Archive for January, 2009


Flavors of Tanking – A Healer’s Guide

January 29, 2009

Seri has been busy taking care of an ill Mr. Seri and being generally scatterbrained this week, so she wasn’t able to get her post finished in time. Fortunately, Jov graciously offered the loan of her own better half to fill in. I know, I thought Seri was Jov’s better half too! Maybe she and Tarsus are both, like, one third or something. Anyway, without further ado:

tarswaveHello again everyone! As always, I am hoping to foster communication and unity between tanks and healers, and as I perused various blogs dedicated to tanking I could think of no better use of space than a brief guide to tanking stats from a healer’s perspective. Have you ever stepped into a group with an unfamiliar tank and not known what to expect? Let me give you the skinny on what you should expect based on what gear the tank is wearing, and what stats they are stacking with their enchantments and gems.

There are generally two schools of thought that serve as starting points – and most tanks have a bias towards one or the other. These are the schools of threat and mitigation. At one point in time, there was not a great deal of option about this in terms of gear that was available. Vanilla WoW was pretty much a high mitigation/low threat environment for the serious raider. Now, however, there is a great variety to choose from and so these two schools have emerged with distinct personalities of their own. Basically, this is what you should expect…

The School of Threat

In the mind of the Threat Tank, the goal is to maximize the pace of encounters by allowing for as much DPS as possible. The theory goes that the faster you kill things, the less burden there is on the healers (because we all know that the healers concerns are paramount – right?). Very few dispute that this approach is best for trash, and outside some Heroics, the “gather ‘em up, AoE them down” method sans crowd control is very popular. As a weakness, however, Threat Tanks tend to be squishier (and in long fights take more damage). Generally speaking, by virtue of their abilities, Paladins and Death Knights are considered to be high threat tanks – though all tanks can have this capacity now thanks to the changes made in the 3.0.x patch. Threat stats are:

Hit/Expertise: If you see that a tank has stacked these two stats, it is pretty much a given that they are a Threat Tank. Nothing lowers threat like strings of misses, parries and dodges, and these two stats aim to minimize that. Expertise is “Red”, Hit is “Yellow”, and there are enchants to weapon, gloves, bracers and boots which boost one, the other, or both. Generally speaking, the cap for hit rating is ~295, though there is dispute as to how much expertise is needed to cap (492 is the max, a very hard target to reach for anybody).

Strength/Feral Attack Power: When 3.0 hit, Strength took a giant leap up in terms of tanking value. Not only does attack power now count towards a whole range of special abilities that were unaffected before, but its increased bonus to block value also makes it a double-whammy for the Warrior ability “Shield Slam” which benefits from both. Apart from that, however, every point of attack power is now more threat making Strength (and its druid equivalent, Feral Attack Power) a high priority for Threat Tanks. Strength is “red” and there are enchants to gloves, bracers, and chest that boost it.

Block: There are two flavors of Block, Block Value and Block Rating, and for Tanks that use Shields these two stats are threat related because they modify “Shield Slam” and “Holy Shield.” Without going into high levels of detail, the more on these the better because they effect the frequency and quantity of threat. There are no Block gems, but there is shield enchantment that boosts it.tarsflex

The School of Mitigation

The Mitigation Tank is the tank of endurance. Their philosophy is to utilize their stats to minimize damage taken, either through avoidance or thick skins (and often both). It is generally accepted that Mitigation tanks are desirable for bosses, and it is an increasingly common philosophy due to the dramatic increase in the amount of threat generated as a baseline post-patch 3.0. Nevertheless, Mitigation Tanks are often cited as being low on threat, particularly for trash where AoE is used. Warriors and Bears are traditionally stronger Mitigation tanks, the former because of the range of abilities at their disposal, the latter because of their massive amounts of health and armor. Mitigation Stats are:

Stamina/Health: Stacking Health was, for much of Burning Crusade, the key method for mitigation tanking. The sheer amount damage taking made this a priority, and thankfully boots to healing made concerns about healer mana a non-issue. This is not the truth any longer, and most skilled Mitigation Tanks will tell you that you need more than just 30k+ health to be an effective tank. That said, healer beware the mana sponge that can sometimes result from hangers on to the Stamina Fetish. Stamina is “blue” and there are enchantments to chest, bracers, shield, pants and boots that modify it.

Armor: Perhaps more than any other stat, Armor can give a quick glimpse version of the “level” of your tank as it scales uniformly with gear level. Unfamiliar with the items your tank is wearing? Check their armor rating. A death knight, warrior, or paladin tank entering Naxx will be around 22k (finished should be in the range of 25k, by my estimate). A bear will have likely 28k. It is worth noting that it is increasingly difficult to stack armor (making many feral druids sad), and that there is one enchantment to cloak that boosts it.

Defense: The surprise contender for best mitigation stat is currently defense. In the past stacking defense had the dubious distinction of being the sign of a real noob as point for point pretty much any other mitigation stat offered a better deal. However, thanks to changes in the cost of point allocation defense now offers, point for point, the best mitigation you can get. This also includes the only way to get block rating (amazingly the only mitigation stat besides health not to suffer from diminishing returns) not boosted by gear. So, despite the ceiling for the all important critical hit immunity being 450 Defense, don’t be surprised to see good tanks stacking defense rating. Defense is “yellow” and there are enchantments to cloak, chest, and bracer that boost it.

Parry/Dodge: I think both of these stats have been relegated to “not as good as defense” status, though that is not to say they are somehow not worthwhile. Parry has the dual benefit of providing a brief boost to attack speed (so called ‘parry haste’), but requires more rating than dodge to gain a percentage point boost. Some Mitigation Tanks no doubt sport bonuses to dodge as it remained up until 3.0 the mitigation stat of choice. Parry and Dodge are both “red,” and there is an expensive enchantment to gloves for parry rating.

Agility: I am going to only pause briefly on Agility which is very key for druids, but less so for other tanks. Agility provides bonuses to dodge, parry, and armor and is prevalent on leather, but now almost non-existent on tanking plate – for this reason, look to find it in abundance on your bears, but not so much on plate wearers. Agility is “red”, and there are enchants to cape, chest, boots, gloves, and weapon that boost it.

Executive Summary

That’s a lot of information to process, but if you are in a hurry because your pug is starting, here are the bare essentials of what you need to know:

The Threat Tank will attempt to work quickly to kill everything, meaning they intend for your healing to be intense but brief. Make sure you communicate with them if your mana is low and you are drinking.

The Mitigation Tank will attempt to outlast the enemy, so they will likely rely on you to heal them regularly over a longer period. Your main concerns as a healer, in this case, are likely to come from overzealous DPS who pull aggro (or in some rare cases your own healing aggro).

To Tell the Difference, study what they slot in their yellow gem slots and what they use for enchantments. Blue and Red gem slots have a lot of cross over (expertise, parry and strength having both threat and mitigation possibilities), but there is no ambiguity about yellow gems for tanking: It is either hit or defense. As for Enchantments, no slot tells you efficiently what a tank is going for, but examine what stats they are stacking: Usually hit and expertise for Threat Tanks and Stamina for Mitigation.warning

Final Word of Warning

The very best tanks who have the gumption and resources to do so will likely be sporting two sets of gear as it becomes clear which is better approach is best for specific fights, and so healing them may change suddenly from one moment to the next. Communication is, as always, the best strategy. If the gear changes suddenly, ask!


Jov sez: The World is Ending!

January 27, 2009

Oh god!  Oh woe!  The Nerf has killed priests forever!


In other news, bananas will be extinct within 10 years, and 28/43 is the future.

28-43Where can you go wrong?

(Also, I’ve some nice beachfront property in Kansas to sell you.)

In more serious news, the cooldown sucks.  I’ve gotten into some baaaad bad habits over the past couple months, and it’s biting me in the ass now.  I remember reading somewhere something I really agreed with:  It’s not the bosses that get you (even Maly, OS+ and Sapphiron are easily doable without touching CoH at all) it’s the trash.

Or is Spider and DK wing trash supposed to kill half the DPS every pull?  hrm…

My biggest complaint about this week isn’t even so much the cooldown as it is the cooldown + breaking bad habits/relearning to raid heal + trial by fire of being the only heal lead available this past week.

I’m also nervous about the rotation that Blizzard is talking about.  The specific example they mentioned as being the “kind of thing” they’re looking at, was a “each time you cast Flash Heal, you get reduced cast time of Greater” to encourage spell variety and weaving.  But, they’ve done that.  It was called Incarnate Raiment.  The set bonuses were crap.

The cooldown makes me look really hard at Divine Providence, and remember old Prayer of Mending.  (Remember when they first implemented it and it didn’t have a cooldown?  But it was being abused, so they added one.)  Divine Providence is our “improve all multi-target heals” talent.  One of the spells included is a reduced cooldown on Prayer of Mending.  After a couple years, Blizzard gave priests the opportunity to tweak their cooldowns (a bit) and I really wonder if CoH will be added to that.

I don’t really have much in the way of statements this post, more suppositions and wonderings.

eta: Folks, I’m apparently failing at sarcasm in this post, beyond me tagging it “snark” and offering to sell beachfront Kansas property.  😛


Seri sez: I <3 Penance – A rebuttal.

January 22, 2009

meditationEveryone is entitled to their opinion. I’ve repeated that to myself a lot in the last few weeks… a mantra of sorts.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It is our differing opinions and points of view that make for interesting blogging.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Without challenging the status quo, there is no progress.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion… but if it’s asinine and it’s about Priests you can expect to hear from me.

A few weeks ago, a bright-eyed Discipline priest named Wistoovern stepped through World of Matticus‘ revolving guest-poster door with what he felt was a revolutionary idea clutched tightly in his hands. Because I had already read his crackpot theory over on PlusHeal, tried to communicate to him the error of his ways and been shrugged off… I didn’t read the whole thing. I was surprised that Matticus gave him a guest post spot for the topic, but I know that it generated a lot of discussion even though Matticus did take some heat for putting it out there.

Wistoovern proposes in his guest post that Penance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that it is possible to be a perfectly viable Discipline Priest without it.

Ok, I’ll grant him that it would be possible to be a viable Discipline healer without Penance.

My counter-argument: Why the hell would I want to do that?

Penance is a great spell. Why?

  • It only costs one talent point. – Where else would you propose to put that talent point, if not in Penance? Is there something vital I’m overlooking that you just don’t have enough talent points for? Go ahead, look. I’ll wait. Better yet, just listen to me: There isn’t. You’re already sinking 50+ points into Discipline to be a viable Discipline healer, so why not invest in Penance? And don’t give me that ‘CoH was useless once upon a time’ crap, because this isn’t the same. Penance is far from useless. If you don’t believe me, keep reading.
  • It heals for about as much as a max rank Greater Heal for a fraction of the mana cost. – Rank 9 Greater Heal = 39% Base Mana for 3950-4950 healing. Rank 4 Penance = 16% Base Mana for 3 pulses of 1484-1676 healing over 2 seconds. Need I say more?
  • The first pulse is instant. – Even if you have to step out of the cast, your target still gets nearly 2k healing instantly. This is comparable to a max rank Flash Heal but cheaper. (16% vs 18% base mana)
  • Each pulse can crit. – Got Divine Aegis? Inspiration? Penance provides three chances to proc them per cast, rather than 1. I’m not a gambling woman, but I like those odds.
  • Re-stacks Grace quickly and efficiently. – If you’re tank healing, and as a Disc priest you should be, keeping Grace up is something you want to do. Penance is a great way to quickly stack Grace to 3 if it drops off.

Now, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t also discuss the cons of Penance:

  • 10 second cooldown. – Yes, Penance has a 10 second cooldown. If it didn’t, it would probably be crazily overpowered. Is there a chance that it might be on cooldown when you need it most? Sure. Sounds like a good time for Pain Suppression IMO. We have a lot of tools at our disposal, this is just one of them. (Also, it’s worth noting that the Penance cooldown is reduced to 8 seconds with 2/2 Aspiration, which any smart Disc priest has.)
  • Facing.This ‘con’ is irrelevant as of patch 3.0.8, but it used to be that you had to be facing your target to use Penance. This no longer applies, but it did when Wistoovern wrote his guest post so I thought it only fair to mention it.
  • Overhealing. – Yes, Penance can overheal. All healing spells can. I don’t believe this one is any more prone to it than any other.
  • Channeled. – Penance is a 2 second cast channeled spell. If your casting is interrupted, your target won’t get the full benefit of the spell. However, they would have received at least the first if not second pulse whereas with Flash/Greater Heal they would not receive anything until you eventually finish casting.
  • CC breaking. – If you routinely keep your shackle target as your target and heal with mouseover macros or Healbot, you could break your own cc with Penance. Um… l2focustarget.
  • Accidental pulls. – Ok, seriously… how much personal stupidity do we have to put in the ‘con’ column? Anyone can accidentally pull a mob with an offensive ability; this isn’t unique to Penance. Hell, one of our mages Blinked into Sartharion the other night and we all got a good laugh out of it while we were bolting for the exit.umbrella

To repeat: Penance is a great spell. It’s far from the only spell in your arsenal, but arguing that you don’t really need it is sort of like saying that you don’t need an umbrella in the rain. Is standing in the rain without an umbrella fatal? No, but you’ll end up pretty wet.

Still, I think the most disappointing thing in this whole debacle is that for all the discussion and debate that Wistoovern’s post sparked in comments he didn’t seem to participate in any of it. If you’re going to put yourself out there, airing a poorly-reasoned opinion in a blog with hundreds of subscribers, you’d better be willing/able to defend it. I content myself with the knowledge that he may have seen the error of his ways; the last time I checked he actually had specced into Penance. Irony, thou art sweet.


Jov sez: Consolidated list of 3.0.8 Priest Changes

January 20, 2009

Test Realm Patch Notes can be found here.  If these changes are from other blue posts, I’ve tried to include links.


Silent Resolve has been changed to protect only beneficial spells and damage over time effects (10, 20, 30%). (Um, so I guess it means Shield and ProM no longer are protected?  Whee, even more a useless-in-PVE-talent!)

Improved Holy Concentration: The tooltip has been rewritten to indicate that this talent reduces cast time rather than providing haste.  (Spell haste increased when casting certain specified spells (as opposed to any) per the tooltip = reduced cast time.  I really fail to see where this was confusing…)

Rapture: This talent will now correctly return mana for Power Word: Shield based on the caster’s mana poll instead of the target’s mana pool. (Whoops!  Good news for our Discipline friends!)

Surge of Light: Prayer of Mending will no longer sometimes cause Surge of Light to trigger on Priests who do not have that talent. (Whoops!  Followed by bummer news for our Discipline friends.  Sorry guys!  But at least it was fun while it lasted.)


The bugs with Guardian Spirit, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Shield not working on certain classes in certain conditions is fixed. (source) (Thank you.  Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.  Seriously, this… yeah.)

Guardian Spirit is no longer attached to the GCD.  (Also very handy for an oh-shit button.  Nothing like “oh shit in 1.5 seconds, I can do something!”)

Circle of Healing has a 6 second cooldown.  (I’m…  not happy about this.  CoH was OP, but I think a 6 second cooldown is not the way to go about fixing it.  But it doesn’t make us broken, either.)

Levitate can now be cast on others.  (Um, yay?  I mean I guess it could be handy if you and your trusty tanky questing buddy end up falling off  the elevator…  More reason to get the Levitate glyph, I guess.)

Guardian Spirit: It is no longer possible for simultaneous killing blows to trigger the heal from this ability multiple times.  (Alas…  Not that I ever benefited from this bug, but alas all the same.)

Prayer of Mending: Will now only benefit from the healing talents of the priest who cast the original spell.  (Which is usually a good thing.)


Glyph of Spirit of Redemption— Now increases duration of effect 6 seconds (was 20% chance to increase duration 4 sec on crit, potentially infinite)  (This change makes one of my guildies very sad, though I admit it doesn’t really bother me much one way or the other.  I can see this being HORRIBLY abused in arenas, however.  And the infinite SoR is definitely something I agree needed adjusting…)

Glyph of Dispel Magic— Heals your target for 3% of their maximum health on each dispel (was 6%).  (6% was too much.  Period.  Of course, in most of my runs, pallies tend to be quicker on the dispel key than priests, so it’s not anything that’s really affected me much, either.)


Soul Preserver: This item will now interact correctly with Desperate Prayer.


Seri sez: 0/2 IDS: It’s not just for noobs anymore.

January 15, 2009

spirit-weekThe popularity of Divine Spirit rises and falls, but most raid groups agree it is a Good Thing To Have™ even if Spirit isn’t quite the Holy Grail it used to be for certain healing classes/specs. I remember, with wry fondness, the days when a Priest had to fall on their (buddy’s) sword and spec Hybrid to provide the raid with Divine Spirit. 23/38 wasn’t a very fun spec to play for most of us, but we did it when we drew the short straw for the betterment of the group.

Now that Discipline is a more viable PVE spec, this isn’t as much of an issue. Discipline Priests are welcome in raid groups far and wide as more and more raid leaders come to realize the potential benefits of damage prevention, particularly on boss fights that involve debuffs decreasing healing effectiveness.

Improved Divine Spirit is an awesome talent that makes Divine Spirit useful for every spell casting class, not just the Spirit-friendly healing types. Back in the days of yore, when shaman employed hamster balls to raid heal (wait, bad example) and trees had to shapeshift to run at normal speed (there we go), you did not take Divine Spirit without Improved Divine Spirit unless you wanted to be mocked heavily by your peers. Trust me, I had a peer once (we’ll call him Felix) that purposefully did not have Improved Divine Spirit and I never hesitated to mock him openly. Sadly, I think Felix thought I was joking… it never really seemed to sink in.

At any rate, that was then and this is now. With the changes to buff stacking in Wrath, we now find ourselves in a quandry because the spellpower bonus from Improved Divine Spirit doesn’t stack with any of the raid-wide spellpower buffs granted by other classes. Demonic Pact? Nope. Totem of Wrath? Nope. Flametongue Totem? Nope. So, unless your raid group doesn’t run with any Demonology Warlocks or Shaman you’re not getting the spellpower bonus from Improved Divine Spirit in raids.totems

Divine Spirit itself remains on top as the best Spirit buff in the game (the trump-er rather than the trump-ee, if you will) so it’s definitely worth having in your Discipline build. But Improved Divine Spirit? Hrm. Maybe my days of mocking 0/2 IDS noobs are coming to a middle. It seems to me that if your raids consistently have a Shaman or Demonology Warlock you can probably reclaim the two points from Improved Divine Spirit and spend them elsewhere. I know there are a few spots in the southern end of the Disc tree where I might like to spend a couple more points, how about you?

On the other hand… I like my spellpower buffs, and having a little extra oomph while soloing or when the shaman is taking (another) dirt nap has a certain je ne sais quoi. (Yeah, that’s right… I just spoke French. I have layers!)

In the end, this is one of those rare situations where I will say: Where you choose to put your points is up to you. It’s not that I don’t like telling you what to do (especially when you do it), but… IDS is now more of a situational/personal preference sort of talent than it used to be.


Jov sez: Resolutions for 09

January 13, 2009

Normally, I don’t make resolutions.  There’s nothing like saying “this needs to be done” to make my inner 4-year old dig in it’s figurative heels and scream “NO NO NO NO YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”  (Especially since usually resolutions are things which are hard or unpleasant.)  I think instead, I’m going to make a list of the things I need to do anyway so I can take double-credit for doing them.


1.  Since Seri’s defection to the stabbity side of the force, I’ve been promoted to priest lead (which I feel capable of) and co-heal lead (which I totally don’t.)  I rely entirely too much on Crutch’s encyclopaedic knowledge of all healing classes (lol cure disease) and boss mechanics.  I can spot when things are going wrong, but he can spot WHAT is going wrong and make the proper moves to fix it.  I need to make more of an effort to really learn the other classes, so when Crutch isn’t there my directions to the paladins aren’t just “You and you…  do that bacon thing” without really knowing what that means.


1.  The normal Jov-style of blog posting is procrastination until mid-Monday, then a frantic panic when I realize I don’t have a topic, followed by a rush to get SOMETHING posted (including shamelessly emailing Tars screaming “HALP!”)  Seri’s teased me several times for never having a plan, and even back when I was doing SYTYCB, Matt witnessed my last-minute turn-ins and procrastination.  I need to do better at that… starting tomorrow.  (Because even though I’ve known what I was going to do for this post since Thursday, I’m writing it at 10am Monday.)

2.  I’m such a bad commenter.  I have all these great blogs I follow, but lurk on.  And as much as I know I love comments, I know y’all must love them as well.  So…  I’ll do better at that one.

3.  More snark.  Knowledge posts are good, but they take for-friggin’-ever.  Also, snark is more fun.  In fact, I’m gonna share some with you right now!

wtfspecNo, that’s not me playing with the talent calculator trying to see how wtf I can get, that’s the genuine article.  Screenshot off Armory of the spec of someone I ran into outside Naxx last week.  I love TipTac, not only does it show me the spec, but it also shows me the guild rank of my target.  This gem is an applicant to a raid guild.  Now personally, I LOVE specs like this; nothing quite like them to set off the warning flags in advance.  Obviously this other guild is not so lucky.


There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t involve WoW out there, but it sometimes falls by the wayside.  Right now, I’ve got seeds that need to be planted, yarn that needs to be used, books that need to be read, and a cat collar to find.  Any of the above may take precedence over getting a level on an alt, or finishing a daily.  I need to work on maintaining a better balance.


Seri sez: The Perils of Priest Blogging

January 8, 2009

hazardBack when Jov and I started World of Snarkcraft, I was really only reading one Priest blog regularly: World of Matticus. (And yeah, I know it’s not a ‘Priest blog’ anymore but… it used to be!) Jov and I had toyed with the idea of starting our own blog for a while, but it wasn’t until the So You Think You Can Blog contest that we really started thinking more seriously about it.

Sure, we were both WoM rejects in the end (a badge that remains proudly/defiantly in our sidebar to this day) but we had a vision of a Valhalla for snark… a no-holds-barred the-truth-hurts sort of place where we could be as blunt/snarky as we wanted while getting the word out about what does and does not make a good raiding Holy Priest. I felt like it was kind of a risky venture, because we can be brutal sometimes… no one was as surprised as I was when people actually enjoyed it.

In the last few months we’ve made 48 posts (49 if you count this one) and have received 488 comments, not to mention e-mails and the occasional in-game whisper. We have over 100 subscribers to our RSS feed(s), and on new post days we’re inching toward the 600 total views mark. It still boggles my mind that over 100 people read every new post that I make the day that it is posted, and it has made me a bit neurotic about trying to come up with topics that are relevant, informative and (to an extent) entertaining.

You’d think that it would be helpful to read other WoW blogs, which I do. A lot of our regular commenters are other bloggers, and I make a point to add their blogs to my Google Reader if they are relevant to my interests. My feed list has grown in leaps and bounds since WoS launched, but I’ve “met” some very interesting people who all seem to have interesting things to say. Most of these new-to-me blogs are Priest blogs… really, I hadn’t realized quite how many there are out there.

You’d also think that reading posts from other Priest blogs might inspire me somehow or make me think of related topics I could turn into posts of my own. Sometimes it does. More often, it makes it harder to settle on a topic from week to week because I feel like it’s all been done (often better) by someone else. I don’t want to be redundant, but at the same time I wonder if a little redundancy is necessary because not everyone reads umpteen Priest blogs as religiously as I do. I guess that’s what link round-ups are for, but I want to provide some content of my own too. For the last few weeks I’ve waffled about topics right up until my ‘deadline’ and I can’t help but wonder… am I the only one that has this problem?

Maybe I read too many blogs. Maybe I am too concerned about trying to come up with content that is unique, interesting and reference-worthy. I think I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to make every post a page for the Holy Priest Handbook, because I have done so many posts that fit the bill. I’m going to try and break out of that trap in the coming weeks with more editorial-style commentary/snark, and in the interest of nailing down a topic for a Thursday post earlier than Wednesday morning I’m going to post the schedule for the rest of January now. Ha! Take that, procrastination.

  • 1/15: 0/2 IDS; It’s not just for noobs anymore.
  • 1/22: I ❤ Penance: A Rebuttal.
  • 1/29: WWS Revealed: How to self-review to improve (healing) performance.