Category Archives: Healing/Priesting

[Wildstar] Silver Dungeons and the Return of the DPS

(Is anybody still playing Wildstar out there? Well…I am!)

Before disappearing from gaming for the past few days due to real life, I got my Esper in Wildstar ready and prepped for silver dungeon runs. No doubt the bronze patch is incoming soon to speed up that attunement process somewhat but silvers are still on the table for many players and frankly, I was curious about difficulty compared to WoW heroics. Turns out, Wildstar silver runs are really more like mini-raids than WoW-style 5 mans. There’s no way a random group of mostly inexperienced people will finish anything for hours and hours.

Silver progression goes the same for most groups and guilds: STL first, then KV, SC and SSM, that last one being a nightmarish place created around a jumping puzzle. There are only four dungeons to run in WS albeit in three different modes. In no way can they be compared to adventure difficulty. Silver comes with a timer and extra objectives/bosses compared to bronze. Gold on the other hand, comes with everything and zero deaths. So far the theory.

I’m halfway through silvers now myself, thanks to running with experienced groups and vocal leadership. It still took several attempts per dungeon due to the unforgiving mechanics, yet that is nothing compared to what early progression teams had to go through. Even if you keep the same people around to crack a dungeon, and that’s what anyone does who wants to reasonably progress, you’ll spend entire afternoons learning WS dungeons before silver. You’ll be resetting over and over, going again after an early wipe or unlucky deaths slowing you down. You’ll consider mastering single bosses a success, rather than entire dungeons. You’ll be back after dinner. Persistence is the only one way to crack silver dungeons, so you better bring a good-humored bunch of people.

Ready for battle! Well...sorta.

We’re ready for battle! Well…sorta.

Or maybe you just get very lucky sometime and have a team invite you that’s already done most of the work together, with willing leaders and/or imba DPS (or the stars will align for you once every 100 years while pugging). At encounters like Stormtalon your damage dealers easily decide over make or break – a difference most acutely felt by healers.

Bringing DPS back to the Table

There is something that dawns on the traditional healer in WS at silver runs latest. It’s an obscure hunch the first few times you keep dying horribly during an encounter, a hunch that solidifies once your group keeps going on without you for minutes on end, sometimes until the boss dies. A guildie of mine condensed it best in a related forum topic on healing, a comment that hit a nerve for me too –

Tank is most important
Dps need 2 out of 3 good
Average healer = complete adventure/ dungeon.

the worrying thing is that in every other MMo I have played the healer was rated as important as the tank now with the interprets we are last even behind the Dps. imho.

WS is a game of self-sustainability first. Even if the healer dies, at least half of the encounters allow for the party to continue (and DPS finish fights). That doesn’t mean healers should die by any means or that bad healers cannot still screw up your silver runs – they definitely can. However, nothing is quite as devastating as missed interrupts in WS, the mechanic all major encounters revolve around thus far. And the responsibility of timing and rotating interrupts is almost exclusively on tanks and DPS, even if every class can theoretically do them. Needless to say, I concurred with my guildmate’s points although way more cheerfully so:

WS healing is indeed quite different to the position it holds in many other MMOs. I’ve been a healer in many games and I agree with you on this. the reason is Wildstar’s game / encounter design:

Mechanics are more unforgiving and a lot more about individual survival skills (dodge that shit, use a pot) than in other classic MMOs (not GW2, GW2 is more similar and has no roles anyway). I was used to being able to ‘save’ most of my party members all the time in WoW – you can’t do this so much in WS. People die quickly if they screw up and so does the healer, so your overall playstyle needs to be a lot more centered around your own survival + MT. There’s less leeway for the ‘extras’ (not the normal damage but the unnecessary one) in WS than in other games that I’ve played (and then there’s also the telegraph / cone thing that gimps healing). Sure, once a healer has better gear, stats, etc. he/she can make up for more screwups but still, many mechanics are just unforgiving and up to the individual player. You can’t save a one-shot, and depending on the situation not a 2-shot either.

And that’s why you feel the healer matters ‘less’ in WS which is true; because the onus of survival is more well-spread in Wildstar. So really, think of it as a good thing. The fact that even the healer is allowed to die first sometime (for some encounters it doesn’t matter), is a good thing. It means responsibility is shared more evenly, which is also true thanks to the interrupt mechanics in WS. So, imo we are more even now / not less. DPS finally aren’t just being carried in this game. [Syl]

I love it. I love the fact that DPS don’t get the back seat in a trinity-based MMO. Enrage timers aside, there was never a time during my WoW era (up to Cataclysm) where pewpew were nearly as much on the spot as they are continuously in Wildstar’s encounters. The scales have evened out and while some oldschool healers might feel that sting of lost power, they should also feel the relief of shared pressure.

Wildstar silver KV - cheat when you can!

Wildstar silver KV – cheat when you can!

Tangentially, I realized that there’s still a strong WoW healer beating in this chest; I installed GRID right away and am still working on “untargetting” my healing style. And I still die way, way too often because I choose to try save others over ruthlessly minding my own six. That simply doesn’t fly with heroic telegraphs – it’s be there or be square for each and everybody!

Wildstar Healing and all the Ways it’s different

For the last two weeks, I’ve been on a roll with my Esper getting her through the first 7 steps of the raid attunement which includes silvering all veteran adventures. Having also healed through my first veteran dungeon last night, I’m finally back to the point where my old healer muscles and reflexes run on auto-pilot; healing is a routine and if you’ve stared at other people’s healthbars for years in WoW or elsewhere, you own the mindset that comes with playing support classes.

The main reason why healing is appealing to me is the complexity of choices, not just for yourself but everyone in the group. It’s the splitsecond decisions on what action to prioritize next and if need be, whom to sacrifice for the sake of the greater good (or a much needed lesson in self-management). While most roles are centered around the interplay between ‘self and the other’, healers focus on three units in combat and depending on the MMO, they’ll be asked to do this while being more or less mobile. Healers are also the guardians of time, as far as their role within trinity-based MMO combat goes.

sylheal

And Wildstar asks for a lot from healers. I wouldn’t say it’s more difficult than in some other games but in terms of complexity, there’s an adjustment phase that can feel bewildering to someone coming straight from WoW, Rift or LOTRO. I’ve tried to put my finger on what initially felt so different about healing and decided that similar to Wildstar’s doubly-active combat system, it’s a new combination (and accumulation) of several aspects:

  • Positioning telegraphs
  • Focus and combo management
  • Mobility
  • Limited actionbar

None of these mechanics are new. MMO healers are used to managing mana and optimizing their healing, for instance via proc timing. Games like Age of Conan have featured non-targeted and instead more area- and conebased healing. Many newer titles come with some form of action combat and minimal UI. For some of them like GW2, that makes sense too.

Speaking from an Esper perspective (which more or less applies to all classes), the biggest difference about Wildstar’s healing is that it combines all of the above added difficulties or restrictions at once. The most noticeable change for me personally, was mana management in combination with a resource / combo system, similar to a rogue’s combo points in WoW or a warrior’s rage. Not only will you manage your focus (manapool) but Espers can stack up to 5 combo points (and only with certain builders) which are required to heal efficiently and dish out the big single-target or area heals. That’s two numbers to monitor for your healing at all time while making smart builder- and finisher choices.

Of course this being Wildstar, even as an Esper many of your heals and cleanses aren’t targeted but come as a cone or AoE. So, in addition to moving out of red telegraphs constantly and staying in range of the tank, you’ll have to try position yourself in a way that affects as many party members as possible. They should do their utmost to stay in range / in front of you of course but in the heat of battle, well…we know how the theory usually works out.

The limited actionbar (8 skills) in Wildstar is my only real gripe, because it makes no sense. There are games like GW2 where the minimalistic UI covers all player needs and is perfectly tuned to combat. Wildstar on the other hand, with its fussy skills menu and plethora of situational abilities in the offensive/support/utility department, forces you to manually swap skills for every other fight with only two specs per default (although you can buy more later for Elder Gems). Every time you swap something manually, you have to go back and fill in the points to boost said skill, too. It’s awkward and feels out of touch with the game’s overall approach to combat.

Healing in Wildstar

Wildstar certainly adds its very own flavor to group healing but once you’ve had the opportunity to heal a couple of dungeons in a decent group, you’ll adjust to its resource management, telegraph positioning and mobility requirements. Maybe more than for other MMOs, Wildstar relies on players knowing a dungeon and specific boss abilities (esp. also due to the limited action bar), so it’s advised to always do a practice run or two on normal mode before attempting to crack veterans.

Healers learning the veteran drill should also insist that party members bring their own utility (healing gadgets) and medipacks to fights for as long as everyone’s performance is in those early stages of chaos. There is only so much you can heal / reach and what goes for every other MMO out there, also applies to Wildstar: The tank always comes first. Many whelps? Handle it!

[TESO] Holy Trinity and Healing Mechanics Revealed

So yesterday the folks at Zenimax dropped the ball on some long-awaited and much speculated combat details over at the TESO development Q&A. In the wake of titles like Guild Wars 2, many players have had the same big question on their mind: will there be a holy trinity in TESO? – Will there be a tank and healer?

Both questions were addressed in the Q&A although to varying degrees of my satisfaction. Let’s start with what has been revealed on the holy trinity so far:

Q: How important will the ‘holy trinity’ be in PvE endgame/raids?
Will dedicated tanks and healers be required, or will lighter armored
characters be able to utilize the dodge system well enough to serve as
competent tanks? Will healers need to focus entirely on healing, or will
a more offensive spellcaster be able to sustain his group via spot
heals?”
– By Lynx
Q: A: “Yesterday in the lunchtime dungeon test, our group of four (all at level 12) included: – 1 Templar with light armor and healing staff, abilities focusing on healing – 1 Templar with light armor and dual wield, Templar abilities focusing on healing – 1 Dragonknight with light armor and destruction staff – 1 Sorcerer with heavy armor and dual wield This was with no real consultation with each other while making characters, other than ensuring there was at least one healer. For the sake of the dungeon we really could have used a true tank (the closest we had was the sorcerer wearing heavy armor and using unstable familiar to get the monster’s attention, with no real “keep myself alive” abilities), but as a group we were (eventually) able to take down the Fungal Grotto bosses. More to the point, with four players making independent choices in abilities and gear, three of the four made builds that defied the standard templates – and yet felt perfectly viable in actual play. The players were each able to build a character to their own taste with class abilities as a supplement, rather than the rigid defining aspect to the character, and have effective characters. So in summation, we’re pretty happy watching the progression system allow people to play the way they want in the groups they want to play in.”– By Lynx

I am getting the impression that the tests on group settings and mechanics are either not very advanced yet or that the developer is beating around the bushes in his reply. The very concrete question, namely how significant the holy trinity is for endgame/raids and how exclusive the role focus of certain classes will (have to) be, doesn’t get a straight answer. So, Zenimax’s testing team basically used two healers in a group of four. They made sure they had “at least one healer”. They also “could’ve used a real tank” in the Grotto but, errr….this wasn’t really a planned run and it’s wonderful if players can make “independent choices in abilities and gear”. Are we still addressing role setup questions for raiding here?

The reply ends on a similar note that tries to emphasize player freedom, mostly for spec and gear, but does in fact never truly answer the original question. At best it gets clear that there won’t be rigid cookie cutters for any class. I can’t shed the feeling that TESO will in fact feature a more classic holy trinity but that Zenimax are too careful and reluctant to call it that at this point. After all it could potentially alienate a big part of their potential audience. Anyone else get the same feeling?

TESO’s Healing Mechanics

Another more revealing part of the Q&A are the details on how healing is going to work in TESO. While I’m not a fan of dedicated healing in MMOs myself, I’ve explained in the past that one big part of my very vocal holy trinity dislike stems from the fact that healing in WoW was this over-the-top-exclusive stare-at-healthbars-job. MMOs like Age of Conan have offered some more refreshing solutions in that department: healing in AoC was overall weaker, more diverse and AoE/cone-based. Such an approach to healing mechanics can dramatically change the overall playstyle of healing classes. And it appears that TESO is going to follow a similar path –

Q: I have a question about your targeting system for combat, from
what I’ve heard there will be a soft targeting system. My question is:
How does this system work in raids/large PvP groups for healers? Will
healers have a hard time finding players, and keeping track of their
group’s health?
– By Jacob Avila

A: “Soft-lock targeting doesn’t really affect healing because you don’t have to find your target to heal them. You don’t target allies. Most of our heals are area-of-effects (AoEs) or cone effects. To be effective, you might want to stay in the middle of your allies for AoEs or face them for cone effects. Healers will need to be aware of their environment of course, and pay attention to the battle.

The most important part of the reply is no doubt “you don’t target allies”. That means no cycling target frames and certainly no clicking healthbars. The healer’s focus lies on the whole encounter and environment, just like it does for everyone else in the party. Healing will be about correct placement and timing of area and cone effects which can be a great challenge. It’s a take on healing that has also gained some speed in WoW since Cataclysm and that many players out there should enjoy, sworn healers included.

I do welcome this approach to healing in TESO. That said, I do believe there will be dedicated healing and healer and tank roles in this game – certainly a lot more dedicated than in GW2. Zenimax do their best to emphasize playstyle freedom but nothing they’ve stated so far is a big break-away from the classic fantasy MMORPG formula. I wonder how die-hard fans of the Elder Scrolls franchise feel about some of the current combat revelations.

Priests, the great manipulators

[Alternative title: The truth about why people choose to play a priest in WoW]

“May be that you are a tank in WoW, mighty shield-bearer and wrestler of foes. May be that you play a melee class, trained to duel and trick the enemy in close combat. Might be that you command the will of fire and frost to drive the crowds before you, or that you chant dark rituals under a waxing moon. Or you might be a healer, drawing upon the blessing of the light, bestowing nature’s greatest gift on those in dire need.

But you are naught compared to me. 
I am the all-powerful Priest!
The special powers I was given surpass my greatest talents, my healing’s warm embrace and my worst shadow’s doom. I am not one of you – I am the bender, the pretender. All things tremble under my will!

You cannot hide from me.
No matter where you are, I’ll find you.
No matter where you run, I’ll follow. My /target reaches wide and far.
If you slack during a corpserun, I’ll see it. If you get lost on your way back, I’ll guide you.
If you think you can disappear with that flag, you think wrong.
I AM WATCHING YOU!
And there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, not much anyway.
[/cast Mindvision]

Resistance is futile.
If I catch you off guard, I’ll intrude your body and mind.
I’ll take your strengths and abilities and I will use them against you.
I’ll turn you on your allies while you’re watching, I’ll play you like a puppet on a string.
Nobody breaks your defenses down like I do.
Nobody steals your agency and power so completely.
YOU ARE MINE!
[/cast Mind Control]

You cannot escape me.
If you run away, I’ll command you back to me.
If you linger for too long, I’ll make you move.
Just like the Deathknight grabs his foe, I’ll grab my ally.
I might catch you before you fall – I might turn on you.
I might save you from burning – I might let you burn.
IF HERE IS WHERE I WANT YOU, HERE YOU SHALL BE!”
[/cast Leap of Faith]

[/open parenthesis]
Priests in World of Warcraft are second to none when it comes to tools of manipulation or heteronomy. A tank might stun his target, a rogue might sap it for a while, a mage might sheep, a druid might root – just like a priest can shackle or fear or chastize. CCs are very limited in WoW, easily countered and not further controllable by those employing them.
A hunter might use Farsight just like a warlock has Eye of Kilrogg, but none of these spells impose on another player in the same way Mindvision can serve priests as a spying tool.

Is…this…reality?

Nobody breaks so literally into another player’s privacy like priests, to the point where their very own avatar is no longer theirs to command. The few times I have been MCed in battlegrounds, I’ve felt immensely annoyed and bewildered; it almost feels like a violation when some stranger takes over you character, controls it and presses buttons on your spellbar. It’s not a program doing this, it’s not an NPC as part of a quest: you’re being controlled by another player. There is a real, breathing person somewhere out there sat at his PC, commanding or monitoring my character – WHO ARE YOU? 
[/close parenthesis]

“I am your big brother, I’m watching you.
I am the possesser, I’m turning you.
I am the commander, I’m catching you when I please.”

I am a Priest – the great manipulator.
[God I love priests!]

Healing Coordination: Going the extra mile

There is an elephant in my room and it’s bright blue. It’s been there ever since I’ve taken up blogging on WoW and it’s starting to soil the rug now. All my friends and co-healers know how passionate a holy priest and healer I am in WoW. I’ve coordinated raid healing ever since my first 40 man guild. I’ve had the pleasure to work with 3 different healing teams over the years and to experience and coordinate every encounter in the game since Molten Core, with the exception of the last few bosses in AQ40 and most of the Sunwell. Every encounter I think back on or look forward to in WoW, is from a healer’s perspective. I love healing and I love being a part of healing teams.

The reason why I haven’t blogged about this sooner, is simply that there are already many great posts on healing coordination out there, guides full of useful tips by other very experienced healers and bloggers. I love reading and scrutinizing these topics and while I take a lot of it for granted by now personally, I know it’s not; there’s a great many raidguilds out there still running without dedicated healing leads and raidleaders. They’ve my sincere sympathies.

Healing coordination, the successful kind, is all about a great deal of things: knowing your healers, knowing your classes, knowing encounter specifics, knowing how to prioritize, giving precise assignments (that includes things like positioning or save rotations), re-adjusting raid setup constantly (to correspond to more specific assignments and make your healers’ lives easier), communicating and keeping feedback flowing, keeping your team’s spirits high – just to name a few.

Most of all however, it is about someone willing to do all these things; from pre-raid preparation and discussions with the raidleaders, over the actual coordination, to post-raid analyzis. There’s a lot going on for healing coordinators during raids, especially on a progress night, and chances are you will never know because you never really see them adjusting things in the background. Most non-healers do not notice the healing coordinator’s job in a raid – they only notice his absence, in some obscure, nondescript way.

I don’t like repeating things that others have said before me and already put into elaborate words just for the sake of it. That’s why I’d like to point out a few guides first that I appreciate for their overall information and insight on the subject matter. I know there are many more, these are simply three I remember for being good places to start:

  • Raid Rx: 3 steps to assigning healers – an older breakdown by Matticus which does something before all else: simplify. Sometimes less is more, especially if you’re just starting off. A thing that I’ve said time and again is that healing isn’t rocket science, there’s no need to make it sound that way.
  • Zen and the art of healing assignments – a good example of the essentials of the trade and how healing coordination is about keeping a cool head and adaption.
  • Kurn’s Healing Lead Philosophy – I liked this particular overview because it emphasizes several points that I personally find very important, such as maximizing clarity or dealing with parses the right way.

That’s really all your essentials to start off as a healing lead. Might sound like a lot, but you grow into a role and will refine procedures and macros over time. What you cannot necessarily learn is things like having a “knack” for leadership and overseeing these kind of things – having an analytical yet creative mind for problem solving and strong nerves to deal with short-term changes or unhappy raidleaders. Healing leads need broad shoulders. Not everyone is up to be a co-leader in WoW but if you are, your tools can be found in those articles.

…So, what can I contribute to all this that might haven’t been mentioned? What tips would I like to give to other healing leads out there looking to get back to business in Cataclysm, based on my very personal practice and experiences? I think I have a thing or three to add. I can’t promise you to keep this short, but I can promise to include everything that might be useful to somebody else.

Going the extra mile: further methods to optimize healing coordination

Over time I’ve been stuck in situations where I felt the basic tools weren’t quite enough to prepare us for the tactics of a fight or then we were simply struggling at a boss with more complex mechanics. Multi-phase encounters especially can be a challenge to coordinate if all you have at your disposal are assignment macros and manually typing and reacting in the healer channel. You know that there’s a raidgroup waiting and while all good things need time, holding others up for too long is uncomfortable. Here’s three means of helping yourself which I’ve used frequently in the past and cultivated in our healing team:

1) The pre-pull peptalk / PPP
The pre-pull peptalk is going to make your life loads easier on encounters where there is a lot of details and roles to discuss, positioning, multiple phases and so forth. You do not only feel that spamming so many lines is too overwhelming, but you want to make absolutely sure that everyone is on board and has a chance to ask questions if unsure about any objective. For this, I would usually grab my entire healing squad over to a separate ventrilo channel at raidstart where I would go through all the essentials of the upcoming fight in a very swift and reduced manner: an overview of what’s ahead, what difficulties there are and what every healer is going to be in charge of – while also spamming the summary macro. In only 5 minutes you can explain and emphasize a lot more than you ever could by typing and you get to ask two fundamental questions: “Everyone clear on their targets? Any questions or suggestions?”

Meanwhile, the rest of the raid is busy with getting their own directions from the raidleaders. In Adrenaline the raidleader and healing leader work closely together and prep each part of the raid separately (and we’ve usually already talked this through pre-raid). Nobody is going to miss the healers in these 5-10 initial minutes.
I have used this method at Malygos, Mimiron, Arthas and Dreamwalker to name a few examples. In general, it’s worth doing when you know you’ve got a wipenight ahead. It does not only help you but makes your team feel like a real unit.

2) Visual aids
Fights like Lady Vashj, Mimiron or Sindragosa, do not only have complex mechanics but assignments that are absolutely crucial to be followed meticulously by every single member in the raid. Positioning is one big factor here among several others. Whenever we were facing fights of such complexity, with all the mayhem and chaos of first wipenights, I posted a small overview on our forums with visual aids for the healers (usually useful to others too). Take a screenshot of the boss room if feasible and make a graphic for your team that clears up points like movement and positioning once and for all.
I am a very visual person myself and I know from my educational background that if you’re trying to teach more elaborate concepts, you always want to use more than just words: a lesson that’s accompanied by pictures and/or voice, stimulates several senses at once and always leaves a more lasting effect. And: there are far fewer misunderstandings going on when people have looked at the same graphic!

To give you an example of such visual aids, here’s what I did for Lady Vashj, Mimiron or Sindragosa in the past. Pictures were accompanied by detailed strategy. If you have a forum account at Plusheal.com, you can also check here or here for the complete guides.

3) Post-raid analyzis sticky
Tanks, DPS and healers run their separate post-raid sticky threads in our guild forums. Looking back at what went wrong as much as what was done really well, is an important part of preparing for your next raid. It can be difficult to get everyone engaged in these discussions, but in the healer team’s case you have an easier job to get people to participate and we’ve had some very fruitful feedback and tactical discussions there in the past.

In our topic I would regularly publish a round-up after particularly intense nights or new encounters, pointing out briefly what the healing difficulties were, what still needed improving, linking further reading and also: highlighting the good stuff. I have a tendency myself to focus on negatives but it’s crucial to celebrate success from time to time. Get used to writing short post-raid summaries like that and encourage your fellow healers to feedback.

Things to cultivate in your team

This is a more personal part about the core values I have personally come to believe in and uphold in the healing teams I’ve been part of and coordinated in WoW over the years. An atmosphere of trust, honesty, mutual respect and friendship are the corner stones of every functional group of people. As a healing coordinator, it is your role to cultivate qualities such as these while being the leading figure who is in charge of maintaining a sense of order and get to the bottom of  whatever issues. This role can be a demanding task when under pressure and as always, communication is key.

1) Primus inter pares
At any given time, I perceived my role in the healing team as that of the primus inter pares – “the first among equals”. This distinction has always been vital for me to convey. I am my team’s coordinator: that means, I fulfill a necessary and logistic task for my raidguild. I do this for a variety of reasons which range from natural disposition over know-how to the lack of anyone else willing to commit himself to this task (and that last reason has stuck with me wherever I went).
What I am not is your boss, babysitter or mom. I am not all-knowing, perfect or better than any of my team members. When I assign tasks and responsibilities, they will be clear and detailed but I never tell my healers how to heal or play their class. They know what is required – the how is left to them. If things go wrong and it’s really due to a single healer’s poor choices, there is still time to address it when you’re crossing that bridge.

We all see eye to eye in our team even if I am the one calling the shots. If there’s a situation where I need a serious word with one healer, I will do that subtly, via whispers or after the raid. I will never humiliate anyone publicly in the channel and undermine his standing with the rest of the team. Healing teams depend on trusting each other and anyone can have a bad night. I’d rather make a light-hearted joke in such a situation or laugh about it together than blow things out of proportion.

I cannot possibly stress this point enough: your team’s willingness to cooperate, be open and communicate with you is going to depend on your relationship with each other and the role and attitude you establish for yourself as healing lead. That doesn’t mean you cannot be forceful if needed, but there is a difference between resolve and arrogance.

2) There is no “not my problem”
There is no ‘I’ in team, only ‘we’. If there is any issue in the line of healing, it concerns each and everybody. No one is allowed to lean back with a self-sufficient smile while there’s still unresolved issues around. Healing is teamwork: there are no stars here and nobody will be left behind. Without meaning to sound too militaristic: each healing team is only as strong as its weakest link. There are encounters that will push you to a limit like that and where there is no room for ego.

While individual performance matters, the thing that still counts the most for the rest of the raid, is the overall outcome of a fight. Therefore, consider every issue your issue and help your team mates out with suggestions or add your feedback and ideas in the healing channel for the coordinator.
This is what I expect of each team member and nobody is left out from it. We celebrate our successes together and we also work as a team when things go wrong. Anything else will make me really unpleasant really quick.

3) The only way to the healers is through me
This is something I have always been adamant about, sometimes to the dismay of a raidleader or co-raider. By now, most of my mates know why this is so important though (and they’re also a little scared of me, haha!). What I’m talking about is that I expect raid leaders and members alike, to take any form of feedback or critique on healing through me. I am the person in charge and I am also the person with all the information: who has been assigned, to what, how and why. So if there are any questions, issues, wishes or criticism, there is no use to moan at an individual healer in the team, bicker in raidchat about healing or trying to give out orders of your own – they won’t listen to you. We’ve had a trialist or two in the past that actually thought they needed to scream “HEAL ME!” during our raids or blame the healers in the DPS channel; they didn’t last very long. This is not how we deal with issues in our guild.

I’m the one you should be talking to if you want to resolve something and that’s not because I am on some sort of power trip: I need to know what’s going on in order to coordinate healing better and I can’t do this if you by-pass me, this only creates utter chaos. Talk to me, I am actually here to help. Respect the job that I’m doing and let me do it, don’t go over my head or behind my back. Not if you’re hoping to get heals in the future, anyway.

I’m also the one who has a fairly good idea about whether a screw-up is really due to healing or not which is something that’s usually assumed by others overly quick. That said, no healing team is perfect, of course there are healing issues sometime and they can cause the loss of an MT or even wipe a raid. But there’s many many potential reasons behind a screw-up, so if you have anything to convey or ask, then ask the healing lead because he holds all the information. Also:  If you want to blame somebody, blame me. There’s really no use blaming other healers for their assignments.

Final words

These are probably my most valued and personal tips I can give to anyone about the things I’ve learned and situations I’ve been in. I still learn new things every raid, such is the beauty of dealing with human beings rather than NPCs: we’re all unique and fallible and that fallibility is what actually makes leading a required task and a fun challenge. It’s also the reason why encounters stay interesting for healers. Human error is the spice of our trade: if the rest of the raid was constantly 100% on top of tactics, things would get boring quickly. But we never quite know what’s going to happen and as a healing lead, you always need to be ready to react, re-evaluate and work with the choices before you. I love the first weeks in new raid instances for this reason.

Adrenaline will start with official 25man raids sometime around the start of January 2011. I look forward to new challenges and also to welcome Stumps, long-time raidleader and GM of Adrenaline, back in our healing team. I’ve successfully poached him to play his resto druid in the expansion and share the role of healing coordinator with me – I know we’ll have a lot of fun (it’s gonna be fiiine!). There’s been a few changes in our setup, but it still stands strong with both long-term healers and few newcomers. I can only second Lodur’s hommage to his healing team: WoW is so much more enjoyable for me thanks to them and our lively raid channel. We are not just fellow raiders but comrades and it’s worth your time and extra effort to lead such a dedicated bunch of people. Happy coordinating everybody.

My private Cataclysm

So I’ve spent the first half of last week trying to find time for Cataclysm while running from one appointment to the next and taking care of all sorts of paperwork. It’s been hectic times for me, in fact this year seems to be a ‘cataclysmic’ one indeed, not just on Azeroth but my own private world has been revamped quite a bit. It’s been a year of endings and new beginnings and just when Blizzard decided to launch their new world, I’m looking at a fresh start too. After a tedious application procedure that lasted for several weeks, I finally got the final phonecall telling me I got the job I wanted 3 days ago. It’s the one goal I still had for 2010 and makes Cataclysm week a truly special week in my book!

Now I wouldn’t be a real WoW gamer if the euphoria wasn’t instantly accompanied with a least some worries – “oh noes, no more time for Cataclysm now!” and “how am I gonna keep up with all the new work?” – so I’ve plunged myself into WoW ever since I got the news, canceling further duties and exploring as much as I could. I have stayed away from pretty much all the beta information and screenshots before to make this the real deal and weeee, I’m having fun!

New zones

I absolutely love Vash’jr as expected. They’ve really done as good job by handing you those speedy seahorses early which makes traveling down there so much easier (they look awesome too!). The zone is by far the most original and unique one in the game for obvious reasons, there is so much new flora and fauna to see, it’s an explorer’s delight! And while Grumpy Dorf is still resisting me by saying he hates murlocs, the beasts you really get to re-meet down there aplenty are the naga. I loved Lady Vashj, so it’s all fine by me.

I went to Hyjal later which is a great zone as well, the whole vanilla-WoW feel to it (you are the BOMB!), the variety of sub-zones and the cave questlines. One thing I noticed is that Cataclysm doesn’t exactly blow me away in terms of soundtrack like WotLK did, but Hyjal makes up for that a little.

Deepholm is impressive and depressing at the same time, intimidating and otherwordly. I’ve mostly been there to fish so far (I’ll do anything that helps me avoid the AH in order to skill up my professions at the moment) and got my ass kicked by the mobs there – damn, they hit a lot harder after 83, don’t they?!

Twilight Highlands look nice but nothing I haven’t seen already and better in WotLK. When it comes to woods and highland feeling, you can’t really top Grizzly Hills and Howling Fjord.

Uldum is not my thing at all, way too geometrical and ‘clinic’ for my taste. It reminds me of past nightmares in Silithus and the AQs so despite Stumps telling me how awesome the quests are in there, I’m likely to stay away until I run out of things to do. I will of course eventually want the reputation, sigh.

Healing

I’m leveling my way up in healing spec, smiling a little at all the shadow-priests that have suddenly popped up all around me – it almost seems as if holy and disc don’t exist anymore outside of dungeons. When I logged into WoW on Wednesday, I was shocked to find how many lvl 85 there were already and decided that I definitely didn’t need to speed things up further. I’m fine leveling as disc.
I’ve also been very eager to test group healing and have healed all the instances up to lvl 84 until now. The most irritating part was probably that mana seems to get exponentially worse with every ding – it feels like a big chunk of it is disappearing with each level or well…staying the same while everything else goes up. The scaling steps are miserable and having just hit 84, I can see what’s going to happen next.

That said, I’ve not struggled on any runs so far, but I’ve only been in there with my guild. The few times we miss-pulled or aggroed several packs, I used my saves and shadowfiend and was completely out of mana afterwards – which is great. Amagad, I am using all my spells again, not just once a month in a 25man raid but in a NON-HEROIC 5man!!

I’ve started to use heal now because flashheal has become unaffordable but I’m struggling with the 2.3sec cast I got at the moment. This has gotta come down bigtime, obviously my gear is still far from ready. I can also not find a lot of use for my Chakras because of this, I can’t maintain either of them very well on 5man and I’ve had absolutely no reason to use Sanctuary so far. New idea for Heal-Chakra: remove Renew-refresh and give 30% haste buff on heal instead!

Am currently wearing a mix of old epics and new blues and try to get my hands on as much spirit and haste as I can. I actually like holy mastery too, it should become quite huge in raids with proper numbers.
I look forward to throw myself into heroics (and that funky lvl 85 blue set from the JP vendor) soon. I’ve gotten over my initial shock of how fast leveling is and expect myself to give this a go in about a week or so. I would like to assemble a completely new gear-set before I attempt this.

Apart from all that, I’ve tried to keep my inner zen and not go into a frenzy over all the things I still need to do and find out about (professions! reputations! minipets! gnlgnpffl!), telling myself that there’s TIME and really no need to rush it. I’ve played around with archeology a little and can see this is going to be boring fast. The alchemy mount is definitely not on the agenda for me.

That’s all for now, back to exploring! Enjoy this first week everybody and remember: the faster you go, the older it gets!

Holy qualms and related Cataclysm healing links

So Discpriests got some sweet buffs last week to boost their raidhealing power and having gone through various articles on healing in Cataclysm and the state of priests on the beta servers lately, I am beginning to wonder more and more where that will leave Holypriests in the upcoming expansion.

[/rant on]

I can’t say that I am very happy at the moment. The echoes from the test servers so far were disheartening – “priests have the lowest throughput”, “priests go OOM before everyone else”, “priests are the least efficient of the lot”. Blizzard states that druids and paladins are getting the nerfbat and that priests apparently are the only healers that are working as intended for lvl 85 while everyone else is still slightly overtuned. Wonderful…
While Disc gets buffed, our Chakra sounds duller by the minute and Blessing of Sanctuary got nerfed along with the respective AoE heals from other healers. And with the distribution of heavy AoE healing to everyone in Cataclysm, Holypriests will definitely not hold their niche of powerful raidhealing in the same way they have done in WotLK anymore, with our fabulous CoH (since nerfed) and bursty PoH – the two spells that really set us apart from Disc and the shammies or druids on raidhealing duty.

What will be the state of Holypriests in the expansion? Does our strength come down to “gimmicks” like Lightwell and Leap of Faith now, while we’re struggling to maintain our Chakras AND Evangelism stacks (an issue I have seen coming for a while)?

All the articles I’ve read so far have done nothing to improve my initial mood on the holy tree changes. From day one I have played a holypriest in WoW and those of us rolling priests back then chose the class because they wanted to be healers – good healers, THE healer. Continuously Blizzard homogenized all healing classes in WoW and I am fine with equally powerful healers as long as you still have reasons to favor every class for their individual strengths. This was true in TBC and mostly in WotLK too. Holypriests were never the most efficient healers but we were always the most versatile while producing great raid healing together with the shammies. It seems this is true no longer.

At the same time I don’t see we were given buffs to make up for this loss: where’s our improved single-target power? Heal-Chakra (still too slow @ 1500+ haste)? We do not have access to the buffs and shields of Discpriests and we don’t have the Holy Paladins single-target throughput. As for HoTs, they’ve just taken our extra HoT away again with the removal of Renew-Chakra.

Where’s my share Blizzard?

[/rant off]

Further reading

Dawn Moore from WoW Insider recently published a detailed and insightful overview on priest healing in Cataclysm heroics. I linked this in our guild forums as it is a very useful read for healers of all classes, while including some more priest-centric advice. To highlight a few of her most interesting points:

  • The new heroic dungeons are properly challenging and will require players to prepare a lot more than before due to more complex encounter mechanics. For this reason, you might want to lay off PuGs for a while – a long while.
  • Priests might find themselves in situations where they want to use Psychic Scream (glyphed) as CC.
  • You will want to encourage parties frequently to use Lightwell so you have more time for mana breaks.
  • Yes, you want to spec into Evangelism and Archangel – and things are going to get rather complicated for Holypriests:

So let me lay it on you … You will want to take the talents Evangelism and Archangel. I’m talking to both disc and holy here.  […]

Anyway, let’s get back to Evangelism and Archangel. The key to not going out of mana with these talents is upkeep. Especially with holy (and all the Chakra maintenance), it’s pretty easy to forget about your Evangelism stack and just heal until you realize you’re nearly out of mana (OOM). When this happens, you can freak out a little and pump out four or five Smites in a row — and hell, you might even pull it off without anyone dying. But if you do that, you fall behind.[…]

As a holy priest, I will look for natural breaks in the damage to Smite, then heal the rest of the time. You have to get comfortable riding out the duration of Evangelism (make a Power Aura for it if you have to), and if you must use Archangel at three or four stacks to keep from losing it, do so.[…]

While I always look forward to a challenge and welcome anything that adds to our versatility, I am very skeptical about coordinating for Archangel as a Holypriest. I’ve never liked the idea of smiting several times in a row just to regen mana and I have yet to see just how chaotic this will get while we are also trying to heal, cleanse, manage CDs and juggle Chakra states. Then again, if Chakra really ends up not being much of a choice anyway that should simplify matters, huh? /sarcasm

To finish off,  Matticus recently posted a Cataclysm raidhealing video that gives healers a nice idea of what to expect for the first raid encounters. I am actually looking very much forward to the more technical and tactical aspects of healing in Cataclysm – I just do have my justified worries about holy right now and how all players will cope with the required switches in mindset. Alas, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess.

How to prep your guild for Cataclysm. Or: "Dear DPS"

Ever since Blizzard announced their intentions for healing in Cataclysm I’ve had this uneasy feeling about how the changes might turn out, or rather how to get the message across once the time arrived. Already in December 2009 I posted some quotes by Ghostcrawler in our guild forums, discussing the changes to health and things like mana regen. And I do welcome these changes, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside because things like meaningful spell choices, timing, prioritizing and mana management should matter in an MMO and it reminds me of how it was to heal encounters like Ragnaros or Firemaw back in vanilla WoW. We had good HPS back then but HPM was seriously lousy, so as a consequence you would employ tactics like the classic healer rotation or dancing with the 5-sec rule in longer fights. Do you remember when we were still timing our mana potions and bandage quickly between phases? That’s right. <3 You can hear my nostalgia and that will never change – I do agree with Dwism that WoW raiding as a whole has become better, encounters more diverse and interesting certainly, but there are things about the past that this priest simply misses. Mine is a healer’s background and as such I have always been working inside a closeknit team. Our healing struggles brought us together and forced us to communicate in ways that are almost forgotten today. Maybe that seems a good thing to some but I am a team player through and through and I love working with my team.

I’m under no illusion that Cataclysm will be vanilla all over, I know it won’t be but maybe it can find a middle ground between unnecessary downtimes and imbalances vs. steamrolling and easy loot. Cataclysm is a bit of a homecoming, not just thematically but the way it’s going to simplify stats again, make things like mobs or mana-management harder and epics (supposedly) feel more epic again. We will see.

Changing mindset

To get back to the uneasy feeling, what I’m worried about is how we will revert to this more careful and tactical mindset in WoW, not “we” the healers but “we” the entire player base. All of us have become reckless halfway through WotLK, tanks reckless with pulling, DPS reckless with starting to fire and AoE right away, healers reckless with mana and overhealing. It’s a mindset we will all have to lose if Blizzard’s promises come true and it’s a good thing because it will make encounters more tactical again.

Once I saw the new talents and spells that are now live, I was planning to write a short summary for my guildies with all the healing relevant changes, so people are prepped and also aware of new spells and effects to look out for in our future raids. I don’t expect everybody to be aware of other classes new spells, so when there’s important news to share that is going to benefit you in raids, I do like to communicate that beforehand so people have time to read up and adapt. There is also an entirely more selfish reason behind it: I don’t intend to go through important things like that mid-raid and I’ve been an officer in WoW long enough to value anticipation over reaction, it’s saved me and my fellow officers a lot of nerves in the past. In fact I will always try and open a topic or write a summary or guide so I can point people to it if need be or get grumpy because “it’s all been written on the forums for weeks damnit!”. I’m all for being prepared and transparent – especially if it saves me from getting moaned at because death is suddenly a feature of the game again. If you expect people to take note of something, write it down and get a large trout ready for later.

That said, I have been putting this off for a while, mostly because I didn’t know quite how to approach it yet and I have to say thanks to Tam for his recent topic which reminded me that there was something important I needed to do before Cataclysm!
Have you informed your DPS already that there would be no more heals for them in the expansion? Pardon, I mean, informed your guild about the healing-related changes? If not, I recommend you mention it at some point for your own sake as much as everyone else’s. Also, those guild forums aren’t there to look pretty!

The reason why I single out the DPS too is simply because they are the biggest group in WoW and often outside of the healer-tank equation in the sense that while healers and tanks are always made aware of changes in their departments quite instantly, for obvious reasons of closer teamwork and imminent consequence, DPS are often late to notice. And that is the nicest possible way for me to say this, so don’t push it.

“Dear DPS”

Since I have gone through the trouble of putting a post together that (hopefully) sums up the essential healing changes in a simplified way for non-healers, see a copy of my post below and feel free to use, alter or copy it for your own purposes in case you’re not up for writing one of your own. If you do copy, you might wanna change the guild name though (/ahem)!

And yeah, there are always those that already know most of this (or think they do), I’m actually surrounded by dedicated raiders and crazy alt-players myself in Adrenaline, but it still doesn’t hurt – and then there’s also the large trout thing.

Those shiny new AoE heals to look out for in Cataclysm!

I was planning to write a short (ha-ha) overview about healing changes sooner or later before the expansion and since I got some time tonight, now is as good a time as ever! 
There’s obviously some changes in game mechanics and playstyle incoming for everybody in Cata which is going to concern all of us in our future raids. I haven’t played the beta but I’ve followed things and talked to those that have, and if you believe blizzard’s announcements some things will change bigtime, at least in the beginning of the expansion. some of these things concern me as a healer more than they concern you but ultimately we are all co-dependent and it’s important that everyone is informed about major changes in the healing or tanking or dps department so he/she can adapt to it. Adrenaline IS a progressive raidguild and even if we aren’t of the leet persuasion we care about things like raiding quality and optimization.

To cut to the chase, there’s a few changes I’d like to make people aware of from a healing POV: several healing classes have been given new and more area-related heals (meaning they stick to the ground) in the last patch and we can therefore expect these to become relevant in our future raids. for them to be used to their full potential however, all of you need to understand what these spells are and what exactly they can do for you

I know some of you already know this, in which case it won’t hurt to refresh your memory! <3 Before going on, I’m going to sum up briefly what has been announced on Cata and is healing-relevant: – mana will be a lot bigger issue for everybody. many healing spells have been or will be scaled/nerfed accordingly for lvl 85
– HP will increase more dramatically than HPM/HPS
– all healers now have in-built dps mechanics that either improve healing and/or mana-regen
– cleansing and decursing have been nerfed

What does this mean for you? basically that healers can’t and won’t spam heals the way they have so far. there is less “universal” healing spells around which means we are forced to make choices again between most efficient heal vs. fast heal vs. big heal and believe me when I say we haven’t really had to do this in a long, long time!
There will be less tolerance for ‘unnecessary’ damage taken and there will be less leeway to cover up or compensate. one thing that won’t change in Cata is that it’s the MTs > you and there will be situations where it’s good to go back to whatever means of self-preservation you got. we have all fallen into a bit of an OP or lazy mindset towards the end of WotLK and that will have to change again and revert to a more tactical and sensible playstyle.
The good news is that our HP is increasing massively, which should give everyone some breathing space – at the same time this means HP bars won’t always be topped up right away like people are used to, so don’t panic!
along with that note that you will see healers more often adding dps now as part of their healing “rotation”. and since blizzard wants debuffs to become a bigger deal again, cleansing won’t be as swiftly or efficiently anymore in some cases either. priests for example have had their improved cleansing removed entirely.

now for the cool stuff –

New healy stuff – look out for it, use it, love it!
(*including spell changes up to Cataclysm beta-build 13277)

1) Shiny yellow dome: PW:Barrier coming to you by a Disc Priest.
Will shield from 30% damage and spell interrupts for 10secs.

2) Yellow circle of northern lights: HW:Sanctuary coming to you by a Holy Priest.
Will heal up to 6 players for 18secs.

3) Green circle with floaty leaves: Efflorescence coming to you by a Resto Druid.
Will heal up to 6 players for 7secs.

4) [lvl 83] White patch with rain drops: Healing Rain coming to you by a Resto Shaman.
Will heal up to 6 players for 10 secs.

1)-4) stack and are either costly and/or on a longer CD so making use of them is important. You won’t always be required or asked to run for these of course, ideally they will be placed in the best spot for/on yourself, or wherever they make most sense. Still if you’re outside and close to one while taking damage, you know what you gotta do! Yes, you can stand in the yellow/green crap now, wohoo! (these show better or worse depending on your video setup afaik, so you might want to check that out!)

5) Golden floaty bowl: Lightwell / Lolwell coming to you by a Holy Priest.
You can expect to see lightwell more in Cata than we have so far. I’d like to point out that this is now one of our most efficient heals and I encourage everyone to use this if you can and need to. it has been fixed so you won’t have to target the well anymore in order to heal yourself. it’s easy to oversee in the heat of battle but you can get used to clicking it more.

6) Light of Dawn: not really something you can seek out, but still nice to know that Holy Paladins have a shiny cone heal of their own now. They are also getting Holy Radiance at lvl 83 which is another AoE healing spell emanating from the Paladin to players around him.

That’s it! I hope people will be more familiar with these new spells and effects until Cataclysm, there’s some shiny new stuff going on really and while nobody can tell how much these will be used, I think it’s safe to say they will have their regular place! :)
It probably makes sense too to make similar topics about changes in the dps or tank department for everybody if you feel there’s things that are good to share and inform the rest about. Cheers!

And now you know what sort of WoTs poor Larísa is regularly subject to in her guild forums!

Double Trinity: Priest Chakras explained

After last week’s initial irritation with the new holy priest talents and spells, I set my mind on understanding Chakra better and making sense of the triple function in combination with Holy Word: Chastise. If this is the new holy priest mechanic for Cataclysm, there’s gotta be a lot more to it than what the confusing and cumbersome explanations on the inet and tooltips inspire you to believe. So I entered a couple of 10mans with my priest to give Chakra ample testing time. I got used to things pretty soon and dare say I understood matters a lot better after playing around with the different states in various boss encounters.

The main issue with Chakra is that there’s a lot of misinformation around. I’ve come across pages that talk of “stacking chakra” (lol?) or “spamming chakra”….right.
Also, Blizzard have done a lousy job on the tooltips in my opinion: the wording is often unclear, at least for me, and there’s information missing especially when it comes to Holy Word: Chastise with Revelations. If you haven’t looked into the matter yet before the patch (and possibly even if you have), you’ll spend a lot of time trying to wrap your head around the entire 3-1-3 idea but in essence it’s actually quite simple.

In the following article I have attempted to simplify the new holy priest Chakra mechanic for all those that feel somewhat overwhelmed or confused with all the tooltips and new names. I will try to explain how Chakra works and what I believe its potential uses in raids might be, in combination with Revelations. I will leave out all unnecessary information, especially the long and clunky names for each of the Revelations effects. Names are great and all, but while learning a new, complex mechanic, I find them obstructive and irritating – makes my head spin!

Understanding Chakra

Chakra essentially is a state in which you chose to heal a particular encounter. That state can either empower your HoTs (Renew / green state), your direct healing (Heal / yellow state) or your AoE healing (PoH / blue state) – so depending on the fight and/or your healing assignment, you will chose your Chakra state accordingly.
The way Blizzard designed the spell, being cheap on mana and fast to re-activate, you should think of Chakra as a mechanic that you frequently use or maintain over an entire bossfight. Switching Chakras makes a lot of sense too, for example if you are healing in a multi-phase encounter with different assignments and a different healing style for each phase.

There is a self-refreshing element to Chakra: while a particular state lasts 30secs, you will add an extra 4secs to that timer every time you make use of the respective Chakra spell when talented into State of Mind. So let’s say you choose Renew-Chakra, your Renews will heal for 10% more during the next 30secs – but also, you will add another 4 secs (back up to 30secs) every time you cast a Renew. The same for your other two states.

I’ve tested this and not surprisingly Renew was the easiest of the 3 spells for maintaining Chakra. Not just is Renew the fastest spell of the lot, but obviously also the one that’s most easy to apply on an entire raid. I was able to cast Chakra initially on a bossfight and then maintain it throughout the entire fight via Renew.
PoH being both more situational and also a lot more expensive, you would certainly let this Chakra state drop more frequently and refresh it if needed. As for Heal, I did not test it as much as the other two, but assuming you’re on focus- or tankhealing during a bossfight and Heal is indeed replacing Flash Heal in Cata, you would probably be able to maintain its state for quite a while before re-casting Chakra.
That said, you don’t want to forcefully spam costly healing just to maintain your Chakra state as it’s easy and cheaper to re-activate if you’ve dropped it. It’s good to note that it’s possible to prolong though.

As already mentioned, not all of the 3 Chakra-states are equally mana-efficient and you will have to choose in what “state of mind” to heal each encounter and encounter phase individually for best results. Flexibility will be key here. It does however almost certainly always make sense to use one of the 3 Chakra states to boost your healing powers in bossfights as Chakra in itself is a cheap way of gaining some extra healing.

Chakra and Revelations

If you’ve picked up the Revelations talent in the holy tree, your HW:Chastise spell will transform into 3 new healing spells that correspond to one of your 3 Chakra states each. To understand this a little better and see everything at a quick glance, I’ve created the following graphic:

Click to enlarge

Please note that all healing numbers correspond with my own holy priest’s stats and spec. I am assuming Tome of Light and State of Mind are talented.

Revelations basically brings an extra spell to your healing arsenal that further empowers your healing in combination with your chosen Chakra. If you’re using Renew-Chakra during an encounter, HW:Chastise will let you apply yet another HoT to a chosen target beside an instant heal. The mana cost of 386 is cheaper than if you manually cast a Renew and FH yourself. This effect is useful in a variety of situations, as a quick save on yourself or another player, or frequently added on an MT while raidhealing for example.

The same goes for your PoH-state: HW:Chastise will let you cast an extra AoE healing zone on the ground which makes for some remarkable focus-healing on a certain area or raidgroup in combination with your other, direct AoE heals. I can see potential uses for this on the melee camp where it usually hits MTs too, or if more focused raidhealing is required on a stacked point or ranged group, maybe also in combination with a Disc Priest’s PW:Barrier or a Resto Druid’s Efflorescence.

Inside Heal-Chakra, you will be able to gain even more single-target Heal power if you combine it with HW:Chastise. This makes for some impressive MT- or focus healing!

Out of the 3 Revelations, Heal-Chakra will probably make for the most mana-efficient one at lvl 85. Your Renew state takes the middle position while using HW:Chastise during PoH-Chakra is going to cost you a lot. It does however come with the shortest cooldown, so re-positioning the AoE healing zone if needed, is fast.

Preliminary bottom line

The extra healing power and tools gained from using and playing your Chakras and Revelations right should be quite remarkable in Cataclysm. Adopting these new mechanics into your standard healing habits and repertoire will take some time and experimenting, but there’s a lot of potential there once you got the hang out of things, know how to combine and when it’s best to use what.
Holypriests should think of Chakra as their three new healing states of mind, with Revelations bringing you that little extra tool to go with your different states.

We will see how things work out in Cataclysm: I’m most eager to see Heal come out of the closet especially and I expect some more changes to our talents or at least the numbers. It is yet to be seen how big our mana issues will be which will further impact on Chakra‘s significance in the coming expansion.

I will look into updating this topic come lvl 85, until then have fun experimenting with your new abilities and feedback is of course welcome!

Patch me if you can!

So the big patch of 4.0.1 is finally upon us and you’ve all spent the past 2 days re-speccing and re-glyphing your chars like mad, frowning over those odd stats and mastery on your brand new character pane and trying to figure out reforging. Maybe you’ve also spent half of Wednesday swearing in front of the computer like me, because that damned patch took a lot more space than indicated, so you ended up re-downloading it all and a second time after that, due to some critical errors. Or maybe you’ve been luckier and the patch just slowed down at the strangest time or then the updater did. Patching….it ain’t easy business!

Syl vs. 4.0.1

This patch is really a 50-50 deal for me so far, meaning to say I have probably never been more undecided about whether I should hate or love the changes before me. I’m generally a bit of a ranter type when it comes to WoW patches, not because I dislike all change but let’s face it, they often really mess things up! I also naturally focus on negative things a lot more, I see the good for the good but then it’s back to the negative for me, because that’s where things still need to improve and we got work to do!

Anyways, I’ll be forcefully un-Syl today and start with the good things: I love what they did to glyphs. I can see how the new glyph system will cause scribe whining, but on a general note it’s a great change because we’ll finally have all our glyphs on us, so a lot more accessible than before. I never bothered to switch glyphs much in the past, bagspace being one of the reasons, but now I can see myself using glyphs depending on encounter a lot more.
I also love the adjustment to mount speed, finally I get to use some of those older mounts again. And the new talent and guild windows are great (yay for the professions tab!), the UI changes seem to be a big improvement altogether.

And here comes the big but (no, not the bear one): I’ve not been looking forward much to the holy priest changes and I can’t say they blow me away. For one, re-speccing seemed already very dull. Then there’s Chakra which is Blizzard’s way of saying that holy priests are the versatile healers of the game, I know – I just don’t feel the whole triple deal in combination with HW:Chastise is such a wonderful, intuitive mechanic. But I’ll get used to that. Oh and note that Chakra is now down to 30secs!

Aside of Chakra, nothing is new for holy really. We can’t spec into shiny wings proc yet like the Discpriests, because we lack the points. That aside, I absolutlely HATE what they did to Surge of Light, taking it off general crits, making it exclusive for crappy Heal (crappy for the moment anyway) and Smite instead….I loved to get my SoL procs from almost every CoH, that was so much extra mobility!
And I really do miss Spiritual healing and Prayer of Spirit, it’s been quite noticeable statwise too…mehhh Blizzard, why did you have to take away all the spirit from this priest?

Priest Tier 11

As for our recently published T11, I’m again on the fifty fifty side:
I love gear and tier sets and once more I find myself thinking “thank you, thank you, whoever designs our sets!” because it’s BLUE! YAY! I was scared to end up with a red and brown, fiery cataclysmic looking set which is great for some classes surely, not so much for a holy healer though. Let’s see what the other colors will be, but this is a great start! It looks very royal with the blue and gold and considering the onion-shaped headpiece and overall theme, it reminds me a lot of some oriental, middle-eastern garment.

Here comes the first but – the shoulders look like those old Mage T2 water dispensers or then the Harvest Festival shoulder-piece. Either way, they don’t seem to fit the rest of the set at all! What’s up with making priests look like football players?

The even bigger but: the female tier model is the only one that comes belly-free….did the tailor run out of cloth or something? Oh, get real already! And not just about the usual stupid male designer touch, but seriously: is this what you think of priests Blizzard? The sissies in the raid that go belly-free because really, they aren’t doing that much so why not flaunt their bellies in combat while everyone else is geared up in their battle armor? Let’s tan our tank a little while some blazing AoE of doom is raining down on everybody?? Wut???

I hope they get a ton of angry emails until Cataclysm! And yes, I will wear a matching shirt!