How to Enjoy Cataclysm

The title of this post is a bit glib, I’ll admit, but there’s been quite a bit of bad voodoo in the WoW community lately about Cataclysm and it kind of baffles me. I mean, I’m no arbiter of universal taste so if someone isn’t enjoying the expansion that’s their prerogative, but some people are angry about Cataclysm. They feel sad and betrayed, and I find it kind of mystifying personally because I’ve been just pluggin’ along having a fine time of things.

I’m hardly a Blizzard fan girl (many of the negative feelings some folks have now are very similar to how I felt during the last six months of Wrath of the Lich King), but I’ve given a great deal of thought to why at this particular moment I’m pretty happy with WoW. I know I don’t have all the answers, but I think I can break it down into three main things:

1) I am no longer as emotionally invested in WoW’s gameplay

This could sound like a bad thing at first, but I actually consider it a positive aspect of playing a game for this long. There were times, mostly 5+ years ago, when I had a bit of an unhealthy relationship with WoW. I played too much, spent far too much effort on the game and my characters, and just sort of poured my dissatisfaction with other areas of my life into making my time in WoW as perfectly efficient as possible. Now years later (and certainly some modicum of personal growth later as well), WoW is no longer the shiny unknown siren that it once was. That perpetual reset of gear and goals that drives some people crazy in fact soothes me.

Priests get nerfed? Eh, we’ll get buffed again. Lost all my groovy epics to leveling greens? I’ll see more of those over time. Spirit important again? Frost mages overpowered in PvP? Have to retire my legendary? Heroics 5s are difficult again? Que sera sera!

2) La la la, patience is a virtue

This is not to say that I have completely avoided the sense of panic that comes with “keeping up with the Joneses” in the guild, but it’s definitely less this time around. I think those last six months of WotLK taught me to chew my content 100 times before I swallow it.

There is no need to rush. I haven’t finished two of the new heroics, I’ve barely touched Archaeology. When I log on I am just as likely to spend a couple of hours crafting and posting auctions or leveling my 30-ish tank as I am anxiously pounding out improvements to Liore. This is not to say that I’ve abandoned my main, and I certainly maintain a baseline of character progression so I can contribute fully to my raid group, but I know for me personally controlling my content consumption means I enjoy myself more.

3) I love my guild

This is probably the most controversial of my points. I know that some people don’t like having a guild and I am certainly not saying that solo play should be ignored in WoW, but my enjoyment of the game is hugely a result of having a wonderful group of folks to play it with. Actually, I think it’s a plain fact: WoW is better when enjoyed with friends. Heck, everything is better when enjoyed with friends. You (yes you) will enjoy the game more if you have a friendly group of people to play it with.

Guilds of all kinds provide a variety of benefits. You have a pool of people to do activities with, from lowbie leveling to raids. Even if you can’t get a group going, you’ll have friends to chat with while you do whatever it is on your own or with LFD. A guild can provide group goals, such the guild achievements now, that help give direction some days and make you feel collectively good when you accomplish them.

And of course with the return of content that isn’t a pushover in heroics and entry-level raids, an experienced guild group is going to have a huge advantage over a group of strangers who have been thrown together by the LFD system or trade chat.

Cataclysm has absolutely changed to put more emphasis on groups and guilds, and I will not lie that those of us who were fortunate to be in strong guilds before it even hit are in a great place right now. We have content to sharpen our teeth on, institutionalized guild goals, and perks for being an active group of friends.

All this is not to say that people don’t have valid reasons for disliking Cataclysm. Heck, it’s been six years — some folks want to move on, and I can’t blame them. One day it’ll be my turn. But as it turns out, unlike what I was kind of anticipating Cataclysm does not seem to be that time for me. Thanks to a few attitude adjustments and honestly the very hard work (shared by many) to keep the guild thriving during the horrible lull of latter LK, I’ve been having a great time and I’m glad some of y’all reading this have been as well.

4.06 Priest Patch Notes: The Good, The Bad, The Necessary

I often try to ignore class-related patch notes until they go live. Everything is open to change, so getting too happy or sad about any one thing is an exercise in futility. However with all the changes to healing in Cataclysm I have felt rather invested in priest mechanics lately, plus I needed something to blog about this morning. (Ha!) So let’s break it down:

The Good

  • The mana cost of Power Word: Shield has been increased by approximately 31%, but its effect has been increased by 208%.
  • Divine Aegis: Critical effects from Prayer of Healing now award a bonus amount in addition to the default, always-proc Divine Aegis effect.
  • Grace is no longer limited to one target at a time.
  • Penance mana cost has been increased by 7%, but healing has been increased by 20%
 

I haven’t played Disc spec since I started running heroics because it seemed weak and inefficient compared to Holy. Apparently Blizzard agreed, because this looks like some serious Disc lovin’. Penance got a much needed power boost, Shield was amped up, and AOE healing was buffed. I likely won’t go back to Disc as a main spec myself, if only because I’ve gotten the hang of Holy now, but these changes will be fantastic for folks who prefer it.

  • Binding Heal and Holy Word: Serenity now refresh the duration of Renew on the target, in addition to the other direct heals.
  • Binding Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal can now trigger Chakra: Serenity.
  • Surge of Light can now also proc from Flash Heal and Greater Heal, and can now also critically hit.
  • Circle of Healing effectiveness has been increased by 30%.
  • Desperate Prayer now heals the priest for 30% of their total health, up from a very subpar value.
  • Serendipity now has Spell Alert and Floating Combat Text feedback support.
 

It’s like they can read my mind, man.

My particular favorites from this group are Flash Heal triggering a Chakra state and Holy Word: Serenity refreshing Renew. That’s a great buff to Surge of Light as well — if you haven’t picked up that talent yet (why haven’t you?! it’s a free heal, dang it!) then you definitely should now.

Yes, I put a point into Desperate Prayer. Yes, it’s a crutch, but it has kept me alive on more than one occasion. On the live servers, however, it heals for such a miniscule amount that it’s turned into my healthstone reminder button. I press it, make a face and mentally berate myself for wasting a point on that nonsense, and use a healthstone.

I’m fascinated by the Circle of Healing buff. I mean, it’s a fairly useless spell right now. I’ll hit it when there is a ton of raid damage and I am moving or otherwise unable to use Prayer of Healing, but much like Desperate Prayer it seems like a trick talent that just leaves me with less mana and a sneaking suspicion that I am doing it wrong. It feels like they could just remove this spell even with the buff and make PoH stronger, really.

The Bad

  • Prayer of Healing effectiveness has been reduced by 15%.
 

Grrarrrgh!! I guess this explains the CoH buff.

All five of the raid bosses I’ve encountered so far have periods of intense AoE, and Prayer of Healing is our go-to spell for that. We have the new CoH and Holy Word: Sanctuary, but both are still terribly mana-inefficient. I know Blizzard has data and numbers that I don’t, but from my lowly perspective this is a bad nerf.

The Necessary

  • Holy Concentration now increases the amount of mana regeneration from Spirit while in combat by an additional 15/30%, down from 20/40%.
 

No healer really WANTS their mana regeneration to be reduced, but from talking to my healer friends we’ve been pretty overpowered in this area. I am very rarely out of mana by the time a boss dies, and I probably should be given my experience and gear level.

Covering Raiding Costs with Crafting

I don’t know if y’all have had a chance to look at flasks on the auction house yet, but raiding is EXPENSIVE now. Repairs are pricey for all armor classes, flasks are still 200g each, and don’t even get me started on the price of enchants. I think that like us most semi-serious guilds are covering a lot of the cost, but raiding is still an expensive proposition at the moment.

Fortunately the Cataclysm profession markets are still full of quick ways to make gold! The prices of matierials are dropping and it’s a great time to take advantage of the high prices for most crafted goods. I have a whole assembly line of alts and an army of addons to help me find the best deals, but that’s not entirely necessary. In fact, it’s relatively easy to craft and cover your raiding costs each week with minimal time and effort.

There is one thing in common with all professions: for the most profit, buy inexpensive mats. (Or farm, but I hate farming.) You can use a mod like  Auctioneer’s snatch list to do this, but it’s not necessary. Just identify the handful of ingredients you need for your recipe of choice and check the auction house before logging off each day. If you see any of your materials up for lower than the usual price, buy them. Personally I tend to buy and store materials all week and then worry about crafting when I have more time on the weekend.

So, let’s make some money!

Alchemy: Alchemy has been a bit of a dog in the past for making money, but it’s become extremely profitable in Cataclysm. The absolutely easiest way to make some cash is the Living Elements transmute: buy 15 Volatile Life for ~6g each, go to Uldum and transmute them to Volatile Air, sell the Airs for ~40g each. (This is an even better proposition with Transmute Mastery!) Bam, 350+ gold a day.

Blacksmithing: Two words: belt buckles. Well, okay, five words: belt buckles and shield spikes. Farm the mats or buy them for cheap, sell both items for ~450g each. Dance.

Enchanting: Enchanting is always the last professions to see a price drop in materials. Heck, Maelstrom Crystals are still going for 2000g on my server! If you happen to have any pre-Cataclysm rare enchants you should clearly be selling those. Otherwise, enchanters have to get a little clever! Try doing a search on the AH for Uncommon items level 80-85. Buy anything under 20g, disenchant, sell results. At the moment you’ll gross 30-50g per item, which means that you’re probably not going to get rich but you’ll be able to cover your raid costs.

Engineering: If your other profession is a gathering one, the easiest way for engineers to make gold is of course through their electrostatic condenser. (And it’s being buffed in the next patch!) Free Volatile Airs? Okay! Without that option, your best bet is to make pets. Pick two of the new Cataclysm recipes, buy the mats when they are cheap, and list the pets for a couple thousand each.

Inscription: Unlike other professions that can focus on one of their new Cataclysm recipes, Inscriptionists should look to the past. Glyphs made with Lion’s Ink and Jadefire Ink sell at a steady pace and are very inexpensive to make. Keep an eye on Fadeleaf, Khadgar’s Whisper, and Kingsblood on the Auction House. If you are feeling particularly aggressive you can use a mod (I use Auction Profit Master) or a site like WowPopular to figure out which glyphs to make, or just start at the top of the list and make one of everything. I recommend listing glyphs for 12-hour periods so your prices are always relatively fresh.

Jewelcrafting: I almost don’t have to write this bit, as Jewelcrafting is already a gold grab. Do dailies, prospect Elementium, buy recipes, cut gems. Profit! I’ll give you a good tip though: save your uncommon gems for days when they are the JC daily ingredient, and then post ‘em up at 50-100g each. This trick works best if you’re one of those people who log on before leaving the house in the morning.

Leatherworking: Leg armor! Take a look at your server’s auction house and see which of the new epic leg armors have the best prices. These epic pattern are taught by the profession vendors in Twilight Highlands after you open your faction’s major city. The leg enchants are expensive to make, but they currently sell for about a thousand gold on my server. Sell two of these each week and you’ve covered your raiding costs!

Tailoring: Much like Leatherworking, leg enchants are the way to go here. Get the recipe for the Powerful Enchanted Spellthread if nothing else. Again, these sell for about a thousand gold each on my server, so even with the expensive mats you’ll still double your investment.

One caveat: check your auction house before investing in any of these ideas. Something that makes money on my server might be oversaturated on yours!

Guild Perks Will Not Kill Your New Guild

I have seen a number of posts on the official forums lately by folks who are trying to start up a guild now and feel positively overwhelmed by their lack of perks. Post-Cataclysm guilds are already behind the bulk of guilds for rank and generally take some time to build up an active membership, meaning that they get even further behind. The argument goes that this lack of perks makes it impossble for new guilds to recruit.

Now I don’t want to be dismissive of someone’s concerns, but I am calling upon six years of guild leadership and recruitment when I say that guild perks will not kill your new guild. I know that starting a new guild is incredibly tough, but I have two reasons for saying this:

1) The type of player who bases their decision for a new guild on perks is not the type of player you want.

Someone who is so mercurial that a 10% mount speed buff or heirloom cape is their motivating factor is very unlikely to become loyal to your guild. They aren’t interested in being a part of your “guild family” or a core member of the “raid team”. This hypothetical person will jump to another guild when they get a better offer, and frankly you’re better off not wasting your leadership efforts on them. (To be totally honest I doubt this person even exists, but I see this argument often so it’s worth addressing.)

2) The type of guild who recruits just for perks is not the type of guild you want to be.

Guild perks are just that. They’re nice and fun to have, but not something upon which you’d want to build the foundation of a guild. Any guild that emphasizes their guild rank over other less tangible qualities gives its applicants no reason to feel that they are anything but XP machines. That doesn’t sound enjoyable!

In fact, much like we ask players to not give a GearScore on guild apps, we don’t mention our guild rank number when recruiting. Interested players can easily find it themselves and I’d rather focus on our more interesting qualities.

This all being said, I understand that recruiting for a new guild is incredibly difficult. Generally I recommend that new guild leaders try and answer a few questions in their recruitment message: What is the goal of your guild? What’s the history of your leadership team? What is your community like? Answer those questions with sincerity and a hint of panache and you will grab the attention of good potential members, perks or no.

Split 10/25 Achievements!

Last night was our first 25s raid since October, and we ended up killing the first two bosses in Blackwing Descent. I was pretty excited to be getting back to “serious” raiding, although within minutes of our raid starting I was reminded why I was looking forward to the break in the first place.

My guild is full of lovely responsible adults, but there is still a lot of Cat herding that comes with big raids. New folks have procedural questions, reserves want status updates, I’m trying to track down that 25th person who is nowhere to be found, and so on. Sometimes it’s not a problem, but occasionally (particularly yesterday when I too am facing new content and new spells and omg omg) it’s a smidge overwhelming.

We did very well and had a great time, though! I’m looking forward to seeing more of the fights.

Now that I have seen both 10s and 25s in action to some degree, I must again express my displeasure with both raid tracks sharing achievements. This has nothing to do with the difficulty of the fights themselves (25 Omnomnomnitron seemed easier than 10s, for what that’s worth), but more with the organizational aspects. It is much quicker for 10 people to get ready for raiding than 25.

It is also easier, I think, in the majority of cases for 10s to take on raid achievements, such as those usually required for tier mounts. It’s just the nature of organization — coordinating complicated actions will generally be easier with 10 people.

I’m fully prepared to admit that it’s just sour grapes, but I’m kind of put off by the fact that although there are only three guilds on my server currently raiding with a 25s team (as far as I can tell), we are 20th or something in overall progression according to the new unified system. For raid size to truly be an issue of whatever you prefer to do, as Blizzard said, then 10s should compete with 10s, and 25s should compete with 25s. This is almost impossible to track right now, hence the need for seperate team size achievements.

I suspect that even the most casual of casualcore raiding guilds like to know how much they’re keeping up with the Joneses, and a strong server ranking definitely helps with recruitment. I really am not saying that one size is better than the other, or deserves more treats. I just want an even playing field.

Okay, enough whining. One helpful Magmaw tip: Misdirect worms to felguard(s). They can’t get infected and hold great aggro. (Props to guildie Liseth for figuring this out.)

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