Pondering the Glory

So how are people out there dealing with the possibility of getting the Glory of the Firelands Raider achievement?

Back in Wrath, the guild I was in hit 11/12 25-man HM and then immediately did a full reset of achievement stuff. We did Neck-Deep in Vile that week and then the next week, did Been Waiting a Long Time for This, which resulted in getting Glory of the Icecrown Raider.

In Tier 11, we got to 7/13 HM before Firelands came out (Halfus, V&T, Magmaw, Maloriak, Chimaeron, Atramedes, Conclave), so Glory of the Cataclysm Raider wasn’t even a possibility for us, as we were missing, you know, 5 heroic kills.

Due to the nerfs, we will likely hit 5/7 HM tonight or Sunday (Majordomo) and after a break for BlizzCon, we’ll tackle heroic Baleroc. (I think we would have hit 6/7 HM without the nerfs, but it would have taken longer.)

Since six of the achievements required for the meta will be already done (the six heroic bosses) and since we regularly do Share the Pain and Only the Penitent… is really easy to do and isn’t even part of the boss encounter… that leaves four achievements:

Bucket List – Shannox
Not an Ambi-Turner – Rhyolith
Death from Above – Beth’tilac
Do a Barrel Roll – Alysrazor

To me, it’s a no-brainer to take a reset or two (to get everyone covered) and get these guys down on normal to get the achievements. However, the fact remains that Shannox and Alysrazor drop heroic tier tokens and the other bosses drop valuable heroic loot (oh god, I want a heroic Ward of the Red Widow!).

Given that we don’t know when 4.3 will drop (although I’d be surprised if it’s before American Thanksgiving, in late November), we don’t know how many resets we have before the new raid opens up. It’s safe to say that we’ll move on to the new raid once it opens.

Obviously, there is a finite amount of resets left between now and 4.3. Will using two (because, with a roster of ~34, we’ll NEED two) resets to get the meta achievement be worth two resets of heroic loot off those bosses? Better question: do we need to do all of them on normal? Shannox isn’t so hard on heroic, maybe we could get away with kiting him forever, but I know we could do it on normal.

I’m not even going to talk about time spent on that versus heroic Ragnaros. That’s a whole other question in and of itself.

So how are you fine people handling this in your guilds? Are you? Do you even care? I’ve got a poll up on the Apotheosis forums, asking the raiders what they think of the meta, but I’m curious to know how others are dealing with it.

A Gear Post

I haven’t really spoken a lot about holy paladin gear of late. I think, actually, that the last post I wrote about it had to do with me stacking mastery to see how it would work out.

The Great Mastery Stacking Experiment lasted approximately two and a half weeks.

The whole reason I stacked mastery was because, due to various upgrades I had gotten, there was no way I could continue to stack intellect gems and still hit my ~1860 haste breakpoint to give me that 14th tick of Holy Radiance, given Judgements of the Pure being active, 3/3 Speed of Light (for 3% extra haste) and the 5% haste buff that can be gotten through a moonkin’s aura, a shadow priest’s aura or a shaman’s Wrath of Air totem.

Plus, there was a lot of chatter going on about mastery at the time.

So I reforged, regemmed and re-enchanted all of my gear to mastery. My gems were Artful Ember Topaz (20 int/20 mastery) and the only spot I didn’t have mastery were my boots, because I didn’t want to waste guild bank funds for Lavawalker for a mere 35 mastery rating.

It worked okay. I saw a distinct difference in terms of what I was capable of doing and I saw differences in tank squishiness. I do spend a LOT of my time just healing my tank(s), so why not, right?

However, as soon as I was able to hit my breakpoint again, thanks to more upgrades, I swapped everything back to full intellect gems, reforging to spirit and haste once again.

I did this for two major reasons:

1) I didn’t like the slow casts. While my (much beefier) mastery bubbles were doing okay at preventing tank deaths .5 seconds before my cast would finish, it felt as though I was casting through molasses. It was intolerable for me and it wasn’t something I ever got used to doing in the ~2.5 weeks I was stacking mastery.

2) The knowledge that I wasn’t able to help out with raid healing as much (and I don’t do a whole lot of it as it was or even is) was disheartening. I just didn’t like being pigeon-holed into a tank healing only role, which is hilarious, because THAT’S WHAT I DO.

But go figure, I suddenly felt as though stacking mastery was gimping me beyond what I was comfortable with and I didn’t feel a huge help from the mastery. It helped now and again, sure, but I didn’t feel as though what I was getting from mastery was at all worth all the intellect, spirit, haste and versatility that I was giving up.

So I went back to spirit and haste.

I got my T12 4pc a few weeks ago. It wasn’t my preferred four pieces, mind you.

In my T12 gear post, I had seen a problem. If one goes for the 4pc bonus, which piece should be the offset piece?

I had concluded that the gloves should be the offset piece, electing to pick up the Grips of the Raging Giant from Lord Rhyolith, primarily because the tier 12 Immolation Gloves have no spirit. Since our only 378 ilvl belt option, the Belt of the Seven Seals, also has no spirit, I decided to go with the Rhyolith gloves and aim for the helm, shoulders, chest and legs for my 4pc.

Picking the gloves as my offset meant not using the Clutch of the Firemother, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is a very pretty piece of equipment, which is sad, but I was determined to have spirit on my gloves and I had plenty of haste to maintain my Holy Radiance breakpoint.

This was all done before I actually set foot into Firelands, mind you.

I ended up getting my T12 Immolation Headguard and then realized that if I bought the gloves, I would have my 4pc. So that’s what I did.

Behold, Divine Flame, our 4pc set bonus!

Too bad it sucks.

Looking over recent logs, over all boss attempts the other night, it did 1.2% of my total healing and overhealed 74% of the time. The most healing it’s ever really done for me was something like 3.3% and that must have been the stars aligning or something, because it’s usually around 1-2% of my total healing.

You can hear my initial reactions to the 4pc (and how underwhelming it is) on Episode 33 of Blessing of Frost.

Still, I figured, it’s free healing. That can’t be bad, right?

Well, when the heroic version of Clutch of the Firemother dropped on Tuesday night, I told Walks it was his if he wanted it, because it had never dropped on normal for him. He was reluctant and we both ended up selecting “Minor Upgrade” for it, which is an option you can choose within our guild that means that “I want this, but let anyone else who hit main spec for it get it before me”.

And I won it, with Walks insisting he wouldn’t use it until he got heroic shoulders off of Majordomo Staghelm — whom we haven’t even pulled on heroic yet.

So with the chest upgrade, I now have a choice: Break 4pc by keeping my Rhyolith gloves or keep 4pc by going back to my T12 gloves?

I’m going to break the bonus.

Let’s be clear: T11 tier was pretty terrible for us, but at least some of the T12 pieces are great. The helm and the legs, in particular, are fantastic from a holy paladin perspective. Your shoulder choices are tier (with crit as a secondary) or the ones from Beth’tilac (with mastery as a secondary), so I’ll go with the tier shoulders any day (slightly preferring crit to mastery). But the tier chest falls flat compared to Clutch of the Firemother if you’re not aiming for the 4pc.

If our 4pc were absolutely fantastic, I would have stuck to my gloves being my offset piece, but it’s really not that awesome. I do have all five tier pieces now, however, so I can swap things around a bit if I like, but really — Divine Flame recently did 27,000 healing total on a 6-minute heroic Shannox fight where I did 1.8 million healing.

I should probably go back to that gear post and plaster all over it that 4pc isn’t worth it, and maybe I’ll get around to that when time permits, but for right now, get your two-piece however you can (because that IS pretty awesome) and aim for your legs and your helm to be the two pieces you really hold on to.

Comfortable with my Class

On Tuesday night, Apotheosis got Heroic Beth’tilac 25 down.

Dar, one of our resto shaman, had posted to say she wasn’t going to be there, which left me with a difficult decision: who was going to heal Dar’s people in the northwest? For 28 attempts, Dar had dutifully healed that particular corner.

In order for it to go as smoothly as possible, I wanted to make as few major changes as I could.

What did that mean? That meant that I was going to take her spot.

I got to heal our moonkin, Hitoku and, lucky me, Majik, my caster officer and my co-host over at Blessing of Frost.

(The “lucky me” was sarcasm. If you couldn’t tell. ;))

So, for 28 attempts prior to Tuesday, I was essentially healing the ground tank, keeping an eye on Dar and other healers, taunting spinners down and generally watching everything, as a raid leader is prone to doing. I had never assigned myself to a cave and, to be honest, I would be happy if I never had to do so again… But I digress.

It took us 10 pulls to kill Beth’tilac Tuesday, bringing us to 3/7 25-man heroics. For each of those 10 pulls, I was healing my cave group, although my cave group migrated from northwest to southeast at one point. Jasyla said she liked that little northwest corner better and I could totally see why. The southeast corner is cramped and crowded!

Anyhow, during the first attempt, I lost Majik. Then, several other people died. So it wasn’t totally my bad, but I vowed to do better.

In the span of 10 pulls, ladies and gentlemen, I became a cave-healer pro. I kicked some ass. Not only did I keep my targets alive, but on try 10, our kill, approximately 97% of the Engorged Broodlings that spawned wanted to blow me up. I am not joking. Better still, I have it all frapsed and it’s embedded below. (Bear in mind that in P2, my computer suddenly decided to violently revolt and I experienced some tremendous lag and loss of framerate. It’s not the best video ever, but it is our first kill.)

 

Kurn, you may be wondering, what on earth does any of this have to do with being comfortable with your class?

Good question!

On the kill attempt, I was constantly the target of the broodlings, as I mentioned. Walks was healing up in the northeast and one thing he had been saying earlier in the night was that if a broodling was heading for someone at southeast, there was no way he could stop them, since they’re up on some damn ledge. So he took to calling out “ledge”.

Of course, on the kill attempt, his broodlings came at me frequently. So I was always calling out “got it”, while running to the ledge where the spiders come down from, while ALSO trying to heal Majik and Hitoku and, you know, trying not to kill myself while doing so.

I think it was only after the whole raid was over for the night that I realized that there was no way in hell I would have been able to manage all that crap (seriously, FOURTEEN broodlings hit me!) AND keep Maj and Hitoku alive if I weren’t extremely comfortable with how my class works.

It’s almost instinctual after a certain point. Granted, my instincts aren’t always spot-on or great or whatever, as you can tell since I do let Judgements of the Pure drop off and don’t use my Guardian and the like on the kill (which I’ll blame on the fact that my computer was about to throw up on me) but they really served me well over the whole raid night. At various points during the entire night, I popped cooldowns appropriately, even using Lay on Hands on Hitoku at one point. I figured out where my Beacon of Light was best put to use (sadly, on Majik) and basically, that was all the real thinking I had to do about how to heal my group.

Venom Rain? Aura Mastery. I’m low on health? Pop my bubble to buy myself some extra time to heal up my group members before turning to myself. Need to regen mana? Use my shiny Fiery Quintessence and pop Divine Plea. See 3 bright orange beams on me from Engorged Broodlings? Don’t panic, use instant heals like Holy Shock and Word of Glory until I’m in position to interrupt one and can start casting again.

Paladins have changed substantially since the original World of Warcraft game came out. Holy paladins have changed and evolved right along with the other specs. While we still need to stand still and cast to be most effective, Holy Radiance (well, the current iteration, not the 4.3 version!), Holy Shock, Word of Glory and a Flash of Light with Infusion of Light proc are all things we can do on the run. Even a 1-2 point Word of Glory can be useful (you can see in the video I made some use of that) if you’re on the move and someone needs a heal ASAP.

Giving Divine Protection a shorter cooldown for Holy (due to Paragon of Virtue) is great and it came in handy all through the night when magical damage (which includes nature damage, which is what those nasty little Engorged Broodlings emit) was troubling me. No problem — Shift-A (my keybind for Divine Protection) to the rescue!

During the night, apart from maybe the first pull or two, despite having absolutely no experience healing where I was healing and healing the people I was healing, I felt calm and in control of myself.  I really do attribute my ability to adapt to cave healing to knowing what all my buttons do. The only thing I didn’t use duing the night was Hand of Freedom and I could have used it when I was stuck in the Volatile Poison on the ground at one point on our kill.

I encourage everyone to take a second look at all your abilities. Not just the ones in the holy tree, look at prot and ret as well. Read through your spellbook and be sure you understand what your abilities do. Armed with that knowledge, you can walk into a fight and adapt much more quickly than you would otherwise. Don’t forget about your Hand spells, your procs, your set-it-and-forget-its (like Holy Radiance and Guardian of Ancient Kings).

Paladins are very strong healers and not restricted to tank healing. Not only that, but we have a ton of utility, so don’t forget to use those utility spells! Once you know exactly what you’re capable of doing, you’ll react with your instincts, leaving your brain to sit there and worry about where you should be standing, rather than what spell to use.

(And you can always read through my second revamped Holy How-To Guide to help you out!)

Too Soon, Blizzard!

I’ll apologize for this up front. This is going to be long. This is going to be angry. This is going to be ranty. This is also heavily my opinion and how this will affect me, personally. Don’t be offended if I don’t mention your raid group or your raid size or if I do and I’m mildly disparaging. I am not happy and that’s going to come out here. So I apologize now. This also puts a delay on my response to my own “Is Warcraft a Game?” post and my post about evaluating healers and my post about Paladin feedback.

My first thought upon reading about the upcoming nerfs to Firelands content was “What the FUCK?!” In fact, you can hear that thought in Episode 33 of Blessing of Frost. Note that this post gets angrier, so either click through or move along.

Read the rest of this entry »

Updates!

Last weekend, I was a guest on a podcast called My Epic Heals, which is a WoW healing-centric podcast run by a holy paladin named Eade, of My Pally Heals, and a resto druid named Wolfshayde. The other guest on the podcast was Vidyala from Manalicious. I’d previously gotten the chance to talk to Vidyala over on Blessing of Frost‘s Episode 13, focusing on the differences between 10s and 25s, so it was nice to chat with her again. :) The My Epic Heals episode came out yesterday. Strangely enough, it’s ALSO Episode 13. Cue Twilight Zone music? ;)

Speaking of podcasts… I don’t really listen to a lot of them. At all. Which is a little weird, considering I DO a podcast, but anyway. I stumbled across this snazzy podcast called Convert to Raid and have listened to all 8 episodes of it in the last couple of days. Really quality production on it and some interesting content. :)

And, speaking of raiding, I Frapsed our Rag kill. Here’s the raw video. Yes, my UI is cluttered, yes, it’s got weird noises (every time I gain Holy Power or spend it and every time Holy Shock is ready) and, sadly, you can’t hear me because of the way Fraps interacts with Windows. You can, however, hear Majik say “there goes another one” when I get flung off the side, as Tikari pointed out on our guild forums. ;)

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