4.3 and Holy Paladins

There are quite a few changes for holy paladins as of patch 4.3. Some are nerfs, some are buffs, but either way, part of how we heal is going to change significantly.

According to MMO-Champion, patch 4.3 is dropping this week, as in tomorrow, November 29th, 2011.

Here are all the paladin changes that holy pallies will care about.

HOLY RADIANCE

  • Holy Radiance now has a 3.0-second cast time, no cooldown, and requires a player target. That target is imbued with Holy Radiance, which heals them and all group members within 10 yards instantly, and continues to heal them by a smaller amount every 1 second for 3 seconds.
  • Illuminated Healing (mastery) now also applies to Holy Radiance.

This means that Holy Radiance is now a spell with a target and a cast time, like just about every other spell we have. The healing from Holy Radiance will no longer emanate from us, but rather from the people we heal with the spell. Time to find a keybind or mousebind for Holy Radiance! (I’m still trying to figure that one out!) And our mastery will now also apply to targets healed with Holy Radiance.

As a result, several spells now include or exclude Holy Radiance in their effects:

So instead of a 3s base, it’s 2.5s base, just like Divine Light and Holy Light.

  • Infusion of Light now applies its cast time reduction from Holy Shock critical effects to Holy Radiance, in addition to its current effects.

Sweet, Infusion of Light procs will give us a super-fast cast of Holy Radiance.

  • Speed of Light no longer triggers from Holy Radiance and no longer lowers the Holy Radiance cooldown. Speed of Light now only triggers from Divine Protection.

This only makes sense. Holy Radiance no longer HAS a cooldown, so nothing should lower its non-existant cooldown. And we can’t constantly be casting Holy Radiance in order to get a speed buff. That would be silly. Unfortunately, this is technically a nerf, because now we only have one speed boost.

  • Paragon of Virtue now lowers the cooldown of Divine Protection by 15/30 seconds, up from 10/20 seconds.

But they buffed that, so we can now use Divine Protection every 30 seconds, which is pretty sweet.

  • Tower of Radiance, in addition to its current effects, now also causes Holy Radiance to always generate 1 charge of Holy Power at all times.

So this is a neat change that actually sort of gives us an “AOE rotation”. Cast three Holy Radiance on any target or targets (not just your beacon target!) and you’ll have three Holy Power. Cast Light of Dawn. Rinse and repeat. While no one is going to confuse us for resto druids or holy priests in 4.3, this does make us a little more viable as raid healers.

LIGHT OF DAWN

Yay for a buff! This means that everyone’s Light of Dawn will automatically try to hit 6 people. And if you’re in a 10-man raid group, there’s a change for you, too:

  • Glyph of Light of Dawn now lowers the number of targets to 4, instead of increasing targets to 6, but increases healing by 25%.

So that’s a nice little boost, too, and will be less wasteful. Light of Dawn may actually be worthwhile in 10-mans!

BEACON TRANSFERS

  • Beacon of Light is triggered by Word of Glory, Holy Shock, Flash of Light, Divine Light and Light of Dawn at 50% transference and Holy Light at 100% transference. It does not transfer Holy Radiance, Protector of the Innocent or other sources of healing.

That’s right, you can drop to 2/3 of Protector of the Innocent if you, like me, hate the talent, but felt badly about not sending the maximum amount of tiny heals to your Beacon target. Note that you should still have 1/2 Enlightened Judgements to ensure you hit the 8% melee hit cap to make sure your judgements are always hitting (to maintain Judgements of the Pure), but the small bits of healing from that also will not transfer, so if you were at 2/2 Enlightened Judgements for that reason, you can drop a point there quite safely.

Yes, this is technically a nerf, but I know that I’m actually not going to cringe when I go looking through a parse now, trying to line up all the itty, bitty Beacon of Light heals with whatever the holy paladin in question was doing at the time.

SEALS AND JUDGING

  • Seal of Insight, when Judged, no longer returns 15% base mana to the paladin. Judging Seal of Insight still causes damage, and melee attacks will still restore 4% of base mana.
  • In addition to providing haste, the effect from Judgements of the Pure now increases mana regeneration from Spirit by 10/20/30% for 60 seconds.

These two changes, quite simply, mean that we are no longer judging once every 8 seconds in order to regain 15% of our base mana. We will only need to judge once per minute to keep Judgements of the Pure active, not only for the increased haste, but for increased mana regeneration. Spirit is our friend!

And, well, that’s about it, to be honest. So really, just a change to Holy Radiance and talents that were affecting the old version/should affect the new version. A change to Light of Dawn and its glyph. A change to Seal of Insight and Judgements of the Pure. And a change to what heals transfer through Beacon.

SO WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO DIFFERENTLY?

Make sure you remember to bind the new Holy Radiance to something. You might want to add the Holy Radiance effect to your raid frames (tip: it’s called Holy Radiance!) so you can see how much of the raid is being affected by it. If you’re in a 10m group, you probably want to glyph Light of Dawn. And remember, no need to judge every 8 seconds. And you only have one sprint! But it’s usable every 30 seconds.

Don’t forget to check out my T13 (normal) loot list, too!

Good luck to you, whether you’re heading right for Dragon Soul or into one of the new dungeons!

Comfortable with my Class

On Tuesday night, Apotheosis got Heroic Beth’tilac 25 down.

Dar, one of our resto shaman, had posted to say she wasn’t going to be there, which left me with a difficult decision: who was going to heal Dar’s people in the northwest? For 28 attempts, Dar had dutifully healed that particular corner.

In order for it to go as smoothly as possible, I wanted to make as few major changes as I could.

What did that mean? That meant that I was going to take her spot.

I got to heal our moonkin, Hitoku and, lucky me, Majik, my caster officer and my co-host over at Blessing of Frost.

(The “lucky me” was sarcasm. If you couldn’t tell. ;))

So, for 28 attempts prior to Tuesday, I was essentially healing the ground tank, keeping an eye on Dar and other healers, taunting spinners down and generally watching everything, as a raid leader is prone to doing. I had never assigned myself to a cave and, to be honest, I would be happy if I never had to do so again… But I digress.

It took us 10 pulls to kill Beth’tilac Tuesday, bringing us to 3/7 25-man heroics. For each of those 10 pulls, I was healing my cave group, although my cave group migrated from northwest to southeast at one point. Jasyla said she liked that little northwest corner better and I could totally see why. The southeast corner is cramped and crowded!

Anyhow, during the first attempt, I lost Majik. Then, several other people died. So it wasn’t totally my bad, but I vowed to do better.

In the span of 10 pulls, ladies and gentlemen, I became a cave-healer pro. I kicked some ass. Not only did I keep my targets alive, but on try 10, our kill, approximately 97% of the Engorged Broodlings that spawned wanted to blow me up. I am not joking. Better still, I have it all frapsed and it’s embedded below. (Bear in mind that in P2, my computer suddenly decided to violently revolt and I experienced some tremendous lag and loss of framerate. It’s not the best video ever, but it is our first kill.)

 

Kurn, you may be wondering, what on earth does any of this have to do with being comfortable with your class?

Good question!

On the kill attempt, I was constantly the target of the broodlings, as I mentioned. Walks was healing up in the northeast and one thing he had been saying earlier in the night was that if a broodling was heading for someone at southeast, there was no way he could stop them, since they’re up on some damn ledge. So he took to calling out “ledge”.

Of course, on the kill attempt, his broodlings came at me frequently. So I was always calling out “got it”, while running to the ledge where the spiders come down from, while ALSO trying to heal Majik and Hitoku and, you know, trying not to kill myself while doing so.

I think it was only after the whole raid was over for the night that I realized that there was no way in hell I would have been able to manage all that crap (seriously, FOURTEEN broodlings hit me!) AND keep Maj and Hitoku alive if I weren’t extremely comfortable with how my class works.

It’s almost instinctual after a certain point. Granted, my instincts aren’t always spot-on or great or whatever, as you can tell since I do let Judgements of the Pure drop off and don’t use my Guardian and the like on the kill (which I’ll blame on the fact that my computer was about to throw up on me) but they really served me well over the whole raid night. At various points during the entire night, I popped cooldowns appropriately, even using Lay on Hands on Hitoku at one point. I figured out where my Beacon of Light was best put to use (sadly, on Majik) and basically, that was all the real thinking I had to do about how to heal my group.

Venom Rain? Aura Mastery. I’m low on health? Pop my bubble to buy myself some extra time to heal up my group members before turning to myself. Need to regen mana? Use my shiny Fiery Quintessence and pop Divine Plea. See 3 bright orange beams on me from Engorged Broodlings? Don’t panic, use instant heals like Holy Shock and Word of Glory until I’m in position to interrupt one and can start casting again.

Paladins have changed substantially since the original World of Warcraft game came out. Holy paladins have changed and evolved right along with the other specs. While we still need to stand still and cast to be most effective, Holy Radiance (well, the current iteration, not the 4.3 version!), Holy Shock, Word of Glory and a Flash of Light with Infusion of Light proc are all things we can do on the run. Even a 1-2 point Word of Glory can be useful (you can see in the video I made some use of that) if you’re on the move and someone needs a heal ASAP.

Giving Divine Protection a shorter cooldown for Holy (due to Paragon of Virtue) is great and it came in handy all through the night when magical damage (which includes nature damage, which is what those nasty little Engorged Broodlings emit) was troubling me. No problem — Shift-A (my keybind for Divine Protection) to the rescue!

During the night, apart from maybe the first pull or two, despite having absolutely no experience healing where I was healing and healing the people I was healing, I felt calm and in control of myself.  I really do attribute my ability to adapt to cave healing to knowing what all my buttons do. The only thing I didn’t use duing the night was Hand of Freedom and I could have used it when I was stuck in the Volatile Poison on the ground at one point on our kill.

I encourage everyone to take a second look at all your abilities. Not just the ones in the holy tree, look at prot and ret as well. Read through your spellbook and be sure you understand what your abilities do. Armed with that knowledge, you can walk into a fight and adapt much more quickly than you would otherwise. Don’t forget about your Hand spells, your procs, your set-it-and-forget-its (like Holy Radiance and Guardian of Ancient Kings).

Paladins are very strong healers and not restricted to tank healing. Not only that, but we have a ton of utility, so don’t forget to use those utility spells! Once you know exactly what you’re capable of doing, you’ll react with your instincts, leaving your brain to sit there and worry about where you should be standing, rather than what spell to use.

(And you can always read through my second revamped Holy How-To Guide to help you out!)

Substantial Holy Paladin Changes in 4.3 (PTR)

MMO-Champion’s datamining has revealed a number of forthcoming changes to holy paladins on the public test realm for 4.3.

Let’s just jump right into the raw changes and then I’ll talk about what they potentially mean.

  • Divine Plea: You gain 12% of your total mana over 9 sec, but the amount healed by your healing spells is reduced by 50% and grants a charge of Holy Power. . 50%.
  • Holy Radiance: 40 yd range | 3 sec cast 1 min cooldown | Instant | Imbues a friendly target with radiant energy, healing that target and Heals all party or raid members friendly targets within 10 20 yards for 50 up to 61 and another 683 every 1 sec for 3 sec sec, with effectiveness diminishing on targets farther than 8 yards away and grants a charge of Holy Power. . for each additional player target beyond 6. Lasts 10 sec.
  • Infusion of Light: Your Holy Shock critical hits reduce the cast time of your next Flash of Light, Holy Light, Divine Light or Holy Radiance Divine Light by 0.75 sec.
  • Infusion of Light: Your Holy Shock critical hits reduce the cast time of your next Flashof Light, Holy Light, Divine Light or Holy Radiance Divine Light by 1.5 sec.
  • Judgements of the Pure: Your Judgement increases your casting and melee haste and mana regeneration from Spirit while in combat. haste.
  • Judgements of the Pure: Your Judgement increases your casting and melee haste and mana regeneration from Spirit while in combat. haste.
  • Judgements of the Pure: Your Judgement increases your casting and melee haste and mana regeneration from Spirit while in combat. haste.
  • Seal of Insight: Unleashing this Seal’s energy will deal [1 + 25% of SPH + 16% of AP] Holy damage to an enemy. enemy and restore 15% of the Paladin’s base mana.
  • Clarity of Purpose: Reduces the casting time of your Holy Light, Divine Light and Holy Radiance Divine Light spells by 0.15 sec.
  • Clarity of Purpose: Reduces the casting time of your Holy Light, Divine Light and Holy Radiance Divine Light spells by 0.3 sec.
  • Clarity of Purpose: Reduces the casting time of your Holy Light, Divine Light and Holy Radiance Divine Light spells by 0.5 sec.
  • Infusion of Light: Increases the critical effect chance of your Holy Shock by 5%. In addition, your Holy Shock critical effects reduce the cast time of your next Flash of Light, Holy Light, Divine Light or Holy Radiance Divine Light by 0.75 sec.
  • Infusion of Light: Increases the critical effect chance of your Holy Shock by 10%. In addition, your Holy Shock critical effects reduce the cast time of your next Flash of Light, Holy Light, Divine Light or Holy Radiance Divine Light by 1.5 sec.
  • Judgements of the Pure: Your Judgement increases your casting and melee haste by 3% for 1 min and your mana regeneration from Spirit while in combat by 10%. min.
  • Judgements of the Pure: Your Judgement increases your casting and melee haste by 6% for 1 min and your mana regeneration from Spirit while in combat by 20%. min.
  • Judgements of the Pure: Your Judgement increases your casting and melee haste by 9% for 1 min and your mana regeneration from Spirit while in combat by 30%. min.
  • Light of Dawn: Consumes all Holy Power to send a wave of healing energy before you, healing up to 6 5 of the most injured targets in your party or raid within a 30 yard frontal cone for 605 to 674 per charge of Holy Power.
  • Paragon of Virtue: Reduces the cooldown of Divine Protection by 30 20 sec, Hand of Sacrifice by 30 sec and Avenging Wrath by 60 sec.
  • Paragon of Virtue: Reduces the cooldown of Divine Protection by 15 10 sec, Hand of Sacrifice by 15 sec and Avenging Wrath by 30 sec.
  • Speed of Light: Grants 1% spell haste. haste and reduces the cooldown of Holy Radiance by 13 sec. In addition, Casting Holy Radiance or Divine Protection increases your movement speed by 20% for 4 sec.
  • Speed of Light: Grants 2% spell haste. haste and reduces the cooldown of Holy Radiance by 26 sec. In addition, Casting Holy Radiance or Divine Protection increases your movement speed by 40% for 4 sec.
  • Speed of Light: Grants 3% spell haste. haste and reduces the cooldown of Holy Radiance by 40 sec. In addition, Casting Holy Radiance or Divine Protection increases your movement speed by 60% for 4 sec.
  • Tower of Radiance: Healing the target of your Beacon of Light with Flash of Light or Divine Light has a 33% chance to generate a charge of Holy Power. In addition, casting Holy Radiance will always generate one charge of Holy Power.
  • Tower of Radiance: Healing the target of your Beacon of Light with Flash of Light or Divine Light has a 66% chance to generate a charge of Holy Power. In addition, casting Holy Radiance will always generate one charge of Holy Power.
  • Tower of Radiance: Healing the target of your Beacon of Light with Flash of Light or Divine Light has a 100% chance to generate a charge of Holy Power. In addition, casting Holy Radiance will always generate one charge of Holy Power.

Whew. Okay, let’s take these one at a time. Bear in mind that Ghostcrawler has also posted some thoughts about various changes. Plus, the first set of patch notes is up.

Divine Plea: Same as always, but now also grants you one charge of Holy Power. Great, excellent. Anything that adds Holy Power is pretty good.

Holy Radiance: 40 yd range | 3 sec cast | Imbues a friendly target with radiant energy, healing that target and all party or raid members within 10 yards for 50 to 61 and another 683 every 1 sec for 3 sec and grants a charge of Holy Power. This is different. We will now have a cast time for Holy Radiance and it will be a targettable spell. You will drop the Holy Radiance effect on top of someone and THEY will heal themselves and all party/raid members within 10 yards, etc, etc. Note that this is a much smaller radius than we’re used to (10 vs. 20 yards) and it’s been confirmed that there is no cooldown. There is still the cast time, however, and I would presume that the mana cost has not decreased. As well, note that it only heals for a total of 3 seconds. So it looks as though you get an initial heal on the target/allies within 10 yards and then 3 ticks (without haste included) of the new Holy Radiance spell. Oh and look, a charge of Holy Power.

Finally, Ghostcrawler has let us know that Holy Radiance will now benefit from Illuminated Healing, our much-maligned mastery. I guess we’ll see how that goes. Certainly it’s a buff to our mastery if another of our spells is going to benefit from it, but I don’t see the overall healing done by Holy Radiance, even in its new form, to be anywhere close to the mitigation from, say, Divine Aegis from a discipline priest’s Prayer of Healing.

Clarity of Purpose and Infusion of Light: Both of these talents remain the same except they affect the cast time of Holy Radiance now, as well as Flash of Light, Holy Light and Divine Light.

Seal of Insight: The key point here is that judging with Seal of Insight up no longer grants you 15% of your base mana! Goodbye, judging on cooldown.

Judgements of the Pure: You’re now going to get more mana regeneration from keeping Judgements of the Pure up. At 3/3 JotP, you’re getting 30% extra regen from Spirit while in combat. This will keep us judging once a minute and makes up for the fact that we will no longer gain mana from judging. Ghostcrawler said we’d want to judge every 30 seconds, though the JotP duration has not (yet) changed. I guess we’ll want to watch for that to potentially drop to a 30s duration. At any rate, we were always getting a set rate of 3513 mana back per judgement (not including the cost of judging) and nothing we ever did could change that. This change tells us that more mana regen is available by stacking spirit. Interesting…

Light of Dawn: As Ghostcrawler said, this is moving to a baseline of 6 targets, up from 5. The associated Glyph of Light of Dawn will be changed to lower the number of targets but increase the output. The glyph changes this to 4 targets with a 25% boost in throughput.

Paragon of Virtue: Just a slight change to 15s and 30s off of Divine Protection’s cooldown as opposed to 10s and 20s.

Speed of Light: Still grants us 1/2/3% of spell haste, but casting Holy Radiance will NO LONGER give us a speed boost. Well, now the Paragon of Virtue change makes sense. Ghostcrawler says it’s a nerf compared to 4.2 (and it is, since we now only have one sprint) but, to be fair, if there’s no cooldown on Holy Radiance, it would hardly make sense to constantly have a 60% speed boost.

Tower of Radiance: I would say that they are attempting to pigeon-hole us into taking Tower of Radiance. I actually like the talent, but I know there are several builds out there that don’t drop 3 points here. Now, though, it’s worth taking even if you never directly heal your beacon, because it ensures (at least one point, anyhow) that you will always gain one charge of Holy Power anytime you cast Holy Radiance.

So. What do you fine folks think of the changes?

Cataclysm Holy How-To #2: Spells and Abilities

*** All content copyright © Kurn’s Corner, 2011. Reproduction of this guide in full or in part without express permission from the author (“Kurn”), represents copyright infringement and violation of copyright law. Please, if you like this guide, link to it, do not copy it. ***

(Don’t forget to read my Cataclysm Holy How-To #1: Specs and Glyphs before reading this one!)

Once again, welcome to an updated article in my Holy How-To series! Today, we’ll be focusing on the spells and abilities holy paladins have at level 85 and we’ll talk a bit about how best to use each of these spells and abilities in a PVE setting. Please bear in mind that this was written during the time that 4.2.2 was on live realms and, as such, may become outdated with future patches.

Continue reading “Cataclysm Holy How-To #2: Spells and Abilities”

Updates!

Last weekend, I was a guest on a podcast called My Epic Heals, which is a WoW healing-centric podcast run by a holy paladin named Eade, of My Pally Heals, and a resto druid named Wolfshayde. The other guest on the podcast was Vidyala from Manalicious. I’d previously gotten the chance to talk to Vidyala over on Blessing of Frost‘s Episode 13, focusing on the differences between 10s and 25s, so it was nice to chat with her again. :) The My Epic Heals episode came out yesterday. Strangely enough, it’s ALSO Episode 13. Cue Twilight Zone music? ;)

Speaking of podcasts… I don’t really listen to a lot of them. At all. Which is a little weird, considering I DO a podcast, but anyway. I stumbled across this snazzy podcast called Convert to Raid and have listened to all 8 episodes of it in the last couple of days. Really quality production on it and some interesting content. :)

And, speaking of raiding, I Frapsed our Rag kill. Here’s the raw video. Yes, my UI is cluttered, yes, it’s got weird noises (every time I gain Holy Power or spend it and every time Holy Shock is ready) and, sadly, you can’t hear me because of the way Fraps interacts with Windows. You can, however, hear Majik say “there goes another one” when I get flung off the side, as Tikari pointed out on our guild forums. ;)

Cataclysm Holy How-To #1: Specs & Glyphs

It’s been almost a full year since I last wrote in my Holy How-To series. A lot has happened to the paladin class and, specifically, the holy spec since then. I decided that I’d go back to basics and re-write a bunch of my old Holy How-To guides from the Wrath era and update them with relevant Cataclysm information. Not all the guides will be re-written and those that will be are going to be written from the ground up. So here’s the first of my re-written guides: Specs & Glyphs. Bear in mind that the guide consists primarily of my own beliefs and opinions and is limited to PVE content at level 85 only.

Continue reading “Cataclysm Holy How-To #1: Specs & Glyphs”

Slipping into the role…

On Monday, I logged on to the baby paladin and got invited to the raid group and we went in and got Baleroc down. I had prepared myself for a long night of work on Alysrazor, but we managed to get her down (a Choice guild first!) on the first attempt. Granted, it took all three rotations to get her down. The fight was almost 14 minutes in length. And I stood in tornadoes, twice, to help heal my tank through it since his hatchling was still up.

But we did it.

And so, on to Majordomo Staghelm.

Trash was hilarious and brutal, as it was for Apotheosis the other week.

Break time came shortly after the trash was down and two of our healers dropped offline. Including the healing lead.

They pulled in a rogue and an ele shaman who has a resto offspec and that was going to have to do.

It was right about then when the disc priest in the raid said in healer chat “so, since none of us have a clue what to do…”

And I facepalmed. I ACTUALLY put my head in my hand and took a moment to say “oh, no.”

Why did I say “oh, no”?

Because I knew that I was about to step up and take care of healers.

“I’ll take care of healing,” I found myself typing.

Given that I’ve successfully done the fight once and have 50+ wipes under my belt, I figured I was in the best position to do this.

Now, see, normally, this doesn’t happen. Normally, if the healing lead is unavailable, the GM (a kick-ass resto shaman) steps in. But the GM was not around for tonight’s raid, as she has family visiting.

So NORMALLY, I would never be put in the situation where the healing lead (who has amazing attendance) AND the GM (who also has amazing attendance) would BOTH not be available. I raided with these people for like, five months at the end of Wrath and one of the two of them was always there.

But of course, I stepped up to the plate because I really was the best person qualified to do healing assignments.

I looked at the raid. Six healers (Apotheosis likes seven, but there wasn’t a seventh available for us): 2 holy paladins, 1 disc priest, 2 resto shaman and 1 resto druid.

The plan was to stack for 11 Flame Scythes and 5 Cat leaps. And so, I started handing out cooldowns.

I gave myself my regular assignment — pop Aura Mastery just before the 6th Scythe comes out. I like to pop it right about 78 energy.

I gave the other holy paladin the assignment to pop Aura Mastery just before the 7th Scythe.

Just before the 8th? Power Word: Barrier.

Just before the 9th? Spirit Link Totem.

And then I got the prot pally to Divine Guardian just before the 10th, too.

We pulled and it went okay. We had 6 tries and got to second scorpion a couple of times, but always died to Searing Seeds because someone would die to a Flame Scythe and their seed would explode while they were still in the raid.

I was satisfied with the work the healers did. I had a lot of resistance from them, though. I hadn’t healed with any of them back in Wrath. These are all people who have no idea that this Madrana chick knows what she’s talking about.

I did get a few whispers; one healer complimented me on my style of healing leadership and I thanked them and explained that I’ve been doing it forever, it seems like, and that my time in Choice in Wrath was the only time in the last several years where I wasn’t asked to do healing assignments at some point in time. So I gave them the story about how I raid with Choice part time and I’m the GM of Apotheosis and all that jazz.

At the end of the raid, I thanked everyone for their efforts and thanked the ele shaman in particular for healing. Then I uploaded the WoL (since the healing lead normally does that but obviously, his logs would be missing all the Majordomo attempts) and then I wrote to the healing lead to let him know what cooldowns I’d assigned and when, even down to Mana Tide totems.

This whole “raiding with two guilds” thing is weird. On the one hand, I get mocked and ridiculed by Apotheosis folks and on the other, I’m sort of a part-timer with Choice. The bonus is that I get to share knowledge between the guilds — I used some of the info from learning Baleroc with Choice when Apotheosis first tackled him and I’ve used some Apotheosis experience and knowledge to help with Alysrazor and now Staghelm.

It’s come in handy a lot and I’m glad I had knowledge of Staghelm to share with Choice, but I think what disturbs me about tonight was that there wasn’t even a question in my own mind about me standing up and volunteering to take care of the healers.

I just did it.

More, I KNEW I was going to do it.

My desire to help the guild get a semblance of meaningful attempts on Staghelm short-circuited the “nooooo, this is my night off!!!” thought.

And so, without even thinking about it, I just stepped up and took charge.

Here’s something you may not know about me: I am what I like to term a reluctant leader.

If there is a qualified, good, awesome leader, I will follow them like any other sheep. This goes for WoW and real-life, too.

If, however, there is NOT a qualified, good, awesome leader… I will almost certainly step up to the plate.

So that was my night. A Baleroc kill, an Alysrazor one-shot (that was excessively long) and Majordomo, paired with healing lead stuff.

It still stuns me how quickly I slipped into the role. But I guess if I spend 9 hours a week doing that as it is, it shouldn’t be a surprise, right?

Looking forward to Wednesday’s raid when I hopefully WON’T have to do anything except heal. I need my nights off. :)

 

Voice Communication & Player Atrophy

For about 9 months, starting in September of 2009 until June of 2010, I raided with a guild where we didn’t use Vent, TeamSpeak or Mumble. We didn’t use any voice communications at all until maybe the last few weeks I spent in the guild.

When people hear this, their reactions range from “no way, you’re lying” to “… but.. wha.. HOW?!”, particularly when they learn that we went 11/12 ICC 25m HM. All without Vent. (We eventually started using it, as I mentioned, but that was mostly toward the end of my time there, so maybe late April/early May 2009? And even then, it wasn’t every raid.)

So to answer the “how”… It meant a lot of reading of instructions from the raid leader and my role leader (or a lot of typing for me, since I took over as healing lead for a few months in there). It meant strictly watching my timers in my boss mods and making adjustments to the boss mods (particularly DXE) so that I’d remember that THAT noise at THAT time meant “GTFO”. ;) It was key on encounters like Heroic Lady Deathwhisper because I configured the warning sound for Vengeful Shades to be really distinctive and I KNEW upon hearing that noise to watch for the shades spawning around me.

Raiding during that time meant no call-outs on Vent, because there was no Vent to call out on. And in the abusive, toxic environment it was, if you screwed up, even once, you could get kicked from the guild. No joke. I saw it happen more than once while I was there.

That’s all in the past, but that time in my WoW life definitely left its marks on me. Both bad (obviously) and good (not always so apparent).

I’m going to talk a bit about the good marks left on me from that time.

Cut to today: On Mondays (and Wednesdays), I get on the baby pally and raid with Choice of Skywall. Choice is currently working on the Alysrazor encounter as their progression encounter. Apotheosis, where I spend most of my time and energy, has already defeated Alysrazor three times, each kill being cleaner than the last. So I’m very comfortable with the fight at this point.

It was during Monday night’s attempts that I realized two things:

1) I am pretty damn good at that encounter. Like, really good. I don’t think I’ve been this good at an encounter since Dreamwalker. On Choice’s best attempt last night, I came in second on healing (without leaving Gushing Wound ticking on my tank, thank you very much), popped my Aura Mastery whenever I was supposed to and only took two ticks of tornado damage because I bubbled and healed the crap out of my tank whose hatchling was still up but NEARLY dead on that phase. I ate the tornadoes because I knew I had to help the tank live to get the hatchling down. Once Divine Shield wore off, I could still live through a couple of ticks of tornadoes and as long as I didn’t die (I didn’t), I could pull that off to help ensure the killing of the hatchling.

2) I’m not even paying attention to my boss mod timers because I know how to react to everything and I don’t need 5 seconds’ notice to tell me something’s going to happen. At least, not on that fight.

I got to thinking about my timers and then it dawned on me; I almost never look at my timers anymore. Not on that encounter and not on most. I don’t watch the timers on Shannox; I just pay attention to the bleed on the tanks. I don’t watch the timers on Beth’tilac; I know when to jump up or jump down and when to group up. I don’t watch timers on Lord Rhyolith; I just follow my tank around and AOE heal the best I can while watching boss health. I don’t watch timers on Baleroc; I just know that when the shards spawn, that’s generally my cue to swap to a new target. I don’t watch timers on Majordomo Staghelm; I watch his stacks of Adrenaline.

My boss mod timers were an integral part of my playstyle all through TOGC and ICC. There was no way in hell I wouldn’t have died like a noob a million times over if I hadn’t had my timers.

So why am I not watching my timers now? Probably the last time I seriously watched my timers was Heroic Maloriak so I could try to anticipate the Scorching Blasts.

Part of it is that DXE took forever to be updated and Deadly Boss Mod’s timers have always been okay, but not really ON, as far as I can tell. DXE was just… so amazing in  ICC and especially toward the end of the expansion, it was just so perfect! I was never led astray by DXE!

But part of it is that I’ve just gotten lazy. I’m listening for calls from my officers in most cases. They’ve been calling things out all expansion so far and, although I was initially resistant to them doing so, since I feel it engenders laziness, I now find that I listen for them to call stuff out. And I’m sure people listen to me when I call stuff out — which I do rarely, but have been doing on Majordomo.

I’m also pre-occupied with leaderish thoughts: I’m thinking “how many battle rezzes does that make?”. I’m watching cooldowns through oRA to make sure people are using them appropriately. I’m wondering if we can pull through or if we should call a wipe. And that’s in addition to healing and not standing in bad.

So with all that floating around in my head, no wonder I’m not watching the timers.

I can’t help but think that if I watched them, if I didn’t have people calling stuff out on Mumble, I would be a lot better off as a player.

I honestly feel as though my player skills have atrophied in the last year that I’ve been back on Vent and Mumble. Granted, all my instincts and skills and knowledge were still intact last June when I first joined Choice to finish out Wrath with them and that content was still what we were raiding at the very start of Apotheosis after 4.0 hit, so I don’t think being on Vent or Mumble with Choice or Apotheosis affected me much until Cataclysm launched.

Since I first set foot in Blackwing Descent on December 28th, in our first 10-man “exploratory” raid, call-outs have happened and we’ve been on Mumble and we’ve talked a great deal throughout encounters.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. I LOVE my guildies. I adore being on Mumble with them and mocking Majik or others. I… okay, I don’t enjoy being mocked in return, but that’s only fair. ;) I love kidding around, joking, laughing. I REALLY like that I can give instructions verbally instead of taking the time to type them. I type close to 90 words per minute and sometimes it’s just LONG to type stuff out.

I don’t like what it’s done to me as a player. I feel as though I’ve lost my edge in terms of using all the information available to me to make a good, fast decision. I think I still have that edge when it comes to reacting to stuff on my screen; I can stop healing my Gushing Wound target on Alysrazor, I can manage not to stand in the Immolation aura on the Spark of Rhyolith and, by golly, I can NAIL those tornadoes or throw a BOP on someone who’s about to die.

I still feel as though my play is lacking and although I have all this other stuff to take into consideration (raid leader stuff, etc), I’m not convinced that it’s not just pure laziness stemming from voice communication being available to me.

Take last night’s Choice raid as an example. As mentioned, it was Alysrazor and also as mentioned, I am awesome on that fight. So I don’t need to wait to hear “tornadoes coming” or “Gushing Wound, stop healing that tank!” or any of the other audio cues. By already knowing what to do and when, I can really just focus on my job, which is keeping my tank alive, even if he sometimes runs through fire. ;)

I think callouts on progression fights are what blunt me as a player. Once I know the fight, I can (and likely do) tune people out, regardless of what guild I’m playing with. Is that strange that I don’t want the callouts on the progression portion of the fight? And is it also weird that, even if I don’t want callouts, I can see the necessity in certain situations? I mean, we run out of first scorpion phase on Majordomo at 11 stacks of Adrenaline, so right after the 11th Scythe. I call out 9 and 10 and then “go!” and call out for cat “that’s 4, that’s 5, okay, go!” or whatever. (Of course, all bets are off for Searing Seeds scorpion phases. I AM SO BAD at calling to spread if I’m busy watching my Power Aura for Searing Seeds.)

Ultimately, the point of this post is not to preach that not using voice communications means you’re a great player. It’s not to say that using voice communications means you’re a bad player.

The point of this post is to say that I think voice communications blunt me as a player in new content. I think it makes things a lot easier in some ways and so I look for shortcuts like listening for calls instead of watching timers. I also have a great time on Mumble with Apotheosis and I enjoy Choice’s Vent, too, which is always a good thing. Raiding with 24 other people you hardly know and mostly can’t stand is fine if you’re not forced to talk to them or hear their mouth-breathing, but when we started using Vent in that other guild I was in? It was awful.

With Choice and, of course, with Apotheosis, I really do feel like I’m raiding with friends and players I mostly like and  respect. So I’ll take the slight blunting of my play for the chance to listen to Geng (of Choice) yell at kids to get off his car. I’ll take that hit on my own performance to listen to other people mock Majik (of Apotheosis) and try to get him killed.

So, having rambled about this for 1800+ words, I’m also going to set up my timers properly on Madrana to make sure they’re working and that I can see them and that they notify me appropriately for various things. Just because I CAN listen for callouts doesn’t mean I SHOULD and so I’m going to make an effort to watch my timers more frequently — which means putting them in an easier spot to see.

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!)