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Archive for January, 2011

So I made this table… Probably it is half wrong but I was borded and it is there so I figured I might as well post it so people can mock me. Tell me what is wrong and I can make it better. It is not very good but HTML tables are a pain in the whelpling.
A=Nether Scion
B=Slate Dragon
C=Storm Rider
D=Whelplings
E=Time Warden

A B C D E tanks hard?  
Speed Debuff Stun     3 hard Wake the Speed dragon and stun dragon. May need 3 tanks. One DPS on interupt duty. Tank swaping needed
Speed Debuff   Whelp   2.5 medium Wake Speed dragon and whelps. Kill both. Do with 2 tanks if raid damage is tolerable. Tank swaping needed
Speed Debuff     Fire 2.5 medium Wake Speed dragon and fireball Kill both. Do with 2 tanks if raid damage is tolerable. Tank swaping needed
Speed   Stun Whelp   2.5 medium Wake the Speed dragon and stun dragon. May need 3 tanks. One DPS on interupt duty. Kill both targets.
Speed   Stun   Fire 2 hard Wake stun dragon. Wake Fire ball dragon OR Speed dragon depending on heals make up. May need 3 tanks. One DPS on interupt duty. Kill both targets.
Speed     Whelp Fire 2 easy Wake one of the AOE dragons. Wake either other depending on heals. 3 tanks optional
  Debuff Stun Whelp   2 medium Wake stun dragon. Wake welps. 2 tank ok. One DPS on interupt duty. Tank swaping needed
  Debuff Stun   Fire 2 medium Wake stun dragon. Wake fireballs. 2 tank ok. One DPS on interupt duty. Tank swaping needed
  Debuff   Whelp Fire 2 easy Wake fireballs and whelps. 2 tanks ok. Tank swaping needed
    Stun Whelp Fire 2 medium Wake stun dragon. Wake Fire ball dragon OR welps. 3 tanks optional. One DPS on interupt duty. Heavy initial raid damage

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Tips for the Conclave of the Wind

We went after the first encounter in the Throne of the 4 Winds on Friday after we dropped Magmaw and again on Saturday and got them down. Videos on this fight helped but I noticed there were several tidbits of information that we did not get from videos. These small ideas were key to getting them down so I figured I should post about it. Go watch a video and then read this. It will make more sense that way.

This fight has 3 bosses that all need to die within 1 minute of each other. You need 2 ranged, 2 tanks, 3 heals and 3 of any other sort of DPS.

When setting this fight up I like to put raid makes on the floor of the entrance platform and have everyone stand on them and move back and forth to practice the phases of the fight. The left boss is green because he does plants and healing, the center/top boss is blue for his ice and the right boss is any color (what color is wind?). We will call the right platform yellow

Setup

Right/Yellow
One heal (preferably one that can reduce fall damage), Two ranged DPS.

Center/Blue
One healer, one tank

Left/Green
One healer, one tank, 3 DPS melee or anything.

This is the configuration at the start of the fight. The fight has two alternating phase. The bosses all have an energy bar. This bar fills from 0 to 90. Ninety is full, not 100%. Don’t mix up ‘percent’ and the energy number or your timing will be wrong. At 70+ energy people need to shift to be near the bridge they are going to use. At 80 energy people move. At 90 energy the wind bridges vanish and you have to already be moved.

Movement

At 80, all the DPS on the right/yellow platform move to center/blue. Everyone on the green platform goes to blue and everyone on blue (tank and healer) goes to green. It is important to note as you are moving there might be a boss there taking a swing at someone. Also on the blue platform there might be an ice patch you land on. Get off it fast. The healer on the right/yellow platform does not move. That person stays there until that boss dies.

Special attack phase.

At 90 the bosses do a big attack. Lasts only a short time. During that time the DPS should be burning the blue boss. As soon as the boss energy bars drop down everyone needs to be moving back. EXCEPT, the tank and the heals on the blue and green platforms. They only move once per cycle. The ice boss applies a debuff so you can’t go back there right away. There will be plenty of aoe damage on the ice platform and everyone also needs to stay off the fickin ice patches and out of the spray of ice.

Now for the real tips…

Right platform, wind, yellow

This platform does not need a tank because the boss just stands there and shoots stuff at you. The big risk here is getting blown off. If the whole squad gets blown off the boss silences the raid and everyone dies. It is possible to recover from a blow off, if you did not die. So try to get back on the platform fast. There will be tornados. Don’t let them hit you. The big thing is that periodically the boss will start channeling a knockback and slowly turn clockwise, sweeping the blast of wind around the platform.

-When he is doing the sweeping move he holds one hand out in the direction he is doing it

-If you are far back it is easier to see the boss’s move but takes more running to get away from it

-keep your camera at max zoomed way out to see better.

-If you get blow off toward the inside of the ring of platforms, you live and get carried back to the platform. If you get blow off AWAY from the ring you die.

-Don’t stack with everyone else. If one of you gets blown off it is not a wipe. If you all get blown off it is probably a wipe.

Center platform, ice, blue

-Don’t stand on the ice

-Don’t point the boss at your healer or anyone else on the platform

-Always be ready for you or the healer to get ice under them. Have your next movement after that planned out.

-Don’t move to the bridge too early or it will get blocked up with ice.

-Don’t move to the bridge too late or it will be too late. If you don’t jump in time the debuff will drop you.

-If you are jumping to the other platform and you left an ice patch near the bridge, tell people in vent so they will be ready to move fast.

Right platform, life, green

The boss drops healing rings and you have to move him out of them fast.

-The INSTANT you see him casting ‘soothing winds’ turn and run away. He will move as soon as he is done and he will not heal up. You HAVE to keep him out of these rings.

CRITICAL: The area of healing is larger than what it looks like. WATCH the bosses health bar. If it is taking ‘up’ ticks move him farther away.

-Don’t stand in the green yourself.

-When he casts ‘nurture’ adds will spawn from the flowers.

-Don’t let adds stand in the green.

CRITICAL: When 3 or more adds stand together they do bursts of AOE. Tell every DPS to spread out, find some adds and tank/kill them themselves.

-Do NOT gather the adds up.

-The tank should kill the adds too, just don’t turn your back on the boss.

-The adds MUST be down before the end of the cycle.

- NO DPS should be back on the boss until ALL adds are down. Communicate and let people know if there is still one up.

-The healer should stand near someone that can get adds off them. Don’t run away from your people or they can’t get that thing off you.

-DPS needs to spot any packs that are larger than 2 (3 or more) and pick one, hit it hard, and move it away.

-Single target DPS the adds. Don’t AOE them. AOE is garbage now and you can’t afford to have too many up in a pack. IF there is a pack of 3, single targeting one down fast will REALLY help the healing situation out.

-keep all adds and the boss well away from the center of the platform while killing adds. This is critical. He will drop another circle of green either on himself or an add. Be ready to move him off it. If this circle is any where even remotely near the center of the platform then the boss will take big heals during the end of cycle phase. If he is standing on a circle he will heal to full in that phase. See the picture for the areas where the boss should NOT be at the end of the cycle.

-It is ok to leave him standing in green when you jump on the bridge at 80 energy. He will teleport to the center of the pad a moment later. In fact it is GOOD to have him drop that last green patch there because you know he will not heal in the ‘big move’ phase.

-Killing adds fast is a critical key to this fight.

CRITICAL: Keeping that last green circle from dropping in the center is also key to winning. Don’t take it lightly. When we messed it up a little we lost. When we did it right we creamed the fight. Make sure the boss is well clear of the center when energy is 50 and higher.

-At the start of the next round the green boss will be enraged. This makes him bigger so he is actually closer to any healing circle. This also makes him CREAM the next tank.

CRITICAL: The next tank needs to attack him during the ‘big move’ phase and apply all tanking debuffs that he has available before the boss comes out of the big move. Tanking cooldowns should be saved for this time. If the enraged hits are too hard you should apply the debuffs and then run away before he comes out of the move. This will buy you a few seconds of not getting hit. The enrage wears off fast so those few seconds are precious.

Here are my super professional pictures of the tanking on the green platform. Here the boss is green and we are about to pull. The blue arrow is the bridge to the blue platform.

Next the boss is casting his healing circle and the tank is turning to run.

Here is the new boss location well clear of the circle. Remember, the healing area is a lot bigger than the graphic of the circle.

As you are fighting the adds each time here is the area that you want to avoid.

But! If you run to the bridge at the end the boss might drop a circle as it is chasing you. So you can’t drag him across that area. Also you don’t want to be too far from the bridge. So THIS is the real area to avoid.

Do recap, let him drop the first circle in the center and then keep him in the upper left area for the later circles. There may be two, so leave yourself room to drop two in that white area. Boss positioning is very key on the fight but it is not totally obvious how key it is. Move fast and position the boss well.

And also… no that is pretty much it…

Oh wait… if you get on a wind bridge at the very edge of it you can get blow to kingdom come and never land on the other side. Get on bridges ONLY in the center area. Try this out before the fight. It does not kill you. See how sensitive they are so you don’t screw it up in the real fight.

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I knew going into this weekend that we had some raid makeup issues. My brother, our off tank, couldn’t make it. One healer was unavailable Friday. Then, unexpectedly, one raider had to bow out entirely. We’ve been working to try to get a nice stable roster but most weeks we’ve had to bring in at least one person from outside the raid and I wanted to change that. I could see light at the end of the tunnel. Jhudora, the awesome shaman healer that I had been bringing in for the last three weeks even though she’s in a different guild, /gquit and moved over to Crits and brought a friend with her, a hunter/warrior. Our missing healer is trying hard to get herself on a consistent schedule so she doesn’t have to miss Friday nights. And Ado’s shadow priest had leveled from, like 60 to 82 in record time and would probably be 85 by the end of the weekend.

But that still left this week to get through. I talked to a couple guildies, found one who was tank geared and eager to get in, another, a dps warrior, who jumped at the chance to come. Yay! And then I logged in Friday night and the substitute tank couldn’t make it; at the last minute he’d been placed on call for work. Boo…

Well, there was one fight we thought we could do with only one tank, Magmaw. And we’d put some practice in there. And we had Jhudora’s friend Locklyn the hunter eager to get in and try…. so I made Karius switch from mage to paladin, green bracers and all, and we headed for Blackrock, still one dps down.

And who is that at the stone there? That’s a guildie on his raid geared warlock…. Whodowhat, what are you doing in that pug? A few whispers and he agrees to ditch them and come with us. Now at full strength we head in. Locklyn grabs his warrior to help with the trash, then swaps back to the hunter and we get started.

The “stack in melee” plan works well but the ranged are having trouble controlling the adds. They need more room to kite than we can give them with the healers in melee. After a few wipes, Jhudora suggests that she can go out and heal them; she’s figured out the rhythm of the fight enough to dodge the pillars of flame and the worms. Things start going a lot better. Worms are kited, burned, we’ve got several melee dps on the boss full time, all of them get turns learning how to use the chains and spikes. We’re getting past the second head down phase consistently; I start having to use Potions of Concentration to regen mana. Having this fight in melee range means Karius can whack the boss for mana regen, so she doesn’t have to worry about mana hardly at all. And Reversion is so good at managing his cooldowns we healers barely notice the armor debuff he’s taking every Mangle cycle. Which is pretty damn impressive – some of the people in raid didn’t realize we were one tanking it but it gave us a lot more freedom to deal damage.

Suddenly it all clicks and bang, down goes the worm! Raid first kill! I’d helped kill Magmaw the previous week with the other guild raid but this time it actually meant something, I was playing my proper role in my proper team and now all the rush of victory was there, that wasn’t when I was just filling a hole.

Now we have two hours left in raid night  – things came together that fast – so we head over to Throne of Four Winds after persuading Locklyn to switch to his tank and work on that. Jhudora switches to her disc priest – an ideal class and spec for the ranged platform there; she can levitate herself and just not take fall damage at all. We start work there. Most of us have seen the fight at least a bit. We get two hours of solid attempts in, really making progress over the last time we were in; some of our wipes we had bosses down to less than 30%.

Saturday night we go back to Throne, with a few raid comp changes; our missing healer returned so Karius gets to go frost; the tank that couldn’t make it the night before can come tonight so Locklyn gets to hunter; and the dps warrior couldn’t make it anyway so we balance out ok. It takes a few tries for the new tank to learn the fight, a few tries for the healers to get the rhythm. I had just learned the night before that the left-hand boss guy, the one with the adds, is enraged for a few seconds after coming out of the special ability phase and to heal extra hard there. We wiped at least once because I didn’t realize that. Now we get down to serious attempts – and less than halfway through raid time, the Council goes down. I admit to being a bit surprised, actually; the ranged platform downed theirs, then jumped to the center boss and I’m honestly not sure whether the center platform or the other side came down first. It actually felt a tiny bit anticlimactic; sometimes healing big fights feels that way because you’re not really watching a boss’s bar go down… down…. down…. THERE!

And THAT kill was a guild first, not just for our raid.

Then we went to Bastion of Twilight, killed trash like the pros we are, and wiped spectacularly about ten times on the boss. The drake combination this week…. well going into it we weren’t sure whether it was the worst, or second worst combo; I’m pretty sure it’s the worst but not entirely sure why. The damage we were trying to heal through is just massive. As a side note one of our raiders is an enhance shammy for us but a resto druid for the other guild raid, and she mentioned to me last night that she “will not” heal that encounter as a progression fight (not in response to me asking her if she was willing, I was curious why she was switching characters in the middle of their raid but they’d decided to go over there for a while). She’s done it a few times for our attempts but I can certainly sympathize. If we get past the first minute and a half things are ok but that minute and a half is absolutely a nightmare as a healer.

Our spriest-in-waiting dinged 85 and started running heroics yesterday (yay for having purples ready to go) so with luck our roster this weekend will be closer to whatever the permanent makeup looks like. We (Reversion and I) would really like to have about 12 people who rotate in as needed, but this is a casual guild and we may get pushback from people because they want permanent slots. I’d really like to know that if we have to miss (and coming up in March, there are some days we will have to miss) that the raid can still go on…

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Blizzard stated that the changes they were making in Cataclysm were to make healing more fun. Some of them worked; some, I think, missed the mark. The problem is that they seem to have decided that the way to make healing more “fun” was to make everything in the environment want to kill you. So yeah we’re not just standing in one place spamming our one heal; we’re running around like crazy spamming the only heal we can get off in time and praying we don’t go OOM. Not really a major fun upgrade IMO. On the other hand, I like the idea of having to use some intelligence to choose what heal to use at any given time and they have done that better than it was in Wrath.

But I can think of a couple suggestions that would make healing way more fun to me.

Get Rid Of Healing Aggro

Or at least nerf it. Say we’ve got a big trash pack, six or so guys. The tank marks two for cc’ing but that’s all the party can put out of the game.  He skulls one and it’ll be down fast – but I still have to get past that first fifteen seconds of tank damage. I’m a druid. My choices are to pre-hot the tank, watch him pull, watch two of them run right past him and smash my face in due to healing aggro. Or wait til he has aggro then try to heal him up from 10% health before something kills him. Yuck. And I’ve had just this dilemma multiple times this expansion – think of the hallway leading to the third boss in  Throne of Tides. Or half of Grim Batol.

Or we’re fighting a boss who spawns zillions of adds. All of whom are really, really mad at me. The tank is pulling them off me as fast as they spawn but every one gets in one good hit on me…. yuck! Not fun at all.

So why does healing have to cause aggro at all? Would it really be game breaking to reduce it to, say, 10% of what it is currently? That way if we wipe I still die too. I think it would be a big quality of life change for us.

Less “GTFO Of The Fire”, more “You Fail”

I love that in this expansion, doing things wrong has consequences. I hate that most of the time the consequence is damage. Most of the time when a dpser or the tank screws up, it would be easy to say the party wiped due to not enough healing. Stood in fire? Not enough healing. Spell reflected yourself to death? Not enough healing. A good party will look for the real cause – but a good party has less stupid moments anyway.

No, what I like are fights like Corla the Herald of Twilight and her evolving adds. Screw up there and you get mind controlled. It’s really easy to see who fails.  Or the HOO boss with the radiance aura thing where if you’re looking at it you get stunned. Nice feedback there, and it’s not the healer’s fault when you die! Or Baron Ashbury, where not interrupting him causes him to heal, not do more damage. Not the healer’s fault!

So let’s have more fight mechanics like that. Maybe if you stand in a void zone too long you turn into a giant frozen statue for ten seconds unable to do anything.

And for the love of all that’s good and holy, Blizzard, please fix all the places where an area of effect is bigger than the visual clue that you’re in bad stuff…

Stand And Deliver

I want a cooldown that fits organically into every healing class, maybe a really long cooldown like ten minutes. You pop it, and you enter siege mode; you can’t move, but you are more or less invulnerable for thirty seconds. Or twenty, or whatever.   Maybe make it so you can’t do any damaging spells, if that would break things.

In short, for thirty seconds I can stay right where I am, ignoring fire and knockbacks and whatever else, and heal. Overpowered? Maybe… but if every healer had the same basic cooldown, Blizzard could find a way to make it work, right?

There’s already built in class mechanics that could be tweaked for this. For druids, give our Treeform roots and make us invulnerable. For paladins, give them a couple talents that makes their bubble consistent with this idea. Let priests pop fail-angel rather than it being tied to death. Give shaman a totem they could drop that would root them but make them invulnerable.

I think this could be really cool, and another way for us to have to use every tool we’ve got, think several steps ahead – but be just a bit more forgiving than things currently are.

What Would You Change?

A little tweak, or something way out there – what would you like to see different?

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Guild VS Raid

This week, I’ve read several posts about people’s guild organization, management, and member ranks. Vidyala wrote about it; so did Saga, Alas, Zelmaru. There were others too I just don’t have them all at my fingertips.

Reading all this made me realize Reversion and I got luckier than we thought when we moved to Winterhoof to join Crits and Giggles. We already knew it was full of friendly people, some of whom were bloggers, with raiding opportunities anda  culture we’d like. What I didn’t realize was how apparently rare it is to find a setup where raid != guild.

There are currently two raids in Crits; our Fri/Sat and a Sun/Mon, both ten man raids. As more people gear up there will probably be a third raid. We’re not likely to develop a 25 man, tens are our strength.

There are several guild officers in Crits. I mostly know because of who I have to ask for invites for new alts. Officers work hard behind the scenes to set stuff up – but so can any member that wants to. Reversion and I have not been hampered by our normal-member status; in fact it probably helped to create the raid we wanted, where every raider has an equal voice – but Reversion and I are the benevolent dictators because we do the organizing.

There are two ranks of “normal” member in the guild, one for all members who have authenticators, with guild bank access and repair funds, and one for non-authenticator-members without. That’s it. There’s no “elite” raiders or “unimportant” socials. No “trial period” for the guild. No need to remove people because their gearing up is slower.

Admittedly, we are not a Serious Raiding Guild. We are not trying for server first, or server tenth. Reversion’s and my raid has yet to down our first boss (Tol Barad guy does not count) while the other raid just killed their first Sunday (I got to step in for that). On the other hand, at 7pm Friday all my raiders are online, in vent, at the instance, ready to go. They listen and do what we ask and we have fun.

I want us to get some more bosses down so we can demonstrate that you CAN be a social guild with raiding success. That you can choose raiders based on their personality fitting with everyone else and demonstrated potential to not be bad, rather than their uber gear.  But what I like best is knowing that if someone doesn’t fit in our raid, that they may still fit the guild. When the two are not the same thing, there are options like that. We have a guildie who is a notorious PVP’er, the sort of guy who is server-infamous; we’re not a pvp guild and he does his own thing but for whatever reason he likes us. We’ve added a couple members in the last week from a similar level of raiding guild (ie, not very, but wants to raid) because we’re a nicer environment and don’t kick people because they’d rather be a shaman than a priest. We have people with ten alts in the guild, people with none.

It’s nice, it’s low-stress, and it’s our WoW home.

 

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Demoted

Corporate Raider

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I was cautiously optimistic when Blizzard introduced their plans for healing in the new expansion. The idea that we’d have to heal intelligently, put thought into our heal choices, and once again be something more than bubble-bots or Rejuv-spammers sounded appealing.

As I watched the implementation, I was a bit concerned; all the changes that would make healing “interesting” and content “hard” seemed to boil down to “If anyone screws up, they die”. Fine but…. how to tell the difference between “that mage screwed up” and “the healer screwed up”? I was worried we’d start in on the blame-the-healer game.

And truth be told there’s been less of that than I’d feared. I hear healers being harder on ourselves than most tanks or dps are hard on the healer.  I also hear of a lot of us taking abuse, not directed at us or probably intended for us at all, but abuse. If a tank refuses to cc, well honestly it’s not him who shoulders the responsibility of the more difficult pull, but the healer. And so healers need to speak up and tell them to bloody well use sheep.

But as I’ve started to do raid fights, and getting raid geared, I’m noticing what I feared most; healing in this expansion has no in between setting. It’s either “oh god oh god we’re all going to die”, or “Oops, sorry, I forgot to jump on the dragon there because I was alt tabbed out reading blogs, yawn, wake me up at a real fight”. Honestly my healing experiences have been vacillating back and forth between utter boredom and I-just-can’t-do-it, depending on how geared my party was. Healing for Reversion? I’m /afk on Facebook. Healing for Reversion’s undergeared second bear? A full stack of HOTs and rolling Nourish and I can barely keep him alive between Swiftmend cooldowns. And that’s someone who knows every cooldown his class has, uses them, uses crowd control, and is hands down the best tank to heal that I’ve ever played with. Ok I may be biased but it’s still true.

There just isn’t a way to make healing a moderate challenge. I’d like to go in and have a heroic run where I have to work, yes, but it’s not “execute this perfectly, don’t get unlucky, or wipe” level. I want “Let’s practice being really mana efficient, a few moments where I have to use the right spell at the right time” level challenge.

Making me run out of stuff doesn’t give this level of challenge, although parenthetically I noticed I was asked to step in on a Magmaw fight this weekend for another guild raid, as a boomkin, and while my dps was bad, my situational awareness was incredible; I was the first to move out of fire, the first on the worms, got my knockbacks in at just the right time and place – not to toot my horn but when I was the first to switch sides of the room by a good two seconds that says something. I’m biased as a healer toward thinking the meter that matters most is not “damage done” but “damage taken”, and on that meter I did really darn well.

Anyway. Back to what I was saying. Another option I have is to dps while healing. I’ve actually enjoyed my priest’s Smite spec; but it feels more organic than hurling Wraths on my druid. I would have to ditch my boomkin spec for one with free Wraths, and that would make life harder for me while I’m trying to do dailies.  I am considering it, but, gosh darn it, if I want to dps I have a mage that I like very much. I want to heal on my druid, thanks, and I’d like a proper challenge for my chosen role.

At least I have an interesting job in raids. That keeps me going, keeps me doing my daily heroic or helping gear up friends. Because in there I really do have to work. It’s incredible; I love it. Halfus is going down, this weekend, he’d better. And I’ll be challenged there – picking the perfect time to pop tree (actually on Halfus it’s a no brainer; I do it almost on pull to get through the first dragon, then when it’s back up it’s usually a good time to get people topped back off) – managing my mana, working with my team to keep people from the brink of death. Even the trash in Bastion  is a good challenge, mostly because of the silences. Maybe you can’t have that level of challenge without redundant healers.  I’m not sure.

I love healing; my brief stint as raid dps the other night taught me that. In end game, that’s my role. But I wish I didn’t feel burnt out on heroics already.

I’ll blame it on Lost City. I’ve done that place a hundred times, it seems like. I hear there’s this place called Deadmines that’s a lot of fun, but apparently it’s not in my random dungeon queue…

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How to gear up

So we had a fun but disappointing weekend on our raid. I have noticed that there are still people with important holes in their gear. It is a bit annoying because of how long it has been and how hard I have worked on my own gear. But rather than let it bug me I thought, hmm maybe some people are just not approaching things systematically enough. So I thought I would give a short run down on how to get geared up. Really it is not THAT much work. If it feels like a futile struggle you might be doing something wrong… well not so much wrong as ‘inefficiently’.

First of all a recap on how things work. There are roughly 8 ways to get gear. In this expansion Bliz has done a great job of spreading the gear you need across all the methods of getting it. The list as I see it is this: badge gear, reputation rewards, pvp reputation rewards, quest rewards, crafted gear, normal dungeon drops, heroic dungeon drops, world drops (BOEs). You probably know about all of these but I will give the run down here as a reminder.

Badge gear:

Badge gear comes in two flavors. The lower tier currently gives item level 346 gear. You can fill a great many of your slots with this gear. You get the lower tier – justice points – by running random regular dungeons once a day or by killing bosses in heroic dungeons.

The second tier – valor points – comes from doing a random heroic run once a day. There is a similar set of gear for this tier. Certain of the items are not super expensive so check them out.

For maximum efficiency at least some of your gear will come from the lower tier. You need to check and be aware of what you can get with badges.

Rep rewards:

For all the PVE rep factions you can get 3 tiers of gear. ‘Friendly’ gets you a tabard that you use to get more rep with them by wearing it in dungeons. ‘Honored’ gets you item level 333 gear. Revered gets you 346 gear and Exalted gets you 359 purple gear. At each tier there are 4 items you might want, depending on your spec and armor class. Every faction will have some stuff you can use. Some will have several items.

PVP Rep rewards:

the To Barad daily quests and reputation also can give you good gear. These quests are not all that hard, some of them are easy, and most of them are trivial with a friend or a party. They don’t actually require you to fight players. At all. These are just daily quests, not battle ground achievements or anything daunting.

Quest rewards:

The last quest in quest chains gives good blue gear. The quest chains in twilight highlands and the quests in several dungeons, give item level 333 gear.

Crafted:

There are great crafted items in all professions. They set things up so that some good stuff is crafted while people are skilling up. So these items are often undervalued on the auction house. There a couple slots of 333, 346 and even a couple 359 for every type of armor. Also there are 333 and 346 weapons. Some crafted items are expensive but if you have a friend who crafts or gathers the cost might not be so bad. If you are serious of about leveling up your gear you need to take these items into account. Also the pvp bracers for all armor types are almost certainly a good deal for you until you can get a heroic instance drop. Don’t forget crafted is not just armor. There are weapons, trinkets, relics, lots of stuff. You final gearing up plans might involve getting an alt leveled and using it to craft gear.

Normal dungeon drops:

The top tier of level 85 normal dungeons drops item level 333 off its bosses. Even if you have the gear to get into heroics you might consider running a place on normal to fix a weak spot in your gear.

Heroic dungeon drops:

Item level 346 blues. Nuff said. Some 359 randomly drops in heroics too but not very often.

World drops:

There are a few 346 and 359 drops in the world or in instances that are BOE. You might get one randomly or you might find a deal on the AH. Don’t forget to check it.

And dont forget Archeology can provide a couple of 359 BoA purples – but it’s a random thing and you might make hundreds of Night Elf trash finds before finally getting that stupid trinket.

So that is the ‘where’ but how do you figure it all out? The way you do it is to…

Know what you are working for

First, get out a paper and pen. Then Google a gear guide for your class and spec. In fact Google more than one. Or you can make the list manually. Here is how…

Start from your head and work through your entire gear list. I do it like this… I write the slots. If what I have in the slot is 333 I write that down and make a box around it. If it is not 333 yet (it is lower) then I write down where I can get some 333 for that slot. Use WowHead or the Armory to look for upgrades and see where they drop.

Not just one, I might list the top couple sources for that slot. I don’t stick with just one source. Maybe a quest item is easier to get than a rep grind item. Getting tunnel vision on only one source of gear makes it a lot harder, more boring, and slower to get gear. Spreading your efforts around several channels of gear acquisition means you don’t get bored or burned out. Some of the gear getting might even mean you go and grind up an alt to craft something for you. There are a lot of ways to make the grinds less grindy.

After 333 I write down where I can get 346 for that slot. Again I try to list a couple likely sources. If one source is obvious (like I already have almost all the rep I need for something) then I might just write that one source down. Some slots will only have one decent, easy to get source, that is ok. Once you know where you are going to get the item for that slot you can avoid worrying about it. The key is to KNOW where you are going to get the item for that slot.

On my gear list I also put down the 359 item for the slot if there is one that is not too hard to get. This is mainly for crafted items and reputation rewards.

Let’s try it. My warrior alt needs gear…

First off…

Head. I see it is a 346 and it has tank stats. Since I am a prot warrior I will make a little star by this to note that it is a tank stat item. Since that slot is perfectly solid for tanking heroics, and that is all I am doing with my warrior right now, I will just leave it at 346 and move on.

My neck is also 346 with tank stats. Nice. I mark that down and move on. I like to mark the slots that I don’t need to bother with so my list shows me how close to ‘maxed’ I am on that alt. Clearly 346 is not max and I was planning to raid on my warrior I would be checking for 359 upgrades.

Shoulders… 333 with tanks stats. These are not my worst slot but clearly they could use an upgrade. I see there is an upgrade in heroic Grim Batol so I mark HGB on my list. There is another upgrade out there but my mobile armory app is not showing its source. So I move on.

Back: My back is 333 and does not have the sort of stats I want. Ouch… but I see there is a crafted 346 for that slot. I have a leatherworker that I am already grinding up so I just mark down that info and move on. I can craft that slot there is no reason to waste time scouring heroic runs for a similar drop. This might not be true for all classes. For example Earthen Ring has an agility back piece at revered. If I was doing this for my hunter I would have to decide if I planned to craft the 346 or grind rep for it. Since I know my hunter wants to get exalted with the Earthen Ring, for the 359 ring, then it makes sense to NOT craft that item. I will get the rep back piece as I grind up and I can use those mats to make something else. This sort of things is EXACTLY why we strategize our gear plan. If I wasted mats on that item I might not have the mats to craft something else. That would waste time and money.

Chest: Moving on to my warrior’s chest slot I see a 346 item without tank stats. Ouch. Hmm. Again with the strategizing. My warrior is a Blacksmith so I know I can make the tanking 359 chest piece. I have to decide if I want to wait until I can make that or grind for something better for the interim. So far my other slots are not too bad so I can probably survive this weak slot until I can make the good one. This is strategy paying off again. I will focus my short term efforts on something else and while I run heroics to get other slots filled I will gather orbs to fill this slot with something really nice. This way my efforts do double the work.

Bracers: This is always a thin slot. I have the 339 pvp crafted ones. I know there is a good drop in SFK for tank bracers so I put that down. Now I also see that Ramkahen rep at exalted gets me some 359 tank bracers. Nice! I jot that down too. Now I check my reputations. Ramkahen: friendly. Ouch. Exalted is a long way off. So I make a mental note to run SFK again as soon as possible.

Hands: 346 and not tanky. Again with an ‘ok’ slot but not a great one. I definitely need to identify the upgrade plan here too. Let me see… Numbing Handguards, but the mobile app does not give a source. There is a drop in SFK. Ah interesting. Now I know that I can get two good upgrades from there and I know I can tank that whole place with my current gear. I don’t see an easy to get 359 so I move on to another slot.

Belt: Mine is 346 heroic with tank stats. Also I can make a crafted 359. Nice. Nothing to worry about with this slot. I make a mental note to save an orb for this belt. Since the slot is already not bad I will gather orbs for the chest piece first.

Pants: 333 piece with tank stats. They are the rep reward from Earthen Ring. Not bad but upgradeable so I look for upgrades… There is one in Throne of the Tides heroic mode so I write that down.

Feet: 333 with tank stats again (if I did not already have these getting Ramkahen rep up a handful of points would net me a pair like it).  Need an upgrade… well what is this? SFK again? Nice! There are also the Darksky Treads, a BoE drop somewhere. I check but there are none on the AH.

The list so far…

My rings are not great and my trinkets and weapons could use work but I think this run down gets the idea across. This process can be used to build a plan for any class or spec. So far I have identified that I need to queue specifically for SFK as much as I can to get those three drops. With any luck I will also have the orbs for a new chest piece by the time I get the drops. While I am doing it I might want to find some other slot and put on a tabard that earns me the right rep to upgrade it. Those Ramkahen bracers are a long way off and I am going to SFK to get an upgrade on that slot… so it makes the most sense to find some other slot and grind rep to fill that.

So I make another list… I check all the rep vendors and mark down what they have at each tier that would be an upgrade for me. For this I hit Wowpedia.org and look at their lists or I simply go to each location and see what the quarter master has.

The key is to look stuff up, write down what items are the easiest for you to get with your play style, and then go after those items. If you do find a good gear guide for your class and spec you should still make your own list and filter things based on what you can get the easiest with your play style. Take their list and make iy your own with notations and plans.

 Use your plan to make the most of your time.

With any luck I can be grinding a heroic run for some drops, while wearing a tabard for a different slot and hopefully wining the orb for yet another slot. My time works three times as harder than if I had not made a plan. Not only THAT, but I can identify what I am saving my badges up for. This way I can queue for one place and be working on 4 or more slots at the same time. Since SFK has 3 drops for me I can be working on SIX SLOTS AT ONCE!  I am working on Wrists from a drop, Gloves from a drop. Feet from a drop, a 359 Chest with the orbs, some 346 pants with the points and a 359 head by wearing the Wildhammer tabard and doing their dailies between queues. If every night I log on, queue, and go run dailies, I might have 6 big upgrades in less than a week. That would be if I did not have the instant queues of a tank. Hence anyone can do it.

Also I can identify what I am going to grind rep for with dailies or questing. There is no reason to queue for a heroic, hoping for a drop, if the item I need is a few days of rep grinding away. Instead I can queue for some other place and go after an upgrade for some other slot.

Have alternate paths as needed

If my plan had shown I had upgrades scattered across several instances then I might queue up ‘random’ instead of picking one. If my plan showed I had drops in just a couple instances then I might try finding some other way to fill some of the slots.

Or let us assume I can’t stand SFK and refuse to run that again. Well I do have two upgrades in Throne of the Tides. If I queue for that, grind rep with Ramkahen, and save my  points for gloves I could still be working on 5 different upgrades with one run. Or I could queue checking the box for either of those runs and work on several options at once.

The key is to KNOW where your upgrades are and how you plan to get them. And for the harder slots you can have more than one backup plan. The other key is to not overlook any of the sources of gear. Don’t kill yourself grinding for one source when there is an easier way you have not checked. Check them all out and make lists so you don’t forget your plan.

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Looking For DPS

Our raid is coming along swimmingly. We’re having a great time together, seeing some fights, really settling into the learning curve. We’ve yet to down a boss after two weeks of serious raiding, but I am very optimistic about this weekend. We’re going to go back and break Halfus Wyrmbreaker Friday or Saturday!

We’ve got some really awesome players who are great to raid with. My healing team is shaping up amazingly, thanks to some very talented ladies who know how to bring it. We may occasionally have tank issues but that hasn’t happened yet; our off tank owes some weekends to the Army but so far has been able to work with us.

Unfortunately we’ve got a hole in our roster, maybe two. Our weakest area is ranged dps. We have a pair of awesome mages who I love – but that’s it. We really need at least one more ranged and I’d really like to have twos I have flexibility. What I want is a hunter. But can one be found? No… we just don’t seem to have any in guild who are leveled, geared, and not already raiding with us on a different character. Reversion could level his, but then we’d be short a tank.

I’d be interested in a shadow priest, warlock, or ele shaman too.

What’s this mean? Well, I can’t promise anything because so much is about balance and how you would fit into our raid. But if you liked the sound of our raid, and the guidelines, and are a ranged dps, why don’t you think about coming to play with us?

Important stats: Crits and Giggles live on Winterhoof (A, US), a moderate population PVE server. Honestly the server does not have many awesome raid guilds and is relatively unprogressed; once we get going we’ll be respectably in the middle of the pack. We raid Friday and Saturday nights, 7-11 Central Standard Time. We’re in Vent during raids. We’re a friendly group that values fun – but downing bosses is more fun than wiping, so we are results oriented. Very female and family friendly; on a given evening half the raid is female and I like that. We don’t permit mean-ness or abuse of raid members, we’ll ask you to tone it down if your language is offensive, but we’re not that uptight.

If you want more details you can roll a level 1 character and whisper me or Reversion in game.

I know server transfer is a big step and without a guarantee of a raid spot it seems like a big step to make. We’re not looking for a max level theorycrafter; we are looking for someone who is a really good player and a great person to play with.  We are obviously a very alt-friendly guild and nobody’s going to look at you funny if you’re the type to have lots of alts; on the other hand there’s plenty of sympathy for the one-main-only type players.

Why am I recruiting here, rather than on a realm forum or trade chat? Simply put we really want the kind of player who will go learn things about his or her class, not be taken by surprise by patches, read strategies, and contribute to the discussion. Hence, blog readers seem to be our target market!

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First off, what is Vuhdo? Simply put it’s an addon that replaces the default World of Warcraft party and raid frames with something that is more configurable. While it’s designed for healers, other classes and roles can and do find use in Vuhdo.

Vuhdo is developed by addon developer Iza, who responds to questions at a forum on PlusHeal.Com. He always has updated ready before major content patches, saving us lots of time and frustration. Any time you find a bug, can’t figure out how to do something, or think of a feature, head over there. Spare the poor man some cycles and check if anyone else has asked the same thing first, though! I download Vuhdo using the Curse Client and that’s usually nice and up to date.

This guide is designed for someone who already knows why they want raid frames. It’s for the Grid user who is looking to get all their functionality in one addon or the HealBot user who is looking to get more functionality. I always think of Vuhdo as the third bear’s addon: not too hot or too cold, but just right.

Grid users: you won’t need Clique if you use Vuhdo!

General Options

Ok, first of all, when you install Vuhdo and turn it on there’s going to be boxes all over the screen. Don’t panic; this is what the defaults look like. Here’s what I want you to do:

1. Type /vd opt
2. When the Vuhdo options come up, click “Move” down at the bottom
3. Now there are big red Xs and green + signs on the boxes. Click all the Xs, say yes to the dialog box, and get an empty screen. We’ll come back to this later.
4. Hit the “General” Tab at the bottom. Now you’ll see something like this:

This is the General tab and the General screen. This is the first set of options you’ll see. Yeah, there’s a lot. The thing to remember with Vuhdo is: every option does something, but you don’t need to tweak them all. A small set will get you a lot of functionality and you can play around more later. For instance, on this screen, the really important option to click is under “Lock Panels”. The “Enable”‘ checkbox locks the panels where they are so you won’t accidentally move them later. /vd lock does the same thing.

If you click the second button down on the right, you get this screen.

Vuhdo navigation is always by tab and screen. Tabs are very general categories and run along the bottom. Screens are more precise refinements of a category and are down the right hand side. It’s very easy to tell which tab and screen you’re on.

Scanners sounds weird and Star Trekkie, but they’re actually very helpful background settings. The first area in this screen is ‘Range’. What this does is set your frames so that if someone is out of range, they get “grayed out” so you know not to heal them. You can either set a yard range at the top, or put in a spell. Most of your spells are probably the same range anyway so do whatever works for you.

The next options down let you select more options. I have “Direction” set. That means when I mouse over their frame, if they’re out of range, I get an arrow pointing at them. Nice! It took some getting used to but it’s insanely helpful now. There’s also a “distance” option, which will tell you how far away they are, and an “Always” button that will make the arrow and/or distance show up even if they’re in range. Your choice how to set it.

Leave the global scanners alone, I don’t think any good comes of tweaking them.

Jumping down to General tab and the Misc screen (Misc button on the right side), we get some useful options. Here you can set your reaction for mouse-up (this is what I use) or mouse-down. IE, does the spell go off when you click or when you release the button after clicking. Hide standard will, well, hide the standard Blizzard frames, since you’re using Vuhdo, you must not need the frames, right? (Rev note: I prefer to leave these on)

D/C shield: a nifty little tool that takes over two Macro slots and then tries to make it so if you disconnect and come back in, mid-fight, that Vuhdo still works. It’s nice, works well for me, and I would leave it enabled (unchecked is enabled)

Global Cooldown: a little visual for you showing how much GCD you have left. When enabled, whichever health frame you’re moused over shows a sort of gray “skin” sliding across that goes away when your GCCD is up again.

Announce resurrection: if you’re rezzing someone through Vuhdo, announces it in chat so that people know who you’re rezzing. Insert cute phrase here or just “Resurrecting.” In that field where you type ‘vuhdo’ it will insert the name of the targetted person.

And Clique support: if you use Clique, let me know how this works. I don’t use Clique myself but here’s where you enable it.

General> Indicators

These are some visual effects you can set to show around health bars. Very useful for indicating threat. Pick one you want to use and select an option. On the left hand side partway down there’s  a “special dot” that I have set to Swiftmendable. If my Swiftmend is up and there’s a Swiftmendable HOT on the target, this dot shows. Then all I have to do is use the spell. It’s a great visual indicator for me.

Panels

Moving on to Panels. This is where you configure how Vuhdo is going to look. On the Panels tab > General page,  you can select how you’re going to organize your raid frames.

On the Panels tab > Sizing page you can use these sliders to change bar height, width, spacing between bars, etc. It takes a little tweaking to get how you like, and here’s where to do it.

Some of the cosmetic options are less critical but will really enhance your experience. Here on the Panels tab – Bars page you can select a background texture for your health bars – I like not having flat health bars so I use this option.

The drop down for “Custom Health Bar Bouquet” sounds confusing but will actually handle what the background color of each unit frame is. I like mine to be class colors so I open the drop down and select the “Health/Generic Class Color” choice.

HOTS and Icons

Panels > HoT Icons – Essential for druids, very useful for everyone else, this is where you set up your status dot indicators. On the top left is where you pick the arrangement you want to use. The slots are numbered. Over in the middle you choose what indicator goes in which slot. The “Own” checkbox means it’s your own HoT / Indicator; the “Others” means other peoples HoTs or heals can show up there.

Rev: As you start adding various options here you will probably want to tweek your bar sizes. I usually close the options out and test things by hotting up my druid and checking if it is what I want. There are a lot of options here for size and placement so tweak all you want.

There are a lot of default options in those slot dropdowns. For druids, all your HOTs are there; for priests, you’ll find Prayer of Mending, Power Word Shield/Weakened Soul, paladins will find Beacon of Light, shamans set up Earthshield, etc. And more importantly – you can track other peoples’ shields and hots too; so if you always run with a priest and need to know that a target has Weakened Soul or PWS, set it up here.

Vuhdo has fancy combination indicators called “Bouquets”. I don’t really get much use from them yet but the one default one that is critical is the “PW:S & Weakened Soul” bouquet. You enable it and it shows when a target has PW:S on them; when the shield is used up, the color changes to indicate Weakened Soul.  I always have this enabled. A target with a shield on them needs less of my healing; one with Weakened Soul needs extra attention.


Now go to Colors -> HoTs; this is where you select what color your hots will be. Pick whatever makes sense to you. This should be populated with whatever you chose to display back at the Panels -> HoT Icons page. Choose the colors you like, whether it’s got a countdown or not (I always set my hots to show seconds counting down) and whether you want a waning when things are going to expire (druids shouldn’t do this, you’ll go nuts).

Here’s how my setup looks. There’s my own health bar, sitting there. I’ve got Rejuv up in the top corner, but it’s obscured by the Swiftmend dot; that’s ok for me because I can usually see how long it’s got left anyway. The Swiftmend dot is very key for me and I  like having it there. Down in the bottom left corner is my Regrowth indicator; in the center is my Lifebloom. It’s green, which for me means it has three stacks. Yellow is two stacks and red is one stack. The timer shows how long it’s got left.

Debuffs

Debuffs – seeing Debuffs is very key as a healer. We need to know if they’re on targets, so we can remove or mitigate them.  The Debuffs > Standard page can be mostly left at the defaults.

Then go back to Colors > States. This is where you set the colors that standard types of debuffs use. I use blue for poison, red for disease, purple for curse, purple-blue for magic. These just work for me. The ‘Anomalies’ are useful too; I really like setting “Charmed” as this dark red. As soon as someone turns that color in my frames I know to watch out.

The Clusters thing is for shaman to know how many targets are in range for their Chain Lightning; I have no idea how well it works.

Now back to Debuffs > Custom,  where you can set up specific debuffs you really want to know about. The Debuff list is pretty extensive, as you can see here. You can set it to play a sound to warn you when someone gets a specific debuff (sort of a mini DBM). Or just to show it specially. This can be really helpful if you are struggling with a particular encounter mechanic.

Spells

This is the really cool bit – the part where you realize you don’t need another addon in order to click cast! Go to Spells -> Mouse. The interface is really easy – just select what modifier key you want  (if any’ most of my binds are straight mouse binds) then type the spell name into the appropriate box. You can type in Macro names too! Just name your macro something other than a spell name or Vuhdo gets confused. I don’t have it set to use any macros in this image but I do use macros as mousebinds and it works fine. I always change my Left button click to “target”, since that let me do normal stuff.

Remember, these binds are only for Vuhdo, so if you usually click-cast on your target frame outside of a raid frame mod these won’t work. But if you’re like me, they work great!

Moving Frames Around

G to the “Move” tab. Vuhdo shrinks to the smaller panel you see on my screen and the frames switch into the moveable mode. At this point you can drag and drop them around your screen as you wish.

Adding a new panel

Here I clicked the “Add New Panel” button and that empty frame appeared in the middle of my screen. I can move it where I want.

Now Right Click inside it and you get the “add group” dropdown.  You can assign a group id, or a “special” group like pets.


If you select a size, then hit the “Hold to Test” button, you can see what your current settings would look like in combat with that size. That’ll help you see what you might want to tweak or redo before really using the interface.

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