Monday, July 6, 2009

The Dedicated Few...

Well, last night marked a first for me, and also for a few other of my Concedo Nulli (A-Khadgar-US) (NOW HIRING) colleagues. The Dedicated Few. The achievement wherein 8 people dominate KT and his boys in one raid lockout. No more than 8.

We did this in two raid nights. Knocked out Arachnid and Plague on one night before more of our Ulduar peeps got on. We set up a separate raid night to finish it up. Mind you, we're primarily doing Naxx to help gear up our newest Elemental Shaman, Shasu (who was late to her own raid, btw... <3). Our raid consisted of:

Kreeoni - Druid MT
Tracerec - Pally DPS/OT
Bloodevil - DK DPS/OT
Kathoid - Druid Cat DPS
Sahne - Rogue Healer... i mean.. uhh. DPS
Shasu - Late (ahem) Shaman Ele DPS
Nagrarok - Shammy Healer (my mentor)
Thespia - Yours truly...

We breezed through Construct, one-shotting every boss. I'm always a little nervous to heal Patchwerk because of my level of mana. It was just Nag and I, but I was determined to focus more on LHW and Riptide than Healing Wave. The one issue I'm still struggling with is remembering to keep refreshing Water Shield. As my Intellect goes up, and my Crit% goes up, I'm consuming Water Shield charges more often, so I need to refresh it more. Problem is... when I'm in the thick of it and both Kree and Trace are taking decent damage, I wonder if I'm able to spare the GCD to keep it up. Obviously it'll make me last longer, but could it unintentionally mean death for the tanks. I'll keep working on it.

The fight that we seemed to keep dreading was 4Horse. 8 people: 2 tanks, 2 healers, 4 dps... hmm... Shasu and Thes in the back. Kree on his own, Trace & Nag with Sahne, Kat and Blood. Now, I've been a "healtank" on my priest before, but shields and renew's and Prayer of Mending are great tools to have back there, not to mention Binding Heal. I popped an Earth Shield on Shasu and we pulled. What I didn't take into account is because I was taking damage, my Water Shield was consuming charges faster than normal, which meant that my mana was reloading faster. Made healing back there a total breeze. She used her Earth Elemental in the beginning, and I still had mine on reserve. Everyone came back to help us shortly thereafter and we were golden! Phew! I was glad to have that fight over.

Sapphiron... psh... easy mode.

KT... well... It was a really rough pull. I understand that we're low on ranged DPS, but I hate having to throw lightning bolts at the Banshees and burning through mana in the 1st phase. I'll throw a couple, but I need to save my mana to make sure people stay alive. We had 4 Banshees up as KT became active. Got them all down, I think Trace died. Once we got everything down, the rest of the fight really couldn't have been better. We were communicating... everyone was pretty focused.

At the end of the night, it was just a FUN environment. Stressful maybe at times, but definitely fun. Hopefully, my next post will be about creating and maintaining a fun (but not sloppy) raid environment. Until next time...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shaman Totem Mechanics and PvP

There's a lot of discussion going on about how the Totem mechanics are designed to function. According to MMO-Champion, the devs believe that it's fundementally important to know when and where to drop our totems. I have to say I do agree with this. One of the things that kept drawing me to roll a shaman was the cool totems that I got to throw on the ground. And, if I may play favorites for a moment, I think the Draenei totems look SO much cooler! ^_^


They don't want the range on totems to be so big that it just seems like another raid-wide buff. That defeats the purpose of the totem. Then there's the other issue that it takes too long to set and reset totems. I mentioned this earlier in a fight like Emalon where the tanks CAN take a lot of damage right off the bat. I like the proposed idea of dropping all the totems on one GCD, or perhaps taking totems off the GCD all together.

With regard to wanting totems to be removed from the game, I'll answer with this: roll another class. If you want buffs that will stay on no matter where you are, roll a pally/druid/priest. Except for Tree Form buff and Pally Aura buff, all of those classes don't require a distance minimum. I, for one, like totems and needing to have them set up right. It's another challenge.


Burst damage is too high. It's *somewhat* difficult to get decent resilience gear to last in an arena fight. Arenas are too fast....

These are all arguments being made.

1.) Burst Damage - Yes, I feel it's a little too high. As a healer (I do arenas on my 880-resilience disc priest), sometimes you wonder how it's even possible to survive when a 2-dps 2's team blow all their cooldowns on you at once. Although that is smart playing, there needs to be a way to combat it. One match: Trees, Mage Clones, Starfall, Water Elemental....all on me at once. I popped stoneform, PW:S, Pain Suppression, Renew, and my PvP trinket all at once. The only reason I survived is because when we faced them again, I knew it was coming. The first time, I didn't have enough time to react and I was dead in about 3 seconds. As for arenas being too fast. Then there you go. However, I like the adrenaline rush. Otherwise, I'd just go do BGs all day. =)

2.) Gear - Arenas are harder. Hence, better gear should come from them. BGs are easy (and even easier to be a moron in), so why should they potentially give good gear from them? Too often do I step into WSG and while me and a tank are going for the flag while the other 8 people in the BG are in the middle trying to farm honor kills. Unless they can reward more honor or extra marks of honor for actually winning the BG the way it's supposed to be won (helping cap towers, capturing flags, etc). They combatted the AFKing a decent amount, but how can they combat stupidity? Why should someone fighting in the road between Blacksmith and Stables be rewarded the same as me for actually capping those nodes? Unless they make HKs irrelevant unless you're within a certain "buff zone" of the flag.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shaman "FAQing"

Greetings, Shamans! Wait… Shamen? All who play a Shaman? Sha-people? Damnit…

*clearing throat*

Hey! I hope everyone’s been enjoying the new discussions about where our class is going. Everyone was waiting in high anticipation for the “Shaman Q&A” that was due out. Although I haven’t played a shaman for more than a few months through leveling, I’ve been thrust into the notion that the role of a Shaman has dramatically changed since Vanilla WoW. I wasn’t even around for Vanilla WoW. I joined “The Addiction” about one month before Burning Crusade. Destro Warlock to 70, Disc Priest to 80, now my Shaman. I didn’t experience the “Sunwell Chain Heal Party” first hand. I just remember having a Shaman for raid heals was “tH3 W1N”. That’s shifted downward a little bit. The Shaman doesn’t have the mana regen that other classes do anymore. Even healing Loatheb on my Disc Priest is easier than on my Shaman. I can see Druids and Holy Priests flying by me on HPS meters as well as healing efficiency.

Onward with the Shaman Q&A. You can read the whole thing HERE.

Class roles“What is envisioned as the role and future of the Shaman class?”

Obviously, the cut and dry answer is Enhancement for Melee, Elemental for Ranged, and Resto for tanking.. I mean, healing. =) The one point that is brought up by Ghostcrawler in this response is their original intention to have hybrid classes (such as ours) do slightly less DPS than “pure damage” classes like rogues and warlocks. Although I see the point to this, it’s a little prejudiced in my opinion. Just because my class has more options available means I don’t have the same opportunities as another class in the DPS department. However, for any real skilled player, this shouldn’t be a problem. This is the best part of WoW. If I know how to work my gear, and I know how to heal or DPS as best as my class can, then there’s no reason why I can’t be at the top of the meters. Case in point. SSC. On my destro warlock (ca. Shadow Bolt spam spec), I was topping the meters. Consistently, unless I was filling a utility role, I put out the most dps out of 25 people. Why? I knew how to use my curses and spec to get the most out of my toon. Only one other warlock was able to give me a run for my money. Other similar-geared warlocks were in the top 10, but not the top 4. I did the research. I knew my gems, I knew my stats. The real point I’m trying to make is there was one Enhancement Shaman that could beat me. He knew his rotations, his cooldowns, his totems, everything. We were both in SSC/TK gear, and he would beat me in DPS. A hybrid class beat a pure DPS class.

In my guild on Nazjatar, we have an awesome saying: “No amount of gear can upgrade a bad personality.” I like to take this a step farther. A good person knows that the raid comes before the player. If sacrificing DPS (or heals) to add utility means that I can squeeze even more power out of the raid, then guess what? We probably just downed the boss way ahead of the enrage timer, or with everyone alive.

If you’re Enhancement or Elemental, learn the best possible way to pour every ounce of DPS into that boss. If you’re Resto, same goes for you and HPS.

On a side note, GC mentioned there was an initial plan for a tanking spec for the Shaman class. It’s been phased out….. /cry!!! That would’ve been so much fun.

Totems“Are there plans to look at totems in general, the way they are managed, their uses, and their benefits in the future?”

They’re working with an idea to enable us to drop our 4 totems at once instead of killing 4 Global Cooldowns just to set up. I think this is a great idea. Although I’ve learned the importance of having totems, and worship them, the chance to drop 4 at a time is a huge relief. However, I would still want to have single drops available, too. When we’re doing quick trash in heroics, I like to drop Mana Spring or even just Flametongue (if there are more casters) and that’s it. Here’s a couple situations I would be grateful for dropping my set of totems at once:

- Fights where there’s damage from the second the pull happens. The fight that comes to mind is Emalon10. Tank runs in to grab the adds is gonna take a beating for a few seconds until the MT can grab Big Ugly. Missing 4 GCDs puts more pressure on the other healer to keep him up alone. I’m a team player. =)

- Fights where you’re constantly moving around. I keep thinking of fights like Void Reaver and Al’ar. Although there’s not anything of that size that I’ve seen yet, resetting totems takes time and can come at a very awkward moment in a boss fight. (This might also be combated by making the buff range for totems bigger to avoid ranging them.)

Like I said, though, a Shaman needs to know what totems to use and when. If I need to drop Cleansing Totem in the middle of a fight, or Magma Totem, I want to drop just that totem, then replace it when I don’t need it. Would this work as “loading” totems into an in-game macro? Would we be able to have multiple “sets” to use in different situations or different groups?

Also, talk of having the 4 Totems in our bag compiled into one that would then fit into a slot in our Character Screen. 4 extra bag slots!! Woohoo!! More room for the “Broken Fangs” I always get. Does this mean, though, that we have to sacrifice our “special totem” that we usually get from emblems? Or will a new slot be created? I’d rather see a new slot created to put that in.

Totem Selection is another issue that is being looked at, which I’m excited about. It’s becoming easier and easier to know what totem to drop and when. GC mentions in the Q&A merging some totems together into one totem (examples being Stoneskin Totem and merging the Elemental Totems into respective Fire/Earth totems). I would like to see Mana Tide Totem turned into a spell that can only be cast with a water totem down. Something like “Imbues the Water Totem with energy that restores X mana over X seconds”. Then, the Water Totem returns to its original energy. Same thing with the Elemental Totems. My problem with merging too many totems is when you have a wealth of Shaman players, you run out of other options for totems to drop to benefit the raid. Having the option to help out the raid in another way is crucial for me. For my air totem, either I can cast Windfury (which is obsolete with a DK) or Grounding Totem. That’s it.

Itemization“What is the expectation for how shamans choose the gear they use?”

This applies more to Enhancement more than anything. This is primarily a Resto blog, so I won’t really comment on this. I like the Dual-Wield ability for Enhancement a lot. I’d like to see them shift to having equal consideration for weapons. That way, “this one mace” is the best in game. Or, “this fist weapon” is the only off-hand you should use. Make it personal preference. I tend to like Fist weapons or Axes. They just look cool.

Shaman Mana Issues – from “Is the change in how shamans are used situational only as we move forward into the next encounters, or is this a shift in philosophy as to the role of the shaman in raids?”

GC comments on mana issues for the Shaman. At this point of my exploration and experience, I agree with him. I’m interested to see what sort of ideas they have for this without going overboard with mana regen for everyone. We obviously don’t have Spirit, so that regen stat doesn’t affect us. maybe something to do with boosting our personal Mp5 mechanics (Water Shield, or a Resto version of “Shamanistic Rage).

We’ve always been good raid healers, but our niche has shifted a little bit, but not away from raid healing so much as giving us the option to help tank heal if we’re in a pinch. By buffing up our other skills, it’s not a HUGE mana drain to do something else.

As for Chain Heal losing its gusto, I point anyone to the post on World of Matticus about the State of Chain Heal. Lodus does a fantastic job of explaining what our class has. GC adds to that by pointing out that Chain Heal hasn’t lost it’s power, but other skills have been beefed up with Talents and Glyphs. I challenge any Resto Shammy to read that post and then go try to take advantage of the other skills available. You’ll notice your healing going up, your overhealing going down, your mana management stronger, and people will know you’re a better healer.

…. I notice it’s really easy to write a 3.5 page blog post on an 8 hour train ride to Minneapolis.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Burning for Flame Leviathan

I'm a healer. I like to heal. Some people hold issue with the "whack-a-mole" nature of healing, but I prefer to call it the "aggressive reaction" style of healing. Yes, I use Grid. Yes, I tend to keep an eye on Grid more than the actual screen, but isn't that the job of a healer? It's my job to keep a close eye on my raid's health bars to make sure they're topped up at all times.

So, why did I even choose healing? I like the spontaneity of it. I like knowing that without me or the other healers, we don't stand a chance. I've single-healed/two-manned Heigan the Unclean twice. Once with a tank, and the other with a ret pally. The ret pally does have plate, but he was still taking some pretty big hits, not having defense or avoidance ratings. My point is not to say that healers are the Old Gods' gift to the World (of Warcraft), but that we play a really crucial role that is RARELY the same from encounter to encounter. I like dipping back into DPS from time to time, but I really do think Healing is one of the most exciting roles in the game for me. I've done melee dps, I've done caster dps, and I've done healing on two classes. The only "role" I have left to really sink into is tanking.

Last night was my first run at Flame Leviathan with my other guild, Team Sport on Nazjatar. Having never set foot into Ulduar yet, I didn't know what to expect. I knew that tanks and vehicles were involved, but I didn't know that the only opportunity for healing was to role-play a "Last Crusade"-esque Harrison Ford with a Sean Connery in the sidecar of my little chopper (Sorry, Dralo, I know that you thought we were all saying Demolisher). Although I really do enjoy the style of the Leviathan fight, I feel it's a misrepresentation of what's to come. I was kind of disappointed that I really only had 2 spells at my disposal: Sonic Cone or Tar (I believe they're both called). It was a nice little ego boost to down Leviathan, the first boss in Ulduar, but I really wanted to test my real healing skills.

As I said, it's a fun fight, and it's definitely something different, but I was certainly hoping to say the fight was a success thanks to my perfectly-timed nuke-heal saving the day!!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Blogging Community...

So, I had a conversation with Brigwyn over at The Hunting Lodge about joining more into the blogging community of WoW. As I said in my first post, I haven't really been able to find options when it comes to Shaman blogs. So, here I am. I will be working on getting an RSS feed up so people can follow more closely. I hope to also join the ranks of Twisted Nether at some point. Hopefully my extensive healing background will be sufficient to make a dent over there.

As for now, it's off to work.... and planning my next post...

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Chain Heal" and "Tidal Waves" has a great way of relaying blue posts from various forums. This is an awesome way to check up on what's going on in the developer/programmer world.

On today's post, we see comments about how the Devs feel about Chain Heal in Ulduar, Mp5 issues, and Tidal Waves when paired with Haste.

Chain Heal in Ulduar - Granted, I haven't been in Ulduar yet, but in AoE pulls across the board, I notice a strong dependency on my Chain Heal. If everyone's dropping at the same rate, spamming CH on the Tank to keep him/her up just isn't enough. At least on my priest I have Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending and Renew. Maybe I just need to find other ways to spread the healing around. I'm interested to see how things improve as my gear gets upgraded. At this point, with the Blues saying they don't see a problem with the current state of Chain Heal, I'm not too concerned.

Mp5 Issues - YES YES YES YES! Especially if a lot of other shamans have been having Mp5 concerns, then this is definitely something I'd like to see taken care of. Enhancement Shaman's have a really great Mana Regen skill in Shamanistic Rage, and I'd love to see something like that. Yes, we have Mana Tide totem, but it doesn't hit as hard as it did at the beginning of WotLK. Mana Tide on my priest used to fill my bar almost all the way up, now it does maybe a 1/4 of it. Again, I personally need to work on my own Mp5, as I don't expect to be invincible at my gear level.

Tidal Waves - This is something I hadn't really thought of yet. Tidal Waves does a great job at reducing the cast time of certain healing spells. However, as Haste becomes easier to come by in the higher level gear, Tidal Waves loses it's power. I saw this on my priest. When I would have more haste on my 25naxx gear, my Flash Heal would get pretty fast.. Then, I had the Egg of Mortal Essence, which has a chance to proc an additional 505 haste for 12 seconds. With the amount of haste on my gear, 505 haste really didn't shave too much time off my flash heal. The faster something is, the less haste is going to have an effect. The Blues have said that this is an issue they're going to take a look at, and I'm interested to see how they intend to fix it.

Food for thought.. When do you start grabbing haste? From what I've read and seen, it's one of the last ratings you should aim for.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sartharion + (N)One

Tonight was the first attempt at Sarth1D. I've done this fight on my priest before, but with the shaman is a whole new experience for me. Again, we're 2-healing it. I remember needing 3 healers just to do normal Sarth. Even though I was late for the raid (stupid work), Nag wasn't there tonight. Shit. The normal raiding crew was there for the most part. A new hunter I've never seen before who left halfway through the raid, and a priest. Okay... well, maybe the priest will MT heal tonight (Apparently in my mind, all priests are discipline). *BUZZER* wrong. He whispers me before the first attempt "you wanna MT heal?", and I think I crapped my pants.

Kree does Sarth1D a little different than I'm used to, which is totally fine. I'm fluffing his ego here a bit, but he's a damn good tank. One of the best I've ever healed. He tanks Sarth AND Tenebron. Like I said, I've never seen that before. Luckily, the priest new to help me out on Kree since he was going to be taking double the damage.

Now for my favorite part of groups where I don't know everyone in it... the flame walls. One particular member that I'll call "Honda" got hit. Every. Single. Time. Not only do I have to heal them, but I have to heal them THROUGH a dot. I kept watching my mana bar go lower and lower. Popped my mana tide totem and kept going. I think we could've done it if the DPS knew where to focus.... attempt had DPS still focused on Sarth while Kree and the heavy hitters were on Tenebron, so Sarth got pulled and wiped us. Another attempt had us just trying to burn down Sarth and then take care of Tenebron later, but adds started piling up, and dear GOD I can't heal through those. It's so sad to watch Grid stay the same as I'm spamming chain heal. Then the really interesting thing kept happening. I was staying alive longer than the other healer. The priest (in t7.5 I think) kept dying!! I'm not sure if he couldn't stay out of the flame walls or something, or pulled too much healing aggro on the adds. *shrug* Not too much we can do.

I think after about 3 attempts, we as the defacto "officers" decided to just go for Sarth minus Tenebron. Even at that, "Honda" kept just sitting back and getting hit by flame wave...

No gear dropped for me tonight... I'm hoping for some sweet healer legs pretty soon. I also got the Cowl of Sheet Lightning off of Thaddius in Naxx10 the night before. Yes I know it's a clothpiece, but it's better than my blue. It's got decent mp5 and other stats I need. Still need to figure out what to gem it with. I also need to start grinding rep so I can get Arcanums and Shoulder Inscriptions. That should help a bit, fo sho!!

Did a UP run after Sarth which was pretty smooth. I'm having fewer and fewer mana issues, which is great. Now I need to keep getting my heals cranked up higher!!

Sleep is upon me. G'night world.... of warcraft.