Thursday, April 29, 2010

4Haelz LFM for ICC Fun Times PST

"...those who serve -- who serve wholly, unquestioningly, with utter devotion of mind and soul -- elevated to heights beyond your ken."

Interested in doing ICC 25 Hardmodes? Interested in doing them with me? Yeah, you're listening now. I can tell.

Without going too much into it, I'm in a guild called OverWhelming now, and it's a pretty kickass group of people. We're 11/12 HMs with some good progress on HM LK, and recruitment is opening up for, well, just about everything.

If you're doing so well, why do you need so much?

Well, it's getting to the point in the year where many people get busy. As well, you always lose people to Real Life and other sorts of attrition. The guild itself still runs every week, still does raid all three of its nights and has not canceled a raid in the month I have been here. They like to cycle people in and out a lot, too.

Specifically, OverWhelming is looking for Hunters, Ret Paladins and Elemental Shamans. But all are encouraged to apply. I would, however, suggest talking to one of the officers first if you are a Resto Druid, Enhance Shaman or Death Knight, as there seem to be a good amount of those who are generally reliable/dependable.

Basic Guild Information:
Guild: OverWhelming
Server: Dark Iron (US) - PvP
Faction: Alliance
Progression: 11/12 ICC 25 HMs, all Faction Firsts
Raid Times: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 4:30-9:00 PM PST (server time)
Loot System: EP/GP
Main Website----Recruitment Forums

Understand that this guild is choc-full of young adults (think 20's). Vent and guild chat will contain profanity, political incorrectness, and other "questionable" behavior. If this is not your cup of tea, I would not suggest applying. Also if your feelings are easily hurt, you have no raid awareness, or you think GearScore is an actual raiding addon, please save yourself the pain.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Obligatory disclaimer: My involvement with actual recruitment decisions is none. I will not be making any decisions on your application should you choose to apply.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Know More Than Just Your Job

It's very easy to fall into the "I know my role, and that's all I need to know" trap. I do it a lot. I could tell you the role of a healer in any non-heroic (and most heroic) ICC 25/10 fights, where they should stand, and what mechanics they have to worry about. But up until recently, the DPS and tanks were a mystery. I knew you needed 2-3 tanks depending on fight, and about an even smattering of melee and ranged.

Well, it's not your job, Bell. Why do you care what they have to do?

To be honest, it is a healer's job to know what the other roles have to deal with. Please notice, I said know, not micromanage. Keep that in mind.

It was once said to me by the Paladin Sharlet: "Good tanks make great healers; good healers make mediocre tanks." Though you can debate it until you're blue in the face, the fact is that healers who understand tanks and their mechanics are better at their jobs than healers who react to damage whack-a-mole style or blinder-zoom on their raid frames. Do you know when your tanks have to routinely pop cooldowns? I am not talking about dangerous, near-death experiences, I'm talking about boss fights in which they need a regular cooldown rotation.

Yes, I am a mediocre tank. I admit it; I tried it on Bellbell and I was just semi-competent in heroics. However, to compensate for that, I've started paying much more attention to boss abilities and cooldowns, understanding when a good tank pops cooldowns and when a mediocre or bad tank would forget to. ToC 25 is a snoozefest for many people in this game, yet on Bellwether my anxiety can shoot up if the PUG DPS is slow and the PUG tanks don't know how to use their cooldowns. That is responsible for more phase 1 tank deaths than shoddy healing, though if a healer with a cooldown had used it, it could have covered for the tank's forgetfulness.

I have never tanked ICC, but I know that tanks need to cycle cooldowns through Festergut's triple stack buff.

Knowing when the melee is all going to get hit, or understanding mechanics like Sindragosa's stacking debuff, can only help you pre-HoT or anticipate health loss for a quick chunk. Is Healbot or Grid set up to tell you who has Unchained Magic so you can pre-HoT them in preparation for the chunk of life disappearing?

It seems like pretty average stuff. Life goes down, I heal it up. Why do I need to know more? As the fights become more involved, as the battles get harder, you will need to know who is standing where, who is heading in what direction, and when tanks are powering through cooldowns so you are able to compensate.

After all, this is, in essence, no different than timing your HoTs to boss mechanics. It is understanding on a deeper level, however, than just "damage happens now." It is "damage happens now and I understand why, so I already have the best possible spell ready."

Again, I'm not telling you to micromanage everyone. Do not be a backseat raider. Just be a smarter healer!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Low Tech Raiding

This is the visual I used during hardmode Sindragosa to ensure I placed my beacon properly. Actually, it was originally just quickly scribbled in pencil 10 seconds before the first pull as the heal lead whispered me instructions, as everyone else had downed her before and I was the new kid, expected to kill someone with an ice block or do something else stupid.

For the record, we one shot her and I didn't die until the very end due to too many stacks (it was the last-few-HP-push and I was out of ice blocks to duck behind). Literally, I died then she died. /preen

So, what about you guys? What's your "low tech" raiding gear look like?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From Leaves to Light

A long-time reader/commenter/friend Kayeri recently had a dilemma; her guild asked her to do something she'd never done before. Normally a Tree, they requested that she switch her main to her Holy Paladin (as they seem to be becoming some sort of endangered species). She agreed to give it a shot, and then came to me to talk about it.

I wrote a while ago about some differences I noticed immediately when starting a Paladin after only healing with a Druid. Cast times, mobility loss, no HoTs, AoE all hit rather hard, to the point where I was stressed whenever I tried to heal on Bellbell. It was so different, and at the time, it felt weaker.

This, unfortunately, was due to me not playing to, nor understanding, its strengths.

Druids are HoT healers. Anyone spamming Nourish is almost certainly doing it wrong. We blanket raids, we roll stacks of various HoTs, we run around and hop side to side. We shift out of snares, dispells curses and poisons, and we Cyclone, on the rare occasion it is necessary. But what makes a Paladin?

Paladins are direct damage healers. Except for their HoT on targets effected by Sacred Shield, they do not have any skills that continue healing after the initial burst has landed. With a Paladin, what you get hit with is what you get. This takes a lot of habit breaking from playing a Druid. You can't just pop a heal on someone and leave them alone if they're low; their health won't continue to rise on its own.

A Paladin's strengths are in big (costly) heals and cooldowns. This class has cooldowns for everything. Increase healing. Regen Mana (at the cost of healing). Reduce Mana cost. Take damage for another. Take damage for the raid. Make another player immune to physical damage. Make yourself immune to all damage. Drop someone's threat. Remove and prevent snares. Heal to full in an instant. A sudden boost to any aura you're wearing to weather practically any elemental storm or, since it's usable while mounted, burst your entire raid from teleport pad to Gunship in six seconds.

It is very easy for people to say "All Paladins do is Holy/Flash of Light." That is the really boring, really narrow, mediocre, annotated, TL;DR, lazy version of Paladin healing. And it may seem like, wow, next to a Druid, there seem to be so few spells...

Well, that's because most of the spells aren't about directly healing, even if the ones you use for the majority of the time are.

Druids are about rolling HoTs, right? Well, then you should already be familiar with the concepts needed to maintain, and transfer, Sacred Shield and Beacon of Light to appropriate targets. They are, in application, like extended HoTs in that you do not want them to fall off. If they fall off, your tank starts taking more damage or your heals around the raid are not going to your Beacon target. I'm not sure about you, but if my HoTs ticked on the tank every time they ticked on someone else, I'd make sure that Beacon never disappeared. The same holds true for the Haste buff that comes from Judging on an enemy target. Without it, your heals are slower and less effective.

Oh yeah, and Holy Shock is like Swiftmend without the need to heal them with something else first. Very pro.

Holy Paladins are highly mana-dependent, especially when going into a Holy Light spec (this is the Holy spec that delves into the Devo tree for improved shields and the ability to absorb damage on the raid). There are very good reasons why Paladins gem as much Intellect as possible; Holy Light is expensive to "spam," and Divine Plea will restore a quarter of your mana (usually used in conjunction with Avenging Wrath to buffer the loss in healing output). Think of it like an Innervate with some penalties, and that needs to be managed well. You can also use it along with Divine Illumination, and with 2-piece T10, Divine Illumination buffers your healing as well, making it a good candidate to use in combination with Divine Plea, allowing you to stagger the cooldowns and have more options to gain mana.

Paladins should have sharp raid awareness. You should be ready to switch auras for situational damage just like you would be ready to shift forms out of a snare. People will call for a lot of things you never had to worry about before as a Tree. Freedom through ooze, Salvation for a tank on Festergut or an over-eager DPS on any fight, a Hand of Protection for a Warlock about to pull every Vengeful Fleshreaper on his face on the way through Plague Wing trash, an iceblock breaking too early on Sindragosa and needing to Aura Mastery + Ice Resist Aura through a Frost get the idea.

But really, until you've lived it, you don't. Druids aren't cooldown based classes at the moment, because we don't mesh well with them. Paladins do. They open their magic toolbox and throw their toys around and they have a magic toy for almost any situation. If all you are doing is spamming Holy Light, then you are doing as poorly as a Restoration Druid who only hits Rejuv or Nourish.

Remember how Resto Druids have a sort of "bastard cousin," the Dreamstate Druid? How, at one point, Dreamstate was where the hip kids were at, and then it changed?

All right, now I'm sure you've heard about Flash of Light and Holy Light Paladins. There is a difference. Astounding, I know! Flash of Light is less bastard, however, and is more the spec that is just not bad but not as good when it comes to a raiding situation. Flash of Light goes into the Ret tree instead of the Devo, upping personal crit instead of gaining a raid cooldown. They are about quick, high-hitting Flashes of Light on as many people as possible. They go for Crit gear and Spellpower gems, when a Holy Light Paladin would prefer Haste and Intellect gems.

Do you guys know that belt off of Gunship 25 man? That belt every Paladin seems reluctant to take?

It's because it sucks. You're better off with a mail belt than that thing. The Mp5 is okay (did you know Crit was devalued and Mp5 revalued for mana regen?) but the crit just destroys the belt. Most Paladins get their crit from combined haste and crit pieces; solely crit pieces are a bit of a sacrifice.

So if you've ever wondered why that belt goes for so low in your GDKP run, to an offspec Paladin at min price, it's because it's just not something that great to wear. Sure if it's a huge upgrade, you'd put it on, but it's about as great as an Intellect Trinkett with a Spellpower cooldown would be for a Druid, and looks just as pro to any Paladin who knows what they're doing.

Oh yeah, and, 2 piece T10 is awesome! 4 piece isn't worth your time; find better off pieces for the other slots.

This has been my extremely nutshell'd version of Paladin healing, with some Druid analogies and comparisons thrown in to help ease the way. I hope this helps a bit with the drastic class shock of switching between the two types of healers, for Kayeri and anyone else attempting the switch. I'm happy to answer any questions in the comments, and if I don't know the answer I'll probably just go whine to Sharlet (my mentor in the ways of Paladin'ing) until I get it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Regemming Haste Redux

A while ago I posted an article about regemming Haste and how I recommended not doing it. I've had a lot of time since then to think about it, and I know now what the issues and problems with the post were.

First of all, it's good to get a reminder of Haste caps. Since I don't trust my ability to do math, I did the research instead. Druid Heal! has a very easy chart to read that gives the various Haste "caps" for a Resto Druid to hit the 1-second GCD. I highly recommend looking at it before continuing on. It's what I personally use for a quick reference when I need a mental refresher as I plan out my gear.

The first thing you will notice is that the Haste cap is rather high right now. Without raid buffs and proper talent specialization into the Balance tree, it is nearly impossible to reach the cap (except for Lifebloom, which has remained at the relatively low requirements of pre 3.3). At this point in time I am running with two weapons: Trauma ,for the majority of fights in 25 man, and Mag'hari Chieftain's Staff, which is both my Mana Regen staff for extended/intensive hardmodes in 25 (with no possible downtime) and my 10 man staff, to help me reach GCD cap in a non-optimal buff environment. Unless my Haste situation improves past any possibility of raider death or 10 man non-optimization of Haste buffs, I will likely not spec out of Celestial Focus.

Some important questions one must take into account before moving any gems is: Can I reach the Haste cap? And not just any cap, but a cap that is right for my situation (10 mans, 25 mans)? Will I be able to even get reasonably close? What shape will my Mana Regen and Spellpower be in after the regemming process?

If you cannot come even close to being within the range of your cap (determined by your regular raiding composition and gear availability), all you will succeed in through regemming is gimping your Spellpower and Regen with only a marginal decrease in your GCD downtime. It takes far more Haste to make a noticeable decrease in GCD time than it does Spellpower to create a noticeable boost in a HoT tick.

If you decide that you can reach the Haste cap through regemming, do it very carefully (unless, you know, you can just throw gold around, deep pockets). It is time to start thinking ahead. These are the questions you should ask yourself:

How much Haste do I need?

What pieces of new gear do I know I will be picking up soon?

These two questions do not exist apart from each other. You must look at both in conjunction with each other. Whereas gemming for Spellpower was incredibly easy because Spellpower has no soft or hard cap for a Resto Druid, Haste does have a cap for GCD and too much extra haste is wasteful.

A main issue tends to be Druids not planning their gear out well or looking at their options. With only 2/5 pieces of t10 supplying Haste and it seeming as if a lot of drops in ICC are geared towards making the choice somewhat difficult, it's important to try to plan your purchases out and, when available to you, take extra gear. Also staying on top of the T10 bugging issue (where first Rejuvs are barely proc'ing, then being erased by other Druid's Rejuvs, then not refreshing if you HoT over it on accident but still taking your's a glitchy 4 piece) is helpful when you're deciding between Lasherweave Pauldrons and Vestments of Spruce and Fir for your next Emblem purchase (and don't be afraid to wear cloth, either! Circle of Ossus from Emblems can only be improved upon by a 25-Man Professor Putricide Hardmode drop).

So, in summary -- there is no magic answer for Haste gemming past "can I reach the cap I need?" If you can, without filling up your entire set of gear with Haste gems, then it is acceptable, and even valuable to. It is not impossible to heal without being Haste capped (I've done it before and even recently, as my staff is a new acquisition and I've been lacking my Haste buffs in 10 man) but optimally you want to be hitting a manageable, raid-appropriate cap. If you aren't there yet, you'll be okay, though. Just keep working towards it! If you cannot reach it comfortably in the gear you are in, then don't do it. But if you can, and you're raiding even somewhat seriously, you should invest.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Deforestation into Homogenization

Keeva's reaction to class changes plus an overview.

My reaction to the ToL Cooldown
Point number one: To decide something should be a cooldown without even knowing what it can do is rather stupid. What the cooldown would be should go hand in hand with the decision to make it a cooldown. Fundamental change to a class standard should not be done blindly; the announcement was too early and the details too vague.

Point number two: One of the themes of Cataclysm has been announced to be mana conservation. Therefore, a healer should have absolutely no desire towards DPSing during a fight and reducing their precious mana. The idea that Restoration Druids are losing "too much" by being locked out of damage spells is ridiculous in alignment with their overall change.

Point number three: If the cooldown becomes a simple healing boost, as a mentioned option (that would arguably be easiest to implement), the cooldown will become rather useless. Healing-boost/Spellpower-boost cooldowns do not help with HoT-based healing over much; there is a reason Druids do not have an Avenging Wrath type cooldown nor do they use Spellpower-increasing-cooldown trinkets. If the cooldown is somewhere in this category, it will overall be useless to anyone who is not Nourish-spamming.

Point number four: Restoration Druids are not the singular Druid form which cannot see their armor, yet it is the one singled out to force into showcasing the armor. I have never been concerned with armor aesthetics while in combat, and I spend a large amount of time outside a raid instance in caster form, riding mounts, running around Dalaran, etc. I have plenty of time to view my green-and-brown attire at that point in time and do not care for it within the contexts of a raid. My mind is focused on other things.

Point number five: Shapeshifting for a Restoration Druid is no more clunky or unusable than other forms. Auto-shapeshift saw to the streamlining of shifting out if needed to cast a cyclone or other non-Resto skill. We are not even one GCD away from using an offensive maneuver, and one GCD of a switch back to Tree Form (which should not kill anyone in the vast majority of cases). Not having to switch into Cat or Bear form in order to escape snares, but rather to switch out of Tree Form into caster, and still be able to heal during this, is rather essential.

Point number six: Removal of Tree of Life form will make Druids into a more homogenized caster. Many people rolled a Druid to play in and out of forms; it is the iconic class ability. Shamans have Totems, Paladins have Auras, Druids have Forms. Remove the form, and we are just another caster. Not even "just another caster," we are less than the other Hybrids.

Point number seven: Tree Form is not broken in any way, other than perhaps some arguments against Druids in PvP. WotLK finally brought Tree of Life into a usable, useful, dynamic talent and ability. It has even been said by Ghost Crawler himself; Restoration Druids are in a good place right now, we have found our niche. Taking away an iconic and core part of our playstyle is not a way to encourage our continued effectiveness.

Closing statement: I am reserving full and final judgment until they announce what the cooldown will be, but at this point I am staunchly against the homogenization and deflowering of the Druid class. I feel I will be losing a lot of constant utility for something entirely situational (that is the point of a cooldown, to be situational) and find the reasoning behind the change (so Restos can still DPS, while managing our mana even more closely than before, and so we can see our armor while still no other Druid can) to be ridiculous and empty. The very fact that it has been decided it will be a cooldown with no obvious plan as to how or what it will do furthers my stance against it; the decision should come hand-in-hand with a function, not before. Druids are made to be in Forms; it is iconic. If I did not want to be in a Form, I would have levelled my Priest or made my Paladin my main.

I will respond to comments. I will not be talking about this or any other Druid Cataclysm change any more in blog posts until either Beta opens or until they announce the type of cooldown this will be.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Restos Bad at Tank Healing?

On one of my recent posts, I received a comment from Pixielated. They asked,

...I'd like to get your opinion on something if you don't mind. I was recently “informed” that resto druids are “Dead Last” in effectiveness of tank healing. I realize our raid heals are kick ass, but to have someone tell me we suck as tank healers struck a nerve. I’m curious as to what your thoughts are!

Here's the thing: Restoration Druids do not "suck as tank healers." However, we are lacking as compared to other classes in some ways. Any healing class can tank heal, it's just that Discipline Priests and Paladins are the best at it.

Why aren't Restoration Druids just as good?

Well, first of all, we lack OSHI- cooldowns. Nature's Swiftness and Healing Touch/Nourish are effective, per se, but they are not as sustainable as Hand of Sacrifice, Guardian Spirit (Holy Priest only, which are arguably less effective at tank healing as per Juz's comment), or Pain Suppression. You have no prolonged cooldowns, nothing that either improves your effectiveness for a while (such as a Paladin popping Avenging Wrath) or the tank's survivability.

We have no mitigation skills, such as Sacred Shield or Power Word: Shield. Every hit that hits the tank has no extra mitigation besides what our HoTs can tick back up, after the blow has landed. We also cannot heal two tanks at once as effectively as a Paladin can.

Does this mean we are not good tank healers? No. I was on tank healing duty for a Lich King 25 man when we had no Paladin healers, and no wipes came about because of tank death. Restoration Druids are not the best option for tanking, and it is probably a toss up between Shamans, Holy Priests and Druids on who is the less effective one, but by no means are we bad or incapable.

So, how do you tank heal?

The best way to tank heal is to stack all your HoTs. That includes Lifebloom. Now, you have to be a bit more careful about it as Tank healing can be a bit of a mana drain. Manage your Lifebloom stack, refreshing it on OoC procs and allowing it to bloom when the tank could use a chunk of health. Monitor your HoTs and keep them stacked, then Nourish in-between. If there are two tanks, focus on the one you're assigned to and give a couple helper-HoTs to the other when your tank isn't being punched in the face.

So, in summary: yes, you can tank heal. All things being equal, Resto Druids should not be first-choice tank healers, but they are competent and will not fail at the job (mechanically; personally is another issue entirely).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to Ace Your App

So you want to be in a serious/high-end raiding guild, eh? But there's this pesky "application process" standing in your way, filling your screen with question upon question that let the guild you're applying to know if they're worth your time.

Besides the basics, what can you do to get in, to make your application really shine?

Understanding your class is of utmost importance. Know your weaknesses, know your strengths, both mechanically and personally. Restoration Druids are obviously strong raid healers; but can you say why and how (the answer is not "spam Rejuv lololol")? Do you know what to do should you need to cover for a tank healer?

You'll often get specific questions about stats and their priority. Do you know your haste caps? Are you reaching them? You don't need to just know that high end Restoration Druids should prioritize Haste to cap, followed by Spellpower, Spirit, Mp5, Int and then Crit, you need to know why. When you want to get into an end-game raiding guild, it isn't enough to just regurgitate, you have to understand what you're saying. Reading Elitist Jerks and then memorizing the data is okay, but it doesn't really do anything for you if you can't apply it naturally and easily.

Have a reason for your glyphs, talents and gems. You may be asked about them. "Because I didn't know where else to put the points" shows a lack of understanding. It is okay to admit you're wrong; it is not okay to make up an answer that everyone can tell is bull. Why? Because you will be called on it.

The best way to show that you understand what you're doing? Throw in extras. If they ask how you would heal for Dreamwalker, give them examples of healing outside of portals and being a portal healer. If there are two strats for a fight, don't just pick one; understand your role in both. If they ask to see your keybinds, go one step further and detail which macros are which so they don't have to ask. If you use a Healbot or Grid equivalent, give them the specific mouse binds.

Possibly the most important part of the application is the general final question. It usually goes along the lines of "anything else you would like to add?" This is your chance to head off any possible questions that you either recognize as weaknesses (or undiscovered strengths) yourself, or that you have seen them ask other applicants. For instance, I applied to a top Alliance guild on the server, and they tend to ask Druid healers if they have a geared offspec during follow-up questioning after the official application is submitted. To save time for both people, I created a quick WoWHead profile of my Moonkin gear and explained my limited experience with it, as well as plans to improve. In the end, the amount of extra information I gave allowed them to almost entirely skip the forum question process and request a vent interview.

Write as much as you need to. Be clear and concise as well as thorough. Utilize everything you know about your class and its role (you know you can increase overall raid DPS by keeping Rejuv/WG on other classes, especially DKs, for Revitalize procs, right?) to impress the people whose guild you want to join. Take your time filling out an application, too. I usually write my application and then come back to it a day later to make sure it all seems right before actually posting it.

Keep all this in mind and, so long as you haven't done something to tarnish your reputation, you stand a good chance of getting into the guild you're looking at.

Good luck!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Art Break!

I've gotten three pretty big requests for stuff to cover on my blog. So while I work on them, I'll show you what I've been doing. It's all pretty simple and very small.


These are two Tree of Life symbol icons. I made them for my Twitter account, but they're free for anyone to use.


Ohgawdmyeyes. This was my first attempt at Druid-related pixel art and as you can see I am terrible. Don't try to argue.


As you can see, it eventually morphed into something a little better. Still not entirely happy with it, but I'll have to keep working on it. Again, free to use!

Have a great weekend!