Archive for the ‘Guides’ Category

Interlude – Another (hopefully) useful post

Again, a list of relevant (ilvl 397/403) gear for the current tier, sorted by itemization. Comments below.

SPIRIT/HASTE

SPIRIT/CRIT

SPIRIT/MASTERY

MASTERY/HASTE

  • Ring of the Riven (ring, drops from Hagara the Stormbinder – 1 x red socket/+10 int);

CRIT/HASTE

Wow. There seems to be plenty of spirit/x stuff, that’s for sure. Putting LW BOEs aside, which many won’t be able to afford for quite  a while, spirit/crit and spirit/mastery items seem to be equal in availability, with everything else trailing far behind. Also, sockets on gear are mostly red with int bonuses, which is NICE – there is a lone ring with a + mastery bonus.

The resto tier 13 is made of either spirit/haste or spirit/mastery stuff. The headpiece is spirit/haste and drops from Gunship 2.0, while the VP headpiece is spirit/mastery; Blackhorn is a bit far into Dragon Soul and you might not want haste anymore, so the VP helm might be one of your early purchases. The alternative to the spirit/haste chest is the VP spirit/crit one, so I’ll guess I’ll stick with the chest (which drops from Ultraxion, supposedly a hard boss, more on that below). Gloves, leggings and shoulders are spirit/mastery; even though the set bonuses are not that great for this tier, mastery is in my opinion our strongest secondary stats making those three pieces at least decent.

Funny thought, what makes gear “good” or “BiS” to the eyes of a resto druid nowadays? I guess the answer is “anything with mastery and lots of red sockets on it”. I’ll have to think about it.

Non-tier gear you can buy with VP isn’t really attractive – guess I’ll save my valor for the first few weeks and see how lucky I get with drops. The VP sp/haste cape seems to be the only healer cloak in the whole tier, though, so I guess I know how I’m going to spend my first 1250 points.

Also, remember that the VPs boots and bracers are BOE – that means you can buy them from the AH/trade chat (although you might want to wait until prices are reasonable) or with your alts’ valor.

The verdict? Thumbs in the middle, but it doesn’t really matter as the first four bosses are so easy, making the gearing process much simpler than usual. Depending on your guild, you might have boss #5 and number #6 on farm pretty soon as well. We killed the “gear check” of this tier (Ultraxion) on our first week of raiding… well it was SUPPOSED to be a gear check, I am not sure how it can be considered as such when average guilds kill him/her/it on the first week of 4.3 raiding (bear in mind we had almost no HC Firelands gear).

TWINKETS… PWETTY TWINKETS

Sorry for the brief, elitist rant there… back to evaluating gear. As usual we don’t have a whole lot of choices for trinkets. Bottled Wishes and Reflection of the Light, both purchasable for 1650 VPs, have two things in common: both give a spellpower bonus on use, and neither has passive intellect. Spellpower is still a very good stat, but the lack of passive int puts them low on the shopping list. I have never liked on-use trinkets anyway. Bottled Wishes has the ability to easily solve your haste issues for the rest of the expansion, though.

Windward Heart has a chance to drop from any DS boss except Deathwing. It does have passive intellect, which makes it ok by itself, but I don’t have any number on the proc. Seal of the Seven Signs (from Zon’ozz) along with int has a + haste proc. In order to determine how good this actually is, you’ll have to check your haste rating and see where the procs puts you in terms of haste thresholds. Heart of Unliving (Spine of DW) used to be very meh until they added +323 intellect to it, making it effectively a Tsunami card on steroids. Remember that other ilvl 397 trinkets have +458 passive intellect when making comparisons.

Honorable mention? Foul Gift of the Demon Lord. It drops from the last boss in Well of the Eternity – the 2nd one among the new 5-mans – and yes, it’s a ilvl 378 trinket. Passive intellect and roughly 40% uptime on the mastery proc (at least according to my combat logs, sometimes a bit less) make it a very solid trinket, especially if you had no luck with trinkets in Firelands – does Jaws of Defeat actually exist? Oh wait, I know it does, one of my alts got it… sigh.

AREN’T YOU… UH… FORGETTING SOMETHING?

Nope. Deathwing doesn’t drop anything useful. Apart from a couple of weapons with special procs. I will admit I have gathered little info about them so far, but neither is very appealing as the procs would have to be pretty powerful to make up for the loss of secondary stats. The +haste one seems better suited in the hands of a dps anyway. Of course the spellpower gain (they are ilvl 403 after all) is nice; maybe it’s just that Deathwing still seems to be too far away to worry about theorycrafting… or is he?

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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 II – Four_dot_two

A quick word before we start. My guild chose to take a summer break of two months from raiding, for reasons I am not going to discuss here, and we only just went back to elbow dropping baddies like it’s 1988 again. That doesn’t mean we stopped raiding altogether in that time – in short, I could say that we had a bit less planning than usual, and more going with what we had. Due in part to that reason, many of the topics I am going to tackle are not exactly breaking news, like I said in my previous post. My intent is to consolidate information and offer my take on common topics, thus I hope that you will forgive me if I seem to take some things for granted. I will assume on the reader’s part knowledge of the latest EJ guide for our class and spec or similar, and a general understanding of how we have evolved through Cataclysm so far.

That wasn’t so quick, was it? Well, my guildies learned fast not to trust everything I say. I am sure you will in time, too.

Now that roughly two months have passed since Rage of the Firelands was released, we will go back to the first days of 4.2, look at how we adjusted to the changes it brought and what are the options available to us to adapt and keep trucking through Firelands. Yes, there is a chance that will take a couple of posts or three or six.

At first glance, the big news for us resto droods was the reshaping of our mastery, the innervate ‘nerf’ and the bigger impact of healing critical strikes – from 150% to 200%. Now, if you think about it,  there is another quite obvious change every raid patch infallibly brings us : higher ilvl gear, which means more intellect, the paramount stat to us resto druids, and higher secondary stats.

– – –

Let’s focus on that last concept for a moment, and look back at the final days of the previous tier. As many of you are aware, one of the goals regarding resto gear in the previous patch was to reach that magical number that is 2005 haste, which means one more tick of Wild Growth and Efflorescence. Although that might have taken a while for some of us, we could reasonably expect to have reached that by the end of the raiding season. Of course there are exceptions – not everyone raided the whole six months of patch 4.0.6/4.1, not everyone had access to the Alchemy trinket which made things considerably easier, or people were just unlucky with drops. With the coming of patch 4.2 there is really no excuse though, as you can now buy with justice points gear which previously required valor. Even though you still can’t buy the resto tier 11 headpiece (spi/haste itemized), you can easily buy gear like the boomkin tier 11 pants which are spi/haste itemized, and the spi/haste boots.

I know that many of you might be looking at the gear currently sold for valor – ilvl 378 stuff I mean, especially offset – and be worried that you will not be able to maintain 2005 haste as you slowly replace your 359 gear. However, while most of the 378 gear you can buy is indeed spirit/mastery/crit itemized, many Firelands boss drops have haste on them, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry at all. On the contrary, you will be able to juggle your gear more comfortably around the haste threshold and eventually start reforging away some of that excess haste (as you don’t need more than 2005 – any amount above that is wasted).

– – –

That takes us right to next topic: the balance of spirit, crit, and mastery. Previous to patch 4.2, most of us needed spirit on every piece of gear, mastery was a very strong choice after the haste ‘cap’ and crit was regarded as the weaker secondary stat. Nowadays crit is much more valuable, roughly on par with mastery, and spirit seems to slowly take the backseat as we get more intellect due to the increase in gear item level.

Spirit is the stat whose impact is the hardest one to gauge, as it’s the only stat we can’t really evaluate in terms of healing output (yes, I don’t like the word throughput. You can unsubscribe now if you want to, it’s ok.) Basically, what spirit does is slowly renewing your mana bar so that you don’t run out of healz. Intellect does the same thing tough – and much more. Crit and mastery make your heals more powerful, meaning that, on paper, if your guildies manage to stay out of the badstuffonfloor you will have to cast less of those as your gear improves. In the end, the value of spirit is something very personal as it depends a lot on talents choices, gear available, choice of spells and raid composition.

Now, I don’t agree 100% with the notion, as endorsed by some, that if you have mana left at the end of a fight, that’s a wasted resource – that you should have used it, or that maybe you have too much mana regen. You as a healer are not a machine, and neither are your guildies: you might have a bad night, the tank or a couple of dps might as well, and you might spend on a certain boss encounter a lot more mana than you previously did when you downed it with a smooth kill, by having to cast more heals or having to use your expensive heals more liberally. Of course, if you consistently end boss fights with a lot of mana left, that means you should look more at your other secondary stats rather than spirit – personally, I like to have some solid empirical data before doing so.

My final advice, very similar to what other healers would suggest, is to judge the subject of spirit by your personal experience. Look at your options: Malfurion’s Gift and Revitalize are mandatory talents, but what about Furor? If you dropped it for Genesis and find yourself struggling for mana, maybe you should revert back – or if you have plenty of mana left at the end of boss fights, try dropping Furor for Genesis. Remember to use Tree of Life as often as you can when boss mechanics allow you to, as it will save you a lot of mana with Clearcasting procs and the healing buff. Talk to your fellow Shaman and Priest healers and learn how their raid cooldowns work for mana regen; discuss together how to coordinate and have them available when your healing team needs them most.

– – –

Evaluating crit and mastery is a bit easier, at least from an output standpoint. As said earlier, crit has been buffed and is now roughly on par with mastery as our preferred secondary stat, assuming we have enough spirit and haste. When making a choice between the two, we have to consider two factors: how they affect our healing spells, and talents choice. Efflorescence benefits more from mastery; Rejuvenation and Swiftmend benefit more from crit; while the rest of our spells – i.e. Wild Growth, Lifebloom, Tranquillity, Healing Touch, Nourish, and Regrowth – seem to benefit equally from both. Living Seed is not accounted for and, if taken, makes crit slightly more appealing for those who like their direct heals… like someone who is often on tank healing duty and thus has probably already taken Living Seed (I love circular logic and yeah, before you start making Vizzini quotes, I know exactly what that means).

Is there more to it? Yes, if we are willing to take into account the RNG factor of crit, and accept that we are using RNG as a way to discuss gearing/talent choices. As a personal preference, I hate the idea of somehow relying on random numbers. If we look at the list in the previous paragraph, though, Rejuvenation is one of our strongest, most used heals, and druids with Living Seed will probably prefer crit to mastery. In the end, again this is something you’ll have to try out for yourself, in order to come up with a definite answer (hey, I never said this blog would actually contain useful info).

As for me, in the end I gave the nod to mastery. I also scrapped Living Seed and went with this spec. I’d love to explain my reasoning behind that speccing, but I do realize the wall of text above is thick enough with food for your thoughts; plus, I do not feel we have a lot of choices right now when it comes to talents, and I will explain those few questionable choices by looking at how they paid off in the Firelands. That is something for my next post, though! Also, expect a list of 378 gear sorted by itemization – I haven’t seen something like that around yet and I know it did a lot for me .

Until then, may Beth’tilac drop Cowl of the Clicking Menace for you – stupid bug still has to choke that up for me even after five kills.