Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays everyone.

A short post to close the year. I'll be in my family for a few days, so no new post before next year.
I wish you a very nice end of year, and see you in 2010, cheers !

Healing Through: Icecrown Citadel - Lord Marrowgar

Another Healing Through post, focusing this time on the first boss of the Icecrown Citadel raid: Lord Marrowgar.
This post addresses both the 10-Man and 25-Man version of the encounter. The heroic version is not available yet (and won't for a few more months), I will update this post later for that.

Be happy fellow Holy Paladins, this is a fight for you, Beacon of Light will shine as never during this fight.

The path to the boss: trash mobs.

Some will say the trash up to Marrowgar are harder than the boss himself. Though this could be slightly too much to say, the packs are relatively interesting and some sort of control should be used before you aoe everything to death. More precisely the undead spider creatures should be cced by priests and killed separately after the other parts of the packs are done.
Pro-tip: the spiders on the sides of the first room can be soloed by using a Death Knight Death Grip ability

Now ... there is a "fun" surprise with these packs, the 4 Giant Bonelords in the walls of the 2 rooms before Marrowgar can activate and aggro you somehow randomly. I've seen only 3 activating, sometimes the 4 of them, sometimes during the first pack, sometimes not before the last one. It seems to be completely random, but to always occur when you're already fighting. A big emote will warn you a few seconds before one activates, and you'll have to deal with it quickly, as it's damage and aoe silence can be devastating.

If you're lucky you will only have one Bonelord then the periodic aoe, that silence you if you were casting, can be easily avoided and your healers won't have problem keeping the tank up. If you have multiple Bonelords, you will have 3 tanks to heal (the 2 Bonelords tanks and the tank dealing with the pack you were fighting) and 2 aoe silence to consider. On my about 10 runs through these trashs, both in 10 and 25-Man (I've done some reputation grinding runs :p), we've only survived 2 times to a double Bonelord and never to a wonderful 3 Bonelord bash.

To sum-up, cc the spiders and always have a spare tank ready to grab the random Bonelord.
Pro-tip: Most of the time, if more than one Bonelord activate while you're still fighting mobs, try to finish your pack quickly if you can and run for the exit, unless you have very good tanks and healers more than one Bonelord while already fighting a pack means raid wipe. Once they have reset, they can be pulled separately while they patrol.

Boss Description, Abilities and Raid composition.

First of all I invite you to read the boss description on WowHead, and WowWiki. And then you can go to the strategy guide on BossKillers, and the video on Tankspot - Project Marmot. Always basic reference for raid bosses. All of that will give you a good idea of the fight if you've not already experienced it.

The 3 mains abilities from Lord Marrowgar are: Saber Lash, Coldflame and Bonespike Graveyard. You can add to them his Bone Storm which is a sort of alternate phase of the fight.
He will use the first 3 during the tanking phase, but only Coldflame when he whirlwinds during his Bone Storm.

You will need 2 tanks in 10-Man and 3 tanks in 25-Man, just to share the amount of damage done by the Saber Lash.
Pro-tip: Lord Marrowgar's damage has been reduced in 10-Man and the life of the tanks isn't as in jeopardy as before, especially after a Bone Storm, but they still should be very reactive in the use of survival cds when needed.

The fight uses 3 healers in 10-Man and around 6 in 25-Man, more healers in 25-Man makes survival easier but the amount of dps is key as quick dps anywhere in the room is needed because of the Bonespikes.

The only tricky part of the fight is the end of the Bone Storm. When Marrowgar finishes it, he resets his threat table, and he is untauntable in 25-Man. Your tanks need to be quick at grabbing him and move him back near his original position. During this time, any aggro reducing ability is very helpful for healers (Fade obviously for priests, but using a bubble at that time as a paladin is a good choice to allow you to spam heal right from the start of the phase).
Pro-tip: Keep in mind that as soon as he stops his Bone Storm, he will starts his Saber Lash again .Tanks should be quick to gather, and use survival cds is needed. All other raid members should stay more than 10 meters away from the tanks to ensure none eats a Saber Lash whiled he's moved.

Focus on Healing 10-Man.

Pro-tip: in 10-Man the number of raiders is limited, you need to pay attention to the fact that at least 3 raiders should be out of the proximity of Marrowgar and in range of Coldflames, if you have fewer Coldflame targets he will use Coldflames on your tanks.

Most of the damage of the fight comes from the Saber Lashes. But there will be high short duration damage on the victims of Bone Spikes and random medium damage on the whole raid during the Bone Storm phase.

Two healers should be dedicated to the 2 tanks, usually the Main Tank will be a shield using tank to reduce the damage as much as possible as he will be hit more often. If you have a Holy Paladin in your raid (very much advised for this raid) he can heal one tank and beacon the second one, allowing the second tank healer to help with Bone Spikes and people being lousy at dodging the Coldflames.
The third healer will be healing the raid and the victims of Bone Spikes. He should react if ever needed to heal the tanks if one of the tank healers is in a Bone Spike.

Holy Paladin point of view:
I've been using a Flash of Light build during all ToC, this build is not enough for Icecrown, at least not enough for dual tank healing on Marrowgar. I'd advise you a pure Holy Light build for this boss, especially as the Aura Mastery and Divine Guardian talents can really help your raid if used at the right times.
Pro-tip: positioning
As a Holy Paladin, healing while moving isn't your best asset. If you're assigned to tank healing, you will have to use Holy Light, which is a longer cast and will make you very bad at avoiding Coldflames. If you get close enough to Marrowgar, you will be inside the "Coldflame safe zone" where the tanks and all the melee dps should be. As long as at least 3 members of your raid are out of this zone to provide Coldflame targets to Marrowgar, this is the safest spot for you to be healing from.

In 10-Man you'll be a tank heal for sure. Ask for another healer to help you if one tank goes low, or much more importantly if you get taken into a Bone Spike. You should be able to do most of both tanks healing by yourself alternating between Holy Lights and Flash of Lights.
Pro-tip: Remember to judge Marrowgar regularly for your Judgements of the Pure, and keep your Light's Grace up too.

Take care to the tanks after a Bone Storm, remember to refresh your Beacon of Light, use your Devotion or Frost Resistance aura (depending if you have a Paladin tank or not) and you should be set for Lord Marrowgar. There isn't much else to say about the fight :)

Focus on Healing 25-Man.

The fight is not very different than it is in 10-Man. The main difference is the amount of damage, that makes every ability from Lord Marrowgar much more deadly. Notably, the Saber Lash will hit for 300% damage instead of 200%, and the Bone Spikes will kill someone in a matter of seconds if not healer.

3 Healers should be dedicated to the tanks, this is mandatory as one can very probably get Bone Spiked several times during the fight, preventing his healing for a few seconds. The 3 other raid healers should be dispatched in the room and on Bone Spikes heal duty with the random slow people on Coldflames.

Holy Paladin point of view:
You will be affected to tank healing most probably using your Beacon of Light on the main tank and healing one of the Saber Lash tanks with mostly Holy Lights. The amount of damage is superior and you will have to nearly spam Holy Lights for most of the tanking phases, especially when one of the other tank healers is in a Bone Spiked.
The difficulty then becomes mana regen. Divine Plea will be necessary, unless you have external mana regen (Inervation or very effective Replenishment with an insane amount of intellect).
Pro-tip: The ideal time to use Divine Plea is during Bone Storm, but be sure to survive. Pop an Aura Mastery to reduce the damage on the raid and about 15 seconds before the end of the whirlwind use Divine Plea. Then if up pop a Divine Shield and a Divine Guardian, trying to be sure that Divine Shield will be up for the first 5 seconds after the end of the Bone Storm, so you can bomb heal the tank without risk of pulling aggro.

Grats on your downs, and have fun with this fight, very frustrating until most of the raid is reactive enough, easy and crazy fun afterwards :P

As always, I hope this article was helpful, and I'll see you again in the next Healing Through.

Edit January 27th

We changed somehow our strategy on Marrowgar concerning the raid positioning. I guess it's probably a better strategy for more casual (read less reactive) raids that have issues with the switch on the Bonespikes.
Now we do everyone into the Coldflame safe zone, which means everyone is close to Marrowgar, slightly inside his hit box.
This has several advantages:
  • nobody can get both into a Bonespike and a Coldflame, which avoid strong damage on anyone that could die before being freed from the spike;
  • nobody has to dodge Coldflames, that helps all classes with casting times, both healing and dps;
  • everyone is close together so switching dps on Bonespikes is faster as all dpsers can dps the spikes, melee dps included.
That strategy will result in Coldflames being cast on your tanks, that will have to communicate to move from left to right when they get flames under them.
We experienced easier kills like that. So if you have issues with people dying on the spikes/flames or raid healing having difficulties with keeping everyone topped and then people dying during the whirlwind, try it too, it could be easier for your raid too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Icecrown Citadel advance

We're in, after a first advance last week up to the Gunship Battle, we've gone through it this week with no problem on Marrowgar or Deathwhisper, and we've been able to make our first tries on Deathbringer Saurfang after having had too much fun with the jet-packs during the Gunship battle, all of that in 10-Man.
Ok, I know a lot of others have already cleaned all of that, I know some could say it's not that hard, but we're mainly a 10-Man guild and we're not 25-Man geared for most of us. I'm relatively happy with our advance. The first week was really a revival of the Ulduar period "Oh my god raiding is hard, but it wasn't so hard in Naxxramas". But the second week and now the third have been ok with people being more serious about the raids and hence things going much much better. I blame edc normal for having been way way too easy and the hard mode so much harder that we couldn't bring enough people regularly to seriously advance in it.

Anyway, Saurfang is a baaaaad guy ^^ I'm sure it's a lot more hectic in 25-Man but in 10-Man the hard part is that you can't lose anyone until the very end (or at least the last 5%). We need everyone to heal / dps the blood beasts and dps/tank Saurfang.
We used a 2 tanks / 3 heals / 2 melee dps on Saurfang / 3 dps on beasts or Saurfang group. Once we got the positioning and dealing with the beasts ok (no hunter for traps but an elemental shaman doing all the jog with earthbind totems and push backs), we were able to grind Saurfang down.
Our best try left him at 10%, the hard part is that nobody in the group should lose his concentration until the very end. One heal missed, one blood beast not cced/dpsed fast enough, one tank doing an aoe on the blood beasts pop, everyone of these can be the cause to a lot of blood/life for Saurfang and result in a wipe.

Even if we didn't down Saurfang yet, everyone enjoyed the fight, it is a fight that requires a nearly perfect execution from the whole 10 people in the raid, which is a real change for a normal mode, and one we liked.

On a side-note, I'll try to post a Marrowgar Healing Through guide tomorrow, as we got this fight nearly perfected in 10-Man and we've tried it 2 nights now in 25-Man (we decided the raid alliance needed some 10-Man experience before we go there in 25-Man again, too many slow movers ;p).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It has been a Busy week.

Sorry for the lack of post, I've got a cold, a lot of job and I'm busy trying to push through Icecrown Citadel.
I know that for most of the raiders ICC could look dull, especially if they are full ToC25 and are doing ICC10, but for my small raiding guild even ICC10 is not at all won.
We have had two wiping nights in 25 on Marrowgar with the guild we allied to to reach the 25-Man cap, people aren't reactive enough mostly. I blame Nax and ToC for having been too easy with any kind of reactivity issue.
We also wiped in 10 Sunday to finally get the right set of people/motivation to push and down Marrogar and Deathwhisper last Tuesday. But I must say that trying to organize all these raids while being sick isn't the easiest of things.
Anyway enough complains, posts will hopefully resume next week with a Healing though Marrowgar and a post about Holy Paladin healing macros that I want to write for some time.

Have a good raiding in ICC everyone.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Healing Through: Halls of Reflection

This is the first post of a series I'm starting and will try to update regularly. Healing Through will compile my healing guides for instances and raid bosses. I'll try to target everything that I found hard, or when I have nice tips to give.
Healing Through will mostly be healing through an event as a paladin. I hope the tips can help other healers, I'll perhaps extend it to Discipline Priest and Druid if I find some time ^^

Healing Through: Halls of Reflection Heroic (and Normal)

After a few experiences in Halls of Reflection as a healer (3 times normal, 2 times heroic) and discussing it with a friend who did it as a dps and healer, I think this instance is going to be the next nightmare of healers (5-Man wise).
I guess some of you that tried it on heroic know what I mean. I'm going to try to point out the difficulties and what to expect/do during the different parts of this instance.

Pro-tip: during the whole instance all mobs are undead, don't forget Holy Wrath, it stuns mobs for a few seconds, can prevent a wipe, especially if your tank needs 2s to pick-up a group of mobs.

Pro-tip: Cleanse is mandatory (seriously :p) during most of the instance, so don't go into Halls of Reflection without an add-on to help you like Decursive (up-to-date on curse add-ons website).

Phase 1: The Gauntlet

The instance starts with waves of ghosts attacking you, several at a time. You have to defeat 5 waves to get the first boss, 5 more for the second boss and then you go to see the Lich King.

I think these 10 waves are the hardest part of the instance for the healer. The reason is the random aggro, the fact that your tank will have a very hard time maintaining (or even gaining) aggo on the casters/distance mobs, and the sheer amount of heal you'll have to do to keep the aggroed dpsers alive (and you).
To say things simply, don't try HoR heroic if your tank is not good at gaining aggro and keeping it on several targets at a time. A tank able to silence caster opponents is the best. I think paladin tanks shine in this instance.

How to not turn crazy during the gauntlet?
If you do it "the basic way" and your group stays in the middle of the room, it'll be hard. It can work in normal (I did it like that) but it'll certainly not work in heroic. The reason is that the ghosts will aggro the closest person, damage you or your dpsers (squishy) resulting in you healing a lot, taking aggro from several mobs and being ganked to death in like 2s.
The solution is to use "line of sight" to force the mobs, and even the casters/distance to get to your group and especially come in reach of your tank. For that you have two choices.

Positioning your group.
You can try to stay in the entrance corridor, it'll still require your tank to go out and pick-up the casters, or you to heal him get aggro and go from left to right of the corridor to use line of sight and force all distance mobs to come towards your tank (who should be between them and you).
The other solution is to hide in one of the alcoves on the side, where the two first boss ghosts are. You can have everyone hide in the side of the alcove, wait for the mobs to come, and your tank just has to pick-them up right here. It's the easiest way, just look-out for aoe casters that hurt!

What else do you have to expect?
First several mobs have debuffs, and your party will be debuffed a lot (magic/poison I'm sure, I don't know about curses they are not displayed on my decursive). It's hard to cleanse & heal all the time, I advise you to leave the debuffs and concentrate on healing when anyone goes low.
Pro-tip: *always* keep your Beacon of Light on your tank at all times, even a few seconds without healing can result in a dead tank in heroic.
Now there is a very very nasty debuff, rogue ghosts use a poison that reduces healing by 50%, if you leave that on your tank he'll die very fast even with a Beacon. So you have to cleanse the tank at all time, if you let several debuffs on him, when he'll get the poison it could require you 3 or 4 gcds to cleanse remove it, and he'll be dead by then ...
Now last but not least, the healing aggro. Ok you forgot it even existed, it'll be reminded to you the hard way here. If you use one of the los positioning techniques, the mobs will all come towards your group. It's perfect if your tank can pick-up all of them before you have to heal, but it will rarely be the case, as they won't reach your group at the exact same time. If you have to heal him before all the mobs reach your group (very probable) then you'll have the aggro when they come close. And the aggro of 3 mobs in heroic will get you "dead in 2s". In the end your life is in the hands of your tank, if he's fast and able to pick-up the mobs before they reach you you'll live, if not you'll die on each wave ... I experienced the "rez" each 2mn with a bad tank, and I swear I'll not pug that instance again XD
Pro-tip: paladin consecration is the hottest thing ever invented to protect a healer, and don't forget to use Divine Protection, Hand of Protection ...etc on yourself.

Boss 1: Falric

Now if you can manage the waves you'll be able to face the bosses. Rejoice, they are way way easier than the waves, from a healer perspective. They still hit hard and require reactive cleansing though.

Falric is the first boss, he has two nasty abilities:
Impending Despair - Causes Despair Stricken, stunning the target for 6 seconds, if not removed after 6 seconds. Magic effect.
Defiling Horror - Inflicts 2,500 (4,000 in heroic) Shadow damage every 1 second for 4 seconds.

Impending Despair only requires a cleanse, but don't forget it, if your tank or you get stunned 6s, you're asking for a wipe.

Now, and especially as a paladin without any hot or proactive healing like shields, Defiling Horror is the worse part of this boss. Every 20s or so, Falric will fear your whole group and deal strong shadow damage on everyone.
Pro-tip: remember to switch to shadow protection aura when he engages.

Your whole party will be hit for 10K (16K in heroic) shadow damage while you can't heal. If they are not full-life they could be dead before you get out of fear. And the boss then immediately resumes hitting your tank who will have suffered the same shadow damage as everyone. You then have 20s to heal everyone to full again before the next fear.
The "easy" way to survive this fight is to be sure that your tank will have a Beacon of Light when the fear ends and start casting Holy Light on your whole group one after the other. One Holy Light should be enough on each member, perhaps with a Flash of Light in heroic. If your tank is a little low at the end of the fear, start with a Holy Shock on yourself.
Pro-tip: if at any time someone goes too low during a fear, bubble and heal.

All in all Falric isn't very hard once you get the timing right.

Boss 2: Marwyn

Marwyn is the last step to be rid of the waves, so you don't want to wipe on him :P
Happily he's not very hard, even easier than Falric is you don't miss on your cleanses.

Marwyn three main abilities are:
Obliterate - Inflicts 18K (26K in heroic) Physical damage, mitigated by armor.
Shared Suffering - Inflicts 4K (6K in heroic) Shadow damage every 3 seconds for 12 seconds. If dispelled, splits the remaining damage equally between all players. Magic effect.
Corrupted Flesh - Reduces maximum health by 25% (50% in heroic) for 8 seconds.

There is a little "trick" here. If you don't cleanse the Corrupted Flesh on your tank, he could die of an Obliterate is you don't keep him full life (most tanks will be reduced to around 20K life by a Corrupted Flesh on heroic difficulty. So you have to cleanse. But there is Shared Suffering that will do about 5K damage to everyone in the group if you're fast on cleansing it.
What should you do in the end? Well, the answer is relatively easy, only cleanse your tank at all times. It could result in group damage, but as long as everyone is topped that won't be a killer. That implies you'll have to heal the target of Shared Suffering but with a Beacon of Light on your tank, this won't be a problem, healing two people at once is easy for a paladin even without hots.

As a side-note Marwyn also lands shadow zones under you from time to time, who's not used to that now, just move away (yes you too Mr.Tank ^^).

Phase 2: The Running Away from the Lich King

Now you'll killed Marwyn. Good job, you can have fun running with the Lich King and Frostmourne right behind you.
This phase is much easier for you as a healer, just be cautious that the abominations have a cleave and a frontal aoe, so stay on the sides and out of direct contact if you can. Your dpsers could get hit from time to time be quick on the heals and keep an eye for a saving Hand of Protection.

This part of the fight is much more focused on the dpsers, exactly as the first part of the instance is hard on the tank and healer.
Your dpsers have to be able to down all the mobs of a wave before the Lich King reaches you, it could seem easy during the first two waves, it's surely not as easy on waves 3 and 4.
Now, the mobs are not arriving exactly at the same time, and if any dps (or you) get the aggro on an abomination and your tank doesn't pick-it-up in time, you'll have a corpse on the ground (they nearly OS any non tank character). These big flesh puppets also cleave and have a frontal aoe ... so if the dpsers are the ones in charge of the success, your tank still needs to be very quick and aware.
Be happy, this phase should really not be so hard on you compared to the gauntlet, but it doesn't mean it'll be easier for your group.
Pro-tip: try to help your dpsers if you have some free time, paladins do have good dps abilities on undeads. Especially always use Holy Wrath as soon as it's out of cooldown and don't fear to use consecration as soon as your tank got aggro on a whole pack.

You're done?
Enjoy the cut-scene, you deserve it, especially in heroic (with good gear the normal difficulty should not pause you any problem).

See you soon for more Healing Through series.

note: There is a nice article on about the perspective of a tank during HoR, and I think what he says about it is right on the spot and will give you an idea of all what a good tank has to do during that instance gauntlet.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Icecrown Gating, Second wing on the 5th.

Thanks (as always) to Boubouille from MMO-Champion for this news, and to the player who sent it there. You can read the details here, but the basis is: the second wing of Icecrown Citadel with Rotface, Festergut, and Professor Putricide will open the 5th January. So we have 4 weeks (probably a bit less spent raiding with Christmas and New Year during that period) before the next wing is opened and more bosses are given to us.
Boubouille speculated that the next gating will probably be shorter, or we would not have Arthas before April (and hard mode can't be unlocked before you beat Arthas on normal). He's probably right, 2 to 3 weeks is probably the time we'll have to wait during the next gating periods.

Until the 5th, we can have fun with Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, Gunship Battle, Deathbringer Saurfang in the entrance of the Citadel raid. But don't forget the new instances, I think the bosses there will be a fun challenge even for moderately geared players.
More news about the patch when I'll have been able to play it, the servers just came up again in Europe and I won't play before tonight :)

If you're experiencing problems, look at the list of known patch issues also present here. And don't forget to update your add-ons beforehand (like when you're patching ;p).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Patch 3.3 Tomorrow ?

Still nothing official but everyone would be more than surprised if it wasn't. MMO-Champion is even already announcing it today. With a complete patch list and a list of all their articles about 3.3 (with probably all you could like to know).
For paladins you can find a review of the changes on Blessing of Kings.
Let us all cross our fingers for tomorrow, because no patch tomorrow will probably mean no patch before January.
It's now official. Happy hunting in Icecrown Citadel everyone.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Are you getting ready for Icecrown, moneywise?

Everyone are expecting patch 3.3 to hit the live servers next Tuesday (Wednesday in Europe). As such I guess all raiders are getting ready to jump in the new raid and have some fun with new bosses, a new instance, some welcome trash (trash gives deepness and atmosphere to a raid). We're all eager for some novelty, the end of the expansion is approaching and as such we've all maxed mostly all what we wanted, crafts, reputations, ... and most of us have too many lvl 80 to ever want to hear Barrens again before Cataclysm hits.

So the question is, what are you doing this week to be all ready to jump in Icecrown Citadel next Tuesday/Wednesday?
I made sure to have several stacks of Flasks in advance (about 20 to 30 / char), food in profusion, gems ready (at least uncut ones when I have a jeweler on the server), enchant mats stockpiled. And I'm not even trying to abuse the patch release market, I just prepared some stocks for myself, so that I don't have to pay an arm and a leg on the ah during the first week of the patch release.
As always with new major content patches, you can expect a big increase in the ah prices for a few days/weeks. Gems, enchants, glyphs, pots, food, everything needed for raiding and for new loots will be greatly needed.

What I'm a bit afraid of are the prices. They're already relatively high right now, despite the lower number of raiders (bored by the long wait for IC and the lackluster ToC). The only reason I see is the lower number of players in general farming the mats, due to ... the lower number of players as a whole.
And if prices are already high right now (like more than 50 gold for a single Frost Lotus) how high are they going to top in like one week after the patch release? Well, we'll see, even if I had to pay a good amount of money to stock my consumables, now I'm secured and I really encourage you all to do the same before next week :P

See you all in Icecrown!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Grumpy Tarutaru Post.

It's been a while since I grumbled about anything so you get a slightly ranty post today. You'll probably think all these posts and topics are kind of non related but I find a general link between them, for me :P
It's all about WoW, mmos and how things changed for me since my first big mmo experience: Final Fantasy XI Online.

I've been reading some interesting posts lately on Casual Hardcore. First a post from a few days ago about What I Really Think Is Wrong In WoW, I was sort of expecting a post about easy game or micro transactions or something like that, but got a post from Kyrilean saying that the problem for him is not the game, it's the players. I especially liked a sentence from his post: “It’s too bad that a majority of people are like water and take the path of least resistance.”
That made me think a little about my view on that, and I mostly agree with him. Though for me, the game changes sort of encouraged that "easy go lazy" behavior.
Then I read today's post A Better Class Of Player still on Casual Hardcore that discussed a very interesting post from BBB Attunements – your mileage may vary. Mostly these posts comment about the removal of attunements and how it possibly affected the "skill" of raiders and the game immersion.
I'm not sure that attunements are a "gage of skill" but they sure meant that a player had done some instancing with this character and should know his ways at least a little. Now I completely agree with the fact that immersion is lower now than it was before. Wrath of the Lich King contains some epic questlines, and on the alliance side Ulduar is introduced in a wonderful way ... if you take the time to do these quests, and if you know where they are. I agree that the content is still here, and players can still do the quests, but if you hit 80 while finishing Sholazar Bassin, are you really going to clean Storm Peaks and Icecrown quests, when you have all these Argent tournament dailies to do and these heroics to run?

It happens that I also listen to No Prisoners, No Mercy, a very entertaining podcast about all things mmo. Don't ask me why but I play most of the mmos the hosts of this show play: I'm playing wow, tried warhammer (until level cap ;p), I'm playing aion (on a cleric you can't change yourself) ... I recommend you to listen to their Show 47 with a very interesting interview of Keen from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog.
Now how all of that is related to WoW ?
Well it is not directly related, more to a general state of the big mmos at the moment. Whether WoW or Aion, or even Warhammer, the player is guided, there is this sort of invisible hand pointing you towards what you should do now and pushing you to reach "The End Game". In these 3 mmos this end game is all you seek, in a sense the leveling part is just a few weeks grind to reach the "real game".

So what are we going to ? Well I don't know for you, but it got me thinking about what player I am, what I like in the mmos I play now, what I miss perhaps from games I played before. I took the famous Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology that I did a few years ago and found me being a SEAK:
When I started mmos I was more an EASK, so I changed to be more social than achievement driven, though I still like exploration a lot. I think I can see that in my daily play, if I still stick to WoW it is because of the people I play with, if I went to play Aion it is because some of these friends moved there. I like new games and new universes, which is why I played Warhammer, why I played Vanguard, and LOTRO and so many others. But in the end it is the community that makes me stay in a game when I've finished exploring it enough for my taste.

When I read my lines it make me think about some posts from Larisa, that I read nearly every day ^^. She's a gnome mage, and I'm still a Tarutaru white mage somewhere, I think that's how I'm linked to her liking of immersion and socialization, even though she plays the grumpy gnome so well some days, better than I do.
I miss FFXI sometimes, as I miss Vanguard (which community was killed by SOE before summer with a stupid extension patch, somehow as they already killed SWG before). These two games contained a lot to do in an open sandbox context. They were harder than WoW or Aion on the leveling side and reaching max level, or even a high level was worth of praise in these games. The time you spent leveling also made the "trip to max level" much more worthy as it was a real experience. Strangely the gameplay in both of these games didn't change a lot from say level 20 to max. You did get a few new tricks but way way less than in Aion or WoW. You just refined your gameplay, and learned to adapt to new monsters, because the whole group gameplay was rich enough to not be grasped completely before you've got hours of grouping behind you.
In a sense you - the player - learned while playing, and as a healer your level wasn't your most important asset for grouping, it was your reputation as a good healer, or a good player whichever class you played.
What I also liked in FFXI and Vanguard were the epic quests in a sandbox (read open, free to do when you want) context. FFXI missions are huge epic quests that required groups to finish and often a lot of preparation. Vanguard contain a lot of questlines from level 10 to 50 that reward you with incredible items that you will keep for 10 or more levels ... but trust me anyone that has done the complete Infineum questline nows how long and hard it is. In these games someone that see you with these items knows how hard you worked to get them. Even if they are not max level items them mean something.
I could also use LOTRO as a great example for their epic questline that tells you a real story, but the lack of sandbox and the requirement for low level players in a context where leveling goes so fast sort of ruined that for me.

I think that's what I miss ... meaning. Give some feeling to what you do, have a sense of accomplishment when you achieve something. Give us real epic questlines, with real worth for a player be it an item, a special title giving you access to some place, anything that you can be proud to show and that means "That player was able to do that, or took all the time needed to reach that, and I so much want to do it too.".
I've not played Ultima Online for a long time, but back in the days (lol) crafting really meant something. You didn't have to do it, it was a choice (sandbox idea), but reaching master level was worthy.
Give us such things then you'll have put back meaning into doing something, more than throwing food at other players around a table and getting a "achievement" for that .... :P

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Icecrown Citadel raid loot for Holy Paladins

From a Holy Paladin view, what will be hot loot in Icecrown Citadel Raid ? That's the question I'm trying to answer here, starting with a list of all armor (plate only) & other items from the raid loot tables we have.
Discussion will come in later once we have more loot from the PTR.

That's a first compilation of Icecrown Citadel raid loot, taken from the PTR data you can get on MMO Champion loot post from November 20th, updated on Nov 26th.

10-Man (ilevel 251)
Sword Frost Needle marrowgar-10 -- hit/haste
Plate Feet Ancient Skeletal Boots marrowgar-10 -- crit/mp5
Plate Hands Festergut's Gaseous Gloves festergut-10 -- crit/mp5
Plate Wrist Bracers of Pale Illumination gunship-10 -- haste/mp5
Plate Legs Corrupted Silverplate Leggings marrowgar-10 -- crit/haste
Plate Shoulder Emerald Saint's Spaulders valithria-10 -- crit/mp5
Finger Signet of Putrefaction festergut-10 -- haste/mp5
Neck Soulcleave Pendant saurfang-10 -- crit/haste
Trinket Sliver of Pure Ice -- spell power, mana regen

10-Man hard (ilevel 264)
Plate Wrist Bracers of Pale Illumination gunship-10-hard -- haste/mp5
Finger Signet of Putrefaction festergut-10-hard -- haste/mp5
Neck Soulcleave Pendant saurfang-10-hard --

25-Man (ilevel 264)
Mace Trauma rotface-25
Shield Bulwark of Smouldering Steel marrowgar-25 -- crit/haste
Plate Head Faceplate of the Forgotten festergut-25 -- crit/mp5
Plate Shoulder Rusted Bonespike Pauldrons marrowgar-25 -- crit/mp5
Plate Waist Waistband of Righteous Fury gunship-25 -- crit/mp5
Plate Chest Rot-Resistant Breastplate rotface-25 -- crit/haste
Plate Waist Belt of the Lonely Noble trash-25 -- crit/haste
Plate Wrist Crypt Keeper's Bracers bloodprinces-25 -- crit/haste
Plate Feet Boots of the Funeral March -- crit/mp5
Plate Hands Fallen Lord's Handguards deathwhisper-25 -- crit/haste
Finger Ring of Rapid Ascent gunship-25 -- crit/haste
Finger Marrowgar's Frigid Eye marrowgar-25 -- haste/mp5
Neck Holiday's Grace festergut-25 -- crit/mp5
Neck Bone Sentinel's Amulet marrowgar-25 -- haste/spirit
Trinket Althor's Abacus gunship-25 -- spell power additional heal

25-Man hard (ilevel 277)
Plate Waist Waistband of Righteous Fury gunship-25-hard -- crit/mp5
Finger Ring of Rapid Ascent gunship-25-hard -- crit/haste
Trinket Althor's Abacus gunship-25-hard -- spell power additional heal

Emblems (ilevel 264)
Plate Chest Chestplate of Unspoken Truths -- crit/mp5
Plate Hands Gauntlets of Overexposure -- crit/haste
Plate Waist Lich Killer's Lanyard -- crit/haste
Cloak Drape of the Violet Tower -- crit/mp5
Cloak Volde's Cloak of the Night Sky -- crit/spirit
Trinket Purified Lunar Dust -- spell power, mana regen
Libram Holy Libram of Blinding Light

As a first rough analysis you can just take into account basic Holy Paladin facts, spirit is nearly useless for us, hit is marginally useful, mp5 is a useful but weak stat, crit and haste are good (and obviously int and spell power but all the items above have them :P).
This time I chose to order the items by 10-Man, 25-Man and hard (heroic) rather than by slot. I think it's easier for people to see quickly what they can have access to depending on their guild raids. On a common basis heroic items are remake with better stats of the non heroic items and 25-Man is half a tier better than 10-Man as always.
Hence mp5 is a plus, crit and haste are big pluses on an item. More in deapth analysis once we have more boss loot.

Last Update Nov. 26th

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trial of the Grand Crusader (ToC Hard), Guides & Tips collection

Trial of the Grand Crusader (ToC Hard)
Guides & Tips collection

My guilds are starting ToC 10 in hard mode, so I tried to compile a list of guides and tips from the web. I'll try to add my own inputs once I've done some progress in there, but for now here are the date I'm using to prepare my raids.

First I'll start with the collection of guides from BossKillers:
Northrend Beasts
Lord Jaraxus
Faction Champions
Twin Val'kyrs

Then the video strategies from Tankspot that can be found on their forum. They are not only videos but complete guides on their own.

And now several blogs I've collected information from and found informative.

Rhidach Heroic ToC guide, this is a complete guide full of info for all the encounters, 10-Man guide but most of it can be applied to 25-Man directly.
MMO-Champion Heroic ToC forum thread, lots of infos though you could have to dig in
Nymarie's Healing Guide to ToC, this is a 10-Man Disc Priest healing guide, not specifically hard mode oriented there are lots of tips that can be used
Joanadark post on Maintankadin, this post explains how you could improve your control on the aggro from the Faction Champions, where survival is key
Stoneybaby post on Big Hit Box, a guide about positioning during the Icehowl fight, or how not to be smashed against a wall

To end this post, please have a look at Morrighan's How to wipe in Trial of the Grand Crusader Guide, it's just plain fun.
A bunch of thanks to all those that took time to produce these guides and tip collections.
If you have or if you know any other guide for ToC hard, please leave a comment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Protadin for a weekend.

Ok, some friends rerolled and are now 80, which means they are hungrily doing heroics for badges. As tanks are always so hard to find for 5-Man, I happened to jump back into my tank set, turn my Righteous Fury once again, and go take some hits with them this weekend.
I forgot how fun it is to tank too, not look at green bars all the time and have some control and understanding of what happens around me (I'm much more aware as a tank than as a healer, more time to look around at least for me).
Now it's me, and when I do something I like to document, I've not tanked for more than 6 months and I wanted to read a bit about caps and all, if it had changed. That's how I found this post on Honor's Code, on his blog. Go read Honor's Protection Paladin stat caps post, it's full of all the details you need to know to itemize a paladin properly as a tank. As I'm only in my old Nax tank gear I'm far from that but if I gear more I'll aim for what he says.
Thanks Honor for the post, and great view about the Crushing Blows cap still being meaningful for us now as a Shield Block cap, even after they disappeared. It's great to be Shield Block capped and always at least reduce the damage.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Patch 3.3 Item Avalanche, Holy Paladin view

So I wrote yesterday about the beginning of Icecrown Itemization on MMO Champion, guess what ? There are a lot of news today, cheers to Boubouille !
  • Page 1: 5-Man loot table, normal & heroic, and Quel'Delar
  • Page 2: Emblems of Frost Badge Rewards
  • Page 3: Icecrown Citadel raid loot, 10 & 25-Man, and Tier 10 Armor sets (not many of them yet), and Ashen Verdict Reputation Rings rewards
If that's enough to make you drool, I don't know what you want. From what I've seen most items are pretty nice considering stats, we're back to the great stats allocation of Nax with ilevel 251+ items.

Just looking at the 5-Man stuff already makes me happy, there is nearly a full tanking set of ilevel 219-232 there, perfect to gear a new tank and bring him into IC 10. Also nice for my lazy ass that can't cope with raiding enough to itemize my 3 healers, especially with my loot habit :P

Now let us give a look to the Ashen Verdict rings. Healers will go for the crit/mp5 ring (Ashen Band of Wisdom) for sure, the other one having hit. But I'd have loved a haste ring, with the changes from my T7.25 (I still was using it until we started ToC 10 Hard ...) to a T8-9 combo I went from about 600 to 400 haste and I don't like that >.< But I should not complain, seeing this ring Signet of Putrefaction in Icecrown 10-Man ...

About the Emblems of Frost rewards ?
Nothing else to say, grab them ! (We'll have to wait for the tier10 to decide about the gauntlet but a haste/crit item makes me jump in my chair).

I won't start looking at the Icecrown Citadel items right now, we don't have enough of them yet and there are still some confusions between the normal and heroic mode loot. But expect a review early next week. Still I want to see my Blood Elf with that shield.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quel'Delar: The Sister Blade

This one I love, it's full of story, it's a cool long questline that brings you to all the new instances of Icecrown, and it reminds me of the old vanilla or BC questlines that were so epic (Black Temple access is one of my favorite).
So Quel'Delar is a blade, the sister blade of Quel'Serrar (which drops on Onyxia) and you can read it's story in this blue post.

The quest to get your weapon will be quite long, it starts with Reforging the Sword and finishes with The Purification of Quel'Delar which brings you to the very Sunwell on Sunwell Plateau (probably not the end of the raid itself or it would be one of the best quests ever, but make it nearly impossible to do for an unguilded player).

Once you finish the quest you'll be able to chose which incarnation of the blade you want (you can get a mace ;p) the 6 different weapons have been revealed by MMO Champion this morning, you can look at them on this post. They are all ilevel 251, which should be Icecrown Citadel 10-Man ilevel.
There is no question for me the one I'll get as a Holy Paladin is Quel'Delar, Lens of the Mind. It's a beautiful sword (I like swords) it has spell power, crit and haste, what else could you want ?
Even though a lot of Holy Paladins will have it, I can't wait to see it on my side instead of my non cool looking Onyxia blade. You can be sure you'll see a post and a picture here once I get it \o/

Icecrown itemization go go go

Ok, I'm all excited because the first item lists for patch 3.3 and Icecrown are out. Items are in the last PTR files, though I don't think they started dropping yet.
Anyway you can find the first lists on MMO Champion (your best source of wow news as always):
5-Man Dungeons loot lists (normal 319 ilevel, and heroic 332 ilevel),
Icecrown Citadel first loot list (I assume 25-Man from the 364 ilevel),
you can also add the Crafted Items list published a few days ago.
I'll start a review for Holy Paladins once we start to know on which boss the items drop (what I did for Ulduar).

ps: Ok, ok, I'm really as excited as everyone about these new shinies even though I tend to pass on loot in raids. I'm just an itemization and optimization nerd, at least on paper :P

Monday, November 09, 2009

What is a "Portable Hole" ?

So I happened to listen to The Instance #168 this morning (thanks Scott and Randy for entertaining me during this morning at work), and I couldn't help but grin as they joked about the new bag you can get from Haris Pilton in the World's End Tavern in Shattrath City: the Portable Hole. You can see a picture and all on MMO-Champion (as always your best source of wow information).
Ok if you're not an old Dungeons & Dragons geek you won't understand and probably laugh at the "Hole" part. But for all old table roleplayers like me, the portable hole is the best bag you can carry as a dungeon adventurer since the middle 70s.
Just another tribute of the folk at Blizzard to this ancestor of rpgs that is Dungeons & Dragons.

Circle of Healing for a Holy Paladin ?

Ok no, we're not going to get a new awesome raid healing ability, sorry. It's just an interesting project launched by Miss Medicina that you can follow on this page.
She wrote a questionnaire for all healers to give some of their views about their class and healing in general in raids (mostly).
Looks like Almaster from Lux Legis tagged me and as I liked reading other healers views, I'm adding mine :)

First a short introduction to my healing team. I have 3 lvl 80 raiding healers, they have very close gear, mostly because I use badges to gear all of them more than raid loot (not that I don't like loot but I really don't run for it unless nobody wants an item).
My experience with each of them is different though, I've played Shazalyn, my Holy Paladin, since the beginning of WotLK (was prot before) and I've hours and hours of raiding with her.
My Discipline Priest, Syriel, has seen a good bit of raiding too, and she's the only one with which I've been able to finish Yogg (which I really really want to do again). But Discipline priests are rarely used as they should (and always perform poorly on recount), so I only raid with her in friends groups where I can play as I like (aka I don't end up having to raid heal as disc ...).
Velours, my Restoration Druid, is the one I have the less raiding experience with, and the one I have yet to really get used to. I'm sure I could get better at rotations and awareness with her, but druids are so strong with a spellpower built that she's more my "lazy heal" character :P

Now, my Holy Paladin is the character I've played the most, and the one I started this blog with, so I'll answer with her.

* What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Shazalyn, Holy Paladin is my main character and healer.
* What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Mostly raiding, normal 25 Man & 10 Man, a little bit of 10 Man Hard modes (I love that).
* What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
Holy Shock, instant, fairly strong, has lots of synergy with Flash or Holy Light if you crit with it (which is expected if you have an old crit build like me).
* What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Paladins don't have so many healing spells, we're not druids. I can't see a healing spell I don't use at least a few times in a boss encounter. Probably Judgment of Light if I'm not the only paladin, I'll judge wisdom and let the protection or ret paladin judge Light.
* What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
Endurance and healing spam. Paladins are probably the best healers to maintain a constant influx of relatively strong heals for a long time on a target, and very strong heals for a fairly good time. That's also what makes them kind of boring to play sometimes :P
* What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
No raid healing spell, we can raid heal ok with the new Beacon of Light, but all our heals are single target and we're hence very limited by the gcd. Mobility is also a big issue for paladins, you have to learn the timing of fights and your positioning more than any other healing class, because the more you have to move, the less you heal.
* In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
Paladins have always been tank healers, and still are best suited for that. Even though 3.2 made us less crappy at raid healing, which is very nice for 10-Man.
* What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
That's a very hard question. Sadly Paladins don't really go well with other healers, it's more a question of raid assignment. Though I usually like to have another Holy Paladin with me, I tried a ToC10 with 3 paladins, it was really not the best thing. Have raid healers with you will be much nicer. The thing is we have very few instant heals, and even with add-ons like Incoming Heals, we still end up overstepping other healers. Only solution is to have confidence in your other healers and have good healing assignments.
* What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
Any other healer when I try to raid heal. And with the 3.2 Beacon of Light we should be raid healing all the time as we heal the tank at the same time. So we end up overlapping raid healers, that are often more effective and faster than us, much overhealing and probably some frustrated druids & priests & shamans ... The thing is, if we don't spam the raid, we spam the tank. It's the same for us so it doesn't cost us any more mana, but I'm sure it annoys other healers.
* What is your worst habit as a healer?
Not keeping my judgments up enough on bosses and not using my cds enough, I'll like the T9 bonus.
* What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
Feeling powerless when people stay in the fire and die ... not that I can do anything but seeing people die and not being able to ever save them is frustrating.
* Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
I think that PvE healing balance is ok right now. Not that I think all healing classes are as fun to play, or as good for all fights, but overall it's ok.
* What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
Recount is fairly decent for a paladin now that Sacred Shield is a single target spell. I still advise world of logs that can cope with bubbles & absorption. All in all, if the raid worked, if your tanks didn't die too much, well you did your job ok enough.
* What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
Holy Paladins are fairly simple, they've always been tank heals and I think that's what most people expect of them. Now few people realize how much a toolbox we are. Hands of Protection / Freedom / Salvation ... are great tools that little people think to ask for.
* What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
Timing. Paladins can't heal on the move, and the first heroics in GT4 or Utgarde Pinnacle are going to be real tests for a new Holy Paladin.
* If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
I try to really use all the tools I have, so I'm fairly balanced between Beacon, Flash and Shock. I try to limit my use of Holy Light now, nerfed Illumination and int makes it much harder with my "limited" gear. Overheal is high, but that's inherent to the Beacon that I maintain at all times. I have mostly an int/crit build so yes my crit will be over 45% in raids and I like it for my Holy Shocks.
* Haste or Crit and why?
Before 3.2 I would have said crit (and int) without question, until you reach about 40% unbuffed. Now crit is much less useful for mana regen and you will need some mp5 or alternate mana source (trinkets & the like). Haste is really increasing your hps, so yes, balancing both will be good.
* What healing class do you feel you understand least?
Resto shamies are the only one I've not played at 80 in a raiding environment, but I'm going to start one soon :P
* What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
Grid (and Grid_Raid_debuffs for raid frames), Decursive (cleansing tool), Classtimers (with focus frame to keep up Beacon & others at all time), Pitbull (character & target & focus & target of target frames).
* Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
Spellpower to 2000+ first, then int/crit/haste/mp5. Haste being the only one that won't help for mana regen but that will partly reduce your mobility issues.

And now I have to tag two people, always hard to do when you're late in the bandwagon .. hum ... bandcircle ? Let's give tags to two people that I like to read then.
Averna @ Nerf This Druid
One of my best druid references since Resto4Life closed.
Coriel @ Blessing of Kings
A long time Paladin blogger that I always enjoy reading.

Go to the main circle page and give a look to other healer answers, that's often reassuring and interesting, if not fun ... like this way too pink one.
Have fun healing and keeping all these little green bars up :)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Lay on Hands change (again ?)

In this forum post Ghostcrawler explained that they didn't intend to prevent Holy Paladins to use Lay on Hands on paladin tanks. I really think this change is pvp intended and that they didn't think about all the implications at first, though as discussed in my previous post Protection Paladins are still screwed, but they're considered as too strong right now so it was expected.
Here is the remedial change to this nerf, so that Holy Paladins don't feel like they nearly lost one of their tool (our best "oh sh*t" button) when healing a tankadin :
Sanctified Light: This talent now also has a 33/66/100% chance to prevent Lay on Hands from causing Forbearance when Lay on Hands is used on others.
Considering how many times LoH saved my tank (perhaps he would have survived with only a Holy Shock, but LoH sure is reassuring). I'm happy to not have to worry if I'm healing a warrior, or a paladin.

It seems that deep Holy will more and more be the biggest "toolbox" of any healing tree. With the changes to Sacred Shield and now Lay on Hands, more and more is pushed down there. It won't change much for us in term of gameplay, but I sort of feel it shows how much "problems" the uniqueness of the paladin class is giving Blizzard right now.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Valithria Dreamwalker

The Dragon Who Loved Me.
from the memories of an Icecrown raid healer

Ok, that's a completely silly and cheesy subtitle, but I can't help. That's probably the first fight in the history of WoW that puts healers in the center of the stage. Yes, during that fight the goal is not to kill something, but to heal a captured green dragon.
My healer friends, we will have to bring back this mighty dragon from 50% life to full while our raiding brethren will protect us from the enemies assaulting us and trying to prevent our task.
Isn't that so cool to be the one that will decide on the length of the fight ? Yes you've read correctly this fight is not a DPS race, it's a ... Healing Race !

Let's come to more details. Valithria Dreamwalker is the first boss of the Frostwing Halls of Icecrown Citadel and is encountered before Sindragosa. She starts the fight at 50% life, you will need to heal her while killing the adds that will spawn to stop you. Once the dragon is back to full health she will destroy all remaining adds and teleport her (and you) out of the citadel effectively ending the fight.
During the fight players can use portals created by Valithria to switch to dreamstate, and alternate plane where dreamclouds will spawn. These clouds will regenerate your mana and greatly increase your healing for a short time, you can then get out and bomb heal Valithria before going back in there. While some healers (and a few dps as the clouds have to be destroyed to give buffs) will rotate between healing & regaining mana, the rest of the raid will have to deal with all the adds.
There are 5 kinds of adds. Glutonous Abominations will be especially dangerous as they'll spawn Rot Worms when they die (8-10 in 25-Man) that will melee their target (for about 5K) and can easily OS any character that is not a tank if they gang on him. But the key of the fight will be Suppressers, a class of adds that cast a strong debuff on Valithria reducing all heals on her by 10% and effectively making the fight longer as long as they're up. In 25-Man there is 6 Suppressers per wave when this fight was tested on the PTR.
You can find some details about the abilities on the wowwiki page, or the MMO Champion page (with a nice video of the fight).

Now about tactics, my guess will be for the Valithria healing squad to switch to dream state when a wave of adds spawn, buff and regen there until the Suppressers have been killed by the raid and come back to heal Valithria with full mana and the healing bonus while not being hindered by the Suppressers healing debuff on the dragon.
Now for the classes, I think Holy Paladins and Restoration Druids will probably be the healers assigned to Valithria if you have enough of them, while Shamans and Priests will probably stay on the raid. Why ? Because their single target spam healing is probably the best of the 4 healing specs, though very mana intensive, hence the use of the dreamstate plane. Holy Light spam and Nourish spam (whith full hots active) will be hard to best.

It really looks like a very interesting fight and I'm really eager to try it, especially in 25-man where the number of adds can turn the fight from controlled to hectic in a few seconds ^^

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

New Lay on Hands & PTR build 10747

Patch 3.3 - PTR Build 10747 has hit on the Test Realms as you can read on this link to MMO-Champion news.
You can read the details from the Blues here. For us about the latest news that I talked about on October 28th, little remains from the first wave. Were they too quick to announce untested changes ? Were we vocal enough to make them reconsider ? I don't know, but the big nerf of Sacred Shield has been changed to a removal of the Flash of Light combined hot effect (that is now limited to deep Holy), and Lay on Hands is still usable on yourself, even if it now shares a CD with our other big lifesaver tools (so it only hurts pvp mostly).

The last changes that I discussed are now these on the last build:
  • Flash of Light no longer heals for an additional 100% over 12 sec if the target has the Sacred Shield effect.
  • Lay on Hands is now affected by Forbearance and can now be cast on self again - Heals a friendly target for an amount equal to the Paladin's maximum health and restores 1950 of their mana. Once healed, the target cannot be targeted by Divine Shield, Divine Protection, Hand of Protection, or Lay on Hands again for 2 min.
  • Infusion of Light now causes your Flash of Light to heal the target for an additional 50/100% over 12 sec.

I have no problem with the change to the hot effect, and very little with the slight nerf of Lay on Hands. They will nearly only affect ret pvp builds that, according to Blizzard, were too strong on the survivability side. As you know I'm a big PvE fan, for me WoW is a bad PvP game and other games around are much better suited for PvP (Warhammer or Aion anyone ?) so I don't PvP in WoW or very little. Hence yes, I'm pretty happy with this reversal.

My first Icecrown review later this week. Have fun and thank you for reading.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

afg for 2 weeks

Just to keep you informed I'll be away from the game for 2 weeks, as my job is sending me away until mid-November. I still have a few things to post, I'll try to find some time for them.
And for my guildies here and there, see you when I come back :)

Btw I'm very enthusiastic for IC ... can't wait to try the new bosses as for now all that I'm looking for are Ulduar hard modes (I love the Iron Council 3 levels of difficulty).
More on that soon, go take a look on MMO Champion if you want some spoilers about the first IC bosses.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Protadin ... To the Ground, Baby !

Ok, who doesn't already know that fateful sentence from Ghostcrawler at whatevercon after the release of WotLK and the ret paladin OP period.
Now it's all about protection paladins, or mostly, and Lay on Hands suddenly becoming too op to live. You can find the changes in the last patch on the PTR on Mmo-champion.
To sum-up here they are :
There is a "balance" to the Sacred Shield nerf, but only for deep Holy Paladins (read not the arena spec).
  • Infusion of Light: This talent now also reduces the cooldown on the effect of Sacred Shield by 12/24 seconds.
This is added to the Divine Guardian / Sacrifice nerf, as you can read on his blog, the Suicidal Zebra explains the 80% nerf of the Sacred Shield for prot paladins.

It's clear that PvE protection paladins are the most affected by the Sacred Shield & Lay on Hands nerf. Holy Paladins regen via Glyph of Divinity will also be affected when they were casting Lay on Hands on themselves.
And now all paladins can't self heal themselves in arena/bgs via Lay on Hands.

As Rhidach is saying on his blog, I can't eat this change is not mostly arena/pvp related. And it severaly screws-up protection paladins ... and all levelling paladins btw.

It's been several years since we started saying PvE & PvP abilities should just be made different (as it's already the case for potions/food/etc...) so that PvP changes aren't that hard to balance if you take PvE into account (and vice-versa). But no, this is probably too much work ... sigh. Well done Blizzard.

edit :
this post Ghostcrawler announces they reverted the Lay on Hands change ... but he's not promising anything about them not changing it again. Stay tuned for more paladin nerfing news.
And yes it's qquing but such changes are so deep towards the PvE balance that they can't just go silently. We're learning to play a class, we're fighting for spots in raids, esp as paladins were not good at all during the end of BC, either for tanking or healing or even not that good at dpsing. So we won't let our efforts go to waste without a fight, that's all.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Down with Yogg Saron

So I finally killed Yogg Saron (normal 4 watchers, no uberness here) this weekend. I'm a bit sad that it happened on my disc priest before my paladin, but I'm really happy to see the end of this epic fight. Yogg Saron is, for me, the best fight of Wrath up to now, it's 3 very different phases, there is a lot to do for everyone, and especially in 10-Man none is allowed to fumble as we can't tolerate one death or we won't get the enrage timer.

It's really hard to find enough motivated people to finish Ulduar now, but I happened to get lucky on my priest server. I got invited in a guild group extending its tag when they were on Yogg, they wiped on their first night and we wiped again all night on last Thursday. This Saturday, we went there again with nearly the exact same group, everyone knew the fight and we downed Yogg on our second attempt of the night, only our third time on Yogg phase3.
I was the healer of the brain team during phase 2 which is a lot of fun and rush (you don't have much time to think and I fumbled my first brain phases on Thursday). We barely killed him before the time limit though (only 15s remaining) and our tank had 6 adds on him at the end and survived (I love to heal good tanks).

All I can say is that I really like this encounter. It's original, well designed and it reminds me of C'thun :)

I used the BossKillers guide to prepare my raid nights, and it really helped me to not be surprised especially in phase 3 when these guardians hit to hard on the tank (thank you Pain Supression during the last seconds of the fight).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rhidach's Heroic ToC guide

Not mine, I don't have enough gear to seriously try this one, but a complete and very detailed guide. It is specially tailored for protection paladins but full of tips readily usable as a holy paladin. just go read Rhidach's blog post on How to defeat heroic 10man Trial of the Crusader.
I seriously point you to this one, there are so many tips for a paladin that I didn't think of (not playing prot enough these days) I'm ashamed of my gameplay :P

Thanks a bunch Rhidach :)

Update note 20th November: I've compiled a more complete list, including Rhidach's guide, you can find it on Trial of the Grand Crusader (ToC Hard), Guides & Tips Collection

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Waiting for IC ...

I don't know about you but I'm seriously waiting for Icecrown Citadel. Not that I've finished
all the content, I've yet to see Yog Sarron die, but that requires several evenings on Udluar and most people don't spend that amount of time on this raid anymore. Too much "free loot" on ToC (normal) or Onyxia or Lolaron to motivate much people about Ulduar.

I still think Ulduar is the best raid from WotLK up to now, despite it being too big, it should have been split in two raids as it was done all along BC. I still have some friends motivated by Ulduar hard modes and we're trying them from time to time, usually one or two nights a week when we are lucky enough to make our suicidal squad (Auriaya with all cats is a crazy fun mess of a fight to heal). If I find ToC hard mode mostly a "gear check", Ulduar hard modes are, at least for some of them, very entertaining.

The first news from the next raid Blizzard is giving us are starting to appear, and the first boss was tested on the PTR these last days (report on Mmo Champion). It doesn't seem super hard, as least on paper, I hope the normal/hard mode gap will be lower then ToC, and my wish is for hard modes to contain more abilities, more strategy than just be a gear check put over a normal difficulty boss.

I guess we'll all see that in IC, hopefully not too long from now, but even more hopefully nicely tested and balanced.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Raid Healing for Holy Paladins post 3.2

This post ended being much much longer than I thought at first when I started it. But I was always adding new views and after a few hours it got quite gigantic. I organized the ideas so that you can pick up what you're interested in or find back some points more easily after reading the whole thing. I'll try to post better inputs on some parts of it later in separate posts if I can find some time for that.
Now let's start with the beast.

It is no news that patch 3.2 changed a lot for Holy Paladins. I have already written several posts on the topic: Patch 3.2 will change just everything ...
You can also find very good analysis of the changes on: Banana Shoulders and

Now what did it changed for me after a few weeks of raiding? Though my experience is limited to Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader 10-Man, I think it is enough to see the big changes that 3.2 brought us.
At first I was very worried with the mana regen nerfs, and for a good reason, I was right. But in the end patch 3.2 gave us so much that I'm not complaining at all, as long as you can adapt to a new style. Let me explain my views, and then talk about gameplay changes.

What changed with 3.2 and how does it impact us?

First big mana & mana regen nerf, Divine Intellect was nerfed from 15 to 10% (about 5% total mana loss) and Illumination was nerfed from 60% to 30% regained from the mana cost of the spell that crits (second nerf it was 100% before WotLK). You can also add the small nerf to Replenishment affecting all mana users. On paper a severe nerf to our mana and regen, and in the game too. Depending on how you played, it will affect you more than others. I had an intellect & crit build so it had a strong impact on my regen and I use Holy Lights much more carefully now while I was sometimes "splash raid healing" with the glyph before, which was an obvious overshot but affordable.

Second change of Beacon of Light and addition of a hot to Sacred Shield, Beacon of Light now works with overhealing and has a 60m range, and if you cast a Flash Light on the target of your Sacred Shield it will gain a hot. The Sacred Shield hot is fine, it is not strong, but it is free, doesn't really cost you any global cooldown (though you have to recast a direct Flash Light on your tank here and there) and helps with maintaining a constant healing influx to your tank (the obvious target of your Sacred Shield). Now the real big boy here is the change to Beacon of Light. It was useful before, and helped you to do a bit of raid healing while still covering your tank. It is now very powerful and allows you to become a full (or nearly) raid healer while at the same time being as reactive as before on your tank and able to land one of these life-saving healing bombs at all time. I'm explaining more clearly that in the next paragraph.

Beacon of Light is your new best friend.

The job of a main tank healer is to always be able to react quickly and do his best to save his tank if a damage spike occurs, which you all know is very common in WotLK. Beacon of Light was created to allow you to do some healing on other members of your raid while still healing your tank, *but* you had to retarget your tank in case of damage spike as any overhealing done was not sent to the Beacon (and hence there was no way to heal your tank for 15K but to target him, unless another member of the raid was also injured for at least 15K, and in a 30m range from your tank). This meant some heavy macro building, using right click to target your focused main tank for example. Or some target change delay, and delay is bad when it's an urgency.
Now all overhealing is also transferred and the range is 60m. You don't have to retarget your tank anymore for this 15K healing bomb, and you can even do it while being too far to even be able to target him, by targeting a member of your raid between you and him.
This is such a strong change that I'd say I'm enjoying raid healing again, it's not any more complex than before (even probably easier if you're following the tips I'm giving later on) but you have much more freedom in who you heal, and it's much less frustrating in the sense you don't have to make this Cornelian dilemma of keeping the strong heals on your mt rolling or trying to help with raid healing.

New Beacon require a new gameplay.

Mostly you have to maintain 4 effects at all time now. Before patch 3.2, depending on who you were healing, the Beacon was not always mandatory, and the Sacred Shield hot didn't exist. So mostly it was only Sacred Shield on your tank & Judgement of Light/Wisdom for your raid. Now a Holy Paladin not using Beacon of Light at *all* times is just a dreadful dumb monkey :P It is just too strong to not be used at all times, unless, perhaps, you're completely sure that only the mt will take damage as in some old vanilla boss fights.

So what do you have to maintain? Beacon of Light (B) on your tank, Judgement of Light/Wisdom (J) on the main raid target (if possible each 20s for the raid heal), Sacred Shield (S) on your main healing target (not necessarily the main tank, I will give an example of that), and the Flash of Light hot (F) on your Sacred Shield target. It requires more attention than before and I strongly advise you to use an add-on to track these 4 mandatory effects that I will name the BSFJ effects.

Gameplay by examples.

As nothing is better than examples, I'll give you what I see as the two gameplay configurations we have now, depending on the boss encounter. As you could guess, I assume that as a Holy Paladin you are assigned to tank healing.
So let's take these examples, the two first beasts of the Northern Beasts trio from Trial of the Crusader.

Gormok the Impaler
This is what I call a single tank situation, it can still require tank switching but at any given time there is only one tank.
Focus you tank (use a focus macro with a shortcut to help if there is some tank switching) and keep at all time Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield on him. When the Flash of Light hot goes down, recast a Flash of Light on the tank. Keep the Jugement of Light/Wisdom up on the boss. And now all you have to do is heal the raid and keep the BSFJ effects up.

The two Jormungars
This is what I consider as a 2 tanks situation (if more than 2 tanks are required, you'll need another Paladin buddy to cover the 3rd tank and helps you on the MT), at any given time at least 2 tanks are taking strong damage, one being the MT usually taking more damage.
The idea is to heal both tanks at the same time, using the Beacon. It was possible before, but it's way more effective now. Cast the beacon on the one you are not assigned to as main healer, and the Sacred Shield on the one you will be targeting most of the time (to maximize the Flash of Light hot uptime). Then cast Judgement of Light/Wisdom on the boss and maintain a regular influx of Flash of Light on your target (with the occasional Holy Light if him or your BoL target needs it).
You're set for double tank healing, and with some training and getting used to it you can mostly heal the two tanks from this encounter alone in 10-Man.

But what about mana regen now?

If you follow the gameplay guidelines I've given earlier, you will see that your tank (which should be your main target during a raid) is receiving a strong and regular flux of healing even if you're mostly casting only Flash of Light on the raid. This is a strong change from before, and means that you should be using less Holy Lights (at least in 10-Man, the boss damage being lower).
But even with a more sporadic use of Holy Light you'll see your mana going down, especially as you should be recasting Beacon of Light for sure each 30s now (I'll have to do the math on the BoL glyph as concerning mana efficiency).
As for myself I went back to the Glyph of Seal of Wisdom (5% healing cost reduction) instead of the Glyph of Seal of Light, and I'm using strong mana regen trinkets and meta-gem. I'm still using my int/crit gear and spec, and it still do the job, I have to use mana potions much more often though, and Divine Plea for these 25% mana as often as I can.
My observation from raiding is that we still have a good lasting power, but we need to be much more cautious with our mana. With my two trinkets () and meta-gem (Insightful Earthsiege Diamond) I can regain more than 2000 mana each 50s (du to the trinkets hidden 45s cooldowns), to which I can probably add about 3000 mana each minute (?) from Divine Plea (I rarely can use it for its full duration but I try to use it each time it's out of cooldown). That's about 5 to 6K mana/minute, not bad without counting any mp5 or spirit (haha).

Minimum Mana Use and Healing Lasting Power

Let us give a look to mana costs now. Just to maintain your BSFJ effects during a minute, you have to cast (with a base mana of 4394 for a lvl 80 paladin):
2 Beacon of Light (35% of base mana),
2 Sacred Shield (12% of base mana),
5 Flash of Light (8% of base mana),
and 3 Judgement of Light (5% of base mana)
That gives you a minimum mana cost of about 6240 mana with 2 Flash of Light counted as a critical (40% crit).
So, just to keep up with the spells you need up at all time you will have a MMU per minute of 6240. Divide your total mana by that and you know how much you can last at the theoric maximum (don't be frightened but now you can see how much mana regen we need).
Now to maintain a regular Flash of Light casting, with 40% critical and 1.5s casting time you'll need to cast 20 Flash of Light per minute, which would cost you about 20 * (3/5*1+2/5*0.7) *352 = 6196 mana per minute.
Add this MMU to the FoL spam cost and you have a rough idea of your mana cost in a raid boss fight. Now calculate your mana regen as I did before, and add in your mp5 (and replenishement if you are sure to have it). Reduce your mana cost by your mana regen each minute, and divide your total mana by that. You will have a rough idea of your mana durability in a boss fight.
Ok this is not easy calculus and you don't really have to do it, but keep in mind that you'll use around 12.5K mana per minute probably half your mana if you have an average gear. Yes mana regen will hurt and you'll have to take it into account much more than before.

And for next time

In my next post I will discuss about healing macros and how they can really change your raiding experience as a Holy Paladin. Being more reactive, keeping up your multiple effects more regularly, avoiding wrong targeting when recasting Beacon of Light (which can be really deadly now) ... all of these can strongly change with macros.
Stay tuned.

If you want more inputs on healing post patch 3.2, you can read the guide on, it is full of gear & gemming information.