Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick thoughts on patch 3.3

First and foremost, GotE is now a must have talent, imo. The 10% boost to haste is noticeable and necessary for tank and raid healing alike. Go out and get it. Got it? Good.

Secondly, the new looking for group dungeon and raid system seems to have awoken the spirit of the ninja in many previously honest players. The arrival of cross-realm grouping has marked the departure of the only real deterrent for loot ninja’s, which is (err… was) public ridicule. You can whine and complain all you like in your trade chat, but there's no stopping Mr. or Mrs. Ninja from quietly returning to their realm with your loot in tow. My recommendation, unless you are simply farming emblems, is to avoid the nice new LFG utility (and it is indeed nice) whenever possible.

And finally, it seems that two sects have formed on my realm in regards to the first wing of ICC (not counting the hard core bunch). One is the adventurous souls who are willing to bang their head against the instance, gear score be damned, hoping to learn the fights and ultimately counting on skill to get them through. The other being the GS obsessed bunch who've read somewhere that a 5.1k gear score is bare minimum for ICC and thus refuse to even attempt the instance until everyone in their group finishes farming their emblems of frost and triumph.

Personally, I fall into the first group, while it seems the majority of my guild stand firmly in the later. Time will tell if gear requirements are indeed that lofty for this instance, but this tree certainly doesn't intended to wait around for someone else to find out.

Resto druid LFG ICC 10, pst... ;-)

Friday, December 4, 2009

3.3 Patch notes

3.3 Patch notes

There isn’t much to report on the patch notes thus far for resto druids, but there are a few changes that peaked my interest.

Gift of the Earthmother: Redesigned. This talent now increases spell haste by 2/4/6/8/10% and reduces the base global cooldown of Lifebloom by 2/4/6/8/10% instead of its previous effects

GotE might be the most controversial and misunderstood druid talent in the resto tree, but with this change in 3.3, it may now be a no-brainer talent. Five talent points get you a 10% spell haste buff along with a 10% shorter GCD on lifebloom. The “haste cap” may be a thing of the past, but improved haste on all our spells is a giant buff to raiding trees. Is there any down side here?

Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation: This glyph allows for the druid’s haste to reduce the time between the periodic healing effects of Rejuvenation.”

This is an interesting proposition, especially with the four set bonus allowing Rejuv ticks to crit, but is it better than the other major glyphs? Personally, I’m a swiftmend whore who likes to have that button armed for as long as possible. From a strictly raid healing view, however, it does sound like a powerful glyph to run with.

Rebirth: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 20 minutes down to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.”

Wow. Just, wow. Basically every druid, in every raid, will have a battle rez up for every encounter. Should we revist the Rebirth glyph and think of our B-Rez as a 100% hp heal? That’s probably going a bit overboard, but still.

Rejuvenation: The base duration on all ranks of this spell is now 15 seconds.”

Blizzard is doing a little house cleaning here. This will have no effect on level 80 raiding druids, but it’s clear from this and other patch notes that Blizzard is revisiting the leveling process, attempting to make it as efficient as possible. Is this continued movement toward easy mode proof that rumors of Cataclysm being the final chapter in WoW are being realized?

Nature's Grace: The tooltip now correctly indicates that it will not be activated from periodic spell critical strikes.”

More house cleaning.

Tranquility: The cooldown on this spell has been reduced to 8 minutes, down from 10 minutes.”

Now, with the Improved Tranquility talent, you’ll be able to cast this party heal every 3.2 minutes. Will we be rethinking our raid group set up in 3.3 to allow this heal to effect tanks and melee? I think the mana cost on this channeled spell still makes it an inefficient heal in a raid environment, but it will be interesting to see if some druids are able to make it work.

Knockbacks no longer dismount players. If on a flying mount, you will be knocked back a short distance before being able to resume flying.”

Hallelujah. There’s nothing more bush league than a fail laser turkey flying around ice crown trying to make toons fall to their deaths by typhooning them off their flying mounts. I’m glad to see Blizzard is making that a thing of the past.

And finally…

The totally revamped dungeon system makes looking for a group as simple as joining a BG. As if the new heroic dungeon emblem system didn’t make gearing up easy enough, you can now queue yourself up to earn those emblems with the click of a button. I’ll save my rant on this topic for another day, but it’s clear Blizzard wants the path to end game completion to be as quick and convenient as possible. Here are some of the highlights…

“Groups using this tool will be able to teleport directly to the selected instance. Upon leaving the instance, players will be returned to their original location. If any party member needs to temporarily leave the instance for reagents or repairs, they will have the option to teleport back to the instance.”

“Players can choose the Random Dungeon option.”

“The Heroic Wrath of the Lich King Daily Random Dungeon option will award two Emblems of Frost no more than once a day.”

“The normal Wrath of the Lich King Daily Random Dungeon option will award two Emblems of Triumph no more than once a day.”

“Continuing to complete Wrath of the Lich King Heroic instances using the Daily Random Dungeon option will award players two additional Emblems of Triumph each time.”

“Random Dungeon rewards will be placed in each player’s inventory automatically upon completion of the dungeon (final boss killed). A pop-up notification will display any rewards earned through the Dungeon System.”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Healing on the run: Anub'arak

Healing on the run: Anub’arak

Phase 1:

Where to stand – Get your butt to the middle of the room, near an off tank if possible. As always, do not stand in front of the boss.

What to watch for –

1. Nerubian Burrowers! – Two sets of adds will spawn during phase one. The first set will easily be picked up by the off tank and brought to a patch of ice to be dps’d down. The second set of adds, however, is far more dangerous as the off tank will likely have farther to run to pick them up (and the movement slowing affect of the ice patch to deal with as well). You’ll be healing your tanks quite a bit at that point, so don’t be surprised if the adds spawn with you as their target. Do yourself (and your off tank) a favor by stopping your heals and running toward your OT until he/she can gain aggro.

2. Penetrating Cold. – Anub’arak will cast this DoT on random toons (2 in 10 man, 5 in 25 man) throughout phase one. It’s easily healed through, but certainly worth your attention if you’re assigned to raid heals. Keep an eye on your Deadly Boss Mod for this cast.

3. Downtime. – That’s right, I said it. If all goes well in phase one, you’ll likely find yourself with very little healing to do. Only your tanks and a handful of your fellow raiders will need heals, but do NOT get complacent. Damage spikes still occur in this phase and Anub isn’t exactly tickling your main tank. Keep everyone topped off and stay sharp. Phase two will have you (literally) healing on the run.

Phase 2:

Where to stand – You won’t do a lot of standing during phase two. Toons, adds, scarabs, and Anub will all be running around like crazy, and if you’re smart, you will be too. The only advice I can give you is to pay attention to where you are and what’s going on around you.

What to watch for

1. Anub’arak! – Phase two begins when Anub burrows underground, making him invulnerable and wiping all aggro. He will randomly target one of your raid members and chase after them (slowly at first, then gaining speed until he cannot be out run) only stopping when he runs into a patch of ice. If you’re his target (you’ll know by the skull that appears over your head) find the furthest ice patch from Anub and go stand BEHIND it. (Some guides will tell you to stand on the ice, however doing so will slow your run speed and often still results in a damaging hit from Anub.)

If you are NOT Anub’s target, pay attention to who is the target and get out of their way. Also pay attention to where Anub is while underground. Many toons have died from standing in his path and you do not want to suffer the embarrassment of being one of those toons. If you see his spikes coming in your direction, move.

2. Scarabs! – These little buggers don’t hit hard and they don’t have a ton of health, HOWEVER, they do stack a DoT on their target which will eventually make life miserable for your healers. Pay attention to when you’re picking up aggro and start kiting them early. You do not want any stacks of their DoT on you.

3. DoTs! – More times than not, a few toons will end up with a good number of scarab DoTs stacked on them. This DoT lasts 30 seconds and does roughly 1k damage per stack per tick. Add that to Penetrating Cold when Anub reemerges, and a once easy healing fight will now be crazy hectic. If keeping the raid alive is your responsibility, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Heal hard and heal fast. Oh, and more adds will be arriving soon, so expect to have aggro when they appear.

4. Your tanks. – With everyone kiting mobs, moving out of Anub’s way and dpsing the scarabs scattered all over the room, it’s easy to end up out of range of your tanks. Find them BEFORE the end of phase two and HoT them up. Anub’arak will start beating on your MT when it reemerges from underground, whether your healers are ready or not.

5. End of phase. – Phase two ends when Anub reemerges, then it returns to phase one until Anub’s health is under 30 percent. The overlapping of the two phases is the most dangerous part of the fight, so stay on your toes.

Phase 3:

Where to stand – Phase three is tank and spank, with a twist. Stand in range of as many toons as you can.

What to watch for

1. Leeching Swarm! – Anub’s swarm damages everyone in the raid and leeches 10% of their current health every second (returning that health to Anub as a HoT). In other words, your job as a healer is to keep EVERYONE under 50% health without letting them die (except for maybe your tanks who you will likely keep topped off). This fight is tailor made for Resto druids because it basically boils down to HoTs vs. DoTs. Normally I don’t tell my fellow trees how to heal these fights, because everyone has their own build and their own style. In this case, however, I will make an exception. Healing Touch, Nourish, Regrowth and Swiftmend should NOT be used during phase three. Those spells just crit too often and heal too big for this phase. Trust your Rejuvenation and Wild Growth spells to work their magic. Save lifebloom only for spot emergencies and don’t stack more than 1. I know keeping everyone in raid at such low health goes against all your instincts as a healer, but once you get used to all the red health bars on your healing addon, it really isn’t that bad. Think quantity instead of quality in this phase, and it’ll be easier than I make it sound.

2. DoTs and adds. – When phase three begins, any adds that are out or DoTs (like penetrating cold or scarab poison) that are up will still need to be healed through. Don’t be afraid to use a big heal to save a life at this point, but once they’re all down, put those big heals away for good.

Should I freak? – Yessir, you should. This is THE end game encounter (for the moment) so downing Anub’arak is as tough as it gets. This fight truly is a skill check. If you can heal through it, you can heal through anything.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My nightmare worsens

Earlier, with the release of patch 3.2, I wrote a blog on how gear scores and emblems had soiled the WoW experience for me a bit. Not only did blizzard make gearing too easy, but they made it a competition. I've since sworn off caring about wow-heroes, recount lists and emblem farming, and have tried to focus on enjoying guild progression (epic fails or not). For a while, life was good.

However, (there's always a 'but') as the title of this blog indicates, the simple joys of WoW-hood are becoming harder and harder to hold on to. The latest craze among WoWers is the uber annoying and ultra-snobby "gearscore" addon. It's intention, to make PuGing raids easier and more efficient. It's actual affect, raising noses of elitist jerks to an all time high.

It's hard to say which is worse, toons in a raid bragging about their dps... even though they died from standing in fire, or toons in a raid bragging about their gear score... even though they died from standing in fire. Either way, both leave the bulk of the heavy lifting to the "lesser" toons. You know, the ones who don't raid with their recount window open so they can see what they're standing in and stop dpsing long enough to move out of it? Yeah, those toons.

I know it's clear to everyone that gear score does not guarantee skill. I don't have to share stories of "under geared" toons out dpsing, out healing, out tanking, out lasting, or out classing their uber geared counterparts to convince you of that fact, because I know you've all witnessed it yourselves. Instead I'll sit here, biting my tongue, earnestly hoping you don't allow yourselves to get caught up in the pointless WoW addons that cause me so much annoyance.

If you care enough about playing your character well (and I'm certain you do if you're reading blogs on your class) then don't preoccupy yourself with the numbers of this game. If you spend as much time learning the fights as those "other" toons spend farming daily heroics, then gear won't matter. You'll always be in the right place at the right time, and that's something you can't measure with an addon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Healing on the run: Twin Val'kyr

Twin Val'kyr - Fjola Lightbane / Edyis Darkbane

Where to stand:

Where you stand during this fight will depend on your healing assignment. If you're healing a tank, you will want to position yourself on your tank's side of the room near an essence portal holding the opposite color of your current essence (so that you can change our essence quickly without having to move too far). If you're raid healing, position yourself in the center of the room as close to an essence portal as possible while keeping everyone in range.

Also, use command: "/console cameraDistanceMaxFactor 4" before you begin this fight. This will allow you to zoom out your camera further than normal (which helps a great deal in this fight)

What to watch for:

Dark/Light Vortex! - Throughout the fight the Twins will cast a few special abilities. The one everyone in the raid must watch out for is the Dark or Light Vortex. The vortex is a huge AoE that does 5-6k dps on every player with the opposite color essence for 5 seconds (8-9k on 25 man). Your deadly boss mod (and hopefully your tank) should tell you when this is about to be cast and what color essence you should have. If you have a light essence and the light vortex is cast, you can just stand and heal (keeping your eyes peeled for any raid members who were late changing their essence). If, however, you have a dark essence while the light vortex is being cast, stop what you're doing and run to a light portal immediately. (Trust me, the worst kind of healer is a dead healer.) The same is true for the dark vortex. Just make sure you have a dark essence when it's cast, then go about your business of healing.

Concentrated orbs! - During the fight, light and dark orbs will be flying around the room. Orbs of the same color will give you a dps buff (which you obviously don't need as a healer), orbs of the opposite color will cause you a fair amount of damage (which you obviously want to avoid). First and foremost, you want to zoom your camera out as far as possible so that you'll have plenty of warning when a bad orb is coming your way. Secondly, a captured orb will do a small AoE which can still hurt you if you're standing too close to someone who grabs an orb of the opposite color. Do your best to not stack on anyone with an opposite color essence. Thirdly, do not go out of your way to collect orbs of the same color. Your dps will be trying to collect enough orbs to trigger the "empowered" buff and they'll be none too happy if you're running around making things harder on them. Stand your ground as much as possible in this fight, and only move as far as you must to avoid an orb.

Surge of darkness/surge of light. - As soon as this fight begins, you'll notice everyone's health slowly ticking down. This is due to the Twin's surge ability. Take some time to HoT up your raid members because your tanks won't be needing too many heals at the onset.

Damage spikes. - The only real damage spikes your tanks will be taking will come via opposite color orbs, and you'll be able to heal through two or three of those without much trouble. The twins don't hit hard on their own, so if you're tank healing do be afraid to lend a hand with raid heals.

Twin's Pact. - This special ability means everything to dps and means nothing to you as a healer. Basically all dps will need to burn down a shield on one of the twins so that this ability can be interrupted or else the Twins will be healed for a substantial amount of health. Your raid leader may call out for everyone to change their essence, but really only dps need to make the change. You can just stand your ground and heal, as your essence doesn't affect this ability in the least.

Should I freak?

No way, Jose. Spacial awareness is key in this fight, and seeing as you've graduated from Naxx and Ulduar to ToC, watching where you stand should be like second nature to you. Stand, heal, be prepared for the Twin's one big ability (vortex) and this fight will be a cake walk.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Healing on the run: Faction Champions

Faction Champions:

Where to stand

In this fight, PvE meets PvP. Your raid will be up against six faction champions (ten in 25 man). There are no threat tables, plenty of CC, and damage spikes popping up any where and everywhere. Where you stand depends on where you’re needed. Go into this fight with a PvP mentality.

What to watch for

1. DPS! – Unlike true PvP encounters, killing the healers first is actually a bad idea in this fight. Druid heals are easily purged and tree of life prevents them from CCing or dpsing, which makes the Faction Champs' tree a non factor in this fight. The Priest healer has no disc. spells to cast meaning that well timed kicks can lock up their holy spell class for most of the encounter. The Pally healer, while obnoxious with it's bubble and more difficult to lock down than the previous two classes can be contained effectively by a talented rogue. The only exception to the "kill dps first" rule is the Shaman healer Saamul. His heals are too rapid to be adequately interrupted (from my experience) and should therefore be your first kill if he is chosen to fight. The Faction Champs DPS hits hard, CCs like crazy, and has a knack for finding and murdering your fellow healers. Your raid should focus fire on a clothy DPS before moving on to higher armor classes. Also, your raid should take a moment to have it's pets target their pets. Why? Because, unlike this tree, the Faction Champs healers will target and heal pets. Once one or two of their dps go down, this fight becomes very easy to heal, and therefore becomes very easy to win.

2. Healers. – The NPC healers in this fight do NOTHING but heal. They should be interrupted, CC’d, feared, ect… whenever possible, but they should not be focus fired on until the end of the fight. I repeat, the healers in this fight do NOTHING but heal. They will not contribute to dps and they are not a danger in this encounter.

3. Debuffs. - I hope that all you trees out there have Abolish Poison and Remove Curse mapped to your healing addon. If you don't, you should do just that for this encounter. The Faction Champs Warlock and Rogue will be passing out plenty of curses and poisons for you to despell, and you will be doing your raid an injustice if you're not meeting that challenge (especially if you have no cleansing totems down).

Should I freak

If your raid leader insists on downing their healers first, then yes, you should freak. You will be silenced, you will be feared, you will be spell kicked, and eventually you will become a favorite target of a lock, rogue, or hunter. Do your best to root, stomp and cyclone your way to survival. If, however, your raid leader takes the easy road and agrees to down their dps first, this fight will be the easiest encounter in the Colosseum.

Healing on the run: Lord Jaraxxus

Lord Jaraxxus

Where to stand. – The raid will be spread out in a semi-circle around the center of the room, making it difficult (if not impossible) to stay in range of everyone. Coordinate raid coverage with your other healers and do your best to remain on your side of the room throughout the fight. As usual, don’t stand in front of the boss.

What to watch for –

1. Incinerate Flesh! – This nasty little debuff will be cast on a random toon every 30 seconds or so throughout the fight. It decreases the target’s damage done by 50% for 12 seconds and it absorbs the next 30000 (60000 in 25 man) healing received. More importantly, if the debuff is not removed it will result in a burning inferno, which puts a hard hitting DoT on the entire raid for 5 seconds. The only way to remove incinerate flesh is to heal the target for 30000 hp before it expires. Also, the target will not be taking any damage from the debuff (which will make it hard to find on your healing addon), so keep an eye on your deadly boss mod to find out who has it. Prioritize this target above all others (excepting for the main tank).

2. Legion Flame! – Yet another debuff from Lord Jaraxxus that’ll make your healing life more difficult. This single target debuff will put fire under your feet (yay, more fire) but as you run away it will follow you around leaving a trail of fire behind. Obviously you want to avoid burning your fellow raid members, so when you get this debuff, turn and run straight back to the outer wall, avoiding everyone that you can. When it wears off, try to find a fire free path back to your position so that you can resume healing.

3. Fel Fireball. – The bad news is, these fireballs hit hard and they put a DoT on their target making the task of keeping the victim alive very difficult. The good news is, it can and should be interrupted by melee every time Jaraxxus attempts to cast it. Keep your eyes peeled for any fireballs that slip through, but if things are going well, Fel Fireballs should be a non-factor.

4. Chain lighting. – Yes Lord Jaraxxus has a chain lighting so the raid will want to spread out. However, it doesn’t hit terribly hard, and unlike other chain lightings, it doesn’t get more powerful each time it jumps to a toon, so don’t worry too much if you can’t find a spot 10 yards away from everyone else. If you can find a place to stand that isn’t on fire and allows you to be in range of half the raid, you’re in good shape.

5. Mistress of pain. – This if the first of two adds that Jaraxxus will summon. She likes to jump around, picking up random toons to pile drive them. All melee (except for those responsible for interrupting fire balls) and all range (except for those responsible for spell stealing) will burn down this add asap. Be prepared to be picked up and dropped on your head, and make haste running back to your spot afterward, being sure to avoid running through fire.

6. Infernals. – This is the second of the two adds that the boss will summon. They have a nasty AoE, so don’t stand near one and be sure to scramble your roots should one chase after you. Only ranged will dps these buggers, so if everyone is paying attention, only your OT will be taking dmg from these adds.

Should I freak? Honestly, this fight is easier to heal than the Beasts of Northrend. So, if you survived that, this should be a walk in the park for you. A very long, intense, fire riddled walk, but you get the idea. Good luck champions of Thunderbluff!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Slow going

This is a quick apology for not posting much content on my blog lately. Progression has been slow going, and with alts and my attempts at mastering the feral cat rotation, there really hasn't been much to report on my end.

I will say there have been two confirmed TLPD kills on my server since my last update (I was in the wrong place at the wrong time for both) so those of you who have given up on it, trust that it is indeed still out there for the taking. It just takes a LOT of patience.

I've also been farming the raven lord mount in Sethekk Halls. There are two guides out there on how to solo the boss. One takes nearly an hour (and involves letting the Eagle spirit do all the damage) and the other is a little more challenging but goes much quicker (must have decent feral gear). Personally, I've been 2man-ing it with a guildie and it goes pretty quick (no mount drops yet.)

In other news, I've almost finished clearing 25 man trial of the crusader, and as soon as I become more familiar with all the fights, I'll have some guides up for you to check out.

'Til then, be good.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Twig Heals 101: HealBot (setup 2)

The second half of the healbot setup is all about the look and feel of the addon. Familiarize yourself with the following screens and don't be afraid to play with them during your next raid. Healing addons can only be effective if you make sure they're displaying ALL the information you need in a manner in which you can understand.

Healbot Healing tab:

The healing bars tab controls which health bars appear on your screen. There are options to display targets not in your raid, pets, tanks, even vehicles if you wish. My setup leaves main tanks unchecked, as I prefer to have their health bar appear with the other members of their group instead of at the top of my healbot UI. That allows me to easily see when my wildgrowth spell can best be used on the melee group. Play around with these settings to decide which health bars you do and do not want to appear on your healbot UI.

Also of note in this tab are the alert level and range check settings.
Alert level: This setting tells healbot to alert you when a target goes below a certain percentage of their hp.
Range check frequency: This setting tells healbot how often to check the range of all targets in your raid. The lower the setting the faster you'll know if someone in your raid has moved out of healing range.
Disable bar when range over 100 yards: This will remove the health bar of any target over 100 yards away from your healbot UI.

Healbot Cure tab:

This section of healbot allows you to monitor dispellable debuffs on members of your raid and to set which spells you will use to remove the debuff. You should definitely have your abolish poison and remove curse spells mapped to your mouse in the spells tab if you want to utilize this screen properly.

Healbot Skin 1 tab:

Skin 1 tab directly affects the appearance of the headers and font of your healbot UI as well as aggro and current HoTs a target has. I highly recommend having your HoTs appear on the health bars with a duration counter so you can know exactly when a target's heals are going to run out. I also recommend enabling the monitor aggro function as it allows you to see instantly when a raid member has pulled aggro from a tank as well as when they have picked up an add.

Healbot Skin 2 tab:

The Skin 2 tab directly affects the look of the health bars on your healbot UI. You can adjust height, width, number of groups per column, opacity, mana bar size, etc... in this tab. Play around with these settings to get healbot to look and feel the way you want it to.

Healbot Tips tab:

The tips tab controls the tooltips that are displayed by healbot. Set these to your preference.

Healbot Buffs tab:

The buffs tab allows you to monitor which members of your raids are missing your buffs as well as notifies you when the buffs are about to expire. My setup only monitors Gift of the Wild because I rarely apply thorns to anyone other than the tanks in my raids and they account for so little damage it's not worth the mana it costs to reapply them mid fight.
And there you have part two of the healbot setup. I've tried to keep my descriptions and explanations short and sweet, and I hope your own setup will be just that... short and sweet.

Coming up next we step out of the setup screens and take a look at healbot in action. Both healbot users and Grid & Clique users will find useful tips in my next post. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Healing on the Run: Trial of the Crusader

Healing on the run: Beasts of Northrend

Phase 1: Gormok the Impaler

Where to stand: Start out in the middle of the coliseum a good five yards from anyone else and move whenever fire AoE is placed at your feet.

What to watch for:

Fire! Throughout the fight Gormok’s Snobolds will put fire under your roots. Fire and trees do not mix. Run out of it asap. And keep your eyes out for others who are slow hauling their toosh as well. You can’t heal through it, but you can buy them another second or two to get out of the flame.

Tanks! Gormok will stack a DoT on the main tank until the off tank taunts him off. This DoT lasts for 20 seconds after the taunt, so keep heals up on both tanks throughout this fight.

Snobolds. Random toons will be effected by little nasties that jump on their backs. These buggers need to be dpsed off. They don’t hit terribly hard, but they do slow your movement down and interrupt spell casting when they jump on you. Call out if you get one and pay a little extra attention to other toons that have them as well.

Mana. Know that you’ve just started a long three boss fight with no chance to mana up in between. Phase 1 is basic tank and spank so conserve as much mana as you can while keeping the raid up and looking good.

Should I freak? Not yet. This is the easier of the three phases. Keep an eye on what you’re standing in and don’t heal too big. You’ll have a few seconds after Gormok goes down to top off the raid.

Phase 2: Acidmaw and Dreadscale

Where to stand: Again, you’ll want to start out in the middle of the coliseum and cheat to the side that your tank is kiting the flame worm around.

What to watch for:

Paralytic Toxin! Acidmaw will put a debuff on members of the raid. This stackable debuff will eventually lock you in place and the only way to remove it is with Dreadscale’s debuff called burning bile. The tank kiting Dreadscale around the room will have the burning bile aura, so run to him/her, gain the debuff, and run back to the middle of the coliseum. Keep your eyes peeled for toons running to and from Dreadscale as well. If you’re paralyzed, call out for someone to bring the burning bile aura to you.

Dreadscale enrage! If your group chooses to burn down Acidmaw first, Dreadscale will enrage doing huge damage. Luckily, it’s only single target damage, so spread out and heal the tank big until your raid burns Dreadscale down.

Mana. I know you’re a druid and mana isn’t something you usually worry about, but you’re currently in the toughest phase of a three boss fight and there’s no rest in sight. Conserve where you can and remember to innervate your friends.

Acidmaw burrow. Half way through the fight, Acidmaw will burrow underground. When it reemerges it will not only be mobile but it will also have wiped aggro. Look for overzealous dps to heal while your tank regains Acidmaw’s attention.

Watch where you’re standing. With toons running around, worms switching from stationary to mobile, debuffs galore and tanks spread out across the room, it’s easy to let yourself drift into a bad position. Never let yourself get in front of a worm and never let yourself get behind the mobile worm. Your best bet is to stay parallel with the tank as he kites the worm around the outer edge of the room.

Should I freak? If you must freak out, now is the time to do it. You’re in phase two of a tough three boss fight. There’s no break after the worms go down, no chance of running back in if you go down, and no way of picking the fight up from here if you wipe. Stay on your toes, use all your tools and try to keep the raid up through this crazy phase.

Phase 3: Icehowl

Where to stand: Once again, in the middle of the coliseum.

What to watch for:

Massive Crash! This beast of a yeti will jump up into the air and come crashing down hard… throwing the entire raid against the wall and stunning them. The crash itself doesn’t hurt much, but what happens afterward is what you need to worry about. Icehowl will charge at a random toon while they’re up against the wall. Once the stun wears off, you need to be running to your left or right immediately to avoid being hit by the charging yeti or else it’s instant death.

Ferocious butt! Feel bad for your main tank. Throughout this fight, Icehowl will be headbutting him/her for up to 25K damage while also stunning them for 2.5 seconds. Big heals on the tank if you want to survive this nightmare.

Mana. You no longer need to conserve, but you do need to find enough mana to heal big and hard in this phase. Hopefully you’ve innervated a fellow healer at some point in this fight. And hopefully your cooldown will allow you to innervate someone again.

Should I freak? Nah. Being knocked against a wall and seeing a giant Yeti running at you can be a little unsettling, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Stay calm and focused on this phase. You’ve come too far and fought too long to fail and have to start over. Mana is the key to your success. Save it for the moments you really need it and you’ll outlast this endurance fight without a problem.

Good luck out there!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Innervate: The verdict

When patch notes come out, I usually try my best to keep an even keel.
Take 3.2 for instance. Lifebloom is getting nerfed again? That
sucks, but I’m getting used to it. Rejuvenation will soon be able to
crit? That’s pretty cool but I’m not going to freak out over it.
Innervate’s length and cool down will be cut in half? That’s pretty
sweet. Really sweet. Actually, that’s kinda awesome. Wicked awesome!
YES! (You see where I kind of lost my head.)

The idea of having two innervates in one fight (even if they are half
as effective) really had me pumped up over its potential. I was
picturing one innervate for me about a minute or two in to the fight
then another innervate for my favorite priest 3 minutes later. The
more I thought about it the more I pictured the two of us swimming
happily in an endless pool of mana healing all and bringing peace to
the world.

Reality check.

The patch comes out, our first raid rolls around, and oops… I forget
to innervate early in the fight (old habits die hard). No worries. I
pop my innervate on my priest friend and then make a mental note to
remember the change next time. About a minute goes by and…

Surprised priest: “Beck. Innervate me.”
Depressed druid: “Uh, I just did.”
Surprised priest: “Seriously, I’m almost OOM. Innervate.”
Depressed druid: “But… I… uh…cooldown?”
Surprised priest: “I’m OOM. Heal tank.”
Depressed druid: “…”

At this point I’m healing big and healing everywhere. Every time I
get the raid topped off I mouse over my innervate icon. 45 seconds…
44… 43… Regrowth, swiftmend, wild growth, check. 30… 29… 28… Rejuv,
nourish, nourish, wildgrowth, check. 18… 17… 16… hang in there
priest. It’s coming. 3… 2… 1… finally!

The fight ends, a few ranged are down (because my GCD won’t let me be
everywhere), and slap my ass and call me junior… some of MY spell
icons have turned grey. /emote shock and awe.

I chalk that up to bad luck and try to get the new innervate thing
down in the next fight. I innervate myself early… notice a few ticks
going to waist, then innervate the priest about the same time I
normally would. Same problem. She doesn’t get enough mana back to
last her through the fight.

Next fight I try to innervate her early, time it so it nearly tops her
off, then pop it again on her as soon as it’s up. Success! Three
fights in and I get the innervate thing figured out. And just as I’m
about to breathe easy… it hits me. Two innervates and still none of
them go to me. /Sigh.

I knew that priest healers didn’t need ALL of the old innervate, but
as it turns out they do need more than half of it. So, after allowing
myself to get over excited about the mana possibilities in 3.2, I’ve
now grown bitter (which is what happens when you set yourself up for a
let down).

It isn’t a big deal really. Most fights I don’t need innervate. Most
fights I don’t even think about innervate. But when those long boss
fights do roll around I find myself cursing Blizzard thinking about
what could have been. What should have been.

Never again will I allow myself to get pumped up over a patch. Never
will I let the possibilities overwhelm me. Nope. Never. Not even
the idea of a Tauren pally, which is pretty sweet... and kind of cool. Really cool, actually…

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Twig Heals: HealBot (setup 1)

Notice:  This Healbot setup guide was written for version 3.2 and is now somewhat out dated.  You can find my setup guide for the newest version of HealBot (v. 3.3.0) here.

The biggest obsticle new raiding druids have to get over is learning to use a healing addon. Whether you choose HealBot (which is easier to use "out of the box") or Grid + Clique (which is much more customizable), you'll need to understand how they work in order to get the most out of them. This guide will focus on the setup and use of HealBot (the debate of Grid v. HealBot is best saved for another blog).

Let's take a look at each HealBot screen and see how they affect the addon.

HealBot General tab:

The top half of the HealBot 'General' tab mostly affects your UI. The options are fairly self explanitory, save for the last two.

Disable HealBot: Disable all events and hide the bars (This is the off switch)
Show MiniMap Button: Show button on minimap, hold right mouse button to move
Lock Position: Locks the frames in place
Anchor: Set the anchor point, HealBot will then grow away from the anchor
Close Automatically: Closes the frame when no one needs a buff/heal (only when out of combat)
Play sound on open: Plays a sound when the frame is opened.
Hide options button: Hides the option button on the frame
Right click on panel opens options: Enable right click to open the options menu
Hide Party Frames: Hide the standard party frames (yourself and target optional)
Enable libQuickHealth: Allows your addon to interact with other healers so that you can see what targets have an incoming heal and what targets are being resurrected. It's very useful in a raid situation and should be enabled.
Use CPU profiler: Allows HealBot to interact with a CPU usage addon. Basically it tracks how much of your pc's resources are being used by your addons. If you don't have a CPU usage addon installed, there's no reason to check this box off in your HealBot setup.

The bottom half of the 'General' tab allows you to send automatic messages when you perform an action with HealBot. Spamming notifications in raid will frustrate and annoy, however, so check off 'Notify for resurrection only' or nothing at all.

Once you have your general setup taken care of, it's time to map your mouse keys (which is the whole reason you downloaded an addon to begin with). Think about your healing style for a minute before you start mapping your spells.

HealBot Spells tab:

The drop down menu let's you choose if you want your HealBot bars enabled at all times or only in combat. I recommend having them on at all times so you can get used to looking at them for party information (instead of the standard party frames that you're used to.)

You'll notice five buttons below the drop down menu. This is where you map spells to the corresponding mouse button (i.e. Left for left click, right for right click, etc...) You've probably realized by now that we have more than 3 to 5 healing spells, so in order for healbot to give you access to all of your talents, we have to include 'Shift', 'Ctrl', and 'Alt' with our mouse clicks. (Note: If you have other actions mapped to these keys in your interface, you should move them now.)

The way you set up your spells is up to you, though I recommend mapping your most used spells to the simplest click and then continue from there. (You may notice that my middle mouse button is strictly resurrection and debuff spells. I find having my battle rez mapped there keeps it out of the way.)

Save unique spells for each spec: Allows you to map different spells for your duel spec without having to constantly change your HealBot settings.
Use Enabled Settings when target in combat: If the target is in combat, your HealBot settings will be enabled for that target.
Always use Enabled Settings: Always use enabled settings in or out of combat.
Avoid accidental PVP flagging: Keeps bars disabled if the target is PVP flagged and you're not.
SmartCast when out of combat: This will automatically select a spell when out of combat to res, buff, remove debuffs, or heal your target (binds to left click).

Take your time on the 'Spells' tab and study where you have your spells mapped. It will take some practice to cast your spells in this manner, but once you have their hotkeys mastered, you're healing will become much quicker and efficient.

HealBot Healing tab:

The top half of the 'Healing' tab allows you to choose what bars appear on your HealBot UI. You obviously want your party/raid to appear and it's important to have your own bar there as well. Whether you want pets to appear is up to you, and if you'd like the tanks to be seperated from the rest, there's an option for that too.

Alert level: Sets a target %hp for HealBot to alert you when a target needs heals. The target's health bar will go from opaque to solid whenever their health reaches this level or lower. This setting allows you to know exactly who's taking damage and who you should be focusing your heals on.
Range check frequency: This changes how often HealBot will do a range check on your raid. The more frequent you set it, the faster you'll know if someone moved out of your range or not.

So there you have the first half of the HealBot setup. At this point your HealBot is ready to use. The second half of the tutorial will cover monitoring and removing debuffs (in and out of combat) as well as changing the look of healbot to fit your preferences.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm not that smart... really.

Most of the druids I talk to on my server are guildies who are fairly new to level 80 and are still gearing. Their number 1 concern when raiding is mana management, which until now I've been chalking up to their gear. But as I read more and more resto druid guides, I'm discovering that mana seems to be an issue for a lot of experienced, established trees as well.

That kind of got me thinking that I'm doing something wrong, as I don't have mana issues... ever. And I'm not sure why that is. My toon doesn't have huge amounts of int (hence the title of this post ^.^) and my mp5 is good not great, so how is it that I'm not healing to oom when so many admittedly better resto druids are?

Unbuffed I'm looking at 2.3k +heals, 17,000 mana with 241 mp5 (while casting). Buffed and with Flask of Pure Mojo, I put out roughly 2.8 to 3.3 hps single target healing, and 3.1 to 3.5 hps on the raid. My build takes advantage of all the mana saving talents, but so does every other tree I've looked at. So, it must be my healing style, right? Maybe you all can help me figure this out?

Here's my approach...

Regardless of my assignment, I play the role of raid healer (obviously paying more attention to my tank if I'm assigned the single target role). I pre-hot one or two tanks (depending on the pull) then get ready with swiftmend as my first response to burst damage. Everyone else in the raid goes without HoTs... for now. (I'm curious if other trees out there pre-HoT dps targets as well as tanks to start a fight.)

As the fight progresses and the tanks move into their positions, I renew their HoTs and watch for isolated damage on other raid members (such as a fireball from Razorscale.) If I see someone get hit, and I know they aren't likely to take immediate follow up damage, I'll throw a rejuv on them and let it tick them back to full (or get eaten up by a priest/pally heal).

As we move further in the fight I start planning for raid wide damage (such as Kologarn's left arm or XT-002's tantrums) and if I time it right, I can have rejuv rolling on ranged, wild growth ticking on melee, HoTs on my tanks, and a lifebloom for yours truely. That's usually enough to keep everyone up as I cycle back through with more HoTs and Nourishes on the toons taking more hits.

Inevitably someone gets a little too close for comfort to critical, so NS+HT comes in handy (I usually pop it 2-3 times per fight depending on the length). And my favorite heal, swiftmend is plan B should another of my buddies find themselves in dire straights.

It's pretty much rinse and repeat from there. I never put more than 1 lifebloom on a target unless it's a fight where I know my tank will be taking more damage spikes than I can respond to with NS+HT, swiftmend, HoTs+Regrowth, and Nourish spams.

Is that far off from what you all do in your raids? I'll be really upset if it turns out my style is putting undue pressure on my fellow raid healers and my numbers aren't where they should be.

To summarize my approach, I'd say I'm a reaction healer, making sure all my tools are available when I need them, but waiting until after the damage occurs to put them to work.

Any thoughts, tips, suggestions on how I can be more mana inefficient... err... I mean better at what I do?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Group dynamics

Admittedly I play in a *casual raiding guild*. I wouldn't have it any other way. The plus side is obvious from the word casual. We schedule our raids but by no means make them mandatory or issue punishments to those who miss them. It's a come as/when you can and together we'll fight our way through this progression type of scenario. Again, I wouldn't have it any other way. The negative side, however, is that raid success can be up and down (mostly when we're required to pug a few spots to get the thing off the ground), and consistently getting an invite to 10 man Ulduar is never a guarantee (seeing as we don't have the tanks and heals to form two separate groups week in and week out).

My question to those of you in smaller raiding guilds is this... How does your guild handle 10 man Ulduar groups? Do you schedule them on your guild calendar and take the first 10 who sign up? Do you have a set group of 10 that go, and the rest sit on the bench (or pug in)? What about some kind of regular rotation where everyone gets to roll with the guildies... just not every week?

In a previous post I wrote how I used to pug in to Ulduar whenever possible, just to make sure I got my loot chances in every week (back when I was obsessing over my gear score). Now I'm more than happy to sit on the side lines while our newer healers bang their heads against Ulduar, keeping myself available to fill in or fill out a raid when needed (hunting my drake in the meantime). After all, the more geared toons we have, the more successful we'll be going forward. Not everyone shares my view, however, as in recent weeks some people we've geared up have jumped ship looking for greener pastures. I feel no ill will towards those former guildies of mine, but I can't help but feel a bit slighted having helped bring them up then watching them leave before they can pay it forward.

Where do you all stand on this? Where does loyalty end and ambition begin for you? If a guild fits your play style but not your schedule do you move on? Is it more about playing with people you like or people who match your skill? Are guilds just a way to progress through the game, or are they more personal than that?

Personally, I'm in my guild because I enjoy playing/talking with everyone in it. I'm sure if I ran off to go join a hardcore group I'd earn newer flasher sexier gear, but it wouldn't be nearly as fun or satisfying as progressing with my friends. In a "what have you done for *me* lately" society, am I the only one who feels that way?

Just curious.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Confessions of a tree...

Okay, I have to come clean. I bent the rules a little at the office, and now my work place’s cyber police have come down hard on yours truly. I admit that I log on to do a teensy bit of blogging at work from time to time. Nothing major of course, just a link fix here, a Freya guide there, you know… little stuff. Unfortunately, the powers that be discovered my minor infraction and have decided to essentially execute my blog!

I’m sure you’re all saying to yourselves “What, Beck?! That’s not fair!” with genuine shock and awe. But it’s true. Twig Heals is now blocked by websense in my office. /wrists.

What this means is…
1. Word of my blog’s existence will have to travel outside of this building if anyone is ever going to read it.

2. Those coworkers of mine who did read my blog will now have to get their lunchtime WoW fix elsewhere.

3. Any innocent office blogging bystanders with serious, forward thinking, relevant, and important blogs hosted on blogspot will now be joining Twig Heals on websense's death row.

4. Finally, and most importantly, I have nothing to do at my desk except work. All day! Every day!!

Yes, this is a sad day for Twig Heals. But there is some silver lining. Those of you computer savvy enough to find a proxy server not blocked by websense on your office PCs will still be able to visit Twig Heals (or any other website) at work. And for the less daring folk out there, Google cache’s webpages and makes them available to you in their search engine. These cached pages are basically snap shots of the website and are often viewable even though websense has the site blocked.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you all an update. Power to the people! Down with websense!! And I’ll talk to you all… after work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Healing on the run: Freya

If you've been pulled into an Ulduar group, but you haven't had the time to watch the vids or read the blogs, here's a quick reference guide on what you *should* know about the Freya fight. Good luck!


Phase 1:

Where to stand - Where you stand depends on which adds you're fighting...

Elementals - Stay away from Storm Lasher's AoE and always in range of your assigned tank.

Lashers - You'll be stacking on the main tank to AoE them down.

Ancients - You will need to run from mushroom to mushroom as they spawn and despawn or else you'll be unable to cast.

What to watch for -

1. Adds! Freya begins phase 1 basically invulnerable because of the 150 stacks of Attuned to Nature buff that she has. The buff increases healing done to her by 4% per stack and can only be removed by killing the 6 waves of the adds that she spawns. Understanding the three types of adds and killing them in the 60 seconds allowed (before the next wave of adds arrives) is the key to completing phase 1.

- Type 1 - Elemental adds - These three elementals each hit very hard and must die Romeo and Juliet style (within 12 seconds of each other) or else they will respawn the others. See below...

-- Snaplasher - If you're healing the snaplasher group, beware it's stacking buff. As it is attacked it will increase its damage output by 10% for each stack it gains, so the damage spikes will get bigger and bigger on the tank until all dps stops to let the buff wear off.

-- Storm Lasher - If you're healing the storm lasher group, you'll be healing against AoE damage. Only a tank should be near this add while your ranged classes dps it down. Roll your HoTs and then help out the rest of the raid.

-- Ancient Water Spirit - If you're healing the Water Spirit group, give your tank plenty of overheals. This thing hits hard and hits often. It will also randomly charge at someone in your raid. You'll be in the best position to see when and where this happens, so healing that target is also your responsibility.

- Type 2 - Exploding Lashers - These little nasties have an aggro wipe which makes them very difficult for the tanks to pick up. For that reason, the party usually stacks in one spot while they're AoE'd down. Individually they don't hit very hard, but when they die they do a fairly strong AoE attack which can get out of hand if too many are dying at once. Get those HoTs rolling and prioritize your healing targets while you fight to stay ahead of damage spikes.

- Type 3 - Ancient Conservator - This add has an aura that prevents all casting and attacks unless you're standing under one of the mushrooms that spawn while he's up. The mushrooms start small, grow and then disappear in a short amount of time. Do your best to stay in range of your assignments as you move from one mushroom to another. Also, the Ancient will place a debuff on one character (called Nature's Fury). This debuff causes AoE damage to anyone near the player affected. Keep an eye out for the player affected.

2. Lifebinder's Gifts - Throughout the fight, trees called "Lifebinder's Gift" will grown around Freya. When they're fully grown they will heal Freya and any adds that are up until it is destroyed. Who ever is assigned to down these trees will often be running out of healing range to do so. Keep an eye on them and prepare to run to their rescue if they should pick up an add while they work.

Should I freak? Hell yes! Phase 1 of the Freya fight is an ability check on everyone in your raid... including healers. You'll be changing gears with each set of adds, and there will likely be some carry over from one wave to another, making your job that much more challenging. Pay attention and heal your branches off!

Phase 2:

Where to stand - Stand with the ranged group so you all can move as a unit when seed bombs come out. (~Tip courtesy of Averna)

What to watch for -

1. Seed bombs! - Freya's main attack ability is throwing seed bombs at the raid. They're easy to spot and should be avoided at all costs because they hit very hard. If someone gets hit, they will need huge heals... if they survive.

2. Lifebinder's Gifts. - These trees continue to grow during phase 2 and will still need to be destroyed immediately. Keep an eye on the toons who run out of range to down these and pray that enough dps survived to this point to beat the enrage timer.

Should I freak? Nope. The hard part is over. Watch where you're standing and throw whatever heals you have left on the raid. The enrage timer is pretty easy to beat even with a battered and broken raid group.

Stay focused and enjoy your tier gear!

Friday, July 10, 2009

For Blood and Honor: XT-002 Deconstructor

Tazanian walks ahead of our group because it’s his duty. Whatever fiends await us must first meet with his sword. The last of the true knights of our realm, he absorbs the wrath of any evil he must, so that the rest of us don't have to. I walk ahead of our group for entirely different reasons, doing my best to keep pace with Taz while observing the rag tag band of heroes trailing behind. Tales of Ulduar will be told long after we leave its black stone walls. Lore will be built on our triumphs. Legend will be made of the great feats witnessed here. But, the memories I share of this colossal dungeon in the northern peaks will be of the unique faces now meandering behind me and the one stoic paladin who marches ahead.

"Let's move it up." Taz declares over his shoulder, causing the uneven gait of the raid to straighten. Kwaggmire, a good natured death knight, weaves his way to the front of the pack pausing once to tell Whippet a joke, and then again to wack Bloogan on the helm, forcing it down over his eyes. "This place makes my head spin" Kwag says looking straight up. "I know the feeling" Bloogan replies, still readjusting his head piece. Their smiles set against the blackness of this hallway illustrate the kinship of war better than this druid's words ever could. "Feast is down." Taz announces from the threshold of the next room. "Eat up."

The scene around the fire and feast reminds me of home. Laughter fills our little corner of Ulduar, and as the light-hearted ribbing dies down, Tazanian rises to his feet. All eyes turn to watch as he steps forward into Deconstructor's room, taking his position and unsheathing his sword. His line in the sand has been drawn and we all know in order to join him we had best be ready to fight. One by one faces grow intent and focused. I rise and take position to Taz's right. The familiar feeling of confidence comes over me as I see Elissis take her position to his left. Turning my eyes to the front I'm almost certain I catch a glimpse of Akulu stealing a kiss from his wife. Quickly shifting my eyes back reveals no evidence of such, save the growing smile on Elissis' face. "Let's get a ready check." Akulu orders now standing at Taz' side. I pull focus on the group of bots guarding the entrance... even less certain of what I thought I just saw.

The courtyard we find ourselves in features scrap heaps in every corner of the room. The bots, mecho-spiders, and various other mechanical nasties that greeted us at the entrance now lay in pieces under our feet. At the far side of the room, alone atop a platform, stands the gateway I traveled so many miles through the storm peaks to see. Blood boils in my veins, pulsating behind my eyes, as I remind myself of who waits for us on the other side of that door. Freya's fate will soon be in my hands, but for now she will have to wait... a stinking pile of metal stands in my way.

XT-002 Deconstructor stomps deliberately at the back of the room, challenging us to approach. Without hesitation Taz charges at it head on, and I scramble to catch up. The piercing ping of steal on steal rings through every inch of Ulduar as Taz' shield stops Deconstructor dead in its tracks. At once I realize I'm late to this fight. Our bravest blood elf stands unflinching at the sight of XT-002 raising a fist... and I'm out of range! Now sprinting forward as fast as my roots will take me, I see little Elissis slide to a stop at Taz' heels casting her bubble an instant before the fist rains down. For what seems like an eternity, Elissis and Taz stand alone against the steel giant... and they're winning!

The rest of the raid arrive at XT's feet with a barrage of attacks sending it into a tantrum. Moments later, sparks fill the air, angry bots emerge from the scrap heaps, and Deconstructor's mechanical heart falls from its chest. For a moment I stare past the sparking heart at the gateway behind it. Rage takes control. Moonfire, wrath, starfire... I light into Deconstructor's heart with a lust for blood. Moonfire, wrath, starfire... I start to chant to myself with every cast. Get... out of... my... way. Get... out of... my... way!


Imphyy and Kjeldoran jog off to clean up what's left of the scrap bots in the room, Akulu sifts through Deconstructor's remains, and I stand panting in place. "What happened?" I hear a voice say. Unsure of whether it was my own, I pretend not to have heard it. My composure returns and I shift myself back into tree of life form. "Let's move it up." our stoic paladin declares over his shoulder as he makes his way up the steps to the gateway. I jog up behind following his lead. Tazanian walks ahead of our group because it's his duty... I walk ahead of our group for entirely different reasons.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Twig heals: Get started raiding resto

I have a dream that my resto children will one day live in a realm where they will not be judged by the color of their gear but by the skill of their character.

I have a dream today.

Make no mistake, gear does not make the druid. There are some benchmarks you'll want to reach before stepping out of heroics and into 10 & 25 man raids, but in the end, it's your skill and your talents that will make or break you as a raiding tree.

Most new level 80s who want to raid come to me with the same question. "What gear should I be wearing?" My first response is always "What ever gets the job done." And it's true. Enchanted, buffed, and talented, a druid wearing mostly blues, with 14-15k spell power, can handle healing through naxx 10 pretty well (despite what some raid snobs will try to tell you). Without the gear enhancements and just the build, heroic dungeons will be challenging, but certainly do able in your quest blues. It's all about what tools you have and how you use them.

If you're looking for a pre-Naxx loot list, check out HoTsTree list here. If you're looking for a bare bones make the most out of what you've got type guide... keep reading.

First things first... here are some benchmarks to keep in mind.

Heroics - 1.2-1.4k bonus healing, 11-12k mana, 175 mana regen (while casting)
Naxx 10 - 1.4-1.6k bonus healing, 13-14k mana, 215 mana regen (while casting)
Naxx 25 - +1.6k bonus healing, +15k mana, +255 mana regen (while casting)

Those numbers are not set in stone, however. The more experience you have healing, and the more familiar you are with healbot, grid, or other healing addon, the more you'll able to get by with lesser stats. Don't be like everyone else and get caught up in the numbers. Jump into a group and see if you can get the job done. If you can, great. Enjoy your new loots. If you cant, don't worry. You're just going to need to upgrade a bit.

For those of you who need a little help with your gear, let's see if we can cut some corners to get you where you need to be. Here's where you start...

Step 1: Grind some daily quests.

You can easily make 100g in a little over an hour once you get comfortable running your Sons of Hodir and Argent Tournament quests. Your Hodir rep will eventually lead to better shoulder enchants and the gold will help pay for some expensive item enhancements, so get to grinding.

Step 2: Join a wintergrasp offensive every so often.

The stone keeper's shards that you get from the WG dailies will get you some head and shoulder enchants right off the bat (while you work on your Hodir and Wyrmrest Accord rep). The WG marks will also give you access to some nice PvP rings to run with (until you can get better PvE rings to drop).

Step 3: Make a shopping list.

Every druid gears up differently. If you PvP a lot coming up to 80, then Gladiator gear will fill some of your slots. If you level up through normal instance runs, then you'll already have some sexy loots here and there. Identify your weakest gear pieces, and then use what resources you have to replace them first.

Step 4: Spend, spend, spend.

Gold is easy to come by now that you're max level. Don't be shy about blowing your bank roll at the AH... several times. Trust me, those blues you're wearing won't look so bad with some enchants on them.

That's really all there is to it.

Now let's get into some specifics.

The item enhancements:

Head - Arcanum of Dominance (+29 sp / cost 40 stone keeper's shards)
or Arcanum of Blissful Mending (+30 sp & +8 mp5 / Wyrmrest Accord)
Shoulder - Inscription of Dominance (+23 sp / cost 30 stone keeper's)
or Greater Inscription of the Crag (+24 sp & +6 mp5 / Sons of Hodir)
Back - Enchant Cloak - Greater Speed (+ 23 Haste / cost $$)
Chest - Enchant Chest - Mana Prime (+6 mp5 / cost $$)
Wrist - Fur Lining - Spell power (+67 sp / cost 1 arctic fur - only for leather workers)
Hands - Enchant Gloves - Major spellpower (+20 sp / cost $$)
Belt - Eternal belt buckle + *Gem of your choice* (add sp, int, or mp5 here depending on your need)
Legs - Sanctified Spellthread (+50 spell power +20 spirit / cost $$)
Feet - Enchant Boots - Greater Spirit (+18 spirit / cost $$)

Aside from the wrist emboss, all of these enhancements are available to anyone who has the currency. If you pick them all up, you will increase your bonus healing by 194, add some nice mp5, and put a little more depth in your mana pool. Not too shabby right? That's basically the difference between running heroics and running 10 man Naxx.

Don't forget the consumables either.

Flask of pure mojo = +38 mp5 for 1 hour (lasts through death)
Flask of the Frostwyrm = +125 spell power for 1 hour (lasts through death)
Flask of Distilled Wisdom = +65 intellect for 1 hour (lasts through death)

And we're not done... spending that is.

You'll notice near the top of every pre-Naxx gear list are craftable epics. That's no accident. If you saved your gold (or know some leather workers, blacksmiths, and tailors) you can pick up these sexies the day you turn 80.

Back - Wispcloak
Chest - Moonshroud Robe
Legs - Earthgiving Legguards
Feet - Earthgiving Boots
Weapon - Titansteel Guardian

And if you're really rich (or have a main with 60 Emblems of Valor) you can pick up a pair of bracers from the vendor in Dalaran that just happen to be BoE.

Wrist - Bands of the Great Tree

The bottom line here is this... Blizzard has set it up so you can jump into raiding immediately. Don't get bogged down with numbers and gear colors. Use these little shortcuts to supplement what you started out with, and then once you're healing comfortably at the higher levels, upgrades will come quickly and easily.

Good luck. And have fun out there.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lumber mill: Tier 9 set bonus

Fresh from the lumber mill:

News on the tier 9 set bonuses:

The resto druid tier 9 set bonus (2) = Increases the critical strike chance of your Nourish spell by 5%.

The resto druid tier 9 set bonus (4) = Your Rejuvenation ability now has a chance for its healing to be critical strikes.

The resto druid tier 9 idol = Each time your Rejuvenation spell deals periodic healing, you have a chance to gain 234 spell power for 9 sec.

Thoughts and feelings:

My first thoughts were, "oh no, not more crit." After all, critical strikes are out of your control. You can't save those big blooms for when you need them most, and having a 50/50 chance of Regrowth dropping a living seed on the MT in a "save the raid" situation isn't exactly ideal either. However, looking deeper at the two and four set bonuses, I'm starting to get excited. Not as excited as say my favorite Alliance druid (Quote: "EEEEEE." ~Averna), but still I'm feeling the love.

A 5% boost to Nourish crit makes 3/3 living seed even more of a must have talent. Chances are if you're running around in T9 your guild will be calling on you to single target heal every now and again, so a short cast, mana efficient, direct heal that gets better with HoTs will certainly make your life a little bit easier. Would I rather have improved MP5 or a reduced mana cost on lifebloom? Yes. But Nourish is clearly the tool Blizzard wants us using, and as of now, it's not looking to shabby.

As for the four set bonus, color me intrigued. HoT crit is kind of an insane proposition. I'm very interested to see how often it will proc, and if it procs often (say once/twice every Rejuv) I'll happily file T9 gear under the category of OP. Any more than that and you'd have to call it cheating, any less than that I might be wishing the T9 idol were the set bonus so I can keep my old idol and save some mana. Regardless, I hope a. that HoT crit is the new direction Blizzard is taking for resto druids and b. that it doesn't start and end with this tier set.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

For Blood and Honor: Razorscale

Emerging from the smoking pile of debris, our brotherhood of the Horde ride unabashed into the next Ulduar courtyard. From this vantage point, the massive size of the complex becomes far more apparent. From the west, the molten sting of sulfuric air assaults my nostrils… two fire golems guarding whatever fiery hell awaits our guild. To the North, the unmistakable sound of scrap bots hard at work echoing down a vast hall. My eyes narrow to pull focus on the mechanical silhouettes against the bright glare of welding torches, then grow wider at the first glimpse of the steel giant that stirs in the furthest lengths of my vision. Tales of Deconstructor had not passed through our group unnoted. The feeling of inevitability drapes over me like a shroud. But as the whir of the bots fade into white noise, a far more menacing sound emerges from the East. Large… fiery… wings.

We came upon a group of Dwarves in a state of controlled panic… four turrets sitting conspicuously off kilter at the stair landing. Their plan of attack was unspoken but clear, as was the reason they hesitated. Tools of construction were at the ready on their belts, tools of destruction, however, were not in their possession. Not yet, anyway. My mouth smirked as my eyes scanned from Whippet, to Kwaggmire, to Pinko, to Pothek. "If destruction is what they seek," I thought to myself "this arsenal will gladly deliver."

Instinct had pushed me and my companions to a spot between the Dwarves and the stalking menace in the sky… eyes fixed on the target, the other senses inspected the scene around us. Weapons were drawn, mouths were salivating… and we waited. While confidence had made us bold, conquest had made us calculated… and rightfully so. Elissis, a soft spoken blood elf priest, moves among our hardened group of fighters as our gentle voice of reason. “Let’s get some buffs.” she said plainly as if it were a personal request spoken directly to each one of us. The immediate casting of buffs that followed from the raid very quickly exposed her request as an order, to those who were watching. My gift of the wild had already been given, so I cast thorns on Tazanian… because I know it amuses him. The Dwarves grow anxious with each passing moment, but we continue to wait… patiently and at the ready… for the one who leads us.

Akulu arrives to our group as most rogues of his caliber do… largely undetected. No sooner do I find him at the front of our ranks than do I hear him talking of razorscale and what terrors he brings. I’m growing wise enough not to bother wondering where this rogue gains his knowledge of such things, so instead I turn an ear and listen. Each thundering flap of wings pumps adrenaline through my bark as our guild leader lays out his plan. I take a moment to marvel at the grace of our new found enemy, and just as I wonder if this dragon willingly wears her heavy armor, I hear the Dwarves spring to action repairing those harpoons. It begins!

Dwarven mole machines bore through the floor. I pull focus on Saraella as she races in to meet them. How they fit the heart of a giant in this little paladin I will never know. One mob, now two, take swings at our tanks. I position myself near the center of the circle and cast rejuvenation on Sara and Taz. My spells tick once, maybe twice before Elissis and Alitharina heal those targets up completely. An ounce of relief creeps in as I scan the raid once finding no targets to heal.

"Can it be this easy?" Glancing up at Razorscale I catch a glimpse of a blue fireball just before its wrath takes a big chunk of my health, as well as my confidence. "Self heal, Beck!" I mutter, scolding myself. "Focus!" Another fireball rains from the sky over my companions… and then another. More adds arrive, assaulting Sara. Luhan and Sunmor mobilize to heal up the damage left by those flaming projectiles. I renew my HoTs on the two tanks in my range and begin to blanket the raid as I notice fire breath scorching the ground around us. Blue flame appears a moment later scorching… me! “Move!” barks Akulu, “Get out of the fire.” There's no need to tell this timber to run from the flame. My roots are already scrambling. Ali turns in my direction long enough to cast a quick heal. "Did she just wink at me?" I blush. Bloogan shouts, “The turrets are up!” almost too excitedly. A moment passes as if Akulu questions whether this course of action is just. His answer follows a moment later with just one word. “Fire.”

As Razorscale is forced to the earth, she receives our full attention. Taz stands eye to eye with the plated proto-drake, taunting her into giving him her best shot. Melee charges in, singeing their eyebrows for a moment as they come in contact with the remains of the fire breath she landed in, but quickly reposition themselves for what can best be described as a frenzied assault. Imphyy leads a ranged attack that lights up the sky with a fire show the likes of which I’m certain our Dwarf onlookers have never seen. I take a moment, with the other healers, to top off our group, then turn and roll my HoTs on our main tank just to make myself look busy. Temptation gets the better of me, as the voice in the back of my mind begins to chant "Moonfire. Wrath. Starfire. Hurricane." I give dps my best shot then unwittingly take a step back as Razorscale takes a deep breath in. "There's no way she…"

Before I finish my thought, a chained Razorscale springs to the air in one mighty leap, the results of which pulling the newly repaired turrets off of their bases. Our raid group is temporarily hurled into the sky by the force of air sent down by her mighty wings. Instinct has me back in Tree of Life form casting wild growth on the nearest tank before any of us fall back to the ground. More mole machines appear, Razorscale vengefully hurls more fireballs in our direction, the dwarves hurry again to repair their harpoons, and the fight continues much like it had before we brought her down to earth. She’s hurt and she’s angry, and if we’re going to live to see the sun set on this day, we’re going to have to pull her down to us once again.

Chaos now reigns in this corner of Ulduar. Fire riddles the ground claiming some of our numbers. Heavy heals prevent whirl winds and chain lightnings from claiming more souls, but the turrets are up, and a much angrier version of our foe is about to reek havoc on this fray.

With no time to destroy the dwarves attacking our main tank, Taz turns his back and resumes his staring match with Razorscale, again eye to eye, this time with adds in tow. Every spell in my arsenal is being utilized now. There are merely moments, not seconds, for me to cast out lifeblooms and wildgrowths between regrowths and nourishes. Razorscale is grounded for good, and is being led by Taz around the room, but the heat from her breath is beginning to fuse his armor. Ome has picked a fight with all the adds now and is keeping them occupied. Sara has positioned herself and is trying to rip Razorscales attention from Taz. The rest of us stand in the middle of this battle field doing our jobs, witnessing this proud beast rage.

Silence comes, at a cost. Those of us left standing quietly sift through the carnage left behind by this battle. Healers revive those comrades who were taken to the brink by Razorscale. The dwarven mechanics stare satisfactorily at their war machines as our proud group makes the way back up the stairs we descended from. Akulu stays behind for a moment, offering a pensive “Job well done.” to his faithful followers.

Back in the Ulduar courtyard, the once thunderous flap of proud wings is replaced by deafening silence. As I bow my head in honor of our fallen foe, a small smile crosses my face. The corner of my eye has caught the silhouette of a scrap bot hard at work. I turn my head to the North, now searching for the mechanical giant that waits at the end of this hall. “Craft away my friends,” I whisper to myself “those are the tools we plan to build our legacy with.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Healing on the run: Hodir

If you've been pulled into an Ulduar group, but you haven't had the time to watch the vids or read the blogs, here's a quick reference guide on what you *should* know about the Hodir fight. Good luck!


Note: In your video settings TURN ON PROJECTED TEXTURES!

The Fight:

Where to stand - Keep moving! You have to keep moving in this fight to avoid the stackable debuff, so stay in range of your tank but don't stand still for too long. {There are two occasions where you CAN stand still that I will discuss below}

What to watch for -

1. Frost Nova! - When Hodir begins to cast this, two large runes will appear on the ground. DO NOT stand in them but DO stand near them. Two snow drifts will fall from the ceiling filling these runes. Immediately after this happens run on to one of the piles. If you're left standing on the floor when Frost Nova finishes being cast, you will be ice blocked like the other NPCs in the room.

Note: While you're standing on a pile of snow you DO NOT have to keep moving. Use this to your advantage until the snow pile disappears and you fall back to the floor.

2. Frozen Blows! - Much like Deconstructor's Tantrum, Frozen Blows hit the entire raid for a huge amount of damage over time. Pre HoT as many people as you can while you can and use wild growth generously.

2. Biting Cold! - As I mentioned above, you cannot stand still for too long or you will start to gain a stackable debuff (much like the last boss in The Nexus). If you do get the debuff, you will have to keep moving 1 second for each stack you have before it disappears. And yes, it does hit very hard.

3. Icicles! - Small runes will appear on the floor throughout this fight indicating where icicles are going to fall. Do not stand in them or run through them. If you're hit with an icicle, you WILL feel it.

4. Frost traps. - Occasionally people will be frost trapped in place. This can be dangerous due to falling icicles and the Biting Cold debuff. Pay a little extra attention to the toons standing in traps and if you're the one trapped just shapeshift out of it.

5. Buffs. - The NPCs ice blocked in the room will help your raid once you free them. Use them to your advantage.

- Toasty Fire = Prevents the Biting Cold debuff. If you're standing near the fire you can cast without having to move.

- Starlight = 100% haste buff. If one of these is near a toasty fire, you're in business. If it isn't, however, try jumping up and down between casts to avoid the Biting Cold debuff.

- Storm Cloud = Crit buff. This buff is cast on one player at a time and affects everyone in range. If you get this buff, share it with as many toons as possible as you're running around the room.

6. Damage spikes. - As if everything else happening in this fight weren't enough, Hodir does hit pretty hard. Keep those HoTs rolling on the main tank and try to top him/her off before and after every Frozen Blows.

Should I freak? - YES! This may be the most difficult fight to heal in Ulduar. Healing on the run is what druids do better than any other class, but the heavy damage in this fight makes it impossible for you to get by on your HoTs alone. Use everything in your arsenal, pay attention to everything that's happening around you, and do everything you can to keep the raid up.

Healing on the run: Auriaya

If you've been pulled into an Ulduar group, but you haven't had the time to watch the vids or read the blogs, here's a quick reference guide on what you *should* know about the Auriaya fight. Good luck!


The Pull:

Where to stand - Stack on top of the tank and everyone else against the wall so Auriaya's kitties have no LoS on you. If they see you before they come around the corner, you're as good as dead.

What to watch for -

1. Pounce! - Auriaya's companions have a pounce ability that hits for huge damage. However, they can't use it if they're within 8 yards of the target. This is why the inital pull is so important. If everyone is standing in the right spot the pull will go smoothly and Pounce will not come into play.

Should I freak? - Not at all. Your raid either gets it right or they don't. Get those pre-HoTs going and prepare yourself for a long fight.

The Fight:

Where to stand - Stack with the raid. You do not want to get caught too far away from Auriaya's adds.

What to watch for -

1. Damage spikes! - Like the Iron Council fight, all of your tanks will be taking big hits throughout this encounter. Keep your HoTs up as much as possible and heal big as often as you can. As usual, if the tanks die, you die.

2. Silence! - Auriaya's defender will randomly pounce members of the raid locking out their spells. If you get pounced on there's really nothing you can do but wait it out... which is why it's so important to keep your HoTs up on the tanks.

3. Fear. - Auriaya frequently casts fear on the raid. It's a 2 second cast and it lasts only a few seconds. Get those HoTs rolling on the tanks when you see her start to cast it.

4. Void zones. - Auriaya will summon a defender during the fight that leaves a nasty little void zone that you do not want to stand in. Pay attention to where you are and keep casting.

Should I freak? - Maybe a little. Auriaya is yet another healing intensive fight, but for the most part you will just be standing and casting. Heal big, heal often, and try to anticipate her fear casts.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Healing on the run: Iron Council

If you've been pulled into an Ulduar group, but you haven't had the time to watch the vids or read the blogs, here's a quick reference guide on what you *should* know about the Iron Council fight. Good luck!

Iron Council:

Kill order: Steelbreaker > Runemaster Molgeim > Stormcaller Brundir

Phase 1:

Where to stand - You'll run with the off tanks past Steelbreaker (the big guy up front) and stop short of Runemaster Molgeim in the middle of the room. Ideally you want to keep all three tanks in range, but that's not always possible. Stick to your assignment, but adjust your position to help other tanks as needed.

What to watch for -

1. Damage spikes! The main tank will be taking big damage from Steelbreaker until you down him, so whether he's your assigned tank or not, keep an eye on them and keep those hots rolling.
2. Brundir's overload! The off tank on Brundir will be kiting him around the room, periodically eating an overload. This is the only damage spike he/she takes, so watch for it, heal through it, and help out with raid heals in between. And for cryin' out loud, don't get close enough to be hit by it!

3. Chain lightning! As usual, the more this jumps the more it hurts. Your raid will interrupt this as often as possible, but when it does get cast, heal up, try to stay spread out, and don't panic. The damage spikes in this phase come slow enough to handle easily.

Should I freak? No. This fight is a survival fight, so healing big and healing often is the name of the game. However, healing is what you do best, so standing still and casting should be a walk in the park for you.

Phase 2:

Where to stand - Phase 2 starts when Steelbreaker dies. Move with the raid to a spot where everyone is in range and keep rolling those HoTs.

What to watch for -

1. Big green runes! You've seen runes before, but none like this. It's easily four times larger than what Molgeim has been putting down thus far, so if you're not running immediately after its cast underneath you, you likely won't make it out alive. Stop casting and move your roots as soon as you see one.

2. Lightning bolts. Molgeim will cast these nasty buggers on random toons. They hit pretty hard, so stay sharp with your wack-a-mole heals.

3. Brundir. Yes, Brundir is still running around, and yes he's still casting overload and chain lightning. This time, however, there are a lot more raid members in his range. Keep watching for overload and heal up anyone hit by it immediately. If chain lightning starts jumping around, raid heal your heart out.

Should I freak? Maybe a little. There's a lot going on at this stage in the fight, runes forcing you out of range of some of your raid members, people getting too close to one another, constant heavy damage on the main tank. You're still just standing and healing, but mana will start to become an issue and the more dps you lose, the longer this phase will take. Stay sharp and focus if you want to live.

Phase 3:

Where to stand - 10 yards or more from everyone else. In range of as many toons as possible.
What to watch for -

1. Lightning ornaments. The only thing new in this phase is the lightning tendril that Brundir will toss out to terrorize random toons. It's possible to heal through these, but if mana is an issue, you're better off running.

2. The same ol' same ol'. Stay out of the overload, watch your range, and heal, heal, heal your branches off.

Should I freak? Nah. If you made it this far, you either have the dps to finish the fight or you don't. This phase is basic tank and spank, so keep healing and hope that enough toons made it to this point alive to earn some sexy loots.