Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Return of Druid Heal!

As the title of his newest post says, Raaff is back! That wonderful author of the Druid Resto Mega Guide has returned to us after a long hiatus via cancelled account. It's nice to have him back, and doubly nice to hear he's updating his guide piece by piece.

So go by, welcome him back, and help him out with his guide!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Grilled and Humbled

It's always good to get knocked down a few pegs, and what better way than to apply for the top Alliance guild on your server?

Since I was on vacation for two weeks without a schedule of events, I had plenty of time to work on my application. I spent the first week reading through their application archives, and especially any threads about Druids, both accepted and declined. I looked at what questions they asked them, how they responded and what changes were suggested. I looked at expectations and attitudes.

Was I ready to write my application then? Oh, no, I had a lot of improving to do. I spent almost 2k gold upgrading enchants, changing gems, and putting all my ducks in a row, including enchanting and gemming a Moonkin set. I reorganized my UI five times, updated all my addons, added DoTimer, and finally pushed my reputation with Hodir to exalted.

Then I wrote a novel for my application.

Where most people answered the question "Is there anything else about yourself we should know or consider?" with a sentence or two, I wrote nine "paragraphs" explaining things that might look unappealing or that they should know. For instance, my mace has a 50 Spellpower enchant, not the 63 one. I explained why I had chosen not to upgrade the enchant, while at the same time expressing my ability to do so if requested. I explained why I was still using Heroe's gloves when I had other Valorous Dreamwalker pieces, and what I was doing to try and upgrade this piece of gear. Everything from gem choice to the state of my DPS gear was examined and explained. I covered every angle I could, posted it up, and then waited for the questions to follow.

Without my experience in heroics hardmodes, there were certainly a large amount of questions, most of them exploring how I would theoretically heal heroic hardmode fights. And so I researched, wrote, edited, rewrote, agonized over, and finally posted my responses. I was given follow-up questions and I went through the same process again. And, by the second day of my post being up, I was invited into Vigilant in the "Applicant" status.

Of course, things don't stop there.

Have you ever gone from being the one compensating for others to being the one who is compensated for? I did not know the heroic versions of the fights. I was scared out of my wits, trying to pay attention and hoping I didn't screw up. Four tower Flame Leviathan I was on a motorcycle, when I was really hoping they'd stick me on a cannon so I could see the fight without being responsible for the health and control of a vehicle. After one wipe, though, I managed to kite lashers and avoid the majority of the free-standing damage when FL went down.

Razorscale was a cinch, but I floundered a bit in XT hardmode. I went to the wrong sides to drop the novas or move the light bombs into position, and we had to move from two-healing to three-healing. I was disappointed in myself, but pushed on.

Iron Council went down, Steelbreaker last, with a mix-up on the first pull causing a wipe. Heroic Kologarn dropped like a rock as well, and then Auriaya after a bit of a healing snafu, though that one I wasn't sure whose fault it was...

All in all, it was very productive and eye-opening for me, but I feel I came up a bit short in some areas. I've adjusted some keybinds and done some more reading, and all I can hope is that I improve. Applicant status means my full induction into the raid group is shaky, and because of that I have to show constant improvement.

So cross your fingers for me, and hope a glove or chest token for T8 drops...I could really use that bonus to Rejuvenation about now!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I understand the reasoning behind it. Saying you have more spellpower than you do when a slot in a VoA pug is on the line. But really? 2200 spellpower? Your gloves are blue. You have no set bonuses, you have the beginner crafted legs. It's conveniently higher than the spellpower I just posted. I checked your gear because I was curious, I kept quiet because, well, it's a VoA pug. It didn't matter so much.

You got put on raid healing, so your spot was secure. The raid leader had already revealed his own ignorance of healing classes by saying discipline priests are a PvP spec only, and now he was going to kick people based on effective healing meters. With you on raid, you should be fine, right? And so you were.

Emalon goes down with only the aggro-happy DK taking a dirt nap, and Dragonhide legs drop. I don't need them, but I roll on them. You decline. So, free pants to gather dust in my bank.

Archavon keels over like the pushover he is and what drops? Wyrmhide PvP gloves.

You might think this is off set, but in reality a Resto Druid often uses two pieces of Wyrmhide to boost their resilience, and gloves/chest just happen to be my Wyrmhide choices for my set.

Of course, I roll lower. I make a sour little comment along the lines of "of course, the gloves I actually need" but am going to leave it at that. Then you link your blue gloves and say how they'll be an upgrade for you.

First of all, bravo on outing yourself on your own lie about your spellpower. Secondly, PvP Wyrmhide is not a real upgrade over PvE blue gloves. No spirit, a ton of stamina, a cyclone cast time decrease, resilience...unless maybe you're trying to be a PvP Resto, but your guild tag is a PvE guild's tag and you have no dual spec...and you're missing key PvP talents in your tree.

In the end, I passed to you. You were a liar, but pitching a fit over a piece of Wyrmhide is not something I'm going to do. You have, however, shown me you really don't know how to itemize the only spec on your Druid, and I hope I never have to heal alongside you again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

But I Like Me How I Am

There was a new "Under Development" article for Druids, where a bunch of questions hypothetically asked by the community were answered by Ghostcrawler. And one part of it just made me wince.

In addition to having to give up utility in order to heal as a Tree of Life, we have become less enamored with druids locking themselves into one form. In fact, you really never see the basic tauren or night elf druid form (you know, the one that actually shows off the awesome armor art) because all druids are in cat, bear, tree, or moonkin form nearly 100% of the time. I’m not saying we would just cut Tree of Life from the game. It’s been around awhile and for better or worse, it’s part of World of Warcraft now. However, we could see taking the druid in a direction where shifting was much more common and easy to do. Maybe you only go into tree form for certain spells but leave for other spells -- this didn’t work previously because of the high cost of shifting, but in the absence of power shifting, we’d love to get rid of the costs completely. Another way to go would be to make Tree of Life form a cooldown, more like Metamorphosis. You shift into tree when you need a healing boost, but you don’t stay in it all the time. Now, I am totally waving my arms here. This is not the kind of change you are going to see in the next patch. But it is something we’re thinking about long term, and the kind of thinking we’d love to have more feedback on from the community.

Before the panicing starts, GC did say this may be way in the future, and he's just speculating (pulling stuff out of his...ah...head...). But, still, the fact that this is being thought about...

Well, why? And, specifically, why Tree of Life?

I would love to see my tree form with a staff strapped to her back. I would love to see my tree come in all colors of the rainbow. I don't want my form to become a gimmick like it was in BC, whether it's situational because we're arbitrarily slow or because there's a cooldown.

I don't foresee Bear form becoming this sort of on-off switch. I don't foresee cat become some sort of periodic shift. Boomkin...maybe? But why would you do that to us trees only? That's certainly how it looks from what you're saying.

Forms are what make us Druids special. I was so excited when I found out that, finally, all talent trees had their own, special forms for doing their jobs. I didn't care I was some silly brown broccoli; I knew you could look at me and go "There's a healer. They're who's going to keep us alive."

I felt silly whenever I had to be out of my tree form because it was slow. I wanted to be in tree form, exuding an aura, buffing my healing and others'. And you know what that means? Fights in which healers are vulnerable to polymorph (though they appear less and less), I'll no longer be immune but will have to use GCDs to get out. No longer will I just be watching eight or nine HoT cooldowns (or more!), running out of fire and avoiding missiles, but also a cooldown for an uber form. As well...how would they balance that out with other healers?

Also, it doesn't make sense with a primarily HoT-based healer. If the rolling still worked on Lifebloom like it did in the beginning of BC where buffed HoTs could continue past cooldown so long as you kept it rolling, then I could understand. A cooldown-based heal increase has never been the most effective for Druids (as seen by trinket choice), so why would you make our form that way?

Elsewhere in the article, GC says that Druids are in a nice spot right now. They have their niche. I wonder, why then do you want to change us to some sort of gimmicked cooldown healer whose HoTs' ticks fluctuate up and down with our cooldown from 15 second tree form?

I want to be a tree. I really, really do. I sincerely hope this is just idle musings of a demented crab.

But why do I get the feeling that won't always be the case?

For the official word, do we have plans to update more druid form models at some point in the future?

Ghostcrawler: I know for a fact that the current Travel Form and Aquatic Form are loathed by the artist who redid bear and cat. We do have plans to update additional forms at some point in the future.

Probably because they're considering redoing travel and aquatic forms before tree or moonkin.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enable Pet Bars 4 Haelz

Brajana over at Mend Pet is doing a great little contest for a great cause. It's the "Need More Stable Slots!" SPCA Charity Drive and Giveaway. It's a great idea, a great cause, close to a hunter's heart, and with great prizes.

I personally donated a prize. It's nothing as amazing as a custom-UI or personalized artwork, but it's a fun little in-game thing you can use to spruce up those five-minute bio-breaks.

What is it?

Goblinoid Resonant Electro-Neural Automatic Dancing Emitter!


Party G.R.E.N.A.D.E.!

These little buggers come in stacks of 100 and are usable by any level, so you can run around Dalaran spewing confetti. In the comments of WoWhead it will supposedly make hunter pets (bears, cats and wolves) dance as well. That may just be hearsay, but if it's true, just imagine it being every little animal you helped rescue with your donation celebrating their new luck in life!

Don't wait, just head on over and follow the directions, and in no time you'll be holding your tickets and waiting with bated breath for a fabulous prize!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blizzard Brand Toaster Ovens

In case you didn't see it, Val'anyr is getting a nice jump in stats.

Val'anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings: This item's stats and level have been increased to match the power level of healer weapons coming from the Coliseum 25-person normal difficulty instance. In addition, each time Val'anyr is equipped, Blessing of Ancient Kings will be placed on a 45-second cooldown before it can occur.

Now, I've been to the healer forums, and there's an interesting thread there all about Val'anyr. It's a long-standing thread, having been started from before we even knew what its stats were, but jumping to the end brings forward some interesting information, some I didn't even know about while I sat there dreaming the impossible dream of owning something orange and beautiful. Check out what some forum-goers had to say:

A theoretical maximum 4% increase (that will in reality be much, much less) on a Legendary item is simply unacceptable, if that is the only "selling point" of the item.

And I will state again, for emphasis, that Val'anyr isn't bad.... It's just not legendary. If this was a drop off of Yogg or Algalon, I would probably wet myself over it. However, as a legendary, it truly fails.

How nice it would have been to have this discussion with the devs before people started getting shards. The period of silence when we ALREADY KNEW the proc ages ago, when people already had concerns, before people started getting shards, would have been a much better time to open this up for discussion.

-Sopheea, Suramar

ive tested this and my lifeboom "blooms" are not adding to the shield or even refreshing its duration. Lifebloom "bloom" give NOTHING along with full overhealing HoTs. It makes the weapon very lackluster for druids.

-Smittens, Anetheron

Renew itself is not putting up a shield at the start of the HoT. Fully overhealing ticks aren't putting up a shield, but ticks that partially heal are shielding for the full value of the tick (heal_amount*0.15).

-Ferrante, Kel'thuzad

What truly makes the thread, and the title of this post, is the following conversation:

Hell, if given the choice between this Mace and a Toaster Oven I would go with the Toaster Oven...

-Zowi, Bonechewer

If it was a Toaster Oven from Blizzard, chances are it wouldn't actually toast. When you read the product manuals that say that the Toaster Oven only heats up to slightly above room temperature, and ask Blizzard, "Are you sure this thing will actually toast?" they will tell you, "Don't worry, trust us... It will toast."

When you finally get your shiny new toaster oven and try it out, you'll contact them to let them know your Toaster Oven isn't working, and they'll ignore you for 3 months. Then they'll announce that internal testing has shown that the Toaster Oven was not putting out enough heat, so they have raised the temperature by 40%, but to compensate, they had to make the Toaster Oven smaller, so now you cannot fit a piece of bread in it.

Luckily, by the time that happens, you will most likely have bought yourself a different Toaster Oven at Wal-Mart, and will be enjoying delicious toast.

-Sopheea, Suramar

It seems a lot like Blizzard has a really tough time with their healers. Underpowered Legendaries (given in the middle of an expansion, not at the end) with wonky procs that don't work like they should, tier bonuses that pigeon-hole casters and constant reworkings of spells give this feeling of displacement. I want to be effective. I want to understand my class. I want to understand my gear and my spells, but the tools keep changing and the directions are misleading. My instruction manual's got half its pages torn out and they keep sending me amended versions.

Lifebloom's all mixed up with no place to go. Many Druids have stopped using it almost entirely except for OOC mana returns and in the rare, rare event of Main Tank assignment. Rejuvenation is the spell of the day and with T8(.5) bonus it's incredibly handy and spammable.

Since I started healing less with Lifebloom, started relying less on the bloom, and just have the spell down to two boss fights exclusively (using it's burst with predictable raid damage only) my effective heals shot up.

-Nastia, Aggramar

Lifebloom has been dead since the ridiculous 'rebate' change. it's less than 10% of my overall healing done in a raid situation, and only going down. Viva la Rejuvenation.

-Kahmun, Fenris

Before I had been worried about Nourish, but now I'm not so sure I shouldn't be worried about Rejuvenation instead. It's an odd feeling to think that Blizzard doesn't know how to handle its own creations, but these shenanigans can't keep me from wondering what will happen next.

Friday, July 10, 2009

We Interrupt This Transmission...

Hey guys, it's Bellbell. I know we're in the middle of some sort of fancy addon series, but, well, Bellwether needed a break. Seriously, one of her friends just told her that their guild judges healers based on straight healing meters and she's been banging her head against a wall for the past hour whining something about "why do I even try" or whatever. Girl needs to chill, I swear.

So, yeah, I guess it's been a while. I got to 80. That probably should have been some sort of momentous occasion, I suppose, but whatever. I got to 80 and did...dailies. Running around, jousting scourge. I mean, seriously, what in the name of the Light is going on here? Arthas and the Argent Crusade woke up one day, had some brunch and were like "you know what would relieve the tedium? Jousting." So everyone and their decomposing brother saddled up and started waving pointy batons in each others' faces. I did it so I could get a cheaper sword than some Titansteel monstrosity, and Bellwether needed pets. Just needed them, for whatever reason, so I've been doing that.

I've been healing stuff (*shudder*) and DPSing stuff, though Bellwether's been so crazy with the raiding and the vacation and farming WG for marks before the patch system change that I've more been chilling in Dalaran or mining Saronite. Not to sell. One of Bellwether's beau's friends needed some Saronite armor for going to smash in Horde face. A worthy cause if ever there was one, so I happily circled Sholazar for an hour, sucking up gas clouds and picking up ore until I realized it was dreadfully, horribly dull.

I actually went into Ulduar before Bellwether, believe it or not. Kaelwryn needed a person to provide Replenishment and I just so happen to be able to do that, so off I toddled to XT with my shoddy gear and complete ignorance of fight mechanics. And I died. A lot. He didn't go down before I had to leave, but I heard they eventually killed him without me. I've been in Naxx and have killed everyone but Sapphiron (weirdly), but for some reason they always want to stick me in the back and heal. Now my healing gear's this weird mix of Death Knight look-a-like and shaman-esque pieces, with only really my belt looking all that Paladin-ish. It's quite...ugly.

I've started to get terribly lazy again, what with there being no upgrades for me from heroic badges and not having the time for any raid that's not OS 25 that drops Valor marks. But that's fine, it's not like there's any real monstrosity I can face right now. Bellwether hasn't even made it to Yogg-Saron and she's been trying her little sappy heart out. I'll have to keep jousting scourge for whatever unknown and perverse reason, and just wait til I can smack Arthas in the skull with whatever blade I happen to wielding at the time.

I swear to the Light if I'm in a pansy healing kilt when I face Arthas I'll die of embarrassment.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Using Full Recount Potential, Part II

Go to: Part I

Last time, we talked about the straight healing meters and their expanded properties. Now, it's time to talk about the less obvious meters that play an important role in figuring out what is going right and what is going wrong during any boss pull.

Recount Meter #2: Healed By Meter (Expanded)
This meters is most effective for judging the effectiveness of tanking assignments. This is only effective as an expanded meter. You click on a name on the meter, and up will pop your friendly window with another pie chart detailing where this person's heals have come from, and in what amount. Highlighting a name in the list will show just what skills were responsible for the heals, in order from most to least healing done.

This chart should tell you who is healing your tanks, plain and simple. If the healers you assigned to the tanks are not on the top of the charts, you have an obvious problem to be addressed. The same goes for if you have two healers assigned to a tank and three healers doing a relatively equal amount of healing. Why is that healer switching to the tank? If their tank is going down, they need to be told not to split their focus. If their tank is staying up but this tank with three healers has been struggling to stay alive, something may be wrong with your tank.

Recount Meter #3: Overhealing (Expanded)
It's time to look at Overhealing, that fickle, weird little meter. What can it actually tell you? By itself...not much. Since downranking went the way of the dodo, everyone has to use their max heal when healing anyone, and healing for less is a waste of time and mana. However, there are certain rules about overhealing; namely, your Druids should have a low amount of overheal. This isn't due to whether or not they have a large amount of skill, but rather because of HoT mechanics. If your Druids are spamming Regrowth and Healing Touch and Nourish a lot, their overheal will skyrocket.

Overheal meters have to be taken with a grain of salt. With your Paladins casting Holy Light as much as possible, they'll get overheal from crits, the AoE portion, and Beacon of Light. With a lot of Druids, other healers can be pushed off by HoT ticks. Fights that have to mitigate intense amounts of damage tend to have high overheal due to healers frantically trying to mitigate damage preemptively. While in BC these meters could tell you which of your healers had more skill with downranking, now they are probably the least important of meters.

Recount Meter #4: Dispell Meter (Expanded)
This meter is one of the best at providing information without being expanded (though expansion is still helpful). After any encounter in which dispelling is a necessary function, looking at this meter will show you two possible things: who is or isn't doing their job, and who is the fastest at reacting to dispelling situations. When your curses are staying on far too long, looking at the meters to see that one druid or mage or spec'd shaman has been doing the majority of the work will put it into perspective. One person cannot get to everything in time with the GCD, even with it reduced by haste and talents. It's time for your other healers (and maybe even your DPS!) to pick up the slack.

Expanding the dispell meter by clicking on names can give even more information. Who is dispelling what? How are they doing it? Mass dispell will get rid of more problems than a single target spell will, and Abolish Poison will cleanse poisons as they are applied (hence why I roll it like a HoT on poison-heavy bosses). Understanding why someone is cornering the market on dispells can also keep you from losing face from berating your other dispellers without cause.

That's all the meters, but we're not done yet. You cannot just look at one meter alone and make decisions. Part III, which is coming soon, will detail how to use all the meters together to make judgments, decisions and adjustments for healing purposes.

Go to: Part I