Posted tagged ‘raiding’

How I’m healing in MoP – Holy Pally 4eva: Your Cooldowns. Use Them.

January 16, 2013

Second last post of the guide! (Not counting update notifications – of which should start, like, the day after I finish.)

You remember the three component of paladin healing?

1- Beacon Usage
2- Holy Power building and sinking
3- Cooldown management.

Even back when Holy Paladins were (wrongfully) accused of “one button healing”, proper use of cooldowns distinguished the decent Paladin healer from the good Paladin healer. Between mana buttons, output enhancing buttons and fight manipulation buttons, we had a lot of control over what happened during a fight.

Now that we have more healing buttons, we also have more cooldown buttons (including talents and excluding potions, I counted 17) and, more than ever, using cooldowns properly will take your playstyle to the next level.

What is a Cooldown?

Basics first!

A cooldown (or CD) is a spell or ability of considerable power which, when used, has a timer before it can be used again.

For the purpose of this post, the time between uses has to be at least 20 seconds (so Holy Prism can qualify). While Holy Shock does have a cooldown, I don’t think of it as a Cooldown Spell.

So how do I know to use a Cooldown?

First, make sure your UI clearly shows which cooldowns are ready to be used and how much time is left on those that are not.

Then, you’ve got two choice:

DPS Style: Use your CDs the second they’re ready, goals being to squeeze in as much healing as you can and to lower mana requirements for the fight.

Saviour Style: Save your CDs for specific moments, either to react to a predictable burst of damage, or to prevent a wipe in case of an emergency.

Both styles have their place and the wise Holy Paladin knows when to use each approach based on three elements:

1- The Nature of the Cooldown: There’s no point in using a specific damage reduction cooldown if that type of damage isn’t present, just like it’s silly to use a threat manipulation cooldown if threat isn’t a concern.

2- The Cooldown Timer: When a timer only allows one use per fight, the cooldown is best saved for an emergency or for the last minute of the fight. Abilities with very short cooldowns can be used more freely since they’re likely to be ready again by the time they’re really needed.

3- Knowledge of a Fight: If you know the types (magic vs physical) and patterns (burst vs periodic, single target vs raid-wide) of damage in a fight, you can plan your cooldown usage to get the most out of all your spells.

Cooldown use is also influenced by the strategy your raid or healing lead has in mind. It’s always a good idea to use your guild’s strategy threads to make sure you’re on the same page as your leaders when it comes to cooldown usage on specific fights. Prevents screaming matches.

I’ll also point out that on new progression fights, aka, fights where your team is just starting to learn the mechanics, aka, where you expect to wipe within the first 3-4 minutes, it makes sense to blow all your extra healing CDs early. They’ll help keep the team alive longer during the mechanics-learning process and they should be ready for use again by the time you recover from the wipe.

Output Enhancing Cooldowns

Divine Favor: (3 minutes) Increases haste and crit for 20 seconds.
Avenging Wrath: (3 minutes) Increases healing output. Can by modified with Sanctified Wrath (talent) and Glyphs of Avenging Wrath and the Falling Avenger.
Trinket with on-use Intellect: Empty Fruit Barrel was the only one I could find with an on-use Intellect boost.
Holy Avenger: (Talent only – 2 minutes) Increases healing output of certain spells and builds Holy Power.
Potion of the Jade Serpent: (Potion – Once per fight, may also use an extra one right before pull) Increases intellect for 25 seconds, which in turn increases healing output.

All of these cooldowns increase your throughput somehow.

I included a potion for completeness’ sake. You can only use one potion, total, per fight so only use a Potion of the Jade Serpent if you’re positive you won’t be needing a potion for mana later on. If a fight has a lot of damage right at the start, you can do like a dps player and pre-pot (drink a potion right before the pull to avoid triggering the once-per-fight restriction), however most fights in Tier 14 start off slowly damage wise, making pre-potting a waste. (However, as Talarian suggests in the comments, if a fight doesn’t start off with steep healing, you’re tight on the enrage timer and you don’t think mana will be an issue, you can pre-pot and use your damage spells for some smooth healer dps.)

All the other buttons (and the trinket), however, have a 2-3 minute cooldown, meaning you should use them at least twice on any fight longer than 6 minutes. On most fights they can be used DPS Style (as soon as they come up), but if a fight has conveniently spaced bursts of damage (think Empress in Heart of Fear), you can time your cooldowns to help you mop up after the bursts.

These throughput cooldowns also have a fantastic side effect: since they make your spells harder and/or faster, you can use lighter spells, saving mana. (Thank you Sol for the comment!)

Unless you need a biiiiig burst of healing, avoid having more than one cooldown active at a time. Hitting Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath together will, more often than not, result in 20 seconds of overheal. It’s much less of a waste to use one, wait for it to finish, then use another.

Extra Heals Cooldowns

Lay on Hands: (5-12 minutes) Heals the target for the amount of your maximum health. This is the tank saver. Can be modified with Glyph of Divinity for a bonus mana-return and with the Unbreakable Spirit talent for a cooldown reduction.
Guardian of Ancient Kings: (5 minutes) Adds to 5 of your single target heals and splashes healing onto nearby players.
Execution Sentence: (Talent only – 1 minute) Single target heal over time.
Holy Prism: (Talent only – 20 seconds) Can be used a cheap single target heal or as a small area of effect heal.
Light’s Hammer: (Talent only – 1 minute) Puts an area of healing on the ground for 17.5 seconds.

Lay on Hands and Guardian of Ancient Kings have fairly long CDs. On long, long, long fights they can be used twice (maybe three times if a fight goes over 15 minutes) but on most fights they can only be used once.

Lay on Hands is such a powerful tank savor that I like to save it for emergencies, regardless of fight length, unless I’m positive that our tanks won’t need it. As for Guardian of Ancient Kings, it’s nice to use twice on long fights, once early on and once at the end, unless you feel you might need to prevent a wipe halfway through. Never finish a fight with Guardian off CD. It’s such a great healing bonus that if the fight is almost over and you haven’t needed it yet, just use it. USE IT.

The other three are the level 90 talents. You pick one. They’re on short timers, so use them whenever they’re available, unless you have a perfect opportunity coming up within the next few seconds.

Raid-wide Cooldown

Devotion Aura:
(3 minutes) Reduces magic damage (AND ONLY MAGIC DAMAGE) for 6 seconds. Also prevents Silences and Interrupts for those 6 seconds, which is more useful in PvP than in Tier 14 raiding.

This time around, Devotion Aura (or, affectionately, Devo Aura) is our cooldown that affects the entire raid. It (only) lasts 6 seconds and is useless against physical damage.

There are still a lot of fights where Devotion Aura is lovely, though, so check the types of damage caused by different boss abilities. If there’s magic damage that affects more than 2-3 people at once, you’ve got a Devo Aura opportunity.

You can usually fit it in twice a fight, but check with your raid or healing lead – most teams like to coordinate raid-wide CDs for maximal benefit.

Fight Manipulation Cooldowns

Hand of Sacrifice: (2 minutes) Transfers some damage from the target over to you.
Hand of Purity: (talent only – 30 seconds) Reduces damage from (most) periodic effects on the target. Check out Gina’s list of HofPurity opportunities.
Hand of Protection: (5 minutes) Prevents all physical (AND ONLY PHYSICAL) damage on the target (also usually removes bleed effects) for 10 seconds, but prevents the target from using physical attacks (melee and hunters don’t like this). Has added affect that melee mobs will stop attacking the target and go elsewhere (squishies like this, tanks to do not).
Hand of Salvation: (2 minutes) Removes the targets threat. Hunters appreciate the thought. Tanks, not so much.
Hand of Freedom: (25 seconds) Removes/prevents movement impairing effects. Useful on the trash to Elegon.

Hand CDs are called Hands for a reason: they give you some control over fights.

Hand of Sacrifice can be used DPS-Style, however some teams like to coordinate usage for certain fights. Check with your leaders before keeping Hand of Sacrifice on CD. Same goes for Hand of Purity, on fights where HofPurity is helpful.

Note that while Hand of Sacrifice on its own should not be able to kill you, if you have Hand of Sacrifice active while intense raid damage is going out, your face might meet the floor. I speak from experience. Be wise when you use it, and if you think you might die, get a damage reduction CD on yourself (scroll down this post to read about Divine Protection and Divine Shield). Also note that damage transferred through HofSac keeps its type. So physical damage to your target means physical damage to you.

Hand of Protection is really handy (oh the bad pun!) during trash, or for fights with lots of adds, if your team is a little clumsy. I’ve also used it to clear nasty Wind Steps on Heroic Blade Lord. The CD timer is long, though, so you’ll rarely get to use it more than once a fight. Choose your opportunity wisely.

I’ve yet to use Hand of Salvation, but if your team is a little clumsy, some of your trigger-happy dps might appreciate a good Salv. As for Freedom, in PvE, it is very situation specific, but does have occasional uses. Both have a fairly short timer and can be used rather freely.

If you really like your Hands, look into the Clemency talent, which lets you use all Hands (except Purity) twice before triggering the CD.

Mana Cooldowns

Divine Plea: (2 minutes) Returns mana for 9 seconds but lowers healing output during that time. Can be modified via Glyph of Divine Plea to negate the healing penalty in exchange for a 5 second cast time.
Trinket with on-use Spirit or Mana: Scroll of Revered Ancestors, Jade Courtesan Figurine, Vial of Ichorous Blood, Price of Progress all have on-use Spirit or Mana return.
Master Mana Potion/Potion of Focus: (Potion – Once per fight) Potions that restores mana.

Unless you’re drowning in a pool of your own mana, Divine Plea can (and usually should) be used DPS-Style starting when you reach about 80% mana. Be smart about it though, if you’re approaching a point in the fight where the healing penalty (or cast time) might be a problem, wait a little bit. Same goes for if a point in the fight where the healing penalty or cast time doesn’t matter is coming up.

As for your on-use mana-returning trinkets, they have no penalty associated with them, so if you have a such a trinket, you’ll want to use it right after your first few casts, then whenever it makes itself available.

Again, I put some potions in for completeness. The Master Mana Potion only restores a little bit of mana, but can be used instantly. Potion of Focus, on the other hand, restores more mana but requires that you drop what you’re doing to sit and drink. You only get to use one potion per fight, so choose wisely.

Personal Damage Reduction Cooldown

Divine Protection: (30 seconds to 1 minute) In it’s original state, reduces magic (AND ONLY MAGIC!) damage for 10 seconds. You can add a physical damage reduction component via Glyph of Divine Protection, and you can reduce the CD via the Unbreakable Spirit talent.
Divine Shield: (2.5-5 minutes) Makes you invulnerable (with some exceptions) for 8 seconds and removes most debuffs. The CD can be reduced via the Unbreakable Spirit talent.

Divine Protection has such a cute little CD that it can be used DPS Style for fights with regular raid damage, unless there’s a big burst of damage coming up. Check damage types before each fight to know whether or not to add the physical damage reduction Glyph.

While Divine Shield coupled with Unbreakable Spirit can have a fairly short CD, this spell is such a powerful oopsy-fixer that you’ll want to almost exclusively use it Savior Style. If you screw up and are about to be killed (and humiliated) by avoidable damage, you want this spell to be available to save your face. I mean your life. You’ll probably only get to use it once per fight, but you’re a good pally who doesn’t make many mistakes, right?

AND THAT ENDS THE HOW-TO PORTION OF THIS GUIDE!

Oh yessssss.

Next post is the one I’ve been looking forward to since day one! I get to update my links and point all you avid pally-info readers to some awesome resources and fantastic members of the paladin community.

But for now I need to rest my sore fingers.

How I’m healing in MoP – Holy Pally 4eva: Healing with Beacon

January 7, 2013

That’s right! The end of this series is in sight and it’s time to talk about, you know, real healing spells!

As I see it, there are three components to paladin healing:

1- Beacon of Light Usage
2- Holy Power building and sinking
3- Cooldown Management

Since this is healing technique post #1, we’re going talk about Beacon.

beacon

The official description is rather clear. You put a buff, Beacon of Light, on a player of your strategic choosing, and the healing you do on other players transfers to your Beacon target.

The amount transferred varies based on spell used. So if Beacon is on Mary and you cast a Holy Light on Jack for 300 (numbers used in this post do not reflect actual in game averages), Mary would also receive a 300 heal. But if your Holy Radiance hits 5 people for 300, then Mary would be healed for 5 X (15% of 300) = 225.

You can move your Beacon of Light to different players during a fight, if you feel that’s the best strategy. If you plan on doing that often, consider Glyph of Beacon of Light to remove the global cooldown, making Beacon swapping faster.

Note as well the 60(!!!) yard radius on Beacon. Meaning Beacon can heal a player who’d be out of range by normal standards (40 yards), as long as they are within 60 yards of the person you’re direct healing.

Add Beacon to your frames

beacontracking

You’ll want to track your Beacon.

Since the Beacon buff doesn’t expire – the only ways to get rid of it is for the target to die, for the target to remove it (why would they want to do that?) and for you to cast it on a different target, Beacon tracking isn’t as crucial as it once was. However, since you, the player, are a human being, you sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes your target dies and you don’t put their Beacon back on. Sometimes your mouse slips a little and you cast Beacon on the wrong person. Sometimes you think you’re moving your Beacon to a new target but the cast doesn’t go off. Sometimes YOU EVEN FORGET TO CAST BEACON AT ALL! Tracking your Beacon is the fastest way to catch signs of your humanity and hide them before anyone else notices.

You’ll want to track the Beacons of other paladins in the raid.

But I run 10 man/don’t raid!” you say. You also look at me with that “I know you’re heavily biased toward 25 man raiding” eye. Yes, I do intend to be the last 25 man holy paladin standing. But! Even if you don’t typically run with other holy paladins, you still might run LFR, you might do some Battlegrounds, you might pug a raid.

Knowing what the other holy paladins are doing helps a lot with making strategic decisions as well as predicting where the fight is going. It only takes a second to set up your frames to track other Beacons and you’ll almost certainly discover that you enjoy spying on your fellows.

Choosing a Beacon Target

I wrote about Beacon strategies awhile back. The post is rather outdated, but you might find some ideas for creative Beacon use, if you’re into that sort of thing.

1- Beacon the Tank (or, your Assigned Tank): If you’re just getting started and are running 5 mans, Beacon the tank. In Mists, I believe the only time I Beacon a non-tank in a 5 man is if the tank dies and I decide to save the group. In a raid setting, Beaconing the tank, or the tank you’re assigned to heal, has been my strategy of choice this expansion. It allows for the most freedom, letting you choose between direct healing your Beacon target (which builds Holy Power as we’ll see next post), or healing around and letting those heals transfer through Beacon.

2- Beacon the other Tank: In a fight calling for 2 simultaneous tanks, you can either use strategy #1, or choose to Beacon the tank you’re not assigned to, and spam heal your tank. This is more mana consuming and doesn’t let you help out the raid healers as much, but in a fight that is high on tank damage and low on raid damage, this strategy makes it easy to keep both tanks alive if you don’t trust the person healing the other tank (and might help you climb the meters a little bit, if you’re into that). If you’re healing with another paladin, this choice allows for cross-beaconing (each paladin is assigned a tank, and gives Beacon to the other pally’s tank)

3- Switch from Tank to Tank: I’d only seriously use this strategy on fights where tanks alternate. Assisted by Glyph of Beacon of Light, plop Beacon on whichever tank is currently taking the most damage.

4- Beacon on Someone Else: I can only think of three occasions where I’d use this in Mists so far – healing kiters on Garalon, healing in Gara’jal’s spirit world (thank you Repgrind!) and extreme raid healing. Extreme raid healing was described to me by Cebrafin on my glyph post and involves Beaconing a player before casting Divine Light or Flash of Light on them to build Holy Power. While I’ve never come across this strategy (and I read A LOT of healing logs), and you would rarely use big heals when raid healing, this strategy could be used if you do need a big heal on a non-tank, or as a fun distraction in LFR or during a boring fight.

Next post: That Holy Power you keep hearing about.

Chibi Rykga says hi! (Thank you Rades for the link!)

Chibi Rykga says hi! (Thank you Rades for the link!)

Till next time!

How I’m healing in MoP – Holy Pally 4eva: The UI

December 31, 2012

You have your gear (note that the gear post is somewhat outdated) and reforging in mind and you’ve picked out the Talents and Glyphs you want to start with. You’re ready to start pressing buttons!

Almost.

Before getting to the pressing buttons part, I want to make sure your UI (User Interface) needs are met. To heal effectively you want a proper interface. One that tells you what you need to know yet cuts down on useless, overwhelming information.

A good healer knows exactly what’s happening to each person in the raid at all times as well as what their own character is doing, while following the fight.

The key to that, friends, is a proper UI.

What to Add to the Addon Shopping List?

Here’s a screen shot of my UI (click on it on few times to make it bigger). This is obviously just an example and you are free (in fact, I encourage you!) to use your imagination to build your own interface.

raidui

1- Raid Frames

You want to see what’s going on in your raid. The more popular frames for healing are VuhDo, Healbot, Grid and Grid2. Shown in the above picture is Grid2.

Grid and Grid2 require an extra addon if you want to use the mouse to interact with the frames (Clique is the only one I’m aware of). The original Grid may require extra addons to track certain buffs and debuffs as well. For an elaborate breakdown of the major frame addons, check out Grimmtooth (the series may be a little outdated but the general gist is there).

Having tried all of the popular healing frames, I found them equally good, so go with whichever you find prettiest or whichever your friends use (so it’s easier to get answers if you have questions).

As a Holy Paladin, you want to track:

- Your Beacon of Light as well as the Beacons of other Holy Pallies in the raid (indicated separately)
- Eternal Flame
- Sacred Shield (If you are using the spell, otherwise it is optional)
- Your Illuminated Healing (Optional – nice to have but may be overwhelming)
- Range (Fade out at 40 yards)
- Aggro (Optional but helpful)
- Rezzed but not yet taken the rez (Called Resurrection on Grid2. Most players don’t track this, but I find it super helpful.)
- Fight specific buffs and debuffs (Such as Pungency on Garalon)
- Magic, Poison and Disease debuffs (Curse debuffs can be shown separately if desired)

As a side note, in the screenshot you can see the tanks on the default WoW frames. I do this in LFR to keep track of who the tanks are. I would hide the default frames in a guild raid.

2- Bar Organizer

The popular addons are Bartender 4 (shown in screenshot) and Dominos.

A good bar organizer will keep your game from vomiting buttons all over your screen. If you look closely, you can see my keybound abilities on the bottom (I rebound my movement keys to ESDF and use the surrounding keys to tap abilities) and my cooldowns (mostly) on the top. My mounts, professions and others are faded out to the right of my main bars, my seals are to the left, and my system buttons (Raid Finder, Raid Journal, Character, etc) are to the top left (hidden behind the WoW frames on the screenshot).

(The screenshot was taken during a time of winter cleaning so the layout isn’t ideal – there are a couple of suboptimal buttons and even an empty space. I am still working on perfecting my bars, so please don’t copy the screenshot.)

Ideally, I would have my cooldowns larger and more in the middle of my screen, but there are so many cooldowns and so little room on the screen. I’ve just gotten in the habit of glancing at my CDs as part of my regular screen visual sweep.

3- Personal Frames (Heads Up)

While you can keep track of yourself using your raid frames, many of us find it easier to track ourselves separately. I use mine for mana and Holy Power (it shows health too, but out of habit I tend to look at my raid frames for my health).

Shown in the picture above is IceHUD, but there are a lot of options to choose from. Once again, the awesome Grimmtooth has reviewed and cataloged the main ones (again, may be a little outdated but still relevent, see Grimmtooth’s comment on this post for some updates).

I have the bars set to fade out of combat so they are hard to see, but in the left circle is my mana bar, my health bar and my pet bar (not shown). On the right side, if I had a target, you’d be able to see my target’s health and mana.

In the bottom circle is my Holy Power bar. I love the location – right on my character, above my healing frames. I always know how much Holy Power I have!

Even if you choose not to use frames for yourself, you will have to track Holy Power near the center of your screen somehow. The tiny bar at the top left of the screen is too out of the way. You’ll waste a lot of time if you extend your visual sweep all the way up there just to look at your Holy Power.

4- Scrolling Battle Text

Some players will say this is optional, but I can’t play without battle text. On the rare occasion that my addon crashes, the difference in my healing output is noticeable.

I use MikScrollingBattleText (you can’t see it in the shot since I wasn’t doing anything at the time) and I have used Parrot in the past as well.

There are a lot of cool things you can do with your battle text, such as sounds for when your cooldowns come up, or when you have 3 Holy Power. You can also use it (mostly) out of the box, to keep an eye on your numbers or to notice when Beacon isn’t transferring heals.

5- Pally Power

Pally Power is truly optional, but I find it helpful for rebuffing after a rez or swapping a Seal. And it’s so small and cute that it doesn’t cause me any problems.

6- Combat Log

Not an addon, but a valuable part of an interface.

I love my Combat Log so much that I moved it to the right side of my screenkeep, separating it from my chat box. You can customize your Combat Log, but Blizzard has done a really good job fixing it up so that the default “What happened to me?” is all you really need.

It’s fantastic for diagnosing deaths (nothing sets me off more than people who don’t know what killed them…the Combat Log SPELLS IT OUT TO YOU DUMBASSES /fume), verifying damage type (physical/shadow/nature/etc) and seeing if the raid healers are slacking.

A Note on the Addon-Free School of Thought

Occasionally you’ll come across healers who refuse to use addons, for a variety of reasons. What they might not tell you, though, is that, if they are successfully healing in a competitive raid environment, they’re using other aids, like macros and optimized keybindings. If you choose to use macros instead of addons (addons are essentially, after all, pretty and precoded macros), you can heal well, however I won’t be able help you.

If you’re hesitant about adding to your game, think of it this way: designing an interface that’s both pleasant on the eyes (you’ll be staring at it a lot, it needs to be sexy) and informative is a skill in itself.

Building a super efficient UI does not take away from your talent as a player. Rather it highlights your ability by reflecting your understanding of the game and of your personal playstyle. A bad player who doesn’t know where or what to look for won’t be able to build a proper UI.

So stop worrying and start addon shopping.

How I’m healing in MoP – Holy Pally 4eva: Glyphs

December 30, 2012

Better late than never, right? I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can finish this guide by the next expansion. (2 years, is it? I can do this in 2 years.)

So now that we’ve explored Stats and Talents, the next logical step is Glyphs. Glyphs, actually, are fairly similar to the new talent system, but add an extra fun dimension to building a character. We get two types of Glyphs: Major and Minor. Major Glyphs directly affect existing abilities while Minor Glyphs, for the most part, just make abilities look cooler.

I won’t go into Minor Glyphs since they have very little effect on gameplay (though Glyph of the Falling Avenger can help during Tillers Dailies). I do, however, highly recommend Glyph of the Luminous Charger because, you know, we’re shiny paladins and our mounts should reflect that.

I divided the Major Glyphs into possible uses to make the post more efficient. I left out the ones that affect retribution- or protection-only abilities but included everything else, for the sake of completion.

Healing Style

These glyphs all affect how you’ll be healing. I fit Divine Plea into this category because the nature of the Glyph has very little effect on mana regen and a lot of effect on how you’ll fit the spell into your healing.

Glyph of Light of Dawn: Light of Dawn heals for more, but hits less targets. I’ve yet to find a use for this. In 5s and 10s, I get better results by putting Eternal Flame on everyone than by casting Light of Dawn, while in 25s, if I’m using Light of Dawn then I want to hit as many people as possible. Feel free to experiment and share your discoveries, though. Rating: Your mileage may vary.

Glyph of Flash of Light: If you cast Flash of Light, your heals for the next 7 seconds will heal for more. For the most part, unless you’re a weird Flash of Lighting paladin, this Glyph is a wasted slot. I have found use for it, however, on Tsulong’s Day Phase where Flash of Light can be a smart spell choice. Rating: Situational.

Glyph of Beacon of Light:
Removes the global cooldown on Beacon of Light, making this Glyph lovely for tank or target switching fights. Feng and Garalon come to mind as fights where I like to use this Glyphs. Also, if you’re running with a less experienced team where the tanks tend to die (or fight over aggro), this Glyph can be handy. Rating: Situational.

Glyph of Divine Plea: Removes the healing penalty from Divine Plea but adds a (freaking long) cast time. If you’re new to paladin healing, are just gearing or running with a less experienced team, this Glyph sucks. The healing penalty is a little annoying, but the cast time is deadly. I’m sure it becomes less of a pain as Mastery shields and Eternal Flame ticks become powerful enough to keep targets alive during the 5 second cast and quite a few commenters stopped by to say they loved the Glyph (so do try it) but I’m hesitant to go back to it. Rating: Your mileage may vary.

Glyph of the Battle Healer: You heal the raid a little when you melee. It does very little healing, but if I can melee on a fight and I can’t find a third useful Glyph, I’ll use it. A teeny bit of healing is better than no healing. Rating: Filler glyph.

Mana

These Glyphs are all about mana. Because we like our mana.

Glyph of Illumination: Affect mana regen via manipulation of Spirit and Holy Shocks. To see if you’d benefit from this Glyph, Joe Ego (theorycrafter at Leveling Holy and Elitist Jerks) made a spread sheet. To use, make a copy of the spread sheet, plug the appropriate numbers in the blue squares and look at your graph. Basically, those who’d get use out of the Glyph run with low Spirit and never miss a Holy Shock. Which isn’t many of us. It might make a good Glyph for someone wanting to try an all-Intellect gemming style combined with a Tier 4-piece. Rating: Rarely useful.

Glyph of Divinity: Increased the cooldown of Lay on Hands but adds a 10% mana return. Good in combination with the Unbreakable Spirit talent. I’ve come to use this Glyph as baseline, since I rarely want to use Lay on Hands more than once or twice per fight, and an emergency mana button is always appreciated. Rating: Go for it.

Self Preservation

These Glyphs affect self-healing or incoming damage reduction. Sometimes they add a bonus to your healing, other times they just keep you from having to blindly trust your raid healers.

Glyph of Divine Protection: Adds a physical damage reduction component to Divine Protection but lowers the magical damage reduction component. For fights with a lot of physical damage, this Glyph is like a ray of light shining through the clouds (with, you know, naked baby angels singing and stuff). Wind Lord Mel’jarak’s Rain of Blades comes to mind. But if a fight is mostly magical, leave this Glyph at home. Rating: Situational.

Glyph of Avenging Wrath:
You get some health back while Avenging Wrath is active. If you’re using Avenging Wrath on cooldown, most of the health back will be overheal, but I could see the use on fights with constant raid damage (like Garalon or Tsulong) if you can’t think of anything better to use as a third Glyph. Use in combination with the Sanctified Wrath talent for maximum effect. Rating: Rarely useful.

Glyph of Protector of the Innocent: You get some health back every time you use Word of Glory (and it works with Eternal Flame too). This Glyph is a waste if you’re using primarily Light of Dawn as your Holy Power sink, but if, like most Holy Pallies, you use a lot of Word of Glory/Eternal Flame this is a fantastic Glyph, especially on fights with a lot of raid damage. Rating: Common Situational.

Damage

These are all Glyphs that affect damage output. You’ll rarely use them for raiding (though they might come in handy to beat an enrage timer), but you’ll love them if you want to do your dailies in Holy spec, run challenge modes or are bored in 5s heroics or Scenarios. I couldn’t find any solid numbers for dps increases per Glyph and my napkin math was inconclusive, so I’ll just explain the Glyphs and let you decide which respond best to your dps needs.

Glyph of Word of Glory: After healing with Word of Glory, your damage output increases by 3% for 6 seconds. Our dps is pretty low, so on it’s own, this Glyph won’t make miracles.

Glyph of Double Jeopardy: Judging a different target does double damage. I did the math with my spellpower and the Glyph gave me a 1400dps increase. Take that as you will.

Glyph of Denounce: Holy Shock has a 50% change to reduce your Denounce cooldown. Which means that, on average, every 12 seconds, your Denounce will take 0.75 seconds to cast instead of 1.5 seconds (or slightly less, depending on your haste).

Glyph of Harsh Words: Lets you use your Word of Glory offensively, provided you don’t have the Eternal Flame talent. Since I always end up with tons of Holy Power I can’t use when trying to kill things in Holy spec, I would probably go with this as a Holy DPS Glyph. I’d use it in combination with the Sacred Shield talent if soloing, or possibly Selfless Healer if running instances.

PVP and/or CC

Glyph of Blessed Life: You have a 50% chance to gain a charge of Holy Power when stunned, feared or immobilized. There is no situation in PvE where you will be any of these states frequently enough for this Glyph to useful (half a chance to gain a single charge? Really?) but perhaps it would have its use in PvP.

Glyph of Rebuke: Increases the cooldown on Rebuke but lengthens the effect. Again, I doubt it’ll ever come in handy in PvE, but PvP adepts might enjoy this Glyphs when quickly killing certain classes.

Glyph of Turn Evil: Instant casts on Turn Evil, but longers cooldowns. I’m not sure how many Demons, Aberrations and NPC Undead are in Pandaria, but this Glyph is available if you want to fear those types of mobs.

Glyph of Blinding Light: Blinding Light knocks down opponents for 3 seconds instead of blinding them for 6. Since damage breaks the blinding effect, this Glyph would let you damage your opponents right after using Blinding Light. I could see uses in PvP or soloing, but rarely for anything else.

And that completes the section on Glyphs. Tune in next time (whenever that might be) for another exciting chapter of Holy Pally 4eva!

Healing Garalon as a Holy Paladin

December 17, 2012

I interrupt my sequence of Holy Paladin Guide posts to whip out a boss healing strat. You see, since my last post, a number of people have sent me healing logs to look at (which is totally fine, I love analyzing logs, they make me happy) and too often the healing strat used on Garalon has made me yell out “NOOOOOOOOOooooooOOOOO!”

garalon

Curious as to how I would it?

I hope so.

Here’s how I would distribute healers for this fight:

Kiters (and backup tanks): Holy Paladin
Tanks: Disc Priest or second Holy Paladin
Raid: Everyone else

I’ve yet to try the fight on 10, but my instinct would say have the Holy Paladin on Kiters and Tanks and the second (and third, if applicable) healer on the entire raid.

Why a Holy Pally to heal Kiters?

So far, Garalon is my absolute favorite fight to heal. The mechanics of a kiter taking huge amounts of damage and two tanks taking sporadic damage play into our strengths with so much precision that it’s almost as if the fight itself were designed to pay tribute to our class.

My guild at the time first tried using a Druid on the Kiters (where they got THAT idea, I have not a clue). It was quite disastrous, with both the Kiter and the Druid dying frequently. Then I started pitching in despite being assigned to the tanks (I’m a pally dammit, I can handle a Kiter and two tanks). While I wasn’t even the official Kiter healer, I still ended up doing most of the healing. By next raid I was begging to be the official Kiter healer. Garalon bit the dust a few attempts later.

With a proper healing technique, keeping the Kiters alive (while still doing significant healing on the tanks) is totally possible, and actually pretty easy. Which is why I encourage you Holy Pallies out there to campaign for your right to heal Garalon kiters.

Recommended Talents and Glyphs

Level 15: Doesn’t matter
Level 30: Doesn’t matter
Level 45: Eternal Flame (if you are healing the kiters, don’t even try anything else)
Level 60: Unbreakable Spirit or Clemency (Purity won’t work on this fight. I tend to side with Clemency because Hand of Sacrifice is so good here, but there could be use for US as well.)
Level 75: Divine Purpose (any could work here, but there will be a lot of use for Divine Purpose)
Level 90: Light’s Hammer if you want an AoE or Execution Sentence if you want to boost your single target healing (I originally thought Holy Prism cast on the boss every 20 seconds would do a lot more healing overall, but testing revealed otherwise.)

Glyphs: Beacon of Light. (The rest is up to you, though I find Protector of the Innocent especially useful on this fight because of the constant raid damage. I tried Battle Healer since I like to melee for mana but it does very little actual healing. Another option would be Glyph of Divinity for the extra mana.)

Debuffs to track on your raid frame

Pungency. (Make sure that you can see the number of stacks.)

Positioning

All hail my mad Paint skillz!

All hail my mad Paint skillz!

Assuming Garalon will be moving in a clockwise position, stand to the right of his front right leg.

In this position, you should be in range of the Kiter and both tanks and close enough to melee for mana (and Battle Healer) on the front right leg. You can possibly reach Garalon himself. As our big bug turns, keeping a proper position should only take minimal movement, giving you plenty of time to cast to your little heart’s content.

Pre-Pull Prep

Have a Beacon of Light on your first Kiter (generally this will be one of your tanks). If you have time, get a maxed out Mastery bubble on your Beacon target, then toss a 3 Holy Power Eternal Flame on them to keep your Mastery from falling off.

If your guild takes forever to pull, use that time to put maxed out Mastery bubbles with 3 Holy Power Eternal Flames on both tanks.

If you still haven’t pulled yet, dump Eternal Flame on yourself, then on everyone else.

During the Fight

Keep Beacon on the current Kiter. Have 3 Holy Power Eternal Flames rolling on the Kiter and both tanks. If you have some wiggle-room, get an Eternal Flame up on yourself. If you’re bored, put as many Eternal Flames as you can on people in range, but be careful to not let it fall off the Kiter or the tanks.

To build up Holy Power, use Holy Shock on CD. You should be in range of the front right leg (and sometimes of the boss) so you can use Crusader Strike too. There’s a lot of raid damage going on so Holy Radiance is never a waste (use it on a non-tank, non-kiting melee if possible) but it can use up your mana bar pretty fast. And since your Kiter will be taking a lot of damage, a Divine Light will also be helpful to charge your Holy Power.

Hand of Sacrifice is to be used a lot on this fight. You can choose to use it on cooldown, or time it to help out on Kiter transitions. (When I was learning the fight, we had a Warlock who was squishier than the rest. I always made sure I timed my Sacrifice for it to be available to keep him alive during his transitions.)

Handling Transitions

Watch the stacks on the Kiter. When it is almost time to change Kiters (most guilds aim for a transition at 20 stacks, in which case you’d begin your process at about 16 stacks), get a 3 Holy Power Eternal Flame on the receiving Kiter, and transfer your Beacon. Make sure Eternal Flame doesn’t fall off your original Kiter until the transition is completely over and they are safely back in range of the raid healers.

By the time the new Kiter gets his first stack of Pungency, he should have Beacon and a 3 HP Eternal Flame on him.

If a transition is difficult, time your Hand of Sacrifice and Aura Mastery to be available for it.

Keeping yourself alive

If you are positioned right, you should in be in range of the raid healers. But to help them out, keep an Eternal Flame going on yourself whenever you can, and use Divine Shield and Divine Protection whenever they’re off CD.

Staying alive should be easy.

Now go out to play!

Like any fight use your CDs right and use them often, follow the strat and you should have a blast on Garalon!

EDIT: I made some changes to the post in light of some of the points raised in the comments. Huge thanks to everyone who left some input. It’s players like you guys who make it so much fun to be a holy pally.

Wrapping up Cataclysm

September 22, 2012

Not long now!

I’ve procrastinated tons and now I’m stuck with a long long to-do list:

- Collect 24 dailies to turn in
- Tune up my ret gear to make leveling faster
- Pre-order MoP
- Install MoP on my desktop and laptop
- Fix my laptop’s WoW UI

I think the only thing I’ve done so far is prepare enough food for me to not have to cook at all next week. (Why am I not surprised that food was my top priority?)

How do you measure an expansion?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

-”Seasons of Love” Rent

So many bloggers do their expansion recaps and it’s interesting to see who uses what as their expansion milestones. Some measure their expansions in class changes, some in game changes, some in tiers.

Me, when I think back on Cataclysm, the first thing that comes to mind is my guild chronology. I suppose then, that I follow the song and measure my expansion in love. Erm.

The Beginning of Cataclysm

Shortly before Cataclysm, the GM of my guild at the time asked me: “What are your plans? Are you staying with us? Will you still be playing your pally?”

I told him his questions were silly. I’d been happy in that guild for over a year. There’s no way I expected my feelings to turn very sour, very fast.

But they did, for a list of reasons too long for me to write out. So long, in fact, that I’m pretty sure I don’t even know all the whys to my change of heart.

I left, was devastated, held my ground, tried not to make an ass of myself (I slipped a few times), licked my wounds, checked out different raiding styles, got to know my inner-raider better, moved on, became a more grown up person.

More or less in that order.

I made up a lot of excuses for my not throwing much of a hissy fit. Mostly noble bullshit like how “I’m not like that” and “I’m going to be the bigger person” and “I learned my lesson last time”.

Yeah, that’s right! Bullshit!

The main reason I restricted my hard feelings to private conversations and comments on other blogs was because I didn’t want to burn my bridges.

Yep. Just in case I could be “just friends” with my ex guildies later on. It’s been a good plan so far. Since leaving the guild I’ve had good times with them at Blizzcon, in PuGs and occasional real life meetups. I’m proud to say I have the best ex-guildies in the world. So yeah, my advice to anyone grieving after a /gquit: never ruin the potential for perfectly good friendships down the road.

Those friendships might be a worth a lot more than your passing frustrations.

What else happened the beginning?

I remember there being a lot of bosses in three (four?) different dungeons. I liked that. On the progression race, having a lot of bosses clearly favoured guilds who raid more hours, but on the “I get bored of the same thing real fast” race, it was very satisfying. We didn’t have to start with the same boss every raid, or even the same dungeon. I like variety and I was served.

I remember the heroic 5s instances being a bit more challenging than we were used to. I liked that too. I didn’t find them particularly hard, even in PuGs, (maybe us holy pallies were just OP at the time), but they did force me to use all my spells, my teamwork skills and my favorite muscle, my brain.

Speaking of pallies and spells, the beginning of Cataclysm brought us Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance. Stirred us up a bit, after single-target healing for so long. I found we were still the most ideal single-target healers, but at least the addition of multi-target heals gave us the opportunity to take single-target healing vacations and try something new.

Then the middle of Cataclysm

I gave casual raiding a whirl. At the same time, I gave 10s raiding a try. Not that 10s are necessarily casual (apparently you get things thrown at your face, even through the computer screen, when you say offensive, sizist things like 10s = casual), this just happened to be a more laid back group who also did smaller sized raids.

My teammates were tons of fun (I do mean to crash their Mumble parties sometime in the near future!) but I learned pretty quickly that casual raiding is not for me. When I do something, I do it all the way. And while my pathological attachments to guilds may lead to believe otherwise, I’m not really a social person. Raid time is for raiding. Not telling stories, not waiting for people to log on, not reforging gear (unless there’s a strat change) and certainly not for going to the bathroom. I raided with them for about a year, but after some soul searching and a few entertaining (for everyone else) yelling matches between me and the main tank, I decided to be “just friends” with that guild too and move on to a more compatible team.

This is a good place to plug thoughts on 10s and 25s

Opinions on 10s vs 25s and on “the death of 25s raiding” never cease to be shared.

To me, it’s a personal thing. I’m a 25s raider. I like the occasional 10s as a side-raid to get to know my guildies (and more importantly, to get to know what my guildies are like when they’re drunk), but my little raider heart needs the beat of 24 teammates. I gave 10s a fair shot with Team Sport, but I missed having a large healing team, I missed being a single link in the chain, I missed the complex strategizing, I missed the large-scale wack-a-mole of 25s healing.

It’s not about what’s “harder” (I’ve found difficulty to depend more on who my teammates are rather than on my number of teammates), though I did wish 10s and 25s were treated like separate entities within the game. After all, the style of raiding is so different.

On those epeen sites, you can see the decline of number of 25s guilds. On recruitment forums, you can, however, see that there are plenty of 25s guilds. More guilds, in fact, then actual raiders. 25s raiding is not dead. Yet. Maybe one day Blizzard will decide that having a 25s tuning isn’t cost effective. I’ll totally understand and not be angry. However, I suspect that I’ll also stop playing WoW on that day.

What else happened in the Middle?

Heroic Ragnaros was a badass and gave lots of players nervous breakdowns. But not me. I was in a normal mode guild when the content was relevant. And when it stopped being relevant, I couldn’t really find the motivation to do extra hours when I could be doing so much fun stuff IRL.

There was a lot of questioning as to why Heroic Ragnaros was so much harder than final boss Heroic Madness. I question this questioning. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Heroic Madness is accessible to any somewhat disciplined raid team. Thus, for the first time, many, many players were able to end their expansion with a satisfying “I killed the last boss! On Heroic!”. And customer satisfaction is an important goal for a business, no?

I think it was a smart strategy to make the bragging rights boss (HRaggy) different than the satisfaction boss (HMaddy).

Also in Firelands, there was a lot of anger (and in my case, annoyance) when Blizzard decided to nerf Fireland by 20% in one go. I didn’t understand that one. The nerfs were supposed to accomodate guilds like the one I was in: normal mode with a slow and steady progression. Thing was, we were progressing just fine. We weren’t sick of the instance yet, we had to work for our kills but we weren’t discouraged either. Then Blizzard came in, yanked out the carpet, took away the discipline requirements for the bosses. We didn’t progress much faster after the nerfs, really. Once you take away the discipline requirements for a normal mode guild, you take away the discipline. Instead of killing bosses faster, we just goofed off more.

In the End of Cataclysm

When I left Team Sport, I went guild shopping which was scary and hard work. (I do have a post about it, but I never got around to finishing it. Post writing is also hard work.)

I did, in the end, find myself a home. I love my raidmates, I love the leadership, I love the raiding, I love my healing team, I love my fellow holy pally. They do tend to raid a tad early (I spend the beginning of my raids changing out of my work pants, stuffing my mouth full of food and trying to not to autorun into mobs), but otherwise I’m very happy.

I hope MoP does not have the same effect Cataclysm did.

ps. Important! If you are guild shopping and suspect your raiding interests to be similar to mine, I encourage you to check us out at http://www.occasional-excellence.com/ We still have a couple of open spots for MoP!

What else is at the End of Cataclysm?

Dragon Soul brought us LFR. I liked LFR. Early on, spending an extra night running it was tough, but I did like having it available if I missed a raid. It also made gearing up for my guild change much easier.

While, yes, the fights were stupidly easy and your LFRmates stupidly…stupid, I really didn’t mind LFR and I was glad to have that opportunity.

Dragon Soul wasn’t a well loved instance, and I do agree it lacked the epicness of Karahzhan, Ulduar and even Icecrown Citadel or the creativity of Zul’Aman (the original) and Black Temple. I didn’t hate it, though. I don’t think it would be my first pick for a final dungeon, but it had a few good moments. Notably the gamergasms Ultraxion’s Blue Crystal gave me time and time again, until Ultraxion started dying before the crystal came out (damn Ultraxion that minute-man!).

Of Blogging and Podcasting

I do miss blogging. I miss the excitement of watching my stat page, the amusement from reading search engine terms, the delight of discovering new comments and the satisfaction of publishing a Bossy Pally-approved post. And, most of all, I miss the friendships.

But at the same time, I don’t expect a sudden increase in post count. I’ve been having a lot of fun in the offline world – now that I’m no longer a student I’m finally living the life I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. Between living it up and working a demanding job, I’m just too tired to be coherent. It’s a good thing, mostly, it just means that the blog will most likely keep its current posting rate and its current reader count of approximately 3.

I feel like I’ve grown away from the community too. I still subscribe to a lot of blogs, but it seems that everything I read triggers one of 3 reactions:

1) I’m not interested
2) I’m interested and I’m thinking about it, but I don’t have the energy to write a response
3) I want to throttle the writer and scream at them: “OMG HAVE YOU EVER EVEN LEFT YOUR HOUSE BEFORE!?!?”

I suppose that’s how life goes. You grow closer to some groups and away from others. I do plan to keep the blog somewhat alive, I’m not deleting the personal blog either (it may even get some extra attention in a couple of months when my big big big project/dream comes closer to fruition) and I’ve told Oestrus that I’m not against recording the odd episode of the Double O Podcast.

I think a post-MoP grind episode might be a good follow up to our pre-MoP episode. And who knows, maybe a reader/listener will suggest a topic they’d like to us discuss and we’ll be overcome with inspiration… It could happen!

Frames Layout, Bossy Pally style

March 16, 2012

I have good news! My badass, sex fiend of a Sith Warrior finally proved herself to the Dark Council and earned her Darth title! (And because her timing is always impeccable, the second she returned to the ship, the companion she’d been hitting on the whole game decided at last to put out. She was getting a little worried there, after choking him then hooking up with another companion…but it all worked out. She had a great night. I’m happy for her. Really, I am.) What all that means is I can go back to living a normal life. Normal life which includes vacuuming popcorn off the carpet, washing away the orange stuff that oozes through my bathroom walls when I take showers and updating the blog.

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat to write and had to think “um, what should I write about?” The hesitation I have about writing pally posts these days is that I really don’t want to spend 6-8 hours writing something that will be totally outdated in a couple of months. Then I got an idea. Lately, I’ve been exchanging some emails with a fantastic leveling holy paladin (also resto shaman). We got onto the topic of raid frames and buff/debuff tracking and she raised a lot of excellent points. Plus, raid frames is a fairly timeless topic. And thus, you’re now reading (or quickly scrolling through) a post about my sexy (IMO) raid frames.

Raid Frames

Raid frames are a totally personal thing and I don’t push any addon in particular. I say go with what your friends are using. It’s easier to get help that way. Buff/debuff tracking is also a personal thing and I’m not here to force my frames layout down anyone’s throat. But if you’re looking for ideas, then this post is for you.

I use Grid (or more specifically, Grid 2), but I have played around with the other addons (Vuhdo and Healbot) and I recall being able to configure them similarly.

In a 25 raid, my frames look kinda like the shot I posted above. It dates back to ICC, in Wrath (and most of these characters don’t exist anymore/have changed names, so don’t even TRY to stalk my ex-guildies!), but my (timeless!) frames still have the same features:

- Vertical groups (arranged by party)
- Pets on the far right
- Horizontal health bars
- Colours according to class

Here’s snapshot of a single box, with a bunch of things on it:

Lets break it down!

How I’ve got tracking set up

You’ve got a lot more possibilities when it comes to where you want your shiny colours or icons to appear, but this image shows the spots I use.

And now I’ll entertain you all by listing what goes where, as well as what kind of indicator I use. (In order words, whether I use an icon, a colourful square or text.)

Top Left: My Beacon of Light (icon)
Top Center: Other Beacons of Light (or as I say it, Beacon of Lights – icon)
Top Right: My Holy Radiance (icon), any Hand (Sacrifice, Protection, Freedom – icon)
Center Left: Raid markers (icon)
Center Text: Offline status, Death, Names
Health Bars: Health (by class colour), Out of range (fades out at 40 yards)
Center (Extra Large!) Icons: Awaiting resurrection, Any important buffs or debuffs that I need to pay special attention to in a fight, Dispellable debuffs (magic, poison, disease)
Bottom Left: My Judgement of the Pure (icon)
Bottom Right: Forbearance (red square), Other Holy Radiances (yellow square), Low Mana (blue square), Undispellable debuffs (curse – purple square)
Border: Aggro

Notes and Points of Interest

1)My spells vs Others’ spells: The feature’s been around in Grid for as long as I can remember, but I only started using it recently. I love it! It really comes in handy when you have other holy paladins in the raid. I was having troubles with my Beacon falling off due to being buried under other Beacon indicators. But no more! I also use the split for Holy Radiance. And I only track my own Judgement of the Pure since I’m not a raid leader and really don’t care if other pallies have their Judgement of Pure up.

2)Priorities: I think this may be a newer feature, but it’s lovely if you limit the number of indicator locations on your frames. When I listed my indicators above, I went in order of priority. So if someone had Forbearance and Low Mana, I would see the Forbearance square, not the Low Mana one. The places in my settings where priority is a concern are Center Text, Center Icons and Bottom Right.

3)Buffs/Debuffs in the middle: I find that I don’t act quickly on special statuses if they’re not obvious. I experimented with a few locations and eventually settled with big, obnoxious icons in the middle. In a raid environment, you rarely have to deal with more than 1 or 2 debuffs or statuses per fight, so it works perfectly. However, this setup is probably not ideal in pvp or even 5 man dungeons.

And there you have it

That’s how I big brother the raid. I’m often looking for new ideas and layouts, myself, but at the same time, it’s also good to limit what you track to what’s really useful. Too much noise in your frames will draw your attention away from the important elements.

And, if you were wondering, yes, I genuinely screwed up that image because I don’t know my left from my right. Don’t laugh.

Making the Jump from 10s Casual to 25s Progressive

March 2, 2012

My silence about transitioning to a new guild wasn’t exactly intentional. I’ve written a few drafts, but can’t get them sounding the way I want. I tweak them until I get angry and have to go for walks to calm down. I get a lot of exercise, but no post about guild searching and guild joining.

I do love the new guild. The raids are fun, the environment is motivating and the officers do an amazing job of making sure everything runs smoothly and yet still found time to go out of their way to make me feel at home.

What I want to talk about, though, is my performance and the adjustments I made in transitioning from Teamsport, a 10s casual guild, to this team, a 25s hard mode guild.

It’s been over a month now. I wish I could say I’m awesome and the transition was easy and that I got 25s heroic healing mastered on the first click. Well, I guess I could say it, but I’d be lying. It took me several raids and a lot of advice from my heals lead as well as the other holy pally in the guild before I could perform at the same level as the other healers. And, over a month later, there are still fights where my logs are totally embarrassing.

A 10s casual group and a 25s progressive group have different needs and call for a style of healing that is unique to them. I hate the terms “harder” and “easier” because I don’t find one style inherently harder or easier than the other. 10s casual demand you compensate for the weaknesses or indifference of others if you expect to kill anything, 25s progressive require that you push to take your place or else you’ll find yourself carried for a short while and eventually dropped.

Let’s define “Casual” and “Progressive”

It’s like philosophy class! “To each essay, each word’s meaning

“Casual” and “progressive”, in the raiding sense, have very relative meanings.

When I think “casual” I think of this: teammates show up and play well, but most don’t go out of their way to review logs, talk strat, minmax. Raids are less time efficient with waits between pulls and random afks. Fights are done on normal mode with maybe one or two heroic kills at the very end of the tier. Motivations are mostly social, with some loot bonuses.

“Progressive”, to me, means that every individual on the team has kills as their top priority. (They can have secondary priorities too, of course.) Motivation is mostly kills, with some loot bonuses. Teammates do go out of their way to enhance their performance and the pace between pulls is more, lets say, dynamic.

Casual to progressive (or hardcore) is a spectrum with a handful of guilds on each end and most somewhere in the middle. What I’m doing, and what I’m talking about, is moving along the spectrum from a position leaning more toward casual, to a position leaning more toward progressive.

Your job and how it changes

No matter which environment you’re playing in, your job as a healer is this: first keep your assignment alive and secondly, when you can, help others keep their assignment alive.

How this translates into practice depends on the environment you’re playing in. In a less focused team, you’ll be dealing with a lot of extra damage due to mistakes, slow reaction time and, if you’re unlucky, a tank (or fellow healer) who went to the bathroom during the fight and didn’t tell anyone. In a team aiming for progression, there’s less damage going around, and if you falter, other healers will jump to back you up. However, if you falter and are covered for often, you will quickly find yourself expelled from the team for not doing your part.

Then, in 10s, you’re dealing with limited bodies. If your fellow healer goes down (or to the bathroom), you’re on your own. In a 10 man group, you need to be able to work well as a team, but you also need to know how to cover the entire raid should you find yourself in the, very likely, position of single healing. In a 25 man group, you’ll rarely be on your own, so developing team skills tops the to-do list.

Communication, the key to all relationships

During my first raid with Teamsport my tank died.

He got out of range and no one covered for me.” I complained.

The reply I got?

Why didn’t you say anything?

I came to Teamsport from a 25s progression guild. I was used to having people automatically jump in when they saw a need. Eventually I learned to speak up again (and my fellow healers in Teamsport did get better at reading healthbars). When I went back to 25s progression raiding, I was delighted to have people jumping in when they saw a need again, before I had to say anything.

Don’t get me wrong, communication is always important. But in 25s, voice chat gets overwhelmed quickly, so you have to prioritize. Do this absolutely need to be said out loud or is there another way I can communicate this? Can it be typed in healer chat after this fight?

In 25s, you communicate a lot via raid frames. I can tell if fellow pally is having trouble healing her tank by how he’s gone a few seconds without being topped off. I can tell fellow healer is out of mana because the blue light on her healthbar came on. I know who the Beacon targets are in the raid, because my little Beacon icon is showing. Since you can’t afford for everyone to crowd vent with details of their situations, we can rely on addons (and macros, which I need to get working on, myself) to communicate for us, leaving us with only select information to share via voice chat.

Cooldowns

On my application I wrote “one thing that I’m very proud of is that I use my cooldowns on, well, cooldown.

After my first raid with the guild, the majority of the feedback I received was that I needed to improve my cooldown usage.

No, I didn’t lie on my app. What happened, and this took me by surprise, is that with Teamsport, I used my cooldowns based on need. So whenever I sensed my fellow healers falter, whenever I felt the tank slacking on his cooldown usage, whenever there was a potential for extra damage, the cooldown buttons were pressed. This happened so often that my cooldowns were getting used as soon as they came up.

With the new guild, that sense of urgency never came (my first few raids with them were 10s alt runs, so this is a casual vs progressive thing, not a 10s vs 25s) and thus I had to make a mental effort to use them.

The key in 25s progressive is to get the cooldowns going early on to boost healing and save mana and, most importantly, ensure they’ll come up again before the end of the fight so you can use them more than once. Lay on Hand, I save for OMG moments and Aura Mastery, I make sure not to use within the 2 minutes before I’m called upon to pop it, but everything else now gets pumped out as early as possible, and again as soon as it’s ready.

Last week I won an award for “best use of healer cooldown” (which was an awesome surprise!) so it seems that the mental effort is paying off, but I still have to actively think about cooldown usage.

Single targeting vs HOLY RADIANCE LOVE BAYBEE!

The first time I did Heroic Ultraxion, my numbers were terrible. They were terrible because I was conditioned to thinking “the tank will die if I don’t OMG spam Diving Light on him ALL THE TIME“.

This was another lesson.

Damage in Firelands, at least on 10s, went like this: one person takes damage, then someone else takes damage, then someone else takes damage. My Divine Light finger became twitchy and I came down with a fear of not spamming Divine Light. Dragon Soul is more “everybody taking lots of damage all together, like friends“. Still, in 10s, I concentrated on the tank with the occasional raid heal while my cohealers took care of the non-tanks.

In 25s, though, there is so much splash healing that the tanks rarely need Divine Light spam. Divine Light spammers like me end up with a lot of overheal and very little effective healing.

The key?

Holy Radiance all the time.

Ok, maybe not all the time. Heroic Blackhorn, from the logs I’ve read, is not primarily a Holy Radiance fight. Heroic Ultraxion and Heroic Zon’ozz (two fight where I found myself way below the other healers on the meters) are Holy Radiance fights. I checked my shitty H-Zon’ozz log against another paladin’s awesome H-Zon’ozz log. The major difference? I used Holy Radiance 14 times. The other pally used theirs over 114 times. I think we’ve found a problem!

Mana Management

114 Holy Radiances“, you say, “but what about the mana?!?!

Interestingly, I rarely run out of mana anymore, even when overdoing it on the Holy Radiance. And when I do, I can regen it no problem.

I can think of a few reasons for that. First, when you’re running with a progressive group, you’re killing more things, which means you get more gear. I have more mana regen now simply because I’m better geared. The fights are also a lot shorter. Fights that took up to 12 minutes with Teamsport only take 6 minutes with this team.

Then, because in 25s there are at least 4 other healers pumping out awesome heals, there are more opportunities to use cheaper Holy Lights, or melee a bit, or pop Divine Plea, or drink a Concentration Potion.

So while I still shouldn’t be wasteful with mana, I do have more ressources now to really milk the Holy Radiances.

Conclusion

To each essay, its conclusion.

There are certainly other differences I’ve adjusted to in transitioning from wiping all night on Zon’ozz to wiping all night on Heroic Zon’ozz (though Heroic Zon’ozz went down pretty fast last week…it seems like my Zon’ozz curse may end!). However, communication, cooldown usage, spell selection and mana regenaration are those that stood out to me and that I constantly think about as I’m raiding.

I still have good fights and bad fights. I still make a lot of mistakes. I even started making mistakes I’d never made before (I had never died to Hour of Twilight until I joined this guild, and now I die at least once a week. How embarrassing!). But I’m determined to push myself as far as I can go, and to eliminate the bad fights.

Holy Radiancing our Heroic Ultraxion kill

Troubleshooting – “Help! Why are my numbers low?”

September 24, 2011

I don’t get questions very often. Not blogging much anymore will do that. But over the years, there’s been one question that’s come up a lot:

How do I get my numbers up?

Its cousin question is worth mentioning too: “This paladin is new to my guild and their numbers are terrible, what are they doing wrong?

Obligatory Side Note on Healing Meters

Do I really need to say that healing meters should be approached with caution? After so many essays around the WoW community about how healing meters work, I’m probably wasting my typing energy, but to avoid having to clarify things later on, here’s your basic “how to look at healing meters“.

When looking at healing logs, look at the big picture. Healing meters are a detail in that big picture.

Let’s look at this snapshot:

The random pally is slightly behind the random druid. Not a big enough gap to send out alarm bells. Different fights and different healing strategies might give one player more healing done than another. Heck, I’ve seen Baleroc logs where the Death Knight tank was way ahead of any healer on the meters.

But there could be a problem. The random pally could have let their assignment(s) die while goofing around, blowing cooldowns. They could have kept healing after a wipe was called. They could have been spamming healing on themselves while standing in crap. The recorded segment might even have been too short to get a clear image of the general healing output.

The random pally’s numbers aren’t a problem, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that random pally is problem-free.

As for “You”, You’s numbers are a problem. But maybe You died early. If it’s a one-time occurrence, it’s nothing to be concerned about. But if all of You’s healing meters look like this, then this post is for You.

Your numbers are low because…

1) You’re not casting enough

I’ve got Codi‘s cheerful voice stamped in my head from the Raid Warning Holy Paladin Roundtable: “ABC! Always be casting!

This is the main problem with low numbers. You’re not going to get any healing done if you’re not casting heals. (Duh)

Case in point, lets look at the amount of casts from each paladin from the above snapshot:

Random Pally:

You:

You cast 7 Flash of Lights while Random Pally didn’t, but otherwise:

Random Pally cast 21 Divine Lights while You only cast 8.
Random Pally got 163 Beacon of Light transfers while You only got 69.
Random Pally cast 28 Holy Shocks while You only cast 14.

Get the idea?

Lows cast numbers are usually cause by one or more of the following:

- Waiting for damage: This is super common in new holy paladins. Don’t wait for damage. Unless you’re pressed for mana or you’re clearly not expecting any damage, you should have holy lights and holy shocks going at pretty much all times. Also learn each fight’s damage patterns to anticipate when to start reving up those massive heals.

- Bad healing frames: You need frames that leave enough room on your screen to see the fight, that make targeting heals easy and that let you see the buffs/debuffs you need to track. If you want a big selection, Grimmtooth wrote a fantastic frames comparison series. Otherwise, I suggest using whichever addon the other healers in your team use. That way, if you need help, you’ll have a few experts at your disposal.

- Bad computer/internet: It sucks, but you wouldn’t play hockey with a broken stick and broken skates, would you? If your equipment is so bad that you’re not able to do anything in raids, hold off on the raiding until you can get some functional equipment. (The good news is that the equipment requirements for raiding 10 mans at a casual level aren’t that high.)

- Low haste: Actually, when huge discrepancies occur on healing meters, gear differences will be the most minor factor. I mean, gear will up your numbers, that’s why we get gear and gem it and reforge it. But among the other low healing output culprits listed here, gear will have the least effect.

Your numbers are low because…

2) Your Beacon Strategy Needs Tweeking

Now that you’re casting more, have a look at who you’re casting Beacon on. If you’re unsure of how to visualize Beacon (and other buff/debuff) uptime, I’ve got a detailed how-to at your disposal.

- Keep it up: On the picture here, Beacon fell off. Beacon should be up at all times. All times. If your Beacon is falling off, find some frames that show you clearly how much time you have left on Beacon.

- Choose your target carefully: Beacon of Light targets should fit in with your healing strategy. When you’re talking about strategy in your healer chat pre (or post)-pull, bring up your reasoning for your Beacon target so your teamates can work with it. While Beacon alone won’t keep a tank up, it’ll still be a major part of your healing and it’s very important to do it right. You can read about choosing a Beacon target here (it’s a bit dated and was written with 25s in mind, but the gist of it is still applicable).

Your numbers are low because…

3) You’re Not Using Cooldowns

When briefing new paladins, I often stress the cooldown rotation aspect of paladin healing. We’re like tanks that way: we’ve got so many cooldown that we’re not healing anywhere near our full potential if we’re not using them regularly.

The cooldown usage for “You” here was actually pretty good (especially considering this was a 4 minute Ragnaros attempt). Divine Favor or Lay on Hands didn’t show up on the list, but otherwise, You was using their toolbox pretty extensively.

When remembering to use cooldowns is an issue start practicing. Run some 5 mans or some battlegrounds and hit your cooldowns whenever they come up. Once they become second nature, reflect on the opportune moments to use them. But get in the habit of actually using before you start sitting on them “just in case”. We have so many cooldowns that you’ll usually have at least one available for emergencies.

Your numbers are low because…

4) You’re Using the Wrong Spells

This is the least likely to responsible for low healing numbers. After cooldown and Beacon usage is out of the way, our healing is pretty straightforward: Holy Shock on cooldown, Holy Light as a base heal and Divine Light as a major-damage heal. Some paladins use Flash of Light when in an emergency. (I’ve seen some use Flash of Light as their base heal, but I wouldn’t. It’s a lot of mana wastage.)

But if you want to get technical, lets look at “You”‘s spell breakdown again.

Holy Shock wasn’t used on cooldown. Holy Light should have been cast a lot more. A lot more. There was mana wastage with 7 uses of Flash of Light – if there were truly 7 emergencies during that attempt, at least several could have been avoided with a more consistent use of Holy Light.

As for Holy Power sinks (Word of Glory vs Light of Dawn), Word of Glory is the typical option in 10s and when healing a non-Beacon target. Light of Dawn is fantastic in 25s (though there has been some tweeking with the Holy Power sink spells so I don’t know if Light of Dawn still offers more tank healing via Beacon than Word of Glory) and has some leverage in 10s when the team is grouped up for major splash damage.

Your numbers are low because…

5) You’re Not Judging Enough

Random Paladin:

You:

Unless there’s an excruciatingly healing-intensive moment, Judgement should be used on cooldown. On cooldown.

The first paladin here judged 12 times, the other judged 7. Something’s not right.

While Judging won’t directly increase your healing done (the tiny self heal you get from judging is insignificant) the effect it has on mana during the fight is noticeable. More mana means more freedom to use bigger heals and less Divine Pleas, which will influence your output (and usefulness).

I keep a button with Judgement on my bars so I can see when it comes off cooldown, but you’ll find that with some practice, you’ll feel the rythm of paladin healing and will just know when you can cast it again. Keep the attack target targetted (or have a Judgement macro that assists the tank) and bind Judgement to an easy key (I move with ESDF, so I have Judgement bound to “R”, it’s super easy to hit).

So Cast, Judge and be Merry

There you have them: the keys to keeping up with your teammates in terms of healing done. Don’t stop casting, put some thought into your Beacons, use your Cooldowns, pick your spells properly and judge. That’s all there is to it.

This Just In: Student 4 Life Graduates

June 1, 2011

After 10 years of post-secondary education, including:

- 2 years of community college general sciences (graduating with a DEC – Sciences de la Nature and an IB Diploma)
- 3 years of psychology (graduating with a B.A. Psych)
- 1 year of easy courses to qualify for pharmacy school
- 4 years of pharmacy school (graduating with a B.Sc. Pharm),

I finally get to step out into the real world. Within a few months, I should be able to live in a real apartment, take cheap ramen out of my diet (upgrading to expensive ramen), quit obsessing over money, and work no more than 37 hours a week.

I get asked the question often, so I’ll answer it before it comes up again. No, I didn’t start young. I’m just really immature for my age.

The last month, simply put, sucked. I knew it would be rough, but knowing it and living through it are, yeah, two different things. My licensing exams, all three of them, were in the last week of May, mixed in with graduation formalities and a cross-country move. For a month, I put my life on hold and reviewed everything I had learned in the past 4 years. And ate a lot of fast food. Like tons of fast food. As in, I’ll be doing sit-ups for weeks to recover from all the fast food.

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned and, because clearly I wasn’t going through enough hell, my roommate came up with the wonderful idea of re-doing the kitchen as I’m trying to study and pack. (Which didn’t help in resisting the fast food cravings.) So while I’m stressed out of my mind, I was woken every morning and kept up every night by noise, dust, kitchen supplies all over the place and strangers breathing down my neck.

By the night before my first exam, my room (and state of mind) looked like this:

Please don’t tell any future landlords.

My lowest point, however, I think was on my last day in Newfoundland. I had my grad party that night (a big formal affair), and spent all day packing boxes. I was stressing because I was nowhere near done, but needed to get ready for grad. I stepped into the shower, only to discover than the renovation guys had cut off the hot water. I tried washing my hair in cold water, but it didn’t work out for me.

I’ll leave the scene of me sitting in a ball on the floor of my room with my wet hair sticking up, boxes and unpacked belongings scattered around me, to your imagination. It’s funny now, but I probably would have yelled at anyone telling me it was funny at the time.

Mixing Raiding and School

There’s enough I can say on the topic to write a series of stand-alone posts, but the end of it is, and I might change my mind a few years from now, that it was worth raiding throughout pharmacy school.

I raided late at night (mostly because that’s when my guilds raided, but it did help since I’d usually study until 9:30 or 10pm) and was therefore tired and cranky all day. I missed a lot of class because I was up late raiding. Heck there were courses I never went to outside of exams.

But I don’t regret it. My grades were average. Maybe they would have been slightly above average if I hadn’t been raiding. But even now that I don’t have to be in denial anymore, I still don’t regret it.

I know it sounds weird coming from someone who just did 10 years of college of, but I’ll say it: I hate school. I hate it. I’ve always hated it. I like learning. I like the fields I studied. I like being around intelligent and inspiring individuals. But I hate the pressure, I hate the competitiveness, I hate grades, I hate having to sit still all day, I hate having no money. School has always been a waiting game for me. Bite the bullet, do what they tell you and the ordeal will end eventually. (I also hated being a kid and can’t understand people who miss being kids. Being a kid was another, awful, waiting game. I’m thankful every day that it’s over.)

Raiding kept me sane. It let me be around like-minded people (I both adore and admire all of the classmates with whom I’ve had the honour of sharing several years of my life, but I had very little in common with the majority of them. I was cursed with the personality of an engineer but the brain of a liberal arts person.) It gave me something to look forward in the evenings. It gave me something to work at for my own pleasure, something on which I was never graded.

I know some people take raiding and competition very seriously, but not me. I raid because I love to raid. I do a good job because I like doing a good job. Oh, I’ll joke about healing meters, but that’s all it is, joking. Same goes for my blog. I’ll jokingly brag about stats but blogging is really where I get away from the numbers and the mediocracy that’s so often rubbed in my face. The blog does what it wants. I don’t do adds, I’d never accept to write about WoW for money. The blog and raiding are the two places where it doesn’t matter if I do well or not. The blog and raiding are where I can sit back and enjoy the journey, without worrying about whether or not my life will be screwed up at the destination.

When I Stopped Concentrating on Raiding

I quite raiding seriously at the beginning of January. I miss a lot. You guys have no idea. No amount of emo whining can really translate how much I miss it.

You know how some women get to about 30 without every wanting kids, then suddenly starting hating everyone with kids and can’t live with themselves until they get pregnant? (I really hope this doesn’t happen to me. Pregnancy is just uggg. I’ll adopt, thank you very much.) Anyway, that’s what it’s like. I can’t read Twitter during general raid hours anymore. I fight back tears whenever I’m asked about my WoW life. I rage at anyone who complains about seeing raid content too often. (I wish I was in a position to be in raid burnout!)

Still, I grit my teeth and tell myself it was for the better. It was nice, not being exhausted during clerkship. I did a good job because I wasn’t tired. Not good enough to be “above average“, but hopefully I made a difference in a few people’s lives.

I got to meet a lovely guild who welcomed me with open arms and understood that I was only going to be with them for a few months. (I’ll have another post dedicated to them later this week.) I actually plan on leaving my alts with them when I move on. While I missed raiding in a more intense environment, their jokes, their familiarity, their rich lives outside of game and their laid back attitude made my hiatus enjoyable. I tried to stay distant – no use in getting attached when I know I’ll be leaving – but they managed to break me a few times. By now my raid leader, Thespius, probably knows more about me than he ever wanted to. He’ll be spending his next few months trying to erase his memory.

I’m terrified that I won’t find my ideal guild after I move. Working late hours on the West Coast isn’t conducive to progression raiding.The fact that I don’t have any end boss kills (lets not even talk about heroics) doesn’t help either. I know that a lot of guilds are recruiting, so if you’re running a late night, 25 man progression raid team and are looking for a dedicated holy paladin, hit me up.

My Grad Present to Myself: Traveling Across the Country

In a couple of hours, I’ll be taking a flight to Edmonton, to look for a place to live. I decided to turn my trip back East into a (well-deserved, if I do say so myself) vacation. I picked up a Discovery Pass (no, I can’t take the train. I’d love to take the train, but trains in Canada are waaaaaay more expensive than trains in the US!) and plan to make full use of it. Cities on the itinerary are:

Edmonton
Calgary
Winnipeg
Milwaukee
Chicago

If you’re in one of those cities and care to buy me coffee (or let me buy my own coffee if you’re a cheapo) let me know! Fannon is also planning a meetup in Edmonton this Friday (June 3), so if you’re in the area and want in, give him a shout.

Oh, and in case you were wondering what my room looked like after exams were over with and my move was under control…


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