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Archive for January, 2011

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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More Raid Status

*** To all RSS readers: sorry about the double post. Ignore the other one. ***

So we had another weekend of raiding and again no bosses down. But there was progress on some fronts.

Friday we went back to Halfus and tried him again. We were very hopeful because we got him down to 7% last week and into the teens several times before the enrage. We had more DPS this week so we were pumped to ‘geterdone’. Sadly it was not to be. We had nearly the same dragon combination but the difference was critical. We had the Slate dragon which gives the stacking debuff. No sweat. You just have to tank swap. Not worth it to wake him up. We also had the Time Warden same as last week. That is the one that gives the aoe fire rain. Ok, so we kill that one. Last was the Storm Rider. He was in place of last week’s Nether Scion. So in place of the tanks taking a little more damage we had raid wide aoe and knockback that that has to be interrupted PERFECTLY. Ouch. This combination was probably the worst possible. The raid damage is quite bad and the knockback is killer on the heals. We pretty much got creamed. We did change things up and bring in a enhancement shammy to help with the interrupts but it was just nasty. In retrospect we could have kept trying and gotten lucky, the DPS was there but the healing was having a lot of trouble. But we didn’t.

For the second half Friday’s run we popped over to Throne of the Four Winds and tried to learn that fight. Pretty interesting stuff. Big learning curve with all the jumping around. We wiped several times to people not getting to the bridge fast enough. And we were having an issue with the warrior tank being too soft. That closed out Friday. In retrospect we were making ok progress at learning it and should have gone back there Saturday… We didn’t.

Instead decided to go for Magmaw. I blame my eagerness to get something down. I was so hopeful about Halfus all week that I was willing to reset the learning curve and try a boss that was supposed to be ‘easier’. That was a mistake. Magmaw I chalk up to raid balance. We were short on hard hitting AOE at first. We had two mages, both went frost for the slowing effect, one boomkin and a lock. We started off having a big problem with the adds, naturally. We knew the theory and tried the basic strategy of moving all the ranged in a tight pack.

DPS was marginal, healing was marginal and our movement and kiting was marginal. By ‘marginal’ I mean it might have worked but it was so close to ‘barely’ enough that every little mistake was mercilessly unforgiving. So we wiped. We eventually swapped to the strategy where everyone is in melee except one sacrifice for the flame to target that Jaded Alt laid out on her blog.The “at ranged” was the lock. He also went to Affliction spec and that really upped his aoe DPS. That strategy started working by the end of the night and we made some progress. We managed to get Magmaw fully chained twice in a row several times, and got him to around 70%. Not nearly enough but good progress. I am convinced that if we had one of the mages go fire spec for more AOE dps (neither had a fire spec at the time. Karius of course went right out after the raid and swapped Arcane for Fire) or had brought in a good hunter that might have worked. Alternately having a DK aoe kite in place of the lock might have helped too. It is hard to say. I think we were starting to get it with a marginal raid makeup. With a slightly different make up it would have been easier. The boomkin knockbacks were very effective as were the mushroom’s slowing and the frost. But I don’t think the two blizzards and the shrooms all stacked… So there is some optimization we could have done. It looked like we were going to have real mana issues all around had we been able to get farther but it was hard to be sure.

Our DPS was looking better than ever this week except on Magmaw where the two frost specs really lowered the average of normally hard hitting mages.

We are still having issues with the warrior tank being soft. This week on the second trash pull before Magmaw we were able to compare apples to apples of damage and see he was taking almost 20% more damage than the bear. Prior to the last few raids I would not have though having a few slots of ‘DPS’ plate verus ‘tank’ plate would have made that large a difference. But apparently it does. Ouch.

Healing continues to be a challenge as is expected in this expansion. Having our healers hit a bit harder will be great as gear gets better, but so will the whole raid getting better about dodging things. On both counts I blame myself a lot for changing what bosses we went after. Next week we are going to pick just one and really cream it. If the drake combination is even slightly better that one will be Halfus. We have done him the most and know him best. If we had last week’s combination again he would have been down.

I was very happy with how well we went into fights raw and hit the ground running, trying things and learning new mechanics. I need to get better with the ‘directing’ side of things as far as calling out abilities or transitions.  I kinda wish there was an ‘observer’ role where I could raid direct without having to actually, you know, raid. Heh. Or at least not have to remember my rotation and cooldowns and what not.  The Throne of the Four Winds is pretty annoying for leading because you can’t see what is going on at all. It is just “Ow. Ah…. I am down” and health bars twitching all over. I should go find videos on each of the platforms… Well maybe later. I want to go after Halfus first next week.

Analogue notes: I am really happy with my healing team. I have three other ladies who run healers as needed for us – usually some combination of two druids and a shaman or two shaman and a druid. I also have Karius as my backup… she’s got a Holy paladin and is gearing up her Holy priest, but it’s hard to turn down her awesome mage-ness! We are getting to learn these fights and I think picking up really well on what we need to do. I’ve started to do combat logging and if I can just figure out how to use information out of World of Raids, we’ll be set. I think our heals Saturday especially were a little light; one of my two shaman are a bit undergeared, but she’s working on it. That dragon combo was kind of killer and it was with that input that Reversion made the call to switch. We just couldn’t keep tanks up, or the raid dropped.

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Hi guys! A message from your friendly neighborhood resto druid here.

(see me? I’m doing VuhDo!)

 

Ok, Cataclysm’s been out for a while and some of you may have noticed healers rerolling as DPS, or complaining a lot, or just sitting in a corner weeping quietly into their tea. Maybe you have noticed. Maybe you laughed, or felt lost, wondering what exactly is going on.

It’s up to all of us to prevent healer burnout! If you’re a raid leader, you’ll want to watch closely for this. Find one of your healers who you can count on being honest with you and ask. Chances are your healers are sharing their complaints amongst each other and she’ll have her finger on the pulse of the heal team. Even if your heal team is two people, it’s important to know.

For everyone else, even people who just run a dungeon now and then, there’s things you can do. Simple things. Things that will make your healer love you.

Buff Up: What buffs do you bring, and do they stack with everyone else’s? If you’re a paladin and there’s a druid in group, give Might. If you’re a lock and there’s no priest, can you pull out your imp for the stamina bonus? Hunters, what does your pet bring to the fight? Focus Magic/Dark Intent – Resto druids will kill for these buffs, and they’re not too shabby for other healers either.

Take responsibility for your own health. Out of combat, eat some food. In  combat, if you use a bandage, Gift of the Naaru, or some class ability to regain health, your healer will love you. Paladins? Word of Glory on yourself. All the time. Let’s do this. Spriests? A quick Power Word Shield at the right time can really take the stress off the healer. Say Baron Ashbury just got done asphyxiating you – toss on a shield and go back to dps. Most classes have some ability to help heal themselves. Even mages can glyph Evocate to return heals.

Help dispel. I can’t say this enough. Know what you can dispel, what your healer can dispel, and watch for it. Short version: Curses: mages, druids, shaman. Disease: priest, paladin Poison: Druid, Paladin. Magic effects: all healing classes, Shadow priests.

If you are in heroic SFK, and you’re a mage and you have a priest healer, when you get to the last boss, remove those damned Cursed Bullets. They are basically impossible to heal through right now, but easy as pie if you just remove them. Please, please remove them.

Interrupt Abilities: Every ability that is interruptable, should be. This is something Reversion is really big on. The more things get interrupted, the less damage the tank and everyone else takes. Most melee classes have 10-second-cooldown interrupts. Use them all the damn time. I don’t care if it hurts your dps; it helps the fight more than words can say.

Stun Things: See ‘interrupts’.

Debuff the Boss: Like the above. It interferes with your perfect rotation a tiny little bit, but that Faery Fire really helps out. Know what debuffs you have and bring them. If you don’t know, make like a mongoose and go and find out.

Related topic: remove enrage effects wherever you can. Druids, hunters, and rogues can all remove enrages. It might take a while to learn what one looks like. This will reduce the damage the tank is taking.

Mages, don’t forget Spellsteal! Any time a mob has something cool, steal it and use it to kill him!

Don’t Stand In Bad -I think that says it all

Crowd Control: If there are five mobs in a  group and you control one until at least one of the other four is dead, you have reduced the amount of damage incoming at any one time by 20% (Rev: It is actually almost 25% assuming you are single targetting things down and you CC one target for the whole fight. I will do the math in anothre post.).  That’s equivalent to healing that amount of damage for the same length of time – so congratulations, mages, you just joined team healer! I know this can be tricky to do, especially if the tank doesn’t believe in crowd control, but ask pretty much any healer and she’ll tell you, crowd control is awesome and amazing. If you crowd control a healer, it usually shortens the duration of the fight noticeably, so you’ll make your daily heroic run faster – much faster than just aoe’ing would be!

Help with Aggro: Yeah, this helps the healer! The tank is designed to take big hits. The warlock is not. If the warlock is taking hits, the healer has to either let him die or keep him alive and too often, that drains our mana. So if you can misdirect onto the tank, drop aggro, or otherwise help out, please do so.

Move Faster: So you are moving out of the bad stuff… Good for you. But you probably can move out of it faster. Most things are timed so that if you move the instant something appears you will take no damage at all. If you reguarly are taking damage from things you can move away from you need to move faster. 

Look, most of this is common sense and I might not be telling you anything you don’t know: but it’s easy to forget and pick up bad habits. For whatever reason we healers are way too willing to put up with a bad tank or bad dpsers not doing this stuff. We shouldn’t, and that’s our responsibility, but just know that even if your healer doesn’t say anything, she probably is really appreciating it when you do these things.

Oh. Yes. And mages? Please always give me mage food. I promise to throw out a table when I’m maging, too.

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Dear Melee DPS

Dear Melee DPS,

This just isn’t working out. I think we need to stop seeing so much of each other. At least in dungeons. We can still raid together. Well, twenty five mans. Ten mans are tricky to work out too.

It’s not you; it’s me. I really love how you’re all up in the boss’s butt, bravely backstabbing him and slicing off his knees. That’s awesome. I really, really love your ten-second-cooldown interrupts and my friend the tank would like to ask you to keep using those every time a boss tries something, please.

But there’s just too many of you. I can maybe handle one of you in a heroic. Two, in a ten man. It’s not your fault at all. It’s just all the encounters out there seem to have splash damage around the boss, short range AOEs, debuffs from hitting things, things you have to run away from. And you guys try so hard, most of you (I’m looking at you, XXArthaassXX. You totally refuse to run away from anything and then wonder why you die. Have fun with the repair bills bud).

And let’s face it; my AOE heals are not what they should be. I know you guys try to stand in the puddle of green…. but Efflorescence and I have just agreed to a trial separation. I fell so hard for that shiny green circle, but it just couldn’t deliver.

But fight after fight, night after night, the mage and warlock are lowest on the “damage taken” meter. How is this even right? Mages are supposed to die in the first ten seconds of the fight, and locks are emo self-hurting goth punk kids. Why are they so much better at not taking damage?

Well, they aren’t. It’s that damn splash damage. Oh, and of course some of you like to stand in front of the boss, where you can get cleaved and parried and stuff. But most of you are better than that. It just seems like, right now, standing near the bad guys is a bad thing.  Should be left to the tank.

And the aggro. Tanks are doing awesome at holding aggro these days – but every now and then they lose their grip and someone else gets nommed. And it’s always you guys. You’re right there, so close, so inviting. No time to react. Boom. Dead. At least if someone goes after the mage, the tank has time to taunt it right as the mage frost novas it next to me and blinks away. You guys don’t have that luxury.

So let’s try cooling things down for a while. Maybe seeing each other as friends. We can work out a schedule for doing things. Or if you bring your friend, that hunter we were talking about. Maybe we could work things out like that.

Or you can roll a mage. Let me know if you want to try that. I’ll even help you gear up.

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I have two main characters.

Analogue became my main during Wrath and probably will remain my main for as long as I play; I’ve just so merged my identity in WoW with “druid healer” that I don’t think I can change it. She gets leveled and geared first, that’s the name I use in Vent and on blogs and, well, it’s my WoW identity. Symbolically, she became my real main when she got name changed to Analogue. Originally she was named Metaphor, but when we moved servers the first time, that name was taken, so I looked for something themically similar and chose Analogue. It works for me.

Then there’s Invariant – who, like Analogue, was originally not named Invariant but Variant. Again, first server move, that name wasn’t available so I changed to Invariant. Either works. She’s a mage. She’s not the first character I rolled, but she is the first that actually appealed to me enough to get past 40. She was my first level 70, my second 80, and my third 85. Poor thing. But despite being leveled behind my priest, I identify with her a lot more than with my priest. Elucidate is just “Analogue’s priest”. Invariant is…. Invariant.

I’ve been able to keep her identity because I use her for very different things. I’m not that into damage dealing these days; I’m too perfectionist to like doing a lousy job, and too haphazard to get 100% performance out of my mage. Oddly I don’t have the issue with my druid… but it’s the role, not the character. I give 110% when I heal; when I’m doing damage I just don’t.

But somewhere along the way Invariant became my achievement runner, my pet collector, my archeologist. It seemed logical enough; mages have some advantages like portals to everywhere. Makes them a lot faster at world achievements. She got 50 pets; then she got serious and scored 75. Now I collect them just to have them.  She has the first mount achievement, and works slowly on getting more. Her archeology is 525 and I’m looking forward to plenty more time with that.

Do you have a dichotomy like this? One character for “fun” and one for “serious business”? Or a PVP main and PVE main, or a different identity for Horde and Alliance?

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