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...