Archive for the ‘Paladinning Info’ category

On Solo Healing HGarrosh 10 as a Paladin

June 13, 2014

Trust me, it sounds more impressive than it is!

Especially in my case, where I got to skip all the learning and strat adjusting attempts, coming in after the guild had already killed Heroic Garrosh twice. So I don’t deserve any credit at all, I just wanted to share how we did it and what it was like, in case other guilds getting ready to wrap up their Siege of Orgrimmar heroic progression are looking for inspiration.

leftovers

I don’t think our logs are confidential so you can go to town with them. You’ll notice that on my kill we had a paladin tank (who did almost as much healing as me /shame – I guess healers really are a crutch), 3 shaman (2 elemental and one enhancement), one hunter (yay Logan!), one mage, one warlock, one ret pally and one rogue. That should add up to 10 people if you include me.

The one tank, one healer strat lets you skip a lot of annoying parts (What? No Terrace phase? That’s just tooooo bad!) lowering your screw up potential. Dunno about the rest of you, but I like when my screw up potential is lowered.

I unfortunately don’t know the minor details of our strat (the Cadenza way is to show up and do as you’re told), but here is a general idea of what a typical attempt looks like. (You’ll just have to fill in the blanks with your imagination. The Bossy Pally blog supports creativity!)

General Fight Overview when 1-tanking-1-healing

Pull
– Garrosh gets pulled to a spot between the throne and the center of the room. We all stack. A weapon is desecrated and promptly killed. Adds engage us and die pretty quickly (I’m not sure of the exact way we kill them – we seemed to have more success when we didn’t neglect Garrosh during the adds killing, but I don’t think they were killed by cleave damage alone either). Sometime around then Garrosh gets moved to the middle of the room. Our mage, with the help of our hunter, kills one of the Ironstar guys. A Wolfrider shows up around then with, I think, heals that need to be interrupted. If our dps is awake, Garrosh will transition with 10-20 seconds left until the next phase. If our dps is asleep, we get another wave of adds. You can survive the wave but it’s super annoying.

Jade Serpent – We split up to kill/interrupt the different groups of adds. The people killing the adds near Garrosh do some damage to the adds in the middle as they run past. Me, I’d run up and hit Blinding Light a second or two after I reached them. Adds should die super super fast. (As you can probably guess, this is the phase that was hardest for us.) Everyone tries to get the protection buff, then we dance around Garrosh while he casts annihilate.

Dancing Around The Room – Starting in the back of the room, melee stack on the boss, ranged stack further back. When Garrosh tosses a desecrated weapon, ranged runs in for mind control. After mind control, ranged stay put and Garrosh is moved away. A whirl happens, then rinse and repeat. Or maybe whirl happens before desecrated weapon. (I suck, I’m sorry.) The tank takes pretty big hits from Garrosh during this phase.

Big, Purple Garrosh phase – After about 3 (4?) moves, Garrosh gets empowered. From what I remember, we handle the weapon, mind control and whirl the same way, only with more CDs. Adds spawn out of people, people kill those adds (this phase is kinda intense so I have trouble seeing what’s going on beyond the health bars – I know that if I were to get an add, our tank picks it up and kills it for me). I think this is around where we hero…

Garrosh’s Fantasy – I stood a little bit out for Malice….beyond that I don’t know much of what happens here since I’ve only seen this phase 2-3 times. There are bombs on the floor which are pretty easy to avoid. I got chased by a big wheel one attempt. Anyway, Garrosh gets dpsed, he dies, Azeroth is saved, we rejoice.

The Paladin Set Up

I went with this build, using Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity (yes, normal version – stupid trinket that never drops on heroic) and Prismatic Prison of Pride as my trinkets. The Divinity glyph probably wasn’t necessary since mana wasn’t an issue with the Selfless Healer build, but it’s kinda my staple glyph. The fight only lasts about 8 minutes anyway so it’s not like adding a longer CD on Lay on Hands is going to hurt anything.

Selfless Healer worked really well. To where it’s almost like they designed the fight with Selfless Healer in mind. The times I stumbled were more due to me not being proficient with the style (what’s my judgement keybind again?) than to the build itself. Someone who’s fast with Selfless Healer would probably rock the fight. As for the lack of control, I’d say the only time I really missed my direct Eternal Flames was during the adds in the Empowered (big, purple Garrosh) phase.

Someone asked me about my stat weights. I just went with my regular Eternal Flame gear and I guess it was ok. I don’t min-max these days so I’m not sure of the PERFECT IDEAL BUILD, especially for Selfless Healer, but this worked out just fine:

Mastery > Int > Haste = Spirit > Crit

I suppose I could have wrung out more healing if I’d traded in some Spirit (which is way more useful for Eternal Flame) for extra Mastery (or Haste) and maybe buffed my heals with more Intellect, but, really, if you’re working on Heroic Garrosh this time of expansion, your gear should be more than good enough. You don’t have to stress too much over stats.

Just as a point of interest, though, absorbs covered almost 50% of my healing on my kill.

The Cooldown Layout

Surviving Heroic Garrosh is all about the cooldowns.

As a paladin healer, this is just like any other challenging fight (it actually confused me when I was learning the fight. I was all “why are you reminding me so much about cooldowns, OF COURSE I’m using my cooldowns!”) where you want to have your cooldowns pretty much mapped out beforehand. The difference with other fights, though, is that you’ll want to coordinate your cooldowns with everyone else‘s damage reduction and offhealing cooldowns.

When I did the fight, the team already had a system going and were, obviously, far more aware of the damage patterns than I was, so our raid leader did most of my cooldown planning for me (Cadenza way and all) in a briefing session before the raid (I guess other teams could use their forums, but we don’t have an active website). Teams newly engaging the fight would have to go about it a little differently, but I still think it’s helpful for everybody if one person leads the cooldown coordination.

Anyway, for inspiration’s sake, here is how my CDs were mapped:

Light’s Hammer
– Shortly before the first desecrated weapon (right after the pull), at the beginning of the Annihilate dance, then pretty much when it comes off CD (if I remember right, 2ndish whirl, empowered mind control and final burn).

Avenging Wrath, Divine Favor, Guardian of Ancient Kings – Staggered through the Annihilate dance, then during (or rather, right before) Empowered Whirl.

Holy Avenger – First whirl, then Empowered Whirl. (And again if it came off CD before the kill, I can’t remember.)

Devo Aura – First whirl, then right before shifting into Garrosh’s Fantasy (note that we had 3 paladins, so the other two were using their Devos at different times. I’m sure of their exact timings but I believe Annihilate dance, other whirls, the Empowered mind control/whirl, the final burn were among the situations that called for a Devo).

Hand of Sacrifice – As an emergency backup. Our ret pally was using Hand of Purity when our tank called for it. I’d use Hand of Sac either when I was called to use it, when a Hand of Purity didn’t go off or when I felt like I needed it to prevent a tank death. This always happened during the Dancing Around The Room phase.

Lay on Hands – Can only use it once, I kept it as an emergency heal for whoever needed it. Instant big big heals are good.

Bubble - Annihilate dance, Empowered Whirl (the Annihilate bubble wasn’t overly necessary as I’d move anyway out fear of my bubble wearing off before I’d notice, but it is good backup for that phase and lets it come off CD for Empowered Whirl where standing still and healing one’s heart out is good.) and maybe the final burn if it was available again.

Divine Protection
– I didn’t plan that one and it was too automatic for me to remember exactly where I used it, but I would suggest during the first desecrate weapon/adds wave, then pretty much whenever there was damage and it was off CD.

I may have used Int or Mana potions somewhere in there but I honestly don’t remember…

Final Touches

That pretty much covers the translation of my messy notes into WoW blogging language.

If you’re curious about mana, Selfless Healer ensured that I didn’t really run out. I’d hit Divine Plea as a I was getting sucked into the Jade Serpent phase then pretty much when it came off CD, but with the exception of some attempts where I’d overindulge during Dancing Around the Room, my mana bar wasn’t a huge concern.

As for doing sad Holy Pally dps, I did use Denounce to help a little when the first, Jade Serpent (minus Annihilate dance) and final phases were going smoothly. Doubt it made a huge difference, but if I was to be waiting for the raid to take damage, might as well make myself useful!

Thok Follow Up

January 5, 2014

Ok so, about a month ago (shit, when did time speed up so much?), I made a post about Thok in hopes to improve my healing numbers.

The question: Did it work?

The answer: Not really.

Yes, we got the kill (would have been a one shot if I hadn’t screwed up my fixate AND unknowingly stolen a jailer key). Yes, my Devo Aura and my Hand of Protection and my Bubble helped out (Bubble really shone in the last few seconds after we ran out of CDs and people were dying without any healers being able to cast). But my numbers refused to leave their abyss.

healingnumbers

I showed a pally tank for comparative purposes. (HEY AT LEAST I OUTHEALED THE TANK!)

I didn’t do significantly more healing than my copally who (because informed consent isn’t something I’m strong at) was unaware of the experiment and who wasn’t even using the Cleave trinket. (Granted, I don’t think the Cleave trinket is as powerful for us as for our Holy Priest who gleefully reads out his Cleave heals every attempt: “8%, 10%….12%!!!” Me: “3%” – I may, however, just need to remember that I have it in my bags whenever I visit the item upgrader.) I didn’t pre-pot (that explains it all, yes!?!), but I doubt having an int buff up for the portion of the fight with the least damage going around will have the strongest effect on healing numbers.

Here’s an instant-by-instant reply of my healing compared to everyone elses.

healingflow

We got another kill last night, but I was dead for all of the third Screech phase (the stupid dinosaur didn’t have the decency to properly chase his last fixate target before turning to me, which had him standing in the middle of the room when he fixated me, cornering me and forcing me to sacrifice myself).

Not much I could do while dead.

Not much I could do while dead.

Here’s the healing graph with my pretty pink flat line:

healingflowdead

We’ve been working on Siegecrafter for the last few weeks. Not a whole lot of progress being made, we still rarely reach the first Magnetic phase with more than half the raid alive, but since us pallies are on bench duty a lot (my copally and I take turn – there is always one of us on the bench), the wipes aren’t too painful for me. I’d say it’s one of the only fights where I’m happy to only be there for half of the attempts.

And with that, I wish you all a happy New Year. May 2014 bring you many kills, much glory and bountiful shiny lootses.

The Suffering Inflicted on Holy Paladins by Heroic Thok 25

December 13, 2013

Raid: Your numbers suck on Thok. Make them not suck.
Me: /cry

We’ve been working on Heroic Thok for a few weeks now. The strategy has been worked and reworked, we’ve gotten into the flow of the fight and we’ll probably kill that big hungry (thirsty?) dinosaur on Saturday.

It was brought to my attention, frustratingly, that my healing numbers on that fight were, well, abysmal. I haven’t been looking at numbers lately – now that most of my cohealers consist of three disc priests and a shaman, looking at numbers is just asking for misery. (When all the disc priests are away or healing as holy, I can often squeeze into second place behind our shaman on the meters, but there’s no way I can get any impressive healing in with 3 disc priests in the raid. One cannot heal nonexistent damage and Illuminated Healing just doesn’t do the job.) But I’ll take their word for it. I’m silenced more often than not on that fight. I’ll believe any accusation of fail healing.

So. Paladin problem or player problem? And can I fix it?

Paladins and 25 Heroic Thock

The first thing I did was head over to World of Logs to see how the fight is going for everyone else. (See this post if you’re curious about my World of Logs searching procedure.)

I got rid of the Asian servers, because, well, their playing conditions are too different from ours and their logs are written funny. Then I had a look at how Holy Paladins measure up there in the US and EU.

As of today, Dec 13, 2013, in the top 800 parses, 22 were paladins (2.75%…If all healing specs were made equal, one would expect around 17% – 1 in 6 – representation). And here’s how the top 5 pallies did:

#363 with 326k hps, Dec 4.
#380 with 324k hps, Nov 27.
#561 with 299k hps, Dec 12.
#634 with 289k hps, Dec 3.
#645 with 288k hps, Dec 3.
.

If you look at the top 150 all pally ranks, HPS varies from 326k to 233k. Let’s have a look at other classes:

Disc Priests: 515k to 356k
Shaman: 458k to 314k
Druids: 380k to 278k
Holy Priests: 432k to 276k
Monks: 354k to 264k

It seems pretty clear to me that we are lagging behind, significantly when compared to Disc Priests and Shaman, and moderately when compared to the other specs. Which leads to the next question, what are the most performing Holy Paladins doing to avoid the bench?

Selfless Healer vs Eternal Flame

Out of those 22 paladins who made it to the top 800, 18 of those used the Selfless Healer style.

Honestly, having tried to heal the fight with Eternal Flame for a few weeks, I’m surprised any Eternal Flame users made it into the top. Silence much, anybody?

Quickly, I switched my talents. Then I was faced with another question. How, in the name of the light, do I heal like this?

I took the top 5 paladins (forever more known as “The Top 5″) and checked out their cast log. Thankfully, it was pretty unanimous and consistent throughout the fight:

[20:59:19.598] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 0)
[20:59:20.647] Judgment on Thok the Bloodthirsty (HoPo = 1, SH = 1)
[20:59:21.621] Holy Shock (HoPo = 2, SH = 1)
[20:59:22.644] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 3. SH = 0)
[20:59:23.506] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 0)
[20:59:24.444] Judgment on Thok the Bloodthirsty (HoPo = 1, SH = 1)
[20:59:25.454] Holy Shock (HoPo = 2, SH = 1)
[20:59:26.458] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 3. SH = 0)
[20:59:27.503] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 4. SH = 0)
[20:59:29.149] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 1)
[20:59:30.148] Judgment on Thok the Bloodthirsty (HoPo = 2, SH = 1)
[20:59:31.146] Holy Shock (HoPo = 3, SH = 1)
[20:59:32.289] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 4. SH = 0)
[20:59:33.269] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 1)

Regardless of whether the Jailer was up, or how far along they were in Thok’s screeching phase, each Light of Dawn was cast with 3 charges of Holy Power. The Judgement-Holy Shock-Holy Radiance rotation was flexible based on what was off CD (and possibly the needs of the raid). I noticed, as well, that Holy Radiance was usually cast with only one stack of Selfless Healer. (Two paladins, #2 and #3, I believe, were using two stacks of Selfless Healer during Holy Avenger. As far as I could tell, nobody else was doing that. #5 didn’t even use Judgement during his first Holy Avenger).

The Cooldown Usage

thokcds

I picked this particular screenshot because it illustrates pretty much every cooldown strategy I noticed among The Top 5.

1- Beacon of Light Swapping: 3 out of 5 moved their Beacon from tank to tank, although at different paces. Note, however, that all 5 were the only paladin healers in their raid.

2- Pre-potting: Two of them (and maybe others, WoL doesn’t always catch buffs that are cast before the fight starts) pre-potted with Int potions. 3 of them used Int potions later on, during the second or third Screech phase.

3- All the Throughput CDs, ALL OF THEM. After Heroism/Bloodlust/Timewarp (BHT): Everyone waited for HBT to wear off, then blew their Holy Avenger-Divine Favor-Guardian-Avenging Wrath combo. Based on how long their kite phase was, some (such as the paladin above) used all 4 again on the second Screech phase. Those who had shorter kite phases used only Holy Avenger and Divine Favor during the second Screech, and everyone used everything again for the third Screech. Note that all the top pallies killed Thok during or right after the third Screech phase.

Another note on the throughput CDs – my copally and I experimented with CD timing last week and it is essential to wait for BHT to wear off before popping everything. You won’t heal worth shit of you pop anything during BHT.

4- Selfless Healer Stacks: The paladin on the screenshot hit 3 stacks of Selfless Healer twice. Which, as I mentioned in the last section, seems typical among the top 5. No one seemed to really worry about SH stacks.

5- Devo Aura: I suck and forgot to show Devo Aura on the screenshot. If you wondering, this paladin used it for each Screech phase. As for everyone else, it seemed to depend how fast they moved through the fight. Those who phase changed too quickly used their Devo during First and Third, or during Second. This is something to be agreed upon among all the paladins in the raid since Devo Aura really makes or breaks this fight.

The Plan!

On the condition that I am not benched this week in favor of one shaman and six disc priests, here’s the improvement plan:

1- Selfless Healer with Light of Dawn cast at 3 charges of Holy Power. Judgement-Holy Shock-Holy Radiance-type rotation.
2- Pre-pot FTW!
3- Wait until AFTER HBT to cast ALL THE CDs.

Wish me luck!

On Playing my Holy Paladin in 5.4

October 6, 2013

Alright. It’s a been a couple of weeks since 5.4 and I’ve had time to experiment with our shiny new features. I promised everyone I’d sum up my observations, so here it goes.

Note that these are just observations, not hard science. Your experiences may vary, so if you have something to share or advice to give your fellow holy pallies (especially if you raid 10s!), please! There’s a section at the bottom of the post for comments. Everyone will love you if you type useful stuff in there and press the “send” button!

My Healing Environment

This patch seem especially sensitive to raiding styles and healing team makeups, so for context purposes, here’s what healing in my raids is like.

I mainly heal 25s. Unless I count the odd annoying flex raid boss that everyone drops group for, I don’t have any recent experience with 10s and can’t offer a whole lot of tried-tested-true advice. I would imagine that for flex/normal/early heroics, anything that applies to 25 could be used in 10s and keep people alive just fine, though I suspect that cutting edge 10s raiding would require different specifics for optimal results.

Cadenza usually runs with 4 to 6 healers depending on the fights. Our complete healing team consists of a druid, a shaman, two priests and two paladins (including me!). Our guild culture emphasises perfect mechanics execution over raw numbers so we’re not pressured to max out our HPS potential. I mean, we’re encouraged to have good throughput, but meter padding should never interfere with proper movement, task execution and CD usage. On a personal level, our shaman loves his numbers (really, really loves them – I swear the only times I’ve heard him talk about something other than healing numbers, it was about his offspec dps numbers. And he talks a lot.) and I suspect one of our priests takes his HPS seriously as well (but uses a more silent approach). So no matter what the rest of us do, those two will usually (but not always!) dominate on our meters.

My Eternal Flame Build

Bouchbaguette has done a lot of theorycrafting with results supporting Haste as the emerging secondary stat for Eternal Flame users. So before my first 5.4 raid, I reforged and regemmed to get my Haste on.

Then I hated it and hated the results. I got on Skype with my Holy Pally guildie and off to World of Logs we went.

World of Logs (and the Armory) revealed this trend (at the time) among the top HPS Eternal Flame Holy Pallies: Mastery > Intellect/Haste > Spirit.

Orly” I thought. I gave it a try.

I slowly replaced my spirit gems and enchants (slowly, so I could see how spirit dependent I was). To my surprise, I was able to stray completely away from spirit for most fights. (I recently picked up Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity to assist with mana heavy fights.) It probably helps that my ilvl is fairly high – I suggest that if you want to try eliminating spirit, you go slowly as well. Experiment until you discover your mana comfort zone.

My healing improved considerably and I’m pretty satisfied with where I am. My throughput varies from fight to fight and my place on the meters is sometimes skewed from the combination of shaman and priests having higher HPS potential and of our shaman and priest actually caring about raw numbers performances, but I’m comfortable in my ability to keep the raid alive.

I spent a few hours on World of Logs and the Armory today to see what the current top HPS 25s Holy Paladins are doing. Interestingly, no two paladins are gemming exactly the same. Some go all out Mastery like me, some do a little Haste then go Mastery, some use the traditional Intellect/Spirit build and some are so inconsistent in their stat prioritization that I have no idea how they manage to heal at all. Prioritizing Haste beyond around 16% unbuffed, however, does not seem to be conducive to high HPS performance, at least not on 25s.

Spell choice-wise, I’ve been blanketing the raid with 1-Holy Power Eternal Flames, using Holy Shock and Holy Radiance, with constant use of CDs (Holy Avenger, Guardian of Ancient Kings, Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath – I also try to use Hand of Sacrifice whenever it’s available). When I want to and time it right, I could almost have one CD active at all times.

I compared my results with Holy Paladins who were performing better than I was, and it seems they were more inclined to use 2-Holy Power Eternal Flames (maximizing their use of Holy Radiance and Holy Shock), but it’s hard to say. It seems that each fight had different top Holy Paladins. And no matter what, on the overall meters, for all 25s fights, Holy Paladins rarely overtake the other classes in raw HPS.

My usual glyphs: Glyph of Sacrifice, Glyph of Beacon of Light, Glyph of Divinity
My usual talents: Speed of Light, Fist of Justice, Eternal Flame, Clemency, Holy Avenger, Light’s Hammer
My gems: Artful (Int/Mastery – Red), Zen (Mastery/Spirit – Blue), Fractured (Mastery – Yellow)

Acorn’s Selfless Healer

My copally has always hated Eternal Flame blanketing and jumped at the opportunity to do something different. This was very convenient to me, since it gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with both styles and compare them.

I obviously have less experience with Selfless Healer, though, but here’s what I’ve picked up from watching my copally and reviewing lotsa lotsa logs with him.

1- Haste is the way to go. Intellect too I think. Spirit holds you back. Even if you have a low ilvl, you don’t need spirit.

2- Spell usage is along the lines of Judgement-Holy Radiance-Light of Dawn (one or two Holy Power, not three), with Holy Shocks thrown in whenever possible.

3- You have CDs too. They’re meant to be used.

And contrarily to what many theorycrafters predicted, Selfless Healer is totally okay when it comes to throughput, at least on 25. The top ranking HPS 25s Holy Paladins are a good mix of Eternal Flame and Selfless Healer users, so if you want to get away from HoTs and try a fast-paced, super fun healing style but are afraid to try, rest assured that you’ll do just fine with Selfless Healer.

As for our own performances, Acorn and I, despite our very different healing styles are usually pretty close to each other on the meters, with him passing me on some fights and me passing him on some fights.

Conclusion

When choosing between Selfless Healer and Eternal Flame, I suggest basing your decision on whichever healing style makes you happiest. The two kinda call for different stat prioritization and gemming, so I would not recommend going back and forth between the two on a single raid week. (If you really, really, really want to, perhaps running with a strong Haste/Int build would be ideal, but you’d probably find Eternal Flame in Haste gear will drain your mana pretty fast.)

Sadly, I have no experience whatsoever with Sacred Shield, and have never come across it on World of Logs for 25s Holy Pallies and can’t offer any advice.

Other than that, um, I guess Siege of Orgrimmar is a pretty fun raid. Lots of fight variety. Lots of trash though. Less fun. Also very little Orgrimmar. And very little siege. Almost makes me want to tweet “Siege of Orgrimmar is neither a siege nor Orgrimmar. Discuss.”

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now. Happy healing!

Long, Long Awaited Challenge Modes

July 23, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, this happened:

goldrun

That’s a Challenge Dungeon (or is it Dungeon Challenge?) Gold Run in case you’re wondering. My very first one.

At this point in the expansion, it’s probably a small feat. But to me, the little achievement was loaded in meaning. This (not exaggerated or overly dramatic at all) meaning:

Like my buddy Saif (though perhaps not as extreme as Saif), my early expansion sucked.

Challenge modes are exactly the kind of extracurricular WoW activities I love: small groups, an easy setting to display personalities, a not too straining mental exercise (but a mental exercise nonetheless) and an opportunity to heal a little differently. Normally I’d be all over this.

But Occasional Excellence was blown up by its leaders long before I had any time to turn my attention to non-raiding aspects of the game. Then I didn’t spend enough time in Conquest for it to be appropriate for me be all “Hei guys, make room for me in your Challenge Mode groups!

I suppose I could have sought out groups on open raid or something but, remember, this is me we’re talking about. I don’t talk to strangers. You have to twist my arm to get me to talk to non-strangers.

Since I don’t care about status (I was born awesome, no WoW achievement can improve on that! /modesty) or rewards (there are rewards for Challenge modes, right?) playing with non guildies kind of defeats the point anyway. What makes these kind of outside-of-raid activities fun for me is the opportunity to get to know some guidies, a small (non-scary) number at a time. The presence of a goal makes it all that much easier: mood gets awkward and you don’t know what to say? No problem! Just kill more things!

So when my fellow holy pally (who’s become a recurring character on this blog, readers of my WoL posts may remember him as “Copally”) asked me if I’d be interested in doing Challenge Modes, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot and was so excited I couldn’t sleep for a few nights (it’s a tad embarrassing how small of an exaggeration that is). Before I knew it, there were 5 of us dodging horde gankers in front of Niuzao Temple’s Summoning stone.

The first lesson we learned was that no NPC can compete, in terms of difficulty and complexity, with the Scheduler Boss. Especially with a half Australian-half North American team. I swear we spent more time with our calenders and maps open, calculating time zones, than we did watching videos and practicing pulls.

On our exploratory run, we wiped about 5 times, had a disconnect, had someone go afk and did a lot of pulls wrong. We got Bronze. Reassuring to know that, even if you do terribly, terribly, terribly bad, you still get a pretty flashy achievement and some bonus valour points.

It took us a few extra nights (I kinda lost count…a lot of our attempts were pretty short due to most of the team having exciting and demanding lives calling them away from the computer after 45-50 minutes), but eventually we got Gold (see above screenshot) and set a new guild record.

OF COURSE, our guild’s more experienced and mostly mainspecced (unlike us) Challenge mode team went to Niuzao Temple the following week and pretty much one-shot a Gold run (I didn’t check if they shattered our hard-earned guild record, but knowing them, they probably did), but hey, WE HAD FUN AND ITS THE FUN THAT COUNTS.

Since then, we put about an hour into learning Stormstout Brewery. On our exploratory run, we wiped just before the last boss and still won Silver, which was promising, but the Scheduler Boss wiped us before we could make another decent attempt, and every night we’ve planned since then has also been ruined by the same Scheduler Boss. I don’t know how many Golds we’ll manage before everyone gives up. I’m patient and can try forever, but apparently not everyone is like that, so I treasure my little Niuzao Temple Gold IN MY HEART.

Healing Challenge Modes a Holy Paladin

At this point, I’m far, faaaaaar from being a reference, but I did learn a few things about healing Challenge Modes from our (few) attempts.

A huge mistake I was making at first was trying to heal the 5 mans as I would heal a raid. You know, the Holy Shock-Holy Radiance-Eternal Flame trinity.

That’s bad. BAD!

I got flashbacks to my days of -just-dinged-90-when-MoP-was-young Heroic grinding where Holy Radiance did….not much.

So I stopped using Holy Radiance and looked up my long-forgotten key-bindings for Flash of Light. It was a bit more mana intensive but it did the trick. I didn’t think to Glyph Flash of Light at the time, but I’ll definitely do that on our next attempt.

I didn’t have too many issues with mana, but I did find that if I could run with or ahead of our tank, I could plop down and drink as she was pulling and get a good wack of mana back before heal spamming was needed. Whenever I could, I’d squeeze in the Shado Pan trinket on-use mana back as well as Divine Plea. (Mid-pull, Divine Plea should probably be only use in case of emergency, but while running between pulls, it is, well, Divine.)

Stack of potions (instant Mana, Potion of Focus, Intellect Potions – called Potions of the Jade Serpent or something) are always handy too. On one of our Niuzao attempts, where I was furiously Denouncing the last boss, we were a mere second away from a Gold. ONE SECOND. Had I remembered to use an Intellect Potion, we wouldn’t have set a (short lived) guild record, but we would have gotten our achievement much, much sooner.

I squeezed in DPS where I could, but I discovered pretty quickly that whenever I stopped healing to do damage, our ret pally (who, remember, is my fellow Holy Pally in raids) would give into his healer instinct and stop DPSing to cover for me. Still, a little Denounce goes a long way. Holy Shock, Denounce and Holy Prism all do a respectable amount of Holy damage. The damage of Judgement and Crusader Strike is neglectable, and I’d rather use Flash of Light to build Holy Power, UNLESS there’s time to switch to Seal of Truth and DoT up a target (sometimes possible on boss fights). Just don’t forget to switch Seals back to Insight.

As for Holy Prism vs Light’s Hammer, it’s hard to say which is better. Light’s Hammer was delightfully waaaaay lower maintenance, but was mostly wasted since we never stay in the same spot for twenty seconds. Holy Prism does sexy damage to mobs, makes for a good instant heal when needed and has a sweet, little, better than nothing, AoE effect, but I found I wasted a lot of time keeping an eye on its CD and making sure I had the right thing targeted whenever I cast it.

Other than that, any kind of damage mitigation CD is lovely. Hand of Purity, Hand of Sacrifice, Devotion Aura…they just can’t come off CD fast enough!

Speaking of CDs, you can usually only fit one Lay on Hands in. I found it helpful to just ask our tank when she’d prefer me to use it (bar any emergencies) since when I used it whenever, it would often go to waste.

Gear-wise, I’m told the Legendary Meta and Tier set bonuses don’t work, and that the only things helping you deal with the gear scaling down are sockets. So don’t use your raiding helm and pick up as many pieces with extra sockets as possible.

And yeah, that’s pretty much all I can think of.

Wish me luck next week for our Scheduler Boss encounter!

World of Logs Log Browser meet Player. Player, meet Log Browser

July 8, 2013

Protip: You can scroll to the bottom of this post (and click on the “Read the rest…” link if viewing from the main page) for an example WITH PICTURES using Eternal Flame and Holy Power.

Megaera’s stupid Diffusion has been keeping me up at night. (Which, I suppose, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does means there’s nothing more pressing in my life to ruin my sleep.) But, as a kid, when something bothered me, I was always encouraged to write about it. (With nice handwriting and proper spelling and grammar.) So write about it, I shall. Some day.

It occurred to me first, that I’ve never really written about World of Log’s Log Browser. Since my ripping my hair out probably isn’t the best scenario to cover the basics on (and narrowing in on one mechanic from one fight makes it hard to keep the post up to date), I figured I’d do a little formal introduction to World of Logs’ Log Browser.

Finding the Log Browser.

Finding the Log Browser.

The Log Browser: Why Would I Use It?

The Log Browser is a search tool for the Combat Log.

See, (if it’s still mystery to you,) how World of Logs works is that someone in your raid is saving their Combat Log to a document-type file on their computer. They then upload that file into World of Logs. World of Logs reads it and translates it into those meters, tables and graphs that we love so much.

But! Should you need information that isn’t provided by those meters, graphs and tables, the original Combat Log is still available on World of Logs, through, *drumroll*…. The Log Browser!

Generally I’ll use it for:

Timestamps: When was a spell cast, when did someone take damage, how often does an event occur in an encounter, etc.
Dispels: Who dispelled who, what and when. (Also applies to Interrupts)
Spell Behaviour: If I’m studying a spell and want to know what it did each time instead of the average provided by the spell breakdown page.

And…I’m sure there are other uses, but those are the ones that come to mind. Timestamps tend to be the bulk of my Log Browser usage – it’s the best way to find those extra details about a fight that the basic strat guides don’t tell you.

As for how to get started, use it as you would the “Damage Done“, “Damage Taken“, “Healing Done“, etc. features. Pick a fight (or a boss). In the image above, I’ve got a Heroic Megaera fight selected because blogging has forced my WoW life to now revolve around Heroic Mageara. Then select “Log Browser” from the correct drop down box.

The Log Browser: Think of it as a fancy Google search bar

The Log Browser was probably the last WoL feature I started using because I found it rather intimidating. (I still don’t use the Expression Editor…every time I think “oh the Expression Editor might be useful to answer this question!”, I’m quickly and brutally reminded that I have no basic understanding at all of the language spoken by that Editor.)

Once you get familiar with it, though, using the Log Browser is as easy as Googling yourself.

Your first view of the Log Browser.

Your first view of the Log Browser. I did not censor anything. Please do not stalk my guildies.

The first thing you want to do, before anything, anything at all, is hit “Remove” where is says “Queries Show all events (remove, copy)“.

Reason for that being, until you remove this “Show everything” command, the Browser will constantly just show you everything, ignoring anything you ask of it. This will make you cry (or at least, very, very sad). I have much experience.

As for those buttons along the bottom, here’s a quick translation of what they mean, in Google terms:

1- “Add Query” means “Search bar will pop up”
2- “Run” means “Google Search”, or “Enter”
3- “Copy Query set” and “Paste” are, well, copy and paste options that you’ll find useful if you expect to redo the same search in the future.

So after removing the “Show Everything“, hit “Add Query” to get the action started.

Next step is don’t panic! The form looks a lot worse than it really is.

Using the “Add Query” Form

It looks all tough but it isn't.

It looks all tough but it isn’t.

1- Event Type: This is to either widen your search (example: search for all Summons), or narrow it (example: search through a mage’s casts and only show misses). You can check as many or as few boxes as you want, depending on what you’re looking for.

2- Actor: You would put a character’s name (either a player or an NPC) here if you want to search through all the lines of the Combat Log where that character is mentioned, regardless of whether they were on the casting or the receiving end (example: if I want to look at all heals I cast as well as all heals that were cast on me, I would put my name in the “Actor” field). You’ll probably leave this field blank most of the time.

3- Source: This is where you’d put the name of the character doing the thing you’re interested in (example: if we were to look at all the heals I cast, we would put my name in the “Source” field).

4- Target: You’d put the name of the character on the receiving end of the event you want to study (example: if we want to see all the times I took a fireball to the face, we’d type in my name in the target field)

5- Spell: Enter the name of the spell you want to observe. The field seems to be case-sensitive so you have to type them exactly as they’d be written in your Combat Log (or Wowhead) (example: if we’re interested in Light of Dawn, we’d type in “Light of Dawn” with L and D capitalized).

6- Spell ID: If you aren’t having luck with a spell name (it happens sometimes), you can use the spell ID number. You can find that number on Wowhead in that spell’s URL (example: for Diffusion, use Spell ID 139993).

You can enter more than one name in each field, as long as you separate them with a comma and no space (example: if I wanted to look at Holy Shock and Eternal Flame, in the spell field I’d write “Holy Shock,Eternal Flame).

You can also leave fields empty if they won’t help you narrow your search to the data you want.

Log Browser: The Limits

The Log Browser is awesome, but there are a few limits to what it can do. (The gaps in the Log Browser functions are probably filled by the Expression Editor, but the Expression Editor is beyond my humble abilities.)

– It can only show a certain number of lines, starting at the beginning of a fight/time selection. So unless you’re looking for something that happened very early on, you have to be specific in your searches.
– You can’t automatically search for specific Timestamps. There is no way to see all and only the events that happened between 1min30 and 1min36.
– The Timestamps don’t line up exactly with the times shown in the graphs elsewhere in your parses. The graphs are more like approximations, so expect some discrepancies when comparing log timestamps to graphs.

You can, however, somewhat bypass the first two limits by going to a graph page (Damage Done, Healing Done, etc), selecting a period of the fight you’re interested, right clicking on the highlighted zone and hitting “Set page to selection”. From then on, WoL (including the Log Browser) will look at that selection instead of the whole fight. (Huuuuuge thanks to Kurn for teaching me that. I owe you one!)

And the rest is just practice and creativity!

For visual types (like me), there’s a fun (by my standards) example after the cut.

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A Look at my Heroic Megaera Logs

June 29, 2013

Two weeks ago, I did a fun healing experiment comparing my performances with Divine Purpose vs Holy Avenger. While there could have been a few other factors affecting my throughput, I was confident enough with the results that Holy Avenger became permanently lit up on my talent thingy.

Two weeks later and I’m still satisfied.

The Curious Case of Megaera, the Many Headed Beast

In my experiment post, I wrote the following:

I purposely left out 4 fights, each for unique reasons.

[...]
3- Heroic Megaera: The end result wasn’t consistent with the other fights and I thought the reasons were interesting enough to merit their own blog post.
[...]

A little bit late, but here is that blog post.

I’m aiming to use it as an intermediate World of Logs exercise on comparing healing spell choices. I’m running on the assumption that you all already know how to find your healing spells on WoL because, for the last two weeks, you’ve been playing around with the parsings tool and spying on pros.

I’m using the Heroic version of the fight, but it’s similar enough to the regular version that anyone who’s vaguely familiar with the fight should understand the analysis.

So anyway, when I did my HA+EF (Holy Avenger and Eternal Flame) experiment, this is what happened on Heroic Megaera:

Before Holy Avenger

Week 1
magsbefore

ps. Look at Pally Tank Theck, sniping heals from the healers!

Week 2
magsbefore2

After Holy Avenger

magsafter

When you look at this, your heart sinks, your stomach feels a little queezy and a dark cloud of discouragement hangs over your head. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

But before we dismiss Holy Avenger on Megaera, let’s look a little closer. We’ll ignore CD usage since my CD usage between fights should be pretty similar, other than Holy Avenger, which we’ve already accounted for.

This is what happened during nerf week:

(If your browser makes the writing look all tiny, you can right click on the image to put a larger version in a separate tab.)

magsspellsbefore

See Diffusion?

Diffusion counted for 11.4% of my healing. 5 MILLION. Right after Mastery and Beacon, BAM! DIFFUSION!

Diffusion in a healing spell breakdown, in theory, means you healed someone who just got an Arcane Breath (only available on Heroic!) to the face. It’s supposed to take 10% of the effective healing on that person and redistribute it to others in range.

In practice, it’s pretty random. I spent hours with the log parser when drafting this post, trying to figure out how I ended up with so much Diffusion healing on that attempt and I have no idea. I didn’t even know about Diffusion healing at the time. (If there’s interest, I could write a post about Diffusion Log Parsing adventures but I’ll leave it out of this post since it’s pretty long and boring, and a tad more complex than I want to get into right now.)

Because Diffusion seems to only heal when it feels like it, without involving much control from the player, when analyzing logs and comparing my performances, I’d subtract Diffusion healing from my total healing count.

Next, notice Arcing Light (Light’s Hammer) as my 4th healing spell, for 4.8 million.

Then we see Eternal Flame for 4 million and Light of Dawn for almost 3 million. (Total Holy Power healing = Eternal Flame + Light of Dawn = 4 million + 3 million = 7 million)

Now, here’s my spell breakdown for week 2 of non-Holy Avenger:

magsspellsbefore2

In comparison, Mastery did a tad less healing, Beacon a tad more. Eternal Flame was about the same (4 million) and Light of Dawn a little less (2 million) for a decrease in Holy Power healing by one million.

A major difference would be Holy Prism instead of Arcing Light, which did 1.8 million healing…less than HALF of what Arcing Light did for me last time.

As for my “With Holy Avenger” Logs

magsspellsafter

If you counted the number of healers on the meters, you’d notice that we did this kill with 6 healers instead of 7. Which means more healing to go around, but also more dps and a resulting shorter fight (so we’re expecting a higher Healing per Second, HPS, but the total overall healing could be more or less).

Still, Mastery is my top heal, with comparable numbers to the two previous weeks, with Beacon as a second, again with comparable numbers.

Then Eternal Flame, doing more healing than the past two weeks, but no Light of Dawn, resulting in a lower overall heal from Holy Power (5.7 million).

What really sticks out, though, is the uselessness of Holy Prism here. (And I confess that the only reason I was using Holy Prism was because I had forgotten to respec for the fight.) While I’m sure Holy Prism could do the job if it were cast every 20 seconds, on schedule, I find this fight too busy for regular Prism casts. Besides, Light’s Hammer comes off CD just at the right time for Rampage where its little spidery light tangles shine to their full potential.

Comparing Two Paladins on a same attempt

On my “after Holy Avenger” attempt, my copally, who wasn’t using Holy Avenger kicked my butt on the meters. Solidly. So let’s look at what he was doing spellwise.

magscopally

Our two top spells, Mastery and Beacon, were fairly comparable and his Holy Radiance was only slightly less than mine.

Then his 5 million Arcing Light points and laughs at my 1.7 million Holy Prism.

He did 3.5 million healing with Light of Dawn and 2.3 million with Eternal Flame for a total of 5.8 million Holy Power healing (slightly more than me).

And he got lucky with 1.4 million more Diffusion than me.

The moral of this story is, I guess, don’t use Holy Prism on this fight.

Conclusion: A Lesson Learned

Last night I made sure Light’s Hammer was ready to go on the pull. And I also followed Aladya’s example in planning CDs for Rampage. (Obviously, I couldn’t execute it quite as perfectly as he does, but the general CD timing was there.)

The end result looked like this:

magsnew

Still below our meter whores Druid and Shaman who play meter topping games with each other, but still solid. Especially since I died near the end.

And in closing, my spell breakdown from last night, analyze it how you will.

magsspellsnew

How To Use World of Logs to Spy on Pros (Also Heroic Megaera Holy Pally CD Usage Discussion)

June 16, 2013

EDIT: Want to learn even more about World of Logs and Holy Paladins? Lucy over at Intellect Plate has a comprehensive and excellently written guide which touches on this topic and so much more, I highly suggest you check it out! (I wrote this post merely days after her guide was published, not realizing that she had already covered pretty much everything I bring up. I swear this was an unfortunate coincidence and I offer her my apologies.)

I’m always getting told that my World of Logs posts are long and boring, and the only people who would make sense of them are people who don’t need to be reading World of Logs tutorials anyway.

Yes, yes, no one ever words it quite like that. THATS STILL WHAT IT MEANS.

So I am going to try again.

In my last couple of posts, I mentioned creepy stalking looking up the pros and admiring their use of cooldowns. I didn’t go into details on my procedure and perhaps there are people out there at this very second thinking to themselves, “I wish I could look at Pro logs but every time I open World of Logs I get dizzy and sleepy.

To those people, I present: How to Use World of Logs to Spy on Pros

And for intermediate WoL users, those of you who pull up CD graphs but aren’t too sure what you’re looking at, you guys can scroll down to the last section. There we are sipping tea and calmly discussing Megaera rampage CD usage.

Finding An Interesting Log

1) Go to http://www.worldoflogs.com

Simple enough?

2) Select HPS

hps

3) Select your region (US&EU for me) and desired Mode (25 Heroic for me), in that order

findingpros

4) Choose your boss fight and hit “Rankings” (for this post, it will be Megaera)

findingmegs

5) Select the little Holy icon under “Paladin” and choose a recent log from a paladin on server where you understand the language.

selectingapro

I’m sure Афиа is amazing, but deciphering his or her spell names just won’t be worth the trouble. You want to go with a recent log too, as fight mechanics and class intricacies change over time. The more recent the log, the more likely it’ll give you an accurate representation of that fight for your class.

6) Click on a Paladin’s name, and check out their spell breakdown tab before hitting the “Buffs Cast” tab.

spellbreakdown

I’m not sure what general etiquette is for using screenshot’s of a stranger’s logs. To give credit where credit is due, these are Aladya’s (from Method) logs from June 5. I picked these particular ones because the CD timing on them is perfect for teaching. If it’s inappropriate for me to use them, I will take them down and apologize profusely.

7) To view CD usage click on the “#” next to the cooldown(s) you’re interested in

choosingCDs

Note that you can also select debuffs, and under the “Buffs gained” tabs, you can view uptime of buffs or debuffs that are cast on a player by someone or something else. For the sake of this discussion, though, we only care about Holy Pally CD casts.

8) Admire the graph you’ve created

CDgraph

Discussion

First, there’s a graph with pretty squiggly lines. The light yellow one shows damage the raid is doing (we don’t care about that at this time) and the orangish line shows damage taken by raid. If you’re colourblind, you can distinguish them (at least on this fight – and that’s why I picked this fight) because damage taken spikes at 6 specific spots.

Those 6 specific spikes are Rampages.

Under the pretty squiggly graph, there are green bars. Each green bar shows you when a buff was active. If you mouse over a green bar on World of Logs (note, this won’t work on my screenshots!), a tooltip will pop up showing who had that buff on them. Especially useful for assessing Eternal Flame usage, but also helpful if you happen to be interested in Beacon, Hand of Purity or Hand of Sacrifice targets.

From this graph, we can see that our pro paladin has Eternal Flames running throughout the fight on a number of people (the brighter a green bar, the more people that buff is on).

We can also breakdown his CD usage per rampage:

Rampage #1: Holy Avenger, Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath. (Guardian of the Ancient Kings was used as well – I forgot to add it when doing the screenshot.)
Rampage #2: None
Rampage #3: Holy Avenger and Devo Aura.
Rampage #4: Avenging Wrath and Divine Favor
Rampage #5: Holy Avenger
Rampage #6: Devo Aura, Intellect Potion (also Guardian of the Ancient Kings, missing from screenshot)

Avenging Wrath and Divine Favor were used again at the very end of the fight. (Had it taken longer for the last head to die, they could have been used on the last Rampage, but DPS was too high and they weren’t off CD yet.)

I added Divine Plea to the screenshot as well, you can see how it was used shortly before the third and fifth rampage.

Now, when I’m writing Holy Pally beginner CD guides, I always say “Don’t use Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath at the same time, you just get more overheal and less time with an active throughput CD“. I stand by that. For 5s, most normal fights and periods of lowish damage, at least. When damage is periodically intense (such as this fight) and every ounce of healing will be useful, you might as well hit with everything you have. Plus, the earlier you use your CDs, the more likely they’ll be up at the end.

For progression fights – whether you’re doing crazy heroic modes or you’re working on normal Horridon, you can plan your CD usage based on fight length and the time it takes for CD to come up. And then your “Buff Cast” graph can look like this one.

Ending Words

I was going to end this post by adding a few more CD graphs of top Holy Paladins. Then I realized that I’d be wasting a precious exercise opportunity. So go, use the instructions here to find other examples of Holy Paladin CD planning!

Hours and hours of fun, I assure you!

Holy Avenger and EF Blanketing – The Results

June 15, 2013

As I was researching yesterday’s post (and by researching, I mean creepy stalking top Holy Pally parsers on World of Logs), I noticed that every one of them was using a healing technique I hadn’t tried:

Holy Avenger on CD, Holy Power built through Holy Radiance and Holy Shock and sunk via Eternal Flame blanketing over as much of the raid as possible.

I checked both 10s and 25s, under the Heroics tab. Both used this trick, though 25s players seemed more likely to blow Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath at the same time as Holy Avenger (time for a macro?) while 10s generally staggered their CDs out more.

So it seems I’m well behind the times (that’s what happens when WoW takes the backseat for months), but I’m sure I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE.

Plus before and after screenshots are always tons of fun.

The Changes

On top of using the Holy Avenger trick, I also started tracking Illuminated Healing (Mastery). I doubt it made a significant difference but it did lightly influence where I would cast my Holy Radiance/Holy Shock/Eternal Flame.

Our healing comp was a bit different than last week too. Last week my Copally was away, and this week we were missing our Monk and Druid S. This would have an effect on how each of us heal in comparison to one and other, but I really don’t think it would account for a drastic change. After all, we rarely use the same healing comp on a given fight from week to week anyway.

In terms of gear, if you look at the past few weeks, my gear will have improved, but between this week and last, the only differences were how I found two pieces that made me to think “I could have sworn I’d reforged these!“, and my weekly VP gear upgrading. So, some influence on my stats, but less than a clear change.

Notes on Throughput and Functionality

This is obviously a post on throughput. Throughput has its place. After all, if healers can’t keep up with the damage or with their teammates, they’re holding the raid back. Plus, guild and healing leads from all brackets (yes, I’ve seen leads from guilds who can’t kill normal Horridon obsess over healing meters) don’t see past meters and HPS. So meter milking is a good skill to have if you want some peace and quiet.

However, throughput is not a replacement for functionality.

A healer’s first priority is to keep the raid (or healing assignment, depending on the team and the fight) alive through every mechanic. Standing still and spamming heals isn’t a luxury most of us have access to. (And even if it were, it doesn’t sound very fun, you know?)

My poor copally, who ended up, without his knowledge (if this were real science, this experiment would never make it past the ethics committee) being a control subject, is by far a better healer than I am. I spend more energy looking up techniques, but he makes less mistakes than me, and doesn’t panic and freeze up the way I do. When it comes to choosing a paladin for exploratory fights, he is the obvious choice.

Once your priorities are covered, though, there’s nothing wrong with taking your art to the next level and squeezing extra out of your character.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Holy Avenger to a freshly-pressed, new paladin. I’d like to see a new paladin healer master Beacon healing, Holy Power cycling and cooldown management before adding yet another CD. Once those are down, then by all means.

For your amusement, here is a list of my screw ups last night as I tried to fit the new technique into my routine:

1- On H-Jin’Rokh, dropped a fissure in the middle of raid.
2- On H-Horridon, almost got eaten by my pink dino (have really no idea how I survived that)
3- On H-Council, drowned in Quicksand
4- On H-Iron Council, got 3 stacks of flame lines, had to bubble, then had no bubble left to mask my inability to handle tornadoes. Also missed my pre-tornado Aura Mastery.

While on the average raid night, I earn no shortage of “that’s not good” and “Rykga, Rykga, Rykga“, the above aren’t mistakes I typically make (except for pre-tornado Aura Mastery. I always screw that one up.)

But enough chitchat. Here are the preliminary results of my healing with Holy Avenger experiement. (Also keep in mind that I was very clumsy with the technique. Imagine what this would look like if my CD timing were perfected!)

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WoW… Oh hei! I still play that!

June 14, 2013

You know you’ve fallen out of the loop when you come across lists of Holy Paladin bloggers… and your name is nowhere to be found. Which is fair enough – I haven’t written anything substantial since that guide from two patches ago, which I never even polished up. It’s just. That. Time. Goes by. So fast. SO FAST. Didn’t I write that last guide post YESTERDAY? OMG.

But have no fear! Newcomer bloggers Paladiner and Lucy have got you covered, especially when it comes to Heroic Mode info. Super busy Getsu also finds the time to post some Holy Paladin thoughts as well (I complain that I can’t update because I’m busy, but he’s like 200 times busier than me and still finds time for Holy Pally philosophy /shame).

And if Heroic raiding and patch notes aren’t your thing, the awesome Megacode is still going strong with his regular podcasts on Normal modes, basics and other must-knows. He’s also done some fantastic interviews with high profile players. (Speaking of Megacode’s podcasts, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say it yet, but I wasn’t told not to say anything and I’m super super excited so I’m going to say it anyway: he has another round table coming up! I can’t wait! I think we should do like a holy paladin cafe once a month, where a bunch of us grab mics, a bunch more get into the chat channel and we just pally talk. No prep, no editing. Just glorious, glorious pally talk. Would anyone else be interested in that?)

So we’re digesting 5.3 sideways, 5.4 is on the horizon (already? WTF) yet all I want to talk about are Bioware games and nerd conventions. That’s just how I am. But still, I will not be left out during these kinda-difficult-but-we’ve-been-through-worse Holy Paladin times.

5.3 and The Great Mastery and T14 4-pc Nerf of 2013

Of Tier Gear 14 and 15

Unlike most, I made the switch from T14 4pc to T15 as soon as I had enough T15 to get a 2pc. The reasoning was that my T14 gear came from a mix of LFR and Normal mode while my T15 was nice and shiny Normal and Heroic stamped.

I experimented by switching back and forth, and once I got used to both, I could get roughly equal numbers. T14, for me, was all about the EF blanketing, while T15 lets me go crazy with Holy Radiance. (Holy Radiancing – something I know many of my fellows are ticked off about. But what can you do? Perhaps it’s just our overachieving tanks, but it seems like the only T15 fight where we need any kind of tank healing assignments is Heroic Mags and MAYBE SOMETIMES Heroic Council. For everything else, there’s Holy Radiance.) As I shifted toward T15 and got deeper in heroic content, I found that my old T14 set just didn’t have the mana regen necessary for today’s modern boss fights. So off to the vendor we went.

Paladiner suggests skipping the T15 4pc. His experience with specific fights doesn’t reflect my own, probably because he runs with a different healer team makeup, and, more likely, he does 10s while I do 25s. But! As stubborn as I am about keeping my shiny 4pc, I do agree that the extra stat bonus from an upgrade from normal-mode T15 piece to a heroic (or better, a Heroic THUNDERFORGED!) non-T15 piece would probably give your healing more oomph than a boost to Beacon.

There are some exceptions – my copally and I cross-beacon on Heroic Mags and we each get a lot of healing out of it. A lot. While we don’t seem to get the same kind of Beacon numbers on Heroic Council, I suspect that when we switch to direct healing Frostbite targets, our Beacons (again, cross-beaconing) have made other healers lives much easier. Otherwise, it seems the other fights in Throne are more raid damage typed, where extra Mastery and extra Spirit to support shiny Holy Radiances would go further than a boost to Beacon.

That said, I creepy stalked some of the highest HPS pallies in the US, and the vast majority (but not all!) were using T15 4pc. Note, though, their healing situations might not reflect that of the average raid. Plus they might swap gear around between fights.

And, what else? Oh yes, Mastery nerfs. Ouch.

Mastery Nerfs and healing styles

I checked my logs after the nerf and I half expected to find myself booted from my guild. It hurt my healing that bad. My copally was healing just fine, though, so I think the numbers may have had more to do with me than with the nerf. I tried harder the next week, and while I couldn’t get to where I was before the nerf, I did manage to not be rock bottom of the meters on every fight.

A couple of pallies asked me if they should change their stat priorities given the changes to Mastery. I don’t do much experimenting with things that extreme – but if anyone wants to give it a try, I’d be happy to look at the results.

I went to World of Logs again and went through a dozen of the highest ranking paladins (for 25 Heroic, mind you) and Mastery was a unanimous priority.

Another unanimous trait was the healing style of Holy Shock/Holy Radiance to generate Holy Power, followed by Eternal Flame blanketing. I swear most of them don’t even have Light of Dawn in their spell book.

(I try to heal like that, but apparently I fail pretty hard. In a fight 90 seconds shorter, Envy’s Finella gets more than twice the Holy Radiances and EFs out than I can!)

A strategy they use and that I hadn’t come across in discussions, is to take Holy Avenger (remember Holy Avenger, the level 75 talent?) and use it on CD. Combine with Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath for extra sexiness.

Simple and brilliant. For 18 seconds, you can get a lot of badass Eternal Flames out. Then you have 72 to 102 seconds to generate EFs the old fashion way.

I’m going to try this tonight.

As for meter rankings for the pros since the nerf, it seems that those pallies who were topping the meters before are now only slightly behind their Disc Priest buddies. Their healing environment is kinda different than the average raider (they have less healers, which spreads damage differently, and their healing aims more for numbers than functionality and bare survival), but the rest of us still have no excuse.

5.4, Flex Raiding, Minor Changes and Beyond

The Holy Paladin of the Future

I was happy to find no trace of those Eternal Flame nerfs everyone’s been panicking about. (Those aren’t hidden somewhere, are they? I’m scared!)

Our class changes are pretty minor. Paladiner’s wringed as much analysis out of our set bonuses as possible. Dedralie at Healiocentric has some discussion on our general changes on her blog as well.

If you want a TL;DR of our predicted changes, here it is: some wording on talents and some tiny number adjustments on Hand of Purity. At the time, I doubt anything will actually be noticeable in game. (Other than, obviously, T16 gear.)

And Flex Raiding!

Flex Raiding

Why is everyone so upset about Flex Raiding?

I think my guildy had the best reaction to the announcement: “Will I be getting an achievement for Flex Raiding?

I can see how a third lockout would be annoying to guilds in the upper-but-not-raiding-24-hours-a-day bracket. Even so, it only takes a couple of weeks for these guilds before everyone has everything they need from pre-normal raid lockouts, weeks where most of us are chained to our computers anyway. And adding a third lockout would probably reduce the number of weeks it takes to get saturated with pre-normal gear.

Personally, I’m super happy about this. I doubt, however, I’ll use it much. For me, I think, Flex raiding is coming too late. For the longest time, I wished there were some way I could help my off server friends with current tier fights without having to built a raiding alt. I also wished there was a way we could have scaling fights, so we didn’t spent more time looking for pugs than actually playing. By now, though, most of my off servers friends have scattered. I’ve lost touch with too many of them and don’t feel comfortable sending a “hey, wanna Flex Raid with me?“. But still, I’m happy the opportunity will be there, should I get the call.

It might also be a way for me to connect with my own guild. During regular raids, I still freeze up whenever someone talks to me (and with my fluttery attention span, it’s very hard for me to concentrate on the raid and chat to guildies at the same time). I tried running LFR with them, but it’s not the same with a bunch of a strangers in our group. So even though I’ve been in the guild for months and am quite happy (the raids are efficient, fair and entertaining, what more could I ask for?), I’m not as engaged as I usually am. Flex raiding would perfect for drunken, no stress guild fun.

What else is coming up in 5.4? Virtual realms?

Virtual Realms or Are we really just looking for an excuse to overreact?

I play on Tichondrius, which, I think, has become the most populated realm after last week’s character service discount. Why everyone wants to move to a server where there are up to 40 minute queues in the evening and where you have to get up at 5 am to do dailies if you don’t want to spend more time getting ganked than playing the game, I have no idea. But long story short, I don’t think I’ll be affected by virtual realms.

As for everyone else, it sounds like virtual realms will help somewhat with the challenges of playing on a low pop server, namely guild recruiting and finding fun things to do with strangers on offnights. Perhaps I’m missing something huge, but I can’t see where the problem is.

There! A WoW post at last!

I think that sums my recent thoughts on the game.

I do still play, I assure you. Cadenza is now 7/13H in 25s. Thankfully, Throne of Thunder calls for waaaay less twitchy movement than, um, that other dungeon who’s name I apparently blocked from my memory. I still die enough to worry about getting kicked. Every time I see an in-game mail from my GM I get all “oh noes!“. (It’s usually just a shipment of raid food, though. Why he does this, I’m not sure. I wonder if his food Auction House alt has a name similar to Rykga and I’m getting them by accident. Or perhaps it’s a quiet hint that I need more spirit. But, you know, I won’t turn down free raid food.)

The mic port on my desktop blew so now I can’t talk on Vent or Skype or Mumble. Not sure if there’s a way to fix that without having to change my whole motherboard. (While I did build this computer with my own two hands, I’m still pretty clueless about how everything fits together.) I’m quite sad about it but not enough yet to dare rip my tower apart. The laptop still works, anyway.

And, um, I’m really trying to find things to write about here. It feels like when I write to my mom: “Dear Mom, I am still alive. I work a lot. Sometimes I go hiking but not very often because it rains all the time. We got snow last week too. I went to the SPCA this morning and walked a dog. I made soup in my slow cooker overnight and it tasted funny. Do you know what I am doing wrong? My computer is being buggy again. You should try Granville Island Brewery’s Summer Mingler pack. It’s quite delicious. That’s all I can think of. Love, Jenn.”

Alright, time to shut off the computer so my eyes don’t hurt for raid. Talk to you all again in like a month!


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