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Switching Gears

How do you handle switching things up?

I’m not talking about major switches in your gaming, not the “now my main is a hunter” or “I just moved servers” thing. No, just the evenings where you look at the loading screen and say “I want to play this guy”. I know there’s some folks who only have a couple characters, or even a single main, but I’ve got 8 characters on Winterhoof. One bank alt, she doesn’t count. One main. One actively being levelled lowbie shaman, one “I logged into her a few weeks back” lowbie hunter. A paladin at 84 and two not-my-main 85s, my mage and my priest. Oh, and a worgen that hasn’t left the starting area.

In the last two weeks, I’ve spent several hours on my paladin, my shaman, my priest, and my mage. Invariant, the mage, had been getting plenty of fresh air anyway since she is my archeologist and I’m still looking for that flaming doll. The others, not so much. Every time I log in I have to reacquaint myself  with the way each operates.

One thing that helps is keep my UI fairly standard across characters. The action bars in the same places, Recount and Omen in one corner, Vuhdo frames in their proper spot, even on my non healer characters – Invariant has Remove Curse mapped in Vuhdo, no need for Decursive. For my healer characters, I assign similar spells to the same mouse click combos – right mouse click for a good HOT, shield, or fast cast, other combos for longer cast spells. That way I can let the muscle memory work for me.

Same with my action bars; I try to keep spells that do similar things in the same place across characters. Of course, this is subjective. Frost  Nova and Disengage do not do the same thing, at all, but they have the same spot on my action bars for their respective characters.  I tend to keep opener moves on 1 and 2, aoes toward 6  and 7, and emergency spells at the end.

ArcInventory is my bag addon of choice. I have it set up to use the “Rules” to sort things for me. So what I get when I hit my B key is a giant bag with everything I own, but visually seperated into containers by the rules I set. I can have all my crafting mats assigned to the two left hand columns, my spare armor set in the bottom right, and junk items at the very top, all by themselves. If I keep it the same across characters, any time I open my bags I know where things will be.

I have a quick routine when I get onto a  character that I’ve been resting up. Check my bags and gear to see if I need to sell and repair. Check my map and quest log, to see where I need to go. Check over my abilities and remind myself just what this character actually does. Takes about three minutes and then I’m ready to go. The first few pulls are uncomfortable as I search for the right abilities, remember critical things (“Oh, right, pet.” “Oh, right, totems”. “Oh, right, mage armor”).  After that I settle in.

That said right now my paladin is the hardest to get into. I’m leveling in ret by questing. I just am not comfortable with the spec at all. It doesn’t feel like me. I’m not really a melee player; I like standing at range and killing stuff. And things are always lighting up and I don’t know what to push. This goldenish swirly icon? That goldenish swirly icon? The one that looks like a shiny hand? Ack! I may just wait til she gets a whole level of rested and then heal dungeons the last bit of the way; I’m much better at that.

But I do think there’s value in switching characters. I’ve been working hard on learning all the raid fights as heals; when I switched and did a few fights on my mage, I was amazed at how much easier it was to pay attention to stuff on the ground I needed to move out of, target switching time, etc. Of course, I was focused on that somewhat at the expense of my dps but…. that wasn’t too shabby either.

I also find that switching around and not spending lots of time on any alt favors “simple” specs and rotation. Switching to Invariant and going arcane is easy. The fights where I’ve gone fire? Let’s not talk about that… fire is much much more complicated and while fun, would take time to master that I’m not spending.

Remember, the most important thing to do when you’re switching characters is always put your toys away – mom’s advice growing up works well now too. Even if you think you’re only logging into your main for a few minutes, stick your leveling alt in an inn, sell her junk, mail things you want to auction to your bank alt. There are far too many times I’ve gotten on a main to send something to an alt and found myself three hours later in a Stonecore run that just won’t die. Save yourself the headache and always leave in a way that makes it easy to come back.

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Recently, my priest hit 85 and I decided it was time to level her alchemy from its dismal state –  120 or so – to max. And this week, I decided my druid should be an enchanter instead of a miner. Yes, I have an enchanter already but first, I wanted to have an enchanter in our raid, 100% of the time, and second, I like the bonus.

For both professions, I had a smattering of materials at various levels – a few stacks of random herbs, handfuls of different dusts and essences – and was willing to spend several thousand gold just to get things leveled up. Both of them were annoying in spots but very do-able; I did my alchemy in two couple-hour sessions, and I’ve spent about 4 hours so far on the enchanting and I’m almost to Cata level.

Materials are definitely the place where you are contrasting time versus money. If you go out on an herbalist and pick the flowers, you can get alchemy leveled without spending more than training gold and money for vials. But it’s time consuming and annoying. An enchanter could go kill stuff for greens – but if you do this, you’ll probably give up after the thousandth time a low level mob drops Melon Juice instead of a green.

I chose to use the Auction House as my materials source. This works better for enchanting than alchemy, because you have fewer components: basically at each level, you’ve got 1 type of dust, 1 type of essence that you use either greater or lessers (three lessers combine into a greater, or one greater breaks down into 3 lessers) , a Shard (larger and smaller), and a crystal. Most of the recipes you use to skill up won’t need shards, and if you are using crystals at any point in power leveling you’re probably doing it wrong.

For Alchemy, however, you have a huge number of plants that are combined in  various recipes – sometimes you’ll get a stretch of forty skill points where the only recipes offering a good chance of skill up require, say, Goldthorn. If there’s ample Goldthorn on the auction house, you’re fine. If there’s not much, or if it costs too much, you may have to go pick the herbs yourself.

Some enchanting mats may be on the AH by themselves; check and see. I found that many of them were a reasonable price. If there aren’t enough of a particular mat, or it’s outrageously expensive (someone was selling Eternal Essence for 500 gold a piece on our server), then look up what level range of gear disenchants into that mat, buy a bunch, and disenchant your own. You’ll probably get a lot of dust, a few essences, and one or two shards out of every ten or so items you buy.

The first 100 or so skill points in each seem pretty easy to get. For alchemy you can set yourself making multiples of whatever potion is going to give you a skill up. For enchanting, buy stacks of vellum from the enchanting supplies vendor and go to town – this is so much more convenient than the old “enchant your own bracers 200 times” method!  I just destroyed most of the scrolls I made, but a few I sent to my bank alt to try to sell. You do have to click multiple times for every enchant you’re trying to do; once in the book, once on the vellum. Power leveling enchanting runs a risk of repetitive stress injury, that’s for sure.

Both professions have a nasty spot somewhere near the top end of Vanilla recipes, where the mats you need are farmed from level 55+ zones. Maybe you’ll be on a server where there’s a lot of people farming this content, but most likely, you’re going to have to spend time or money to get over the hump. Don’t worry! If you can get through the 270-300 zone, it gets considerably easier. Outlands and Northrend level recipes use fewer mats which drop from more things. It gets better.

A word about Enchanting: somewhere around 300 is where I started running into real rod difficulty. Rod difficulty? What’s that? Well every so often your enchanting rod just isn’t good enough and you have to make a new one. Sometimes you learn the pattern from your trainer; sometimes you have to go get it yourself. If you’re going to power level enchanting, you might go pick these up first. One recipe is in Moonglade, there’s another in Outlands, Hellfire to be precise. Wowhead can give you good directions.  This will happen again near max level enchanting, when you have to buy the pattern from a vendor in Twilight Highlands. If you’re not 84 and can’t open the zone, you can’t max out enchanting yet.

The components to make the rods can be… expensive… as well. If you have or know a blacksmith, get him to make you all the rods you’ll need in order to make your runed rod. So far the worst one for mats has been the runed adamantite rod; you need a Primal Might, which may set you back a bit.

Anyhow. An alchemist doesn’t have to bother with any of this, but if you are leveling alchemy, remember your specialization! You can certainly go back and get this one after maxing things out. Google a guide to learn how to gain a specialization. I went Elixir specialization which gave me extra flask procs. To do this I had to make a few flasks and get some weird components that dropped in Caverns of Time: Black Morass. Two clears and I was done there; at level 85 even a shadow priest can solo that place. No big deal.

Back to leveling. When you hit Northrend level, there should be lots of mats on the auction house for you. If you have a jewelcrafter, one cheap way to get enchanting mats is to craft a whole bunch of rings – the Sun Rock Ring takes two Crystallized Earth and a bloodstone. It mostly disenchants into dust but sometimes Cosmic Essence instead and is extremely cost effective.

Either profession is very easy to power level these days, if you invest a couple hours and maybe 2000 gold. Enchanting is slower, and slightly more annoying IMO.  Once you get toward max level, you can level your alchemy with transmuting gems but for enchanting you’re going to have to go to Twilight Highlands and  buy some patterns – so if you’re not 84 yet you can’t complete enchanting. Alchemy, you can get well before you’re 85, if you’re interested.

There’s leveling guides out there that tell you the “most efficient/cost effective” way to level either but basically those assume that your auction house will actually have the componentst, or that you’re spending the time yourself. I find that the best way to do things is just make what you have mats for. Don’t make green recipes, unless it’s the last skilling-up recipe you have that uses a particular mat. Don’t get frustrated; it’s better to walk away and come back later.

If you’re looking to switch a profession, now is a pretty darn good time to do so. There’s plenty of mats on the auction house, the power levellers have already been past, and – well, it’s cold outside, you probably are spending lots of time on WoW anyway.

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

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

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Tips for the Conclave of the Wind

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

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

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

Setup

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

Center/Blue
One healer, one tank

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

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

Movement

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

Special attack phase.

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

Now for the real tips…

Right platform, wind, yellow

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

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

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

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

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

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

Center platform, ice, blue

-Don’t stand on the ice

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

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

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

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

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

Right platform, life, green

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

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

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

-Don’t stand in the green yourself.

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

-Don’t let adds stand in the green.

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

-Do NOT gather the adds up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And also… no that is pretty much it…

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

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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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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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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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So the first few times through H SFK we skipped Commander Springvale (third boss; upstairs right after the dining room boss). Well, we tried him, wiped to adds, didn’t come close to downing him, and moved on. Then someone told us the strategy, and we refined it farther, making it easy.

First, clear the room he’s in. Then, go clear down the ramparts, at least the three guys + pat. You can even go all the way and then come back when you’re done, if you’re in a guild group or expect people to stick around.

Next, have a tank who has some sort of speed boost. A druid works great, the bonus speed in cat form can give a big head start. Also some dps who can CC are valuable but not required.

If you have cc’ers, have them stand by the door to the ramparts. The tank stands at the other door. Mark CC targets. Have the dps apply cc. Roots, Shackle Undead, and Repentance work on undead. As soon as the ccs go out, the tank taunts the boss and runs downstairs, through the dining hall, through the kitchen, and to the courtyard.

While he’s doing this, whoever was doing crowd control run to the ramparts and jump off into the courtyard. Be sure to jump through the right side!

Everyone meets back in the courtyard. The tank keeps the boss pointed away from everyone else so that his aoe shadow breath stuff doesn’t hit. Stay out of the death and decay.

If one or more of the adds comes with him, get the adds down fast. Interrupt the adds as much as possible. Unholy Empowerment is the ability that you want to interrupt. It lets the boss stack additional Word of Shame stacks on people. These are not dispellable and will just kill you dead, or your healer’s mana and then you. They remove 5% of the targets MAX health per 3 seconds – not something you can heal through.

They may fix him so he leashes, in which case you’ll want to cc one add, burn the other, then burn that add, then stay on the boss til more adds come in, but if you don’t have strong dps this will be tricky.

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How To Use Healing Meters

So, my fellow healers, do you run with Recount (or Skada) or not? What do you use it for? I know there are healers who just don’t bother installing a recount-type addon, and I think that’s a mistake since it gathers good data for us. On the other hand, I’ve run with healers who look at their heals-per-second minute as thought it actually means something, or worse, as though “winning” that category in a raid means that they are the best healer.

First Things First: Your heals per second number means basically nothing. Ignore it. It’s a trap. In fact, in many cases the healer doing, say, 11k heals per second is objectively a worse healer than the one doing 7k. Why? Because often the big, heal-meter-padding skills are going to run you out of mana. Cataclysm healing is a marathon, not a sprint. Looking at heals per second is akin to saying “This guy averaged 8 miles per hour, and this guy averaged 5, so the first one wins” in a marathon – without realizing that the first guy dropped out at mile 5 and the second one went on to finish the race. Heals per second only counts the time you actually spend healing. So if you do, say, 100k heals in 10 seconds and go OOM, you just did 10k HPS. But the healer next to you who does 200k over the entire minute-long fight just did about 3.5k HPS. Now, maybe you blew all your mana saving a tank from some unexpected thing, and that saved the day. But it’s more likely that you just blew all your mana and then stood around looking pretty for the rest of the fight.

All right, that’s done. So let’s talk about what you can get out of a healing meter.

First, there’s the DPS/damage done tab. I prefer the “Damage Done” tab in recount to the DPS tab. The damage done will show me the course of the whole fight, not just the average. I can easily see that Mr. Rogue has great dps but poor overall damage because he’s slow getting into fights or dies a lot. The most useful part of this tab is knowing who to battle rez, blow a cooldown for, or give some specific damage-boosting cooldown. In a raid, this will often be called for you but if it’s up to your discretion, this part of the meter can help you out a lot.

Second, there’s the informative tabs – Dispells, Interrupts, Crowd Control, CC Breakers, etc. Now more than ever it’s good to know who is dispelling things, interrupting, or breaking crowd control  – and Recount keeps track of all these things. If you’ve never flipped through the tabs, do it now. You might be surprised that Mage 1 does 95% of the decursing while Mage 2 never bothers. Or remind the Enhancement shaman to use his interrupts.

Third, there’s the healing meter tab. I just said that HPS weren’t useful, but the breakdowns can be. You can see what spells you or the other healers are using, and spot problems in rotations (assuming you know rotations well enough). I like to glance at it and make sure that I’m using a fairly balanced mix of spells, with Lifebloom counting for a lot of my heals. If you think someone is underperforming, this tab can help you figure out where and why.

Fourth, the overhealing tab. Ahhh…. now this one is key. In Wrath I’d often see huge overheal numbers, as a druid. I’m working hard to get those down. A little overheal is not a problem; things like Wild Growth can overheal, as can Lifebloom or Efflorescence or…. but keep an eye on your percentages and try not to have much there. I’m trying to get my overheals below 10%.

Note: Paladins are likely to have a good bit of overhealing due to Beacon of Light and Tower of Radiance, but if you look at their parse and see a lot of other overhealing, you might ask why that is.

And most importantly, to me, the death reports tab. I’ve just started really using this one, but man does it have a lot of information. You can get a tick-by-tick rundown of the last seconds of a fight, showing incoming damage and heals by name. There’s even a way to see it in graph form. So you can see who was healing the tank just before he dropped, and who wasn’t. I’m not saying this so you can call people out better, but for learning. It’s also a good way to confirm what killed someone: “Yup, you stood in the whirlwind”, or “Yeah, the boss was beating on you for a good ten seconds there”.

So if you’re not using it, download Recount or Skada and give it a whirl. If you are using one, explore a bit and see what other tabs you have never really looked at. Right now we need all the analysis tools we can get our hands on as we learn strategies and encounters without the safety margin of inflated gear.

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*****************UPDATE*****************

This no longer works. Bliz removed Starfire Espresso from the achievement.

*****************************************

Step 1: read this post http://fallingleavesandwings.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/the-quick-and-dirty-fish-feast-method/

Step 2: Realize that you bought the Starfire Espresso recipe before Cataclysm was active, planning to skill up a few easy points using vendor mats

Step 3: Realize that your guild is only a quarter of the way to the achievement…. and you could just log on and brew a few…

Step 4: Buy the water and the cocoa beans. Curse whoever set it up to sell the water in 5s and the beans as singles. Empty all your gear out of your bags so you can queue up a thousand at a time. Start brewing. Walk away and do something useful

Step 5: send them all to your bank alt (You’ve got one, right?). Rinse, repeat, get the achievement

Step 6: Sell a few on the Auction House. Realize they actually sold. List a bunch more. Sell ‘em. Realize you’ve already made back your investment, keep listing until they’re gone.

Not to be held liable if they sell for less than material cost on your server. Check before you brew!

It’ll take a while. Takes about 20 seconds per batch, and I doubt you can hold enough mats for more than a thousand at once, so you’ll need to do this a couple times. But hey, it’s nice and easy and if you do it now – while there’s a market for the product – you can get it without it costing you money.

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