Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mouse-Brush Sketches

I make an effort to take at least 5 minutes each day and just sketch... usually with my mouse in photoshop. Sometimes I forget, and sometimes it turns out so terrible that I don't save it, but I save most of them (even with small mistakes), sort of like a doodle diary. I change up my brush type, give it odd filters, or play straight with textures sometimes, too. It's a good way to practice both my mouse-drawing and using my preferred image-editing software, Adobe Photoshop. Sometimes I go straight to MS Paint, or use GIMP, or do it the old fashioned way: pencil and a sketchbook, or corner of my notebook.

These are a few doodles I made this week.

I do recommend that, if you like drawing at all, to take the time to sketch each day, even if only for 5 minutes in MS Paint. It's fun and a good break, and it doesn't have to be perfect (or so I keep having to tell myself)... because you're just drawing for yourself.

Try it :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jessabella's meme-that-I-refuse-to-call-a-meme

So there I was, minding my own business, doing that druidly thing of hanging out with my fellow trees in the forest (/ducks from several guildies pointing out my gleeful killing of the trees on Freya the previous night)... when BAM out of nowhere, some shaman runs up and hands me a baton, a baton shaped into the form of (predictably) a totem. Written along the side of it was a url and some very bolded text that this baton was most assuredly NOT a meme. Hehe. :)

Zigi from Twenty-Five Boxes has tagged me in a new and fairly interesting healy-blogger-get-to-know-you-webring-kinda-meme-thing, started by a priest/pally over at Miss Medicina. While I go through the questionaire, I'm going to have to figure out a non-druid healer blogger to tag... as Jessabella made the rule that I must tag a blogging healer not of my own class!

If you'd like to see a full list of those that have replied, check here for a full link list :)

  • What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Kaelynn, druid, tree! I'm one of those 14/0/57 specs. Though my character's name is Kaelynn, everyone just calls me Kae, which works well enough for me as that is the name of my first druid (even though that one's feral!).

  • What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
10-man pve raids. I pug some 25's and heroics on the side.

  • What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
Hmmm tough call. I've always kinda liked rejuv: quick to cast, and long-lasting, like a warm hug that leaves someone open to a swiftmend. I didn't like having to shove it aside for lifebloom in TBC, and have felt rather proud of the spell as it came into its own place of prominance in WotLK.

  • What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Tranquility. It's a long-duration channeled spell that is party-only aoe healing; HoTs will usually drop off of people while it is being cast, leaving them without the HoT buffer they need to survive after Tranquility is done. I usually only cast it while out-of-combat and goofing off, because even if it's useless, it's still pretty.

  • What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
HoTs to counter steady damage going into our heal targets. The sheer number of HoTs we run with make us a pretty unique class among the healers, and makes us very proactive in our healing: our overheal is ridiculous because of it, now that HoTs are included in the overheal meters! We have different kinds of HoTs that are useful in different situations, and HoTs are among most druids' most-used heals. They are pretty powerful alone, and together they can weave a complex web of over-time healy awesomeness.

  • What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
No true shield ability for anyone but ourselves. All those times an enemy fires up some huge-burst ability on our tank, all we can do is keep our normal heals going and pray we're given a chance to use Nature's Swiftness before they die or are one-shot, unless we have the option to cyclone the enemy through the duration. Huge amounts of burst damage are not something druids, as healers, are equipped to mitigate.

  • In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
For *me*, or for a generic member of my class? :) Most 25-man raiding druids are raid healers. As for myself... I perform best without an assignment! I tend to have a good eye for the holes mid-combat and adapt myself to fill them: helping to focus on tanks when needed with a flurry of HoTs and Nourishes, or just spamming the raid with rejuvs, WGs, and lifebloom. I will point over from here to my post earlier this week about the different kinds of tree druids...

  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
That's a really tough choice, and honestly depends on the situation... but overall, I'd say *not* another resto druid, at least for my ten-mans. Doubling up on our weakness of no shields for the tank puts a lot of stress on both of us. I've co-healed with pallies, priests, and shaman, and have successfully downed new bosses and hardmodes with all three. Can't say as I honestly have a preference among them, as classes: as long as the player behind them knows they need to help heal both the tank and the rest of the raid rather than only one or the other, in most cases :)

  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
As I said above, I don't like 2-healing a 10 man with another druid, unless the tanks are geared enough to not take heavy chunks of burst damage in the instance.

  • What is your worst habit as a healer?
Bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce.... :) To speak truthfully, it may be that I do more than bounce around the room (occasionally into a cleave if I don't know the mobs well): I can bounce around my healing focus on a fight, too, letting hots drop off of a tank who might need them to be continuous, because I was pouring myself into saving a non-tank. I understand it can throw off my co-healer as the tank is suddenly taking more damage than before, and possibly confuse the tank and raid leader, too, so it's something I've been working on smoothing out... and trying especially to not let it happen when the tanks are stacked up with a huge dot debuff!

  • What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
People running away from me and going out of heal-range when they're dieing (from some dot, debuff, or aggro).

  • Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
We have a lot of raw healing output that offsets our lack of shielding abilities, so I think we are.

  • What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
Did someone die, why did they die, and could I have prevented it without letting someone else (especially a tank) die instead?

Once upon a time, back in the land of Blackwing Lair, I used to evaluate based on overhealing. That was when we used Healing Touch (rank 4!). There's no point in doing that anymore with all of the HoTs, because I have little control over when they tick when I lack the ability to see into the future and know exactly when the boss' swings will manage to get past the block, parry, etc of the tank, and I can't force my HoTs to tick exactly in-time with a damage aoe or debuff. There will be overhealing, and I just have to ignore it now, unless I'm letting too many Lifeblooms bloom off as overheal, or using nourish or swiftmend or NS+HT as all overheal (being the non-hots of my arsenal).

  • What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
That resto druids are all only raid-healers. Even other druids often have this misconception. In PuGs I don't mind it so much, because it leaves me free on the healing assignments to fill in where I want, but in other cases (like spec/talent/gear discussion or non-25-man raids) it can be frustrating.

  • What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
How to handle lifebloom in WotLK. Lifebloom has seen so many buffs and nerfs that many guides on its use are out-of-date, and the generic "let it bloom when the tank needs a heal" is even pretty vague, because it relies on a last-second decision on whether to renew the stack of three, let it bloom, whether you need the mana returned, whether you can sustain the mana cost of rolling it, whether OoC is procced for its use to make it have no mana cost, whether you'll be able to get a fresh stack up on the tank in time, etc. It's not an easy spell.

  • If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
High healing done, high overheal. A pure raid-healing druid would have even higher overheal. A tank healer may be lower in raw healing done, but given the hots needed to buff nourish and shelter the tank, they'll still have a lot of overheal. Either way, a resto druid will have a lot of overheal, usually out-doing the holy pallies on it.

  • Haste or Crit and why?
Both, for me. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse, but I do have a use for crit where pure-raid-healer druids do not, because I regularly use spells that can crit (nourish, regrowth, swiftmend) rather than only HoTs. Haste is commonly a friend to resto-druids, however, to the point of lowering the global cooldown to the 1-second minimum.

  • What healing class do you feel you understand least?
Resto shaman. There tend to be fewer of them around than any other class. My husband played a holy pally, and I've had extensive experience raiding with both pallies and priests over the years, but I honestly don't know shaman that well aside from "chain heal lawl" and earth shield and mana-tide totems.

  • What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
My guild sometimes refers to me as the macro queen. I use Grid with mouseover healing macros that are keybound (rather than click-bound via Clique or HealBot). You can browse through the guides linked in the menus at the top of the page to read about the mods and macros that I use, and copy them for yourself, if you'd like. I have a very point-and-shoot system to my heals, using the mouse to target while using my keyboard to fire off a spell, using modifier keys and nearby unused keys (rebound q,e, etc. ) so that I don't have to leave my standard wasd movement keys.

My main mods are Grid, Power Auras, Bartender, Lunarsphere (with the random speech res announcements), Quartz, and Bindpad; I also use IceHUD, Pitbull, Sexymap, Chatter, Cowtip, and Buffalo to help streamline my interface. DBM, Omen, and oRA2 are my boss mods/threat watch/raid cooldown monitor/tank targets. Oh, and there is kgpanels and buttonfacade to personalize my UI and make it look prettier :)

  • Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
Spellpower > Spirit > Int > Haste/Crit > mp5, generally speaking. The gear itself always tends to provide some amount of int and stamina, and when given the option between two similar pieces, I'd rather focus on one that gives me more spellpower or spirit over other stats. If it's a choice between spirit or mp5, I'll take spirit. If it's a choice between haste and crit... well, then it gets messy, cuz I have to look at all those charts I made on haste and GotEM and consider upcoming changes and decide whether I should focus on haste, or deal with my GCD being 1.1 rather than 1.0 seconds, and again wonder if latency means it doesn't even matter, and what'll happen when NG procs and what buffs I might have from totems and pallies and omg I'll shut up now.

...and now I shall tag someone and pass it along. This is the hard part, because I only really follow druid blogs and a few non-healer blogs that have caught my attention. I think I will go with a disc priest, Ambrosyne at I Like Bubbles... she always digs up such humorous stuff. I'm also going to look rather pointedly at two guildie shaman of mine, in case they may wish to take part as well ;)

Upon finding that I have been beaten to the punch and someone has already tagged I Like Bubbles, I'd like to tag another blogger that had actually done a post about my blog *blush*... :) He's an elemental main-spec, but I know he likes that healing thing, too!

TAG to Chayah at Planet of Hats!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On PuG Raids and Gear

I spend a fair amount of time on my alts in pug raids. My alliance feral is all by herself in a one-person guild (Dreambound!), so anything I can't solo has to be done in a pug; my rogue is guilded with my horde main, but being in a small guild, anything beyond a heroic needs to be pugged, too.

So, I see a lot of pugs. I dislike leading them, as I know I am not a good raid leader; I have difficulty focusing on what the overall group is doing over what I need to be doing, myself. I'm also too nice to lead raids: I take too long considering options, I like to avoid conflict, and even my ML'ing can take ages as it gets sorted out to the "best" person with as few hard feelings as possible. I know my failings, so I don't raid lead. But, I also can see them in others, and know great raid leaders when I see them: I have a few on my friends list flagged as "good raid leader" so that I can catch up with them again.

Nefernet posted some excellent tips yesterday about pug raiding.

I have immense respect for anyone who has the patience and ability to lead a good pug through an instance that most puggers would just be carried through, and let's face it: most puggers for raids are puggers because they are either
  • a) alts who may or may not know how to play their class, or
  • b) mains who aren't in a strong raiding guild and may or may not know how to play their class.
You don't see well-geared, strong mains who know what they're doing in a pug unless they missed out on their guild run for some reason, or their guild is no longer running that instance and they are feeling nostalgic. In rare cases, a pugger main is in a ten-man guild, so they are pugging VoA25/Ony25 until they are able to solo it as a guild (if possible, like Archivon and Sarth25 can be 10-manned).

This brings me to a rant: gear score, related gear-ranking mods and websites, and how the vast majority of the time, these are abused and taken to mean that gear is the end-all/be-all.

I have not yet been in a pug that requires a specific gear score or wow-heroes score, though my alliance druid did pass a gear inspection for a toc-10 normal that didn't make it off the ground for lack of healers. Frankly, I avoid pugs that require a gear score, even on my main. Ranking someone's ability to play based off of their gear is asinine.
  • Well-geared players can have purchased gear using badges "earned" while being carried through a raid as baggage; they may've been dead in a corner somewhere and still be able to loot. Gear does not equal skill.
  • Under-geared players may be alts or unguilded/non-raiding-guilded players who DO know their class, may've done the research and taken the time to know wtf they're doing. I have seen under-geared players in greens or blues out-perform players in 226/232 epics. I have DONE it, myself, on both my alts. Gear does not equal skill.
  • Gear-checks that are really strict may only serve to guarantee that your puggers will have enough HP to maybe survive being dumb.
  • Gear-checks that kick out half your healers, however, may be shooting yourself in the foot, because finding healers who are willing to pug is difficult, particularly if you're kicking some for wearing one or two i200 blues for an Ulduar or basic Sarth run. I can understand removing someone if they are a healer wearing strength gear, but really... don't mess with the healers if you want to actually get anywhere without the raid crumbling from sitting around waiting to fill healer spots.
  • There are a good number of "raid leaders" who gear-check their invited puggers on standards that they themselves would not pass, apparently expecting to form a raid of "super players" who can carry their tail through a raid; if they seriously wished to pull the "gear is not skill" card in their own defense, then they have no excuse to be gear-checking everyone else they invite.
I have been in some awesome pugs, and I have been in some terrible pugs. The best pugs I've ever been in didn't require a strict "gear check" or even announced that they were checking gear... because the raid leader valued skill over gear. Key roles were filled with players who responded intelligently to their questions; these were players who knew the limitations of their own gear anyway, for roles such as tanking or basic survival, and probably wouldn't offer themselves to a pug unless they knew they could handle it. These were players who, if they didn't know what to do, would ask, rather than stubbornly do it wrong and wipe the raid for it. Skilled players don't need a crutch of gear to survive or do their job, and can outshine a geared player who is just expecting to be carried.

There are always limits, of course
: one should not be wearing greens for the current cutting edge (currently ToC, later to be Icecrown Citadel) content unless the rest of the group is confident that they can make up for the slack in raw stats (which is difficult, but possible, in a pug). Seeing such things doesn't require a gearscore, though, just a cursory glance at the player's gear, even by staring at the models or questioning someone's rather low HP for their class (unbuffed stamina being a pretty steady indicator of relative gear level, taking cow-racials into account) , which can be done without grand gear-checking announcements.

I think a better pug-checking system would be a mod that queries interested puggers with a raiding-related question and rates their answer for keywords, or lets the raid-leader decide who to invite based upon answers to the questions. I'd be interested to see a mod made that can assist in sending out whispers and collecting replies, like an entry exam for the instance. Even if the puggers can google the answers, it at least means they took the time to do so. It'd have to rotate the questions through a series so that people don't share answers and ruin it for the leader... but it could be done.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Than One Kind of Tree p2

While I was thinking further on my previous post about healing types, I realized that the breakdown in healing style really comes down to this:

There are druids out there to fit all over this graph. I'd place myself, as a 10-man raider in a "hardcore" 10-strict guild, pretty close to the middle, going up a little ways on the y axis towards PvE.

Pure 25-man raid healers who barely touch a tank, or at least no more than they do any other member of the raid, would be far on the Raid-Healer end of the spectrum. Speccing and playing in arenas or battlegrounds compared to pve content would budge a person up or down the scale on pve/pvp: degree would vary depending on proportionate amounts of time spent in each venue and how much they spec for it. A pure tank healer would be one who focuses on tank healing, be it by nourish or HT. In terms of pvp, the tanks may be yourself and an arena partner.

I'm going to tentatively say that the interest in crit rating would increase going from left to right on the raid/tank spectrum, with crit becoming more important the more a druid needs to heal tanks. At the same time, there is increased interest in nourish and regrowth: but that may be more limited to the PvE half of the spectrum, rather than PvP. Towards the far left, there is increased reliance on rejuv and wild growth (in 3.2) over any other spells.

As for haste, I think the interest is pretty unanimous across the board, with all kinds of healers finding usefulness in lowering their GCD and cast times.

Some of the most densely-populated areas of the graph would be, I think, the middle area (generically 10's, 5's, and leveling druids), and the upper left (pve raid healers). I've been out of the arena loop, so I'm unsure where most pvp druids would congregate on the graph in terms of tank/raid heals, but even they may vary depending on whether they heavily battleground vs arena, and possibly even in whether they are in 2's vs 5's.

More Than One Kind of Tree

Just as there are oaks, elms, birches, and maples, so to are there different kinds of tree druids. Even if we all have the same yellowed leaves, grumpy old-man face, golden bark, and spindly arms, resto druids do not all play the same, because our roles as healers can vary.

Some of the most commonly found types of resto druids are:
  • Leveling
  • PvP
  • 25-man raid-healers
  • 10-man healers
  • Non-raiders
Each mini-role provides a different situation a resto druid must adapt to in their spell selection, target awareness, and stat choices.

  • Leveling druids will not have nourish, might not have lifebloom, and will be lacking many of the deeper-tier talents that a level 80 druid relies upon. Their playstyle and focus as healers can vary greatly. True leveling tree-druid healers usually rely heavily on grouping with friends to do quests and dungeons, or else they are speccing also into feral or balance for soloability.
  • In PvP, a druid must account for resilience and put far greater focus on their own survivability, as well as terrain usage, roots, and cyclones. Any casted spell they use leaves them open to interrupts. They tend to use lifebloom quite a bit more than raiding restos do in WotLK, as well.
  • 25-man raiding restos will most commonly find themselves in the role of pure raid-healers. Among 25 people in a raid, there will be (usually) 5-6 total healers, and among those healers will be some who designate themselves as tank-heals, thus diminishing the importance of the tanks from the druids' leafy-healy attention. Raid-healing druids in raids this large may spend their entire time casting nothing but rejuv and wild growth (in 3.2): HoTs with little use for crit, and only enough haste to reach a capped 1-second GCD. Swiftmend/NS+HT will see backup use in emergencies, some lifebloom may be spread, and some may decide to keep regrowths on the tanks as an extra buffer, but these spells see far less focus than the rejuv/WG raid-healing. Any talents, glyphs, or set bonuses relating to WG and Rejuv are the whole world to these druids.
  • At the same time, there are some 25-man tank-healing druids, who churn out glyphed-HT or spam nourishes (buffed on HoTs) in mimicry of classes that are more traditional tank healers (it has been equated to Flash of Light spam) around their more WotLK-standard use of WG. They may choose this style out of liking that type of healing, or they may be forced to it by what other healers their guild has, in cases where a guild runs heavy on other raid-healers. I am less familiar with this variety, but know they exist, and have seen one in action to great effect.
  • 10-man raiding restos, along with other 10-man healers, must help heal the tanks as well as the raid. I am one of these. These can vary quite a bit depending on who they are co-healing with, but overall must be far more flexible than a pure raid-healer. In progressive guilds, there will often be only 2 healers in a 10-man group, with a 3rd available through dual-spec from among the other raiders for encounters that require it. These druids, like the 25-man raid-healers, will make heavy use (in 3.2) of WG and rejuv, but they also turn regularly to other spells in their books: regrowth for an extra HoT and nourish-booster, swiftmend for its quick life-saving capacity on targets that have rejuv/regrowth, NS+HT in a dire emergency, nourish for its quick cast that is boosted by HoTs stacked upon the tank as well as for use when swiftmend is on cooldown, and lifebloom stacks that the druid must decide to let bloom or roll on the tank. These druids place greater value on crit than a pure raid-healer, and will often have talents like living seed as an additional buffer when healing tanks and dealing with heavier damage. This healing style can also be found among a few 25-man raiding guilds.
  • Non-raiding restos, or max-level druids who group with friends or pug in 5-mans, tend to be similar to the 10-man raider variety, though they may find Tranquility to still be useful as they are usually in the same party as their targets.
  • I'm sure there are some variant saplings out there forging ahead with a different style, as well!


When reading anything about what sorts of stats you, as a resto druid, are "supposed" to have, take a moment to consider for yourself what sort of role you play as a healer. Many raid-healing druids will have little use for crit. Other druids who need to tank-heal around the cooldowns of swiftmend and NS will still rely on a balance of haste and crit. These differences will be further refined around your set bonuses, and will impact your glyph selection, spell selection, and stat preferences... as well as how hurtful or beneficial any future set bonuses, glyphs, or spell changes may be!

You can read more about keeping an open mind as a raider here.

As an aside, I made little pixel tree...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Comic: Emalon Strat!

Yay more stick figures!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Pugger's Guide to VoA25: Emalon

The vast majority of PuGs (Pick-up Groups) I have been in or seen guildies in for VoA25 fall apart on Emalon. It doesn't matter if they wiped a few times on Koralon, or if they one-shot Koralon: Emalon tears PuG groups apart. Some Puggers will even drop group immediately after killing Koralon, making thin excuses about needing to go to some other raid, or take out the trash, or go hammer nails in their eyes, all to avoid the "inevitable" wipe(s) to Emalon.

What is it about Emalon that is so much more difficult than Koralon?
  • DPS has to swap targets.
...I think that's pretty much it. If your dps doesn't swap targets to kill the Overcharged, hugely enlarged and difficult to ignore add, it will immediately wipe the raid, or at least one-shot enough of the raid in its explosion that you have no prayer of continuing. Oddly, most Puggers forget or don't know about it (or would rather not swap targets out of wanting to e-peen on the meters), in spite of the fact that Emalon was farmed successfully by PuGs for many months before Koralon was released.

So, in the hopes that others will learn how to actually fight Emalon and make my life pugging VoA25 less of an axe through my sanity, I am posting this strat. I will add illustrations tomorrow. I may even break down and do a full comic version, for those puggers that can't seem to read >.>

The Pull:
Your best tank should be on the adds, and your OT should be on the boss. The add-tank will run in and gain initial aggro; the OT will follow and single-taunt Emalon himself off of the MT. In the meantime, all ranged dps and healers need to be spreading out: some can remain on the stairs, while others need to run through to the back of the room, because you do not want to be clustered together or else chain lightening will eat you alive.

As a note, most PuGs will tank the adds on one side of the room, and Emalon on the other; this is not necessary as long as your healers are capable of keeping both tanks up through the Lightening Nova. You can successfully have all of the adds and Emalon tanked on the same side of the room, or close together, which can make it easier to pick up new add spawns and provide less distance for your melee to traverse to reach the Overcharged add. This is the method my guild prefers to do our own VoA10 runs, though I have never seen a PuG group do it that way.

Rogues/Hunters: use misdirects and tricks of the trade to ensure all 4 of the adds are on the MT, or else those adds are going to run off and eat your best healers. If your OT has threat problems, have someone give them a threat boost on Emalon during the pull, as well.

The Fight:
Stay spread out as much as possible. DPS will begin on Emalon. If you have Deadly Boss Mods or Bigwigs (and I highly recommend you have one or the other installed), you will see timers for a couple important things: next Overcharge, and Lightening Nova.
  • Overcharge is what can and will wipe your raid, if your DPS is not paying attention. Overcharge will enlarge an add, and 20 seconds after it starts, the add will explode and pretty much wipe the raid. ALL DPS MUST SWITCH TARGETS and kill this overcharged add! It is easy to pick out since it will be enormous compared to the others. KILL IT. If you don't see an enlarged add in the pile when Overcharge is cast, check near the boss: the OT may be tanking it on the far side of Emalon instead.
  • Lightening Nova is an AoE off of Emalon that does more damage the closer you are to the boss. If you aren't a tank, you need to move away from Emalon when he begins to cast this, or you will be killed. It is possible to pop survival instincts/shield wall/Cloak of Shadows/etc to survive it, but in a pug, it's better to be safe than sorry. Get out of it.
About 4 seconds after an Overcharged add is destroyed, a new one will spawn in front of Emalon. It will usually start running after a healer, if it's not picked up in the OT's cleaves or AoE. The MT/add-tank's job involves picking up this newly spawned add before it kills anyone.
  • Do not use AoE on the adds unless you're tanking them (or using a misdirect ability to put them on the tank).
  • Do not try to kill any add that is not overcharged: he will just spawn a new one in its place and make your tank have to re-establish threat.
  • Do not stand in Lightening Nova unless you know you can survive it with your current HP.
  • Do not ignore the Overcharged add, even if you're melee.
  • Do not cluster together too closely or chain lightening will fry you.
  • Do not pull aggro.
Just rinse and repeat. DPS on Emalon, get out of Lightening Nova, and kill the Overcharged add whenever you get one, picking up the new add that spawns before it kills a healer. Just remember: all dps MUST swap to the overcharged add and kill it before it explodes!

~~This is a public service announcement brought to you by Dreambound and Vortex.~~

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

GotEM3.3 and Resto Druid Cast Times

The current PTR changes for GotEM in 3.3 gives resto druids a flat 10% haste across the board. I have not included a scenario where a druid will have both GotEM and Celestial Focus, a scenario where a druid has not maxxed out 5/5 GotEM, nor a scenario with Power Infusion (as it does not stack with Bloodlust), but most other scenarios of raid buff combinations are considered.

NOTE: for a more detailed graph of the GCD with Celestial Focus taken into account vs no CF, click here.

New Cast Times
The following will become our new "base" cast times, before gear or raid buffs are added.

10 -> 9.09 seconds

3.5 -> 3.18 seconds

3.0 -> 2.72 seconds
Healing Touch, talented Starfire (Starlight Wrath)

2.5 -> 2.27 seconds
talented HT (Naturalist)

2.0 -> 1.82 seconds
Regrowth, Rebirth, Wrath

1.5 -> 1.36 seconds
This includes the GCD, Nourish, glyphed but untalented HT (no Naturalist), insta-casts (LB, Rejuv, WG, Swiftmend), and talented Wrath (Starlight Wrath).

1.0 -> .... you're already at the GCD cap. Grats on clippage ;)
talented + glyphed HT

Haste from Buffs and Gear
It is from the new base cast times (with the talents and glyphs included) that raid buffs and haste gear is added.
As a reminder, not all haste buffs will stack with each other. The percentage haste buffs that do stack will do so multiplicatively.

1-Second GCD
The following are the haste ratings required to achieve a 1-second GCD with the listed buffs.

GotEM3.3 and the GCD/Nourish/GlyphedHT
BuffsRating required for 1 second
Nature's Grace proc447.13
WoA Totem960.32
Improved Ret/Turkey Aura1062.13
WoA + Aura855.41
WoA + Aura + NG166.34

Numbers derived using the formulas at

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The "New" GCD w/ GotEM, 3.3

Unbuffed, ungeared, with 5 points in the "new" Gift of the Earth Mother will place a resto's GCD at 1.36 seconds (from 1.5), using the base haste formula of:

HastedCastTime = BaseCastTime /(1 + (% SpellHaste / 100))
1.5s /(1 + (10 / 100)) = 1.3636s

GCD or 1.5 second cast with the full GotEM3.3 will become:
  • A Nature's Grace proc will move the GCD from here to 1.14 seconds
  • Wrath of Air totem alone will make it 1.30 seconds
  • Improved Moonkin or Imp. Ret auras alone will make it 1.32 seconds
  • Bloodlust alone will take it to 1.15 seconds
...or, with stacked buffs:
  • WoA totem + Imp. aura will make it 1.26 seconds
  • A Nature's Grace Proc on top of the totem+aura stack will make it 1.05 seconds, pretty much the minimum GCD limit... 166.34 haste rating from there will cover that 0.05 seconds. This also applies to nourish (and glyphed but untalented HT), as the GotEM3.3 10% haste applies to ALL spells!

What this does mean, though, is that it will take 1192 spell haste rating to get yourself down to a 1.0 second GCD, sans any raid buffs (including the auras and totem and NG procs). 1193 will push you just over the minimum GCD to 0.9998... which will effectively cap at 1.0 seconds.

WoA + Aura Buff
With a stack of WoA totem + improved aura from moonkin or ret pally, you will "only" need 855.4 haste rating from gear to reach a 1.0 sec GCD/Nourish cast. Such numbers may be achievable around the time of T11 gear (without overly gimping other stats, including crit)... though of course, any bloodlust will send you straight to the GCD cap, as will NG procs.

WoA + Aura buff + NG
Adding in a reliance on Nature's Grace procs (which themselves rely on crit rating), you can lower this all the way down to 166.34 haste rating. Most raiding druids already have this amount of haste rating, but fewer can rely on NG procs due to being purely raid healers. This will be more useful to druids who focus on MT-healing through Nourish or HT (though do note that this only requires the HT glyph, and not the Naturalist talent, as a combination of both will automatically put you at the minimum 1-second GCD with or without both GotEM and haste gear), assuming they can gear up in appropriate crit gear and cast frequently enough to keep NG active. Any lull in spell crits will push their GCD back to 1.2 seconds.

Fun times. Will post up graphs of the haste ratings to GCD, once I double-check them and make them pretty :) Edit: graphs are here.

~~If there are any flaws in my math, please feel free to point them out... I spreadsheeted it out kinda quick in free time between pulls during a raid tonight!~~

Monday, October 12, 2009

U10: Firefighter

You know that big red button in the back of Mim's room? That one your guild may or may not have been able to resist pressing, already? The button that makes Mim really mad and sets the whole room in fire, the flames feeding off your raid like all too much kindling?

This is how you survive pushing that button.

This guide assumes you know how to kill Mim normally. For a guide on Mim's 10-man normal mode, check here.

  • 1x Melee Tank (we typically use a pally)
  • 2-3x healers (we've two-healed it with a holy priest and resto druid, but it is more forgiving with a 3rd)
  • 1x ranged tank (hunter or lock do well)
  • 1x ranged robot-killer (assigned to kill off any fire-extinguisher alarm bots that come too close to the raid)
  • 1x Bomb-Eater (grabs the bomb-bots and eats the explosion, bears and DKs are good for this)
  • Remaining: mix of ranged and melee dps
Among your raiders, I suggest having at least two who can throw up a shield on the MT, if not 3 who can; this is important for getting through the Plasma Blast in P1. I also recommend having a pally with FR aura, though frequent re-dropping of totems can also be managed to provide the resist buff.

Throughout the whole fight, you must follow the oldest raiding rule of all:

Don't Stand in the Fire.

Phase 1: The Feet
Honestly speaking, this is probably the hardest phase (imo). P4 may be more chaotic, but P1 is where plasma blasts make life difficult, and where spreading out from each other for napalm is limited by healing range and fire patches.

To begin, I suggest clustering your raid by the doorway closest to the big red button. Stand in a loose clump together, and have ONE person stand over by the button: inevitably, if you cluster on the button, someone will accidentally press the button and start the fight before you're ready. Shortly after the button is pressed (and the button-pusher has flung themselves across the room to rejoin the raid), 3 fires will be thrown at 3 random members of your raid, and then everyone will scatter to their respective P1 places: the initial fires will be grouped up where your raid stood at the start, and thus much easier to control and kite.

Kiting Fire:
The fire on the ground will always move towards the raider closest to it. As such, you can kite the fire around. You will want to assign a ranged dps (hunters work well) to weave about near the fire patches, pulling the 3 fire spawns into one clump together, and dragging them around back and forth in a small area so that they don't take up too much space.

The rest of the raid will assemble themselves just as they do for normal mode: we like to tank in the middle until about the first Shock Blast, with ranged DPS spread out around, healers interspersed. All raiders need to be very aware of their positioning relative to others and stand apart from each other, as the Napalm hitting more than one person will often result in a raid wipe/death, especially if Plasma Blast is coinciding so that the healers have too many people needing heals.

The following actions (aside from eating Shock Blast) will get you killed:
  • Sharing a splash of napalm from standing near others,
  • Standing in fire,
  • Treading over mines hidden in flames,
  • Hiding in a far corner out of range of the healers.
...particularly while plasma blast is eating the tank alive and your healers are busy on the tank.

First Shock Blast:
This is where we deviate from our normal strat: by the time this goes off, there is usually another spawn of fire patches on the ground, which are a danger to the tank and the melee. When shock blast goes off (or sooner, if necessary), the tank will run to the wall behind her, and pull the boss over to the wall, and then slowly kite the boss counter-clockwise around the room (or whichever direction leading away from the spot where the raid began, which will be full of fire patches as well). The ranged and healers will need to reposition themselves carefully, ahead and to the sides of the boss, staying in range of healers while trying to not splash napalm on each other.

Continue to kite the boss around the outer edge of the room as new fires are spawned. At some point, he should extinguish all of the fires and start anew, so most of the fires will be out by the time you take him down and he transitions to P2.

Phase 2: the Torso
When he transitions, the whole raid should cluster together on the wall near where the tank was last located so that you can keep the incoming fire spawns localized in one area. Fires should be kited in on themselves, woven back and forth to keep them from spreading too far across the room, as you will need as much free running space as possible for getting out of the rapid-burst and the laser barrage.

As the boss pops up in the center (and spawns new fires where you were clumped), the ranged dps need to SPREAD OUT across ~half of the room (or more) while the melee cluster in around the boss: just make sure you stay in range of at least one healer, preferably 2. This phase is very similar to normal mode, except that a cluster of ranged getting hit by the Rapid Burst gun attack can easily kill people from overall damage taken (particularly as new fires spawn around the room), which can overwhelm healers' own aoe HPS when they themselves are trying to move. Try to keep everyone topped off as much as possible, move out of the gun-attack, and keep very sharp eyes out for rocket-strikes on yourselves. Having the raid leader call out "rocket strike up" can help in awareness, as everyone can then check whether or not they've been targeted.

Resto Druids:
I found that hanging out a bit behind the melee was a good place to stand: far enough away that I wasn't bringing rocket strikes onto them or sharing theirs, but close enough that I was central to most of the room and any WG I cast on them would splash myself as well. Keeping rejuvs on everyone in range and splashing Wild Growth on anyone who were clustered together at the time were my most-used methods of healing in this phase; NS+HT and Swiftmend are great to rescue someone, and nourish was used when those were on cooldown.

Periodically he will spawn a giant blue orb; this orb will explode and extinguish all of the fire around it in about 1/4 of the room. Avoid being anywhere near this orb, or it will hurt you and send you flying across the room when it explodes. This can be a particular problem during Laser Barrages, so try to steer clear of them as much as possible, and don't put yourself on their right-hand side if the boss is going to be spinning up soon for a barrage.

Phase 3: the Head
As with the previous transition, cluster your raid up together along a wall, whatever section of the wall is most convenient to the raid. Your raid will need to follow your MT as they move around the room picking up the little adds, kiting the helicopter-head around behind. A ranged tank will hold aggro on the head. All of the ranged players should try to keep along the outer wall of the room, well away from possible bomb bots.

For bombs, I highly suggest having a high-health player to soak the damage from these, likely a melee (we prefer to use our cat-specced/geared druid in bear form), so that your ranged dps can focus on the helicopter. Having bombs explode on your healers isn't a good idea. This same player can spend time between bombs kiting the fires and taunting off any stray adds that get on the healers, since this player will usually stand more towards the center circle while the main group is towards the outside along the wall.

Another ranged dps should be assigned to killing any fire-extinguisher adds that come too close to the raid, because the adds, though they are helpfully removing fire patches from the floor, will injure your raiders and send them flying across the room.

Keep your raid together, and keep moving with the tank as the tank moves around the room to escape fire and pick up the spawned adds. The melee should be killing adds (mind aggro, of course), picking up the cores, and using them to pull the helicopter down for dps: preferably in a non-firey patch!

Resto Shaman:
It is suggested that you keep your Earth Shield on the ranged tank through this phase as well as P4. While it will help to mitigate incoming damage, it also will prevent any spell pushback they suffer, in the case of caster tanks like warlocks.

Ret Pallies:
You should switch to Seal of Command for phases 3 and 4. Vengeance/Corruption are better in P1 and P2.

Phase 4: by your powers combined...
Again, cluster your raid together during the transition, kiting fires together and getting a short breather for mana regen. As with normal mode, split your dpsers up between the 3 sections (bottom, torso, head). One healer should focus on each of the two tanks (MT and the ranged-tank), though the healers will all need to cross-heal and keep the raid up at the same time, as there will be more shuffling and moving around of the raid than in normal mode, and times where a healer needs to be running away from something and can't heal their target as easily while moving. Be prepared for chaos.

As a combination of all three of the previous phases, spread out your raid and be extra-aware to watch for rocket strikes, as they can be hard to notice amidst the red glow of all the fire. There will still be fire-extinguisher bots; steer clear of them and let them do their job of taking out the fire patches. There should still be someone assigned to pick off these bots to keep from having too many running around, or they will overwhelm the raid.

Depending on how well fire patches are placed, you may or may not need to move him out of the center. If you have to move him to a wall (as with P1), make sure you leave enough room between the boss and the wall that people can slip through it to escape laser barrage around land mines, rocket strikes, and fire patches. All raiders need to stay aware of the boss' relative positioning, so that they can quickly react to a laser barrage. If the boss is across the room from you, move quickly to get closer, or you're going to be out of luck with a laser barrage catching up to you! The farther away you are, the longer your path to move out of his barrage.

All DPS should be paying attention to their targets' health relative to the other sections, and swap to another section (or stop dps) if their part is in danger of dieing before the other 2 can go down. You don't want to prolong the fight in this phase by having parts repair themselves because they died too early while another part was still high health! Get them all down together, and Mim's toy will crumble :)

Have fun, good luck, and don't roast too many marshmellows on your resto druid's limbs... they get sticky.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

T10 4-pc Resto: Rejuv = PoM

"Each time your Rejuvenation spell heals a target, it has a 2% chance to jump to a new target at full duration."

While several other blogs have picked at this a bit already, I wanted to chime in with my view of it as a purely 10-man raider:

It blows.

The key problem with this, for me, is that it can (assuming that the wording follows all the other jumping buff mechanisms) jump off of the tank (in about 1 in 50 ticks of rejuv, or about 4-5 reapplications). I need to heal the tank. I keep a rejuv on the tank(s) because:
  1. It adds a health buffer to the tank.
  2. It gives them a small rage/mana/RP bonus from revitalize procs.
  3. It makes them swiftmendable in a pinch.
  4. It buffs nourish.
  5. It's cheaper and quicker to cast than regrowth, without the front-loaded heal at the initial cast of the spell that would just be overheal if I'm casting it purely for the bonuses in 1, 3, and 4.
If it's going to jump off of the tank on a random tick of healing, that's a problem. I have zero interest in collecting 4-pc T10 for my resto kit, if this is to be the set bonus.

On the positive side, if the T10 gearing for 10-man raiders is anything like T9, then not wanting the set bonus does at least leave me more open to picking up offset pieces from heroic modes, which are more easily obtainable than the same item level of tier pieces.

Feral 4-pc:

"Your Enrage ability no longer decreases your armor and instead decreases all damage taken by 12%, and the periodic damage done by your Rake ability can now be a critical strike."

...holy $&^@. That's awesome. Maybe I will be using my badges to buy offset gear instead of main-kit. My only concern with the feral set bonuses is that they lack the duration-increasing abilities found in the previous tiers, which will in turn reduce the amount of time a cat can spend shredding or FBing as they then need to use more energy/GCDs in keeping their rakes, mangles, SRs, and rips up. I don't think the energy reduction to rip (2-pc bonus) will impact that timing very much, in comparison to the timer increases on the previous sets.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Busy Kae's

I have been rather quiet on the blog front lately, focusing my free time and energy on an unrelated project. Edit: evidently I need to find time this weekend to figure out what to do with my image bandwidth, heh. Rehosted a bunch of stuff over on Picasa, including the page background; I know in some resolutions it isn't stretching correctly anymore, but it will have to wait until photobucket's bandwitdth resets.


On the WoW-side of things, Vortex has been busying itself with achievements, some of the less-required ones like Getting Back to Nature and Nine Lives. We discovered that Auriya does have an enrage timer... she crit me for 537k when she decided she'd grown bored with us dancing with her, even with a person DC'd in the middle of two void zones (he actually gave me something to heal that wasn't just a wild growth or rejuv, heh).

We put some work into Algalon, which has been amusing. Our tanks have their swaps down; we're just working on polishing our raid-wide Big Bang movements. Inevitably someone will die to lag (I've run clear over a black hole, one side to the other, without it taking me, due to lag), or someone kiting a constellation over a black hole and closing it off when people need it, akin to slamming a door in someone's face while a death ray passes over your stoop. Thus, we have yet to really get far past Big Bang except to know we've got the tanks surviving. FYI, Green Rag Dolls can defy gravity when placed on the bridge leading to Algalon's terrace. As can fish feasts. They can lull you into a false sense of security, thinking you can defy gravity, too. And then you plummit to your death. I may or may not have done so, at some point.

While doing Razorscale for Iron Dwarf, Medium Rare for a couple raiders, the other healer and I yawned and danced for a while, and then noticed the NPCs were misbehaving:

Another raider also asked where I picked up my mini-treeform pet (the Teldrassil Sproutling). I told her I stole it off of Applebough in Dalaran... that one's for you, Averna!! Guildie: "O.o ...really?!" ...oh, I'm a horrible person.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hurricane Shifting

I've noticed recently that if I attempt to use hurricane while shapeshifted (non-moonkin), it will de-shift me back to caster, but it will also cancel my hurricane, making me have to cast it again. Whether this bug is intentional or not, it's wasting my mana, and a bit irritating to have to re-target and cast again :)

I've been using this macro to get around it:

/cancelform [form:5,spec:2] []
/cast [noform:spec2] [] Hurricane; [form:1/3,spec:2] Survival Instincts

...which works well for a Resto (primary) Feral (secondary) specced druid. If you'd like a bare-bones variety without Survival Instincts, you can try out:

/cast Hurricane

...though if you have a moonkin spec (where moonkin is form:5), I recommend going with:

/cancelform [noform:5]
/cast Hurricane