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Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

EDIT: Larisa (yeah, like you guys need me to give the url for Larisa) pointed me to a commenter on her Angry Tree Post, who linked this thread: in which Ghostcrawler says:

Art is very subjective. We’re very used to the phenomenon of half of a class loving say their tier set art and the other half thinking they are the worst thing ever.

Messing with player models is always risky and we know the current Tree of Life model is one of those things that is either loved or hated. That is why, as promised, we are offering a minor glyph if you just prefer the older, treant-based, version of ToL.

So, kudos Blizzard. Restos only have two useful minor glyphs anyway. Ok, I’m glad you thought about this and for once didn’t just ignore us. I’ll glyph my old tree, and use the cooldown. I do wish there was a way to make it permanent though.

 

THIS is our new tree form?

The one they took our permanent, happy little tree away for? Yeah, sure, our tree was scrawny. And a bit sickly looking. It’s an uprooted tree that spends all its time in dungeons. But it was mine, and I loved it.

This… this is an abomination. Where to start? The size? The ugly face? The hunchbacked effect? The fact that it is somehow terribly terribly masculine? Look, Blizzard, I’m a girl. I play female toons and I like it that way. I don’t want to turn into this abominable, obviously male thing.

I hate this tree. Hate, hate, hate. I do not EVER want to see it on my screen. Ever. I’m boycotting new tree cooldown. If I can’t raid in Cata as a resto without it? Fine. I’ll level a priest, dammit. This – thing – no. Just no.

I’m going to start calling it Pedo-Tree. Because it looks like a molester. The kind that lives down at the bus station. This tree has to register with the cops every time it changes addresses. This tree tells long, meandering stories while you try to edge away without making eye contact. It is not, in fact, a healy tree. It is a tree of ugh.

Zelmaru at Murloc Parliament is giving up resto druiding entirely. I’m not ready for that yet – but I do refuse to use this tree. Call me a conscientious objector, if you like.

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My first main was a mage, through all of BC and a bit of Wrath. I love my little gnome mage – still do. Throwing fireballs at peoples’ heads is fun. At the end of BC Reversion and I leveled a pair of druids and I started healing as we went. Once we hit Outlands we basically leveled in dungeons with me healing and him tanking. Analogue the druid was my first healer character; I hadn’t played other games with the dps-healer-tank trio, I didn’t know that I’d like healing, so it was a surprise when one day I woke up and realized that not only was this druid my main, I was a Healer with a capital H.

I leveled  a paladin up as ret/prot, tanking my way to the top. Then I realized I needed her offset to be Holy. I still like tanking 5 mans on her – I don’t enjoy trying to heal parties as a paladin – but when I raid? I want to heal. Beacon, Shield, Holy Light spam is more fun than whacking things in the face and taunt-at-five-stacks.

I have a priest at 72, a shaman at 60, both dual specced, both with one really solid healing spec and one questing-dps spec. They are my most anticipated leveling projects. I want all four healing classes at max, and I’m not the only player I know with that desire. I read the druid news coming out of Cataclysm beta and I’m afraid I won’t like druid healing, so what is my reaction? Not “ok, maybe I’ll be balance” but “ok, maybe I’ll be a shaman.” My identity is not as a druid, but as a healer.

Why? I’m not really the most nurturing person ever. Actually I’m more of a bossy older sister who knows what’s good for you and will tell you so. I’m not an angel of mercy, swooping in and soothing your brow; I’m the “you screwed that up; here’s a bandage now get in there and do it right” battlefield medic.

I heal because I can fix everyone elses’ mistakes in ways that dps and tank roles don’t let you do; because I have to micromanage everything; because I can count on myself and never feel like I can count on every single other person in the raid. That’s why I like raid healing, too; when I see those dps health bars drop I want to swoop in and Swiftmend them.  It’s why I pug, even though I have to deal with morons. I heal through stupid, because I can and because honestly I expect it.

I heal because it’s binary; they live or they die. Eaking out 10 more dps doesn’t appeal to me. Striving to keep one more person alive, that does.

I heal because it’s more fun. It’s more complicated than switching to adds, or waiting for phase 2 to drop your cooldowns. Second to second, the situation changes and you don’t have time to breath or someone dies.

I heal because apparently I’m perfectly content to stare at a matrix of health bars instead of the lavishly-designed boss fights. Perhaps in another life I would have been a whack-a-mole champion.

I heal because I feel like part of a team, taking things down; when you aren’t actually smiting the evil, it’s harder to forget that the other people in your group matter.

I heal because it’s the most fun part of the most fun game I’ve ever played and until something can be as fun as this, I’m not likely to switch.

Yeah, some of those are contradictory, some of those don’t make sense – but gosh darn it,I love healing! And no matter what they do in Cataclysm I know one of my alts will find a niche to shine in. Maybe it’s the hour of the disc priest or the resto shammy?

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If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

- If, Rudyard Kipling

First stanza of Kipling’s famous poem should probably be on a sticky note on every healer’s monitor. I’m not saying that the other roles in the game don’t require laser like focus and attention to detail, but I know I personally have to be totally in the groove every GCD to heal at the top of my game. On my mage? Hit Arcane Blast a billion times, pop cooldowns when they’re available, don’t stand in fire. On my druid? Watch for who needs a heal, who needs an emergency cooldown, who is about to take damage and should be Rejuv’d … and still stay out of the fire.

More than that, I don’t know if it’s a me thing or a healer thing but if I’m healing the raid and we wipe, I feel guilty. Really guilty. Like “that was all my fault if only I’d been a better healer that wouldn’t have happened.” I don’t feel nearly as bad tanking, and dps? Psssh, not my fault. I did my job. But when I’m healing, I feel like I ought to be doing everyone else’s, too.

And what about when people are saying it’s your fault? Do you just let them, or get defensive, or even say “yeah, it was me”? Like the poem says – you have to trust yourself, but if everyone is saying it’s your fault, you have to look at yourself and make sure that’s not true. Not trusting yourself will lead to wipes. So will not trusting your partners – the other healers, the tanks, the dps. A druid throwing Nourish on a tank when she should be trusting her Disco priest buddy can wipe the raid easily – or save the day if the priest got distracted. What do you do?

So: some specific strategies that I use. What do you use? I’m always looking for new tips.

Keep a Cool Head – learn to accept and react to a situation rather than panic. Important when you’re out of mana and the tank just aggroed two more pats. If you panic, you die. If you can quickly prioritize your problems and do things in the right order, you live. Slap a shield or an instant HOT on the tank, blow your “get mana back” cooldown, drop a big cooldown on the tank to get him back up, and play triage.

Zen and the Art of Raid Maintenance – watch the raid like a mama bird watches her stupid, half-blind, flightless chicks. They’re going to try to fall out of the nest, choke themselves on half-eaten worms, and go play with that friendly hawk perched at the top of the tree. Don’t let ‘em, but don’t get mad at them when they do. Heal through the stupid because you can.

Screw it, I don’t care if the mage dies – the opposite of the above. After the nth time that warlock life taps right before combat or the mage runs away from the tank in order to frost nova mobs right by you – they’re too stupid to live. Think of it as evolution in action. Let them die that others may live. Mentally pretend their health bar is already gone, stop wasting mana on them, and concentrate on the tank and the ones who aren’t being stupid.

Honestly, if you’d just read “Hogwarts, A History” – know the fights better than anyone else. This is important if you’re pugging but comes in handy if your raid leader is one of those odd ones who doesn’t know doesn’t care about healing stuff (like the first time I fought Saurfang, the Disc priest asked if there was a strategy for her and was told to ‘just shield the tanks’; we didn’t down him that night but if the raid leader had known to have her drop shields on the Marked victims too, we might have.) The theory here is that by knowing the fight, you can drop hints to others on your healing team and then, assuming they do as you say, you don’t have to worry about them. I’m guilty of not doing this as thoroughly as I should; to date I still haven’t actually, you know, watched an LK fight video. /embarassed

It’s easy enough to discuss strategies like this but implementing them is something else entirely. For that, I practice in 5 mans. Deliberately keep your mana low so you can learn to assess priorities and how to regain mana fast when you need to. Let a warlock die (it’s good for their souls anyway). Think two steps ahead of your party members and have them shielded or hotted before they take damage.

The most challenging situation I think a healer can be in, as far as state of mind goes, is the pug raid healing job, where you don’t know what you’re going to get. Often you won’t know anyone, or many, in the raid. The leader may or may not know anything about healing. Your healing team may not be optimal and probably hasn’t worked together. You can make one of two fatal mindset errors here: you can decide it’s all up to you, or you can decide it’s all up to them. In fact it’s neither. You are not responsible for the success of the raid as a whole, but you are responsible for doing your part.

One thing I’ve often found in pug raids is that the leader will give some vague directions like “druid heal ranged shammy heal melee pally on tanks”. Ok… but how do you easily tell ranged from melee? Nobody sorts groups these days… Well, I have Vuhdo set to show “class colors” as the health bar for each person in the raid. So mages are light blue, paladins are pink, etc. I can instantly tell class by looking at my Vuhdo setup. Makes following that sort of vague instruction easier.

I’ll whisper other people on the healing team and ask relevant questions. If I’m on my paladin and there’s another holy pally, I’ll ask “Who are you Beaconing?” and then Beacon the other tank. If there’s another druid, I’ll set up Rejuv priorities (“You do groups 2 and 3, I’ll do 4 and 5, both of us do tanks”).

Anyway, those are my strategies. Anyone have any they can share?

And if all else fails, and your concentration goes to hell and you lose it entirely – well, the run back from the graveyard is a perfect time to practice your deep breathing and work on your patience.

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If you missed it before go check: Situational Awareness and You Part 1

I said at the end of part 1 that I would talk more about the issue of high mouse speed. It is not the speed itself that is the issue.

Your brain

You brain uses a vast number of clues to piece together the world around you. If you turn your head your brain has many things to work with in order to fit the view your eyes see before and after the head turn into one picture of the world around you. Your brain has inputs from your neck: muscles tension, skin stretch, twisting of the vertebra. Your brain also gets the inputs from your inner ear sensing motion and acceleration. Your ears also hear the ambient sounds change as the sources of those sounds ‘move’ around you. Even the air movement on your cheeks and in your hair is fed into your brain. All these things and others help your mind understand what it sees and fit the images it sees together with the images it saw a moment before or minutes before.

In a game world you have FAR fewer inputs to work with. Everything I described above and more is gone. You have very few things to work with to help your brain process where you are looking and what you are seeing. If you look rapidly around at action happening all around you your brain needs to blend all that into an ever changing picture of what is going on.

Your brain on WOW

The things that don’t change between in game and real word processing in your head are the image recognition side of things. Well some of it. You lose the depth perception clues. But you do have the normal image processing your brain is capable of.

You DO add a new input. In place of the sensor input from your neck turning you have the input of your mouse hand moving. But is that enough? Can you close your eyes, and move the mouse with a right or left click and know instantly how far your character turned? Without opening your eyes? Can you spin exactly 180 degrees around and in one try without over shooting? Many players can. A very many players can’t. With your eyes closed you only have the input of your hand moving on the table. That is not a lot to go on.

What else do you have? Well the screen of course. But two things are working against you. Frame rate and mouse speed. Anywhere from 10 times per second to upwards of 60 times per second the image on your screen is updating. Imagine your character is turning. Each moment as you turn the screen updates. Each update looks different than the last. If you are turning very slow most of the screen is showing the same thing as before. If you are turning left on the left side of your screen new material keeps appearing each moment and everything moves right. If you are turning fast much more of the screen is updated with new material. If you turn extremely fast nothing or almost nothing is the same as before. If you turn your character completely around between on screen update and the next (easy to do with a mouse twitch) then there is NOTHING on your screen that looks the same as before (not counting your character itself).

When you are turning slower your brain has all the stuff that did not change to give you instant input as to which way you turned and how far. If that tree on the screen moved half way across it then you know something useful about how far you turned. If you turn so fast that the tree simply vanishes then you lose that input. In that case your brain has to start from stretch and figure out where you are looking. Fortunately the human brain is an amazing creation and can figure it out very fast. But why force it to do extra work? If a lot is going on around you then your brain needs all the clues you can get.

Slow that mouse down!

A good rule of thumb is that you want to be able to turn 180 degrees with one mouse move. So do this. Set your hand on the mouse. Using the right click turn move your mouse as far as you can to the left or right. Only move it as far as you can without shifting your grip. How far did you turn? If you turned completely around twice then things are probably set way to fast. Tweak your speed and try again. Keep doing it. Only you can decide how fast is fast enough or too fast. Here are some suggested guidelines.

You should be able to turn 180 and face the opposite direction in one smooth move without shifting your grip or lifting up your grip.

If you have to grip very tight and try several times when you are navigating a tight room (like a human inn) then your speed is too high.

If you have to lift up your mouse to steer a tight corner then it is far too slow.

Try slowing things down until they are way too slow and then slowly creep it up until things seem smooth and steady but still reasonably fast.

Do NOT just leave mouse speed alone. It matters to situational awareness so you should mess with it and give thought to it. Find what speed is right for you.

The goal is that you can move the screen rapidly and have a reasonably good idea of how far you moved, even if you can’t see the screen. The goal is to be able to see the screen pan as you turn

Get your frame rate up

For all the reasons I was just talking about for mouse speed you need a good frame rate. Get in to your video settings and turn things down. When it comes to getting your disoriented frame rate does as much as mouse speed or more. Turn some video settings down until your frame rate is high. You can set almost everything to minimum and still play with no problems. Just don’t set the particles to the bottom or you will not be able to see the fire you are standing in.

More mouse tricks:

Strafing with the arrow keys: You can use right click and used A or D or to do the exact same thing as the Q and E keys. Try it! Maybe it will fit your play style better than Q and E. Or maybe you will want to do like me and use it situationally.

More practice activities

Go play in the Argent Tournament. It might be hard and annoying at first but the rewards are good, cash is solid and the skill up if your movement is great.

Buzz things on your flying mount. Don’t fly over the trees. Use keys and mouse steering to weave between them. This is great practice and does not slow your travel time much. No trees? Just flow low and try to skim the ground without actually landing on it.

Drive vehicles in battle grounds. Those things work differently for movement so try them out.

Ride around like those bored people in Dalaran. Only don’t do it there you are laggy. But ridding around town and like a drunk moron is actually really good hand mouse coordination practice and steering practice. Zig-zag, jump, dodge around people.

Looking is not seeing and seeing is not knowing

The everything I wrote in part 1 and above is focused on helping you look all around you at any time and to be able to fit what you see into a coherent picture. That helps you see what is around but next you have to know and understand what you are seeing. Being actually AWARE takes more.

Stay one step ahead

Knowing what is going to happen next is a critical part of awareness. Mainly it helps you sift through what you are seeing and spot the things that are important. You can see 8 packs around you but what is important to look at? You can’t know everything about everything but you can be picking out what are the next two groups you are going to fight and already thinking about what comes next.

Whether you are playing solo, healing, tanking, or DPSing in 5 mans or raids, anytime, anywhere, you can be thinking about what comes next and getting ready for it. Is the tanking going to go left or right? Maybe you can’t be sure, but if you know he is going to do ONE of those you can position yourself so that you react to either. And you can be ready for either. Almost nothing a tank does should take you by surprise. No really. There aren’t that many things a tank CAN do so it is not that hard to be ready for almost anything. If you assume the tank is NOT going to do something then you are already setting yourself up for a chance of failure. Rather you should position yourself and be ready for all the likely options and have a backup plan for the unlikely ones.

How?

Predict what will happen with your best guess but don’t fixate on your theories. You should at any time have a vague idea of what comes next. But you should not have an iron clad prediction of it. If you get too invested in your expectations you are put off balance when they don’t come true. If you are absolutely sure the tank is going to pull that group on the left and you get set up for that and only that then you can caught unaware when he goes the other way. Don’t do that. Set yourself up to be able to react to several likely options. This is particularly key advice for a healer. Did you stop to far back and then get surprised when the tank ran around a corner? That was your mistake. There was not real reason to stop back there except that you assumed something about what the tank was going to do. Then you lost line of sight when he ran in the room. Oops. Should have been farther forward from the get-go.

React quickly

That statement ‘react quickly’ is a ‘what’ but not a ‘how’. The how is this: When things change throw out the old and change with them. Don’t stop and go ‘ohcropohcrapohcrap’. Instead simply forget everything you had planned and assumed and start over. Don’t try to resist that changing situation. Don’t try to force it to be what you wanted. Just toss the plan out the window and go. This applies to more than healers. This applies to everyone at all times. All the time I see DPS fail to react when the situation changes. Maybe some adds come and the tank shifts to engage those and there is that lone warrior over in the corner fighting that one guy. He tunnel-visioned right into that one target and will be aware of nothing until that one is dead. Or a tank that ignores the adds on the healer. Or the tank reacts to the adds but tries to fit them into the pull he had already made.

When the situation changes it is changed permanently. Don’t cling to the plan if what happened was not in the plan.

Expect the worst case

Or at the very least expect the most likely things. If you are fighting a group that fears EXPECT to get feared into one of the nearest packs. It is going to happen so you should already have an idea what you are going to do about it. After the fear goes off is not the time to hunt around for your Feign Death button or your Barkskin.

If you know there are other packs around EXPECT one to pat into you from behind. It is going to happen so have a plan for that. All the time when I am tanking I have my camera already turned around and I am looking right at that group behind us. So when the hunter back there fails to notice them and gets agro I am already ready for that. This goes for everything that is annoyingly inconvenient.

All those things that people do all the time that piss you off? EXPECT them, plan for them and react to them fluidly. Don’t spend time going ‘argue they did it again’. Just deal with it. This is a key part of being aware. And it is one of the easiest things to do. If you have a peeve about something then you know about it. And you also know that it is likely to happen. It would not be a peeve if it did not happen to you fairly often. So don’t act surprised when it happens again.

Tanks, see that 6.2k geared guy over there? Yeah, he is GOING to pull off you at some point. Probably all the freaking time. Don’t act shocked, roll with it. Expect it. Factor it into your plan. Use some taunt triage. You don’t have to fight the guy for agro if he can take a few hits. So work him pulling off you into your plan instead of fighting against it.

This goes for everyone. DPS, do you have a plan for when the adds jump you? For when the tank suddenly dies from a big hit? For if the healer DCs? You should and you should expect to need those plans at any time.

More to come

This is getting big so I will carve off some for part 3 and maybe even more. Next time I plan to talk about being more aware of what your party is doing and then maybe I will get into user interface issues and considerations.

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So my shaman is up to about 55 right now. She’s RAF-paired with a druid that Reversion is running. We spent time over the weekend tweaking hardware and right now he’s down to one computer and I’m up to two, so we’re just doing pairs and not quads (his Mac doesn’t run two copies of WoW at a time)

I wanted to get the shaman up a bit more last night so we logged on and Reversion specced feral on the druid. I bought my shaman dual spec last week and she’s got a nice resto offspec to go with her elemental main; the gear is close enough, leveling, to support both.

We queued, me as damage or heals, and got BRD. (This is after an uneventful pair of instances where Rev’s druid was boomkin; we ran into one total jerk of a hunter but otherwise boring.)

Somewhat to my surprise, it slotted me in as damage, so I switched specs, drank a bit, and started merrily dpsing. Fire nova, chain lightning, shock or reapply my shield, and back around – it was seriously fun. There was another shaman along, also elemental, and I encouraged myself to stay ahead of him on the dps meters.

We couldn’t tell if we were supposed to be doing Prison Break or the whole city, so we went and killed the boss who is for Prison Break and – nothing, so we set off further into the city. Partway through the healer says “sorry got to go” and drops. We requeue. Both of us shaman select dps or heals, and I’m selected to heal, so I switch specs. And promptly let Reversion die when things hit harder than they should. Ok, get Earth Shield up, make sure the totems stay down, and Healing Wave for the win!

We run around in the city for a while, and then the other shaman mysteriously drops group. We queue again – and this time I’m back to dps! Heh. I switch again as a wisecracking paladin joins up – he says “if you die it’s because I’m playing Bejeweled”.

Sadly no one in the group has the key to the doors in the place. Blizzard should think about either moving the key quest inside the instance or removing the need for a key entirely. No one ever seems to have the key any more.

We ended up killing everything we could, and then broke up. That was the longest stretch my shaman has done in a party and I’m starting to feel like I have the hang of it, whatever “it” is. She heals very differently from my druid or paladin, but I like her style. And the totems are cool. I’m looking forward to getting her up a bit higher.

One step closer to my four-healing-classes-at-max-level goal. Not sure I’ll be done by Cataclysm but I might… my disc priest is at 71 but stalled out.

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How to improve at WOW

WOW is a big game. Lots of people play. Some people can have their gear tweaked out to the fifth decimal place and some have Int on a rogue. It take all kinds… but how do you get to be  better at it? How can you, no matter what your personal skill or experience level, get better at playing your class?

There is a lot of good information out on the internet. The trick is figuring out how to use it. What do you search for, what do you do with what you find. How do you make sense of it all? That is what this post is all about.

You can

First off you can do it. Seriously. Chances are that if you even think you can get more out of your character, you can.

You don’t have to play more

You don’t have to be a ‘no lifer’ or a ‘min-maxer’ or any of that. Those are things people use as excuses for not getting better. You will (probably) not have to radically change how much you play. You will also not have to spend huge amounts of time doing it.

Admitting you have a problem

Admitting a problem is the first step. Let’s face it, we ALL can find a way to get a few more points of damage/threat/healing out of our character. The problem is many people get into a comfort zone and don’t want to break out. Or they imagine improving is some huge hard thing that will consume their life. When they think this they make excuses and stay at their current level. I know because I have been there.

It is an attitude

The thing to realize is that improvement is a never ending goal. It is not about some magical thing you do and then you are uber. It is about recognizing that you COULD be better and trying to get better. That ‘trying to get better’ does NOT have to consume your life or your play time. It can even be done as a onetime exercise in character improvement. But even if it is a onetime thing you need to approach it with the right attitude.

But I LIKE how I play the game

That is fine too… But even within your own personal ‘style’ there are probably small things you can change that would make a large difference. Just because you hear the best spec for your class is one you don’t like does NOT mean you should give up on ever being better. Just about every spec is capable of great things. Also what is ‘best’ changes all the time and even varies based on what level of gear you have. Don’t let the attitudes or suggestions of others affect your goal of getting better. You are doing this for YOU, not them.

Getting started

Identify the problem:

It might be that you suck at PVP. It might be that your DPS is just low all the time and people are starting to complain. Or maybe you stand in the fire too much. Or maybe your tanking is just not working out.

Try to focus in on the specific issue. Don’t be egotistical about it. Don’t be defensive with yourself. This is not the time to make yourself feel better. This is the time to rip off the bandaid of ego, stare at what you are doing wrong and say, ‘ok, I can make this better’.

The areas of improvement:

There are a lot. Here is my list: Gear level, Itemization, gems, enchants, Spec, Glyphs, ability rotation, tactics, strategies, Interface, control usage.

Wow, that is a big list isn’t it. Let’s run down them briefly.

Gear Level:

This one is a TRAP! It is an excuse and a red herring. Yes, getting higher level gear can improve your numbers, but it is the LAST thing to worry about. Gevlon’s Undergeared project proved that you can down the whole first wing of ICC and multiple bosses beyond that in BLUE gear. This is just one of many graphic examples of how your gear does not improve you. Yeah, if you give a high end race car to any driver they will go fast. But so what? That does not mean you can race. Give every NASCAR driver a YUGO and they could hold a pretty impressive race. Give the first few dozen people off the street a NASCAR and you will have a lot of death and destruction but not a race…. Ok maybe that is what people go to races for, but you see my point. People that do poorly point to gear level as an excuse. DON’T LET IT BE YOUR EXCUSE.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you will hit a limit of what you can do with your gear. But the vast majority of the time if you have a performance issue it is not your gear. Using gear as your excuse paralyzes you and blinds you do all the things you can change and improve that are FAR more easy to fix.

(Yes, I know many raids might not let you in without a certain GS. Ignore them, they suck anyway.)

Itemization:

This is a biggy. If you just throw on a bunch of gear you will not have a good set, maybe even if you pick pieces that seem to be right. Heck even if you pick the pieces you read in a gear guide somewhere. Itemization is not as simple as that. I will get back to this later. Just don’t assume your itemization is right. Don’t assume anything when it comes to improvement. DO know your rule of thumbs: if you’re a healer, spellpower is good, if you’re a rogue, don’t stack intellect! But it gets tricky beyond that and you need to know your class. A gifted priest healer who just rolled a holy pally for the first time might not know that spirit is useless to her.  A new bear might not know that the defense on tanky trinkets doesn’t do that much for him. Learn your rules of thumb so you don’t waste time on evaluating a piece of gear that just isn’t right.

Gems and enchants:

Same with Itemization. Don’t assume. Have you ever put an expensive enchant on only to find out later that it was totally wrong for your class and play style? Yeah I have. Most of us probably have, though maybe not all of us have realized it. Some people simply don’t care. If you want to improve don’t be that guy. Make sure the enchants work the way you think they do! Mongoose might look appealing to a hunter – but since it procs off of melee swings, a good hunter won’t get much use out of it.

Spec:

Your spec can probably be improved. Almost certainly there is a point in there somewhere that could be someplace else. It might be of little importance or it could very well be the thing that makes or breaks you. Even if you had your spec right when you respecced last chances are your play style has drifted and there are changes you could make.

Glyphs:

Research your glyphs, major and minor. If they seem confusing, look for a guide to what glyphs are best for your spec. There might just be three that stand out as “must haves”, or five that have situational uses. Don’t be afraid to experiment and get the best set for your playstyle.

Ability Rotation:

This one can be huge. And it can be subtle and tricky. It can be as simple as finding out your are missing some skill you should be using or as tiny as using them in a different order. It can make a very large difference in your damage/threat/healing. Very large. For most players there is improvement they can make here. For many players there is a LOT of improvement they can make here.

Tactics:

Tactics are the small choices you make during combat. This covers all the buttons you press that are not simply doing your ‘rotation’. Target selection is tactics. Pulling tricks? Tactics. Healer Triage? That is tactics too. This area is pretty broad and it can be a lot harder to pin down your mistakes. Unfortunately there is a good chance that your mistakes are here. Most people could use an upgrade in their tactics.

Strategies:

Strategies are the bigger picture things. Stuff that over-arches everything. It is more vague than tactics and touches on a wider variety of ways you approach your character. There is not much I can say about this area because it is so big. Just remember there are larger things that can be areas of improvement too.

A final note before we get started…

Many of these actually work together. If you make a change to your tactics you might start using a new ability in your rotation. That might cause you to want to change a glyph and that decision effects what your spec should be. Don’t focus on one area of improvement and ignore the others. Try to remember what else can be effected.

Disclaimer

I have had many times where I realized mistakes I was making, things I over looked or stuff I totally did not know. If you think I am writing this because I am elitist, you’re wrong. Unless seeking to get better at the game makes me an elitist…But heck, everyone can be that kind of elitist.

Starting

Before you wade out in the internet, keep in mind that much of the advice out there is aimed at a specific sector or area. For example almost all Talent builds are aimed at someone with max level. There is a good chance that you actually want some other build while leveling and want to respec several times on the way up to move points around. The same goes for stats on gear, glyphs, lots of things. How you play the game is not the same as how others play the game.

And, to make things worse, it is not always obvious. For example a guild to tanking might fail to mention it is totally focused on raid main tanking and that if you are tanking heroics only you might want things a lot different. A PVP guide won’t be much good for doing PVE, and vice versa.

I am going to start with gear, go through them categories of improvement. Keep in mind that if you change something later it might affect things in you already looked at. Never assume you are done tweaking things.

Gear

Leveling gear

The gear choices you make while leveling are different then what you look for near max level.

Don’t waste a lot of time on it.

The first thing to say about leveling gear is ‘don’t worry about it much’. While leveling almost anything will do. But, sometimes it is a trouble area so here is how you take a look.

Find your worst items and look for a replacement. This is pretty straightforward. It is just what is says. You go down your list and look for the slot that is lagging the most and find something new for that. Let’s say you are 23 and looking over your gear you see you still have grey or white boots. That is a pretty good candidate for an upgrade.

Avoid the auction house. But if you do hit the AH, don’t buy the bestest thing you can find. That is a waste of money. Like with most things in life you can usually find something 80% as good for 20% the cost. Buy the Toyota, not the Lexus. You are going to replace it in a few levels soon anyway so don’t waste much on it.

Quest drops

You can avoid the AH by looking for a quest drop. Use site like Thottbot or WOWhead to find a quest reward that replaces your item and go run that quest. Another way to upgrade gear is to grind instances for a while. Go check the information on what drops there though. Thottbot, Wowhead, even WOWwikki all have boss drop information. Don’t forget to get the quests for that instance. Those often reward gear.

If you are above level 60 your best bet is quest drops. Bliz did a much better job from 60 to 80 of providing a steady flow of gear upgrades for people leveling. This is extra true for someone who just hit Outlands level of Northrend level. Do your research on what quests rewards you need and go find them.

Craft your own.

Do you have an higher level crafter alt or a friend who can? Heck you can even spam trade for someone and get them to make you a cheap green replacement for any slot you have that is really lagging.

Max level gearing up

There are four stages to max level gearing up.

Gearing up Stage 1: 200-219

Stage one of gearing up a lvl 80 character is to replace your quest greens and instance blues with item level 200 or 219 blues and purples. This involves running NON-heroic versions of all the level 80 instances. All of them except TOC, FOS, POS, and HOR drop item level 200 blues from each boss and Item level 200 purple from the final boss. This is decent stuff. TOC drops 200 purples from each encounter including trinkets but not including any weapons. FOS, POS and HOR drop 219 purples from all bosses and some random packs including trinkets and weapons. I recommend making a list of all the 200 and 219 gear you want from those top 4 places and running them all until you have most of that list.

Gearing up Stage 2: 232-245+

Badge gear and heroic ICC 5 man drops are what you are going for next. Start by grinding random heroics until you have a few pieces of badge gear (232). Once you have a few of those you can add some focused runs of the top 3, FOS, POS, and HOR. As you are working on ‘stage 2’ you can start also working stage 3. As you run out of things that drop on instances or from triumph badges you will have moved fully into stage 3.

Gearing up Stage 3 is ‘Best in Slot’

This is the stage where you start paying attention to gear guides and finding that one piece of gear that will be best in that slot until and unless you get a raid drop or a zillion frost badges.

Find a guide. There are a lot of great gearing up guides out there. But make sure your guide is up to date. If you find one that looks good but is actually from patch 3.1.2 you will waste a lot of effort and not have the best gear. Many blogs and other sites have made gear guides specifically tailored for showing you the best non-raid gear you can get. Find one for your class and keep it handy. Check off each slot as you get it.

Gearing up Stage 4

This is all about raid gear and frost badges. There are actually various levels of gear from raid drops and badges so you have to do your own research as to which you want. Also which you are working on will depend on what sort of raids you are getting into. You might be 12/12 in 25 man hard modes or you might only get the occasional weekly runs. Or it could be anywhere in between. If you are regularly in 10 man pugs that get 5-6 bosses down then you can easily compile a list of gear you are likely to see drop off of those bosses. If you check this list against what you can get with frost badges you will be able to have a master wish list of what you are working toward.

Gems/Enchants

These depend on your spec. First off never leave anything ungemmed or enchanted. If you are not sure what is best min-max slap a cheap enchant or gem in there until you go find out what is best. Don’t waste Epic gems on less than phase 3 gear. Put those high gold cost ones on gear that you expect to wear a while. Also keep in mind what gemming and enchanting you want will vary based on other factors.

Step By Step Powering Up

Step 1: Rotation, Talents, Glyphs

The biggest areas of ‘problem’ you can have in your character revolve around your Ability Rotation, your Talent Build and your Glyphs. These three end up being a LOT to cover. But since they are tied tightly together it is hard to fully separate them. Chances are if you make a change to one you will want to change the others… but since it is impossible to talk about them in a lump lets break them down.

Rotation

What might you be doing wrong with your ability rotation? There are two big ways to screw this up. There are other ones but these to cover most of it.

Using the wrong abilities.

There are a lot of abilities out there. Even in one spec there are a lot to pick from. BUT they are NOT all appropriate for you to use. As you level up you end up with abilities that are intended to replace other abilities in your main rotation. Also as you apply talent points you increase some abilities and decrease others. In a given fight there is a limit to your mana/rage/energy and also to the number of global cooldowns and seconds you have to use abilities. You can’t use them all. You have to pick which to cast and which to not cast. If you pick one over another you might be picking wrong. No, don’t tell me that you prefer to play that way and don’t want to change. That is nonsense. Some abilities are flat wrong. For example if you are a Prot warrior you should not be using Sunder Armor. For Prot warriors the Devastate ability completely replaces Sunder Armor. If you did not notice this you might go on using the wrong one. This is just one example and there are a LOT of others. Another example is that for a Survival hunter Explosive Shot replaces Arcane shot. There is pretty much no reason for a survival hunter to ever use Arcane shot once he gets Explosive Shot. That is just how the game is made.

It is critical that you find out what abilities make sense for your spec and which do not. It is also important you understand which abilities are interchangeable depending on situation. For example a warrior can use Heroic Strike or Cleave. They both (pre Cata) go off on the next strike so you get one or the other in a given swing but not both. So you pick which you want depending on the situation. It is not just spamming buttons. One is good for certain situations and the other is good for others. If you are just randomly hitting whichever you feel like or if you just use one because it is your favorite then there is a VERY good chance you are often using one that is not the best choice.

The scope of this article is not to tell you which is best. There are FAR to many choices to cover all that. The point is to get you to go look.

DO – Find out what abilities people are recommending for your class and spec and find out WHY they are recommending them. Don’t just find one guide and do what it says. It could be wrong or it could be out of date. Read several, check for counter arguments and debate. Check the dates on what you are reading.

Using abilities at the wrong time or in the wrong order.

There are efficient rotations out there. People with a head for numbers and a lot of time on their hands have worked out what rotations of abilities make sense for particular specs. If you trigger abilities in the wrong order, or prioritize one ability over another you can see very large changes in your damage/threat/healing. Even if you are using all the ‘right’ moves but are not using them in the right proportions you may be wasting a lot of your potential. I had the experience of realizing I was not using Maul enough on my bear. I was using it. I thought I was using it a lot. But when I studied up I realized I needed to be using it EVERY SWING. So I went and made macros so it triggered every time I pressed any of my other hot keyed attacks. My DPS/TPS shot way up. I knew Maul was important, and I was using it a fair bit. But I did not realize just how important it was or just how often I needed to be using it. Had someone told me ‘maul more’ I might have scoffed and said “I do that”. It was only when realizing I had a serious PROBLEM with my DPS/TPS and that I needed to make a serious change that I finally did the reading I needed to really see what I needed to change. VERY often small tweaks like this can make a large difference in damage/healing output. Don’t assume you have to make big changes to see big differences.

DO – Read up on proposed rotations. Make sure you check if they are intended for bosses, or trash or what. Rotations vary based on the fight. Read more than one version and look up enough to understand WHY they suggest those rotations. Compare that to what you do. I mean REALLY compare. Find a target dummy and practice. What you think you do for a rotation and what you actually do may be different in subtle and important ways. If the rotations you read about have a ‘priority system’ make certain you understand what they prioritize when and why.

Analogue inserts – this is even more important for certain class/specs. For instance, the paladin tanking rotation is a very tight rotation of abilities we call the “969 rotation”: you use an ability with a 9 second cooldown, then one with a 6 second cooldown, then 9, then 6,  repeat til things are dead. If you do, you have insane amounts of aggro, control the fight, everything’s beautiful. If you don’t, you flail around, don’t have a good pattern, and your healer dies.  Not every class plays like this – for instance my healing druid might cast any spell at any time depending on what needs doing.

Talents

There are a lot of ways to screw your talents up. Some are small and some are large. Sometimes when you vary from the conventional ‘wisdom’ in your talent build it does not matter and sometimes a few misplaced or missing points can completely hamstring your build. Let’s look what what you can do wrong.

Mistaking PVP and PVE talents

Are you a PVE DPSer? Then you don’t want to be wasting many points on things that up your HP or give you more dodge. There are a LOT of talents that are aimed squarely at PVP. If you are a PVPer and you don’t have some of those you will find you are squishy and get owned a lot. If you are a PVEer and put points into many of those talents you will find your dps/heals/threat is seriously lagging.

Points you forgot about

Play styles change. You might find you are never using a certain spell but you put 3 points into making it crit more often. Oops. Don’t let your Talents sit around forgotten. Check up on them and compare what you see to how you currently play the game. If you are 80 and are still using your leveling spec to run heroics and raids then you probably have some really poorly spent points.

Key Missing Points

Many trees have some points that really make or break it. It is not always obvious what those are. For example as a bear there are 3 points you HAVE to take or you can’t be a serious tank. I was ‘bearing’ at max level for a couple weeks before I went back and did my homework and realized what I had missed.

Here is a key point: Sometimes those critical talents are not in your main tree. In fact every decent build I have ever heard of has points in other trees that are important. I have never heard of good build with 71 points in one tree. But you see this mistake a LOT. The only way for that to happen is if people do not read all the available talents and weigh what things will and will not matter for how they play. Don’t be that person! 71 points in one tree is a sure sign of a noob. Fix it before people start to point and laugh.

Listening to ‘conventional wisdom’ in place of thinking

This can really hurt you. Don’t listen and turn off your brain. I lost track of how many level 60ish DKs I ran into that had all their points in frost and were trying to tank. Why? Because you use frost presence to tank. Clearly that means you must need to put all your points there, right? Wrong. If you don’t know why (and you are a DK) you either have not read what your talents say on them or you have not read anything on the internet about DK tank builds. Probably both. There are plenty of examples of this. Like putting all your points in to BM on a hunter because someone said it was good for leveling. Well it is good for leveling but don’t put your points there just because someone said something. Read up for yourself and do your own thinking.

Leveling without respeccing

There are some great builds out there for when you are max level. You can look one up and use to assign each point as you go. But that is almost certainly a bad idea. Because what you need while leveling is not the same. It works better to assign them as you go based on what you are currently using, and everyone so often, respec completely to move some points around that you don’t need anymore.

Always be ready to respec. Any change to your play style can change what points make the best sense for you.

Using a cookie cutter build

This can work… or it can be suboptimal. If you don’t know WHY they chose those talents then you will not know if they are actually best for your play style.

Reading the text for yourself and deciding based on just that

Wait… what? That is right. If you just go off what the text of the talent (or ability) says then you can get really screwed up. Why? Because Blizzard is BAD at percentages and uses the English language ambiguously. I am an engineer who deals a lot in contracts and requirements. Those contain specific language that is intended to be completely unambiguous. If two people read one thing and come up with a different idea of what it means then that text is BAD. Blizzard, in their descriptions of what talents and abilities do, makes this mistake a lot. A WHOLE LOT. Some of the text can be very misleading. A good example of this is taunts. If you read the text of ‘mocking blow’, ‘growl’ (bear), ‘growl’ (hunter pet), and Distracting Shot and tried to explain how each was different, without doing some extra research, you would be almost certainly completely and totally wrong. And the ways you would be wrong could be life or death in a party.

I am not saying you are too dumb to figure it out. I am saying those ability tool tips can be VERY misleading. I had to explain to a warrior one time that Mocking Blow was not a taunt. But it says right there in the text that it taunts. Except it doesn’t. It is a forced attack and not an ‘attack’. This is a subtle but very critical distinction and can lead to all sorts of headaches while tanking if you are depending on that ability. When your own judgement contradicts what is out there on the internet do NOT assume you have it right. Don’t assume the internet has it right either. Keep researching until you are SURE. If you find yourself saying ‘this has to be wrong because the ability says…’ stop right there and go research more. (And if you are totally lost about those taunt descriptions then go read my posts on tanking)

I have run into this first hand. For a long time I read the text of aimed shot as applying a debuff that makes other shots hit harder. Does it say that? Well not really, but it could be argued that it does. When I figured out how wrong I was I felt pretty stupid. This leads me to another point…

Since this post has gotten too long I will make it my last point.

Don’t let ‘feeling stupid’ get in the way of getting powered up

We all hate to feel like a buffoon. There are a lot of things about powering up that can make us feel that way. If someone gives us some criticism we mentally reject it. That sort of thing make us feel bad. Don’t look at it that way. Find a way to see their point. This means EVEN if they were a total asshat about it there might STILL be a point in there. In fact even if they way they worded it was WRONG there still might be a point in there somewhere if you look at things from all angles. If you are serious about getting better you need to start treating all criticism as a chance to improve your game.

Changing your rotation? Makes you feel awkward and clumsy.

Changing spec? Makes you feel totally lost and confused.

Reading that some other ability (that you ignore) is important. Makes you feel defensive, and annoyed with yourself and others.

Finding some advice that counters your thinking on gems or enchants? Makes you want to defend your side of things, or to call ‘sour grapes’ on their thinking.

There are many ways that trying to power up can get us defensive, or feeling stupid. Do NOT let that get in the way. You are in control of your own mind and emotions. Don’t let them control you and do NOT let them send you pack to your old less effective way of playing. It is easy to convince yourself that you are good enough. This is a crutch we lean on when getting better seems to hard. Most of that ‘hardness’ is mental and not real. Don’t let your natural reactions get in the way.

They are natural reactions. I am not saying feeling stupid is stupid. We ALL feel dumb when we realize we have been making a mistake. That is normal and perfectly ok. It does not mean you are dumb. It is only dumb to let that feeling rule you. Harness that annoyance and make it motivate you to get better.

It is VERY easy to let this sort of thing get in the way. Many times I have seen an issue with something and resisted actually doing something about it. I would slog forward for a while until the problem blew up in my face or the slog got so annoying I had to fix what was wrong. Have you ever done that? Ever realized your spec was bad but did not bother to fix it for a while? I think we have all been there at one time or another. Just learn to recognize when you are trying to avoid fixing something. It is usually a good indicator when you find yourself thinking up an excuse for something.

 I had intended this post to give a case study of one character I did some ‘powering up’ to. But it has turned into such a huge wall of text I will save the practical examples for other posts. In the future I will try to document an actual ‘power up’ session and post what resources I use.

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Reversion and I spent most of the weekend raiding on our SAN alts (see previous post) and Sunday late afternoon logged into our somewhat neglected, well geared mains – the eponymous Analogue and Reversion. I was in the mood to run ICC 10 so I asked Reversion to scavenge us a raid while I played with the Nomster. She is better behaved for raiding if you wear her out first :)

Well he started asking in guild and lo and behold, a number of raiders had tertiary alts they wanted to get some badges on. Before we knew it, we had 9 of 10 slots filled. All we were missing was a second healer. Nobody in guild volunteered so we decided to pug it.

Reversion started asking, and got two nibbles; a druid who said he had experience healing tanks in raids, and a holy priest who was lightly geared. He asked me to decide, and I picked the holy priest. I like healing with a different class than I am. Plus we already had three druids in the raid…

We get in, start clearing trash. The guild clears trash faster and more aggressively than any pug I’ve been in, so it keeps you on your toes healing and today seemed especially bad. I thought it was just because the other tank wasn’t turning the Servants of the Throne around. I keep an eye on the priest’s mana bar; with only 4800 gearscore, his mana regen might be weak and I’d need to toss him an innervate. It didn’t get very low though, and I kept having a hard time healing. When a pair of frost giants appeared, we wiped – more or less; I managed to escape but almost everyone was dead.

I started looking at the healing meter. And something was very, very wrong. I was at the top, as I expected – with 70% of healing done. After that the pugged priest was at 15%. The shadow priest was at almost 12% just from Vampiric Embrace! This didn’t seem right.

Well, maybe he was using a lot of bubbles and it wasn’t showing up right on the meters. He was holy, not disc, but who knows. I told Vuhdo to display for me the Power Word: Shield and Weakened Soul debuff on raid members. Oh, there was – one shield, briefly, on one tank. And thirty seconds later, another – on himself.

No, I was starting to suspect our problem lay with the healer.

I started giving him specific instructions via whisper, fight to fight – “Ok, you keep [off tank] alive”, knowing Reversion and I could coordinate his cooldowns and my Oh Crap moves and be fine. It worked, more or less, but the numbers on the meters were staying where they had been and I was working harder than ever to keep everyone alive.

We got to Saurfang, killed him. Fortunately the Mark went onto one of the tanks, something I find is a lifesaver when the healing is underpowered. Better to have all the heals going to one person than split among three.

Saurfang dropped the healing staff, Mag’hari Chieftain’s Staff. I’ve got that; I use it sometimes. The pug healer and a couple dps rolled on it. Reversion asks in the raid whether it’s main spec for the healer – who had lost the roll. No reply. So he gave it to the winner of the roll.

We go into the Upper Spire. Pug healer dies in the mist, releases. I charge merrily along healing as we pull trash. All of a sudden we notice something is very, very wrong. Well first, it’s been a good five minutes and there’s no sign of Pug Healer. Second, the tanks now have only 50k health.

It sinks in as we look at our buffs. The Strength of Wrynn – our 20% boost – is gone.

Suspicion immediately falls to the pugged healer. “Did you talk to the king?” we ask him. No response. The raid decides we’ll leave the instance, wait half an hour, and hope the buff comes back. We remove the pug healer and troop outside.

There were two schools of thought on this; some thought he was just so stupid he managed to remove the buff from us while trying to get upstairs. I thought he might have done it on purpose because we didn’t give him the staff. Either way, we weren’t playing with him again.

Half an hour later, the buff is back. Slowly we re-form the raid. This time, a guildie volunteers to heal – a holy paladin! Huzzah! We end up pugging in a rogue for some dps since one of the earlier group had to call it a night, and we set off to kill some abominations.

Boom boom boom – and a surprise for me, the Plague Wing achievement. Apparently Analogue had only downed the Professor on 25 man. Turns out it was my paladin who had done it on ten man. Heh! It’s always funny when you get an achievement for a fight you know pretty well.

We were getting tired, and sloppy, but we went to the Blood wing and I got another first, this time a real first: Blood Princes and the Queen. I’d seen the Princes but only to wipe; Reversion had finished Blood Wing previously, so now I’m caught up. My personal progression in ICC is 10/12!

The evening ended on a lower note when we wiped twice to Dreamwalker; I was tired and just couldn’t keep the raid alive while the paladin was inside. But the second two wings were way easier than the first, because I had an actual healing partner and not a parasite.

So all in all a very good raiding weekend. Stay tuned tomorrow; SAN is going to finish up BWL and I can’t wait.

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Just glancing over the newly released Cataclysm talent trees for druids (you can find them at http://www.wow.com or http://www.mmo-champion.com or cata.wowhead.com) and this occurred to me:

Improved Barkskin: Grants 80/160% additional armor contribution from cloth and leather items while in Travel Form or while not shapeshifted, increases the damage reduction granted by your Barkskin spell by 5/10% and reduces the chance your Barkskin is dispelled by 35/70%.

Yeah ok that’s not a change from what it is now, right? Only… we’re not going to be trees in Cataclysm, which means the extra armor we get from tree form goes away. I know, Blizzard is going to make that up somehow – but what if that somehow is “Take two points in Improved Barkskin and call me in the morning”?

I like Improved Barkskin, I specced into it when I could afford to drop Celestial Focus. It gives me a margin of error for Bonestorms, Exhales, Decimates, what have you. Not every PVE resto druid takes it though; it’s more a PVP talent and if your haste is low, you can’t afford it. All the theorycrafting will change in Cataclysm of course and we won’t need CF any more but… just wondering.

Oh, and is the new version of Improved Tranquility useless, or totally useless? Changes the second part of the effect from “Reduces the cooldown by 30/60%” to “Reduces damage taken while casting by 25/50%”. Way to ensure nobody ever, ever takes those points, Blizzard.

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Money Talks

… or at least gets you raid invites for GDKP.

At more or less the last minute I managed to whisper the raid leader for the guild-run but not guild exclusive GDKP yesterday afternoon. I told him “I have 30k and I still want Trauma” – Reversion and I have been on this run several times and have made good purchases. I bought Althor’s Abacus two months back, and I still love that proc. Trauma would complete the effect and give me the two pieces of loot I’ve been drooling over since I saw them. Stats are cool and all, but healing procs are sexy.

So I got an invite. Reversion didn’t, sadly, but he was very gracious about me getting to go. I was the only resto druid in the raid. I’ve never been the only tree in a 25 man before. At least I didn’t have to worry about stepping on anyone else’s toes.

The GDKP is a pretty well-oiled machine now. They do Gunship on heroic now, which was actually too bad; Ikfurus’s Sack of Wonders or however you spell that chestpiece dropped and if it had been on normal, it would have been BoE and I was going to try to buy it for Reversion.

We had one wipe in the Lower Spire. We came across the weekly quest to kill the rotting giant, and while we downed him with only a half dozen casualties, for some reason the disease didn’t go away. We all stacked up on each other, all got infected, and all died in a terrible orgy of diseases. DBM went nuts telling us all about it. Wish I’d gotten a screen shot.

I kept sneaking looks at the healing meters and was satisfingly in third place most of the time, sometimes fourth. One shaman and one pally were playing tug of war with me for the 2-3-4 ranking. I know I ruled on the overhealing meter though! Nobody can top a druid for overheals!

Festergut is disturbingly easy to heal as a resto druid in 25 man. I asked for an assignment on him – most of the fights we’d been winging it – and then healed my two assigned groups, dropped WG on melee when I could, and waited for him to drop. I like that fight a lot more on ten man. Actually I like all the fights more on ten man. Seems like the price of “epic big raid” feel is that you feel more like just one cog. Being one of two healers is totally different from being 1 of 6.

Then we were on to Rotface, who I’ve only downed a handful of times and the whole time my hands were shaking because I wanted Trauma. Still, I did my job, I didn’t die, and then when he went down I clicked to look at the loot – and there it was.

They wouldn’t auction that first, oh no. First they had to sell the stuff nobody actually wanted. Then Trauma – “2000″ I typed, only to be instantly outbid. It was up to over 10k in no time, so I decided to drop my bomb, and bid 20k. That got some comments in Vent. I explained I’d really been wanting it, didn’t really feel like a bidding war, and asked if anyone was going to try outbidding. They didn’t.  I handed over the gold – 2/3rds of all the gold that Reversion and I have between us – and got the mace.

Money talks.

Was it worth it? Well, I had been keeping a running tally in my head of what my share of the GDKP was going to be. It ended up that I got back more than 5k gold, making Trauma effectively a 15k purchase.

The stats, combined with the Shriveled Heart offhand I’ve been keeping around just for this, are actually worse than my Mag’Hari Chieftain staff off of Saurfang-10. I lose a lot of haste. On fights like Saurfang I’ll probably swap back to the staff. I’ve got to redo my gear a bit to add more haste, I might even need to spec back into CF.

But yeah, it’s worth it. First, because this is that piece of loot – the one you see in the loot table when MMO-Champion mines them and say “That’s mine”. The one that represents something – to me, demonstrated that I have gotten further into cutting edge content right now than at any other time in the game, proof that I’ve invested time and love into my primary spec.

And it works. After Rotface we went and did Putricide. My first time on 25 and I hadn’t killed him on 10. We wiped four times, none of which were remotely my fault. One accident, one person not listening, one person who apparently wiped us on purpose and then got kicked with extreme prejudice. One I don’t know. Final try was chaotic. Adds everywhere – an orange one targeted me and I flatter myself I kited it really well, staying out of ooze and letting the dps burn it down. I got hit by the goo a couple times, my fault, but I was alive when the Professor dropped and I got my achievement for the Plague Wing.

I am now at 8/12 ICC. Months behind, perhaps, but progression indeed.

Anyway after the fight I looked at Recount, at my personal healing. 90% was Rejuv, with ~3% WG (I mostly skipped it because we weren’t staying clumped up very well).  The other 7% was procs – the Abacus was about 2.5% and Trauma was 4.5%. That means a huge chunk of my healing was mana free, GCD free.  It just happened, boom. I love that! Yes, it’s random and I can’t count on it to save the person I need to save, but over a long fight those numbers do add up.

This is why I got the gold in the first place, for gear that lets me see more content on my terms. I don’t need a mammoth; I’ll take the shiny useless purple pixels with a cool proc over the shiny useless purple pixels with vendors attached.

I just wish it didn’t look so much like a feather duster when I hold it.

The funny bit came after the raid, though. Remember I said we kicked someone during Putricide? Well, he wiped us, we looked and realized he was doing less damage than the tanks with a T10 four piece and appropriate other gear, and then he stood there dancing during the first part of the next attempt. So boot. He didn’t get any gold, which was the upfront terms; if you get removed from the raid for being an incorrigable idiot, no gold. Well two hours later there he is in chat, spamming “[Guild Name] will cheat you and take your gold – they kicked me from their GDKP after 8 bosses and I lost 4-5k gold”.

The guild gets a lot of flack on the server because they server transferred in about six months ago, so some of the guild folk are really good at playing with trolls. One of them said something like “Thanks for telling everyone how good our GDKP runs are”. Another pointed out that it was boss 7, not 8 (just trying to be helpful). And more confirmed than yes, [Guild] is made up of cheats and liars and nobody should trust us.

Somehow I don’t think he was hurting our reputation as much as he thought.

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So Analogue’s gear has gotten good enough recently, especially with the Vestments of Spruce and Fir, that I felt comfortable speccing out of Celestial Focus and back to an 11/0/58 spec. After some deliberation I decided to put the new points into Improved Barkskin, Revitalize, and Living Seed.

Imp. Barkskin is to keep me alive longer on “new” content, ie fights I haven’t yet outgeared. I am trying hard to use Barkskin on myself to keep me alive and it’s been working great. Bonestorm? Barkskin. Predictable damage? Barkskin.

Living Seed… I do mostly 10 man raids. Sometimes I have to help heal the tanks. Or I’m keeping a Mark alive. Either way, I’m thinking it’s worth a shot.

And Revitalize… I just ran a heroic over lunch with Reversion, then looked at my logs. I barely noticed my missing haste in 5 man content and in 10 mans I hope to have some buffs to help make that up. And I’m seeing the Revitalize payoff already. Over the course of a single AN run, it regenerated 225 rage for Reversion – that’s over two full bars. And it did 15% of my mana-regen-from-effects according to Recount; the hunter’s Replenishment did 30%. If those numbers translate to 10 mans it’ll be just great. Sometimes our raid comps are take what we can get, and if I don’t have to bring someone along just for Replenishment, that might give us flexibility…

Anyone else have any luck here? Man, it feels good to get my fun points back. That haste nerf really hurt, and I am still getting over it.

PS -Keeva’s Resto Guide that she recently published is what I used to help me make my decisions; it was great to have everything laid out for me in a nice friendly format. It practically says “Don’t Panic” on the cover, it’s that good.

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