Archive for March, 2009

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Jov sez: How2Priest (part 1, the noob years)

March 31, 2009

This isn’t going to be the most thorough guide out there, but in the past week, we’ve gotten many requests here at Snarkcraft HQ requesting a bit of basic priest-fu, ranging from leveling to raiding (seriously, multiple emails… you all sharing a brain or something?) so I’m gonna take the next few weeks to provide an overview.

This week: the noob years.  Rolling and leveling.

Okay, so after stumbling upon our blog and becoming faithful readers, you say to yourself “Self… Priesting is awesome-pants.  I totally want in on that.  What should I do now?”  Fear not, for Jov has answers and will steer you right.

First, you need to consider faction and playstyle.  I’m horde, but I’m a reroll and played Alliance from 05 to 08, and make no secret of my total infatuation with the draenei.  I don’t really have faction pride.  Play what makes you happy, where your friends want to play, or where you can send yourself bags and heirloom shoulders.  Related, determine how are you going to level.  Are you going to solo quest?  Whore yourself in LFG?  Do you have a buddy you don’t leave home without?  Take a moment to plan exactly what you want from the class, because that will affect how best to go from here.

If you choose to solo quest…

First, I’m gonna come out and say it.  Shadow is totally viable for healing most instances, and is also much faster when it comes to questing out in the world.  The advantage holy* (defined from here forward as “healy”) priests usually have is in mana regen and/or stronger heals.  That isn’t an issue, however, until Outlands at the very earliest, so feel free to go straight to shadowform before jumping over to Discipline and picking up Meditation and going back for more shadowy goodness.  Or badness, depending on perspective.  (Think about something 13/0/31-ish in the mid-50s.  Note: getting to Meditation happens however in the second tier…  you don’t get the spellpower boost from Inner Fire (and want the boost to improved) until 71.)  That will be more than enough to see you through until you’re closer to thinking about a “final spec.”

However, much as you can heal as shadow, you can definitely level as holy or discipline, bearing in mind it’s just going to be a bit slower to do so.  For those of you going the mainly solo-route, I’m still going to advise sticking your first 5 talent points in shadow to snag spirit tap (and improved spirit tap), then jumping into Discipline to get Meditation as quickly as possible.  The name of the game here is reducing downtime, since kill time will be a bit longer.  But that’s alright, with Meditation and Spirit Tap working together, you’ll be a regen machine and rarely need water.

Once you hit lv 18, with it’s regen hijinks, you can pick your path:  Discipline, or Holy.  You won’t see much difference between the two while questing, nor will you really be running into the differences between the healing styles until closer to Outlands when you can pick up Circle of Healing or really become a bubble-priest.  Discipline will want to pick talents which boost their spellpower and shields, and Holy will want to snag reduced cast time, more spellpower, and chance for free spells.  Remember to respec at 71 for Improved Inner Fire if you’re not using it already!

Example Disc Soloing Build (live)
Example Disc Soloing Build (3.1 PTR)
Example Holy Soloing Build (live)
Example Holy Soloing Build (3.1)

If you choose to LFG…

… by which I mean “don’t quest, just instance level,” most of what I said above applies.  Spirit Tap and some of the damage talents will decrease in utility, as you’ll mainly be using them when the party is going well or to duel outside Orgrimmar while waiting on a summon.  There’s actually little to no reason to avoid going straight for one of the specs I outlined a few weeks ago, just remember to start in Discipline for Meditation, either way.  You’ll be a healing machine, just maybe a bit slow if you try to kill anything yourself.

If you choose to Healbot your friends…

It’s kinda a combination of the two.  Depending on who you’re running around with, you might not find Spirit Tap all that useful *grumble lousy hunters grumble* but you’ll probably find yourself smiting pretty frequently.  It really depends on your group or what you’re doing.  If you’re wanting to have fun smiting around, spec more for damage.  If you’re just wanting to tag along and heal when needed, spec for healing.  (Hey, I don’t judge.  I first started playing Priest because it enabled me to auto-follow Tarsus’ first character, not get lost, not understand WASD controls, loot and heal occasionally.  Even to this day, several years and many characters later, I STILL prefer to follow Tarsus as I have serious issues deciphering some quest descriptions.)

Next week: Jov discusses what makes healy priests unique: spells, glyphs, and talents.

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WoS PSA: Bloggers beware! New phishing e-mail in the wild.

March 30, 2009

caution!Hi all! Just a quick little note here from Snarkcraft HQ about an e-mail we received this morning claiming to be a notification of account suspension. It looked very legit and all the links were valid links to Blizzard pages… except the one encouraging us to log in to Battle.net.

Why did I feel it important to notify you all of a random phishing scam? Because the e-mail address we received it at was NOT associated with a World of Warcraft account. It is an address only used for World of Snarkcraft, which means that it is quite possible some nefarious person(s) is/are harvesting WoW blogger e-mail addresses and targeting them specifically.

As always, we encourage you to be cautious with any e-mail you receive that claims to be from Blizzard (or anyone else you have an online account with). Always inspect links, and be suspicious of any communication that does not address you by name!

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Seri sez: Making the Grade

March 26, 2009

making the gradeThe review process can be a subjective but necessary process for keeping a healing team running smoothly. Whether your class/role leads are reviewing performance once a week or once a month, there are a lot of things that can influence their review.

Unfortunately, reviewing healers isn’t quite as simple as checking their Heals Per Second or Overall Healing vs Overheal. There are a lot of factors at play, and while many would argue that “Did they keep their target(s) up?” is the most important question to answer, there are other factors to consider when trying to get a comprehensive view of individual performance.

How, then, is the hopeful healer to maximize their chances of making the grade? Here are a few tips:

1. Show up on time. Heck, whenever possible, show up early. Park your ass at the meeting stone, and be available to help summon fellow raiders that might be running late or are waiting for word from an Officer about a last-minute re-spec.

2. Come prepared. Bring enough consumables (flasks, elixirs, food, etc.) for the raid session, including extra if it is a progression night and lots of wipes are expected. It’s your responsibility to keep yourself buffed, so don’t depend on the generosity of your guildies to provide Fish Feasts. (Bonus points if you bring the Fish Feasts yourself… extra bonus points if you don’t wait until nearly everyone has already eaten buff food to throw it down.)

3. Enchant your shit. No one likes to see a raider turn up for a raid wearing an item they haven’t gotten around to enchanting/gemming yet. I don’t care if you won it less than 24 hours ago or if it’s better than what you had before even without an enchant… enchant your shit.

4. Do your homework. Read up on new boss fights and familiarize yourself with strategies before the raid. Assume that your raid leader is going to tell you nothing before the first attempt, no matter how unlikely that is. If you’re new to the guild, check the guild forums for information about which strategies your new guild uses. They may be different from what you are used to.

5. Ask questions. If anything at all is unclear, ask. Even if you are afraid of sounding like a chump, you’ll at least be a well-informed chump that is less likely to make costly mistakes. If you’re too shy to ask in Vent, whisper someone or ask in your class/role channel.

6. Know your healing assignment. If you aren’t sure what  it is, see #5. Some raid groups are meticulous about assigning who-heals-who, while others are a bit more loosey-goosey with free-for-all healing. If you have a healing assignment, stick to it. Try not to cross-heal much unless your healing leader asks you to. You may unwittingly be covering for a weaker healer (preventing them from being noticed/helped) or end up neglecting your own assignment at a critical moment.

7. Don’t get tunnel vision. It’s easy to zero in on health bars and fail to notice environmental hazards. A lot of raid bosses have built-in situational awareness checks in the form of blizzards, void zones, lava waves, gas clouds and other creative-but-annoying shit. Where not to stand has become as important (if not more important) than where to stand.

8. Keep yourself alive. It’s also easy to neglect your own health bar while you are watching others’. Self-healing is important too, because you can’t heal anyone if you’re dead (at least, not when Spirit of Redemption wears off). If you don’t see yourself as one of your top sources of incoming healing at the end of a raid (via WWS, Recount, or other post-raid analysis tool), you’re not paying enough attention to your own health.

9. Make full use of your class abilities. Priests are not one-button healers. We have a lot of tools at our disposal, and you should make an effort to use all of them to maximum effect.

10. Know your shit. Your class/role leader isn’t responsible for spoon-feeding you information about your class/role. Find a good blog or three. Join a forum. Subscribe to the MMO Champion and/or World of Raids RSS feeds. Any of these things will help you to become better informed about both existing class mechanics and upcoming changes that you need to be aware of to kick ass (or “heal ass” as the case may be) and take names.

What grade would you give yourself, based on these criteria? What are your weak/strong spots? Can you think of other things to suggest that I have missed?

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Jov sez: My Gear Sucks

March 24, 2009

Or how I learned to stop worrying and hate T8.

Ignoring the ninja-priest look of the set at large (which I totally don’t get) has anyone actually looked at the stat allocation and bonuses and scratched their heads going wtf blizzard?

First of all, stat allocation.  364 Int, 318 Spirit, and sporting 3 red, 2 yellows and 2 blue sockets, it’s just the sort of thing designed to make my inner holy priest squeal with joy.

And then the bonuses.   2 piece increases crit chance of PoH by 10%.  To which I say “eh, okay, whatever.”  And the kicker:  4 piece gives me 250 spellpower for 5 sec after casting PW:S.

bwa?  WTF, Blizzard?

Okay, okay, at base it’s not so bad.  If I’m a Disc priest, I’m using shield on about every cooldown.  Oh wait, except for that tiiiiiny little issue that a Discipline priest is going to look at the stats on T8 and run for the hills.

And any holy priest in raid with a Disc?  Is going to be spanked for so much as thinking about using their shield button.

I’ve never been a huge collector of tier loot.  Personally, unless there’s a set bonus that’s just THAT GOOD (T2 had awesome bonuses, imo) there’s no real reason to get Tier over non-set.  Ulduar kinda drives that point home.

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New Kid on the Block

March 23, 2009

To everyone who enjoys the delightfully subtle musings of Angry Raid Leader, I invite you to check out our guildie Charnal, a DK Tank who succumbed to peer pressure to take his opinions to the broader spectrum of the world at large and start his own blog.

Axiom of Apathy

Contrary to it’s name, it is not at all apathetic, instead full of venom and spite directed at the justly deserving.

(And as should be obvious due to comparisons to ARL, this blog is not for reading in any location where language can get you in trouble.)

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Seri sez: How to apply to a raid guild without looking like an idiot. — WotLK Edition

March 19, 2009

As an officer of 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 current raid content are they? How long has it been since they had a new boss kill? Have they completed Sarth 3D? 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 (assuming you have) or are impressed by their level of progression (assuming there is something to be impressed about) you’ll make a good impression. However, with that said… don’t go overboard. Most reviewers won’t be snowballed by vigorous blatant brown-nosing.

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 bit behind? 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. 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.

Once your gear is in order it’s time to give it a little polish. You should have good enchants for your helm, shoulders, cloak, chest, bracers, gloves, pants, boots and weapon. Jov posted a great guide to enchants here: Jov sez: You’ve got the gear, now what? (Part 2)

When it comes to gems, use the best quality gems available. Right now, that means blue-quality gems. Do not ever apply to a raid guild with uncommon-quality (green) gems or empty sockets.

Jov posted a great guide for gems too! You can find it here: Jov sez: You’ve got the gear, now what?

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.

With the advent of dual spec, if you frequently swap between specs you should definitely consider sending a link to a talent calculator build. Maybe even one for each spec in your arsenal!

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.

Last, but not least, let your personality shine. Most guilds are looking for more than skill and gear; they also want to know if you will be a good fit for their guild culture.

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 “Naxx” if you PUG’d the spider wing once, or if your previous/current guild couldn’t get past Sapphiron. Reviewers appreciate your honesty and candor, so try to be specific. It’s also important to make a distinction between your 10-man raid experience and your 25-man raid experience.

Your gear will usually betray you if you embellish, and We do not appreciate it.

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 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 T7+ variety:

  • Exalted with Sons of Hodir.
  • Possession of a 2m PvP trinket. (No, you need not log out in it, just mention it on your app somewhere.)
  • Possession of a (maxed) crafting skill that gives you a significant stat bonus for raiding. (Inscription, Jewelcrafting, Enchanting and Tailoring all have self-only perks that are pretty spiffy.)
  • Honesty. Got a weak spot in your gear? Own up to it, and say what you are doing to fix it.

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

(Big thanks go out to all of the folks who commented on the original draft of this article back in TBC. Your feedback helped me to improve this version while I was updating it for Wrath!)

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Jov sez: Your lousy spec

March 17, 2009

I’m putting my supposed-to-go-up-last-week-but-I-didn’t-finish on the back burner yet again due to the veritable shit storm of commentary from Seri’s post a couple weeks ago, the simple post screenshotting a spec which we’re STILL getting responses to.  (And also because the put-off post is still not finished.)

So, it’s a lousy spec.  Most of the priests who actually research their class (or think hard about it) can spot the 10 or 20 things that really need improvement before being proclaimed a viable spec.  The ones who REALLY enjoy the math aspect of the game can take it one step further, pulling out calculators and spreadsheets to illustrate exactly WHY it’s wrong, and specifically how much gimping you’re doing to yourself by your inability to research.  (And for the person who points out there are shit specs on wowwiki, it’s true, but one source does NOT count as “research” by any definition.  Armory or inspect someone in a raid guild, ask around where to get other information, read the effing tooltips.)

But!  All that aside, there’s a bigger question that was raised by Nihonga in comments:  “Does he get the job done with this spec?”  Seri answered assuming the commenter was simply being a smart ass, I gave the more blunt answer that current content could be healed with 0 points in holy OR discipline, so it’s not entirely a fair assessment.

But what if it is?  If content is such that currently it can be done without paying the slightest attention to theorycraft or talent trees, does that then imply that they don’t matter?

The short answer is no, the longer answer is sometimes.

The obvious problem with going into any situation with a bad spec is the fact you’re not doing as well as you could.  A respec may not by definition make you a better healer, but will make some heals stronger, some faster, and give you some more tricks for maintaining your mana.  It makes your job easier.  Back in the dark ages pre-Wrath when TBC, Illidan, and Sunwell were the Big Things, Wynthea over at World of Matticus made a post which could be essentially described as the rallying call of the non-bad.  “Myth: It Doesn’t Really Matter As Long as the Boss Dies” I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and give a blow by blow of her argument, but to sum up, it posited that HOW a boss goes down is actually more important than just the fact that he does.

Does a bad spec get the job done?  Presumably, or they wouldn’t be on the team.  But the more important question as to how well that happens is totally untouched.

So why do I answer with sometimes?  Well, it really goes back to the raid group as a whole.  If you’re in a group that doesn’t care (that believes that only the boss dying matters) then theorycraft really doesn’t matter beyond a certain point (do you have the health/mana/regen/defense to survive the encounter, and if you don’t, do you know enough to know what needs tweaking to change that answer to a yes?

If your answer to that is yes, then if you’re clearing content, your lousy spec does not, in fact, matter.  It just makes the rest of us twitch.  (And, no, you cannot join my guild.)

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