Just a few quick notes today as both work and play are kicking my butt this week.
- Tyrande Whisperwind finally got a makeover! I think most if not all of the other female major lore figures in WoW have been freshened up before now, and Tyrande and her Mooncloth Robe were certainly overdue. Blizzard is typically pretty bad at powerful armor for women, and this is no exception. (Seriously, check out Azshara’s pasties.) One of my friends said that Tyrande is rockin’ the “Victorian Stripper” look, and that seems about right. Her skirt was caught in a lawnmower — perhaps the same one that ate her left sleeve. She has one shoulder pad and .. greaves with 3″ heels? Did she raid Beyonce’s closet? “Just call me Tyrande Fierce!”
- Glitch launched yesterday! What happens when some of the brains behind Flickr and GameNeverending and the creator of Katamari Damacy get together and make a browser-based MMO? Whimsical fun, that’s what. Glitch has no combat and no gear. There is “just” exploring, crafting, building, and changing your world. You can also pet trees. I’m going to do a more thorough write-up in a couple of weeks, but my initial impression is that this game is soothing and delightful. Support the indie developers and folks with unique ideas, and go give it a shot!
- New hats! In better-than-Tyrande Blizzard armor design news, T13 for priests was finally released and even though I don’t play WoW anymore I gotta say: that’s a great hat.
- RIFT’s patch 1.5 is released today! This is a huge patch even by Trion’s standards, with a total rogue class overhaul, a new warfront, planar advancement points, 1-2 person skirmishes, and of course an impending new event. This video implies there is a giant spider mount somewhere and as an arachnaphobe I am a little displeased about that. I’m still figuring out all the rogue DPS changes, although according to this chart my preferred build is played by someone who lives in their parents’ basement and lost most of their fingers in a lawnmower accident. Seriously.
- Some little game announced its release date over the weekend! Who has two thumbs and already booked the week between Christmas and New Years off? Aw yeah, this bounty hunter. While I’m still not sure how good SWTOR is actually going to be in the long run, I do feel absolutely confident that it will be fun as hell in the short term and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it. I love the first few weeks of an MMO: everyone is happy, everything is a surprise, and there is a real sense of server-wide camaraderie. So: will you be there when SWTOR opens?
- Finishing up The Wonderful End of the World on Sunday made me realize how many little indie games I’ve bought for Steam, and how few of them I’ve finished. It inspired me to make a serious effort to clear out my backlog, made all the easier thanks to Backloggery and this tool to import your Steam list into Backloggery. (Requires LUA for Windows, then run steam2backloggery.lua.) Last night I finally knocked out the last few points for Atom Zombie Smasher, which if you like tower defense games is an absolute must-buy.
So many games, so little time.. and it’s only going to get worse between now and the new year!
The only thing worse than trying to raid with a new UI and new gamepad would be a new UI, new gamepad, and a new spec, right? Ha ha ha, that person would have to be crrrraaaaaaaaaaazy.
So, yeah, anyway, I’m smite disc now.
It started out fairly innocently: Thursday night was our first seroius night with Chimaeron and I figured a Power Word: Barrier or two would help. (And it did: he’s real dead now!) I haven’t played Disc in months, so I kept the spec all the way up to Chimaeron to try and get a feel for it again.
Plus, apparently disc is OP again now. Bubbles were buffed in 4.06 and priests are panicking that they are TOO GOOD and will trivialize the contributions of other healers. Seriously, can you think of another class that would demand to get nerfed because they are too awesome? Are we all just weird?! And anyway, I don’t believe the grossly overpowered talk. The main log people use when making this argument shows a priest who went out of their way to make a point. They had a strange shield-or-die spec and were fed innervates and suitable buffs — who isn’t going to look ludicrously overpowered when the whole raid is set up to support them?
I’m still trying to get a sense of what tools I should be using. Shield, of course, particularly every 12 seconds to benefit from Rapture. Heal and Flash Heal are banished from my toolbars, replaced with Greater Heal and Binding Heal. I use PoM more than I did as holy. I am still occasionally using Renew, although I really shouldn’t be. Prayer of Healing is awesome, of course, and I have the macro that binds it to my Inner Fire and Power Infusion.
I did take the Smite talents but I don’t expect to be using them on progression content. At certain moments, though, I can knock out about 8k DPS through straight Smite spam which makes this healer feel pretty dang badass.
I’m gearing for Mastery being twice as important as Crit, which is 50% more important than haste. I kind of just made that up, though. (Liore’s version of theorycrafting: Read EJ! Become confused! Make up numbers and just bid on the best-looking hat!)
I am still unsure about what buttons to press in the heat of the moment, but after a couple of raids I’m able to keep up with the pack again and it feels pretty good.
I don’t! I don’t like them, and I resist giving them as much as possible. I hate micromanaging in general, but healing assignments are close to my heart as an issue. For the most part, I think that healing assignments assume that your healers are too stupid to know who needs their attention. They create tunnel vision, and discourage independent thinking.
Healing assignments cause healers to lose track of the rest of the raid. We’ve all seen it happen. Heck, if you play a healer you’ve had it happen to you: you’re watching your assigned green bar and suddenly a mage drops dead. Who was looking after them? Oh, no one was assigned and they stood in the corner and were slowly dotted to death? Hmm.
Or say you’re working on Omnitron and are assigned to heal melee. Toxitron drops slime bombs, and one of them targets you. You run away and out of range of the melee. One of them dies because you weren’t there to heal them and no one else bothered because they’re assigned to someone else. Ooops.
In my opinion, for the most part healing assignments are insulting. They imply that a healer is not smart enough to tell who needs healing, and not skilled enough to heal them in time. Instead, having healers on general healing duty encourages them to develop and use their own experience and intelligence. It assumes that healers can triage properly. Overall, I think that a healing team that runs mostly without assignments will have a better understanding of the fight and how it affects the raid as a whole.
Plus, in my opinion, free-for-all healing is more fun. :)
There are absolutely times when healing assignments are useful, such as Thorim when the raid has to break up into two entirely different groups, or fights like Blood Queen where the tanks will all immediately head off in different directions.
However, for the most part I hold the healers to the same standards I hold the rest of the raid: I assume that they know how to do their job and I give them the space to excel in it. Healers who can think for themselves and have a broad understanding of a boss encounter are more valuable in my opinion than healers who can take an assignment and keep it alive.
(This topic came up because I spent an hour this morning fighting with a rogue about the importance of healing assignments. Yes, a ROGUE. About HEALING. What is this world coming to?)
Overall I feel Holy is in a pretty good place right now although I still can’t honestly say I’ve got the hang of Chakra. I mean, yes, we can easily specialize into AOE or single target healing (or smites!), and that’s great. But to me it feels we’re missing a lot of neat utility through mid-fight Chakra switches because the mechanics are so clunky.
I guess the biggest culprit is the 30 second cooldown on casting Chakra itself. I frequently find myself wanting to change states while it’s on cooldown, watching the numbers tick down out of the corner of my eye and cursing at my monitor.
It also means that it’s pretty unforgiving if you make a mistake with your state switching spell — particularly when we first started raiding I was always hitting Prayer of Mending when I wanted to single target heal. A full 30 seconds of suboptimal play is a pretty harsh penalty for hitting the wrong key.
And lately I’ve managed to repeatedly hit Chakra and then somehow not end up with any state and yet still have a 30 second cooldown. I think I’m probably hitting something stupid without realizing it. Panicked button mashing for the lose!
Basically I would love to see a more nimble Chakra. Having a big toolbox is one of the things I love about being a holy priest, and it would be nice to apply a little more finesse to what I do now.
That being said, here’s a list of the bosses I’ve healed to death thus far and the states I use. Please feel free to contribute your own Chakra plans!
Omnitron: Sanctuary on Magmatron, Serenity on the other bosses.
Magmaw: Hahahahahahahahaha! Sanctuary and ceaseless PoH spam.
Maloriak: 30 seconds of Smite Chakra at the start. Yeah, you read that right! Healing is light at the start, and we’re still a little tight for DPS. Sanctuary for red and green phases, Serenity for blue.
Halfus: Just Serenity. (Hot tip: Put a Lightwell right next to the tanks in the post-50% phase as they can click it while stunned!)
V&T, or as we call them, The Glimmer Twins: Sanctuary during Valiona to help with blackouts. We spread out during Theralion, so that’s Serenity time.
I’ve had a ton of fun getting the rythym of each boss and what I feel are the most useful Chakras, and perhaps in the future Blizzard will change the spell to allow for greater flexibility while in combat.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Happy Holidays! I hope everyone enjoyed their break. I spent half my vacation offline out and about, and the other half in Azeroth getting Liore ready for her next adventure: Raiding! We had two 10s groups kill Omnitron over the weekend, and tonight is our first 25s raid since October. I’m genuinely psyched.
I’ll report back tomorrow on how badly Magmaw kicked our behinds, but in the meantime let’s talk about holy priests. Well, first, yes, I am back on the holy. Disc seemed pretty difficult in heroics at low gear levels, and I just wasn’t confident in my skills. Lest you think I am going to blather about how easy things are, I spent at least a week whining, moaning, and stomping my feet about holy and healing in general. Unnnng, it’s too haaaaard and I have to relearn everything and why am I casting Lightwell?
I threw myself at regular instance pugs for a bit, and then heroics with guildies. My gear is vastly improved over where it was at two weeks ago, which helps, but I also think I’ve started feeling the groove of holy again. I’m hardly an expert, and apparently I have a much different style than the other two holy priests in my guild (logs show they both use GHeal a lot and Heal less so), but here are some things I think I’ve learned about holies:
- Heal is your friend. Once you have 2500 Spirit or so it’s mana neutral, but more importantly it can proc Inspiration and Surge of Light, and refreshes Renew and your Chakra timer. I spam Heal all the time – I’m almost never not casting.
- Rapid Renewal is the silliest talent ever. Who the heck is spamming Renew now? It’s pretty expensive, and if we’re clever we can just roll it forever for free on the tank. I have been a Renew-oriented priest for years, but the days of spamming it on the raid are over. Save your points. (I also ditched the Renew frontload talent for the same reason.)
- Save Prayer of Mending for moments of AOE damage. I used to always bounce it off the tank on cooldown, but now I barely cast it.
- Holy Word: Serenity is cheap, crits a lot, and can be timed with other spells (like Flash Heal) to be even neater. On our first raid I used this heal almost every moment it was available.
- Two Flash Heals (your new ‘oh shit’ heal) and a Greater Heal will get pretty much anyone out of trouble.
- The number one change is just the pace of healing. In WotLK I was spamming every single GCD — Prayer of Mending on the tank, Renews across the raid, CoH, CoH, Flash, go go go go! Now I find myself more plodding along with Heal. While some folks might miss the old crazy healing paradigm, I like being able to spend more time watching the fight and thinking about my healing choices, and having the GCDs to spare for unique spells like Lifegrip.
Healing for holy priests now at least is more thinking, less button-pushing, in my opinion, and it’s rad.