Warlords of Draenor: Alpha Patch Note Reactions

WoD - Title Bar

The Alpha testing for Warlords of Draenor has begun!  For most of us, that will not mean too much, except that the development of the new expansion is progressing.  Most of us will not hear anything until the Beta goes live, and perhaps longer out than that.  On the heels of the Alpha announcement came publication on the Warcraft site of the initial patch notes for 6.0.

There was a lot of stuff covered in the patch notes, but as a healer, a Shaman, and a Monk, I wanted to focus on my thoughts regarding a few things in particular.

Stat Squish

WoD - Orcs

Character stats have been squished into smaller numbers that are easier to understand. It’s important to understand that this is NOT a nerf as enemies have been squished as well.

I find it amusing that after everything previously published, Blizzard still has to preface that the “Big Stat Squish” is NOT a nerf.  They did a very good job of explaining exactly what the squish will mean for gear, characters, and mobs in the patch notes.

There has always been a big jump in gear from expansion to expansion – Wrath epics getting replaced within a few quests in Cata, for example – and this stat squish will even out a lot of those spikes in gear.

It’s no longer necessary for Borean Tundra quest gear to be nearly twice as powerful as Netherstorm quest gear, even though the two zones are only a couple of levels apart…

In order to bring things down to an understandable level, we’ve reduced the scale of stats throughout the game, back to as if they continued scaling linearly through questing content from levels 1 to 90.

I like this, because now while leveling, it will not be necessary to completely re-gear your character at 60-70-80 etc.  Gearing and leveling will be smoother.

Blizzard even addressed concerns transmoggers and achievement hunters may have in regards to soloing older content:

Players will deal bonus damage against lower-level creatures from past expansions, and will take reduced damage from them.

So all in all, I think the stat squish is being handled well.  I look forward to seeing it in action.

Retuning Healing Spells

WoD - Healing

This section was definitely the biggest focus of mine while reading the patch notes.

Before the Notes, Some Background

The transition between Wrath and Cata was a tough one for me, as a Resto Shaman.  Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed the change in healing mechanics – I am quite fond of the “triage” mentality – but as a Shaman, it was a most disturbing experience.  Honestly, I think Shaman performed as Blizzard intended when they made the healing changes, I loved the feel of it, but they were under-performing compared to the other healing classes.  I would watch the other healers in my guild fly through those early heroic dungeons with little down time, and in comparison the other guild Shaman and I would have to CC every pull, drink to replenish mana regularly, and still not be able to heal people standing in bad.

Because of this experience, I had some reservations going into Mists.  However, Mists swung the extreme opposite direction, and even early on in heroic dungeons I hardly had any issues.  Raiding was similar, and part of my reason for switching to a Mistweaver Monk hinged on the fact that Shaman healing was starting to feel same old, same old, and like all of the choices I used to have to make were no longer there.  I had certain buttons I had to push on cooldown to make my Shaman perform – period.

At least with my Monk, it was a completely new and different class, with different skills and healing styles.

Mistweavers had a rocky road through Mists, though.  Sometimes they were hot, and sometimes they were anything but.  I have spent the entire expansion feeling that my Monk would be better utilized in a 10man environment because of her skill set – particularly her spread-out, AoE healing style (Renewing Mist and Uplift).

I firmly believe that if anything gets changed with Mistweaving, it should be giving greater spread to Renewing Mist, even at the cost of a less efficient Uplift.  Nothing is more frustrating than seeing only half the raid with my HoT and not being able to Uplift on anyone who truly needs it – basically, feeling like I have to ignore half the raid.  I literally had to change my healing mentality to play a Monk.  There was physically no way to focus on everyone in the raid, and I had to retrain myself to focus smaller – usually myself, my group, and our tanks.

In addition, I think overhealing was a ridiculously awful trend this entire expansion.  Whether on my Shaman or my Monk, overhealing always ran high, and it ran high throughout the entire raid.  One of my goals as a healer through both Wrath and Cata was minimal overhealing – maximum efficiency.  I would keep up in heals, while bottoming out the charts in overheals, and that made me happy.

Overheals, and their ridiculous waste of resources, make me twitch.

Anyways, enough of my digression.  Onward to…

The Actual Healing Notes

One of our goals for healing is to tone down the raw throughput of healers relative to the size of player health pools…

…healers are [currently] able to refill health bars so fast that we have to make damage more and more “bursty” in order to challenge them. Ideally, we want players to spend some time below full health without having healers feel like their groupmates are in danger of dying at any moment…

To that end, we’re buffing heals less than we’re increasing player health. Heals will be deliberately less potent compared to health pools than before the item squish.

Basically, Blizzard wants to give healers back the feel of triage and eliminate the end of expansion bloating that leads to spiky damage boss mechanics.  They are confident the changes we will see in Warlords will result in a more gradual progression of gear and performance throughout the life of the expansion.

The other big thing that caught my eye was a mention of “smart heals”:

We want healers to care about who they’re targeting and which heals they’re using, so that their decisions matter more. To that end, we’re reducing the healing of many passive and auto-targeted heals, and making smart heals a little less smart. Smart heals will now randomly pick any injured target within range instead of always picking the most injured target. Priority will still be given to players over pets, of course.

Yes, yes yes!  Thank you!

At first glance, my thought was, “Damn, just take out all of the ‘smart heals’!”  (I’m looking at you Renewing Mist.)  But AoE heals are in many ways “smart heals” especially when they are affected by caps on number of targets.

Mostly, I am pleased about the line “so that their decisions matter more.”  THIS.  So much this.  Give me back control of how I heal.  Give me back the choices.  No more of this “healing rotation” crap, because so often playing my Monk came down to casting Renewing Mist on cooldown, Uplifting as often as possible, and filling in with Soothing Mist.  Sometimes, it was so mind-numbing I could not stand it.  Especially to do all these things and know there was hardly any room for improvement.

Another of our goals for healing in this expansion is to strike a better balance between single-target and multi-target healing spells. We’ve taken a close look at the mana efficiency of our multi-target heals, and in many cases, we’re reducing their efficiency, usually by reducing the amount they heal.

…players will face a meaningful choice between whether to use a single-target heal or a multi-target heal based on the situation.

Once again, yes, yes yes!  Give me the power to choose.  Make me think.  None of this crap where Shaman currently are more efficient to just spam Healing Rain than cast a single target spell or Chain Heal – even when only one person is standing in the rain!  For crying out loud, how did Healing Rain become the best single target heal??

Finally, we’re removing the low-throughput, low-mana-cost heals like Nourish, Holy Light, Heal, and Healing Wave…

This made me go, “Whoa, wait, what??”

During the triage period and even through most of the first tier of Mists, Healing Wave was my Shaman’s go-to filler spell.  It was efficient, and though it would not save anyone, it did keep those bars mostly full with good management.

However, we still want healers to think about their mana when deciding which heal to cast, and so the mana costs and throughputs of many spells are being altered to give players a choice between spells with lower throughput and lower cost versus spells with higher throughput and higher costs.

Alright, I am listening…  I have a good deal of trust in Blizzard and the goals they aim for.  So I am eager to see these changes in action, and learn what they mean to the healing classes.  (Particularly Shaman and Monks, but I play all the classes that can heal and eventually I know all mine will see 100.)

All of this discussion of efficiency may cause most healers to start worrying about mana regeneration and their mana pool. To allay those concerns, we’ve increased base mana regeneration a great deal at early gear levels, while having it scale up less at later gear levels.

Once again, more changes with the hopes that this will make the beginning and the end of the expansion equally as enjoyable.

That’s a lot of big changes for healers: reduced throughput, a more deliberate pace, less powerful “smart” heals, weaker absorbs, fewer spells, and a new focus on efficiency decisions. We’re confident that we can apply lessons learned from previous expansions to make this the best healer experience yet: more dynamic, less punishing, and frankly a lot more fun.

Okie, Blizzard.  You had me hello.  Let’s do this.

Racial Traits

WoD - Racials

One section I kind of glazed over was the removal of hit and expertise.  I guess I understand the reasoning for this, but at the same time, I feel it is further dumbing down the game.  Prove me wrong, Blizzard.

But with all of these changes upcoming, an adjustment of racial abilities and traits seems obvious.

I was most interested in the Draenei changes of course:

Draenei

  • Heroic Presence has been redesigned. It no longer increases Hit by 1%, and instead increases Strength, Agility, and Intellect, scaling with character level.
  • Gift of the Naaru now heals for the same amount over 5 seconds (down from 15 seconds).

A retune of Heroic Presence, finally!  I like this change, since it means the racial of my favorite race will now actually make sense for my favorite specs (healing).  The Gift of the Naaru change is nice too – a faster HoT is always a good thing.

Ability Pruning

WoD - Abilities

We decided that we needed to make a strong push for paring down the number of abilities each class/spec has. That means making some abilities restricted to certain specs that really need them instead of being class-wide, and outright removing some other abilities. It also includes removing some Spellbook clutter, such as passives that could be merged with others, or with base abilities.

However, this doesn’t mean that we want to reduce the depth of gameplay, or “dumb it down.” We still want there to be interesting decisions during combat, and for skill to matter. But, that doesn’t require complexity; we can remove some needless complexity and still retain the depth and skill variance.

This section was interesting, but rather than quote everything, let me suffice to say there are some good changes coming to all of the classes – in my opinion.  Have a look at the patch notes for all the details on each specific class.  I will keep this more general.

There are so many games now (including Diablo 3!) which use a very minimal number of buttons to accomplish a goal.  Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 are also good examples.  I like choice and depth, but it does not necessarily mean things have to be extremely complex.  If I played solely one character, and did everything on that one character, then perhaps I would be more inclined to want more buttons.  But I prefer to play a little of everything.

One type of ability that we focused on is temporary power buffs (“cooldowns”). Removing those also helps achieve one of our other goals, which is to reduce the amount of cooldown stacking in the game.

I cannot say that less cooldowns will break my heart.  At least, not less purely DPS cooldowns.  Life-saving cooldowns are another story, but it does not look like Blizzard is removing any of those.

Instant Cast Heals

WoD - Insta Heals

We’re still preserving the option to instantly heal, but are reducing the number of instant-cast healing abilities overall. Raid and dungeon encounter damage during high-movement phases will be adjusted accordingly.

This section was probably my biggest place of indecision.  I am not entirely sure how I feel about these changes.

In this section, they list some of the skills being changed, by class, and I found it interesting and worth mentioning that Shaman are the only class not having any of their spells changed.  (Because their only instant cast heals are Riptide and Unleash Elements, and it looks like all the healers are retaining their single target, instant cast HoTs.)

Class Changes

I know there are a number of classes and specs, but I am not going to go over all of them here.  I will only be focusing on the Mistweaver Monk and the Resto Shaman, because those are the classes/specs I play the most.

Mistweaver Monk

WoD - Monk

Mistweavers had a bit of a rollercoaster ride, veering between weak and strong over the course of the expansion. Most of our changes to Monks will focus on Mistweavers, to try to get them just right.

Amen.

Mistweaver Changes:

All abilities available to Mistweavers now have a 1.5 second global cooldown (up from 1 second).

  • Stance of the Sturdy Ox and Stance of the Fierce Tiger now reduce the global cooldown of the Monk’s abilities by 0.5 seconds.

Stance of the Wise Serpent no longer increases Haste from items by 50%.

Focus and Harmony is a new passive ability for Mistweaver Monks.

  • Focus and Harmony: Haste effects lower the global cooldown of your spells and abilities.

Crackling Jade Lightning no longer generates Chi for Mistweaver Monks.

Soothing Mist no longer generates Chi for Mistweaver Monks.

Thunder Focus Tea now causes the next Renewing Mist to jump up to 4 times (used to cause the next Uplift to refresh the duration of Renewing Mists on all targets).

Healing Spheres now heal an ally within 12yd (up from 6yd) for 100% (up from 50%) of their normal healing, when they expire.

Detonate Chi is a new spell available to Mistweavers:

  • Detonate Chi: Instantly detonate all of your Healing Spheres, causing each of them to heal a nearby ally within 12 yards of the sphere. 15 sec cooldown.

I am really looking forward to playing with Detonate Chi.  I am very surprised and uncertain about the changes to Thunder Focus Tea, Soothing Mist, and to a lesser degree, Crackling Jade Lightning.  Because of the Stance changes (see below), I understand Crackling Jade Lightning, but I am irked about my primary single target Chi-generation being removed.  And Thunder Focus Tea sounds like a really gimpy version of what I WANT Renewing Mist to do.  Oh!  one whole extra target!

I suppose I will have to see these in play before I make hasty generalizations, though.

Another issue with Mistweavers is that of Eminence, which has never really played out how we had hoped. The intent with Eminence was to create an alternate play style to fulfill the fantasy of healing through dealing damage, since we knew a lot of players had that fantasy, and a new class was the perfect opportunity to satisfy that.

Having two play styles in one spec (Eminence, and traditional Mistweaving, healing primarily through casting heals) proved challenging to balance, because we don’t want players to take the best parts of both and stack them into an unintended superior spec. The most notorious of these cases was “Jab-Jab-Uplift”. In order to solve this problem, we’re giving Mistweavers two stances.

Stance of the Wise Serpent – This is the current Mistweaver Stance.  With the changes coming in Warlords, it will be our “Mistweaving” Stance.  Enveloping Mist, Renewing Mist, Soothing Mist, and Uplift will only be usable in this Stance.

Stance of the Spirited Crane – This is the replacement for our Tiger Stance (which never made any sense to me to even have, I only used it to reforge my Haste).  This will become our “Fistweaving” Stance.  Blackout Kick, Jab, Tiger Palm will only be usable in this Stance.

There are also more improvements coming to Monk Healing Spheres.  They will be smarter about not overhealing targets running through them and they will heal for 100% when detonating upon expiration, instead of 50%.

So many changes.  But I knew they were coming.  Blizzard said at the start of Siege of Orgrimmar they wanted to overhaul Mistweavers, but wanted to do it right and wanted to wait until Warlords.

All I can do for now is wait and see what all these changes will mean.

Restoration Shaman

WoD - Shaman

Restoration Shaman had the most passive and smart healing of any healer, and so received some reductions in that area, along with buffs elsewhere to keep them competitive. One particular change is to Mana Tide Totem, which we made less effective for other players, but still just as effective for the Shaman.

This change is kind of a big deal.  I have mixed feelings about it, because though it reduces some of a Shaman’s utility, it also reduces the chance we will be forged into mana batteries for the rest of the raid.

Restoration Changes:

Chain Heal now heals each chain target for 15% less than the previous target.

Unleash Life no longer increases the healing from Healing Rain.

Earthliving Weapon now increases healing done by 5% (instead of increasing healing Spell Power by a flat amount).

Healing Stream Totem’s mana cost has been reduced to 10% of base mana (down from 23.5%), and its healing has been reduced by 50%.

Glyph of Totemic Recall now only increases the mana returned from recalling your totems by 25% (down from 75%).

Mana Tide Totem now increases the Spirit of allies by 50% (down from 200% of the Shaman’s Spirit). It remains unchanged (200%) for the Shaman activating the totem, and it still ignores temporary Spirit buffs.

Conductivity is no longer triggered by damaging spells for Restoration Shaman, or by healing spells for non-Restoration Shaman.

After Mana Tide, the biggest thing that catches my eye in the Resto changes is the change to Unleash Elements and it no longer effecting Healing Rain.  This will make for a big difference – Healing Rain was always my focus with Unleash Elements, because it gave the most benefit.  Not to mention, Healing Rain has become so incredibly powerful in the Shaman’s tool kit, it is a matter of casting both together on cooldown.

It will sting, but I think it is a good quality of life improvement for Shaman.  It will give us a better opportunity to choose our spells, rather than spam Healing Rain.

In Closing

I am sure there are many more things I could touch on in the Alpha patch notes, but these cover my initial thoughts and reactions.  What it comes down to at this point is really just keeping an eye on updates and hoping for a Beta soon, so we can start putting these updates to the real playability test.

Please feel free leave comments, to agree or disagree, and bring to my attention any topics regarding healing, Shaman, or Monks I may have glazed over and missed.

~ Effy

Undaunted!

Holy crap! We did it!

Holy crap! We did it!

Tonight, the Undying Challengers completed a Gold run through Siege of Niuzao!  That marks our last Gold!  What does that mean?

Mounts!

Mounts!

Transmog gear!

Transmog gear!

Titles!

Titles!

And PETS!  I had not even realized a pet comes from the Challenge Mode achievements!  It is from completing them with a guild group!  Woot!  Yay!  We have the Thundering Serpent Hatchling now!  He crackles with lightning, too!  🙂

The Shaman Challenge Mode gear is quite interesting.  We all agree it would look best on a Troll, or maybe an Orc.  But Effy will be sporting it for a while.  I had to change a few pieces, though.  (The pic above is with a few pieces changed – the boots and belt.  The pic below is with all the CM pieces.  I will be sure to post her transmog here soon.)

The whole Challenge Mode Shaman set

The whole Challenge Mode Shaman set

The achievement spam was pretty crazy.  We told ourselves it was all or nothing – Gold, no Silver.  We wanted all the achievement spam at once.  It took three screens to spam at me!

CM Gold - Complete Achievement Bronze

CM Gold - Complete Achievement Silver

CM Gold - Complete Achievement Gold

Our first few runs we killed way too many mobs.  So we changed things up and skipped some in the first hall.  When we were on the last run before the last boss, we realized we were going to be short mobs.  Well, our time was awesome up to that point, so we kept going, killed the boss, and ran back to pull some trash before the second to last boss.  All we had to kill was the few we need, then everything else despawned – and BAM!

CM Gold - Siege of Niuzao Board

Not our best time, but there is plenty of time to cleanup where needed now that we are done – if we decide to go that route. 🙂  Heck, we have about half of our runs as realm bests, we may or may not go for the rest.  We shall see.

Now, I just need to do this on three more toons, so I can get the rest of the Phoenix mounts…  Hahaha!

Video coming soon!

~ Effy

Effy with her Violet Pandaren Phoenix

Effy with her Violet Pandaren Phoenix

EDIT: Added video!

Scarlet Monastery – FINALLY!

The Undying Challengers do it again! :D

The Undying Challengers do it again! 😀

I think it was unanimous that Scarlet Monastery was the hardest Challenge Mode we have done.  Even Stormstout Brewery was a cakewalk comparatively.  The trash was brutal, the timer was unforgiving, and the hardest part was the latter half of the dungeon – making our way to and through the cathedral.

OMG, heal faster! And somehow preemptively heal all the things that will one and two shot everyone. ><

OMG, heal faster! And somehow preemptively heal all the things that will one and two shot everyone. ><

For some reason that is making Effy feel unconsciously fat yet today, she could NOT seem to sneak through the two packs after Brother Korloff without pulling one or the other.  I swear I was in the middle!  Finally, Gv was kind enough to set us up a Warlock portal from the boss to the cathedral door.  I feel like such a noob.  I do not even have pets to blame.  What is your deal, Effy??

Anyway…  We made out with a few silvers, and finally… after five nights!… we got our Gold!

It was also decided that we are never, ever going back to SM.  🙂

On to Scholomance…

~ Effy

I think this is the one dungeon we will not be pushing for Realm Best...

I think this is the one dungeon we will not be pushing for Realm Best…

EDIT: Video!

State of the Raider 5

SotR5 - Distractions

One of many distractions

My mind is a wee bit distracted this week, so I plan to keep my raider self-evaluation short today.  Also, not much has changed in the areas of skills or playstyles or bosses – except that some boss encounters have moved from being experienced by me in a 10man setting to our 25man.  So that is pretty exciting.

So far this week has proven lucrative.  As of logging off Tuesday night, I am already halfway to Valor cap.  That includes MV’s second half and both halves of HoF in LFR, as well as a Silver for the daily Challenge Mode in Scarlet Monastery.

Scarlet Monastery will be an… interesting Gold.  🙂

Last week’s 25man main raids on Wednesday and Thursday proved good for our progression.  We downed not one new boss, but THREE, and all on Thursday night…

Will of the Emperor down in 25man!

Will of the Emperor down in 25man!

The adds on Will of the Emperor are pretty insane in 25man, but our DPS did awesome.

Imperial Vizier Zor'lok down in 25man!

Imperial Vizier Zor’lok down in 25man!

The Vizier proved easier in 25man, and gave us little trouble.

Blade Lord Ta'yak down in 25man!

Blade Lord Ta’yak down in 25man!

The Blade Lord (who I think I have wrongly been referring to as the Wind Lord, cuz hello? he throws tornadoes and the Wind Lord does not… so m’kay) was an interesting dance, but allowed for more leeway and room for error than his 10man counterpart.  And the last phase seemed way easier to heal in 25man.

Sunday, I was not in the 10man, and Monday the 10man was canceled.  So no updates from me on that front.

It sounds like no 10mans on Mondays until after the first of the year, and the guild will probably focus on Heart of Fear for a bit, to gear up for Heroics.  So our 10man might shift back to Mogu’Shan Vaults, and gathering the last few pieces (mostly trinkets) that some of our raiders need there.  Including my own wish for the Jade Courtesan Figurine trinket.

So, Effy, are you going to give us a little more than just some killshot pics and fluff?

Hmm…

I do not have too much to say in that regard right now.  I have received a few upgrades, adjusted some stats, and I am adjusting as needed per fight.  Not much else has changed.

I actually downgraded my chestpiece to a Heart of Fear LFR version, because it has a lot of Spirit, of which my VP one had none.  That made getting my Spirit back to 7500 a lot easier.  It was sitting a little below 7k for about a week, and that was pretty meh.  So I lost a little Intellect, but it was getting impossible to finagle my Spirit appropriately with having so many pieces without Spirit.

Well, let me adjust that: it was getting impossible with my chestpiece not having Spirit, since that one piece has such a big chunk of stats.

Honestly, my bracers are my only other piece without Spirit, but once I finally replace my Ghost Iron Dragonling trinket, it is gonna hurt – a loss of 600 Spirit.  So replacing my bracers is pretty high on my priority too.

I have thrown that stupid “BiS” list out the window.  What a piece of crap.

Basically, my goal is the highest iLevel piece with Spirit I can manage.  Perhaps once Heroics are in full swing, or maybe even next tier, I can start focusing more on a piece or two without.

For right now, my Spirit is the most difficult to maintain properly, everything else is coming easily enough.  I am just barely where I need to be, or at least, where I am comfortable, Spirit-wise.

Oh, and I totally forgot to mention before, Effy has her Dragonslayer title!  Some guildies, along with some really friendly people from a few other guilds, went in and cleared Bastion of Twilight on heroic one Saturday afternoon, and I got to go along.  It was poorly DPS’ing, but I did not stand in too much stupid stuff.  It was my first heroic kill on the Council and Cho’gall, and my first time ever seeing Sinestra.

Very cool, and very fun.  Sinestra is still a fight requiring a good deal of coordination, so that was nice to conquer too.

~ Effy

Updates - Sinestra 1

Updates - Sinestra 2

Updates - Sinestra 3

How to Raid with a Resto Shaman

As an exercise to better learn how we are all working with the changes introduced with Mists of Pandaria, as well as to learn how to better function as a team with those changes, I was asked what exactly it means to heal in our raids as a Resto Shaman.  At first, I thought it was pretty straightforward – cooldowns are the important part, right? – but the more I thought about it, the more I realized there is a lot of utility in the Resto Shaman that other classes might not be fully aware of.

Though I am no theorycrafter and I plan to give no math here, I felt this explanation was a good piece to share on my blog as well, for the WoW blogosphere at large.

NOTE: This is going to be long, so I will include TLDRs where I think appropriate.

NOTE: This is all based upon my Shaman’s current talents and glyphs, which can be found here and my personal playstyle, but my serve as a useful guide to other Resto Shaman.

Basic Toolkit

As a Resto Shaman, on the most basic level, we have the same three single-target healing tools as the other healing classes/specs.  Working in a triage-based environment means all three of these heals get used in some situation or another.

As a rule, I use Healing Wave in every situation I can get away with it, as it is basically mana-neutral.  This means my in-combat mana regen just about negates the cost of the spell by the time I finish casting it.  Greater Healing Wave is for when I feel it would require multiple casts of Healing Wave to accomplish my healing needs on a target.  Healing Surge is for when I do not think Healing Wave/Greater Healing Wave will land quick enough, and is only for emergency use.

TLDR

Resto Shaman Toolkit

Beyond the basics outlined above is where the Shaman really begins to distinguish itself from other healers.

Earth Shield

Earth Shield is a buff to always be maintained.  When I am the only Resto Shaman in the raid, I is use it on the main tank (switching back and forth if the fight requires tank swapping and I feel I can manage the extra mana consumption involved).  If there is another Resto Shaman, Earth Shield is maintained on both tanks – one by each Shaman.  If there is a third tank, it really depends on specifics of the fight and should be decided by the Shaman or the raid/heal lead.

Earth Shield has two main nuances:

  1. It provides extra healing to a tank, and only when the tank is taking damage, so the tank receiving the most damage is the best choice.
  2. Heals cast on the Shaman’s Earth Shielded target are more effective, therefore, the Shaman should be primarily healing the tank with their own Earth Shield.  (This includes Chain Heal’s primary target.)

Riptide

Riptide is an instant HoT with a brief cooldown.  Ideally, it can be maintained on a few targets at one time.  Usually I keep this to the tanks unless someone else in raid is taking moderate damage from a debuff of some sort (ie. Pheromones from Garalon).

Riptide has two main nuances:

  1. Chain Heals targeted on a raid member with Riptide are more efficient, and the more efficient the first hit of Chain Heal, the more efficient the additional hits.
  2. Riptide gives the Tidal Waves buff to the Shaman – two charges with a maximum of two charges.  One Tidal Waves charge decreases the cast time of one Healing Wave or Greater Healing Wave.  One charge also increases the Crit Chance of one Healing Surge.

Maintaining Riptide and Tidal Waves during a fight is very important to throughput, whether it is mostly single-target healing or AoE healing or a combination of both.

Healing Rain

Healing Rain is one of a Shaman’s most powerful AoE healing abilities, and with a 10 second duration and a 10 second cooldown, it could logically be rolling at all times.  Healing Rain’s usefulness, especially in an early expansion raiding tier, is more situational than that, though.  It is most efficient when healing at least 5 targets, and becomes a HPM burden otherwise.  So this ability is most useful when the raid is stacked, and less useful when they are spread out.

Chain Heal

Chain Heal is another AoE heal ability given to Shaman.  It strikes one target and bounces to up to three more targets.  The first target is hit for the full amount of the heal and each additional target is hit for 30% less than target before them.  (ie. [target] 28,000 -> [2] 19,600 -> [3] 13,720 -> [4] 9604.  Aww, I said I was not going to do math.  D’oh!)  Chain Heal is most effective when it is guaranteed to hit four targets needing healing, therefore it is most useful during stack phases, especially paired with Healing Rain.

As mentioned above, Chain Heal is more effective cast on a target with Riptide.

As an alternative to Riptide, Chain Heal also gives two charges of Tidal Waves.

Earthliving Weapon and Unleash Elements

Earthliving Weapon is a Shaman buff that increases healing and gives the ability for heals to proc the Earthliving HoT.  This proc has a 100% chance when healing targets below 35% health.

Unleash Elements, when used while the Earthliving Weapon buff is up, is an instant cast ability that provides a small heal to the target, and buffs the effectiveness of the Shaman’s next targeted heal.  Unleash Elements affects all single-target heals as well as the initial hits of both Chain Heal and Riptide.

Healing Stream Totem

I place Healing Stream Totem with the main bulk of the Shaman heals since it is on a short enough cooldown to not be considered a true healing cooldown.  It has a 15 second duration and a 30 second cooldown.  So though it cannot be down all the time, it is very effective used every 30 seconds.  HST is a smart heal as well as a fire-and-forget spell, which means little overhealing and the ability to do other things while HST is ticking.

TLDR

  • Earth Shield – Causes the target to be healed when they are hit, maintain on the main tank.
  • Riptide – An instant cast HoT with a cooldown, causes Tidal Waves buff, increases the effectiveness of Chain Heal.
  • Healing Rain – A large groundtarget AoE heal, use when it will hit at least five targets, can be timed for 100% uptime during stacked phases.
  • Chain Heal – Hits a target and chains a reduced heal to up to three other targets in range, increased by Riptide, increased initial hit increases remaining hits, use when it will hit four targets.
  • Earthliving Weapon – when active, increases healing and has a chance to proc an Earthliving HoT on heal targets, 100% on targets below 35% health.
  • Unleash Elements – Releases the Earthliving Weapon buff to heal the target and boost the Shaman’s next targeted heal.
  • Healing Stream Totem (Water) – Fire-and-forget smart heal, use on cooldown.

Cooldowns

Most Shaman abilities have a cooldown period of some length (from 8 seconds to 5 minutes), but when I mention cooldowns, I am referring to those high-throughput, life saving abilities on longer timers.  For Shaman, this is three abilities:

  • Ascendance – 3 minute cooldown, copies the Shaman’s heals equally among raid members in range, affects all Shaman heals except those from totems, only utilizes mastery on the initial heal.
  • Healing Tide Totem (Water) – 3 minute cooldown, fire-and-forget, high burst, smart heal, affected by mastery.
  • Spirit Link Totem (Air) – 3 minute cooldown, all raid members within 10 yards have their health periodically redistributed evenly and incoming damage is reduced.

Mana Management

Resto Shaman abilities tend to be quite numerous and mana intensive, and thus, we have some decent mana regen capabilities:

  • Resurgence – A passive ability that grants the Shaman mana upon healing crits.
  • Water Shield – 1 hour personal buff that provides a passive mana regen, also regens additional mana when the Shaman is hit.
  • Mana Tide Totem (Water) – Mana regen CD for raid members within 40 yards, 3 minute cooldown.

Throughout the entirety of Cata, Resto Shaman had the Telluric Currents talent to work with.  This allowed us a small amount of mana regen when hitting with Lightning Bolts.  Even though Resto Shaman did not have talents or glyphs that provided us with hit, this became a go-to regen for me throughout the expansion.  In the early tiers, the usefulness of Telluric Currents received mixed reviews, but by Dragon Soul it was invaluable as a source of low damage phase mana regen.

I miss it terribly, as its younger, upstart brother the Glyph of Telluric Currents is mana neutral at best, and not worth a glyph to me.

Other Utility

  • Reincarnation – A passive ability that gives me the option to b-rez myself once every 30 minutes.
  • Ghost Wolf – Instant cast movement speed ability, using abilities cancels Ghost Wolf.
  • Spirit Walker’s Grace – Grants casting on the move, lasts 15 seconds with a 2 minute cooldown.
  • Heroism – Raid-wide haste CD, lasts 40 seconds with a 5 minute cooldown, debuffs targets from using Heroism or Time Warp again for 10 minutes, reset by death.
  • Windshear – Ranged interrupt, 12 second cooldown.
  • Purge – Removes 1 magical buff from the target.
  • Hex/Bind Elemental – CC abilities for humanoids, beasts, and elementals.
  • Purify Spirit – 8 second cooldown upon a successful magic or curse cleanse.

Other Totems

  • Stormlash Totem (Air) – Nature damage bonus CD for raid members within 30 yards, 5 minute cooldown.
  • Capacitor Totem (Air) – AoE stun to targets within 8 yards after a 5 second delay, 45 second cooldown.
  • Tremor Totem (Earth) – Removes debilitating effects (ie. fear) on raid members within 30 yards, can be cast while affected, 1 minute cooldown.
  • Grounding Totem (Air) – Absorbs one harmful spell, 25 second cooldown.
  • Earthbind Totem (Earth) – Slows movement of enemies within 10 yards for 20 seconds, 30 second cooldown.
  • Fire Elemental Totem (Fire) – Summons a DPS pet the assists the Shaman for 1 minute, 5 minute cooldown.
  • Earth Elemental Totem (Earth) – Summons a taunting pet the assists the Shaman for 1 minute, 5 minute cooldown.

Talents

These are my current talents.

  • (15) Stone Bulwark Totem (Earth) – Personal damage reduction cooldown, places absorption bubbles on the Shaman, 1 minute cooldown.
  • (30) Windwalk Totem (Air) – Removes movement impairing effects on raid members within 40 yards, 1 minute cooldown.
  • (45) Totemic Restoration – A passive that reduces totem cooldowns when they are destroyed or retracted.
  • (60) Ancestral Swiftness – Makes the Shaman’s next cast instant, 1 minute cooldown, also grants a passive 5% haste buff.
  • (75) Healing Tide Totem (Water) – See Cooldowns.
  • (90) Unleashed Fury – A passive that increases the effectiveness of the Unleash Elements bonus by 50%.

Mastery

The Resto Shaman mastery ability is Deep Healing.  This increases the effectiveness of the Shaman’s heals the lower the health of the target.  So when the raid is all nearly topped off, the Resto Shaman is at its least efficient.  Due to this mastery, Shaman are increasingly powerful during progression, high damage periods, and “gimmicky” fights where the raid is kept at low health (ie. Chimeron).

I will not get into our mastery too much here, because if you would like a more comprehensive look, Vixen does a great job here.

How I 25man

Now that you know all the abilities I have as a Resto Shaman, now to explain how I use them during a raid encounter.  I mainly raid 25man, and so this is assuming that environment.  Though, my usage does not change too much in 10man.

My Shaman Healing Style

Because of the way the Shaman toolkit is setup, I have always seen myself as a melee-focused raid/AoE healer.  Healing Rain, Chain Heal and the limited range of my totems all complement this particular style.

With the current raiding tier, however, I am finding a lot less chances for the raid to stack.  In some cases, even the melee are spread out.  So even though I still try and make my focus the melee, it seems more haphazard with the current tier’s encounters.  I find myself more and more relying on my single-target abilities, because they are more mana efficient, especially when everyone is spread out.

Had I been asked in Wrath or Cata whether I were comfortable as a tank healer, I would have had low confidence in my throughput in that regard.  Now, however, it seems Resto Shaman are very capable single-target healers, and more mana efficient in that healing style.  The Shaman toolkit works well with this assignment – with a combination of Earth Shield and its bonuses, as well as the efficiency of our single-target heals paired with the Tidal Waves buff.

All in all, I still feel my biggest strength is melee healing.  Whenever I can manage it – which also seems haphazard this tier – I prefer to be standing with the melee, in the shadow of the boss.  I prefer my healing focus to be them, with my totems and Healing Rain and Chain Heals.  Even my cooldowns cater best to a clump of melee.

Healing “Rotation”

I have a few healing combinations that I use during a raid.  I like to affectionately refer to them as “rotations” though this is mostly tongue in cheek, and they are more flexible than a DPS rotation.

A few items to note:

  1. As often as possible, my healing skills are used and/or chained off my Earth Shield target.
  2. Healing Wave is my go-to heal.  Greater Healing Wave is substituted if I need a bigger heal.  Healing Surge is substituted if I need a faster heal.

Rotations:

  • Single-Target – Riptide > Unleash Elements > Healing Wave > Healing Wave
  • AoE – Healing Rain > Unleash Elements > Chain Heal > Healing Wave > Healing Wave

Maintenance Items

  • Healing Stream Totem – On cooldown, whether stacked or spread out
  • Healing Rain – On cooldown, during stacked phases
  • Tidal Waves – Maintain as much as possible
  • Earth Shield – Maintain as much as possible (I aim for refreshing it at 2-3 remaining charges of 9)
  • Purify Spirit – As necessary, and as capable, as well as according to the decisions of the raid leaders based on fight mechanics (ie. one healer per group on Elegon)

Cooldown Usage

  • Ascendance – Honestly, I tend to use Ascendance most when I am on fumes, to spam Healing Wave.  This way, my heals are being spread as much as possible on the wee bit of mana I have remaining.  A well placed Healing Rain and a smattering of Healing Waves work well too.  Ideally, Ascendance is best for increasing throughput on stacked phases, paired with Healing Rain and Chain Heal, but as I have previously lamented there are fewer stacked phases this tier then my toolkit would prefer.
  • Spirit Link Totem – I use this during high damage, stacked phases.  It is a great complement to Healing Rain and some Chain Heals.  I also use Healing Stream Totem with this as much as possible.  Nearly useless on spread out fights such as Will of the Emperor and Garalon, due to its limited range.
  • Healing Tide Totem – I use this for high damage, spread out phases.  It is also a good “Oh crap!” button, as it smart heals low targets that might slip through otherwise.  Still works great for stacked phases too.

Because of the elemental spread of totems, were the situation to really require it, I could use all three of these cooldowns at the same time, plus Healing Rain and Chain Heals.  This would push some great numbers, but would certainly be huge overkill.  I prefer to spread their use as much as possible.  Each has a 3 minute cooldown, so if both the flow of the fight and stacking cooperate, I can stagger them each once per minute.

Non-Healy Things I Manage

  • Mana Tide Totem – Within the first couple minutes of an encounter, preferably before I hit my ½ way empty mark, I drop my first MTT.  Then, I try and use it on cooldown for the remainder of the fight.  Because this is a Water totem, I have to be very careful staggering this with HST and HTT.
  • Stormlash Totem – I am still getting used to this totem and maximizing its useage.  The best place I feel to drop it is a right after Heroism, but with a 5 minute cooldown, a second place in fights is usually necessary.  That second place is what I am still hashing out.
  • Heroism – It is my preference for a DPS to cast this, as usually during the final hurrah of an encounter, I am being very miserly about my mana, but I am serious about my job of casting Heroism with pride and making good use of it while it is up.

I also try to become familiar with other aspects of a fight where I can assist with my various utilities and totems.  Put most simply, Tremor Totem for fears, Earthbind Totem for adds that need to be slowed, as well as interrupts, stuns, and CC’s as I can make myself useful.

TLDR

As a Resto Shaman, I focus on the melee of the raid as best I can, keeping a primary focus on the main tank/my Earth Shield target.  I switch between AoE and single-target healing as the fight demands.  I cleanse as I can, and as determined by the fight and raid leaders.  I use my cooldowns as necessary, or as called for, attempting to stagger them so something is available when I need it, while keeping in mind that some are useful for stacking and others when the raid is spread out.  I use my various utility abilities as necessary to best assist the raid.

Final Thoughts

I imagine this may be more in-depth than the exercise was looking for, but I am nothing if not thorough, eh?  Besides, I have rightly been accused of being long winded once or twice.  I just hope this covers the original intent of what was asked of me.

~ Effy

Can you think of any other items your raid members might need to need to know about raiding with a Resto Shaman?

State of the Raider 4

One of my favorite raiding items put to good use.

This week is Thanksgiving in the US, resulting in a truncated raiding week, so I decided to just put the two weeks together (this week and last).  This is much to the chagrin of some of our Canadian raiders, one of whom mentioned to me that Canadians are much more considerate by not putting holidays in the middle of the week.

Hey now!  I happen to like my two days off!  Pfft…  Besides, Canadians celebrate Christmas, and that is whatever day of the week it feels like.  😛

25man

Undying Resolution’s First 25man Elegon kill!

Last Wednesday and Thursday resulted in a new kill for our main 25man team – Elegon! – as well as some solid attempts on Will of the Emperor.

I very much like the Elegon fight.  There is some heavy damage, stacking periods (attacking the boss) and some lighter damage, spread out, regen periods (the wispy adds and electricity walls).  They seem timed perfectly for my big cooldowns.  SLT on the first explosion, HTT on the second.  And healing my butt off when/if we get a third.  But then, while we are healing our individual groups at the pillars, I single target and regen.

So though I think I mentioned it before, I really like the Elegon fight.

Will of the Emperor is an interesting encounter.  It is another of those fights where everyone is spread out willy-nilly, and trying to get anyone stacked for a Healing Rain or a Spirit Link Totem is like trying to wrangle kittens.  (I just like picturing that!)  So for the most part, until we get a kill and start perfecting, I think I am going to have to manage with HST, HTT, Ascendance, and my single target spells for the most part.  I can weave in the occasional AoE, but in most ways, it feels like wasted mana on that fight.

We shall see how it progresses as we tweak and fine tune.

Tuesday night was a strange night to raid, and I think it threw the group’s groove off a bit, but we still managed to get through all of our current kills – including Elegon about 10 minutes before the end of raid.  Five bosses in one night is a step forward for us so far this tier.  I imagine as the tier progresses, we will continue to cut that down.

So great job to everyone for making a weird-feeling Tuesday into a successful raid night.  🙂

10man

For some reason, I have no pics of Garalon, so instead, you get a pic of Effy stoned.

For this week’s 10man, I only went on Monday night.  Sunday night, the group downed the Windlord with three healers, so Monday was all about progressing on Garalon.  Once more, Monday was three healers.

The Garalon fight is, once more, a fight where everyone is spread out.  I guess after a whole tier of catering to Shaman and stacking for our AoE’s, Blizzard wanted to change it up some.  Oh well, unlike previous tiers, I feel more confident in my single target performance.

The big task is keeping everyone in range.  Standing in the center of the room, with the boss rotating around me is very efficient, and means I have to move a lot less than I would otherwise.  Keeping the melee in range while they DPS the far, back leg is the primary concern.

But I felt my performance was strong.  We just kept bumping into the enrage timer.

BTW, what is up with two raid bosses with very similar names this tier?  Gara’jal and Garalon.  Just to be confusing, eh?  It sure makes abbreviating their names difficult.  😉

Final Thoughts

Belf dancing with Aesa! (And Pon sitting there and pretending she does not know us, perhaps. heh)

In this past week, the level of overhealing present so far this tier has come onto my radar.  This has proven most disturbing to me, as someone who has always been very careful about overhealing, and the management of my mana.

I feel I took easily to the triage style of healing, because this worked well with my style of mana and heal juggling.  So seeing my overheal numbers of late makes me feel like I am misusing my abilities somehow.

Okie, so through much of Dragon Soul, mana was not too much of an issue – what with gear and the age of the expansion and Telluric Currents (Oh, I miss you so!) – and I may have become a bit more HPS/output focused.  Just to see what my Shaman was really capable of putting out.  But previous to that, I have always maintained a careful balance of HPS and overheals.

HPS is pretty meaningless if all of it is done to targets who are already full (or nearly full) on health.

It is not just Shaman – it seems to be everyone.  There was about a 50% overhealing average for our heal team last night.  The two Shaman (including) and the Monk being highest, but not by too much.

My next goal is to focus more on my efficient, non-overhealing skills.  This means very sparing use of Healing Rain, which is currently highest on the overheal list.

Sorry, Healing Rain, it’s not that we cannot be friends, but I just need some time apart.  Maybe, some day, there will come a fight where you will be truly useful again.  But for now, other than Feng, we are going to have to agree to see other heals.

And now, I am off to enjoy the rest of my really long weekend!  😀  Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Effy

Going for the Gold

Left to Right: Finalflame, Sporebat (cuz they are the best Hunter pet!), Effy, Ranico, Ariano, Gv, and some demon minion guy.

Last night, when Ranico whispered me and asked if I would like to do a Challenge Mode, I figured no big deal.  I had done a whole ONE other Challenge Mode, but we had completed it, getting out with some VP and a Bronze medal.

They are tough.  They are a lot of healing.  They are a lot of cooldowns.  They are about organization and teamwork.  They are very much about knowing your class and eking out every drop of potential possible – both the potential of your class/spec and the potential of yourself.

But a run in 45 minutes or less – I told myself, that is no biggie.

Then, I jumped into vent as I was heading to the Temple of the Jade Serpent and realized just what I was getting myself into.  They were not aiming for some quick VP and a Bronze.  They were already talking what trash to skip and invisibility pots, as well as pulling trash all the way to the boss and then Hero’ing on said trash.  They were discussing practice runs, and the possibility of a good number of them before reaching the intended goal…

They were going for the Gold.

They wanted a completion in 15 minutes or less – not 45.

I admit, I got a little panicky.  My last Bronze had included a wipe or two, and a few restarts before that.  It had included me bottoming out my mana nearly every pull, abusing my healing cooldowns and Mana Tide Totem, and stealing drinks for regen whenever I could.  The damage in Challenge Mode is way more heavy and spikey than in regular Heroics – little, efficient heals do not cut it.

What was I doing here??

Okie, Effy, just keep telling yourself you are a good healer.  You know your Shaman.  You can do this.

A few wipes on trash and I was really anxious.

We practiced on the trash up to both Wise Mari and the Lorewalker encounter.  At one point, we did the dungeon all the way through, and ended with a decent time on a Bronze.  32:59, plenty of time to spare, and that was after wipes and doing trash on both sides before killing Wise Mari.  Just practice, but a full run of it.

Breathe.  You got this.  Mana is in short supply, as are cooldowns, but you got this.

The next time around, I was starting to feel fairly competent, if not comfortable, with the flow of the fights and the rotation of my cooldowns.  There seemed too few, as I would have gladly used several for every pull, but I know my Shaman and her specifics, and I even feel I know her Mists changes fairly well at this point.  I will not go so far as to say I know her limits, because previous to last night, I would never have attempted such a harrowing run.

By the time we completed our first Silver run, in 17:45, almost half the time of our previous run because we did it in order, I was nearly convinced my cooldowns were timed around the encounters…  Managed properly, I felt I was able to space them just right.  Sure, mana was a sorely abused commodity, but I was getting around running low by popping Ascendance and spamming Healing Wave at those times.  I was also taking full advantage of drinking every chance I got, especially during RPs.

We got ourselves down to 15:52 for our second Silver run.  Almost a full minute shy of a Gold.  Could we cut a whole minute off our time?  It was a hefty sounding task, considering the fumes I was getting by on for most of the run already, and I knew everyone was pushing themselves.

But we were feeling confident at that point, our adrenaline was getting up, and we really wanted the big ol’ Gold.

Our next run went really well until Liu Flameheart.  One death seemed to snowball into several wipes.  Probably because we were rushing to finish at that point.  Somehow, we still managed a Silver, though.  23:01 was still pretty good.

Conversation turned to whether that run had had the chance of being a Gold run.

Ranico asked if we were getting tired.  It was about 10:30pm or so at that point.  I was not tired – I was energized.  Every part of me was wound, and I knew I was pushing myself and Effy, but I also knew I could do better.

We all agreed that we would make one more solid effort – Gold, Silver, Bronze, whatever we placed, that would be our last run.

It was time to pull out all the stops.  More stuns.  More DPS cooldowns.  Better timing on my Fire Elemental.  Heck, maybe even my Earth Elemental if it would help our DPS.

It turned out to be a near perfect run.  Everything fell together just as we planned.  Other than my near panic at the beginning of the Wise Mari fight, where it seemed like the entire dungeon was smacking on Ranico and a few seconds of “ugh!” when the bird in the library silenced me, I felt my little healer zen take over.

And we got our Gold, with 6 seconds to spare.

Woot! Number 3 on Elune! GJ, guys!

Gv offered to record our last attempt, and boy I am glad he did!  He posted it on the guild forums, and I thought I would link it here as well.

It is pretty exciting, really.  Challenge Modes seem the ultimate culmination of raid awareness, toon awareness, player skill, planning, and team work.  The most awesome part is knowing it was a display of utmost effort from all of us to not only accomplish the dungeon at all, but to keep trying and tweaking and to earn that Gold.

As nerve-wracking as they may be, I think these Challenge Modes might prove addicting…

~ Effy

State of the Raider 3

This week, I had the pleasure of raiding in both the regular 25man on Wednesday and Thursday and 10man on Sunday and Monday.  This gave me a really good chance to determine how well I am progressing.

To Do List Progress

First of all, I was curious how I am doing compared to the To Do List I made a little while back.

1. Manage my Riptides better – do not overdo them.  Alternately, unglyph Riptides and use it on cooldown.

I switched out my glyphs, and took the glyph off my Riptide.  This works much better for me.

2. Maintain Tidal Waves for every Healing Wave/Greater Healing Wave/Healing Surge.

I think I am managing this well.  This carries over from Cata, and so is not a change for me so much as a reminder to myself.  The only time I really miss taking full advantage of Tidal Waves is during periods of slow incoming damage when I am low on mana.  Healing Wave is pretty mana-neutral, and works well in these periods.

3. Only cast Chain Heal on Riptide targets.

Similar to Tidal Waves, I think I am doing well here.  It is a mild adjustment, as in Cata Chain Heal would consume Riptide.  So this is a nice change, and I am adapting well.  Once in a while, I still have to cast without the combo, just because my Riptide is on cooldown and not placed right for the need Chain Heal.  This is a good standard, but I do not think 100% is necessary, though, I will keep aiming to improve based upon where I expect damage to go out.

4. Continue to use Unleash Elements on cooldown for the single-target heal buff.

I noticed this week I was using Unleash Elements less than usual, which sounds about right for new fights where both the raid and I are adjusting to new mechanics.  I have been using it, but not as often as I would like for the healing boosts.  Definitely room for improvement.

5. Get more comfortable with my new healing cooldowns (Ascendance and Healing Tide).

I think I am getting more comfortable with all of these cooldowns.  The key now is figuring out when is the best time to use them in encounters.  There were a few times this week (especially in 10man), where I used a cooldown in an emergency situation and then berated myself for not having it later in the fight.  But learning encounters with just two healers in our 10man made keeping my fingers from those buttons difficult.

This also includes Spirit Link Totem.

The one cooldown I have to add to this list is Stormlash Totem.  It is imperative that I improve my usage of this cooldown.  It is not a healing cooldown, but especially for fights where we are still at a point of fighting the DPS race – like Elegon – it is critical.

6. Get more comfortable with my healing totems and their timers (Healing Stream and Healing Tide).

I am happy with my spread of Healing Stream Totem.  I am getting used to pressing it regularly.  Always room to improve, though.  🙂

7. Get more comfortable with my mana pool and regen.

I boosted my Spirit and Crit, dropping my Haste some.  My Haste should still yield me the next haste break with raid buffs and Ancestral Swiftness, which I am spec’d into.  My Spirit is sitting around 7500.  And I boosted my Crit which seems to be helping some too – both in heals and regen.

This tier, there are a number of encounters, or even just phases, where I cannot really justify the spam usage of Healing Rain and I am resorting to single target healing.  Prior to the state of Resto Shaman right now, that thought would have concerned me, but I am finding myself quite capable and that spamming a combination of Riptide and Healing Wave is making mana a zero issue.  I want to improve my combinations of Healing Rain and single target (which still using Healing Stream on cooldown).

8. Learn the fights better (from a healer PoV).

This is progressing nicely.  I even ran Heart of Fear in LFR early in the week, which helped enormously in our 10man there Sunday and Monday.

I have seen all Mogu’Shan Vaults in both LFR and Normal.  And I have seen the first three bosses in Heart of Fear on LFR, and the first two (so close to all of the second!) in Normal.

9. Try not to overheal or cast when I do not need to.

Still a difficult transition for me.  I feel like a slacker during low damage periods.  I am used to spamming Lightning Bolts during slow periods.  I do not like standing around, but my mana demands it.  :/  Especially with the state of mana and mana regen right now, I stick to my constant of maintaining a low overhealing percentage.  Healing those who do not need heals is hardly an effective use of my mana.

10. Do not panic heal.

As I get into my healing grooves for the various fights, this becomes easier and easier.  The biggest issue with panic healing is coming so far during Heart of Fear, which is probably a little hindered by my gear.  Doing the fights with two healers was part of it, I am sure, but there is already so little cushion in 10man.  I have 5-6 other healers to rely on in 25man.  In 10man’s this week, it was only myself and one other.  It is a lot of pressure, but a good kind of pressure.  It is just different, and I am adjusting back to it.

25man

This week was progression work on Elegon.  I really enjoy Elegon on 25man, even though we did not get him down yet.  It has a nice combination of raid healing and single target healing (where I can manage some regen).  That, and not to sound too full of myself, I dare say I rocked on Elegon.

Currently, it is a matter of familiarizing 25 people with all of the mechanics, and getting them to pew pew out huge numbers at the same time.  Even though we were wiping, we were flirting with the enrage timer as well.

But: mechanics first, DPS second.

I was pleased that I was not panic healing, despite our progressive stance right now.  For one, I cannot heal people that fall through the floor.  Nor can I really save someone who gets zapped in the lightning puddles (especially if they are not topped off when they do) or walks into the pillar wall.

Focus is for what I CAN heal, and that I did.

Sure, some people took more damage then they “should” have, but it is progression.  I expect these things.  Heck, I even expect these failings from myself on occasion.  Sometimes, mechanics combine just right or I am too focused and do not move fast enough.  Practice fixes this.  I also expect that we will improve, because I know my fellow raiders enough in this regard.

I, personally, think we have a solid chance of downing Elegon is coming week.

10man

On Sunday night, our 10man group finished up Elegon in two attempts, and one shot Will of the Emperor.  This was pretty exciting for me, as it marks my first Normal clear of Mogu’Shan Vaults!  Woot!

Then, it was on to Heart of Fear.  The first boss, Imperial Vizier Zor’lok, took the better part of the evening.  I like the mechanics during that fight, they are quite varied, but unfortunately random as well.  It was rough with only two of us healing, but we got our groove, and conquered the platforms.  Then, we were mainly focusing on the final phase, in the middle, where things get even more random.

It is kind of a cooldown crap-shoot at that point.  Attempts where the right platform (the Tortolla shells, as Ranico refers to them) was not first hurt, a lot.  I was using my cooldowns for the platform shells, and so if it was not first, they were not available when we hit the middle phase shells.  (Which means that fight is a lot shorter than it seems, heh.)

But we persisted, and we prevailed!  With two healers, I might add.  <flex>

Monday night was all Blade Lord Ta’vak, the second boss.  Oof.  That fight is a LOT of healing.  LFR did not even come close to preparing me for that fight.  Sure, I saw the mechanics, but in LFR they were pretty meaningless.  LFR was:

  1. Do not stand in tornadoes from Tempest Slash (but even if you do = we win)
  2. Stay spread out Wind Step (but even if you do not = we win)
  3. Stack for Unseen Strike (but even if you do not = we probably win)
  4. Do not fail to tornadoes in the second phase (but even if you do, you probably won’t die and = we still probably win)

Oh, and of course, in LFR there is no steady raid damage going out while you are dodging tornadoes in phase two.

This was fine the first time across the room, as I had Ascendance and Spirit Walker’s Grace available.  It seemed somewhat random as to whether Spirit Walker’s Grace was available for the second run.  But that is probably the first fight where I ever envied the DPS.  lol  All they have to do is cross the room while dodging tornadoes.  I have to run, dodge, and cast WHILE running and dodging.  Whee!

I was getting better at the first run, but the second one made me sad, watching everyone drop…

I am arguing with myself as to whether glyphing Riptide would make much difference there.  I do not think it really would.

  1. It would be without the upfront heal, which I like.
  2. It would probably not even cover the damage during the run period.
  3. It would make sure I am OOM by the time I hit the platform.

It is also the first raid mechanic I can recall that completely makes my totems useless.  They cannot help me until we all reach the platform.  Or I am within 40 yards of it, hmm.

Final Thoughts

I still have room for personal improvement (however, I feel I always do), but I am making great progress.  I still have room for improvement on our current progression bosses, and some additional research is in order before raiding this week.

But above all: I am thoroughly enjoying being back to progression raid healing!

~ Effy

Dressing for Success

No sorry, Effy, this is not a transmog post.

Nono, Effy.  No being sad.  This post is about raiding gear.  Specifically, your healing raiding gear, and making you a better healer!

That’s better!

Phew, so anyway…

Let me first say this is not a BiS list.  At least at this point in the expansion, I do not really feel there is any such thing.  I am more worried about mana, balancing my stats, and working towards haste breaks and such.  I am currently focusing most heavily on Intellect and Spirit, which means item level beats out the other secondary stats.

Call this a list for my own personal reference.

I also blame my GM/RL Ranico for this list, as he was asking how we are all doing on Valor and what we are still looking to buy with it.  Darn you for making me do math and all this figuring on a Saturday!  <shakes fists>  😛

Let me add, this list assumes I will not kill Galleon and our raid will remain focused on finishing Mogu’Shan Vaults.  Obviously the Heroic versions of each are best, but I am okie working through LFR pieces and up.

For Mogu’Shan Vaults pieces, the links are to the LFR version, for simplicity.

Even with this list, I am not really keen on some of the pieces, as some do not even have Spirit.  What is up with that?  Sure, I can reforge to Spirit, and at some point I was thinking I might be able to actually reforge away from some Spirit, but I would kind of prefer it on every piece.  Darn it.

For the chest it is either that or the Lifekeeper’s Robe, and since I do not have the money to pay someone for all their Spirit of Harmony and mats nor is my Leatherworker maxed – I am going to settle for now and reforge.  Besides, the difference in item level means I would prefer the Intellect boost from the Robes… eventually.  I will work on the crafted robe, though, in case the RNG gods disfavor me.

The wrists, well, those are my only choice…

I actually swapped around the belt and boots I had on this list originally, because they were both lacking in Spirit.  It was an even swap of VP needed for one and a raid drop needed for the other.  Before I had the Klaxxi Lash of the Precursor and Meng’s Treads of Insanity.

Last but not least, a quick look at my continued progress, as I continue to do LFR far beyond my gearing and VP gain for the week…

Effy is back! 😀

Okie, so maybe it was just LFR, and maybe I completely missed grabbing the counter for Spirit Kings >< but I am making markable progress in my healing.  I am still ending many fights on fumes, but I am keeping up for the fights, and – at least in LFR – sitting at the top instead of the middle to bottom.

I swear I was on top in the Spirit Kings fight too…  <looks again for the screenshot>  Darn it.

The HPS and even the total heals are kind of hard to do anything but roll my eyes at, cuz many of the fights have huge lulls in LFR, but I still am focusing on the fact that my numbers and mana management are improving.  Upward progress is the goal, and so far that progress is steady.

I did switch back to the Healing Wave glyph.  My current build is here.  This works much better for me, though, I am still struggling to remember to recall my totems for the mana return.  Riptide with a cooldown and Chain Heal without one just work better for my style.

BTW, I did not realize until piecing the Skada counts together that Gara’jal steals a pretty cool line from Vigo in Ghostbusters 2!  “Death is but a doorway, time is but a window, I’ll be back.”

Well, I do not know about Gara’jal or Vigo – but Effy is back.  🙂

~ Effy