Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And Drama was its name-o

Freshman year of college, my communications prof. told me never to begin a talk with an apology. (He used the word ‘talk’ because “only actors and politicians give speeches”.) Ironically, he would greet us every Tues. and Thurs. morning with “Sorry I’m late…” (Not kidding.)

Immediately after comm. 101 I’d spend an hour and fifteen minutes with my creative writing Prof., who similarly advocated the staunch rules of her trade. “Never begin an essay with a direct quote or a hypothetical” she’d say. I often wondered if I was in her class because of my response to the question “If you could have dinner with any four people…” on my college application… or in spite of it.

Regardless, none of that is relevant to the subject of this post… other than to prove I was paying attention should either one of my former professors read this next line (which was originally going to be the start of this blog).

“I’m sorry, but is a melee weapon ever really a main spec roll for a ranged character?” Those words crackled over vent and may as well have been “Let’s get ready to rumble”! The torrent of expletives, ‘yea buts’, and ‘I nevers’ that followed would have made any school yard proud.

The situation: Frost Giant’s Cleaver dropped after the Gunship Battle in ICC and a PuG hunter out rolled all melee characters for it.

The argument: This one handed ax should go to a melee toon because “To a hunter it’s only stats. To a melee character it’s stats plus most of their damage.”

The rebuttal: “My hunter friend told me to get this ax and he’s top 15 on this server.”

The result: A ‘forget you’ for the hunter and master loot the weapon to the highest melee roll.

The question: Was justice done here?

I ask because I feel a party to said incident by silently believing that PuG hunter would simply toss aside the one hander as soon as a hunter two-hand wep dropped.

As a resto druid, I know very little about melee dps or hunter weapons, so I felt the need to do a little research on the question at hand. (Very little research, as it turns out, because websense has been all up in my grill lately.) From what I’ve seen and read, A. there are very few two-handed stat sticks for Hunters in ICC, B. Dual wielding Frost Giant's Cleaver blows away any level 251 two hander currently available to hunters, and C. It seems the current BiS hunter weapons are in fact dual wielded axes (albeit not the ax in question). Now, it sounds to me like PuG hunter may have gotten the shaft here.

Then again, maybe not. BiS or not, a hunter rolling on melee weapons is a bit like a rogue rolling on bows/cross bows, right? I mean, it IS just stats and probably won't see a lick of use once equipped. The class that actually uses the wep certainly gets a hell of a lot more out of it.

So I'm torn. Part of me believes PuG hunter won a roll for a main spec upgrade but didn't get his loot, which is unfair. The other part thinks PuG hunter should have acquiesced and let the melee wep go to the melee toon... instead of putting my guild on blast in trade (which is never cool, imo).

/Sigh. D.R.A.M.A.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

HealBot 3.3.0 (setup 3)

Welcome to the third (and final) installment of the HealBot 3.3.0 setup guide. Here we will walk through the final three tabs of the HealBot options menu. (A walk through of the General and Spells tabs can be found in Part 1 of this guide, while Part 2 deals exclusively with the Skins tab.)

First up is the Cure tab. It's here that you can setup HealBot to monitor removable debuffs on your party and raid members. This is essential for raiding resto druids, as cleansing poisons and removing curses are an important job to perform. Take a look at my setup below.

Monitor to remove debuffs: Toggles debuff monitoring on and off. This option should be enabled at all times.
Spell to remove debuffs: By entering your cleansing spells here, HB will monitor your raid and alert you (by changing raid bar colors) when a debuff can be removed by one of these spells.
Ignore debuffs: You can set HB to ignore specific debuffs that may not be worth the time it would take to remove them (such as non harmful and short duration debuffs). Checking off 'By class' will ignore things such as mana effect debuffs on classes that use energy or rage, etc...
Custom/New debuff: This option allows HB to notify you of specific non-removable debuffs that you may want to be made aware of in certain boss encounters (such as Ignis' slag pot or Marrowgar's Graveyard bone spike).
Bar colours: Change a raid members bar to this color when affected by a debuff. The bar colors can be changed to your preference.
Debuff warnings: Options to receive warnings other than bar color changes when a raid member is affected by a debuff.

This screen, combined with mapping your cleansing spells to your mouse buttons, make HB a powerful and effective tool for removing debuffs. Like I said earlier, this is essential for all raiding resto druids.

Next up is the Buffs screen. This screen will allow you to monitor your raid buffs and alert you to any group members who may be missing them.

Monitor for missing buffs: Toggles buff monitoring on and off.
Spell to buff: Tell HB which buff to monitor.
Check members: Tell HB which raid members to monitor for missing buffs.
Bar colours: Adjust bar color to your preference.
Show buff before it expires: Tell HB to show your buffs as expired once the time remaining on their duration falls below a certain level. Use the sliders to define when you would like this to occur.

And finally, we come to the Tips tab. Tooltips are very useful when you first start healing with this addon (especially if you're still learning where your spells are mapped). This screen controls what information is displayed on those tool tips. Check it out.

Show tooltips: Enabling this option will show a tooltip whenever you mouse over a raid bar. This tooltip shows you which spells you have mapped to each mouse action.
Constantly update: When this is enabled, the information on the tooltip will continue to update while you stay moused over a raid bar.
Hide tooltip in combat: Choose whether or not to have tooltips appear while you are in combat.
Show target information: Enabling this option will show your target's name, class, spec, location, and health.
Show my buffs: This option will display what buffs you have active and how much time is remaining on those buffs.
Show detailed spell information: Enabling this option will show you information about each spell currently mapped to your mouse buttons... such as the spell's cast time, how much it will heal for (direct spells), how long it will last (heal over time spells) as well as the bonus it receives from your current spell power rating.
- Note: You likely won't have time to look at this information during an encounter, but it is helpful in revealing how your spells are affected by new gear or changes in your build. I recommend disabling this option before combat, however, as this added information does make the tooltip rather large.
Show heal overtime recommendation: HB will recommend which HoT to cast and which mouse button will cast it.
Show predefined combos: Shows you the predefined button combations to enable/disable HB, add/remove raid bars to MyTargets, and add/remove raid bars to the black list.
Position tooltip: Choose where you want your tooltips to appear on your UI.
Opacity: Adjust the opacity of your tooltips.

At the bottom of every option screen you will find 5 buttons.

Info: Displays version info, incoming heal information, as well as addon CPU and comms usage.
ResetHB: Resets HealBot to your last saved settings. (HealBot automatically saves your settings when you close the options menu).
ReloadUI: Reloads your user interface.
Defaults: Returns HB to the default setting
Close: Exits the options menu.

And that, my friends, is probably more than you'll ever need to know about HealBot 3.3.0. I hope you've found this walk through useful, and if you have any questions about HB or this guide feel free to leave a comment or send and email to twigheals@gmail.com.

As always, thanks for reading, and have fun out there!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

HealBot 3.3.0 (setup 2)

Welcome to part 2 of the HealBot 3.3.0 setup guide. Here I will show you how you can adjust the look and feel of your new addon by using the Skins tab from the options menu.

The first order of business is to select which skin you want to start with. There are several options to choose from so check them all out using the test bars to see which skin appeals to you most. (You may also create your own using the "New skin" option.)

Once you have the skin selected, you can begin customizing the skin by using the 8 buttons at the top of the screen. Let's take a look at the General screen first.

Background/Border: You can mouse click on the word background and/or border to adjust the color scheme of your addon.
Lock Position: This options will lock your health bars in place preventing you from accidentally moving them during an encounter.
Anchor: Setting the anchor point from the drop down menu will cause HealBot to grow out from that point.
Close automatically: This option will cause the addon to close on its own when you are out of combat.
Play sound on open: Plays a sound when HealBot opens.
Hide party frames: This option will remove all character portraits and party frames from your UI while HealBot is enabled.
Disable bar when range over 100 yards: HealBot will remove a group member's health bar from the UI if he/she is more than 100 yards away from your character. (This can be useful in fights similar to Thorim)
Monitor aggro: This option allows HealBot to track your group members aggro. It will notify you if a dps'er pulls aggro or is targeted by an add. It's extremely useful in a raid setting.
Highlight active bar: This option will highlight a health bar on your UI when your mouse if hovering over it. It's useful in helping to avoid mis-clicks.
Use fluid bars: HealBot will update the health bars on your UI in a fluid motion. Only consider enabling this setting if you have no performance issues with your PC.
Skin default for: You can set HealBot to use a different skin when you're soloing, in a party, raid group, BG, etc.

Next up is the Healing screen. This is where you will choose how your raid member's health bars will be grouped on your UI. Check it out.

Healing bars: Checking off these boxes will add groups to your UI for things like main tanks, pets, your targets, and even vehicles. Play around with it when deciding what your preferences are.
Target bar: HealBot will add a health bar to your UI for whomever you have targeted. Useful for things like keeping track of Arthas in CoS or paying extra close attention to a marked raid member in the Deathbringer Saurfang encounter.
Alert level: This setting tells HealBot at what percentage hp you would like to be notified that a group member needs heals. The lower the percentage, the more damage a character must take before you are alerted.
Show raid bars for: This option will show raid bars for any character class of your choosing. 'All classes' should be selected when entering any kind of encounter.
Include raid groups: You can choose which raid groups will appear on your HealBot UI. Helpful if you're assigned to heal a certain group, though ultimately it's best to have all raid members appear on your screen.
Sort raid bars by: This option allows you to adjust the order in which the raid bars appear on your UI.
Also sub sort: You can also sort the order in which the raid bars appear in each subcategory.

This next screen controls when you will be alerted to incoming heals from other healers in your raid group. You can adjust the sliders to change the minimum duration of direct, HoT and channelled spells of which you wish to be notified. (See below.)

The Chat screen is next and it affects what information you're broadcasting and to whom. You can choose to notify the entire raid of every spell you are casting (I recommend you don't) or you can choose not to notify anyone at all. The only option I would consider here is notifying the raid of who I am resurrecting (to avoid any waisted battle rez). The choice, as always, is yours.

Once you have your notifications set, its back to customizing the look of your UI. The Headers screen allows you to change the appearance of the group headers on your HealBot screen. You can change header bar and text color, font size, header height and width, or turn off the headers completely. (See below.)

Now we get to the meat and potatoes of the skins menu. The Bars screen is where you affect how your raid bars appear on your UI. Take your time here, as this is where you will set the visual queues you will be reacting from in your raids. Check them out...

Texture: The general appearance of your raid bars. The can be squared, rounded, textured, etc... all based according to your taste.
No. groups per column: This controls how many groups will appear in each column on your UI. Use this to control the layout of your UI.
Height/Width: Adjust the size of each raid bar on your UI. The larger they are, the easier it will be to see things like names, health, current HoTs, etc. However, larger bars will also cover more of the game screen. Use your best judgement.
Row/Column spacer: This affects how much space is between each row and column of your UI.
Enabled/Disabled Opacity: This setting will adjust the opacity of raid bars that are enabled (pulling aggro, needing heals, etc...) or disabled (having enough hp to be above the alert setting). Having a stark contrast between enabled and disabled bars will help you easily see who is in need of heals and who is not.
Incoming heals opacity: Adjust the opacity of the incoming heal notification.
Out of range opacity: Adjust the opacity of all raid members who are out of healing range.
Aggro/Mana bar size: You can choose to have aggro bars and mana bars appear above each raid frame on your UI. This setting will adjust how large or small those bars will appear.
Color bar by: You can choose to have different color raid bars for each class or for each role (ranged, melee, etc...)

After setting up the raid bars to look the way you like, you can change how the text appears on each one of those bars in this next screen.

Color text by class: Each class will have their own colored font on their raid bars.
Show class on bar: You can choose to have each raid bar labeled with each players class via text or an icon.
Show name on bar: Have each player's name appear on their corresponding raid bar.
Double text lines: Have two lines of text appear on each raid bar.
Show health on bar as: These settings allow you to adjust if and how a players health appears on their corresponding raid bar.
Text alignment: Adjust where the text appears on each raid bar.
Font/Size/Color: Change the font on each raid bar.

And last, but certainly not least, is the Icon screen. Resto druids love this screen because it allows us to display our pre-existing HoTs on each raid bar and how much time they have left on their duration. Take a look...

Show HoT icons: Toggle between showing and hiding your HoT icons on each raid bar.
Show debuff icon: Toggle between showing and hiding a debuff icon on the raid bars for any raid members who are afflicted. (Useful when 'count' is enabled under the 'show icon text' option as you will be able to see all stackable poisons and how many ticks of abolish poison you will need to cure it.)
Show Raid icon: Will dispaly a skull, circle, star, etc... on the raid bar of any toon who is tagged with a raid icon. Very helpful when used with deadly boss mods.
Icon position: Controls where your icons will appear on the raid bars.
Show icon text: Allows HealBot to display how much time is remaining on a spell (or debuff) as well as the number of stacks each spell (or debuff) has.
Icon/Icon text scale: Adjust the size of each icon and their text.
Druid options: This option allows you to control which helpful spells will appear as an icon on your raid bars.

Okay, time to take a break. If you've made it this far then your addon is fully customized and ready to go. Congratulations! However, I promise you that you'll want to come back for Part 3 of the HealBot 3.3.0 setup, because that is where we'll discover HealBot's version of decursive. :-D

See you soon.

Friday, January 22, 2010

HealBot 3.3.0 (setup 1)

Still believed by most to be the easiest healing addon to use "out of the box", HealBot 3.3.0 is a must have for any new raiding resto druid. This guide will walk you through the HealBot setup screens one by one and hopefully help you understand and customize your shiny new addon. If you don't have HealBot 3.3.0 installed yet, you can download it here.

Once you locate your healbot options button on your minimap, clicking on it will bring you to the screen below. This is the General tab of the HealBot options menu where you can control how you interact with HealBot from your UI (user interface). Have a look.

Most of the options here are self explanatory, but I've compiled a list of what they do so that there's no confusion. Feel free to play around with this tab if you like, however the default settings work perfectly well (which is part of the appeal to HealBot).

Disable HealBot: Disable all events and hide the bars. (This is the off switch)
Show minimap button: Display or hidethe HealBot icon on your minimap. Hold down right click to move.
Hide option button: Display or hide the option button on your HealBot frame.
Right click opens options: Right clicking on your HealBot frame will open the options screen. I recommend disabling this option because you will likely have a healing spell mapped to your right mouse click and you do not want your options screen popping up accidentally during an encounter.
Enable LibQuickHealth: LibQuickHealth is a mod that allows your addon to use combat log events and information to adjust the character's hp values on your healing addon faster than the server normally would.
Use CPU profiler (Addons CPU usage info): Enabling this option allows HealBot to monitor how much processing power your addons are using. You may want to enable this option if you're pushing the limits of your CPU's capabilities.
Range check frequency: This controls how often HealBot will do a range check on your raid. The lower the setting the faster you will know if someone moved out of your range.
Test bars on/off: This button will show or hide test bars on your UI. I suggest turning the test bars on during the setup process so you can see how each change in options you make will affect the look of the healbot interface on your screen (see test bar image above).
Number of MyTargets: Allows you to control of number of MyTargets you show on your healbot interface. MyTargets allow you to chose specific characters in your party/raid to keep a closer eye on (by grouping them together). Ctrl+Alt+Right click on a health bar to toggle a character to and from your MyTargets group.
Configure classes for: This allows you to choose which character classes healbot will consider ranged, melee, healers, or custom in the buffs tab. (This option is more useful for classes with more complicated buff assignments)

Now that you have the basics taken care of, it's time to customize the addon to fit your healing style. In the Spells tab you will map all of your helpful spells to your mouse buttons. It's this functionality (along with the organization of your raid frames) that make healing addons a must have for raiding druids. All of your heals will soon be a single mouse click away, and its here (in the second tab) that you decide which buttons to map your spells to.

You'll notice at the top of this tab that you can have HealBot enabled all the time or only during combat (drop down image). I recommend having it enabled at all times so that you grow used to the addon and where your spells are mapped. The biggest obstacle you'll face with HealBot is learning its new method of casting.

Immediately below the first drop down menu is where you will toggle between options screens for your left, middle, and right mouse buttons (as you'll see in the drop down image, you can map up to ten buttons if your mouse supports it).

Note: You may choose to stick with HealBot's default settings here and simply get used to it's default mapping. However, I recommend playing around with it and discovering what mappings work best for your healing style.

As you see above (image) you will be using shift, ctrl, and alt along with your mouse clicks to cast your various spells. For example, under the 'left' menu in the 'alt+click' field I have entered Regrowth. This means when I mouse over one of the health bars on my UI, I have to hold down the 'Alt' key and use the left mouse button in order to cast Regrowth on that target. (Or put more simply, alt+left click = Regrowth.)

If I change the menu from 'left' to 'middle' I can enter a different spell, such as Lifebloom, in the 'alt+click' field and that will make alt+middle click = Lifebloom. The process is repeated for every combination of shift, alt, or ctrl + left, middle, or right click (12 spells total).

This may all seem complicated on paper, but once your spells are mapped, casting them in this method will become instinctive.

Some other options available on this screen are as follows:

Auto Target: You will automatically target the character you are casting a certain spell on, bringing up their character portrait at the top of your game screen (if you have not disabled them).
Auto Trinket: If you are wearing trinkets (such as Talisman of Resurgence) that have a 'use' ability that you would like to activate before the casting of a certain spell, you can check off the trinket slot you have it equipped in next to the spell you would like to have activate it and it will be triggered automatically.
Cast when button is: You can choose to have your spell casts occur when your mouse button is pressed or when it is released... whichever is your preference.
Smart cast when out of combat: This option allows HealBot to choose the spell to cast on a target when you are out of combat. If someone in your raid has a debuff or needs to be resurrected, simply pressing left click will have HealBot perform the appropriate action.
Avoid accidental PVP: Checking off this option will have HealBot alert you if casting a helpful spell on one of your group members will cause you to be flagged for PVP.

That concludes part 1 of the HealBot 3.3.0 setup. At this point you are more than ready to start healing with your addon. All of your spells are now at your finger tips, so get out there and practice using it. I promise you it won't take long for you to get accustomed to your button mappings.

Part 2 of the HealBot 3.3.0 setup will focus on altering how the addon looks and what information it portrays on the health bars, so stay tuned.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Resto Druid Haste "Cap"

Back in June I blogged about GotE and how I felt it may not be worth the 5 talent points it requires. My opinions left me alone in the woods, so to speak, as most everybody else was singing the praises of the resto druid haste “cap”. Oh well… C’est la vie… to each his own… it takes different strokes… etc... etc... Stubbornly, my build left GotE on the cutting room floor and life went on (as it tends to do).

Then, something wonderful happened. Patch 3.3 came along, and with it came a change to GotE! Now, instead of only reducing the GCD on 3 measly spells, Gift of the Earthmother increases our haste rating by up to 10% on ALL casts! That’s pretty sweet, if you ask me… although nobody did. With this patch I changed my build, spent my 5 talent points, and joined the ranks of druids everywhere singing the praises of the Earthmother’s generous gift… or so I thought.

Surfing the interwebs, dropping in to see my favorite bloggers, and popping over to elitist jerks to check out the math, I started to notice a trend. People weren’t as excited about the change as I was… not even close. The word ‘nerf’ actually showed up a few times in the same sentence as GotE, and instinctively my head shook out the question “why?” How could a straight haste buff be worse than a silly little GCD cooldown on three spells?

The culprit was that damned haste “cap” everybody was so in love with pre-3.3. It had gone up… way up… to over 800 to be exact (including raid buffs). Now, I’m not one to take pleasure in other people’s suffering, but, when I saw the number ‘856’, part of me smiled and thought “woo hoo the haste cap is out of reach so I won’t have to hear about it anymore.”

Reality check. Not only was the haste cap very much in reach, but people actually started gemming for it… even re-speccing for it! Has the world gone crazy?

In a word, yes… at least in my opinion (which will most certainly land me in the minority again). Celestial Focus, the talent which gives 3% more haste to a boomkin (lowering the haste cap to 735 for resto druids), is 18 points deep in the balance tree. That means to get it, we must take at least 4 points out of our current builds (I would have to move 7 points) and give up some VERY good talents in the resto tree (talents like Living Seed and Empowered Touch) in the process. Needless to say, it’s quite the endeavor to reach the haste “cap” and I can’t help but believe that it’s not really worth it.

Look at it this way, giving up spell power and crit (if you’re gemming for haste) and knocking down the healing power of Nourish and Healing Touch (two spells you likely use in dire situations and should want to heal as big as possible) just to be able to toss a Rejuv on two more toons before your first Rejuv wears off seems ludicrous to me.

I personally have no problem HoTing up an entire 10 man or half of a 25 with my current haste rating (610). More haste would obviously have a positive affect on my casting speed, but it would also have a negative affect on my casting power where it’s need most (single target damage spikes).

I'm not saying haste is bad (it's not). I'm not sayin crit is better (it isn't). What I am saying is you should not stack haste at the expense of your build and your other stats. If you have the choice between two pieces of gear and the decision boils down to haste vs. crit THEN you can talk about "caps", GCDs, and such. But if you're standing in Dal, looking at your character screen trying to figure out if you have enough gem slots to get your haste rating over 700, you need to re-evaluate your stat priorities.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

That's right woodchuck chuckers it's... Groundhog Day!

MMO-Champion is reporting that players will finally have their chance to go toe to toe with the Lich King on Groundhog Day, Feb 2nd!

Rumors that his enrage ability involves summoning Bill Murray to tell you bad joke after bad joke until you're forced to reset your PC and start the fight over... are unconfirmed.

With the end approaching rapidly, I find myself making some mental notes on what I want to accomplish with the down time before Cataclysm hits (whenever that will be)...

I never did get around to finishing all of the classic and BC raids. I'm pretty sure there are some quests in Org I'll want to finish before it goes kaput. I'd love to repair my cartel rep so I can go fishing in Booty Bay again. Etc...

How about you? I know I'm putting the cart before the horse here, but what's on your to-do list after you finish walking up and down Arthas' backside?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Healing on the run: Festergut


Where to stand

Everyone except for ranged dps will stack together in melee range INCLUDING healers.

What to watch for

1. Vile Gas! – This nasty little spell will cause its target to vomit uncontrollably (stunning them) and inflict a good amount of damage to anyone in the area. Festergut will cast this on 3 ranged targets (8 in 25 man). If there are not 3 (or 8) ranged targets to cast it on, the boss will cast this on the melee group, essentially wiping the raid. This spell makes raid healing extremely important. Make sure you’re giving constant attention to your ranged dps in this fight. If one of your ranged dps dies either a melee player or a healer will have to run out to take their place, which will make this fight much more difficult to win.

2. Enrage timer! – Festergut has a 5 minute enrage timer. Unlike other enrages, you won’t have an extra few seconds to dps while the boss runs around killing everybody one at a time. Festerguts enrage hits everyone at the same time, so you have exactly 5 minutes to dps him down or it’s a wipe. This is the reason why keeping everyone alive is so important. They call this fight a “dps check”, but healers will have to be on the ball as well if you’re going to get past this boss.

3. Pungent Blight! – After Festergut has cast three sets of gas spores (see below) he will cast pungent blight. This spell hits for 50k hp and is only survivable if you have the buff from the gas spores. Three stacks of inoculate will reduce the damage taken by 75%, resulting in a loss of roughly 12k hp to everyone in raid. You best get those HoTs rolling before this spell is cast.

4. Gas Spores. – The boss will cast 2 gas spores (3 in 25 man) on random characters throughout the fight. When they explode, everyone in range will gain a stacking buff called inoculate which increases resistance to blight (reducing the damage taken by 25% per stack). The exploding spores will do a little damage to all in range, but it’s not anything to worry about. What you do need to worry about is whether or not everyone is getting the buff. If both (or all three) spores are cast on the melee group then someone will have to bring their spore out to the ranged group and vice versa.

5. Gaseous Blight. – During this fight a cloud of gas fills the room doing damage to your entire raid. The damage done will decrease by 1/3 each time Festergut inhales the gas, but doing so will cause him to grow and do 30% more damage. After he inhales 3 times the gas will be released back into the room and the process will repeat. This mechanic causes an interesting shift in focus from raid to tank healing and back again. Regardless of who you are assigned to heal, pay attention to how much gas is in the room and adjust your healing priorities appropriately.

6. Gastric Bloat. - Festergut will cast this stackable debuff on the tank every 15 seconds causing 10k damage but also increasing the tank's damage done by 10%. At nine stacks the OT will taunt off or else the MT will explode (at 10 stacks). Watch for the tank swap and be prepared to heal the proper target.

Summary: As far as mechanics go, this is a simple “tank and spank” type of encounter with very little reason to ever move your character. This makes Festergut the easiest boss in the plagueworks, as long as you have the dps to beat the enrage timer. If you feel that you don’t have the numbers to beat it, give Rotface a try. The mechanics of his fight are much more complicated, but solid raid coordination can make up for a lack of burst dps.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Healing on the run: Deathbringer Saurfang

Deathbringer Saurfang

Where to stand – You should stay at max range for this fight. Do your best not to stand within 10 yards of another toon.

What to watch for

1. Mark of the Fallen Champion! – Saurfang will cast this debuff on a random character when his blood power bar is filled. The affected character will take roughly 6k damage every time Saurfang does a melee attack throughout the remainder of the fight. Also, if the affected player dies this mark will heal Saurfang for 5% of this total health. The affect lasts through death, so if you battle rez the affected player and he/she dies again the boss will gain another 5% health. This ability is the reason your raid will work so hard to limit how much blood power the boss generates. If too many of these marks are cast, surviving this fight will eventually become impossible. Needless to say, healing a character with this debuff is a priority. DO NOT rez someone who has this mark.

2. Blood beasts! – These adds spawn next to the boss throughout the encounter (two at a time). Tanks will NOT pick these adds up because every time they land a melee attack Saurfang will gain Blood Power. For that reason, your ranged dps will aggro and then kite these beasts until they are killed. Use caution when these adds first spawn, as you will likely gain aggro before your dps can. Staying at max range will give your dps time to pull the beasts off you before they’re able to do damage. Also, don’t be afraid to help with crowd control (stomp/roots) if it looks like one of your kiters could use it.

3. Frenzy! - At 30% hp Saurfang will frenzy causing him to attack faster and generate blood power faster as well. If you can get the boss to frenzy before he’s able to cast his first mark, you’re raid is in great shape. If there’s already a mark on one of your raid members, however, your healers will have to coordinate who heals the first mark and who will heal the next. Saurfang’s frenzy is where healers have to step up, so if you were helping with CC, stop and get ready to heal big for the remainder of the fight. Remember that your priority is to keep players affected with mark of the fallen champion alive.

4. Rune of Blood. – The boss will leech 5k to 6k health and heal for 5 times that amount every time the affected target is hit with a melee attack. This ability is the reason your tanks will be taunting off one another. If you’re tank healing, pay attention to when this is cast so you’ll know when exactly Saurfang will be changing targets.

5. Boiling Blood. – This attack will make up the majority of your raid healing responsibilities (until the first MofFC is cast). Saurfang will cast this DoT on a random toon throughout the fight. It does a fair amount of damage (5k) every 3 seconds for 15 seconds and each tick gives blood power to the boss. It’s not difficult to heal through, although you will want to pay extra attention if it’s cast on one of your kiters (as they may also be taking some damage from blood beasts). If you’re assigned to raid heals, HoT up whoever has this DoT and then feel free to help your kiters CC those damn blood beasts.


This fight is actually easier on 25 man than it is on 10 man, imo. With more dps to attack and CC blood beasts, the boss generates blood power slower in 25 man and therefore casts fewer marks. On 10 man, my guild chooses to two heal this fight so that we have an extra dps to help with blood beasts. It works well for us, and you may want to attempt it if your raids are not having much success.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Grrr! 'Nerf' should be a four letter word...

It doesn't seem so long ago when I was just a noobish, "what do you mean the max level wasn't always 70?", kitty feral druid, who had no idea what a 'healbot' was or how to use it. My first "raid" build consisted of EVERY talent in the resto tree. My UI was exactly the same as it was when I first installed the game out of the box. And, if someone took a screen shot of my first visit to Kara, you could easily recognize me as the silly Tauren in full Gladiator gear.

In other words, I'm by no means a veteran of this game or a card carrying pre-BC player. So forgive me if I'm out of line for saying this, but... "Why the hell does Blizzard want to make this game so damn easy all of a sudden?"

When Naxx came out, we had to bang our heads against it for a while before we were able to clear it in one night. If you wanted gear upgrades, guess what... you had to RAID! You had to raid in whatever you had on and hope that you walked away with a loot drop.

Then there was Ulduar. Running through Ulduar was a little bit easier because of the emblem system. But, the only way to get emblems was to RAID! You could supplement your gear pretty nicely by farming Naxx for emblems, but even in full Naxx, Ulduar was still a challenge for most of us. The only way to get better was to run Ulduar and hope to get far enough to earn a loot drop... or at least enough emblems to buy yourself a gear upgrade.

After that... all hell broke loose. The emblems system turned into easy mode. If you wanted upgrades, you didn't have to worry about banging your head against Trial of the Crusader or even farming Ulduar if you didn't want to. You could simply take a new level 80 toon, farm regular Trial of the Champion and any level 80 instance in the game, and inside of a week you'd be just as geared as those toons who progressed through Ulduar the hard way.

Ok, ok, so you've heard this rant before, and you're probably thinking... "So, the emblem system makes gearing up too easy. Get over it, Beck." I am over it. What bothers me is that even with gear being handed out like fliers on the Las Vegas strip, Blizzard still feels the need to "nerf" new content almost immediately after they release it. What's up with that?

The best part of this game, imo, is going into an instance and having to figure out 1. why you wiped and 2. how to fix it so it doesn't happen again. And, if for some reason you can't figure out a way to down a boss in the first week, you get to farm some emblems, gear up a little, and take another crack at it later. The challenge is what makes this game fun... at least for me.

So why does Blizzard feel the need to take that away from us? Why can't they force us to progress instead of bringing the instance down to our level? Why can't it be the way it used to be? Or, at least the way I imagine it used to be.

In my guild's 10 man ICC last night I heard that god awful word again (nerf) and I wanted to find a Blizzard employee to slap! (Well, not so much wanting to slap as to shake a stern finger at.) Rumor has it that ICC will be getting another nerf next week. So, before my guild even gets a look at Plagueworks (14 days after it came out) they're going to nerf it?


Healing on the run: Lady Deathwhisper

Lady Deathwhisper

Phase 1:

Where to stand - Adds will be entering from the left and right sides of the room, so setting up shop in the middle of the room is a good idea.

What to watch for -

1. Death and Decay! - Lady Deathwhisper will toss this AoE spell at the feet of a random toon throughout the fight. This green rune is a little bit smaller than the circles of death you find in Ulduar: Iron Council, but they're still fairly large and not something you want to take your time moving out of. Death and Decay ticks for roughly 4500 dmg per second. The usual drill applies here... move first, cast second.

2. Adds! - Six adds of two different types will spawn at regular intervals throughout phase 1. One type (cult adherents) will be attacked by melee, the other type (cult fanatics) will be attack by ranged. Shortly after death, both types will reanimate and will have to be killed again. Luckily, picking up, separating, switching to and from these adds is none of the healers' concern. All you have to worry about is not getting too close to them and not gaining aggro when they first spawn or reanimate.

Note: If you'd like to see a list of all their abilities check out mmo-champion.com.

3. Shadow Bolt! - This nasty little spell can hit for over 10k dmg, so be ready to heal some hefty damage spikes.

4. Dominate Mind! (25 man only) - Lady Death will mind control one player, increasing their damage by 200% and healing by 500%. Feel free to CC one of your buddies if you see that their mind has been taken over.

5. Curse of Torpor. - This curse will add 15 seconds to the cooldowns used by anyone afflicted with it. In the grand scheme of things this curse isn't much to worry about, but still, it can (and should) be removed with your remove curse spell whenever possible.

Phase 2:

Where to stand - The middle of the room is still a good place to be as long as there's no Death and Decay under your feet.

What to watch for -

1. Shadow Bolt! - This spell is a whole lot worse in phase 2 than it was in phase 1. Reportedly it can hit for upwards of 40k, so watch out! The good news is that it's a two second cast that can be kicked. As long as your tanks and melee are on the ball, you should never see one of these cast in phase 2.

2. Death and Decay! - Little Miss Death will still cast her DnD during phase 2, so stay on your toes. It's the exact same spell as in phase 1.

3. Dominate Mind! (25 man only) - In phase 2, Deathwhisper can mind control up to three players. The damage and healing bonuses are the same as in phase 1, and CC will be even more important during phase 2.

4. Vengeful Shades! - The boss will run around the room pulling Vengeful shades from the bodies of fallen cultists. These shades will explode if they catch up to their target, so feel free to take a page from Monty Python and "Run away! Run away!"


This fight is quite a bit easier than Lord Marrowgar, and not very healer intensive. Stay out of DnD and far away from adds, and you should have no trouble at all healing through this.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Healing on the run: Lord Marrowgar

Lord Marrowgar

Phase 1:

Where to stand - Position yourself directly behind a melee toon (non-tank of course) so that they can easily turn and save you when you get bone spiked. Marrowgar has a huge hit box, so you should still end up pretty far from the center of the room.

What to watch for -

1. Coldflame! - Anytime you see the word 'flame' in a boss ability, it's pretty much a given that I'm going to tell you not to stand in it. This time, however, I'm taking it one step further... DON'T GET HIT BY IT. Coldflame is a talent that you will see coming... literally. It starts out directly under the boss and moves in a straight line toward it's target. The flame itself is no more than 5 yards wide, so when you see one coming in your direction, simply step to your left or right to avoid it. There's no reason to get hit by it, but even if you do it won't kill you unless you stand in it. SO DON'T STAND IN IT.

2. Bone Spike Graveyard! - Lord Marrowgar will cast a couple of these at regular intervals throughout the fight. The attack itself is a bone spike (hence the name) that comes out from the ground directly under its target and raises that target in the air dealing damage and preventing any action. It can't be avoided and must be dps'd down for the affect to be removed. Anyone who is impaled by this will need a good amount of heals until they are free from the spike. If you happen to be impaled, there's nothing you can do but call out for help in vent. Positioning yourself directly behind a melee toon will make life easier for everyone (and get you free from the spell faster).

3. Saber Lash. - This is Marrowgar's main dps ability and it's the reason your tanks will be stacking during this fight. You'll likely here people reference the bear boss from Zul'Aman when talking about this cleave, and that's because it's the same mechanic. The damage from the attack will be shared by your tanks as long as they stay stacked, so it won't be a problem for you to heal. If, however, your tanks are not stacked, the full force of this cleave will hit one target for huge amounts of damage. So keep your eyes open and be ready to heal big if a tank has to face Saber Lash alone.

Phase 2: Air phase

Where to stand - In this phase you should stand your ground as much as possible. Your raid should know they only need to move if a Coldflame is coming at them.

What to watch for -

1. Coldflame! - Yes, this is the same coldflame he casts in phase 1. However, during phase two Marrowgar will be casting this while mobile, which means they will be coming at you from different directions, criss crossing each other, and coming more often than in phase 1. Still, you will see them coming at you and as always, don't stand in them.

2. Bone Storm. - This ability is basically a whirlwind attack that lasts the duration of phase 2. While spinning and flying around Marrowgar cannot be taunted, so anyone can be hit by bone storm. The good news is that bone storm can be easily healed through, so there's no need to try and run away from it. Stand your ground if the boss comes at you with this attack. You should only have to move when he drops coldflame on you.

3. Kiters. - More dangerous than the Bone Storm attack are the toons who feel compelled to run from it. Running from this whirlwind will usually put a toon out of healing range. So while bone storm is easy to heal through, it can't be survived without any heals at all. Be ready to chase after any running fools.

4. End of phase 2. - Lord Marrowgar will target 4 toons with his whirlwind. After he attacks the 4th toon, he will stop spinning, wipe aggro, and begin phase 1 again. Any aggro wipe makes a fight harder, but when you add that to the fact that Marrowgar can drop aggro at any spot in the room, it makes this transition very dangerous for all in raid. Be mindful of where your tanks are so you don't end up in front of the boss after the phase ends. And do your best not to gain aggro while your tanks work to pick up the boss.


This fight is mostly a dps fight. Watch those coldflames and call out right away if you're bone spiked. If your dps is on the ball, raid healing will be very easy, so feel free to help out the tank heals if things are going well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To be. Or not... RP.

So, I figured I'd give role playing a serious go to see how I like it.  I haven't yet stepped foot into the realm of RP, but I have enjoyed writting up a back story for my character.  Please, let me know what you think (and feel free to point out any gross RP mistakes I may be committing).

Dusk falls on the Scalemane tribe with the sound of crackling fires and the smell of cooking fish. Atop a steep hill, long shadows and large silhouettes dance across bright canvas tents that glow red from the setting sun. From one such tent, two Tauren boys race recklessly down hill toward a glassy lake.

“Slow down…” the younger, much smaller boy yells after his older brother, “… you’ll break it!”

“Nonsense, Beck…” the elder boy replies, “you just can’t keep up.”

Those words were uttered often by Torgra to his younger brother, always with the intent to elicit a response. And Beck, stubborn and proud as they come, always obliged. Instantly Beck’s strides quickened down the hill… and then widened… and then gained momentum too great to control. As Torg slowed to a stop at the glassy lake’s edge, Beck came stumbling, head first, into it.

“You know, you’re going to scare off all the fish.” Torg declared as he began to bait the shiny new fisherman's pole he had carried securely down the hill.

Without a response, Beck sludged back onto the bank refusing to shake off the water he was dripping wet with.

Mere minutes passed before the now dryer young Tauren began poking his brother for a chance to wield the shiny new fisherman's pole. Gradually, pokes grew into grabs, and grabs into lunges, until a tug of war broke out on the lake’s edge. The elder Tauren took joy in jerking his smaller brother back and forth violently to his left and right, though Beck, to his credit, never loosened his grip.

Atop the hill, Torrag Scalemane grew tired of the ruckus his two boys were causing down by the fishing hole. With one echoing grunt he froze them both in their place, then made his way down to them. The brothers held their heads low as their father approached. Beck quickly released his grip on the pole and Torgra silently relinquished it to his father’s outstretched hand. Beck’s head lowered further as Torrag took a knee in front of him.

“You are very young, my son. Trust that the Earthmother would not have given you the heart of a giant had she not intended you to have the body to go with it. Have faith.”

Rising to his feet, Chief Scalemane now stood over his eldest son.

“Torgra, son of Torrag, you may soon have the strength to move mountains. I pray you will one day grow wise enough to know better than to try."

At that, the sun sizzled as it set into the lake’s horizon. With it came the dark of night and the menacing sound of flaming arrows ripping through canvas!

Screams rained down from atop the steep hill as a score of Centaur laid siege to the encampment. Immediately, Chief Scalemane pulled close his two sons.

“Beck, take this pole and swim as far out into the lake as you can. Don’t look back, just swim.”

Unsheathing his sword, he spoke again “Torg, take my sword and stay on my heals. We make our stand at the grand tent.”

Turning back to glare at his tribe's burning camp, Torrag Scalemane spoke for the final time.

“Sons, heed my word.”

A dive in the water did little to dull the volume of his father’s battle shout. Beck, once again headlong into the lake, swam harder and faster than he ever had. In the back of his mind he wondered where this speed had been during the many races he had against his elder brother in this very lake. With each stroke he listened more intently for sounds coming from camp. With each stroke the number of shouts deminished, until there were none. He heard nothing but the sounds of his swimming for many long moments, and dared not disobey his father by looking back. Suddenly...


Something much larger than the little Tauren entered the water behind him. No victory drums had been sounded, no calls from the chief had been heard. Beck was certain a Centaur had come into the lake after him, and fear commanded that his already burning muscles work faster, harder to escape.

Several more moments passed and the noise from behind was quickly closing the gap. The exhausted young Tauren was now fighting more to stay afloat than he was to flee his pursuer. Shorter strokes did less to raise his head above water. Longer pauses sent him further beneath the surface. His pursuer was practically on top of him now, and Beck had no where to go but down.

Mustering all the strength he had left, the youngest Scalemane lifted his head above water to draw in one last breath, then he let the lake's pull take him. No sooner had he submerged than was his pursuer upon him. Beck readied himself for the sting of a spear, but instead felt the grip of a familiar hand on the back of his mane.

Torg lifted Beck's head above water and commaned him to "Swim."

Confused and exhausted, Beck glared up at his brother.

"Torg? How? What happend to father?"

"Swim." the elder Tauren again commanded.

"Torg!?" Beck shouted, again slowly sinking below the surface. "What happ...!"

The lake choked off his words as water filled his lungs. Torg was losing the battle to keep them both affloat. The brothers Scalemane locked gazes for a moment before... Torg let slip his grip.

As he sank deep into the lake, Beck saw his brother swimming away, still holding the sword handed to him by their father. Sinking further, he looked with a smile at his own hand still wrapped around the shiny new fisherman's pole. "Heed my word." he heard his father's voice ring in his head. "Have faith."

On the far shore, Torg looked back to see the fires of his tribe's camp slowly burning themselves out. No more silhouettes could be seen atop the hill. Searching for a sign of his brother, Torg turned his eyes to the once again glassy lake but saw nothing save for his own guilt ridden reflection. "Heed my word." he heard his father's voice ring in his head. And with that, Torg turned to make his way down the long road toward the Barrens.


Moonlight danced as new ripples formed on the surface of the lake. On it's edge, at the base of the hill, a young Tauren sludged onto the bank refusing to shake off the water he is dripping wet with. In his hand, a shiny new fisherman's pole that once belonged to his father.

Monday, January 11, 2010

First we try, then we trust...

I'm certain most, if not all, of us have been there... The place where we are given a healing assignment (tank or raid) and we notice some toon, who is some other healer's responsibility, is dangerously low on health. Almost instinctively we pop a Natures Swiftness + Healing Touch and then go about our business healing our assignment, feeling pretty good that we just saved a life... Or did we?

What would happen, do you think, if we never popped that NS+HT heal? Is that toon truly doomed? Was there a big heal from another healer a half second away from being cast? Did we just waste that heal and the mana that goes along with it? What if our big instant heals were on cool down and we had to spam a nourish or three... was someone else healing our assignment while we took a minute to "save a life"?

These are all important questions I'm sure we've all asked ourselves when going "off assignment" during our raids... especially when raiding with healers we're not familiar with.

So what, then, do we do when our fellow healer(s) refuse to trust us to do our jobs? How do we cope when someone else pays as much attention to our assignment as they do to their own? How do we anticipate who he/she is not healing at any given moment so that we can cover them while they're busy "covering" us?

I ask, because this is exactly the dilemma my long time guildie/healing buddy is facing in our ICC guild runs.

There's been a changing of the guard in my guild, so to speak, as I've been on hiatus from our weekly raids and a new resto druid has stepped up to take my place. Naturally, there needs to be some trust building between my priest friend and the new tree, however things are progressing very slowly in that regard.

New tree is over healing the OT, when assigned to raid heals, and that both frustrates and annoys my priest friend. Priest spends a great amount of mana covering raid while tree goes to town on the OT, all the while never certain when tree will decide to stop heals on OT and go back to raid.

In defense of tree, she is single target specc'd (i.e. glyphed and talented to make HT her main heal) and better suited for tank healing than raid healing. She's assigned to raid heals because that's the role that needs filling, but she remains married to her build (like so many of us are) because that's what fits her healing style best.

A quote from tree when I asked if she'd consider giving a raid healing build a try... "ICC isn't exactly the place to be trying out a whole new healing style, is it?"

Good point, though to steal a quote from Hillel the Elder in response... "If not now, when?"

So what do you all think? My guild feels a disc priest is best suited to tank heal these fights, so having the two swap roles is likely out of the question. Is this a case of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, or is it simply a lack of trust that's preventing our healers from reaching their potential?