Archive for September, 2008

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Jov sez: Aargh Numbers! (pt 1: Spell Edition)

September 30, 2008

Apologies in advance, this is going to be a bit wall’o’texty, as well as not laid out terribly like I would usually assume a blog post would.  (Meaning no, I’m not gonna add pictures and yes, it’s going to stay essentially just a list.  Matt, I know you taught me better.  You can start crying when I let you know that this is just the first posts of several on this subject which are going to follow the same format.)  I’m just trying to consolidate exactly how the patch is going to affect me as a lv 70 raider.  As such, I’m not going to cover DPS spells or the shadow tree (yet).  I’m not doing this for levelling specs.  Nor am I going to delve into the new stuff at the bottom of holy and disc.  I’m just trying to track the current changes.

As a note:  Priest base mana @ 70 is 2620Spellpower conversion is *.53 (so 2000 healing now = 1060 spellpower).  Learn those numbers.  Love them.  Live them.

Spells: Discipline

Prayer of Fortitude R3

Now: Costs 1800 mana, 1 sacred candle.  Increases stamina by 79 for 1 hour.  Affects 1 party.
3.0: Costs 69% base mana (1808 mana), 1 sacred candle.  Increases stamina by 70 for 1 hour.  Affects party and raid.
Result: Minimal mana cost increase is more than offset by the fact you only need to hit the button once.  Also, gone are the days of carrying aroud 80 candles to every raid as a “just in case”.  Overall saves time, mana, and reagent costs.  This is a huge buff.

Prayer of Spirit R2

Now: Costs 1800 mana, 1 sacred candle.  Increases spirit by 50 for 1 hour.  Affects 1 party.
3.0: Costs 69% base mana (1808 mana), 1 sacred candle.  Increases spirit by 50 for 1 hour.  Affects party.
Result: At the time of writing this, PoS is showing that it still only affects party.  I’m uncertain if it will change to match PoF’s raid-wide buff (if it does, it will be welcome), but even still, an 8 mana increase in the cost means this is essentially unchanged.

Dispel Magic R2

Now: Costs 14% base mana (367 mana).  Dispels 2 magic effects from one individual.
3.0: Costs 14% base mana (367 mana).  Dispels 2 magic effects from one individual.
Result: This is completely unchanged.

Mass Dispel

Now: Costs 33% base mana (865 mana).  Dispels 1 magic effect from up to 10 friendly and 10 unfriendly targets.
3.0: Costs 33% base mana (865 mana).  Dispels 1 magic effect from up to 10 friendly and 10 unfriendly targets.
Result: This is completely unchanged.

Power World Shield R12

Now: Costs 600 mana.  Absorbs 1265 damage.  Lasts 30 seconds, Weakened Soul lasts 15 seconds.
3.0: Costs 23% base mana (603 mana).  Absorbs 1265 damage.  Lasts 30 seconds, Weakened Soul lasts 15 seconds.
Result: Increase in mana cost by 3, but this is essentially unchanged.

Spells: Holy

Renew R12

Now: Costs 450 mana.  Heals 1110 over 15 seconds.
3.0: Costs 17% base mana (446 mana).  Heals 1110 over 15 seconds.
Result: Decrease in mana cost by 4, but this is essentially unchanged.

Circle of Healing R5

Now: Costs 450 mana.  Heals target and target’s party (15 yd radius) for 409-451.
3.0: Costs 21% base mana (550 mana).  Heals target and 4 friendly party/raid members (15 yd radius, 5 healed in total) for 409-451.
Result: At the time of writing this, there is no cooldown showing for CoH, so I’m uncertain if the 6 second cooldown is going back in.  CoH is being made a “smart spell.”  Even with a 100 mana increase, this is a buff, provided you are using it correctly.  If you’re not, it’s a retard-check. Using this spell wisely will enable you to guarantee 5-hits, whereas current CoH considers itself good if you can get 3.  The increase in cost is not negligible, however, and the criteria for using CoH is going to need to adjust to compensate.

Resurrection R6

Now: Costs 60% base mana (1572 mana).  Brings friendly player back from the dead with 1100 health, 1150 mana.  Cannot be cast in combat.
3.0: Costs 60% base mana (1572 mana).  Brings friendly player back from the dead with 1100 health, 1150 mana.  Cannot be cast in combat.
Result:  This is completely unchanged.

Prayer of Mending R1

Now: Costs 390 mana.  Places a heal on the target which heals them for 800 when they take damage, then jumps to another party/raid member.  Will jump 5 times, lasts 30 seconds per jump.  Heal (and aggro) is considered done by target healed, not the priest.
3.0: Costs 15% base mana (393 mana).  Places a heal on the target which heals them for 800 when they take damage, then jumps to another party/raid member.  Will jump 5 times, lasts 30 seconds per jump.  Heal (and aggro) is considered done by the priest.
Result: This spell has changed drastically, not in the effect, but in the mechanic.  However, since the spell itself only increased in cost by 3, I hesitate to call it a nerf.  This is no longer the spell to use in aggro-sensitive moments, or as a way to get quick burst threat to the tank when starting a pull.  On the other hand, priests have been whining since the spell came out that it should credit to the healer as far as meters go, so it’s hard to blame Blizz for giving us what we asked for.  The jury is out on this one, kids…  I have no idea if this is an overall nerf or a non-issue, it’s too different.

Prayer of Healing R6

Now: Costs 1255 mana.  Heals party 1246-1316.
3.0: Costs 48% base mana (1258 mana).  Heals 1246-1316.
Result: Increase in mana cost by 3, this is essentially unchanged.

Greater Heal R7

Now: Costs 825 mana.  Heals target 2396-2784.
3.0: Costs 32% base mana (839 mana).  Heals target 2396-2784.
Result: As must be stated here, this is a nerf less for the 14 mana cost increase than for the death of downranking. Taken on it’s own, it’s almost a retard-check in the same way the change to CoH is.  You need to learn stopcasting, rhythm healing, and re-learn proper spell selection.  You can no longer drinking bird a lower rank of GHeal and get by.  Play smarter.

Flash Heal R9

Now: Costs 470 mana.  Heals target 1101-1279.
3.0: Costs 18% base mana (472 mana).  Heals target 1101-1279.
Result: Increase in mana cost by 2, this is essentially unchanged.

Binding Heal R1

Now: Costs 705 mana.  Heals self and target 1042-1338.  Low-threat.
3.0: Costs 27% base mana (708 mana).  Heals self and target 1042-1338.  Low threat.
Result: Increase in mana cost by 3, this is essentially unchanged.

Spells: Shadow

Prayer of Shadow Protection R2

Now: Costs 1620 mana, 1 sacred candle.  Increases Shadow Resist by 70 for 20 min.  Affects party.
3.0: Costs 62% base mana (1625 mana), 1 sacred candle.  Increases Shadow Resist by 70 for 20 min.  Affects party.
Result: As with Prayer of Spirit, at the time of this post, this is not showing Fort’s change to a raid-wide buff either.  I’m uncertain if that’s going to happen.  However, with an increase in 5 mana cost, this is essentially unchanged.

Shadow Fiend R1

Now: Costs 6% base mana (158 mana).  Lasts 15 seconds.
3.0: Costs 6% base mana (158 mana).  Lasts 15 seconds.
Result:  This is completely unchanged.

Fade

Now: Costs 330 mana.  Reduces threat by 1500 for 10 seconds.  When effect ends, all threat (including threat acquired while faded) returns.
3.0: Costs 15% base mana (393 mana).  Reduces all threat for 10 seconds.  When effect ends, all threat (including threat acquired while faded) returns.
Result: This spell has also changed a lot.  On the one hand, a 63 mana cost increase is pretty hefty, on the other, this looks to actually be the “get out of jail free” card it has always almost been up until now.  The main complaint priests always had in regards to this spell was that the threat reduction was most of the time not enough to actually get your threat back down, plus coupled with the temporary nature of the reduction, it was very much a useless talent.  It’s still only a temporary aggro dump, but it is a full 10-second aggro dump.  The spell now works as intended, dropping you to the rock bottom of the threat table, and enabling the tank to work to keep you there.  This is an overall buff.

Final thoughts

There’s a lot I didn’t really have space to touch on in this post.  The talent changes are going to need an entirely separate post (or two!) of their own, as is any hope of messing with DPS.  I know I also totally didn’t touch on coefficients (mainly because I need to do more research on how exactly spellpower is going to scale with talents and healing numbers).   But with the patch looming on the horizon, I wanted to at least start getting stuff out there.  My current thoughts:  While there aren’t a lot of changes to mana cost in the spells I typically use in-raid, there’s a bit of a worry in my mind that I’m going to be nickle-and-dime’d to death with the changes that are there.  Spell costs almost across the board are higher, usually only in the 1-10 range, but a couple (CoH and Fade) are enough more to potentially feel it.  Granted, the spells themselves are also much better, but even small increases in mana cost add up over time.  I’m not good enough at divination to make sweeping statements as to how these little changes are going to affect me in practice.  But they’re here for me to keep in mind when the time comes.

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Seri sez: Shadow for the Holy CL (Pre-3.0)

September 25, 2008

At one time, I had 10 Priests under my purview. Although there have been a few casualties, we are still legion; the Priest class is the largest in our guild and it’s my job to evaluate both the Holy and Shadow Priests. I’ve always been Holy, so when I took on a class lead role I knew I had my work cut out for me. Fortunately for you, you can now benefit from all of my hard work. By following these guidelines, you can whip those Shadow Priests into shape… or at least find out what sort of shenanigans they’ve been getting away with.

Reviewing Gear

Reviewing any character is a multi-step process. I like to start with their armory profile. Have a gander at their gear, and determine if it is appropriate for the level of content that you’re running. ShadowPriest.com has a great gear list that you can use to see if they are missing easily obtainable upgrades, but be warned that a lot of the “best” gear is haste gear, and Shadow Priests shouldn’t start stacking haste until they are up around 1400 Shadow Damage fully buffed.

Spell Damage: T6 Shadow Priests should have at minimum 1100-1200 Shadow Damage–more if you’ve been deep in T6 content for a while.

Hit Rating: Shadow Priests hit cap at 76 Hit Rating, with 5/5 Shadow Focus (more about that later).

Enchants: Make sure they have an enchant for all enchantable slots (helm, shoulders, cloak, chest, wrist, gloves, pants, boots, weapon) including rings if they are an enchanter. They should have spell power for bracers, gloves and weapon, though Soulfrost is also good to see. Chest can be +6 Stats or Mp5. I require Subtlety and Boar’s Speed for my Shadow Priests, but your policies may vary.

Gems: Spell damage, spell damage, spell damage. Shadow Priests can and should ignore set bonuses as needed to socket as much spell damage as possible. Gem choices may vary a little bit depending on stamina/haste needs, but if you see anything wacky like Spell Penetration or Spell Crit wield your clue-by-four with impunity.

Reviewing Spec

Next, tab over to their talent sheet. There isn’t a heck of a lot to look for here, because if you opened up your Shadow tree and face rolled on your keyboard you would be bound to get most of your points in useful talents. It’s not uncommon to see Shadow Priests sink 50+ talent points in Shadow. However, an optimal raid spec will be a little leaner to make room for a dozen or so points in Discipline. Things to look for:

PvP Talents: Make sure the Shadow Priest isn’t raiding with a PvP build, which will be characterized by things like Imp Psychic Scream, Silence and Shadow Resilience.

Inner Focus/Meditation: Remember I mentioned that Discipline tree? Inner Focus is a must-have. Meditation is a Seri recommendation, because every little bit helps for those endurance fights.

Vampiric Embrace: Completely optional for raiding. VE generates a ton of threat, making it only situationally useful. If your Shadow Priests are putting points in VE and Imp VE, make sure they’re not neglecting something else.

Shadow Weaving: 5/5 is not necessary. 4/5 will keep it up pretty reliably, and if you routinely stack your raid with more than one Shadow Priest they could even potentially reduce it to 3/5. This buff doesn’t stack (not in every sense anyway); the Shadow Priests share a debuff slot and can refresh each others’ debuffs.

Shadow Focus: With 5/5 Shadow Focus, a Shadow Priest only needs 76 Hit Rating. This makes it ridiculously easy for Shadow Priests to hit cap. Often, Shadow Priests will end up with a surplus of Hit Rating and can reduce the # of points spent on Shadow Focus.

Spell Hit Caps (courtesty of SP.com):

* 76 hit is the cap with 5/5 Shadow Focus
* 101 hit before you can go to 4/5 Shadow Focus
* 126 hit before you can go to 3/5 Shadow Focus
* 152 hit before you can go to 2/5 Shadow Focus
* 177 hit before you can go to 1/5 Shadow Focus
* 202 hit before you can go to 0/5 Shadow Focus

Reviewing WWS

If you are a serious raider, you’re probably already familiar with WowWebStats. If not, well, this section might not make a lot of sense but hopefully you can follow along. WWS reports are a bloated with information, and either adored or reviled by raiders. While I enjoy digging around in WWS to look at stats, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. WWS takes a lot of flak for creating unnecessary competition between raiders, but for me it’s a great tool for performance evaluation. The trick is knowing what to look at and what to not care about.

Forget Trash: When reviewing your Shadow Priests, drill down to individual bosses. While it might be useful to take a quick glance at the trash stats, trash is not optimal for performance tracking for casters–especially casters that rely on DoTs for a lot of their damage.

Don’t Forget Mobility: A lot of boss fights are about mobility, and the more time folks spend repositioning themselves the less time they spend DPSing. Pick low mobility fights as your ‘benchmark’ fights when looking for raw DPS numbers.

Spell Rotation: Shadow Priest spell rotation is done by priority rather than casting things in a set order. The idea is to keep Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch up at all times, Mind Blast whenever the cooldown is up, Shadow Word: Death whenever it’s safe and otherwise Mind Flay. Ideally, the SP should be using a DoT timer and refreshing SWP & VT right as they wear off. Because VT has a shorter duration than SWP, it should be refreshed whenever it needs refreshing rather than waiting until SWP wears off. When looking at an individual Priest’s stats, look for the ‘Dots’ field for SWP and VT. These numbers should be the same if not close to the same. If there are significantly fewer VT ticks than SWP ticks, that means they are refreshing both DoTs at the same time rather than independently. Bad SP, no biscuit!

Calculating DoT Uptime: DoT Uptime is defined as ‘the amount of time DoTs are kept up’. This isn’t something you’ll want to do after every raid for every boss, but I like to spot check folks here and there–sort of like a pop quiz for Shadow Priests. The formula is pretty simple (it’d have to be, because I suck at math):

DoT Uptime % = (# dot ticks * 3) / fight-duration-in-seconds * 100

So, let’s say a fight is 4 minutes long and during that 4 minutes a SP had 80 ticks of SWP:

80 * 3 = 240
240 / 240 = 1
1 *100 = 100%

There you have it. 80 ticks of SWP in a 240 second (4 minute) fight is 100% DoT uptime. That’s pretty optimistic though, let’s take a real world (such that it is) example:


These screenshots are taken from an actual WWS report, for a Teron Gorefiend fight. This particular priest died during the fight, but was present for 97%. We’ll use the amount of time she was alive for our calculations… after all, we can’t really hold her accountable for keeping DoTs up after she died. As you can see from the first picture, she was alive for 3 minutes and 47 seconds, which is 227 seconds according to my calculator widget. Next, look for the SWP ticks on the ‘dots’ column of the damage out breakdown: 71. Plugging it in:

71 * 3 = 213
213 / 227 = .938(ish)
.938 * 100 = 93.8%

So, for this Gorefiend attempt this Shadow Priest’s DoT Uptime was 93%… I should give her a cookie. I love to see DoT Uptime over 90% but anywhere in the mid-80’s is acceptable for mobility fights (which Gorefiend is not).

What else can WWS tell you? All sorts of things. Just looking at the above images, you can see that our guinea pig’s DPS for that fight was 1264 and that her VT/SWP ratio was pretty close. If anything, I’d suspect that she was waiting for VT to wear off before re-casting. Since VT has a casting time, you can start casting it before VT actually wears off (without clipping the last tick) as long as you’re watching the dot timer. WWS will also show you buffs gained, so you can tell whether someone was using a flask, how often they used buff food, mana potions, their Shadowfiend and more.

Personal Observation

Last but not least: the often underestimated personal observation stage of the review process. Does the SP show up for raids on time and stocked with all the consumables and reagents that they need? Do they help with buffing Fortitude and Shadow Protection as needed? Are they dying a lot, and if so is it because of threat issues or poor situational awareness? Are they following instructions? Going AFK frequently? Zoning out on trash? Managing their mana/cooldowns well? Set them as your focus target for an hour or so if needed to keep an eye on them.

Final Thoughts

Even though we Holy Priests are healing specialists, that doesn’t mean that we have to be ignorant about how the ‘other half’ lives. My studies of Shadow Priest tactics/gear have made me a stronger player in general, not to mention a stronger Class Lead.

Looking ahead, there are significant changes coming in patch 3.0 that will affect Shadow Priest spec, rotation & gear needs. I’ve been keeping an eye on these developments, and once things stabilize I’ll post a new guide for 3.0.

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For Matticus

September 24, 2008

I consider my time with SYTYCB to be good experience, but sometimes it’s nice to have something more substantial to point at and say “this was a good thing.”  So, I present a screenshot taken 2 minutes ago as we’re gathering to start BT for the evening.  Those of you who followed me from WoM should recognize this name, too.

Thanks, Matt.  :)

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Jov sez: What Trash Says About You

September 23, 2008

No, I’m not talking about McDonalds bags or kitty litter, I’m talking about instance trash. This is actually a bit of a tie-in with Seri’s post about apping to a raid guild. It was prompted by problems our guild has faced in the past with new recruits, so I wanted to bring it up. There is more to joining a raid guild than having the gear for the content. Finding the right “fit” is a process, and very open to pitfalls. I think we all have a tendency to just go shopping for a guild at the right level of progression, without thinking first about what sort of raid environment we enjoy. I’m not just talking about the people and vent chatter, I’m also talking about the actual process of raiding. Knowing what you need and want is your responsibility to consider before accepting a guild invite, and should be brought up by you in the interview process. The simplest, and perhaps most telling, would be to ask how the guild handles trash.

Two examples to illustrate what I feel are two ends of a spectrum:

The Meticulous Style

This is many group’s default, at least while learning content. Every pull is marked, every tank and CC’er has their target, everyone is careful. There is very little FFA healing, each healer assigned to a specific person or group/party and sticking with it. It’s also very much healing by the rules. Lots of cancel-casting, letting hots tick without being overwritten, there’s a general focus on doing what is needed and conserving resources. Healing is not a competition, you’re doing what is most needed to get the boss down cleanly. This style is very good when things go wrong, there’s usually a back-up plan in place. Also, this style is very friendly to low-healer groups. Doing content with fewer than the recommended number of healers pretty much demands this style of gameplay.

The Aggressive Style

This is almost the opposite of Meticulous. It’s perhaps best considered a controlled chaos. This is much more common on the instance you’ve farmed to death and just want to get through as quickly as possible. Tanks fight each other for aggro on multiple targets (Tank A decides he wants all his targets, plus a few of Tank B’s) AoE occurs more often than single-target DPS, and beyond assigning tank heal assignments, the rest is FFA healing. Most pulls have a “seat of your pants” feel, and you spend a good deal of the evening riding the line of something going very wrong. This sort of style usually occurs with a very strong, overgeared group. However sloppy it may look, however, it is done by people who know their capability. Tanks will steal targets, but not more than they know they (and their healers) can handle. Healers will cross-heal with abandon, but only as far as they know their mana will stretch.

The Problem

As is probably obvious, problems can occur when someone who is used to raiding with a group who uses one extreme applies to a group who goes the other way. If you were happy with the style of raiding of your previous guild, you need to also ensure your application goes to a guild which follows the same style. (If you’re not happy with the style, by all means, find a guild of the opposite style to apply to.)

If you are a meticulous healer, you’re healing by-the-books, the right way. Your target is staying up, you’re doing everything the right way. However, if you join an aggressive guild, you’re either going to be bored (because someone else is always going to have a heal land first, or overwrite your hot) or going to cause red flags with your class lead when WWS reports your effective healing numbers are half that of those who share your spec/assignment.

Conversely, if you’re an aggressive healer and join a meticulous guild, you’re going to spend your time feeling like you’re surrounded by a bunch of slackers. You’re not going to want to watch the DPS’s health slowly climb as hots tick, you’re going to want to give ‘em a boost now. You’re also likely to cause just as many red flags with your class lead for your flagrant cross-healing. At the end of the day, your healing numbers may blow everyone else out of the water, but you’re going to cause people to worry about your conservation and what will happen if things go wrong.

The Solution

Neither healer nor guild in either of my previous examples is wrong, they are only wrong for each other. Where the wrongness occurs is before the first raid, it’s in the interview, or even the application. It is the applicant’s responsibility to know what their style is, and to find out if that meshes with the guild they are applying to. Guilds also have the responsibility to be open and upfront with what sort of healing environment they will provide.

No guild is going to follow either style 100% of the time, nor are they always going to adhere to the extreme. Most guilds are probably somewhere in the middle. Know where you stand, so when you apply, you know you’re not setting yourself up for failure.

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Snarkcraft Mailbag: 9/22/08

September 22, 2008

The first dollar earned by a business is cause for celebration and often ends up framed for prominent display. Here at World of Snarkcraft, we are compensated only with accolades, rolled eyes and the satisfaction of snark well done. However… OMG first e-mail! While we won’t share every e-mail we receive, this one will always have a special place in our empty little hearts.

M.C. wrote:

“I recently started a priest alt (my main is a 70 hunter) to play with my gf, who recently started playing agian, with a fresh hunter (we’re both belfs.) I only play it when she’s on, so we’re always grouped and questing together. My question pertains to my talents. Because we’ll be grouped I don’t feel as though I should go full dps with the shadow tree, nor should I go full healer with the Holy tree. As you can tell from the subject, I’ve been flirting with the disc tree. I view it as a way to increase base skills instead of either of the dps/healing areas, as I am constantly doing both.

Seri sez:

Duoing is, hands down, my favorite way to quest/level. Things move along at a pretty steady clip without being laughably easy, and it’s a bit more entertaining (and easier) than going it alone. Shadow is all but universally regarded as THE spec to level with. It doesn’t really matter if you’re leveling alone or with a friend, with two of you putting out the pain things are going to die quickly and there isn’t going to be a lot of healing to be done.

With that said… I totally leveled as Discipline (all the way down to Reflective Shield) before branching out into Holy. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment, but I derived untold amounts of glee from watching critters bash themselves to death on my shield while I stood behind it, cackling and smiting/wanding with impunity. Oh, you want a piece of ME big bad wolf? Be not fooled by my docile appearance, this bunny has teeth!

Where was I? Oh right, leveling specs. Disc has always been a tree that didn’t quite know what it was for. More recently it has become the ‘Ha ha, you can’t kill me’ tree of choice for PvP/Arena Priests. Disc provides a lot of tricks to help you conserve mana, boost your mana/health pool and generally annoy anyone that tries to kill you.

What it may come down to is how much instancing you want to do while you are leveling. If you want to do more instances, choosing a Disc/Holy build will give you oomph while soloing/duoing as well as the mana efficiency and healing power that will help you keep your party up in a dungeon with relative ease. (Sure, Shadow Priests can heal–though they don’t want you to know that–but Holy/Disc priests do it better!)

At the same time, you can Smite your way through the instance if there is another healer handy–or if you are bored, as I often was, from lack of healing to be done. It might surprise you to learn, though, that most of the talents that boost your Smiting power (Holy Specialization, Divine Fury, Searing Light, Surge of Light, Spiritual Guidance) are in the Holy tree, not the Discipline tree. Since these talents also boost your healing power (Surge of Light aside), this is kind of a win-win for the Holy Priest.

If you see yourself mainly questing there’s really not a compelling argument NOT to go Shadow. It’s going to give you more bang for your buck.

Leveling Disc/Holy does earn you bragging rights, though.

Jov sez:

First of all, congrats on joining us (join us! join us! join us!) Priest is my favorite class, and I’m always happy to find people willing to try it out. Like Seri, I’ve had really good experiences duoing in the past, so I had to jump in here and contribute my two copper to the subject.

How you should spec is mainly influenced by what you want out of levelling. Are you looking to get through the levels as quickly as possible? Are you wanting to goof off and sight see? Are you wanting to spend most of your time in instances? No one spec really restricts your ability to do any of the above, but certain specs lend themselves more to certain things than others.

To blast your way through levels as quickly as possible, go shadow. It is the best option if you’re wanting to make your way ASAP to 70. You will find yourself doing the best damage with the least amount of downtime. Shadow can also heal instances as well as Holy until at least lv 60. Holy makes it easier, yes, but the content isn’t tuned to be a problem to heal for an off-spec.

If you’re really wanting to throw yourself into the healing groove, however, and don’t want to mess with shadow form, go holy… or, rather, go Disc until you can snag Improved Divine Spirit, and then go holy. There’s all sorts of candy in the early Disc tree that’s basically designed to make you last longer, which is useful whatever you’re doing. For leveling, never underestimate the power of Wand Spec, Meditation, and Inner Focus. They are considered must-haves regardless of spec.

You mentioned specifically that you didn’t feel you “should” go fully DPS or healy since you’ll be a group character, and I’m uncertain of your reasoning behind that. You “should” do whatever makes you happy to do in a group. If it’s not any fun, why are you doing it?

My two requests: Consider investing your first 5 talent points in Spirit Tap, regardless of spec. Levelling with a hunter, you’re not going to get every killing blow, but Spirit Tap, especially added with Wand Spec (and does more damage, so it’s more effective to wand stuff down at the end) and Meditation can give you some awesome free mana. And secondly, never never never NEVER try to make a Holy/Shadow hybrid (beyond potentially the above-mentioned Spirit Tap). There is essentially no synergy between the two trees, and if you’re doing it trying to “do everything” you’re not going to have any of the staying power needed to do either of them well. Holy/Shadow is really only good for making you spend more money at the water vendor.

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Seri sez: How to Apply to a Raid Guild Without Looking Like an Idiot

September 19, 2008

(An updated version of this article for WotLK can be found here.)

As the Priest Class Lead for my guild, I’m pretty actively involved in recruitment. Not only do I canvas the ‘net looking for candidates when we need them, it’s also my job to review the applications that come in and mark them up with my little red pen. Although sometimes even the ones that look good on paper don’t work out, if you have a bad application you’re not going to get a second glance.

You may not be applying to my guild (if you want to, e-mail me an armory link–ha!) but every guild has a gatekeeper; if you want the keys to the kingdom, you need to put your best face forward. Don’t worry, gentle reader, I’m here to tell you how.

Before you apply…

1. Do your homework.

How much do you know about the guild you’re applying to? Do you know the GM’s name? WowArmory will tell you that. Do you know how they rank on their server for progression? How far into Sunwell are they? How long has it been since they had a new boss kill? Have they completed the ZA timed event? WowJutsu will tell you that. How long have they been around? WarcraftRealms will tell you that. Do they have a good reputation on their server? Make a level 1 alt and ask around.

This is more than just peace of mind when it comes to applying to a raid guild. Raid guilds have big egos, and if you can subtly stroke their ego by saying you’ve heard good things about them or are impressed by their level of progression you’ll make a good impression.

2. Dress to impress.

First, evaluate your gear. Is it on par with the level of content the guild is running, or are you a T4 Priest that desperately wants to see Sunwell before Wrath? With the expansion looming on the horizon, a lot of folks are trying to get into current “end game” content before everyone moves on to Northrend. Before you rush to the head of the line, do whatever you can to improve your gear.

Sadly, Holy Priests cannot really use PvP/Arena gear to fill in gaps the way other classes/roles can because it is so weak when it comes to mana regen. The 2.4 Badge gear, however, is awesome and having even a few pieces of it if not all of it demonstrates to the review team that you’ve put considerable time into gearing up and are dedicated to improving your gear outside of raids.

Do not ever, under any circumstances, apply to a T6 raid guild wearing the 3-piece Primal Mooncloth set.

Once your gear is in order it’s time to give it a little polish. You should have the following enchants for your helm, shoulders, cloak, chest, bracers, gloves, pants, boots and weapon:

  • Helm: Thrallmar/Honor Hold Healing Glyph (Revered Reputation required.)
  • Shoulders: Aldor/Scryer Shoulder Inscription (Bonus points for the Exalted version.)
  • Cloak: Subtlety
  • Chest: +15 Spirit
  • Bracers: +30 Healing
  • Gloves: +35 Healing
  • Pants: Golden Spellthread (+66 Healing & +20 Stamina)
  • Boots: Boar’s Speed
  • Weapon: +81 Healing

When it comes to gems, use the best quality gems that you can afford. If you have badges to spare (or a trust fund to tap), socket epic-quality (purple) gems. Otherwise, use rare-quality (blue) gems. Do not ever apply to a raid guild with uncommon-quality (green) gems or empty sockets.

Pre-Sunwell, there are really only 3 stats that Priests need to worry about when it comes to gems: Spirit, Healing & Intellect. Intellect is a somewhat distant third; the only time you want to consider socketing an Intellect gem is for a set bonus. (Usually an orange Healing/Intellect gem for a yellow socket.) Do not socket mp5.

Did you catch that? Allow me to repeat: Do not socket mp5.

If you have any mp5 gems leftover from pre-2.4, you should replace them. 2.4 went live in March, you’ve had plenty of time! Slacker.

3. Spec for PvE.

Don’t apply to a raid guild with a PvP spec. Talents like Martyrdom, Improved Mana Burn, Blessed Recovery/Resilience and Spell Warding really don’t belong in a raiding build.

If you routinely swap between specs for PvP, Raiding and Questing/Farming/Dailies, try to stick to your Raiding spec for at least a day or two after you submit your application. Alternately, instead of (or in addition to) linking directly to your armory profile, provide a link to your preferred raiding spec in the Talent Calculator of your choice.

When you apply…

1. Write a good application.

Answer questions as completely as you can. Use punctuation/capitalization. Avoid “133t speak.” Use carriage returns. Format your response so it is easy to distinguish your answers from the questions; don’t just put a space after the question and start typing your answer unless you’re going to use color tags to make your reply distinct.

Be sure you read through your answers after you are finished. Run it through a spell-checker. Make sure you didn’t skip any questions while you’re at it!

Don’t be afraid to toot your horn a little bit, but try not to come off as overly boastful/arrogant. Your application may be the only chance you have to sell yourself, so make it count.

2. Don’t pad your resume.

Most reviewers can smell bullshit a mile away. When listing your raid experience, don’t pretend you have more than you do. Avoid making blanket statements for instances you haven’t cleared–don’t claim “MH” if you PUG’d a Rage kill once, or if your previous/current guild couldn’t get past Archimonde. Reviewers appreciate your honesty and candor, so try to be specific. Your reputation with associated factions will usually betray you if you embellish, and We do not appreciate it.

Caught ya!

After you apply…

1. Log out in your PvE/Healing gear.

Once you’ve submitted your application, make sure you log out in your healing gear (and un-equip your Riding Crop!) while your application is pending. Reviewers will be accessing the armory to look you up, probably several times, and they don’t really care about your DPS/PvP set or your RP clothes.

If you want to cover your bases, you can always use a tool like CharDev or WarCrafter to save a gear profile you can link to in your application.

2. Follow up, but don’t turn into a stalker.

Don't be a stalker!Different guilds have different review processes, but if you don’t hear anything at all for 3+ days after you submit your application you’ll probably want to follow up. The best way to do this is in-game via whisper to an Officer or via Private Message on the guild forums. Do not whisper an Officer or the GM during a raid! If you can’t seem to catch them outside raids, then PM (or even in-game mail) is probably the better way to go. When you do talk to them, see if you can find out how long the process usually takes and when you can expect to hear back. Beyond that, try not to make a nuisance of yourself after going through all the effort to make a good impression. These things do take time, and if you feel it is taking too much time (or if a better offer comes along) you can always retract your application.

Bonus points!

Ok, so now you know what you can do to avoid looking like an idiot on your next raid application. You might be wondering what you can do to stand out from the pack–trust me, if you do all of these things (or even most of them) you WILL stand out. However, for the over-achievers among us, here is a brief list of things that will win you bonus points with reviewers of the T6 variety:

  • Exalted with Cenarion Expedition, Sha’tar & Aldor/Scryer. (Also desirable for T5.)
  • Possession of a 2m PvP trinket. (No, you need not log out in it, just mention it on your app somewhere.)
  • Completion of the old BT attunement chain for your Shadow Resist necklace.
  • Possession of Shadow Resist gear or materials (with or without Hearts of Darkness) to craft it.

Have any other tips to add? Horror (or success) stories to share? I’d love to hear them!

h1

Jov sez: Priests and Wrath

September 18, 2008

Okay, I’m reeeeeeeally getting tired of all the doom and gloom going on with regards to priesting in Wrath.  I know there’s QQ’ing from every class, but really…  IT’S NOT GOING TO BE THAT BAD.

What are the problems?

Time and again, I see the same things mentioned.

  1. Doing away with racials.
  2. No new spell “variety.”
  3. No longer the “utility” healer.
  4. Spellpower means warlocks and mages are stealing our gear omg.
  5. Base mana.

Doing away with racials.

Priests were the only class in the game that got special spells per race.  Per the min/maxers out there, I was an idiot for playing a night elf instead of a dwarf back when I was still alliance.  Fear Ward is necessary, fear ward is mandatory, dwarves or gtfo.

Guess what, Fear Ward is a base class ability and has been for a year.  Racials going the way of the dodo is nothing new. Instead of quashing diversity, this was done to enable us to play what we want, and still be viable because we have the “must have” talents.

Yes, racials are neat.  They’re fun.  But they really don’t encourage variety, simply because they’re either good, or you’re an idiot to play X race because of useless Y racial.

No new spell variety.

Oh look, most of our talents don’t give us anything new.  They just increase the effectiveness of our current spells.  That’s soooooooooooo boooooooorrrring.  /yawn

Give me a break.  When 2.0 launched, our new spells were essentially just some additions to the Disc tree which were pretty PVP specific, and CoH.  We got clear casting, but that’s not really a new spell, it’s just something to make us…  more effectiveThe grass wasn’t any greener then, either.

This time, we get Penance and Guardian Spirit.  One is a channeled (and therefore instant cast) spell that damages or heals depending on the target.  The other is almost a mini-BoP.  And even if they suck?  It’s beta. By definition, the process of balancing and rebalancing.  How they appear now is not necessarily how they’ll appear in November, or even in January.

As for spells, yes a lot of the spells we’re getting are refurbished racials, but do you know how awesome it will be to have access to Hymn of Hope and Desperate Prayer, without having to be a human or draenei?  This goes back to the point above, but this actually encourages diversity; we’re not being pidgeon-holed for the sake of min/max spells and racials.

We’re no longer the “utility” healer.

So, what you’re really saying is we no longer have a guaranteed spot because we can fill any role in raids.  We’re going to have to actually work for it. And you’re QQ’ing.  Okay.

I’m honestly glad that Blizzard seems to be moving away from the “this class is best at this, this is best at that” thing.  It used to be Priests were the “utility” healer because we could do everything, where most other classes had one strength, and struggled for the rest.  Tank healing?  Fine.  Raid healing?  Fine.  5-mans?  Fine.   We were Swiss Army Knives, and we were invited to raids because we could essentially caulk any hole in the healing roster.

Well, now…  everyone can do that.  I think that is awesome.  The fact that every healing class can now spec to do any healing role in a raid is great!  We’re not going to be banging our head into content, stuck for months because we can’t find the right type of healing for a boss.  We’re not going to be facing the articficially-inflated demand for certain healing classes over others, simply because raid healing is king.  Hopefully, we’re going to avoid most of the “this person sucks, they’re a loot whore, have a lousy attitude, but I really need someone who can face-roll CoH” that guilds face currently.

We’re going to have to learn our class, and if we can’t, a single spell is not going to be enough to keep dragging us along.  This is incredible.

Spellpower means that warlocks and mages will be stealing our gear.  zomg.

Yes, yes it does.  But we’ll be stealing their gear too, so it all balances out.

This is primarily a pugging issue.  Presumably in raid, there will be a system of loot distribution which will keep things relatively on an even keel.  However, this has always been a pugging issue. Everyone has horror stories of the hunter taking caster loot, or the mage taking healing pants, or the warrior taking pally plate.  This happens, has happened, will always happen.  Some people are dumb, some people are greedy.  Reducing the “variety” in gear types isn’t going to make this any more or less an issue.

Base Mana

If Circle of Healing now costs 21% of my base mana, I can only cast it 4 times before running OOM! Um, no actually.

Base mana is not your mana pool.  One way of thinking of it is mana naked (I hear the sighs of relief now) but in reality, it’s your mana without any int modifiers.  That means no racial or talent modifiers to int, either.  It is a per class, per level amount.

Currently, Circle of Healing R5 costs 450 mana, untalented.  As a lv 70, my base mana is 2620 and 21% of that is 550.  Yes, it’s more expensive, but it’s also being changed to be a “smart heal,” meaning it will heal people in range most needing it regardless of if they’re in G2 or G4.   There’s a trade-off, but one I’m pretty content with.

So what’s the problem, really?

Really?  There isn’t one.  This is the exact same thing that was showing up when TBC opened and priests were being told all healing would be done by pally/shammy/druids, and to go shadow or gtfo.  Stuff is changing, but different doesn’t mean bad.

Stop being chicken little.  If you’re tired of priesting, that’s fine, be tired of priesting.  Roll something else, play your alts.  Make another healer because you think it will work better for you.

Don’t go running around screaming that Blizzard is breaking the class.  The class is fine, lrn2play.

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