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.

Advertisements

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.

Excusez-moi?

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.

Chapter IV – Wake up and smell the coffee

It was a quiet sunday morning and I was running through my usual WoW routine – checking the AH, making sure add-ons are updated and reading my favourite blogs/news sites – instead of doing actual stuff when I ran into this, the list of Tier 13 set bonuses.

Usually I am a bit skeptical towards these early announcements, especially when there’s nothing on the PTR yet. However, I fancied doing some commentary while the news is still hot for a change, so… here we go.

TIER 13 SET BONUSES PREVIEW – DRUID

Restoration, 2PAfter using Innervate, the mana cost of your healing spells is reduced by 25% for 15 sec.

Thumbs mildly up. I like the Cata model of having a mana regen ability as the two-pieces bonus for healers. You can get it reasonably early and it’s always useful, both at the beginning of the gearing process and later when you start reforging spirit away. The fact that it’s a set bonus means that it doesn’t take up precious itemization stats.

It’s interesting to notice that the two-pieces bonus for both Resto Druids and Shamans procs from a mana-regen ability (Innervate for druids and Mana Tide Totem for Shamans), while it procs from healing output cooldowns for both Priests and Holy Paladins (Power Infusion/Lightwell and Divine Favor respectively) instead. On the one hand, I like having it tied to Innervate as often the healing-intense part of a fight is not at the beginning; thus you can wait to Innervate before a heavy raid damage phase, when you have consumed some of your mana bar and will make good use of the mana discount.

On the other hand, Innervate is the only resto spell with a cooldown comparable to those abilites from other classes (only Power Infusion has a 2 mins CD, rest is 3 mins), which was a very simple reason for the developers to pick Innervate, I guess. Wait, Tranquillity has a 3 mins CD as well, but it wouldn’t make much sense to tie something like “After using x the cost of your spells is reduced by 25% for 15 sec.” to a channeled spell.

Restoration, 4PYour Rejuvenation and Regrowth spells have a 10% chance to Timeslip and have double the normal duration.

I am not sure what to do of this one. I will assume the exact meaning is that when you cast Rejuve or Regrowth you have a 10% chance that the HoT will last twice as normal. The one from Regrowth is pretty much irrelevant. If you get a proc when casting Rejuvenation, that means you will have a 24 seconds HoT which of course heals for twice as normal. A 24-seconds Rejuve on the tank doesn’t sound exciting but it’s not bad either – you will save one second of casting time and the mana needed to recast it, as you usually want to keep Rejuve rolling on the tank.

A 24-seconds Rejuve on a raid member does sound bad though. Even with the Cataclysm healing model, in fights where there is a substantial amount of raid damage you can’t afford to spend 24 seconds to top a player’s health out – you will have to supplement it anyway with Wild Growth, Efflorescence or something else. As much as a stronger Rejuvenation might sound good, it’s not very useful if it procs on raid healing – it won’t make the difference and will result in heavy overhealing. I’d rather have a chance to see Rejuvenation heal for twice the amount in the same time span, although that might be a tad too strong.

So… I guess that for the time being, this deserves a thumbs down. It would be nice to know how the 4-pieces bonus exactly works with Gift ot the Earthmother, by the way.

– – –

While I was at it, I took the time to look at the Warlock set bonuses. I still keep an eye on all things warlocky even after changing my raiding toon, and secretly hope for Mage nerfs which will not come.

BONUS TIER 13 SET BONUSES PREVIEW – WARLOCK

2P — The duration of your Doomguard and Infernal summons is increased by [15|45] sec and the cooldown of of those spells is reduced by 4 min.  (45 for Demonology, 15 for non-Demonology.)

Not a fan of the different duration/cooldown for Demonology. I love that spec dearly, but does it need a buff compared to Affliction and Fire, I mean Destruction? Four minutes less of CD means you’ll be able to use it twice in most fights. At least it makes sense with Demo being all about, well, summoned demons.

Anyway, unless there’s an incoming nerf for Demonology, I don’t really understand the reasoning behind this one. I do like the fact that you get a plain dps buff with two pieces, although I am not sure how much of a dps increase this will actually be, especially if you’re not demo. Btw, this just made me notice there’s a typo in Zharym’s post. >_>;

4P — Soulburn grants a 10% increase to your spell power for 10 sec.

At a first glance, I was all thumbs up for this. Soulburn clearly has not had the impact Blizzard expected it to have and is trying to make it more meaningful. Then I realized there are multiple issues with Soulburn-related procs.  Although the cooldown is fairly short at only 45 seconds, Soulburn is a dps cooldown with a finite number of ‘charges’ per fight. Demonology managed to find a use for Soulburn-powered instant-cast summons as doing so provides a notable dps boost under certain circumstances, while Affliction is still stuck with empowered Seed of Corruption.

That means Affliction players will have to start using an ability (soulburn) which is pretty much useless at this moment unless on an adds-heavy fight, while Demonology warlocks will have to gauge the impact of pet-swapping vs. 10% more spellpower for a limited time. To add insult to injury, Soulburn is the only way for the former to get their pet back up quickly in case it dies, while the latter can already do that at no cost thanks to Demonic Rebirth (feel free to notice how little I know about Destro *sigh*).

If Soulburn had no charges but maybe a longer cooldown, this set bonus would make more sense, although it still wouldn’t be balanced for all specs. Overall, while I like the reasoning behind the design (making Soulburn feel like it’s actually one of the signature Warlock abilities), I feel that this Soulburn ‘buff’ is actually a few months late, and not very well thought-out.

Chapter III – PotPourri

Another couple of weeks have passed and WoW news sites have been kept pretty busy. Patch 4.3 seems to loom closer, despite not being on the PTR yet, and bits and pieces and fat chunks about its content and the changes it will bring have started to surface on Blizzard’s very own website.

Just to get this out of the way: I know there were nerfs to tier12 content. Although they do irk me somehow, discussing them irks me even more as I actually rewrote this post a couple of time before deciding I had already wasted enough time on things that marginally affect me or my guild.

Same old song and dance?

The first bit of news about 4.3 is actually almost a month old, as fashionable WoW players have had the time to appreciate the new transmogrify feature and start looking at every possible set (and if you were still wondering, Blizz just made a list of official notes about how transmogrification works).

Your favourite slothful healer, ça va sans dire, is not fazed by this particular bit of  news as looking for pretty gear would mean actually spending time outside of raids. Also, I am not really interested in gear for its looks unless there’s a set somewhere that makes you look like this.

However, I can agree that it does add a nice touch of customization to the game, and it’s something players been interested in for a while. After transmogrification was announced, more polishing  features were revealed over the days – void storage, the ‘all new’ Darkmoon Faire, Worgen ponies, new tiers and Blizz admitting Blood tanking is gimped and will be fixed soon. I choose the word ‘polish’ intentionally as patch 4.3 seems to follow a pattern started roughly with dual speccing and walked by Cataclysm, as quality-of-life improvements take precedence over radical changes to the game.

Quality-of-life is a notion Blizzard themselves recently mentioned in the class feedback threads; as I see it, it’s the concept that the difficulty in WoW should be determined by the actual content and not by gameplay issues which might prevent you from enjoying the content in the first place – see warlock shards pre-cataclysm.

While some players complain that Cataclysm was a disappointment because of the lack of actual changes to the game, I agree with Blizz and others that there isn’t really a way to bring substantial upgrades to a seven-years-old game, and at this point it makes more sense to make sure that what we have is as smooth and enjoyable as possible; think of the revamp of 1-60 zones or the Void Storage feature if you want a couple of examples.

However, something Blizzard are expected to improve and innovate are raid encounters. As much as the Gunship Battle in ICC was basically tank and spank with some twists and free loot, I liked the fact that it managed to advance the story in a way few boss encounters did before (fighting the horde while trying to reach the upper Citadel). For that reason I am really looking forward to the Deathwing encounter, which seems to involve many different mechanics wrapped into an epic showdown. If the fight ends up half as fun as it sounds on paper, my guildies will see a very keen tree on the day we finally face the aspect of Death – as long as there is no swimming out of lava involved.

Domo, Majordomo-sama.

In other strictly related news, we killed Staghelm last week. We just did it again, and it looks like it could become farm content faster than Aly (which still isn’t for us), even without the nerf. I love this fight, not strictly because of the mechanics, although it’s reasonably well designed and fun; what I like is that I have to make the most out  if every spell in my arsenal – bar Nourish, sadly – if I want my team to have a chance to succeed, and that’s especially true in 10 man because you are responsible for pretty much every health bar in your range. From healing the tank hard to managing your raid cooldowns to keeping an eye on damage taken by orbs ‘tanks’, it always keeps people on their toes and prevents me from being stuck on the ‘keep hots rolling on the raid’ mentality.

Speaking of which, I did not actually take the time to answer Blizz’s questions, but I enjoyed reading the feedback from other players and seeing so many diverse opinions. I will admit I really like resto healing at the moment. I don’t have any bias, having started my healing career in the midst of tier 11, and at the same time I don’t have the experience either, so that I can’t compare resto as it is now to what it was in, say, ICC.

It does feel great, though, for the reasons I listed earlier taking about the Staghelm fight. The fact that we lack the ability to quickly top off a health bar or the ability to reduce incoming damage makes healing more challenging and fun.  As other bloggers have pointed out, we should not ask for abilities that do not belong in our spec or that are trademarks of other healing classes. The mark of a good healer is the ability to work with and make the most of other healers’ strong points and cover for their weaknesses. If you learn to do it for your fellow healers, they’ll do the same for you.

That is expecially true for us resto because our healing style complements others so well.

Anyway, I love resto so much that I will probably get a second resto spec – shouldn’t be an issue seeing how many dailies I do – so that I can try those few changes I have wanted to make for a while. Namely, I want to see how much Living Seed is valuable in 10man; I know it’s a weak talent on paper but I want to see if it can make a difference anyway in those fights where tanks have to move around a lot and might end up out of healing range.

I’d probably drop Nature’s Bounty, despite it being so good for me, and see if I can bring the Regrowth spam outside of tree form a bit down, as my gear certailnly doesn’t allow me to use it liberally yet (and hopefully never will). I have certainly toned it down with progress bosses becoming farm content, but I am still wary of what reckless regrowth usage can do to my mana bar.

…Same old song and daaance~~~

Another week and Rayze manages to do it again – another wall of text without actual substance into it. That means I’m probably giving up on the thought of a second Four_dot_two post and you can look forward to a nice guide to the TellMeWhen add-on for my next column.

Toodles!

Interlude – Useful reference post

To my guildies who have supported this crazy idea of mine: thank you. You people are awesome. (How awesome? This awesome). Many thanks to Jasyla of Cannot Be Tamed and Lissanna of Restokin, whom I randomly e-mailed asking for advice; instead of trashing the missive like I might or might not have done instead, they took the time to look at my blog and offer some nice, helpful words. After reading their replies, I went over my previous post, found some bits I wasn’t happy with, made it neater, and hopefully learned a thing or two about blogging.

Before my next wall of text, I’d like to catch my breath, gather my thoughts and share some of the resources I feel were a sort of cornerstone for my Firelands deeds . Last time I mentioned Elitist Jerks as it were THE source to look at when you need an update on your class. Now, I don’t take everything EJ say for granted, but their guides are very often quite informative and exhaustive, that’s why I recommend checking them every time a new patch comes out. Surely that’s not the only place to look for guides on our favourite kind of tree, though. Another comprehensive guide I really like is Myrrar’s over at the MMO-Champion boards. While I am definitely not a fan of MMO Champ, that’s another guide I really dig with a bit of everything you need to know and some nice theorycrafting on crit and mastery.

Some of my favourite bloggers also took the time to put down pointers for us tree newblets all over the interwebs. Guides can be found at both Restokin and CannotBeTamed. These are particularly helpful as not only you will get tips on the usual stuff like what talents to choose, how to reforge etc. but they will offer a nice walkthrough of what is actually resto healing in Cataclysm.

Something I enjoy and I feel really helped me improve is looking at WoL logs after the raid is over (I should do it the day after instead of looking at graphs and numbers at midnight – it really takes a toll on my beauty sleep). Having access to and being able to analyse boss fights logs is very important as you can readily see what spells you are mostly using, how much damage you could have avoided, your Harmony uptime and a lot more. Jasyla of CannotBeTamed has an amazing guide on how to evaluate healers with WoL; Katarnas of Resto is Epic and Glow of Glow’s Branches also wrote about how to read your logs and learn from them.

I have seen around some nice guides to Power Auras, especially focussing on specific encounters. I use TellMeWhen instead – one of my upcoming posts will be specifically about that add-on – but I will list them anyway, as I feel they are valuable resources and you need either PA or TMW to manage your cooldowns and buffs/debuffs. If you like PA better, check these: Power Auras by Beruthiel of Falling Leaves and Wings, Power Auras by Garnaph@Restokin and Power Auras by Jasyla.

Lastly, many of the blogs I have listed above have resto-centric guides to Firelands encounters. Those are helpful for a couple of reasons: first, resto druid is the only healing spec without any kind of damage mitigation spells, thus you might need slight adjustments to healing strats commonly found on IcyVeins, Tankspot or similar. Second, seldom-used abilites you might not even have on your bars can be actually useful on specific bosses; you will need a resto POV if you want to know when to pop that kitty or bear form.

That’s it. There are other exceptional reads on the blogs/websites I listed if you want to know more – browse them at your leisure; also try to follow links to other healing blogs as there’s always something you don’t know or might not have thought about, and sometimes that useful bit of advice will be in the most obscure blog or website you’ve never heard of.

– – –

And now for something completely different or not so much… a list of 378 gear available through Valor points, Avengers of Hyjal reputation and Leatherworking recipes, sorted by itemization. Comments below.

Spirit/haste:

Spirit/crit:

Spirit/mastery:

Mastery/haste:

Mastery/crit:

Crit/haste:

  • Firescar Sash (waist, Avengers of Hyjal reputation – honored)

I haven’t listed trinkets, which of course need to be evaluated separately and that’s something beyond the point of this list. I didn’t list Flickering Shoulderpads either, as it’s randomly itemized and as such it really doesn’t belong there.

I did include the Boomkin tier shoulderpiece because it’s itemized for pure healing output – crit and mastery – thus making it appealing when you don’t really need that extra haste or spirit anymore… which brings us right to the next point.

In my previous post, I stressed the fact that while there isn’t a lot of spirit/haste stuff available from vendors or through Leatherworking – not to mention 4.2 craftables aren’t exactly cheap to craft – there are quite a few of them available through Firelands boss drops. Thinking it over, is that a really good thing though? For people who are still worried about the 2005 haste threshold, it probably is. Except half of those spi/haste shinies drop from bosses quite far into Firelands, when you will be more interested in pure output stuff (crit/mastery). While I don’t really see a fail on Blizzard part’s as far as gear distribution and itemization go, I can see how people who are more inclined to min/maxing can be somehow annoyed by this. I know I am not, but once again I have yet to take a hard look at my gear, as I have been mostly busy trying to get raw stat upgrades so far.

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.

Chapter I – This is not the blog you’re looking for (or is it?)

Welcome, Faceless and Nameless Reader of Average Skill and Progress! (from now on ‘FNRoASaP’)

This happens to be my blog, my latest creation where I maunder about my life as a restoration druid in a casual raiding guild. Now, before you roll your eyes at the word ‘casual’, I purposedly chose that word to underline the droll nature of this blog (see the not-so-tiny text on top of the page). If you want to start an argument about the superiority of ‘Casuals’ vs. ‘Hardcores’, I can direct you to the General forum of the MMO-Champion boards, but we all know how arguments are on the Internet… It’s a bit like participating in fox hunting: you will win eventually, unless you’re the fox, but that doesn’t make you less of a bloody fool.

Anyhow, enough babbling. What can you expect to find in here?

I am not sure either. I most certainly do not aspire to interwebs fame and I do this mainly for myself – so that by pondering my raid nights I force myself to constantly look at my talents, selection of spells, WOL logs etc. in order to perform slightly better every time and become a better healer for my guild. We spend a bit over seven hours a week raiding, so do no expect groundbreaking strategy articles on Firelands bosses – other bloggers will get there way faster with a lot of detail, making it pretty pointless for me to write lenghty posts about bosses many of you already attempted or read about.

Instead, I will focus on varioust aspects of raiding and try to give players different tools to improve their performance. To wrap up, I hope that my random posts will be not so random in the end and will give some tips to my tree friends out there. My first posts will probably focus on my Firelands experience so far, and how 4.2 affected my choices regarding talents, gear and spells usage. Until then, may you be able to keep your branches away from the fire.