Cataclysm healing: The new age

So. Long before Cataclysm hit us we were being massaged by the constant spam of information about how healing will change come Cataclysm. I believe we all looked forward to it, still unsure about how it will play out in the end, half scared half excited, looking into the future and what it will bring.

Then 4.0 came and we got our new shiny abilities and mechanics, but in old and very, very easy content. Which didn’t mean much and everyone was excited and well, quite optimistic about the times that were supposed to come. There of course were the BETA reports of health being buffed by a lot, whilst remaining at the same per-heal numbers, meaning a lot more work. But that was far ahead, not in the present shiny days of ICC hardmodes and so much mana that we could bottle it and save for rainy days. Which we should’ve done.

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10M guilds and raiding: Part 1 – now and back then…

I am a die hard 10M raider. I was raiding strict 10M in Wrath (for those that don’t know jack about it, it’s raiding 10M only content with 10M only available gear; that back in Wrath meant raid comp issues, gear level issues as well as gear itemization issues – the great lack of 10M trinkets for casters back then is prime example). Back then, we were the underdogs, the often mocked “lolformat” of raiding. We did it because it was challenging as hell (strict LK HM kills pre 4.0 = 3 total) and because we preferred the intimacy of 10M close-knit group. As well, 10M being far more easy to organize and run, it was easier on me as GM and Raid Leader.

As noted elsewhere here, I was pretty excited about the intended raiding size changes for Cataclysm; 10M and 25M sharing same loot and same lockout? Yes please. No more belittling of our efforts and achievements, no more needing to prove ourselves. As well, with the gear and the format being on par between the formats, bigger pool for recruiting players for roster (which was constant struggle in 10M, as well as to remain on various “strict” rankings). This coupled with guild experience and guild perks felt like really the good and proper move towards more FnF style of raiding and actually good step forward in the PvE direction.

With T11 normal cleared and Wyrmus heroic beating the dust, I think I couldn’t be more wrong…

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On anything and everything…

On getting back into it

So here I was some day last week, dusting off my login into WordPress after many months, thinking I should you know, actually try and stick with something and do it. I logged into it and stared at the screen, frankly I didn’t even find the courage to click on the “blog dashboard” link to get over to BBT. Back in Wrath, BBT and the community I got into while blogging meant a great distraction and a perfect addition to what was happening in game. But truth be told, I am slacker. If slacking would be olympic sport, I’d be on Gold Medal streak and possibly hold few records. So here I sat, pondering what to do next. I was actually scared to write anything new because I was affraid of failure. Not that what I want to say will not interest anyone, but my own failure to stick to something and see it through. So I closed my browser and turned World of Warcraft on.

I told this to Chayah the same day and while he seemed pretty excited that I opened WP.com again (given he was excited only till I said I shut it down right after), but Chayah is pretty excited about just anything, he always seemed like the person who will cheer at you for finishing race last, because, you know, that’s awesome result and all and you might not run fast but you run with style… Anyways, it got me thinking some more. What if – what if I can keep it up? Not only that, what if I can actually take advantage of regular, additional activity in my life and stick with it, wouldn’t it be better for me in my personal life as well?

Well, here I am. Thinking that it’s about time to do something with my life and stop being as bad person as I am, work on myself. Yes, starting a game related blog might not seem to be the best idea but… baby steps. I as well ordered new pair of hyraulic disc brakes and set of wheels for my bike in prep for the nice weather, so hopefully I will be able to stick with some regular schedule with that as well.

 

On this blog, content and visuals…

We will see what time brings. As in the past, if I will stick with this, there won’t be much theorycrafting or solid guides around. I play it by the ear as I see fit (and I damn rock it) and there are others, far more sophisticated blogs out there for proper restoration shaman resource – big shout out to Vixsin from Life in Group 5 for being the lead on this field, I owe you soo much.

However, I am quite torn on the name and layout of this blog. I already changed the header and theme because, you know… Rahana is not Blueberry anymore. The very first day it became possible, she turned into Dwarf. A male one. You see, my very first character was a Dwarf Paladin and that’s kinda my race. Not that I have anything against Draenei, Rahana was hot shit as Draenei and all, but I am Dwarf at heart. As well being completely useless as anything but restoration invalidates all racial arguments. O hai Archaelogy.

So the biggest task for the few upcoming weeks is to rebuild the blog graphic site wise, move around the guide content to some archive cathegory and maybe, maybe post some new guides. I as well decided to actually put some time into TotemSpot (been given Wiki editor rank right from start, haven’t written a letter yet) and as I said, basically spend way more time doing the fun stuff around this game outside the stupid grind (more on that later).

So, now just to dust off the language, put in links to leech some link love from other bloggers and we might officialy re-open. I really do hope you will enjoy your stay and wish you best of luck downing bosses. And remember, have fun!


That’s like your opinion, dude (about Worgen and general Beta musings)

Riiiight. This is the non-spoiler paragraph. You are free to read on without the urge to poke your eyes out with rusty spoon in order to preserve your Cataclysm gameplay virginity. I will tell you when there will be spoilers. You won’t miss that, promise. It will be really, really obvious. Like really obvious. Something like big, capitalized, bolded and underlined, centered and red text saying there will be spoilers. Thinking something like this:

!!! BEWARE OF THE DOG AND SPOILERS. SPOILERS, DUDE!!!

Well okay, not underlined. But that’s how it will look when there are going to be spoilers. Not yet though. We are still in the non-spoiler part. Anyways, I spent some time on beta over the weekend and I am still pretty gutted Shaman trainers refuse to teach Rahana the new Cataclysm spells and I don’t dare pugging any instance without. I mean come on, they rebuild our healing arsenal but don’t issue new weapons. Dull. Anyways (and that’s gonna be one tedious task) I noticed the same on my druid who actually, could train the before-untrainable spells after leveling up. So guess I need to start working and push the blueberry to 81.

Last beta build came up with few great things – you can play Worgen (more on that later). You can’t submit feedback because for some reason that feature is broken (wasn’t me!) – which is kinda stupid for beta tested game; I even found out few bugs and stuff actually worth reporting but I can’t. Meh. The greatest thing so far though is the new game installer/launcher/downloader, that streams game data and downloads them while you play. Sure, getting into Dalaran and waiting a minute till your client actually downloads all textures and you are not in strange shades-of-purple-but-no-texture world, but it’s fast, it allows you to play the game quite early after initial installation file download and, contrary to the current downloader, it doesn’t lag you so much (even if you let just launcher up to download).

Okay. That’s about it. Now I will do something I haven’t done in ages – I will insert a page breaker. That means if you don’t want to read possible spoilers related to Trolls and Worgens, you better not click and read on. If you want to comment, feel free to I will make sure I will put down some harmless picture of swans or something so your eyes don’t ever land on spoiler content. For reading more, click read more. Somewhere down below this text.

SPOILER ALERT. PLEASE CLICK READ MORE AND YANNO, READ MORE ONLY IF YOU ARE SURE THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT.

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

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New Shaman changes…

I know I haven’t been talking much about coming Cataclysm changes and all, mostly because I jumped the bandwagon too late and everything worth of importance was already said in other places, but after two or three Beta builds Shamans finally got some love. And I am saying love as the changes don’t sound all that bad actually – you know I am the type that prefers Shaman to go to Cataclysm untouched rather than damaged by some eager class designer wishing to show us how they understand what this class needs.

Oh and don’t hold your breath – no Spirit Link.

Elemental goodies

Let’s see what is in the pot of Elemental goodies relevant to Restoration Shaman. Oh and no, I am not really going to say how good the changes are for Elemental :) There are people far more competent to do that. Actually I guess pretty much anyone is more competent for that matter than I am…

We have Hex lasting 1 minute (up from 30 seconds) – sweet change – I often felt crippled on fights like Faction Champs or Blood Queen HM when my CC was needed to save the day *cue Superman theme song* and the thirty seconds compared to the cooldown just wasn’t cutting it.

Obviously, Searing Totem  now prefers to target enemies that are afflicted by our Flame Shock or Stormstrike effects. About time I say. It actually makes it a worthy totem for us if we fancy pretending we do some direct damage contribution on those pre-enrage pushes. Guess our dps specced comrades are really happy about this change.

Last change I will mention, probably the most relevant to us is that Ancestral Knowledge (mana up) is now named Acuity and increases our critical strike chance with all spells and attacks by 1/2/3% (I think this is low value). Well, hm. At first I thought – yay, compensation for our low crit rate early on and bonus crit later. Then I started pondering whether the larger mana pool wouldn’t actually be better in the announced Cataclysm healing. I guess we will see. Right now we can only hope that all the crit dependant mana returns and the crit heals will somewhat compensate for replenishment loss.

That’s about it from Elemental, let’s go see what is in Santa’s bag for the freaks like me who throw around green leaves of good and slice through raid with golden lazorz.

Restoration changes

Okay. Here we are getting quite some interesting things that might actually spice up the talent trees a bit (and yes I thought they were boring. Solid, but boring).

Totemic Focus is now a 2-Ranks talent, down from 3-Ranks. Now also increases the duration of your totems by 20/40%. I seriously can’t see the benefits of this. Unless they make totems pop cost like 50% of your maximum mana, what’s the point here? Is there any totem duration decrease coming, or should we spec this just to make Searing, Earthbind totems last longer? On second thought – I guess some 25 Shamans might be forced into this spec for longer Mana Tide. Hm…

We even got new talent – Cleansing Waters. When our Cleanse Spirit successfully removes a harmful effect, we also heal the target for [ 1093 to 1164 ]/[ 2187 to 2330 ]. This talent sounds excellent – basically saving  a global cooldown every time we dispel and don’t have to whack another heal on the person right away. Especially if Cataclysm will be full of debuffs that hurt. Not totally sure it’s worth 2 points, I guess time will tell. It’s interesting mechanic at least.

Enhancement tree

Well this got me worried a bit in addition to other new talents. We were more or less speccing into Enhancement yet again, to pick up Weapons and Shields and try to reach the increased run speed (dropping Tuskarr’s for some sort of directly improving enchant) or investing the points in mana pool enhancement (intended) in elemental tree; now the choice is even harder. You can go pick up crit in elemental tree not leaving you enough points to pick up the new talent in enhancement tier 2 – Totemic Reach that increases the radius of your totems’ effects by 15/30%.

Again, we might not see enough fights where you’d need your Healing Stream to cover area worth of Orgrimmar, but in case this indeed is needed, it might get tricky on the points. Aaaanyways might be useful in five-man instances so you don’t have to re-drop totems all the time.

To conclude

In my opinion, these changes look interesting. They don’t add anything to be considered overpowered so we don’t have to tremble in fear we will get QQ-omg-nerfed to the ground and yet these abilities smooth some of the sharp edges this class still has in preparation for the new era.

Let’s stay positive and actually welcome it with open arms, trusting the developers they might have a clue as to what are they doing. Heh. What is your take on new spells? Especially cleansing water?


I am too old for this…

Yes I am. Current raiding scene is not for me as it seems. I just don’t understand it anymore. I still live in the (don’t know how you’d call it) mindset that when you join a raiding guild with set raiding days and times, you do it to raid. You know, because you are interested in raiding. As in the raiding, really. Not purples or whatever. But the pure fun you have with your guildies when you manage to down and encounter. As well, whenever I was joining a guild, I made myself pretty sure I can match attendance expectations before I even applied. And by match I mean not make sure I can meet the lowest expectations, but to be actually able to attend all raids (barring vacations and unexpected events / emergencies). I came to pretty much every raid I signed up for; can think of only one case when I made up excuse because I really was in no mood to raid that night, more so get shouted at for good or none reason. But I’ve always been there and always ready to raid.

Why am I writing all this? Because I think I really am too old. Attitude dinosaur, if you will. I see it in my guild – I see few of the people around me who think the same, and then many others who actually don’t care that much. Which in turn hurts and makes the game no fun for those like me. Those who actually worked their schedules around to be on time every day, prepared and ready to rock.

Disregarding the guild you are in, be it hardcore, social, raiding, roleplaying, whatever the guild is really, I am not saying you need to devote your whole life to the guild and do whatever you can just to get along with the rules. Then again, in a guild that raids three nights a week, starting a bit later than usual in order to give its members time to sort out kids and some food after work I don’t see why attendance should be a problem if raiding truly is your hobby. But instead people go skipping raids, not caring about sign ups or making up silly excuses over and over again.

By the way, and this should be stated way earlier I guess, this post is inspired, but not really related to situation my guild is in at this moment. We do have ups, we have downs as any other guild and there is summer. There is ICC that has been released what… 8 months ago and raided all over again and again. And from all the mailing and talking and forumeeering I did lately, it seems this is the usual summer-prexpac blues all over the place. But it’s still a thing I don’t really get and I will quote some friends, officers or raiders of guilds all over the scheme of things.

The stomach to actually progress

For me the thing that has held us back here for quite some time, to a much larger extent than ability: attendance, and the stomach to actually progress raid rather than farm. Consider what happened with LK…we got up to him fairly comfortably really, had what…an hour or two? on him, then went like a month before having another go due to two people quitting and attendance dropping off. Again just after we started hard modes, first few fine, once we get roflstomped by Marrowgar once or twice though suddenly noone wants to raid. And yet again just before X and Y joined, we were seeing a situation where peoples attendance was dropping off during learning Putri, leaving progress on him all over the place. This is what needs to be sorted out, as its really costing us progression. We cancel raids or have to fall back on farm content for a reset far too often, and when we dont we inevitably end up having to learn encounters all over again because half the raid from the last time decide to take the night off. Even when we have something down numerous times – Saurfang and Putri spring to mind – when we end up taking a load of off specs and poorly geared people due to shit sign ups, we are always going to struggle.

“The stomach to actually progress rather than farm” – I wonder where this comes from. You can’t quite frankly blame it on people caring only about their gear as there is better gear in heroic modes. I actually think Blizzard is the one to blame here. Their idea of reworking raiding for both the hardcore and the casual probably looked awesome on the paper. Reality check failed a bit. The current rewards for heroic raiding hardly compensate for the extra effort you have to put in (what effort really, most of the hardmodes felt like properly tuned challenging encounters at the 10-15% buff marker). The World of Warcraft community is spoiled in lazy, in my opinion. Let’s go through the Northrend raiding scheme all over again.

First raids released were Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum and Eye of Eternity. I enjoyed Naxxramas quite a bit as I haven’t raided it back in the day; Obsidian Sanctum was a bit dull till you tried any count of dragons up – that’s when it became very interesting or frustrating encounter. I loved how the 3D mechanics pushed your ability to play your class and your raid awareness to limits. I never liked Malygos, but it was new concept raid that wasn’t all that bad. Besides, we got lured by Ulduar quite early on. With Ulduar the first change came – hardmodes. People loved and hated them, yet another hardcore vs casual war started but truth be told, it was probably the best instance in this expansion. While triggering hardmodes was a bit clumsy and dependant on how your fight goes, this instance had it all. It was long, it had diversity and it concluded story and lore of many quests and your previous actions. There were fun achievments, there were painful hardmodes, all tuned exactly on the edge of fun-insane. This was, in my opinion, the peak of Wrath raiding. After Ulduar, we got Trial of the Crusader; how can they have released such a shitty raid instance after the awesome Ulduar is still beyond me. They made short, no trash, dull looking instance  that even had PvP combat included and presented that to us in the glorious “there you go, whole new raiding tier” fashion; “and it has hardmodes too”. This instance was a bit of fail, especially beasts heroic. I mean really – you kill Anub’arak on normal and then hit the brick wall that heroic beasts were. The biggest problem to Grand Crusader in my opinion were these hardmodes. They didn’t bring anything new. It just did more damage and had insanely more hitpoints. There was not so much required from you raider wise – you just had to push your buttons faster to dish out the required dps / hps, how we longed after new instance. Then, finally, ICC hit us. And it was not as good as we thought. The gating, the difficulty of some encounters was just stupid. And when the community finally got into the hardmode game, the ICC buffs came and numbed it down even more and normal modes became roflstomp content for like, anyone. Do not forget at that stage a soft gear reset happened and everyone was allowed to get raider gear.  In my books, the events after Ulduar was completed truly ruined any sense of proper raiding in Wrath. You can get everything in pug, so why bother. You can get your T10 without too much effort, just sit and wait and that’s the best there is anyways, why bother. And let’s admit it, raiding an instance for 8 months straight does not really add to the novelty and appeal of hardmodes.

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people

We can’t blame it on Blizzard. All Blizzard did was creating not so great atmosphere and community tools that actually allowed people to turn into lazy tards; so at the end of the day, the blame lies on players again. And there isn’t much you can do about it nowadays anyways. You can’t quite possibly kick all the slackers now, as you either won’t have a pool to recruit from over summer and in expectation of new expansion, or you will recruit but will be pushed way back on progression because you will have to teach the fights to new people all over again. This may of course lead to your veteran core getting pissed off over and burning out faster than you though, eventually quitting, leaving you with yet another newbies as replacements.

I presume the tool that caused this was indeed the gear. As said as it is for me to admit, unless there is huge motivator in gear, people don’t give a damn about raiding anymore. It’s not only stats though – it’s the exclusivity; remember how many paladins on your realm had full T6 before 3.0 came? Remember how many of them had Sunwell gear? I remember. We got exactly 3 retribution paladins on our server with T6 or better. I was the worst geared, but still one of them. I was damn proud flashing my golden rimmed shoulders on my dwarf of doom. The pride came from wearing something a bit more rare than the generic epix. Again, T9+T10 killed this. You see nowadays 15 paladins in just Dalaran bank and all look the same; same armor, same weapons; so not only there is no gear quality motivator anymore for most people, there is no real gear side motivator – the looks.

Bringing the fun into raiding again?

why the fuck some people in this guild seem to treat raiding and playing WoW as some kind of punishment that they try to avoid at all costs, and why does their attendance drop off so much when we actually get to something interesting?

This statement I hold as very true nowadays. And I wonder what Cataclysm will do to the current community. “Merging” 10 and 25 loot tables is a step in good direction, however will Blizzard have the balls to push on harder to make the content like, actually challenging? Or will they still go with their politics of “everyone gets to see content” like the did now? And what the hell was wrong with Burning Crusade raiding progression – “everyone gets to see content, those not so hardcore just a patch later”. From the early promises it actually looks like they might go the “hardcore” way, but I am afraid any anti-crowd decision they will want to force through will be taken back in order not to cause civil war and riots.

They already want a purple pixels to be more valuable. The are unifying 10 and 25 raiding so getting tier armor could be a bit harder. They are implementing a bit more complex guild system to make being guilded and progressing new content more important in the grand scheme of things. They seem to be on a good way, in my books at least.

Uff, what a ramble. And I didn’t really get to say what I wanted to say and I forgot was my original point was supposed to be entirely. Who cares, rite?

So, how does your guild handle the summer and pre-cata blues? Are you going strong or cancelling raids? And what you think is the cause?

PS: I am getting devastated a lot in StarCraft II; so if you face yourself with Terran (yes I play only Terran) called Rahana, say hi and play nice. Imma newbie afterall :)


Gear resets

Because I got some sort of summer flu two weeks back, my Cataclysm testing so far is limited to something like 7 hours total, in which I logged Rahana and spent 10 minutes flying all over Ironforge and visited Ironforge Airport. Created a Goblin Shaman and spent few minutes waiting for Rocket Jump cooldown just tossing around. Logged my Deathknight, specced her and went into Ebon Hold to whack dummies. Without any sort of dps meter. Next log on I went again with Rahana, flying all over Azeroth to visit old and new places and got great twitch to roll new character come Cataclysm to experience the old new content. I did the “CSI: Old Blanchy” quest too. Oh and I rolled a Troll Druid with the intention to level it a bit higher to see the Bear form. He’s stuck at level 4 – but Echo Isles are by far the best (as in colourful, cutest) starting zone out there. Yesterday before raid I logged for quite some time because I was tasked with finding whether Water Elementals are still immune to Frost magic.

So I logged my frost knight, and asked humbly in trade how the hell can I get to 80+ zones. Use the teleport outside Stormwind bank they said. So I did.

Whooooom. Loading screen.

Mount Hyjaal (or how do you spell that). Beautiful zone. It has everything – druids, lore important NPCs, mining nodes, Big Tree of Importance (TM), quests and Twilight occultists (not the movie, the cult).

In my thorough search for a single water elemental (they have fire, earth and wind, but no water on Mt.H.) I picked up a few quests. The usual right-click-don’t-read-accept way as I didn’t want to spoil the lore line for Cataclysm for myself. I did those quests. Two to be precise. And seeing the quest reward shocked me a bit. Here I was, looking at a piece of mail caster gear with hit and crit on it, with about 150+ intellect on shoulder piece. I blinked. Then I blinked again. I sat there, looking at the green quest thing trying to figure what the hell is wrong with that. Then I figured. Rahana’s T10 (264) shoulder armor has about 200 armor and 60 INT less (but 1 socket more). After a while I managed to display ilevel in default Blizzard UI (if anyone knows of any working Beta addons, please let me know). i272. First rewards. Oshi.

I won’t try to hide it bugged me a little (yes, past tense) – after all replacing the set gear and nice purples with very first rewards, expecting to have pretty much 10M BiS by the time Cataclysm ships felt a bit weird for me. Second zone quest rewards, first instance blues would feel more appropriate. We are geared from the final instance for god’s sake, aren’t we? Anyways, as I said, it does not bug me anymore. We talked in guild about it, I did some thinking too and yeah, the complete reset is a great thing.

Complete gear reset is the best gear reset

It actually is. It allows people to change mains easily, it allows your raid squad to evolve and get ready and confident for Cataclysm. It was actually annoying to start doing Naxxramas in Sunwell and some other T6 gear just because the heroic / blue i200 alternatives were either pain to get or not that big upgrade to be worth trying to put together group for Oculus – and trust me, that was near to impossible at Wrath launch. If you think of it, using old expansion gear sucks out half of the fun from preparing for new content. You don’t have to run dungeons for gear, just badges. You don’t get to think about new gear set-up, whether this piece is better or not during the leveling process. You just wait for first raid drops and you perform just well in the raid. That definitely is unhealthy way to sort gear progression.

In hindsight, if we take our experience with Wrath into consideration, the QQ about TBC gear reset was stupid and pointless. Now I understand if anyone is pro raider with Naxxramas on farm, they wanted their gear to represent their feats and pride for as long as possible. Let’s as well admit that the BC visuals were far from the cool visor of grim, gothic looking Naxxramas (or vanilla in general) gear. Replacing your epic sword for some crystalish stick that looks like big dildo sure does feel humiliating, disregarding the fact that it is gear improvement. Then again, I really do think so far the TBC gear reset was the best so far and we can only hope that Cataclysm reset will be the tiny bit better. Better in what? Let’s see.

  • There needs to be a lot of viable gear options in the 84-85 bracket instances. Bringing back D-sets would be just awesome, decking ourselves in blue sets before we set our feet into raids and replace them with !purplz! was probably the biggest thing I missed in Wrath.
  • There must be enough viable options in quest rewards that will actually force us to break our sets early. Because let’s admit it, most of the time it’s not the raw stats, but the set value that is holding us back
  • Community has to start thinking in number values, not colour values regarding gear. That means important is ilevel, not shades of blue or purple. I still recall getting a proper beating for using Spark of Life when Ulduar was out. I was supposed to go and buy Egg of Mortal Essence because it was upgrade. Well, bullshit. Same ilevel, different colour and Spark was actually priceless to me due to the mp5 proc.

Preparing for new gear

The most important task with upcoming gear reset however lies on us. At least I believe so. We need to actually prepare ourselves for the early gear switch so we can move on, not being stubborn asses that insist on keeping their heroic tagged purples no matter what. If you haven’t been to Beta, I can guarantee you will be blown away by the stat increase on the gear. I don’t know what caused it, my guess at long shot would be that the removal of ratings and some other stuff actually moved a bit the budget cost of other stats so the gear really does seem imbalanced and OP at first.

Anyways, that is just my thinking about how we should look at it. Gear reset is coming and there is nothing you can do about it. My question though is – how long do you think will the T10 set bonuses outweight the raw stats? And I am not interested in numbers, more likely the feel of it. Seeing the starter gear, I expect Rahana to be in brand new green/blue gear halfway to 83 latest.


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