blizzard make healing more fun?
Obviously I don't know if this applies to me- I played a DPS class (Rogue) for about a year and got pretty bored, after which I leveled my Priest and that became my main for the next 2 years. I really don't think I'd ever consider playing as my main any class that doesn't at least have the capacity to heal on it. While I do really enjoy the occasions that I get to DPS in my ele spec for a 5-man or for a specific boss where we scale down our healers, it's more of a vacation than anything else; I don't think I'd be happy dpsing every day. DPSing just doesn't seem dynamic enough for me, while healing forces you to constantly be reacting.

That being said, I think the biggest barrier to entry for healers, is that it really is almost unimaginable to be a raid healer without mods. The default user interface just doesn't cut it. It doesn't normally bother me, but I was trying to make a character on the PTR, and I didn't want to migrate all my mods. I found that I had no problems dpsing things there, but I just didn't want to deal with the default UI when it came to healing. I'm sure I could approximate the functions of Grid/Clique (or Vuhdo or Healbot) with the default unit frames and mouseover macros, but it wouldn't be elegant, and it would be pretty miserable overall.

Blizzard has got to be aware that their default unit frames aren't adequate. This would be fantastic if they addressed it some way. In general, I'm having fun as it is though ;)


Friday, October 23, 2009

Making Gear Choices on a Resto Shaman

Depending on if you're shooting for 10 or 25 man content, or if you are intending to maximize your raid healing or tank healing potential, your spell selection will change, and consequently, your stat priorities should change as well. This can make forum or blog discussion on optimal shaman gearing very difficult, as two different resto shaman could have wildly different stat priorities, and neither would be necessarily incorrect.

Fortunately, the resto shaman community has some amazing tools at their disposal to evaluate and optimize your gear, glyphs, and totems. I'm going to go over how I would use these tools to evaluate a potential gear upgrade. In this case, I am deciding whether or not I should break my Tier 9 set bonus for a shoulder piece that has better stats.

  1. Get a combat log
    I suggest the mod LoggerHead, which you can set to automatically toggle logging based on your location.

    Then, pick a fight or set of fights you think represents your regular healing rotation pretty well. Obviously I'd avoid General Vezax, or any fight where you change your role. If you DPS on Hodir, for example, turn off logging for that fight.

    In this case, I logged our guild's first attempts on Heroic 10-man Northrend Beasts this past Wednesday.

  2. Download, configure, and run shaman_hep
    shaman_hep is a tool developed by an awesome guy named stassart. He's a frequent poster on ElitistJerks, and keeps up with the latest theorycrafting for resto shaman (you can PM him or give feedback in a dedicated EJ thread here). He developed this tool that parses your combat log, and based on your configuration, it spits out some important information and analysis that you can use to improve your glyph selection, talents, and gear, based on your actual playstyle. In short, it's awesomesauce.

    Unlike other WoW tools, it doesn't run as a mod in game, but it's a perl script that you run offline on your combat log. The configuration is fairly straightforward. If you have the cookie cutter resto shaman spec, you can assume that it pretty much works out of the box, you just have to put your name in the configuration (this is important because you could have several shaman in the raid, which would mess up the stat collection). You should also look through the configuration and make sure that the buffs and glyphs match your set up. If you're curious, I've uploaded the config I used here.

    After you've done that, you can run it at the command line. It will work on Windows, Mac, or even Linux.

  3. Interpreting the output
    So the output can be kind of overwhelming- I've posted the output from my Wednesday parse here- but all you care about is the stuff at the end really, so scroll down to the bottom.

    What shaman_hep does is it has taken into account every talent, glyph, certain totems, and stats and normalized them in terms of spellpower.

    So since I am evaluating a shoulder upgrade relative to a set bonus, the two important parts to me are:

    Set Bonus Report:

    Tier 9 2-piece:
    Effective: 74738 (2.81%), Total: 141278 (3.52%)
    Combat Effective: 74343 (2.84%), Total: 127720 (3.28%)
    Combat EHPS: 104.9594
    HEP: 167.8772
    Tier 9 4-piece:
    Chain Heal:
    Non-crit Effective: 346244, Count: 85
    Crit Effective: 423183, Count: 82
    Number of crits from T9 4-piece: 8
    Increased average effective per crit: 1087
    T9 4-piece Combat Effective: 9079
    Combat EHPS: 12.8179
    HPS HEP: 20.5016
    Combat extra mana: 78
    Combat MP5: 0.5538, Mana HEP: 0.6510
    HEP: 21.1526


    Stat relationships:

    Shaman Healing Equivalency Points:
    1 SP = 1
    1 mp5 = 1.1755 (calculated)
    1 mana = 0.0330
    1 Haste rating = 2.2574
    1 Crit rating = 1.0384
    1 INT = 1.2802 (actual)
    1 INT = 1.1421 (max theoretical)

    To break down these, what it is saying is that 1 point of crit is worth 1.0384 spellpower based on my playstyle. You will notice that the haste value is very high. While this is probably inflated because of the fight I chose, in general it is in line with how most shaman are gearing these days (I believe most shaman are using 1.8 as a benchmark for haste).

    In comparison, the tier 9 4-piece set bonus is worth about 21.2 healing. So, if I can find a shoulder that gives me that much healing, or equivalent stats, I should break my set bonus.

  4. Plug these stats into lootrank
    shaman_hep even gives you a nice pre-made lootrank URL you can use!


    Once in lootrank, I can enter my own name and server, and then I scroll down to the shoulders section to see if the shoulders I'm looking at (the non-heroic Pauldrons of the Spirit Walker) are worth more than the set bonus.

    At +16.06 points, the shoulders are not quite good enough to break my set bonus yet. Still, I'll hold on to them, and if I get maybe a leg upgrade, I will swap out my set for those.

Whew, that was a lot of text.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things I love: Illustrated Boss Strats

I dunno if it brings up awesome memories of watching Onyxia Wipe on Youtube, but I'm always tickled by illustrated boss strats. I remember in particular a series that helped my old guild get through T5/T6 content, like this one on Leotheras the Blind in SSC.

Anyway, trolling through my blogroll this morning, I came across a link to this illustrated guide to Yogg-Saron, which just so happens to be the fight that our guild is going to be working on on Monday. Something about seeing cartoon stick figures yelling at each other, rather than hearing my own guildies do it on vent, makes it suddenly more fun.


A year ago, I idolized him. Now I'm stealing his clothes.

Maybe it was my nostalgia post from Tuesday, but I found myself going through my old fraps'd videos on my computer, and I came across this capture I took during the WOTLK opening events. As you can see I'm in my level 70, T6 holy priest at the time; as I've annotated the video though, it was certainly Thrall's awesome moves that planted the seed that made me switch to shamanism (even I call false advertising!).

[BTW, I tried to upload the video with "The Boy is Mine" as the soundtrack and YouTube din't like. :(]

Anyway, maybe it's because he's my Shaman Idol, but I'm pretty psyched that I completed my 4-piece set bonus for Conqueror's Thrall's Garb. Woo!

For those of you who are interested, after obtaining my 4-piece set bonus, I ran shaman_hep on my logs for a Heroic NRB fight, and I got the following HEP values for my Tier 9 2-piece and 4-piece set bonus. I'll probably make a post about how shaman HEP weights work, but for posterity, here's my config and output.

Set Bonus Report:

Tier 9 2-piece:
Effective: 74738 (2.81%), Total: 141278 (3.52%)
Combat Effective: 74343 (2.84%), Total: 127720 (3.28%)
Combat EHPS: 104.9594
HEP: 167.8772

Tier 9 4-piece:
Chain Heal:
Non-crit Effective: 346244, Count: 85
Crit Effective: 423183, Count: 82
Number of crits from T9 4-piece: 8
Increased average effective per crit: 1087
T9 4-piece Combat Effective: 9079
Combat EHPS: 12.8179
HPS HEP: 20.5016
Combat extra mana: 78
Combat MP5: 0.5538, Mana HEP: 0.6510
HEP: 21.1526

As you can see, for me, the Tier 9 2-piece set bonus is amazing; the 4-piece bonus is only alright.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Healing Vezax makes me nostalgic

So yeah, our guild is backwards and we did TOC before Ulduar. What of it?

Anyway, last night I healed General Vezax for the first time, and even though it was so frustrating I wanted to die, it actually gave me super flashbacks. Not to any other fight in particular, but rather to back when I was an undergeared priest stepping into Karazhan in level 65 blues.

I'm so used to pre-emptively overhealing tanks and not really having mana problems with all my nifty procs and meta gems and totems and potions. Even though Vezax is clunkily designed in terms of how it makes most healers' itemization completely wrong, it does make you think really carefully about what spells you can afford to cast, in a way I haven't thought in a long time, since those days when I was jump-casting downranked greater heals on Curator.

We didn't get Yogg down last night, but it felt so good to be able to heal people frivoulously at that point that I just didn't care.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Fault, Your Fault: Tier 9 Edition

One of my favorite blog posts from a longstanding member of the healing blog community, Matticus, is his run down of fights in Ulduar.  Basically he breaks down analyzing the deaths in each fight, and assigning blame to either the healers or the guy who died.  Now, this is a little simplistic and fingerpointy, but it gets the point across well, so I thought I'd do my take on it for the newer round of content, ToC and Onyxia's Lair.

Northrend Beasts
If you died to:
  • Gormok's Fire Bomb - Your fault. Move out of fires, noob.
  • Gormok's Snobold – Raid dps's fault. They're supposed to get this off you, and it should be their highest priority.
  • Gormok's Staggering Stomp - If you're melee, probably our fault; Stomp isn't that much damage and it's not tough to keep the melee topped up on this fight.
  • Acidmaw's Paralytic Toxin – Your fault, you're supposed to get to the raid member with burning bile (I know some raids do this backwards, but it is not hard to get to the burning bile target if you act as soon as you get the debuff).
  • Acidic Spew and Dreadscale's Molten Spew– Again, your fault- this damage is avoidable if you're not the tank
  • Acidmaw's and Dreadscale's Slime Pool – Probably your fault, this is like standing in fires.
  • Acidmaw's and Dreadscale's Sweep– These two are generally unavoidable, so if you die to these it's our fault.
  • Dreadscale's Burning Bile – If you are the one debuffed by Burning Bile and you die to this, it's our fault, because you can't avoid this damage.  If you die from the aoe effect from other people, it's probably your fault.  Don't group up!
  • Icehowl's Arctic Breath and Whirl- Our fault. It's healers' main job on this fight to stay spread out around him so we don't all get iced at the same time.
  • Icehowl's Trample – Your fault.

Lord Jaraxxus
If you died to:

Faction Champions
Uhhh, probably our fault.  Let's skip this one.

Twin Val'kyr
There's very little healing required on this fight if everyone is on their game.  Only two real things a non-tank could be dying from on this fight and that would be:

If you died to:

I'm gonna make this simple and say:
And a special holiday edition:

Headless Horseman
Just kidding.  If you are a dpser dying on HH or a healer letting people die on HH this is probably not the post for you.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Someone set up us the blog

Another meta post about actually setting up the blog. I was trying to find a way to get one of those pretty "achievement" feeds that I see on other people's blogs. It looks like most of them are using hosted wordpress blogs with that add-on installed. I'm trying to get something together for blogger, and I feel like I'm close. As you can see on the sidebar right now I do have a shredded RSS feed from the armory that can be used however. Unfortunately it does not preserve the actual date and timestamp, so it is not really what I want. I also would eventually like to include the appropriate artwork or tooltip.

I've also found a few other bloggers on BlogAzeroth that are looking into solving the same problem, most notably Razorbax from Three Druid Noob.

Man, setting this blog up is almost as fun as actually playing WoW. Geez, I am more geeky than ever right now.


Knee-jerk blue reaction: Improved Reincarnation

A recent blue post on the forums revealed that they are thinking of lowering the overall cooldown on Reincarnation to 30 minutes, which means that with the talent it will go down to 15.

Quote from Blizzard staff
Reincarnation cooldown
We might drop Reincarnation to 30 base, talented to 15. That's a slight nerf to the talent, but at the same time taking the cooldown that low might make an unattractive talent more attractive. (Source)

They hope that this will make the unattractive Improved Reincarnation talent suddenly popular. Now I'm not normally one to look a gift buff in the mouth, and if they give me a 30 min CD on base Reincarnation, I'll take it and be happy, but I still don't think this makes the Improved Reincarnation a good talent, or an attractive one to Shamans. To see why, you need only look as far as the iconic healing class and my former main, the holy priest.

Prior to patch 2.0.1, holy priests would rarely spec for the Spirit of Redemption talent. Back then it merely provided the pop-up temp healer effect, and had no passive bonus other than that. Even though that pop-up healer is extremely useful and can often make the difference between a progression boss kill and a wipe, it was referred to as "Improved Death" and was avoided except for very specific gimmicky progression fights. Finally after years of being an ignored talent, Blizzard buffed the talent in 2.0.1 and gave it an awesome passive spirit bonus. The talent became a spec-defining talent in the holy tree.

The main reason no one wants to take Improved Reincarnation or pre-2.0.1 Spirit of Redemption talents is that we're healers. Healing aggro is basically a thing of the past; the only way these talents could have any use is if we die, and more often than not, that would be our own fault. Rather than spec to improve when I fail, I'd rather spend points in throughput or mana efficiency talents, to help me NOT DIE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Still, I feel like Shaman are very strong healers right now, and I'm not going anywhere. But I will be leaving that box 0/2 until they can find a way to design that talent so it doesn't just improve your fail. Cause Zigi don't fail. Zigi win.