Archive for October, 2011

Chapter VI – I can write guides too, part one: TellMeWhen

I don’t like having an overly crowded interface.  As a healer, all I want is the essential info I need to avoid standing in fire and make sure that people survive non-avoidable damage. I want to know who is taking damage and who has debuffs on them  – that can be easily accomplished with a health bar frame such as Grid, Blizzard’s default raid frame or my favourite add-on ever, VuhDo. Also I want to know when people are going to take damage, as it’s usually going to happen at fixed intervals in PvE content – reading tactics thoroughly and using a boss mechanics add-on such as DBM or BigWigs will do the trick.

At that point, the question is what can I do about it? While many resto druid’s abilities can be spammed – Rejuve, Regrowth, Nourish etc. – our most powerful spells have a cooldown, and our utility as well. I need to know exactly what are the tools at my disposal at any given time, and when they will become available again.

Many raiders use Power Auras to track cooldowns, buffs and procs, but I have been using TellMeWhen instead since I was a little warlock. I am not attempting to determine which one is better. Both aim to achieve essentially the same, as TMW is described as “a system of icons and notifications for displaying vital information about various elements of combat”. However, TMW starts from a different concept, that of having ‘groups‘ of icons instead of single elements flashing on your screen. Whereas PowerAuras is very good at giving info in the guise of warnings, TMW feels more like a car’s dashboard, where you have everything under control at all times.

Top row, from left to right: Rebirth, Dash (cat), Barkskin, Innervate. Bottom row, from left to right: Tree of Life, Tranquility, Wild Growth, Nature’s Swiftness (actually a Healing Touch macro), Swiftmend, Nature’s Grace.

Let’s start from cooldown management. I use two rows of abilites: one dedicated to healing CDs such as Tranquility and Tree of Life, and one for utility like Rebirth or Dash. The icons in the picture above all show available cooldowns. You can set up a TMW icon to be shown all the time, only when the CD is available or only when the CD is NOT available. I prefer to have it visible all the time, just with a number showing how much time there is left before it becomes available again if it’s on CD. Now, let’s see how you can do that.

Type /tmw in your chat box. You will get an empty row of icons: right-click on any one of them and you will get a menu for that icon. Below we have the example of an already configured one: (Tree of Life)

Select ‘cooldown‘ in the drop-down menu on the left at the top and then type the name of the ability you want to track. The add-on features an auto-complete tool, meaning you can type out the name or start typing and then select the ability from a list.

With  ‘Show timer‘ you get the standard Blizz cooldown sweeping animation; ‘Show timer text‘ means that you get text showing the remaining time. You can select both, either, or neither; “Show timer text” requires OmniCC to be installed as well. You can see the effect of both together in the picture below.

Cooldown type: item’ is needed if you are tracking the cooldown on a trinket like Jaws of Defeat, otherwise just pick ‘Spell or ability’.  ‘Show icon when‘ lets you decide whether to show the icon when the ability is ready, not ready or all the time.

Icon opacity is linked to the ability being available or not. If you choose an ability to show on ‘usable’, the icon will have opacity 100% when available and 0% (invisible) when unavailable. However, you can manually move the slider to have different grades of opacity. You can have 100% opacity for ‘available’ and 50% opacity (translucent) for unavailable. Keep in mind that if you choose a grade of opacity, any timer or bar you have applied to the icon will also be affected.

Also, you can type your keybind for the ability under ‘Binding Text‘ and it will be shown on the icon; it clashes a bit with ‘Show timer text’ if you have it on, though.

When you pop Tree of Life , this is the result with the timer settings explained above:

If you prefer, you can check ‘Timer bar‘ and have a bar instead that is overlaid across the bottom half of the icon, indicating the time remaining or the time elapsed if ‘Fill bars up‘ is selected. I prefer being able to look at numbers myself but here you go:

The bar will start out red and turn progressively green up to the point where it fills the bottom half of the icon, which will turn bright again, meaning that Broccoli Form is available. Of course, if you prefer to have the icon show only when available, none of the above applies. ;-)

Besides the visual aid, I have a warning go out in raid chat when ToL comes off CD (i.e. is available again). You can link text warnings to your abilities from the ‘Text Output‘ tab:

Pick an event from the list on the left and then select where to show your warning from the list on the right – if you pick ‘Chat Channel‘ you will be asked to select the channel you want to use from your current ones. That is expecially useful, for instance, if you have a custom channel for guild heals. In this case, I wanted to let the raid know when the timer on the cooldown reaches zero – i.e. like I said, when ToL is available again – so I chose ‘On Finish‘ as the trigger for the text output. To complete the setup, type your warning in the text box at the top and you’re done!

You can also have sound alarms linked to your abilities, although I have not tinkered with that option yet:

Personally I don’t like having more sound alerts besides the ones from DBM/Bigwigs, please let me know if you did try this feature and found it useful.

So far, that’s the standard setup for most CDs, as far as resto is concerned. Tracking Nature’s Grace is a bit trickier though, as it’s an internal cooldown linked to another ability:

The picture above pretty much says what you need to know. Just select ‘Internal Cooldown‘ instead of ‘Cooldown’, everything else stays the same except you will have to type the CD duration (in seconds) after the ability name: ‘Nature’s Grace: 60’.

Besides cooldown management, TMW is also very useful for tracking buffs and debuffs. I set my buff group to show, from left to right, Nature’s Grace, Tree of Life, Harmony and Power Torrent. Red text helps stressing the fact that the buff is about to expire.

Tracking buffs is pretty similar to managing CDs, just select ‘Buff/Debuffs‘ from the drop-down menu instead of cooldowns. The timer, when enabled, will show how much time you have left before the buff expires. It makes sense to have a buff icon appear only when the buff is up (‘Show icon when present‘); however, you can also have it show up all the time and just set a lower opacity under ‘Absent‘. Our example is once again Tree of Life:

Of course, I have TMW announce when the buff is up. Just go to the ‘Text output‘ tab as explained earlier and select ‘On show‘ – meaning that the warning will go out when you pop ToL. Remember that you can link more than one text output to the same icon, so you can have a warning go out when Tree of Life ends as well.

Remember: buffs from items (procs or on-use effects) such as trinkets/potions often do NOT have the same name as the item. For instance, the buff from Jaws of Defeat is called Victory, and that’s what you need to track.

TellMeWhen can also track encounter-specific buffs like Vital Spark stacks and Vital Flame (the healer buffs from Baleroc). At this point it should be pretty clear how to set up an icon ;-) you don’t even need to worry about stacks for Vital Spark as TMW will show the number of sparks you have by itself, without the need for further input. For Vital Flame, remember to set up a text warning when it becomes visible: this way you will let your raid know that you have switched to tank healing.

Same for debuffs on you or other raid members. For instance,  I wasn’t completely happy with how both DeadlyBossMods and WoW itself deal with Searing Seeds, the debuff from Majordomo Staghelm. I didn’t want to have to constantly look at the small icon on the corner of the screen and I wanted to be warned earlier if I’m getting close to wiping the raid, as DBM warns you only a few seconds before you have to GTFO; it’s more than enough when you have mastered the fight, but I wasn’t comfortable with it on the first few tries.

Thus I made a specific debuff icon. I don’t need it to show all the time I have it on me (as it can last up to a minute), only when the debuff is about to expire, let’s say five seconds before it does:

Duration‘ set to ‘Maximum: 5‘ means that the icon won’t show if there are more than five seconds left on the debuff. A text warning in /yell is something I found useful too – as before, just go to the ‘Text Output’ tab to link a text output to the icon.

At this point you have all the tools you need to start making icons of your own. When you first install TMW, you get a single group of one row and four icons. If you want more groups or want to expand one, the ‘Group Settings‘ tab (also accessed from Interface -> Add-ons) is there to let you manage groups:

As you can see from the picture above, managing groups is pretty straightforward. Any group can be given a custom name and tweaked so that it shows only for certain specs. ‘Only show in combat‘ and ‘Enable group‘ are there if you don’t want extra icons on your screen when you don’t need them, or if you are tinkering with a group you’re still not happy with and you don’t want it to be displayed during a raid.

That’s it… for now. If you have made it to the end of the post, feel free to point out any mistakes, or if there are things which just don’t make sense, please leave a comment.  This is a fantastic add-on which has a lot of potential and features I haven’t even touched. My post is not an actual guide but barely an overview of the basic concepts; if you want to know more or have a specific question about it, just ask away. Thank you.


Chapter V – Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t I?

There’s a new buzz in the resto community, and of course it’s the upcoming nerf of both Wild Growth and its associated glyph. While there’s nothing set in stone yet as it’s still only PTR, patch notes coupled with GC’s attitude were enough to make trees worried about the viability of resto healing in 4.3.

“But Rayze, we already know that!”

Alright, alright, I’m fashionably late to the party. Admittedly, I noticed the announcement right away, but I was busy staring at the amazing Tier 13 Priest set. The little warlock in me just loves headpieces that look like a mask, and the designers actually managed to give the set a unique flavour – although there’s a kind of resemblance to the Gemini armour from Saint Seiya(*). I went to share my enthusiasm with my guildies on our forum, and my post was met with replies such as “Why do I have to look like a statue?” “All hail your new pharaoh!” “…sicked up chocolate box crossed with a chess piece…” “Dude, it looks terribad on [insert non-human race here]!” “Thanks Blizz for transmogrification” etc.

[2. Trade] [Rayze]: Resto druid LF guild with some sort of fashion sense, please /w me.

…Very well. Let’s discuss the nerf then.

By itself, it is totally fine. Not only Wild Growth is ranked #1 by far for healing done in most of my logs, it’s also one of those kind of “cast and forget” abilites as it’s an instant smart heal – it will heal the most injured targets in range without the need for me to actually select targets or position myself according to range (see Holy Radiance). As many have said, some sort of nerf was expected for patch 4.3. Why am I even commenting on it then? Well, the explanation from mr. Nerfbat himself seems to suggest that we should be grateful as we apparently will be gifted with the chance to choose between glyphed WG and non-glyphed WG, which I guess implies that we have many major glyphs left to gather dust simply because they were over-shadowed by the almighty WG glyph.


Look. I understand that a major glyph which gives a flat percentage of bonus healing with no drawbacks of sort needs to be revised. But what is mind-boggling here is how GC seems to blissfully ignore the fact that there are no good major glyphs beyond those three we currently see employed – not to mention that Glyph of Healing Touch does nothing if you aren’t specced into Nature’s Swiftness. Glyph of Innervate is almost useless since 4.2, and Glyph of Thorns is “meh” at best.

Aside from this blunder (?), the nerf to WG sparks a question. We know that resto druids don’t have access to shield effects nor have the ability to quickly refill health bars. Our strength lies in mobility and the tremendous, constant healing that our HoTs provide. I have read comments suggesting that at the moment resto druids are the kings of farm content. I’d like to disagree; even when first faced with abilities such as Nefarian’s Electrocute, we managed to find a way to work around the lack of burst healing (pre-hotting people before Electrocute went off to save the GCDs for the aftermath).

However, if WG’s strength is going to be reduced, how are we going to make up for the drop in healing output, if a growth in raid-wide damage with the advent of the Dragon Soul raid is to be expected? I went looking through our arsenal of healing spells. We have four single target non-hot heals, only one of which is instant and doubles as an aoe heal but has a CD; barring WG, one aoe heal on a 3 mins cooldown; and two HoTs, of which only one is spammable and the other can be cast on unlimited targets only under certain circumstances.

The most obvious answer is then Rejuvenation, at least when not in Tree form. When we have to quickly bring the raid back to an acceptable health level, that seems to be the faster, dependable answer. Of course I might be overlooking things, but Ghostcrawler has already said that “this (the WG nerf) may or may not be sufficient to nerf Resto druid throughput overall”, so don’t expect any of our other healing spells to receive a buff anytime soon. I know that we were far from being able to spam Rejuve at will only a few months ago, but with the increase in Intellect and Spirit on gear and the tier 13 2-pieces bonus, we are getting closer and closer to a situation where mana is not a relevant issue anymore unless you’re casting nothing but Regrowth.

This is where both Blizzard and many comments I’ve seen around the web seem to miss the mark. If Rejuvenation spam will be resto’s answer, what will the nerf actually accomplish? The actual problem is not only that WG is currently too strong, but also that it’s too easy to use it effectively because its use requires very little thought. I don’t like how Crabby plainly states the problem (“Resto AOE healing is too strong”) yet makes no effort to look at the root of the issue besides “WG is broken”. Resto healing numbers are very high now not only because we have at our disposal impressive abilities like Tree form and Tranquillity, but also because we can use our strongest non-CD tools (WG and RJ) more liberally compared to when resto druids were struggling and Wild Growth received a buff (i.e. pre-4.1).

I am not complaining that resto healing is too easy, far from it; however, why not give us major glyphs which enhance our lackluster single target heals? How often have you cast Nourish and Healing Touch in raids lately, especially as raid healers? If GC is really that worried about the glyph of WG, why not introduce a glyph which makes Nourish work like Binding Heal, for instance, at the cost of more mana; or a glyph which gives Regrowth back a useful heal-over-time effect. If Blizzard really see resto’s healing output as too strong, please feel free to nerf WG even more, but at least give us the tools to make up for it with the individual players’ skill. I know that we’re close to the end of Cata and it’s a bad time to make major changes to how a class works (oh wait, Holy Paladins say hi); however, a plain nerf to Wild Growth actually accomplishes close to nothing, and with the ignorant comment about glyphs, feels like a slap to our collective face.

(*) No, I am not suggesting that they look alike. Or maybe I am. That’s just the first thing that sprung to my mind after seeing it.