Healing Alysrazor as a Holy Paladin

This isn’t exactly meant as a guide. It’s more along the lines of my personal experience,¬† so there will be lots of “this is what I do”s and “this is what I think works best here”s. I’m also going to assume you know most of the mechanics of the fight, at least from the ground perspective. That said, I think there’s some decent information I can share with you guys. :)

Alysrazor is one of the more difficult encounters in Firelands. In order to move past Baleroc to Majordomo Staghelm and Ragnaros, Alysrazor must be defeated. (You can, however, do the Alysrazor fight before or after Baleroc, that doesn’t matter.)

The first thing to know is that her name is not “Alice-razor”. It’s “Alysra-zor”. If you do the Molten Front dailies and quests, you’ll see that she was originally named Alysra and, upon being reborn as a firehawk, added the “zor” to her name. (Sorry. That’s totally my pet peeve.)

The second thing to know is that with the help of at least one Molten Feather, you can cast while moving! One feather increases your movement speed by 30% and gives you the casting-while-moving ability. Two feathers increases your movement speed by 60%. Three feathers (avoid this!) will allow you to fly.

If you aren’t asked to grab a feather as a holy paladin during the first molting of Alysrazor (which happens right after the pull), talk to your raid leader about how this will really, really, REALLY help minimize tank deaths. By the end of the second molting phase, everyone should have at least one feather, including tanks, which is hugely helpful for them to move their hatchlings around. However, no one should grab a feather until everyone on the pre-assigned air team gets ALL THREE of theirs to go flying around.

All right, that’s the really important stuff. Now, as to your assignment: as a holy paladin, you will almost certainly be asked to heal a tank. If this is the case, I strongly recommend beaconing your own tank for two reasons:

1) Positioning on the fight is extremely dynamic and the fighting area is quite wide. There are some combinations of placements that will result in the two tanks being more than 60 yards apart from each other.

2) Tower of Radiance Holy Power gains are pretty much wonderful on this encounter and I’ll get to why in a little bit.

Okay, so you should now be armed with the following knowledge:

– pick up a feather as soon as you can without screwing over the air team
– beacon your own tank due to positioning and range issues and holy power gains from Tower of Radiance
– it’s “Alysra-zor”, not “Alice-razor”. Seriously.

Healing the Fight

Right off the bat (assuming it’s not the first pull of the evening), you’ll be blasted backwards. This is a great time to have three Holy Power already charged. I like to hit Divine Favor and Holy Radiance, followed by a Light of Dawn here. There’s a significant amount of raid damage that you can actually help to heal up since your tank won’t be taking any interesting damage for the next little bit.

Move to one side or the other as Alysrazor flies down the middle of the area, because she has a nasty cleave. Run out and around her to pick up your feather.

During this time, your DPS should be collecting feathers to fly up or should be killing (and interrupting) Flame Talon Initiates. Cleanse Fieroblast‘s dot off anyone it hits while you wait for your tank’s Voracious Hatchling to, well, hatch.

Once the hatchlings hatch and are properly Imprinted on their tanks, this is where you start actually getting to do stuff.

For the most part, hatchling damage isn’t too bad on an adequately geared tank. The problems only show up during three situations:

a) When your tank runs out of your range (this happens a lot unless you’re actively watching them — ask for a mark to be placed on the heads of your tanks and keep an eye on them!)
b) When their hatchling throws a Tantrum.
c) When their hatchling applies Gushing Wound to the tank.

Situation A is easily remedied: watch your tank. Know that your tank has to feed their hatchling with Plump Lava Worms that are spawning in various spots in the fighting area. Anticipate where your tank might be going or have him or her communicate that to you. At the same time, you should be able to cast while running, so you should be able to adequately dodge the Brushfires from the Flame Talon Initiates and the Lava Spew from the Plump Lava Worms.

Situation B is also easily remedied: cooldowns! It’s probably best if your tank blows their cooldowns first and then you can pop Hand of Sacrifice when they run out of cooldowns. They can handle four tantrums per ground phase, since feeding a worm to the hatchlings will remove a tantrum, so work out CDs with your tank and/or healing team. Do not be afraid to blow Lay on Hands!

Situation C is probably the trickiest to deal with. Gushing Wound is applied to people standing in front of the hatchling (this should ideally just be the tank) and then bleeds continuously until the tank hits 50% health. The trouble is that they’re still taking melee attacks and can still stand in any of the various fire hazards in the fighting area at the same time.

This is NOT the time for damage-reduction cooldowns. You want to get the tank to drop Gushing Wound as quickly as possible and then need a quick burst of healing to pop him or her back up to a reasonable level of health.

Ideally, this is how it should go, although bear in mind that conditions are rarely ideal:

– Stop healing the tank immediately when Gushing Wound is applied
– Make sure you have 3 Holy Power saved up (by Holy Shocking others if you need to)
– As soon as Gushing Wound falls off, ideally, a disc priest will shield the tank to prevent much more damage for a couple of seconds
– You can then blast the tank with a 3HP Word of Glory. If Eternal Glory (if you have it) procs, hit the tank with WoG again, otherwise, cast a Divine Light (which may or may not have an Infusion of Light haste proc behind it from your slightly-earlier Holy Shocking to make sure you’re up to 3HP.)

The main thing to remember about Gushing Wound is that if you time a casted spell on the tank badly, you can’t interrupt it by moving! You’ll have to hit Escape to stop the cast.

If you get Gushing Wound coupled with a tantrum, don’t hesitate to blow Lay on Hands as soon as Gushing Wound drops off!

And if your tank just decides to stroll happily through fire while they have Gushing Wound or a tantrum on their hatchling, well, there’s pretty much nothing you can do apart from mock them for standing in fire.

And that is the first phase.

The next portion of the fight is all about you and living through fiery tornadoes. The hatchlings should be down by this point, so there should not be any healing for you to worry about.

Here’s a handy-dandy video I made with footage from a learning attempt on Alysrazor with my guild, Apotheosis and it’ll show you exactly how to deal with tornadoes.

Once that’s done, Alysrazor will crash to the ground and start rebuilding her Molten Power.

From 0-50 Molten Power, just make sure everyone’s topped off (especially your tanks who have a job at this point) and make sure to attack Alysrazor directly, since every attack done to her at this point gives you back 10% of your maximum mana!

From 50-100 Molten Power, she’ll pop up off the ground and should be tanked facing AWAY from the raid. This is where you probably have a job. She’ll be blasting the raid with fire damage from Blazing Buffet and so healer/raid cooldowns should be used at this time. I typically go with Aura Mastery, Aura Mastery, Power Word: Barrier, Spirit Link Totem and finish up with a Tranquility. So you’ll likely want to pop Aura Mastery at some point in here as well, depending on what your healing lead/raid leader has asked.

During this time, your tanks are taking damage from Alysrazor herself, so what I do here is I pop my Aura Mastery first, then I use Divine Favor again and Holy Radiance again, all of which is really done to help heal up the raid or help out with mitigation on the raid before focusing on whichever tank has aggro on Alysrazor first. In my raid group, the tanks swap after a few seconds (~10 or so) and so I watch for that and heal the other tank.

When she’s at 100 Molten Power, she throws everyone back, causing 50,000 fire damage and then takes to the air again, leaving behind a pile of feathers, so the air team can get back up there quickly.

After that, it’s essentially the same thing all over again, where you wait for hatchlings to spawn and then heal your tank smartly to make sure Gushing Wound falls off.

Tips:

– Glyphed Divine Protection is great if you’re chasing your tank. It’ll reduce any fire damage you take if you run through some while chasing the tank by 40% AND give you a 4s sprint, courtesy of 3/3 Speed of Light.
– You can bubble through any part of the tornado phase you’re not comfortable with, although I don’t think it’ll be up for the second if you use it on the first. (You should not need to bubble, in all reality.)
– Speaking of tornadoes… don’t worry about healing people through it. Chances are, if the hatchlings aren’t dead by now, it’ll be a wipe. An exception to this is if your tank’s hatchling is nearly dead. You might want to bubble here, cast Hand of Sacrifice and heal your tank through tornado damage so that the hatchling dies.
– You can pop Aura Mastery right as the pull happens to lessen raid damage then, too. It’ll be up for the clump phase once she’s grounded and gaining Molten Power.
– You might want to look into the Glyph of Lay on Hands since this is a long encounter. Chances are, if you use LoH within the first couple of minutes of the fight, you could probably use it again before the fight ends.
– As long as you can hold out until Alysrazor falls to the ground, you can abuse your mana pool, since you’ll be able to get back to full mana pretty easily once she’s burnt out. That might mean using some Flashes of Light here or there and that’ll generally be okay. I’m fine on mana both in a haste/spirit gear set and a mastery-heavy gear set.

Personal Comments

What I like about this fight is that it’s not a brute-healing fight. Tank healers on Alysrazor have to use some finesse! Gushing Wound makes what would ordinarily be a fairly boring encounter (in terms of tank healing) into a much more interesting one. I absolutely love that I get to be that “clutch heal” that gets the tank back up to 80%+ health as soon as Gushing Wound falls off. If I have an Infusion of Light proc while the tank has Gushing Wound, I’ll almost certainly hold on to it and endeavour to get that .8s or whatever Divine Light on to the tank the instant the bleed falls off. It makes me happy. :)

What also makes me happy is that I don’t suck at tornadoes. For once, there is a fire mechanic in this blasted game that I don’t actively suck at! In fact, I am really AWESOME at tornadoes! This also makes me happy.

What makes me less happy is air team members falling out of the sky to their deaths or tanks standing in fire damage, but it’s worth some of the frustration when these things happen because I know that by good play on my part, I am noticeably making the fight easier on other healers and keeping tanks alive.

Well, that’s about it from me on this fight. Hope this was helpful and I wish you all the best of luck in downing Alysrazor!

Mutinous, Treasonous and Uncharitable Thoughts

Okay, not really. But it felt like it.

Baleroc, the 5th boss in Firelands, is a healing fight. Healers heal DPS who are standing by shards. Healers get a buff from this when they heal the tank with THEIR debuff.

Lots of rotations, lots of swapping targets, lots of “omg omg omg” moments.

I’m pretty sure that, in the 18 wipes that led to our kill on Try 19, every member of the raid group, those in the raid and those out of the raid, had probably thought “omg, I’m going to find where Kurn lives and wring her neck with my bare hands.”

Healers too? Healers ESPECIALLY, I’m fairly sure.

It was a long raid night. Every spare moment I had, I was refining the strat with the healers, I was explaining stuff, I was double-checking reasons for deaths…

And people were antsy as fuck. I love my guild, I really do, and I don’t blame any of them for being all “GO GO GO”, if they aren’t healers. There was a LOT of downtime. Usually, we’re in the mid-40% for “active” in the three hours of our raids, but Thursday night was brutal with just 32.4% activity. We spent under 60 minutes actually fighting stuff. Granted, we have a 7m break, we ended 10m early, that sort of thing, but MAN, it must have sucked for those who weren’t doing a whole lot aside from waiting for the damn healers to finish refining the strat.

It also must have sucked for my healers.

We tried three main strats:

1) Heal every group for 30 seconds. (Tanks/melee/ranged) Problem: First Decimating Strike would almost always kill the Decimating Strike tank if there were no healers with Vital Spark/Vital Flame on him — which there generally wouldn’t be for DS if it was at the start.

2) Heal every group for 30 seconds, but offset the first swap by 15s or so. So after the shards come out, heal people for that first duration (assuming a 2 person/shard strat, which we had going) and then swap to your next group. The problem here? We got HOPELESSLY lost and confused once the DPS had the whole rotation thing figure out and we had no idea who to heal for the second round and it was like “crap, this is just too confusing”. I honestly think this is the best method, but I absolutely need to write everything down longhand before the fight if that’s the case. I got confused with times and durations and it also got weird with shard spawns.

3) Ultimately, we pulled in a 7th healer (we’ve 6-healed everything thus far in Firelands) and he was our buffer. He started out on the tanks with me and another healer and we went back to the 30s duration for everyone without any offsets. Second pull with 7 healers = dead boss.

I still think everyone was thinking… oh, how did Jasyla put it? That’s right, “uncharitable thoughts” about the healers, about each other and particularly about me because they could almost certainly figure out that my talking to the healers is what was taking forever. And the healers were probably not fond of me for changing the strat drastically a couple of times.

But, the boss died. The guild is 5/7. We got the Share the Pain achievement without trying. And we learned a LOT about how best to work the fight. I feel good about the kill, considering we had an OS tank tanking (but he was a Blood DK so it was almost better than our regular tank lead tanking it!) and considering it’s the middle of July. Summer slump? HAH. Two new bosses in less than a week! (Now I’ve jinxed us. Sorry, Apotheosis. :P)

So, while it was a challenging night, a long night for all, it ended with a kill and hopefully people will forget that they briefly daydreamed about tracking me down and killing me in my sleep. Or worse yet, intercepting and poisoning the rotisserie chicken I order on a regular basis. (Even more dastardly, the healers probably would have poisoned PUDDING if we didn’t get him down!)

Masterful Madrana?

So there’s been all this talk about mastery gemming, enchanting and stacking.

Given that I was in an awkward position for gear, having received gloves from Rhyolith and legs from Shannox, I felt limited in my choices for what I should pick up from the Valor Point vendor.

I could have gotten my tier 12 chest, which has nowhere the amount of haste as my heroic Breastplate of Avenging Flame, or I could have gotten my tier 12 gloves, which have no spirit and aren’t in my planned 4pc, or I could have gotten my T12 pants, except that I just got those pants from Shannox.

I was already pretty well below the 1859 breakpoint for Holy Radiance’s extra tick and my heals felt sluggish.

We were struggling with Alysrazor and part of the problem was tank deaths. I almost always assign myself to a tank anyway, and we have some amazing raid healers, so I was like… Fine. FOR SCIENCE, I would try out this mastery stuff.

So I bought my T12 chest (oh why is it a robe? Dear God, why?) and regemmed everything to Artful Ember Topazes except for my 3 Jewelcrafter’s gems, which I replaced with 3x Fractured Chimera’s Eye.

And then I went reforging.

Basically, I ripped out all my haste and a bit of crit (as opposed to some spirit) and got to 26% on my shields.

1737 mastery rating. No kidding. 722 haste rating. My very soul ached!

But, FOR SCIENCE, and based on a bit of my own experience with a bit more mastery than I normally run with, I decided to stick with it.

So what experience was that?

Well, I raid with Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and then on Mondays and Wednesdays, I play the baby paladin with Choice of Skywall. Both guilds are 4/7 in Firelands 25-man mode and though the baby pally didn’t have any heroic gear (and still only has a 353 helm, actually), a lot of the stats she had were just like the original Madrana’s, only a bit lesser. A little less haste, a little less crit, a little less spirit and a little less spellpower. But due to the nature of the drops and items I was able to acquire (and when you’re gearing up a new 85, you can’t always be picky!), I ended up with a lot more mastery than I wanted, even when it was reforged. 473 mastery rating was what the baby pally had, which was a far cry from the 100-some that Madrana had.

And yet, while healing Shannox with Choice, I realized that even that very little amount (473) I had was pretty freaking effective.

I literally stared at that for several minutes and went “what the hell is going on?”. I then compared it to a similar Shannox kill Apotheosis had done:

Yes, I had healed with Divine Light less on Madrana than the baby pally and that will absolutely make a difference in the Illuminated Healing. The fight was also shorter. But could it really explain away over 300,000 in absorption? Nope. That mastery was really working for me. Both my assignments were the same — heal the Shannox tank. And I played very similarly throughout those fights.

So when I got to the point with my gear that I didn’t have enough haste to be comfortable in my regular playstyle, despite having actually upgraded gear, I decided that I’d try out this mastery stuff, at least until I can get my haste back up.

It helped out on Alysrazor, or at least it felt like it. And we got Alysrazor down, by the skin of our teeth. So I stuck with it for last night’s Occu’thar, Shannox, Beth’tilac and Rhyolith kills. Here’s the result from Shannox, to keep things consistent:

Are you kidding me? Almost a million damage absorbed by Illuminated Healing? 34% of my “healing” was done by my MASTERY?

So, it’s effective. Quite effective.

However, I lost a lot of stats. I lost a TON of Intellect by virtue of gemming 20 mastery/20 int instead of 40 int, and the 67 mastery gems instead of intellect, too. I lost a LOT of haste. It’s just … gone. My casts take FOREVER and they don’t hit for as hard! But… they shield for a chunk.

[21:57:59.760] Madrana Word of Glory [Tank] +*0* (O: 48629)
[21:58:00.353] [Tank] gains Illuminated Healing from Madrana (Remaining: 12936)

Like, whoah. That’s significant.

However, I have effectively gimped myself for anything other than tank healing. Which shouldn’t be a big deal, because that’s almost all I tend to do anyway, but I felt weak and I felt gimped. I didn’t have the mana pool I was used to, so Divine Plea helped, but still felt less than I’m used to. Replenishment wasn’t hitting for as much. I keenly felt the smaller mana pool and I knew that I was relying more on the raid healers to spot heal people that I would normally toss a Holy Shock on or whatever.

In short, it hurt me, but it’s effective enough and I’m in a 25-man guild that can sustain a “specialized” tank healer. As soon as I can, I’m probably going to go back to stacking haste — but might come back to mastery for certain heroic fights.

I tell you, though, I felt absolutely useless in P2 of Beth’tilac and throughout the entire Rhyolith fight.

So, basically, I concur with Enlynn: it’s not fun and it gimps you, but it can be super effective if done correctly.

I much prefer having the possibility of being flexible and versatile to the reality of not being able to really deviate at all from my standard assignments. But my gear is essentially making me do this for a couple of weeks, so we’ll see how that goes, shall we?

Next up, Baleroc. Should be fun. I’ll keep you guys posted.

World of Zandalaricraft?

When 4.2 dropped, a lot of things simultaneously happened for those of us interested in the PVE side of things. Let’s summarize, shall we?

1) Valor Points turned into Justice Points, capping out at 4000, and all the 359 gear that had previously been available through Valor Points is now available for purchase with Justice Points.

2) New gear that was item level 378 appeared on the Valor Point vendor, including the pants, gloves and chest from T12 armor.

3) Our new Valor Point cap became 980, down from the 1250 from Tier 11 content. (Normal T11 content will also only give out Justice Points versus Valor Points.)

4) Raid boss kills got a bump in VP earned. On 25-man, this value got bumped from 90 VP per kill to 140 VP per kill and 10-man kills got a bump from 70 VP per kill to 120 VP per kill.

5) New dailies came out that will, eventually, open up vendors selling 365 gear.

Therefore, what every responsible PVE raider should do each week to min/max everything is:

a) Get 980 Valor Points by way of 7 troll dungeons, each of which give you 140 VP, making it the most efficient way (in theory) of capping. (Each boss you down in Firelands on 25-man and each Occu’thar 25-man kill reduces this number of runs by one, so killing two bosses and Occu’thar on 25-man means only 4 troll dungeons.)

b) Get 980 Valor Points on an alt, to cap out VP so that you can buy your main raiding toon some bracers, which are BOE. And after that, continue to do so in order to exploit the market of people who don’t want to use up their VP for a BOE item but are too lazy to do what you’re doing right now. (Being crazy enough to complete 14 troll dungeons, or close to it!)

c) Molten Front dailies! If you’re not all in 372s or higher, the Molten Front rewards will give you access to 365 level items. This is great for that one slot you never upgraded if you’re a current content raider or FANTASTIC if you’re trying to gear yourself up to get into Firelands raids.

d) Speaking of Firelands, trash runs! Before getting yourself saved to your regular raid group (assuming you do actively raid), it’s suddenly a great idea to farm trash for rep, at least up until 5999/6000 into Honored (which is when trash stops giving you rep for each mob). Getting to Friendly is easy and gives you access to a 378 cloak. Honored is a little longer, but will give you access to a 378 belt.

Who on earth has that kind of time? I don’t. I’m not even in school or working full-time at the moment and I can tell you right now that the above is a significant enough time investment that I can’t do it all.

The dailies don’t take terribly long to do, maybe half an hour if you’re terrible at DPSing the way I am on my baby paladin. The issue is that they’re dailies, so yes, you need to do them every single day to maximize the rate at which you’re getting Marks of the World Tree and get vendors open sooner. That is, of course, assuming you want to bother opening the vendors. Honestly, I don’t need or want anything from them on Madrana (the one on Eldre’Thalas, that is). I went through this post at MMO-Champion to see if I actually needed to do these dailies.

The one upgrade that is actually potentially viable for me is a ring. Spirit Fragment Band, from Varlan Highbough. No haste, no spirit. If I was absolutely desperate to upgrade rings, I guess this could be potentially useful.

So out of all the rewards (barring pets, mounts, recipes), the poorly-itemized-for-healers caster ring is the one ilvl 365 item that could potentially be worth having for me. Is that one ring worth spending 30+ days doing dailies? Abso-freaking-lutely not. So guess what? Madrana isn’t touching dailies in Hyjal and the Molten Front.

However, a lot of what I mentioned are decent (not amazing, but decent) upgrades for the baby paladin. So I’m doing my dailies with her most days (probably 4-5 days out of 7). Since I only raid (at most) two nights a week on the baby paladin, I’m not earning Valor Points through raids as quickly, nor am I as geared as most people in Choice, so I have to rely on my own efforts to bring her up to par. This meant spending 15,000g on my BOE bracers, but you know what? I was okay with that. (I ended up doing the same for my not-so-baby pally, too, actually!) Of course, keeping up with everything on Skywall is more than a little exhausting and my priority absolutely has to lie with Apotheosis.

It’s easier with Apotheosis, though. I’m not fighting for a raid spot, I’m already geared fairly well as compared to my fellow guildies and while I think I’ll sit out of Shannox and Lord Rhyolith next week, I can usually count on getting the maximum amount of Valor Points possible for our group from raiding, which in our case is 560 so far (Occu’thar, Shannox, Beth’tilac, Lord Rhyolith) and a good chance of getting another 140 tonight by killing Alysrazor. While I don’t mind supplementing my Valor Points from raiding with heroics (although I don’t always have the time to do so), I feel that we should be getting Valor Points primarily FROM raiding.

Let’s look at 25-man Tier 11 content for a moment, shall we?

We had 12 normal-mode bosses and one heroic-only boss, plus Argaloth. Bosses killed on 25-man difficulty gave you the same amount of Valor Points whether you killed them normal or heroic. So, if you were clearing all available content on 25-man difficulty, you could conceivably get 90 VP x 14 boss encounters = 1260 Valor Points. Only the cap was 1250.

In 4.1, you could run 7 troll dungeons randomly (Zul’Aman or Zul’Gurub) and get 140 VP for the success of each one. Alternatively, you could run something like 14 random regular heroics and get 70 VP upon successfully completing each other. Or, you could run a mix of the two, like four Zandalari dungeons and six regular heroics and get to the 980 cap you can get from running random heroics.

That still left you 270 Valor Points to earn from raids. That was 3 bosses on 25-man or 4 on 10-man.

As of 4.2, you can now cap Valor Points exclusively from running dungeons, meaning you don’t have to set foot in a raid instance at all. You can earn up to 490 Valor Points from the heroic dungeons that came with Cataclysm’s launch, running 7 of them getting 70 VP per successful run and then run four Zandalaris… or you can just run the Zandalari dungeons 7 times.

Hm. 11 dungeons versus 7 dungeons… Since time is not infinite, I strongly suspect most people will do the math and decide to do the seven Zandalari dungeons, or rather, exclusively run Zandalari dungeons to fill in the gaps from their raids.

Wrath of the Lich King did not do the playerbase a lot of favours, but one thing it did do all right at was having the random dungeon finder help supplement raiding in terms of Emblems. (What we now know as Valor Points.) Don’t get me wrong, I like that you can run all your VP-rewarding instances in one day, if you so desire, but the problem is that, as of 4.2, random heroics stopped being a supplement to VP earned from raids and became the primary method in which everyone can and should earn them for maximum efficiency. In theory. (I have horror stories about my random Zandalari dungeons to share. But that’s a post for another time.)

As a guild master and a raid leader, I am absolutely astounded that you are awarded the same amount of Valor Points for completing Zul’Gurub or Zul’Aman as you are for killing one Firelands boss (or Occu’thar) on 25-man difficulty. You actually get MORE Valor Points for getting through ZG or ZA than you do in killing any raid boss on 10-man difficulty. What the hell? Five-man random heroics reward you with MORE VP over the course of a week than a ten-man guild who CLEARS Firelands and does Occu’thar? Yep, that’s right. You can get 980 VP from the Zandalari dungeons versus 960 VP for clearing all 7 Firelands bosses and Occu’thar on 10-man difficulty.

Let’s see. Taking at least 2 hours of planning and organizing in order to go down Shannox for the first time, not to mention 45 minutes to clear trash to spawn him, plus several wipes… versus waiting in queue for a maximum of about 35-45 minutes (as a DPS, much less if you’re a healer or a tank) and then go kill a few dungeon bosses in a run that’ll take maybe an hour at most, and that’s if you wipe a couple of times or are sadly paired with truly incompetent individuals. With guildmates in a raiding guild, this is made exceptionally easy.

The time and effort invested is nowhere near the same. Absolutely nowhere. Even if you run a 10-man guild (which is usually a bit easier than 25s, logistically speaking), where everyone shows up all of the time and you don’t have a bench and you’re all amazing players, you’ll still wipe while learning the encounters. And yet, the dungeon-running crowd is getting access to many of the same rewards as the raiding crowd at exactly the same potential pace.

I won’t say “that’s not fair”, because we all have the OPTION to go run dungeons. However, something about this just doesn’t sit right for me. I feel as though the raiders should have the ability to get more VP (1250 vs. 980, as in previous Cataclysm patches?) than those who exclusively run dungeons. Or something. Anything!

Why?

It’s hard to run a raiding guild. Like, really hard. Very time intensive. In putting together a lineup for any boss encounter, you have to first ensure you have maximized your raid’s potential by having all the appropriate buffs and debuffs in there. Then you have to take things like performance and gear and possibly loot priority into consideration. Not to mention the whole question of making sure that your group is actually capable of bringing down the boss. That usually means making sure you don’t have four holy paladins in the raid to “raid heal” or six demonology warlocks (barring heroic Maloriak, of course!) as well as researching and communicating strategy. It’s also hard to be a raider (not just a GM/officer of a raiding guild). You’re constantly juggling your stats on your gear, reforging in and out of stats, theorycrafting some, keeping up on changes and always trying to figure out what YOU can do to be better.

We get a lot of in-game benefits for raiding, though, don’t we?

– Boss loot! The best gear in the game is still available by raiding. You can cap out VP all you want, but it’s not going to give you the heroic versions of loot. Not to mention that you cannot get a 4pc set bonus for T12 armor without killing bosses in the Firelands, since the shoulders and helms are only available from the raid instance.

Living Embers. As of right now, Living Embers only drop off of bosses in Firelands. Whereas Primordial Saronites were available to everyone who had any Emblems of Frost to spare, Living Embers are only for the raiding crowd or those who put them up at the Auction House. In that way, the raiders are getting more for their trouble. But how is this different from regular boss loot that dungeon-runners miss out on? It’s not.

Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest is another hallmark of raiders. You want the shiny orange staff? Can’t do it unless you raid. But again, this is just like regular boss loot.

Essentially, we have precisely one thing that rewards us more for raiding right now than by doing dungeons to cap out VP and that is boss loot out of Firelands (or slight variations thereon, which include mounts, pets, titles).

We don’t have any other “tangible” in-game rewards than extra loot. Don’t get me wrong, I like that I’m going to get a shield off Beth’tilac rather than through crafting like I did in Tier 11, but seriously? Dungeon-runners can cap out VP with less time and energy than raiders is another indication that Blizzard is catering to the casuals.

There, I said it. It took me nearly 2000 words to get to my point, but I finally got there. Blizzard is continuing to open this game up to some of the least-skilled players that exist in their playerbase. Yes, there are some “casuals” that are great players who don’t raid because they don’t like to raid, preferring to hone their skills in other ways, etc, but the fact remains that the “casual” players out there who are running dungeons to cap out on VP are not the cream of the crop. And forcing mid-level raiders to go to these dungeons WITH these “casuals”, for the exact same rewards, is a recipe for disaster. (See an upcoming post about my nightmarish Zandalari runs.)

Raiding is but one facet of this game, I know, but it’s the most time-consuming facet and the most difficult one to coordinate, at least historically. I know that Rated Battlegrounds and other PVP endeavours are challenging as well, but in the PVE sense, raiding is the end-game. It’s through raids that we killed Arthas and will kill Deathwing. It’s in the presence of 39 others that I first killed Ragnaros and it’ll be in the presence of 24 others when I kill him again. To have 10 or 25 people working in perfect concert together to defeat the raid encounters is difficult! It’s challenging! I adore that particular challenge more than any other in this game and that’s why I consistently throw myself at a boss, three nights a week with Apotheosis and up to two nights a week with Choice.

25-man raiding has dropped off a lot since Cataclysm launched. Gear normalization between 10s and 25s has made a lot of guilds re-think their decisions to have a 25-man roster and we’ve seen many guilds shrink down from 25 to 10. I sense that my beloved large raids are in danger of being phased out. Heck, at this rate, it feels as though 10-man raiding is in danger of being phased out. I still cannot believe that seven random Zandalari dungeons gives MORE Valor Points than clearing Firelands and Occu’thar as a 10-man raiding team.

The message we’re getting from Blizzard is, in my opinion, this:

“Oh, here’s some raid content. It’s bad-ass. But if you want Valor Points for some sweet rewards (and, in many cases, some necessary ones, even for raiders!), you’re best off farming THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS. And look, if you can’t raid for some reason, regardless of whether your schedule is weird or if you’re just THAT BAD a player, you can gain the exact same rewards from the VP vendor by running THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS. In fact, THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS are the best part of the game right now! We’re making EVERYONE run THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS. Usually with people they don’t know, but it doesn’t matter because THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS are totally AWESOME and TROLLTASTIC.”

In my opinion, it should be this (well, not really — I’d tone down the troll dungeons some, but the people in charge are obviously still madly in love with them):

“Oh, here’s some raid content. It’s bad-ass. And because we’re not total dicks, you can still get some awesome raid-level gear through Valor Points. You’ll only be able to earn them as quickly as possible if you raid, but if you want to get as close as you can, run THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS! And if you can’t quite clear your raid instance but still want to cap, you should run THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS! That way, everyone’s running THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS and we’re also allowing non-raiders to eventually get to the same point of saturation as the raiders with the Valor Point stuff.”

Of course, none of this really matters in the long run, does it? Nope. I need 8850 Valor Points (if I’m not lucky with Occu’thar drops and if I hadn’t bought the BOE bracers) to gear up my paladin in the way I want her geared. Once I reach that point, I don’t need to cap out on Valor Points. That’s nine weeks of VP capping before it’ll cease to matter for me on a practical level that affects my in-game character.

But the knowledge that dungeon-runners will cap out on VP much more easily than I will for the remainder of this tier of content will last a lot longer than nine weeks. This is, in my opinion, a dangerous precedent that screws with the natural progression of things.

They are taking dungeons, which have typically been a stepping stone on the way to raiding, and making them easier, faster, more efficient ways to earn many of the same rewards. I am firmly of the belief that dungeons should remain a stepping stone. I don’t mind them coming out with new dungeons and I don’t mind those dungeons helping to catch people up to current raiders, but earning 980 VP for doing 7 clears of ZA or ZG when you have to clear Firelands AND Occu’thar on 10-man to get 960 VP is just distasteful to me. It’s a lack of respect for the hard work raiders and raid organizers put into their characters and their raid teams. I sincerely hope we’ll see a change in this for the next tier of raiding.

(This actually started out as a rant about feeling as though I had to cap out VP on three separate characters and then turned into this monster as I was writing it. Sorry for the 3000 word crit and if you got to this part without skipping any of it, I owe you a cookie.)

Edited on July 14th, 2011 to add: There are certain comments that I have not approved and will not approve. You’re welcome to disagree with me and anyone else here, but you need to do so respectfully. Please see my Comment Policy. Thanks!

Healing Webring 2.0

So apparently Saunder is back and wants to take the community’s pulse on healing, the way Miss Medicina did back in the day. I was delightfully surprised to see that Beruthiel tagged me, so I now have a reason to do it immediately rather than “when I have time”. (Which, let’s face it, is pretty rare.)

1. What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer? Madrana, Holy Paladin

2. What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) 25-man raids

3. What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why? My favourite healing spell… uh. Hm. I said Holy Shock, previously. I’m not sure if that’s true anymore. I don’t like how it is THE SPELL you now get and all the emphasis on it. It’s like, I really enjoyed it and now they’ve made it our CENTRAL SPELL. So now I don’t like it as much? I still LOVE Lay on Hands, though, even though it can’t crit anymore.

4. What healing spell do you use least for your class and why? Probably a tie between Flash of Light and Light of Dawn. FoL is stupidly expensive and I never liked the idea of redirecting LoD’s heals to the beacon as a tank heal. If you want to heal the damn tank, heal the damn tank with your Holy Power. And they’ve made that not just possible but better with the buff to Word of Glory. That’s not to say I NEVER use LoD, but I don’t use it as a tank heal for the most part.

5. What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? I think our biggest strength is our cooldowns. While we no longer have Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian, we still have Hand of Sacrifice, Lay on Hands, Aura Mastery, Hand of Protection, Hand of Salvation, Hand of Freedom… We have a huge toolkit.

6. What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? I feel that they’ve diluted us rather than improved us, to be honest. In trying to allow everyone to “tank heal” and “raid heal”, we don’t really own the tank healing niche any longer, but there’s no way we can “compete” with resto druids or resto shaman or holy priests, if you look at it from a numbers perspective. I loved excelling at tank healing and now I feel clunky especially compared to a disc priest who leaves huge Divine Aegis’ on a tank after every crit.

7. In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? Tank healing, or single-target healing. I think a good holy paladin can focus on the raid really well and be substantial support healing on a tank, too, but I don’t think most paladins can really do that regularly. I know I can’t.

8. What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why? Hm. If on a single target, I like a disc priest or a resto shaman. I like the disc’s mitigation, but I love the resto shaman’s mastery translating into bigger heals. If in a raid setting, probably druids or holy priests.

9. What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why? I guess another holy paladin? Just because I’m aware of our limitations.

10. What is your worst habit as a healer? I know when I’m not playing to my fullest extent and it happens a lot. I think part of it is that I’m also trying to help lead the raids and watch things, call out for a BR, etc, but MAN, it sucks when I finish a fight (wipe or kill) and go “crap, I totally forgot to use (ability)!!”.

11. What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing? People expecting me to heal them through their mistakes. Like, FFS, people. Get out of the bad crap on the ground. Also, people not using personal defensive CDs.

12. Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? Nope. I think they really missed the boat on this one this time around. It wasn’t balanced at the class level in Wrath, but if you took a step back, all five healing specs worked really nicely with each other, at least towards the end. Now, though, a single holy paladin can’t really do the same healing as a resto druid, resto shaman or holy priest (which we couldn’t do before), but neither can we really compete with a disc priest on single-target heals OR raid heals. Well, there’s assignments and such to take into consideration and player skill as well, but I don’t raid heal because there are others better suited for it. And I don’t feel we’re particularly strong at tank healing any longer, particularly with the change to Beacon of Light between Wrath and Cataclysm. I think we should all answer this question in Tier 13/Tier 14 and see how things are then.

13. What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer? Did my target live? Good. Then I berate myself while browsing through World of Logs looking at all the crap I didn’t do that I should have.

14. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class? I’m not sure. If it’s still prevalent out there, the idea that we’re a one-button healer? We haven’t been, not since Vanilla. And it’s pretty hard to change people’s minds on that, I’ve found.

15. What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn? Cooldown usage. It’s one thing to know when to use Aura Mastery (fairly simple), but another thing to know how/when to BOP/HoFreedom your tank to remove stacks of a debuff, another thing to pair Hand of Sacrifice with Divine Protection, yet another thing to think to cast Salv on that arcane mage as soon as mirror images drop and yet another thing to toss Hand of Freedom on someone standing in ice.

16. 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)? Overhealing, leading to low healing output and a decent use of cooldowns — just never quite enough use of them. (Must judge more!)

17. Haste or Crit and why? Haste is my best friend. There’s so much of it needed, though, that after… 1859, I think it is, I don’t really worry too much. 1859 means an extra tick of Holy Radiance. That said, I’ll still seek out more haste gear (but not worry if I can’t get it) so that I can continue to lower my GCD. With so many instant-cast spells (Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Light of Dawn, Beacon of Light, all our cooldowns, etc), it’s important to bring that as close to 1s as possible, IMHO.

18. What healing class do you feel you understand least? Probably druids at this point? I’ve tinkered with my shaman alt (who can do heroics at 85), messed around a bit with my level 80 priest but haven’t touched my level 80 druid. At all.

19. What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing? Grid/Clique. I think if I lost my Grid debuff settings, I would actually cry. Clique bindings are less panic-inducing if I think about losing them, but definitely Grid & Clique are the top addons I use to help me in healing. I use several macros as well, but most of them are just to get me to use various things more frequently.

20. Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why? My stat priority is: Intellect, then spirit/haste (I like to be around 2300 spirit and about 1859 haste), followed by crit and then mastery.

Now, who to tag? Well, first of all, feel free to do it if you want to do it. I’d love to see some more healers out there answering this!

That said, Saunder’s instructions said to pick three healers not of your class, so…

Druid: Jasyla of Cannot Be Tamed
Shaman: Darista of Daritos’ Food for Thought
Priest: Kaleri of Power Word: What?

And, like Beru, I’m going to cheat. I’d love to see Fannon, of Dwarven Battle Medic, fill this out, too!

4.2 & You: Holy OOM, Kurn!

I walked into Firelands on Tuesday, June 28th and proceeded to heal exactly as I usually do in a 25-man raid. In so doing, I discovered three things.

  • I was constantly out of mana.
  • Barring mana issues, I didn’t have much trouble solo-healing a tank on Shannox.
  • No, SERIOUSLY, I was really out of mana.

The thing was, I didn’t feel as though I was lacking mana, I just felt as though I wasn’t as efficient as I could have been. I felt as though I wasn’t using all the tools at my disposal.

Guess what? I wasn’t. Given the increase in the cost of our casted heals, given my overconfidence in not only my own abilities, but the level of content (hey, these are NORMALS!), I was playing poorly.

If you feel that you’re constantly out of mana too, are you sure that you were doing everything you could to maintain/regenerate mana?

Here’s what I am trying to do, and be aware of, to combat being out of mana, in a rough order of importance:

a) Judge more. Smart paladins will judge on cooldown. I got into the bad habit of not judging on cooldown. I was definitely judging more frequently than once a minute, since my Judgements of the Pure uptime was usually very good, but I freely admit that as soon as things get hairy, I stop judging as often as I should. So I walked back in there on Thursday and, while downing Shannox, proceeded to judge approximately four times as much as I did on our best attempt on Tuesday. And that was probably still half of what I COULD have judged. Granted, sometimes you just can’t use that GCD on a judgement, but every time you don’t judge, that’s 3513.1 mana you are losing out on. (Hilariously, when healing on my baby paladin, I judge ALL THE TIME because I know I’m not that well-geared and my mana regen is, how you say, “le crap“!)

b) Use Divine Plea more. On an 8 minute fight, I can reasonably expect to use Divine Plea three times (assuming I use it at the 1m mark or so, then again at 3m, 5m and 7m). I used it, uh, once on Tuesday. I used it twice on Thursday, so that’s an improvement, but not ideal.

c) Use the Jar of Ancient Remedies more. On our second-to-last heroic Maloriak kill, I picked up the Jar of Ancient Memories. So I’ve been playing around with it. While I don’t like not having the 321 intellect that the Darkmoon Card: Tsunami offers, I definitely get more spirit from the Jar versus the Card. My other trinket is too valuable for me to swap out at the moment, being the Vibrant Alchemist Stone. (The haste, the excellent amount of intellect and the 40% more mana from potions are all amazing.) So I ran with Jar + Stone on both Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday’s best attempt, I used it once. ONCE. Bad Kurn! No cookie! It has a 2m cooldown, so I really had zero excuses. On Thursday, I did better and used it four times in that 8m17s fight. Since it only gives back 7160 mana per use, it’s really easy to be missing that much (and more!) early in the fight to make sure you’re not losing out on mana back. Cast a Holy Radiance and a Divine Light or two and you’re down a chunk already.

d) Use Mythical Mana Potions or Potions of Concentration more. Well, by “more”, I mean once a fight. With my Vibrant Alchemist Stone equipped, I’m getting ~14k mana back from a Mythical Mana Potion and ~31k mana back from a Potion of Concentration. I took neither on Tuesday and then TRIED to take a Potion of Concentration on Thursday, but then Shannox dropped an Immolation Trap on my face and I had to move, thereby breaking the effect.

e) Use Word of Glory more. I’m a weird holy paladin. I strongly dislike using LoD on the raid to funnel heals to my beacon target. I MUCH prefer using Word of Glory. And it got buffed! And yet, I didn’t use it often enough either on Tuesday or Thursday. That means I’m not taking advantage of having full holy power and I really need to be aware of when I hit 3 HP and then USE it. (Because hey, I wasn’t using LoD either. Because I am apparently bad. /facepalm)

Basically, it’s all about using the tools available to us. That means regenerating mana (judging/Divine Plea/Jar/Potions) and making use of mana-efficient (or mana-free) spells are all important parts of our job, almost as important as healing. If we don’t do those things well enough, we run into trouble while healing and can’t continue healing for as long as we otherwise could.

(I didn’t even MENTION Angry!Man (er, Guardian of Ancient Kings), but don’t forget that he’s free healing, too, just on a longer cooldown.)

How’s YOUR mana pool holding up?