SotR: Garrosh is Dead!

Final and I on our new mounts!

Final and I on our new mounts!

So I realize I have been severely lax in posting State of the Raider posts lately.  I realized this beyond a shadow of a doubt when we killed Garrosh this evening, and I came to notice that I have not posted a raider update since my first SoO post, where we killed up to General Nazgrim in our first week.

So now, time for the big long picture-post update!

Waiting for pull - still working on Malkorok

Waiting for pull – still working on Malkorok

Malkorok down in 25man!

Malkorok down in 25man!

Spoils of Pandaria down in 25man!

Spoils of Pandaria down in 25man!

Thok the Bloodthirsty down in 25man!

Thok the Bloodthirsty down in 25man!

Siegemaster Blackfuse down in 25man!

Siegemaster Blackfuse down in 25man!

Paragons of the Klaxxi down in 25man!

Paragons of the Klaxxi down in 25man!

We flew through the raid dungeon faster than I expected.  Then, we spent about two raid weeks working on Garrosh.  Finally, tonight, before our break even, we killed Garrosh!

Heart of Y'shaarj

Heart of Y’shaarj

Garrosh Hellscream

Garrosh Hellscream

Garrosh Hellscream down in 25man!

Garrosh Hellscream down in 25man!

Time for heroics!  Hopefully I will not miss too many of them.  🙂

~ Effy

SotR: The State of Healing

SotR - The State of Healing

Last weekend, I was leveling my Druid (AKA pretending at being a boomkin BADLY) with my friend Finalflame’s Priest.  We managed to get both to Level 90, and then we began piecing together the best iLevel gear we could find for his Priest.  We fairly easily got her to LFR, and I accompanied him with my Paladin, Lazheward.  (Yes, yes, the gender-reversal did not escape either of us.  lol)

I quickly remembered how much I enjoy healing on my Pally!

Granted, his gear is a tad high for Mogu’Shan Vaults LFR (about 501), but there were fights where he pushed nearly 40% of the overall heals, similar to my Monk’s recent LFR adventures.  Even with his gear, this surprised me.

Final was doing incredible as Holy for his entry-level gear, but OOM’ing himself regularly.

As the day and the LFR’s progressed, we chatted about what I was doing, what he was doing, what could be improved.

Healing with Laz

Healing with Laz

Many a time, Final bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to heal.  (Sorry!)  This, while I continually cast spells, and rarely stopped even when I had to move out of bad on the floor.

That was when it hit me…

On my Monk, I never stop casting unless I have to.  I am maintaining Renewing Mist.  I am Uplifting.  I am filling in with Soothing Mist to keep my Chi flowing.  I am using Thunder Focus Tea on cooldown to lengthen my Renewing Mist ticks.  I am using Mana Tea on cooldown, along with my Soothing Talisman of the Shado-Pan Assault, to manage my mana.

But my Monk is a constant flow of casting/spending: mana -> Chi -> Mana Tea -> mana -> etc.

Healing with Iree (Fist-weaving)

Healing with Iree (Fist-weaving)

I then thought back onto some of the frustrations of doing LFR with my Shaman recently.  During T14, when I was still raiding on my Shaman, I excelled with single-target healing.  I rarely touched my Healing Rain or my Chain Heal.  This had carried over with me from all of Cataclysm – I enjoy the triage healing that was introduced there.  But I realized in recent LFRs, that that is not performing as well as we move further through T15.  I bemoaned this fact to our guild’s now-sole Resto Shaman, Walterpayton, and he agreed with me, but admitted that Unleash Elements -> Healing Rain -> Chain Heal -> Chain Heal -> Chain Heal was his new mantra for Shaman healing.  I tried this, and quickly realized that the 8k Spirit I was carrying over from T14 was NOT cutting it in the transition from single-target to AoE.

It was a harsh reality, but one I am trying to adjust to.  Because, honestly, the game is not going to change around me – I need to evolve with the game.  I realize and accept this.

Healing with Effy

Healing with Effy

For my Monk, there was no adjustment, she is a completely new character to me.  I have no habits to carry over from Cataclysm.

But I healed in Wrath, and I remember the style of healing from then.  So let me try and impart some of that mentality onto those who may have also happily pushed it aside for triage, or did not raid before Cataclysm:

  • Blanket your heals (AoE, AoE, AoE and manage those HoTs)
  • ABC – Always Be Casting
  • Anticipate hits/Pre-heal
  • Snipe those heals!

Admittedly, I didn’t miss heal-sniping, but it has become clear to me over the course of T15 and playing my Monk, that it is once more the way of things.  Uplift and Revival are my lifeblood.  A well-timed cast of either is the only thing currently keeping me competitive as a 25man raid healer.

SotR - The State of Healing - Sif

Maybe 10man healing is different, but I can only speak to 25man.  I do not heal in 10mans near enough to comment there.

In our 25man, it is a regular occurrence for the Druid/Monk/Shaman healers to be topping the meters, and our Priest/Paladin healers to be further down.  I have finally started to figure out why – HoTs and AoEs.  Priests and Paladins tend to thrive in the triage situations with more powerful single-target healing and bubbles.

So let me try and give some more specific pointers for the tactics mentioned above:

  • Druids: Keep HoTs rolling – use these to your fullest advantage with other spells
  • Monks: Keep Renewing Mist rolling on as many targets as possible – Uplift often and fill-in with Soothing Mist to keep your Chi up
  • Paladins: Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn as often as possible – weave in single-target heals as needed
  • Disc Priests: Always be casting Smite/Penance – Spirit Shell/Prayer of healing on all parties as you can and Cascade/Halo on cooldown
  • Holy Priests: Prayer of Mending, Circle of Healing, Holy Word: Sanctuary and Cascade/Halo on cooldown – weave single-target heals as needed
  • Shaman: Healing Rain on cooldown – Chain Heal and Healing Stream Totem while HR is down

Note: Smart Heals are your friend.  They will target and respond quicker than you can.  (Except in the annoying instance they instead heal a pet.  heh)

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am a firm believer that keeping the raid (especially the tanks) alive is the primary goal of the healers in any raid encounter.  But as we progress through T15, especially through Heroics, I am seeing more and more need for large amounts of raid-wide healing.  This lends credence to the idea of focusing on AoE heals, constant casting, and smart heals.

I also realize that this means we probably all need more Spirit than we originally think we do.  But with gear increasing dramatically, especially with another tier coming soon, this is less of an issue than I originally thought with my Monk.  She hit 10k fairly easily, and has been increasing in small increments beyond that since.  I consider myself to be good at managing my mana and continual casting is no issue, but I find that Spirit buffer to be good for clutch/oh-shit healing AKA Surging Mist.  (It is also really nice for fistweaving, but that is beside the point.  heh)

Just remember, and I personally find this the bitterest pill to swallow: blanketing heals and constantly casting will equal a large amount of overheals.  There is really no way around this, and it is just the name of the healing game as it currently sits.

These are my thoughts, discovered through trial and error and play on my various healers, and I hope they prove to be some useful pointers to others.

~ Effy

AND I have happy news to add to this State of the Raider post: a new Heroic kill!

Heroic Iron Qon down in 25man!

Heroic Iron Qon down in 25man!

SotR: A Call to Arms!

SotR - Call to Arms

Undying Resolution, an Alliance guild on Elune, is looking for more raiders!  We raid 25man on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights from 8pm-11pm EST, and are currently 4/13 in Heroic Throne of Thunder!

We are looking for ranged DPS – specifically Shadow Priests, Balance Druids, and Warlocks of all flavors.

Those interested can fill our an application on the Undying Resolution forums, message me here (or on Twitter: @Effraeti), or contact a member in game.

~ Effy

Here are some of our most recent Heroic kills!

Horridon

Horridon

Ji-Kun

Ji-Kun

Tortos

Tortos

SotR: The UR Summer Party

SotR - UR Summer Party - IreeniaThe irony is profound, and most certainly has not escaped me…

So yesterday morning, I posted about how I finally feel like a Monk healer.  I finally feel I am growing comfortable with Ireenia and am starting to consider her my main.  I finally feel I am succeeding.

Last night was Undying Resolution’s summer party.  Amongst promotions and awards for attendance and a grand ol’ game of lawn darts (which OMG, I won!), I was surprised with the most wonderful gift possible from all of my guildies – an award for Most Improved Raider.  (Which I tied for and shared with Otoka!  Grats, O!)

That's me, under the pile of chopped meat (which happens to be Ranico), to the left of Mindy.

That’s me, under the pile of chopped meat (which happens to be Ranico), to the left of Mindy.  You can just barely see my hooves!

I am not sure if anyone else realizes how much this – something that might seem small – means to me.

I came back to WoW in October, after a hiatus of about six months.  At the time, there was no question in my mind that I would come back on Effy, even if that meant I would likely be DPS’ing instead of healing.  Effy has always been my main and my raiding toon.  The Shaman was the one and only class I really wanted to raid on.  Heck, Effy has been my persona since I started playing WoW, and especially since I started blogging.

DPS’ing did not last (thankfully) – I am horrible at managing myself in a raid as a DPS – and I started healing on Effy again soon after returning.

I was ridiculously happy to be raiding again, and more importantly, to back with my guild, all of whom I adore to no end.  ❤

I raided on Effy through the first tier of MoP, and then made the very difficult decision to switch to a Mistweaver Monk, because we were growing heavy on Shaman and completely lacking in a reliable Monk healer.

It was a trying switch for me, having only raided on my Shaman up to that point.  It was awkward.  I missed my totems.  I missed my Shaman utilities.  I missed the buttons I knew where and how and when to press at precise times in nearly any situation.  I looked to the internet, and came back with little to help me, the Monk class being very new still.  Unlike my Shaman, there were not heaps of reliable sources from gamers who had been through trial and error and multiple tiers and expansions and changes with the class.

I felt very much on my own when I started out.

But I looked at other Monks I ran across in dungeons and LFR.  I obsessively monitored Skada.  I used the Armory.  I searched out every shred of information there was to be found, even if most of it just seemed to be more wordy tooltips of my skills and glyphs and talents.  I am even trying to get more comfortable with World of Logs and Raidbot/Epeenbot, and compare myself more there to other Mistweavers.  I wrote my best in slot lists and guides (of which I plan to write more, as well).

Through all of it, I have come to understand my Monk better.  I have learned to perform with my Monk better.  I have even started to field questions from guildies and friends about how to play a Mistweaver.  And believe me, as someone who has only played one for about five months now, and has had to kind of rebuild myself around the class, that too is awkward for me.  Who am I to tell someone else how to play this class?  Even if it is just simple guidance.  Usually a skill A or skill B and why sort of thing.

Momma Effy making an appearance and showing Iree her support.

Momma Effy making an appearance and showing Iree her support.

Last night felt like a justification of my progress.  I felt like my improvement was noticed.

Now, I know I should not need justification.  I know I should not need people’s approval or commendations.  But I do.

I talked about Shaman, because I could rehash the findings of others, and add my own small two cents about what worked best for me within those general parameters.  I did not rock the boat on anything anyone else had already tried and tested.

Everything about my Monk has felt like me giving my own two cents.

My Monk has felt like a project.  A project that many times over the last several months I felt I was failing at. I cannot begin to explain how many times I wanted to run back to my Shaman.

But I kept pushing.  I kept tweaking.  I kept adjusting what did and did not work for me.  What managed my mana best?  How much Spirit?  What put out the most heals in crunch times of heavy damage?  When were the best times to use my cooldowns?  What rotation would keep me healing from start to finish, instead of scraping the bottom of my mana pool halfway through a boss fight?  What stats were most important for my Monk healing style?  What talents did or did not work for me?

And I have noticed a remarkable improvement in my performance.  I have noticed I can manage my mana through most situations, and even when I do hit bottom, I have the means to keep going.  Because if I don’t run myself out of mana sometimes, how else am I going to learn?  I have become comfortable enough to vary my rotation depending on the situation, even to the point of Fistweaving my way through most normal mode fights.

I still have much more to do, but last night, I came to the realization that I am not the only one who has seen an improvement.

Thank you, Undying Resolution.  🙂

~ Iree?

SotR: Where Do Baby Dinos Come From?

SotR - Where Do Baby Dinos Come From - Dire Call

I promise there is nothing R rated in this post!

Funny story: While working on Heroic Horridon, one of the issues to come up was from where the pink dinosaurs from Dire Call spawn.  Well, they spawn right from Horridon of course.  (So apparently Horridon is a she?  Sweet.  Add her to the list of leet female raid bosses, right up there with Blood Queen and Lady Vashj.)  This trail of thought could lead to nothing but trouble, and something along the lines of the title of this post.  ❤ my guild.

I had another major epiphany during last night’s raid.  I am finally feeling like a Monk healer.  As opposed to a Shaman healer playing a Monk.

Ireenia is finally starting to feel like my main.

SotR - Where Do Baby Dinos Come From - Walking Eugene

This is a pretty big deal for me.  Cuz honestly, I have been fighting it for – what? – 5 months now?  Ever since patch 5.2 went live, anyway.  I kept telling myself Ireenia was a temporary raid toon, bore of a need in my guild’s healing roster.  And eventually I would go back to Effy, who would always be my main.

Maybe it’s better gear.  Maybe it’s the guides I have been working on.  Maybe it’s finally creating a BiS gear list of my own.  Maybe it’s just purely a matter of time.

My Monk is feeling comfortable.  I am getting more confident.  I finally feel like I know what I am doing.  And admittedly, I am having fun.

Certainly, I miss my Shaman terribly.  I miss her utility.  I miss her totems and managing them.  I miss her healing style.  I miss my Effy.

But Ireenia is finally coming into her own.  She and I are making good progress with Heroics, and I imagine there is still plenty of room for me to improve.  So it is all upwards from here.  🙂

I will aim to post another State of the Raider, with some more actual content to it, soon.

~ Effy (Ireenia)

I also realize I have been horribly slacking on kill updates!  I never even posted our Lei Shen kill!

25man Lei Shen Down!

25man Lei Shen Down!

On to Heroics!

On to Heroics!

25man Heroic Jin'Rokh down!

25man Heroic Jin’Rokh down!

We have been alternately working on Horridon and Ji-Kun in Heroic, while killing Heroic Jin’Rokh weekly.  Summer always complicates the roster, and so we have been slowly making progress in both, but without a kill yet.  But I have high hopes we will finish off Horridon tonight!

Ketchup

Ketchup - Isle of Thunder

I really do not care for ketchup a great deal – a very tiny bit is good with french fries sometimes, though, hash browns are the one thing I really do like with ketchup – at least, not enough to so casually post with a title seeming to praise it.  It is more the fact that the English language never fails to amuse me.  Words with similar meanings, words with similar spelling, words with similar pronunciation.  So many ways to play on words.

I figured an update was long past due, my blogging has been far too infrequent lately.  But with the new job, I am just trying to stay focused where I need to be.  So far, things are going great.  My stress and anxiety are relatively low.

Speaking of focus, I have developed a spreadsheet for my Level 90’s.  Something to track who’s killed what world boss, who’s VP capped, who’s done their LFR runs.  I am even using it to monitor if I harvested and planted my farm on a toon, if they did their daily profession research cooldown, and if they did a dungeon that day.  It worked better than intended last night, Monday, the day before reset, when I am usually scrambling to figure out who needs what.  A Nalak raid formed, I knew just which toon to bring.  Sha and Galleon were next, and I knew at a glance what toons to switch to.  A few LFR runs were made, and I went on a different toon each time, based on what we queued for.  🙂

Ketchup - Effy and Effy

Effy and Effy waiting for an Oondasta pull

And Nalak, the World's Worst Gatekeeper (Not only have a 20manned this guy, but this guy just lets adventurers stroll right past him into his master's lair!)

And Nalak, the World’s Worst Gatekeeper (Not only have I 20manned this guy, but this guy just lets adventurers stroll right past him into his master’s lair!)

In fact, I should just show you what the spreadsheet looks like, eh?

Ketchup - 90s SS Cropped

Oh, but while I was taking that screenshot, I realized how very awesome screenshots are from my desktop with two monitors!

Ketchup - 90s SS

HUGE!

And yes, that has been my desktop since around Christmas.

Anyway…  Even though I did not cap all my 90’s, I felt it kept me aware of what I should be working on.  And I say “should” very emphatically.  Because despite all my organization, I spent most of this past week on the wee Hunter.  Actually, she is not so wee anymore, she is 78 already.

DING!

DING!

One thing that is awesome about a Hunter, is taking great time and care to determine what pets I want to run with.  (The next step in this being to of course create a transmog outfit around the chosen pet.)

I have always liked bug pets.  The silithids and wasps are some of my favorite.  (I have mentioned before that I have a fond curiosity for the Silithids and their lore, since it was them who in fact got my interest with WoW lore started.)  So it did not take me log to decide that the rare wasp in Silithus, Rex Ashil, was the pet I really wanted.  He is unique, the only wasp of this color, and in fact the only pet with this color.  WTB silithid pet in this awesome blue-grey!

Ketchup - Rex Ashil

After picking my wasp up, I was talking to my guildie, Otoka (whom we all call simply O), and realized I had intended to find the perfect battle pet to name for him.  Hunter pet?  Even better!

Just for the record, apparently you cannot name a Hunter pet with only one letter.  So I could not name my wasp “O”!  So I settled for “Oh” and had a giggle with O about the philosophical significance of the name.  Not only does it give a name, but it is also a pondering noise, thus naming one for their deep thoughts.

Rosa and Oh

Rosa and Oh

Rosa’s outfit to match her pet is still a slight work-in-progress.  I cannot be 100% happy with boots, it seems.  Silly humans and their FEET.  What the heck?  I am thinking of boots much like those she is wearing above, but more blue.  I think I can get some from a Dragonblight quest.  I like the black outfit with the Level 70 PvP bow very much, and I have received several compliments through whispers while doing dungeons with her.  🙂

Ketchup - Sifaol

Among doing lots of dungeons on my Hunter, I have just about caught up Sifaol, my Disc Priest, gearwise.  I have not been heavily focusing her, she progresses slowly, but she has made remarkable improvements.  I realized soon after getting her a few LFR pieces that I am quite fond of her in some current content gear.  This is even after being so appalled with her quest leveling outfit not too long ago!  Sure, the outfit is a mixture of various things (and the staff is a re-skin) and I would really like some MSV shoulders, but it looks quite good on her.

Even as a human!

Even as a human!

I missed Atonement, I really did, and I am thoroughly annoyed that as soon as I start getting back into my Priest, Blizz is nerfing Atonement (in 5.3).  ><

Ketchup - Guild Achievement

Oh!  And we also got a random guild achievement the other day!

State of the Raider: Guilty Conscience Edition

Now, so that I do not feel so guilty about falling behind, I am also going to post a condensed State of the Raider!  (AKA progression and kill screenshots!)  I left off last on our Durumu kill.

The Mysterious Case of the Lemming Blobs

SotR - The Mysterious Case of the Lemming Blobs

A strange sight, in the halls between Durumu and Primordius

I cannot quite get the oddity of this out of my head.  These lil guys just endless ooze down the hallway, and then throw themselves off the side!  It is an endless cycle of lemming-like suicide, so it seems, as they somehow flow back up to start all over again.

Poor blobs.  You should live!  There is so much out there!  Don’t give up!

Seriously, though.  GG Blizzard at giving us something to wonder about.  I cannot figure out the purpose of these guys for the life of me.

Primordius, the Visually Pleasing

Progression and Pretty Colors

Progression and Pretty Colors

Maybe it is more my guildies and their spell effects that are visually pleasing...

Ooh, shiny!

Primordius down in 25man!

Primordius down in 25man!

Okie, so maybe it is more my guildies and their spell effects that are visually pleasing… Either way, I was tickled by the colorfulness of the shots.

Primoridus, after what seemed forever on Durumu, went down in one shot.  He is a nifty boss, I like the idea of mutating into a Saurok for a short time.  His monologue, though, is a bit creepy and very Gollum-like.  I think this guy went down so easily because one thing that motivates my guildies is telling them “X will make you do more damage!”

I Sing the Body Animus

SotR - Dark Animus Before

Dark Animus down in 25man!

Dark Animus down in 25man!

Dark Animus was an okie fight.  It was pretty much all or nothing.  Either we wiped early because adds got out of control, or we killed him.  Once it is just the boss, it is a pretty straightforward tank-and-spank.  Yah yah, there is other stuff going on, but there were no transitions, it was really just a burn.

It did take us some organization and some practice to manage all the adds.  It was a different kind of fight, certainly.

Ice, Wind, and Fire… and Iron Qon

SotR - Iron Qon

Iron Qon down in 25man!

Iron Qon down in 25man!

Huh, that is my best progression shot from Iron Qon?  Bad Effy.

Iron Qon was a challenge, especially the final burn phase when it is just him.  As a healer, I got to take advantage of the preferential treatment as #1 priority to use a Warlock gate out of the wind storm.  There were several times I just did it with some well-timed Rolls, though.  It was cool to have four quite different phases in that fight.

Twin Consorts and the Anti-Climax

SotR - Twin Consorts Down 2

Twin Consorts down in 25man!

Twin Consorts down in 25man!

Take that as you will in its purposeful double meanings.  After all of the… commentary… over the Twins and their “place” in Throne of Thunder, they went splat with a disappointing quickness.

Thunderstruck by the Thunder King

SotR - ToT

SotR - Starting Lei Shen

SotR - Starting Lei Shen 2

Lei Shen, however, is not disappointing.  He is proving to be just what an end boss should be, many phases and many mechanics… and when things go bad – MANY ADDS!  Unfortunately, this means that he is a nightmare as an LFR boss.  I think a mechanic or two could still use some tweaking, or even removal.  But on normal, he is perfect, and though he is not dead yet (Sunday was our first full night of work on him), I do not think it will be too much longer and when he dies, it will be a great accomplishment for my guildies and me.

~Effy

SotR: Durumoomoo and the Maze

Durumu down in 25man! - Undying Resolution is now 7/12!

Durumu the Forgotten down in 25man! – Undying Resolution is now 7/12!

I realize it has been rather quiet on the blogging front, especially in terms of raiding.  Fear not!  It is not for lack of interest, progress, or anything else of a negative nature.  It is mainly more a shift of my attention.  I have been working on a story or two when the muse wills it, as well as playing WoW quite a bit.  The stories are coming along slowly, but somewhat steadily.

With six 90’s and a Druid ever so slowly making her way there, I have been keeping busy with daily profession cooldowns (and farming them mats to fund them), my farms, capping valor, and gearing toons.  In addition to my Monk my Shaman, Pally, and Death Knight all valor capped this week.  My Monk is coming along nicely, and holding her own well in 25man.  My Shaman has received a few minor upgrades, and is already exalted with the Kirin Tor Offensive.  My Pally is coming along in his Holy set, and almost high enough for ToT now.  My Death Knight is just high enough to start doing ToT LFR, should I renew my courage.  (This past week, I was dragged into a normal Terrace, which was my first raid tanking experience so far this expansion.  It went well enough that I allowed myself to be dragged into the T14 LFR’s as well.  Already at 480, DK-Effy is ready to move on, as long as I can continue my momentum.  heh)

But there has also been much raiding.  We are now raiding three nights a week – Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday.  It is boding well for progression, even when a fair snag caught us in the form of a giant malevolent eyeball named Durumu the Forgotten.

I am seeing a fascinating, if not temporarily frustrating, trend forming with Throne of Thunder: a seemingly exponential increase in boss mechanics.  With the help of DBM and a few attempts under my belt to solidify what all the garble that is spewed at me from videos and boss descriptions all mean, I have little issue with numerous mechanics.  I will find my happy place, my healing nirvana, and the fights will progressively smooth out.

What created a temporary wall for not just myself, but our guild in general (all of whom I have come to trust in their raid proficiency as well) was not the mechanics of Durumu, but the visuals.

Debuffs that need cleansing – check.  Debuffs that need to NOT be cleansed – check.  Stuff to not stand in – check.  Stuff TO stand in – check.  Stack up, spread out – check.  Periods of high incoming damage – check.  Adds – check.  Heck, I have even learned how to kite a boss and function a construct.

But maze… well, I have the idea of it down.  I know what I need to do.  But can I always SEE it?  No.

The Durumu encounter, most specifically the maze, seems to me a practice in compounding frustration.  The maze is a purple mass, not even a solid purple mass mind you, on top of a floor of similar shimmering purple mass.  It seems the very purpose of the maze is not to instill a feeling of a mouse chasing the cheese, but more a nightmarish run through an ever-changing corridor of dead ends while being chased by imminent doom in the form of a disintegrating eye ray.  To add to this feeling, the maze is difficult to predict and often seems to change on a whim at the beginning of its formation.  Even while attempting to outrun the approach of your untimely death, the maze often ceases to open sporadically, adding to the anxiety of that beam catching up.

Honestly, all of this I can handle as a raider, but one – the near impossibility of actually being able to decipher the maze at times.  The progressive opening of the maze is fine, what I refer to is more the difficulty of differentiating between maze-wall, maze-floor, and “good” floor that can actually be walked upon without killing you.  It is already bad enough that you can effortlessly walk from floor to “wall” with nothing stopping you.  (Except the obnoxious complaining of GTFO.)

UR downed Durumu this week, making us 7/12, but I can honestly say that it will be a long while before this fight feels comfortable for me as it currently is.

Alas, on to Primordius!

~ Effy

EDIT: It seems the maze was hotfixed today.  Uhm, hooray?  At least UR downed him before the nerf.  heh  But I still HAD to get in my rant!  😛  So excuse the rushed usage of my “post” button.

SotR: Snakes in a Raid

Sneaky lil buggers...

Sneaky lil buggers…

The last week of Tier 14, I raided on my Monk.  It gave me a chance beyond LFR to finally test whether all my hard work would prove fruitful.  With the Monk healing style, and my former incarnation as a Resto Shaman, the idea of healing a 25man raid was daunting.  I can blanket a 5man or a 10man with Renewing Mist without too much difficulty.  But would its target limit severely gimp me with the other 15 or so people it would NOT hit?

This and many other questions plagued me.

The biggest of those “other questions” being: How gimp am I going to heal while still in a few blues against my guildie healers who are all starting to get Heroic gear?

Luckily, they were all fights I was familiar with on my Shaman.  I might not know them on my Monk, but I did know where and when pushing myself would be needed and where I could sit back and topoff.

And I held my own.  And I stayed alive on Heroic bosses.

Our last week of Tier 14 was a positive one for me.

Fast forward another week to patch 5.2, and the introduction of the Isle of Thunder and the Throne of Thunder…

I'm doing dailies, really

I’m doing dailies, really

I am currently 7 for 7 on doing Isle of Thunder dailies with my Monk.  🙂  This is partly thank Finalflame for, as he and I have been keeping each other going with these, even when we really don’t want to.

And no, I do not pet battle while I am grouped.  😛  I save that for my other toons doing dailies.

BTW, the Isle of Thunder dailies are great for dual-boxing – no collection quests!  I love it!

Oh, sorry.  Raiding post.  Raiding post.  Focus.

First Impressions

A first look at Jin'Rokh

A first look at Jin’Rokh

I really wish I would have taken this screenshot a few seconds before, when Jin’Rokh first came into view and and started flailing around and conjuring lightning to try and impress us all.  Okie, probably to scare us all.  But I was impressed.  And I was momentarily captivated away from my PrintScreen button.  Darn you, Jin’Rokh.

Let me first say: I read and watched strats for four boss encounters before raiding this week.  As soon as I was done, I think my head exploded.  Four strats at once was a lot to take in, especially for someone who knows she will not retain it once I walk into the room.  That was a lot of mechanics to keep straight.  Thank goodness for second monitor, and pre-pull reminders.

As usual, a pull or two and I was good and settled into my dancing and healing rotations.

JinRokh came to us fairly easily.  The only real important factor is puddles AKA when to stand in them and when not to.  Oh, and what stuff to run away from.

I was not impressed with my healing output, but my gear still sucks.  And in my defense, I LITERALLY ran Terrace of Endless Spring SEVEN times this week trying to replace my last few blues.  The Elder Charms from the treasure trove scenario were great – if only they actually amounted to shoulders.  I suppose I cannot complain too much – Ireenia got her Sha-touched staff, Jin’ya, and her Spirits of the Sun Trinket.

I am still so undergeared.  <cry>

Horridon Trash Aside

So I am not sure how I missed taking any screenshots of the trash between Jin’Rokh and Horridon…  Oh yah!  I was too busy dying to snakes, stacking healing debuffs and being punted to my death by wind plus invulnerable spirit trolls!  <blink>

It was like fighting Ultraxion trash with ridiculous damage and debuffs while on an elevator while Lei Shi is having a tantrum.  Yah…  Oh, yah, plus stealthy snakes.

I truly believe this is Blizzard’s big middle finger to everyone who has ever complained about anything.  😛

This past week, it was scary and amusing.  I imagine in another few weeks it will just be ridiculously obnoxious.  Oh, and I cannot WAIT to see this in LFR this week.  /sarcasm

Horridon

Horridon

Horridon is a super cool looking, giant blue and purple triceratops!

His fight has a crapload of mechanics to pay attention to.  Basically, we learned what the basic mechanics of all troll triceratops are – double-swipe and charge.  This actually helped me later in the week with rares and the scenario that opened the second part of the Isle!

The biggest two things to remember with triceratops fights:

  1. They are dragons AKA never stand in front or behind them.
  2. Sidestep/strafe the charge to win!

So apparently fighting a gigantic dinosaur is not enough, and there need to be hordes of trolls to deal with as well.  More specifically, four tribes of trolls.  Oh, and each of those troll tribes have different annoying mechanics – quicksand, stacking poison debuffs, swirling frost orbs of death, and warbears, respectively.  Of course.

I had no real difficulty settling into my heals here either, once the majority of the mechanics that affected me and where spikes in damage would land were identified.

Horridon counted for the remainder of our Wednesday night raid.

Ironically, Thursday night – we one shot him!

The Elder Council

The Elder Council

The rest of Thursday’s night’s raid was learning the mechanics of the Council of Elders fight.  If I had previously thought Horridon had a lot of separate mechanics to manage during the encounter… it was NOTHING compared to this fight!

This fight is a council of four trolls.  Each of the trolls have their own abilities they cast throughout the fight.  Also, none of the health pools are shared as we have grown accustomed to with fights like Omnotron and Stone Guardians.  Its more like good ol’ Karazhan and the Moroes fight.  (Which, sadly, I never saw as current content, but I bet it was epic.)  The main difference was that killing them fairly evenly was necessary.

To add an interesting kink to this fight, we see the return of a troll we might fondly remember from Mogu’Shan Vaults – Gara’jal!  (He did say he would be back!)  He appears in spirit form, and spends the fight possessing each of the four council members one at a time.  While possessed, the council members have DIFFERENT abilities, similar to but different from those they have throughout the fight.  Doing 25% of their damage to them is what it takes to kick Gara’jal out of his current host.  It is pretty imperative to do this quickly, as the council members gain a dark energy the longer they are possessed.  If their energy reaches 100, they begin to do massive amounts of damage to the whole raid.  Ouchy.

This fight, I tested out my single-target healing ability.  I was actually pretty impressed.  I was able to keep Ranico up through a lot, with the occasional help of a tank cooldown for when he was stunned.

The council counted for the remainder of our Thursday night raid.

Ironically, Sunday night – we one shot them!  (Am I seeing a strange pattern here?)

SotR - Snakes in a Raid - Tortos

Tortos

Tortos is a giant stone turtle.  (And he’s BLUE!  “I have a turtle, he’s blue!”)  He appears to be stuck in the wall, which makes him a little ornery.  He gets even more ornery if no one is in bite and clobber range.  hehe

Ouchy

Ouchy

It took a few attempts to get the spinning turtles under control and to correctly time punting them at Tortos to interrupt his raid-wipe mechanic – Furious Stone Breath.  (Yah, that was one-shotting me!)  But once that was under control, the attempts progressed quickly to a kill.

There were not a ridiculous amount of mechanics to this fight, but personally, I found this fight most frustrating.  There is a lot of stuff to move out of – spinning turtles and falling pieces of ceiling, mainly – which makes it necessary to not only watch your feet, but also watch throughout the room.  The spinning turtles tend to move around the room very erratically.

As a Monk, the majority of my single-target healing is focused around my Soothing Mist, which is channeled.  This already makes movement more complicated than I am used to.  Add on top of that, it also jerks the positioning of my screen around when my target is moving or when I change targets to someone standing in a different spot.  I found it HUGELY disorienting in this fight, and it caused me a great deal of headache and also resulted in my largest number of deaths on any of our bosses.  😦

But Sunday night, Tortos went down and made for an exciting end to our first raid week in Throne of Thunder!

~ Effy

And now for kill shots!  Undying Resolution downed FOUR bosses in the first week of Throne of Thunder!!  Awesome job, everyone!

Wednesday - Jin'Rokh down!

Wednesday – Jin’Rokh down!

Thursday - Horridon down!

Thursday – Horridon down!

Sunday - Council down!

Sunday – Council down!

Sunday - Tortos down!

Sunday – Tortos down!

SotR: Reflecting on Raiding

I have a bad feeling about this.

I have a bad feeling about this.

Wednesday night was interesting, getting onto my Shaman for real for the first time in about a week (AKA last Thursday, when I last raided).  Of course, there were other times that I logged her on over the week, mostly to ferry around my Monk.

BTW, total aside here, two-person mounts have just about been negated in their usefulness by CRZ.  I spent more time refinding my toons (yay for phasing on top of it!) and remounting my Monk on the back of the rocket than I did actually flying.  Because every time I entered a new zone, it would kick Ireenia off my rocket, to oh-so slowly parachute her to the ground, where I would have to turn around, land, and commence searching.  I might just have to go back to my previous way – both on separate flying mounts and liberal use of the /follow command.  Of course, that always has its problems too.  Namely, toons with different flight speeds.

Geez, Blizzard, accommodate my altoholicism and need for two accounts and playing both simultaneously!  😛

Anyway…

This Week in 25man

Wednesday night was a quick clear of Terrace (just Lei Shi and Sha of Fear, as there was a preclear of the other two encounters Tuesday night).  Then, we headed over to Mogu’Shan Vaults for some heroics.

Heroics are awesome.  But there seems to be a general air of disappointment over MSV heroic loot.  C’mon now – it’s HEROIC!  But I guess since it is really not better than Terrace normal, there is a disconnect here.  Why was there a need to present multiple levels of iLevel in one Tier?  I realize Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring were released later.  But staggering the iLevels so as to make MSV heroic loot so meh just does not make much sense.

Anyway, I digress again.

We once more killed Stone Guardians, which is finally starting to feel like a farm fight.  We also downed Feng again, which is still feeling very progressive.  After our break at 9:45 or so, we worked on Gara’jal.

When he started explaining the fight, Z first commented something about what a cluster the fight would be and OMG enrage timers.  Well, yah, the first few attempts were messy – it was our 25man’s first time in front of the boss.  And yah, we hit the enrage timer a few times.  Calling both DPS and healers to go into the spirit world for 25 people over Vent was a tad chaotic.  Luckily, the healing team got ourselves coordinated better, and we stopped missing having a healer in for each totem.

Once that happened – BAM!  Dead boss!

Last night, we returned to MSV, and worked on Elegon on heroic.  They added a very interesting mechanic or two to the heroic version.

  1. There is a break in LoS between the platform (starry form) and the outside ring (non-starry form)
  2. The Celestial Protectors have the ability to one shot the entire raid!  Basically, three DPS and a tank have to soak the damage of Total Annihilation outside the starry form platform to avoid this.  Also, if someone without a cooldown steps onto the outside, yah, one shot.  So no clearing stacks during Total Annihilation!

No kill on Elegon yet, but we hit the final phase (and the enrage) a few times.  Lots of DPS checks this tier, I am noticing.  It is more enrages that slow our progression than anything else.

So yes, we are now 3/16 in heroics for the tier.  And this is all pre-nerfing!  And pre-5.2!  Hooray!  😀

My Performance

Have I mentioned I really really hate heights? ><

Have I mentioned I really really hate heights? ><

At first, being on my Shaman felt awkward – I have been Monk healing lowbie dungeons for a week.  The Monk skillset is totally different than other healers.  There is no little-slow/big-slow/fast trifecta of heals.  It is truly a different feeling way to heal.

But quickly I got into my groove, and as usual, I got into my comfortable happy place of healing.

Even against two Pandaren Resto Shaman, I felt I did well.

I even made a small change that seems to be working really well for heroics, at least when there is some stacking involved.  Vixsin wrote a great post over at Life in Group 5 about some Resto Shaman “Best Practices”.  It is a great post, and I recommend it to anyone who is Shaman healing this tier.  In fact, I always recommend Vixsin, because she has great info every tier.  🙂

The biggest tip that was a “Whoa, I did not know that!” for me was #2 – using Unleash Life right before Healing Rain.  This is huge!  I cannot explain how huge.  It actually encouraged me to use Healing Rain last night – a lot.  And it was noticeable.

Some of the other things I already practice regularly – HST on cooldown, Chain Heal on Riptide targets, and 100% uptime on Earth Shield (I try and make a habit of recasting it at about 3 charges remaining).

The others are things I try to do, but it does not always work out that way – not overwriting Riptides, Ascendance or HST with SLT, and healing the Unleashed Fury target.

As one in a large healing team in a 25man raid setting, I rarely pair healing cooldowns.  Sure, there are situations that require it, but they are far fewer when you have 6-7 healers.  It is more often that we pair two healers with one cooldown each, in that case.  So I try and spread my cooldowns out along the fight, especially for when that unexpected “oh crap” moment hits, and you are trying to prevent deaths or salvage an attempt before too many people die.

Riptide and Unleash Elements with Unleashed Fury are things I usually use on tanks.  But even tanks have healing lulls.  And sometimes we only have two tanks for a fight, or even just one.  I would rather have Riptide rolling on the tank(s) regularly than to try and fight to have exactly three rolling at all times.  Ideally, yes, but in reality, there are sometimes bigger priorities.

I do not claim 100% efficiency as a healer.  I aim for it, certainly, but I am not going to lie and say “OMG, I totally always do everything exactly perfect, and to be a good healer so should you.”  I certainly never said I was an infallible healer.  🙂

Reflecting

I know this is going to be a hard transition for me.  I have been raid healing on my Shaman for about three years now, and it has always been her first and foremost in my WoW raiding.  There have been times where I did not raid, or times where I alt-healed on other toons.  But my Shaman has always been my raider.

I started in ICC, in 25man PUGs and 10man raid teams.  I remember killing Lich King, and that is still one of my biggest gaming accomplishments and sources of pride.  There was not a great deal of “raiding” in my past gaming, and it was my first time killing an endgame boss.

I got comfortable, and then Cataclysm was a big eye opener.  I remember the start of Cata, and people saying it would weed out all the Wrath-babies.  Well, I am a Wrath-baby.  I do not mind admitting it.  ICC was no faceroll.  Yah, once I had epics, heroic dungeons really were, but not raiding.  Yah, healing was different.  It was Chain Heal all the things for Shaman, but I still excelled at what I did.  I watched other Shaman go OOM halfway through fights and sporting twice the overheals I had.  I still gauge myself more in that way than HPS numbers.

Cata made me learn my Shaman all over again.  It was not about pushing out huge heal numbers – it was impossible at the beginning of the expansion.  The only way I could manage myself was with Healing Wave as my primary go-to heal, and it seemed like three times the damage it healed went out in the time it took to cast.  But Shaman got stronger through the expansion, and by Dragon Soul, we were healing gold.  I still swear that Dragon Soul was built around Resto Shaman toolkit.

Mists of Pandaria has been a whole different learning experience.  It is somewhere between Wrath and Cata as a Resto Shaman – it is not lol-spam-AoE-heals nor is it a harsh triage setting where you dangle all of your party members over the abyss with minimal hit points while praying no one steps in something or misses an interrupt.  Our totems have changed, and though I miss having their comforting presence always around me, I think it was good for our quality of life.  They feel more like choices and less like the one situation I vividly recall, where Effy found herself kicked from a dungeon because she spent two trash pulls with no totems down.  (lolwut)

But with knowledge, I grow comfortable.  And at some point, I think Effy and I grew too comfortable.  I am still learning, sure.  The Unleash Elements+Healing Rain trick is one example.  But at the same time, I am feeling like I did at the end of Cata, where Effy maintains herself, and has few upgrade prospects at the moment.

So, in many ways, I am looking forward to a change.  Even the totem change is not equal to a change in healer classes.  Especially the vastly different Mistweaver Monks.  I am looking forward to seeing raiding through a different pair of eyes (though, still from the same role).  I am looking forward to once more being on that edge where I am learning and growing as a healer more than healing on instinct and habit.

I cast a now-commonplace Earth Shield on Ranico Wednesday night and had a melancholy thought that accompanied it.  I whispered him my thought, “I am going to miss ES’ing you.”

Instead, I will be casting Life Cocoon or Revival or Uplift on him in times of need, and healing him alongside my Jade Serpent Statue – a thought that is still one fraught with annoyance at its Shaman-like qualities.  But the Serpent and I are coming to an understanding.

Ireenia is Level 87.  It won’t be too much longer…

~ Effy

And here are our most recent Heroic kills!  Feng and Gara’jal!

Heroic Feng down in 25man!

Heroic Feng down in 25man!

Heroic Gara'jal down in 25man!

Heroic Gara’jal down in 25man!

BTW, for anyone reading this via a blog reader, I updated my theme and added a header!  Now with more dragons!

SotR: Garalon

SotR - Garalon

My last two State of the Raider posts have been about some interesting bosses with interesting mechanics – Sha of Fear and Amber-Shaper Un’sok.  Well, I kind of skipped over another boss with some interesting mechanics – Garalon.

Garalon is a gigantic Kunchong, same as the one you raise up from a wee bug in the Klaxxi questlines.

I skipped over Garalon, because let’s admit it – Sha of Fear is just way prettier!  No seriously, though, I was getting pretty frustrated with this boss and my place in it.

I mentioned in my Amber-Shaper post that Tier 14 has me feeling I have been very sheltered throughout my raiding career as a healer.  Well, Heart of Fear in particular is certainly shattering all my previous ways of seeing things.  I have been ripped out of my happy lil comfort zone and stuck into places I never expected to see a healer go.

For Garalon, that means boss kiting.

Our first kills, both on 10 and 25man, we had Hunters and Warlocks kiting the boss.  It was the week after our first 25man Garalon kill that things changed and the healers were asked to step up and dance.

I was pretty nervous.  I failed a lot at first.  This compounded my anxiety, because I kept thinking to myself, “We killed this guy last week, and now I am holding us back from killing him again!”  ><  No pressure!  Really!

Though, I am probably way harder on myself than anyone else…  heh

Kiting is not too bad.  It is a delicate balance between tiptoeing and leaving a nice little, closely dropped line of Pheromone puddles and… OMG!  He’s going to swipe my face!  Runrunrun!

And that is really all there is to it.

Oh wait.  There is also that tiny part about trading the Pheromones.  🙂

The first person to smack Garalon (assuming someone does not run at him and “steal” them first) gets the Pheromone debuff.  This is what causes Garalon to chase you around the room.

(I am going to stay far far away from the implications that holds…  The phrase “Ook you in the dooker” comes to mind.  Okie, I am done!)

While you have the Pheromones, you want to make sure you are:

  1. Not right in front of Garalon and his swipe mechanic – that hurts!
  2. Not standing in the Pheromone trail you leave behind you – that hurts too.
  3. Keeping yourself healed.
  4. Dropping the Pheromones as close together as possible, right up against the wall of the room.
  5. Not moving Garalon in crazy circles.
  6. Warning the raid when making a big turn.

** Basically, while kiting, your goal is to keep the Pheromones away from the raid, keep Garalon moving in a calm and steady manner, and to not die. **

5 and 6 are courtesy to the raid, and to avoid placing a raider suddenly in Garalon’s No-Zone – the big purple circle directly underneath him.  Going under Garalon means him doing a sudden Crush.  Yes, he already does this when Pheromones are swapped, but triggering too many – and at unexpected times – is unnecessary strain on your healing team.  (We only have so many lifesaving cooldowns!)

As a Resto Shaman kiting Garalon, I try to stick to heals I can use on the move:

  • Healing Stream Totem on cooldown, as always
  • Unleash Elements on myself
  • Riptide maintained on myself (unglyphed it has a decent front-end heal)
  • Other heals as needed (but only as needed, since they are not instant, and holding still to cast means standing in puddles and taking more damage)

While kiting, I do not worry about raid healing.  I do not worry about healing throughput.  I do not worry too much about anything except staying alive and dropping the trail correctly.  Honestly, I am too far from most of the raid to be of much use anyway.

When things are going smoothly, the healing needed for the Pheromones kiter is minimal.  I try not to use Spiritwalker’s Grace here, but I will in a pinch.  When I am not kiting, I try and help the kiter out too.

Swapping the Pheromones is the tough part, as it is a TOUCH mechanic.  You cannot hit a button.  You cannot cleanse it off.  The two people have to touch.  And they have to touch only long enough to pass the Pheromones ONCE.  Staying too close for too long will pass it again.  And it will mean consecutive Crushes.  And then, it still needs to go back to the new kiter before the debuff stacks too high on the former kiter and becomes too much to heal.

A perpendicular meeting seems to work best.  The person picking up the Pheromones heads straight the kiter, intercepting them on their path around the room.  Then, once the pass is made, the person dropping the Pheromones sprints away from the wall.  (Ghost Wolf works great here.)

Dying with Pheromones is no fun either.  They stay on you unless someone comes and picks them up.

All in all, kiting Garalon as a healer is something to be learned for the benefit of the whole raid, because Garalon has a harsh enrage timer.  It is difficult to interact with the raid or Garalon while kiting – and impossible to stand in the Sweet Spot on active legs for the extra DPS.  Even with healers kiting, we flirted heavily with the enrage through all of our earliest attempts, and I am sure it will be the same with Heroic.

Healers, your fellow raiders need you to step up!

~ Effy

For the Icy Veins guide to Garalon, see here.

And because I slacked off and did not post this last week…  Here are our most recent new kills!  Which were actually a week and a half ago.  ><

Grand Empress Shek'zeer down in 25man! That makes UR 16/16!

Grand Empress Shek’zeer down in 25man! That makes UR 16/16!

 HARD MODES!

HARD MODES!

HEROIC Stone Guardians down in 25man! Pre-nerfs!

HEROIC Stone Guardians down in 25man! Pre-nerfs!