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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.

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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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Creating alts has been like an epidemic these last few weeks. I’ve got a couple, a dwarf shaman that I fully intend to get to level cap one day and some throwaways. Based on my sales of Netherweave Bags, I’m not the only re-roller (if you see one person buy four bags at once, it’s always a new alt. Always).

 

I want to suggest the one alt that everyone should have, for your consideration: the bank alt.

What is the bank alt?

A bank alt is a character that is either primarily created for the purpose of serving as storage/auction mule/broker, or at least serves as such. You basically park him at the Auction House/bank, and he answers your mail all day long.

 

Why should I have one?

Convenience. That’s all. You don’t truly need one for most reasons, but it makes things easier. Picture this: you’re leveling in Hyjal, and your bags fill up with random stuff. You sell the gray stuff, but what about the cloth? Or the random crafting bits? Or this BOE blue that dropped off a mob? If you have a bank alt, you mail it all to them and walk away with lighter bags. If you don’t, you sell it to a vendor. Or try to hang onto it til you can get back to a capital and sell it yourself.

 

Yeah, but, auctions? That’s a lot of work

True!  It takes at least, oh, ten minutes every two days. What you do: download an addon like Auctioneer. Set it to load only for the bank alt – you don’t need the memory hogging on other characters.  Put stuff you want to sell into your bags. Go to AH. Scan the AH with the addon, let it suggest prices for you. Hit “post”. Come back in 48 hours, collect what didn’t sell and your gold. There’s plenty of guides out there to tell you more, or help you refine a strategy, but honestly, it’s too easy not to do.

 

I have all the gold I’ll ever need and a moral issue with auction houses

Er, ok. Well, how about more storage? If your bank vault is like mine, it gets cluttered. You can keep the stacks of raw materials you’re saving for later on the bank alt. Or anything else that’s not soulbound. Get an addon like ArkInventory that will let you see what’s in any character’s banks and bags no matter who you’re logged onto and never loose an item again.

 

Ok, I’m sold! Now what?

The details: a bank alt can be any race/class you want (obviously it needs to be the same faction as the characters it’s working for). Death Knights make really good bank alts for a couple reasons. First, they start off with a set of bags, 12 slotters that you can replace as you need more. Second, they can wear plate, which means they can wear any armor in the game, which means you can make them a really snazzy outfit. Third, they come with an epic mount for fast travel between the mailbox and the bank. Third, they have lots of flight points by default so if you need to move them, or send them to a neutral AH, it’s easy.

On the other hand, you can only have one per server, so if your main is a dk that won’t work. I’m predicting an upswing in Worgen bank alts; between the racial swift-running thing and the super snazzy top hats, they seem like perfect bankers.

 

Upgrade your bank alt: make a bank guild!

Once you’ve bought all the bank slots, put in bags, and are still low on space, it’s time to create a bank guild. Go to the guild vendor person (ask a capital city guard) and buy a charter.  You can assign a name, and can change the name before the guild is finalized. Now get 4 distinct player signatures. If you stand in the busiest city and spam “LF guild signatures, paying 20 gold”, you’ll get three people who’ll do it and one who will sign for free. Now take the charter back to the guy who sold it to you and poof, you’ve got a guild. Hop over to the bank and buy the first tab for 100 gold. 98 slots of storage, ready for you.

 

Is it really worth it?

Do you have one or more characters with professions at 450 that you plan to level to 85 and level their professions too? Then you have money-making potential. Sell all the raw mats you collect and don’t need. Sell things players need (glyphs, enchants, gem cuts) that you create as you level your profession. Use an addon, spend a few minutes a day, and you will see gold. I promise. That’s what I do to keep our alts in house and home. We’re going into Cataclysm with about a 35,000 gold purse; 2 characters each with 310 speed flying, one pair with epic flight, and one that still needs epic but has the other levels. Our characters all have dual spec, mostly from when it cost 1k gold. We don’t think anything of dumping 500 gold on a new alt’s  gear. It’s a comfortable place to be in and while it takes time using my strategy, it is a very sure method, very low risk.

Yes, once you start doing this you’ll probably read goldmaking blogs and try some of those strats. I’ve done that and it works great if you use your head and the right addons. But believe me. Having a bank alt is the first step to a comfortable WoW existence.

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