Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

h1

Seri sez: Raid Slotting 101

May 28, 2009

Mmmm... therapy.

I’ve recently taking over raid slotting duties for my guild while the GM is away. No one ever promised me a rose garden, but I was honestly a little unprepared for how overwhelmingly lost I felt that first week. I remember turning to a fellow officer when it was done and saying, “I am never. Doing. That. Again.” over the pint of Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream required to lift my spirits. I was convinced I’d publish that first roster and everyone that wasn’t on it would hate me. More, that is.

Well, as it turns out… I hate raid leading more than I hate raid slotting, so building rosters has settled in my lap along with the bevy of other administrative tasks required to keep an officer team running smoothly. (Really, I don’t know what they’d do without my spreadsheets.) I thought I’d use this week’s column to give you a little insight into what goes into a raid roster. Whether your officers make their rosters on the fly based on who’s logged in at raid time or ahead of time based on sign-ups, the same general principles (should) apply.

Tanks and healers are the foundation of the raid, so slot them first. A mix of classes/specs is a good idea, because every class/spec brings unique tools to the table. You want a good balance between tank healing and raid healing abilities, slightly weighted toward raid healing in most cases.

Once you’ve got tanks and healers sorted out, fill out the DPS. Try to maintain a good balance between melee and ranged. Make sure you have enough AOE if the fights you’ll be doing require it. Some guilds will stack more or less melee/ranged on a per-boss basis, but thankfully I don’t really have to worry about that for our group.

Sounds pretty easy doesn’t it? Well, it’s not quite that simple. While you’re filling in the DPS you have to keep raid composition in mind. When I say “raid composition” I don’t just mean “melee vs ranged” I mean “make sure every buff/debuff you can cover is covered.” This got a lot easier in Wrath, as many class buffs/debuffs are duplicated between the classes (whether or not this is a good thing or not is a whole other post). MMO Champion has a pretty nice Raid Composition Tool that you can use to help with this.

Yeah, that was the part where I started to get a little wide-eyed. Then I started to consider the human factor… more people than slots, and you don’t want to sit any one person too often during the week (or too many weeks in a row) or they’ll piss in your Cheerios™. What’s more… you want to slot your strongest raiders for the “hard stuff” later in the week but they won’t necessarily be keen on sitting out for the “easy stuff” that comes before it. Nonetheless, everyone has to sit sometimes and I’ve found that by and large folks are pretty understanding about it. Or maybe they’re just afraid of me. One can hope.

Got any tips/tools for raid slotting/stacking to share?

h1

Seri sez: When the cat’s away…

May 21, 2009

...the mice will play!

Often, the GM is the glue that holds a guild together. A good GM has a steady hand on the rudder and eyes cast ever forward toward the next great adventure/challenge. They are the rock, the foundation… part authority figure, part cheerleader, part strategist and part deviant (or maybe that’s just ours).

Still, GMs are people too. Despite rumors to the contrary, they are not faster than speeding bullets, stronger than locomotives OR able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. (I know, I was disappointed too.) What’s more, they have “real lives” too that sometimes necessitate time away from the game. What’s a guild to do? Or, more importantly, what sort of mischief should officers get avoid getting into in the GM’s absence?

1. Don’t panic.

Even if you normally rely heavily on your GM for day to day stuff, you can get by without them for a little while. Heck, it’s probably good for you (not to mention your GM) to learn how anyway!

2. Keep a normal raid schedule.

Raiding shouldn’t stop just because the GM is away, even if said GM is also your Raid Leader. One of the best feelings any leader can have is knowing that their group can run itself when they’re not around. Feeling like you can’t take a night or a week off without things going to pot is pretty stressful! So tackle that next big boss and make your GM proud. You can photoshop them into the killshot later.

3. Appropriate a guild bank tab to leave each other clever messages.

Woops, wrong list. Moving on…

4. Maintain order and discipline.

Don’t let your raiders run rampant. If a problem arises, deal with it. Don’t let it sit and fester until the GM returns. With that said, be measured in your response. Said GM might be startled and/or dismayed to learn you’ve gkicked half the raid team in his/her absence.

5. When all else fails, nothing beats good old-fashioned anarchy.anarchy

If your GM is gone for 30+ days, you can petition to have the GM power transferred to another officer. (Ok, so that’s not so much anarchy as mutiny, but I found this awesome image…)

Personally, my first orders of business would be to design a new guild tabard, preferably something frilly and pink, then host a guild-bank-funded Bingo night. (Note: If you go this route, be sure your GM has a good sense of humor.)

What advice would you give to a team of officers that are GM-less for a week?

h1

Seri sez: So, now what? – The raid schedule dilemma.

February 5, 2009

calendarA lot of guilds are starting to get to the point where they are running out of raid content before the end of the raid week. It’s not at all difficult to clear Naxxramas, Malygos and Sartharion in two nights; a particularly ambitious guild could probably do it all in one night and cap it off with Archavon if the Wintergrasp timer cooperates.

Still, the raid instances only reset once per week. As your guild’s gear and familiarity with the encounters improves, you’ll clear the content faster and faster until you reach the point where you can easily clear everything in a fraction of the time you’ve set aside for raiding.

So, now what?

For some, achievements are the answer. There are both easy and difficult achievements that can stretch your raids out as you work together to conquer a new challenge. I really like raid/instance achievments for this reason… it means you don’t always have to do the fights the same way. By altering strategies you can keep things different and challenging long after content becomes ‘farmable’.

Still, achievements will only get you so far. Once you’ve done it once, it’s less difficult to replicate on successive weeks and you can easily end up right back where you started with not having enough to do to fill your raid week. At this point, there really are two options:

1. Cut days from your raid schedule.snip!

This is the most economical solution. If you normally have a four day raid schedule and clear all your content in 2 days, your raid team gets 2 days off to do whatever they want.

This sounds pretty good on paper, but there may be complications. What if you have members of your raid team that can’t attend one or both of those days? You may lose good people because they no longer have the opportunity to raid, or even because the glut of downtime makes them bored and provides impetus for them to find Other Things To Do outside of the game. Not to mention, once folks get into the habit of only raiding 2 days a week, will they really want to go back to 3-4 when new content is released?

2. Spread your raid content out to cover all the days on your raid schedule.

You may not be able to have a full-length raid for every scheduled raid day, but there is something to be said for spreading out your content so that you have something to do as a group on every scheduled raid day. Will some people be grumpy about showing up just for 20 minutes to gank Malygos and then disperse? Potentially. Still, as long as they’re there they might be convinced to run a 10-man, work on Heroic achievements or do some group PvP afterward. If there hadn’t been a raid that night, they might not have logged in at all.

Which option is best for your group? A wise person recently told me: A raid group is like a soccer team. You only perform well if you continue to practice.

soccerI think there is a good deal of truth to this. A raid group is a team, and raiding not only is a way of gearing up and practicing the encounters but of working together as a team. The more time a raid group spends at ‘practice’, the better they will perform when the next big challenge (Ulduar) comes. It’s not just about learning the strategies, it’s about building comraderie and growing more comfortable/confident working together as a team. The best guilds aren’t bound together by the loot they earn, but rather by a sense of community and shared experience.

So, if your guild is one of those in the difficult position of having too much time and not enough content, before you start thinking about giving your raid schedule the chop (or asking your guildmaster to) I implore you to take some time to consider what will make you a stronger team rather than what is simply the most economical. Alternately, you can just do what I tell you. Either way, it’s a win.

h1

Seri sez: Now you pay da ogre! – Signs your Class Leader is an idiot.

December 4, 2008

WTFA good Class Leader is like a savory cheddar: firm but yielding, sharp but subtle and aged to perfection. Or, in my case, like a croissant: A bit flaky, but versatile. Unfortunately, as with any specialization, we have our share of so-called “experts” who engender more confusion than confidence, more contempt than respect, and… dare I say it… more “WTF” than “OIC” (as the youngsters say).

Fortunately for you, I’m not afraid to call an apple an apple. I grit my teeth and stand up in defiance of this nonsense, shaking my tiny fist at the sky. Knowledge is power, you see, and the better able you are to recognize these impostors the sooner you can knock them from their pedestals and pour a bitter draught of reality down their throats. Or, if nothing else, you’ll be better prepared to do damage control. Be alert for the warning signs!

They don’t practice what they preach.

You know the type. They yell at you for DPSing, but you see them Smiting during trash pulls. They insist you get an expensive enchant, but don’t get it themselves. They tell you to use buff food and elixirs/flasks, but don’t use anything themselves. They harp on you about buffing, but never do their share. They expect you to be on time, but they’re chronically late. This is perhaps even worse than the straight-up ignorant Class Leader. I recommend flogging, unless they’re into that sort of thing. If they are, collaborating with your Hunters for Misdirect hazing may be your only option.

They’re rolling/bidding against DPS casters on hit gear… for their healing set.

This just in from our global news source: Heals don’t miss. If you fail to heal someone, there’s not even a legendary item that’s going to make you any less fail. Sure, there may be occasions where the item is an upgrade for you just based on the other stats on it but there’s no reason you should be competing with a DPS caster for hit gear.

They’re socketing Mp5… as Holy.

As Jov kindly pointed out on Tuesday, there’s no reason for a Holy Priest to socket Mp5. A Disc Priest? Sure. Maybe. It depends. If your Class Leader is a Holy Priest socketing Mp5, it is your biological imperative to laugh at them. If they start waving their lustrous blue gems in your face, run and tell an adult. It’s just indecent.

They get 90-100% of their Priest Class information from the Official WoW Priest Forums.

QQ, this way!There are so many sources of awesome Priest information out there… unfortunately, the Official Priest Forum is not one of them. Sure, there is probably a ‘how to priest’ sticky there somewhere that is of help to novices, but if you’ve been Priesting/raiding for a while you’re not a novice and neither is (I hope) your Class Leader. I don’t bother reading ANY of the official WoW forums, because 99.5% of the time it’s just full of whining. It’s demoralizing as hell, and nothing will make you feel like your class (whatever it is) is broken and Blizzard hates it quite as much as browsing the official class forum. Good Priests look elsewhere. That’s why you’re here. That’s why we’re here. To cut through the clutter.

They think MMO Champion is a breakfast cereal. *rimshot*

(If it were, I’d still read the back of the box every morning.)

Ever wished that someone would just yank all the useful information out of blue posts every day and put it somewhere you could read it without slogging through the mire of whining and ’133t-speak’ that is the WoW forums? I’m about to make that wish come true. Every Class Leader should be in the habit of checking MMO Champion … if not daily, then at least once a week. It should not be your only source of information, but it’s a great way of staying on top of the most recent WoW-related news. I usually just read the news page, but if you’re particularly ambitious you can browse the BlueTracker.

They’re Shadow.

Okay, okay, Shadow Priests can make good Class Leaders too, but you might be surprised just how many of them used to be Holy, burned out, and now have zero interest in Holy Priesting. (How dumb is that?) This particularly breed will usually panic at the first implication that maybe they might have to heal again (even temporarily). Try it sometime when you see them gathering outside the instance portal, just to watch them scatter. It’s a hoot, kind of like chasing pigeons in the park. What, you don’t chase pigeons? Do I have to teach you EVERYTHING?

They don’t read World of Snarkcraft.

Okay, so maybe our brand of tough love isn’t necessarily for everyone. But beneath our bitter and sarcastic exteriors lies… okay, probably just more bitterness and sarcasm. What was I saying? Oh! Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to blog and… he may just learn something. Or drown in the archives. Either way, it’s a win.

What did I miss? Comment freely! Viva la Revolution!

h1

Seri sez: Shadow for the Holy CL, revised (patch 3.0)

October 16, 2008

As promised, I’ve updated my guide for reviewing Shadow Priests for patch 3.0. If you read the original, this will probably seem very familiar! Although much of the wording remains the same, the details about gear rankings, spell hit cap, stat balance, talents and spell rotations have changed significantly.

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. Just keep in mind that just because something is higher on the list than something else doesn’t necessarily mean it is more desirable; it depends on what else the SP is wearing and what their over all stat needs are. There is a ‘big picture’ here and you have to take that into account.

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

Hit Rating: Shadow Priests hit cap at 289.55 Hit Rating, with 3/3 Shadow Focus and 3/3 Misery (more about that later).

Critical Strike Rating: One of the big changes in 3.0/Wrath is that Mind Flay can crit. (Also, spell crit chance is being added to DoT damage in the beta, so that may go live eventually too. If you have 20% crit rating, your DoTs would do 120% damage every tick with this change.) Critical Strike Rating is now much more valuable to Shadow Priests, but most won’t really have a chance to start stacking it until Wrath due to the increase in hit rating requirements.

Haste Rating: Shadow Priests shouldn’t start stacking haste until they are up around 1400 Spell Power fully raid buffed. However, once they get to that point, haste is love.

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 (hit or crit also acceptable depending on individual needs) and weapon, though Soulfrost is also good to see (and as far as I know still exists in 3.0). Chest should be +6 Stats or Mp5. I require Subtlety and Boar’s Speed for my Shadow Priests, but your policies may vary.

Gems: Rather than simply gemming for max spell power, Shadow Priests now need to balance spell power with hit, crit, spirit and (eventually) haste. Gem choices may vary a little bit depending on individual needs, but if you see anything wacky like Spell Penetration 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 make room for key Discipline talents. 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 Psychic Horror. The jury’s still out on Improved Shadow Form. It can be situationally useful in PVE, but at level 70 a Shadow Priest really doesn’t have enough talent points to pick it up without losing something more useful.

Twin Disciplines/Improved Inner Fire: Remember I mentioned that Discipline tree? Twin Disciplines is a must, as it directly affects Shadow Word: Pain, Shadow Word: Death, Mind Flay & Devouring Plague. That’s something like 95% of a Shadow Priest’s spell rotation right there. Improved Inner Fire only becomes important at level 71, when Inner Fire grants a spell power bonus as well as an armor bonus. Not terribly important as of 3.0, but something to keep in mind come Wrath.

Shadow Affinity: Threat reduction? Yes, please.

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

Shadow Weaving: This talent was reduced from 5 points to 3 points in 3.0, and all 3 are worth having. This debuff now only affects the Shadow Priest rather than the entire raid. Nonetheless, it’s a debuff no Shadow Priest will want to do without.

Shadow Focus and Misery: As mentioned earlier, with 3/3 Shadow Focus and 3/3 Misery, a Shadow Priest hit caps at 139. This is almost double the hit cap from pre-3.0, with 5/5 Shadow Focus. Although the hit cap is higher now, it’s still possible to reduce the # of points spent on Shadow Focus/Misery (though why you’d want to reduce points spent in Misery is a mystery to me) if there is a surplus of hit rating.

Spell Hit Caps (courtesty of SP.com):

* 289.55 hit is the cap with 6 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 314.78 hit before you can go to 5 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 341.02 hit before you can go to 4 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 367.25 hit before you can go to 3 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 393.48 hit before you can go to 2 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 419.71 hit before you can go to 1 point between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 445.94 hit before you can go to 0 points between Shadow Focus and Misery

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 and channeled spells 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, Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague 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 DoTs right as they wear off. For example, 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 all DoTs. These numbers should be the same if not close to the same. If there are large variations here, the SP is not staying on top of their DoTs. 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.

Although patch 3.0.2 is now live, Blizzard is still rigorously testing talents for Wrath and beyond; changes are bound to be made in the coming weeks. I’ll keep revising this document whenever it seems necessary. Your comments and suggestions are welcome; past comments have already contributed to improvements in this revision!

h1

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.