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Archive for March, 2009

In every twenty-five-man raid, you’ll have more than one member of a class along for the ride; there are only ten classes after all.  In most raids, you’ll also find multiple members of the same talent tree:  three arcane mages, two affliction warlocks, and a partridge in a pear tree. The plus-side of having two or more of a class in a raid can include taking turns using reagents, multiple mage-tables and summoning-stones, and extra battle rezzes.

While some buffs don’t stack (more than one Tree Druid doesn’t mean more than one Tree of Life Aura, for example), all heals do; and in general, when you bring lots of healers to a raid, the only noticeable downside is overhealing.  Two Resto Druids can roll Lifeblooms on the same target; two Holy Paladins can Flash Heal the same target.  However, a Discipline Priest is designed not so much to heal damage as to mitigate damage, and while heals stack, these mitigation tools do not.  Multiple Disc Priests are therefore not ideal.  (Not ideal.  Ha.  That’s me being restrained.  Multiple Disc Priests fucking sucks.  There.  I said it.)

  • Grace does not stack.
  • Divine Aegis does not stack (although 3.1 will allow one priest to stack DA up to 125*level of the target; I doubt that DAs from multiple priests will stack)
  • Power Word: Shield does not stack.
Of course, not everyone is going to min-max their raid composition, and sometimes — ideal or not — you will find yourself in a raid with more than one Disc Priest.  If respeccing to Holy isn’t an option for someone, then take these things into consideration:
 
1)  Who has more spellpower?
 
The Disc Priest with the largest spellpower will have the biggest heals (duh), but will also provide the largest shields.  (Borrowed Time increases the absorption of PW:S by 8% of your spellpower).  I have been asked by other Disc Priests “What’s your crit?” when trying to elbow me out of the tank-healing and into the raid-healing role.  But the important factor isn’t simply who crits more frequently — well, unless you’re comparing a healer with 10% crit and and one with 30% crit — but the impact those crits will have.  Although crit is desirable for Disc Priests as it procs Divine Aegis, crit is also desirable because it results in a 150% larger heal.   Regardless, crit is a percentage based chance; more spellpower provides more and more consistent throughput.
 
Hypothetical Situation is Hypothetical, with Math
 
Disc Priest 1 has a 30% crit rating and 2000 spellpower
Disc Priest 2 has a 20% crit rating and 2200 spellpower
 
They both hit Prayer of Mending twice, and all five charges results in heals.  With ten “heals,” Disc Priest 1 will crit 3 times and Disc Priest 2 will crit twice.  Assuming none of this is overheal (and remember, Divine Aegis will proc upon any crit, but it only absorbs based on the amount healed), Disc Priest 1 will place three bubbles on targets.  Disc Priest 2 will place two.
 
Disc Priest 1 has healed for 30544 and absorbed 1032 damage.  Total:  31576
Disc Priest 2 has healed for 30986 and absorbed 846 damage.  Total:  31832
 
Spellpower > Crit.
 
Of course, what you do with this knowledge and how you choose to assign multiple Disc Priests will likely be affected by the composition of the rest of the healer team.  If they’re all shamans, then two Disc Priests can heal the tanks.  If they’re all paladins, then make the healadins raid heal, the OP fuckers.  Regardless:  make sure you’re clear about heal and shield targets.  Do not shield someone else’s target(s).

2)  Who has buffs and debuffs?
 
Broken record:  I’m a huge fan of Grid as it can be setup to monitor any buff and debuff on the raid.  Regardless of whether your fellow priests are Disc or not, it is worth using Grid to track the Weakened Soul debuff (You can add it under the Auras tab).  I show Weakened Soul as an icon in the center of the raid frame so it is clear who is ineligible for a PW:S.  Grid can also be used to monitor your other buffs and procs:  Power Infusion, Pain Suppression, Grace, and Divine Aegis.
 
3)  Who has which glyphs?
 
Three Discipline Priests walk into a bar.  One has PW:S, Flash Heal, and Holy Nova glyphed.  One has PW:S, Flash Heal, and Prayer of Healing glyphed.  One has Smite, Fade, and Mind Control glyphed.  Priest 2 might be better suited in a melee group for group heals.  Priest 1 might be better suited in a caster group for group heals.  Priest 3 gets to wait outside at the Naxx summoning stone and MC flagged players off the edge.
 
4)  Who has Focused Will and Martyrdom talented?
 
/smack.  This person gets to go respec Holy told the raid is full.
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brkWhen I asked, “Is it worth it?” this morning, I had no idea that across the continent, one of my very favorite WoW-bloggers was composing his farewell post, answering that question with a “No.”

I’ve never played a hunter beyond level 10, just long enough to tame some ridiculous pet to embarrass K-.  But I always read BRK’s blog, and I loved it when he was a guest on the WoW Insider Podcast.  I loved his sense of humor and his fiery disdain for achievements.  As K- and I camped Loque’nahak this weekend, I thought about BRK several times, about the stories he collected of hunters taming the spirit beast, about the love for a class that would make one wait and wait and wait for a rare spawn.

resto4lifeI didn’t post anything when Phaelia of Resto4Life announced her retirement from the game, even though her blog taught me so much about being a Resto Druid.  BRK’s lessons on hunters meant little to me.  I mean, the times I’ve played K-‘s hunter, I’ve just sent the pet in, autoattacked, inevitably triggered the wrong trap and hoped that if I was jumped by a Horde that I could Bestial Wrath and button-mash my way to a win.

What drew me to both Phaelia and BRK’s blogs was their passion for the game and their help in creating a community of gamers and bloggers.  We miss them already, but we let them go and wish them well in the knowledge that they will bring their love and joy and wisdom to the most important group of people:  their families.

Thank you for everything, BRK and Phaelia.  Cheetah-speed and good luck.  Fo’shizzle.

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My little brother introduced me to Everquest many years ago, and in turn, I’ve introduced him to WoW.  Using the “Recruit-a-Friend” tool and the many free weeks of gaming that that provides, I’ve managed to lure him back to MMOs.  He doesn’t play that often, what with a hectic work schedule (he’s an ER nurse and works nights), a toddler (“OK, the kid’s napping.  Can you run me through Scarlet Monastery?”) and one-on-the-way, and a wife who hates video games (“Shit, she’s home.  Gotta go…”).  But he’s managed to level a little dwarf paladin to 40.  He logged in on Sunday morning and promptly linked a quest to me — code for “Help kill” or “Help.  Where?” I wasn’t certain.  But K- and I were busy.  “What are you hunting?” he asked.  “We’re camping a rare spawn for K-‘s hunter to tame,” I answered.  “Hour 8.  Yay?” K- added.  “Holy shit,” my brother replied, “Is it worth it?”

“Is it worth it?” — it’s a question we ask ourselves in game a lot.

I could go harvest herbs for an hour or so, or I could pay 20 gold for a stack.  Is it worth it?  Should I put an enchant on this item when I know I’ll see an upgrade in the next week?  Is it worth it?  Should I buy this item from the Auction House for my alt?  Should I stay in this shitty PuG?  Should I respec?  Should I delete this quest?  Should I work on this faction?  Should we wipe on this boss so we reset the encounter and try again for the achievement?  Is it worth it?

What makes something “worth it” in game?  Time spent?  Money saved?  Quality of gameplay?  Good companionship?  A means to an end?  Or something else?

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WHAT

powerinfusionPower Infusion
Infuses the target with power, increasing spell casting speed by 20% and reducing the mana cost of all spells by 20%.  Lasts 15 seconds.

2 minute cooldown (lowered to 1.6 minute with 2 points in Aspiration)  Does not trigger the GCD.


HOW

I’m a big mouseover macro fan, as clicking on someone to target them, then clicking on a spell is too slow and unwieldy.  It’s also good practice to notify someone they’ve received Power Infusion because even though they should notice the animation and the buff, they might not (and/or might not realize what Power Infusion does.)

The following macro casts PI on your mouseover target and sends them a whisper:

/cast [target=mouseover] Power Infusion
/script local n,r=UnitName”target”;if(r)then n=n..”-“..r;end;SendChatMessage(“Power Infused! +20% haste at -20% mana for 15 seconds. Go!”,”WHISPER”,nil,n)

Penance Priest has some other macro ideas, including the addition of quartz cooldowns and error checking.


WHO

As Power Infusion gives the recipient increased casting speed at a reduced mana cost, the spell should obviously be cast on someone who a) casts spells and b) uses mana.  Duh.  When determining who will benefit the most from PI, consider a) who can use an increased casting speed and b) who can use the break on mana consumption.  Duh +1.

Although I’ve read some suggestions that Disc Priests use the buff solely on themselves (and have raided with a Disc Priest who did just that), I think it would be a difficult argument to make that a Disc Priest needs help with mana.  (Maybe if you’re undergeared?  Maybe if you’re healing a heroic with 4 melee who won’t step out of whirlwinds?  Maybe if you’re using spells that don’t proc Rapture?)  If you feel you are struggling with the healing in a particular encounter, then by all means, buff yourself.  Otherwise, I’d recommend buffing someone else.

I don’t use Power Infusion as an “Oh shit!” button for more healing, but rather as a “Hell yeah!” button for a high-dpsing caster.  Consensus seems to be that mages are the best recipients of PI — they get the most bang-for-the-buck from the haste and the mana reduction.  However, depending on the makeup of your raid and the DPS of your caster group, you might chose a different target.

I don’t use Recount, and I don’t monitor the DPS of a fight, but if I don’t know my fellow raiders and don’t have an established target, after the first encounter, I always ask Kaleyen who the top caster and the top mage were so that I can gauge who gets PI.  If appropriate, I’ll Raid Leader if they have a preference for who receives it.

Mages who respond to my PI whisper macro with “??” do not get the buff again.  Mages who respond to my PI whisper macro with “omg i love you” do.


WHEN

Power Infusion does not stack with the mage talent Arcane Power, and the haste portion of the spell does not stack with Heroism/Bloodlust.  You’ll want to track these spells so you aren’t wasting a cooldown.  You can use the addon Need to Know to track the latter.  I use Grid to track Arcane Power on mages (See this post for help on setting up Grid).  If you try to cast PI on a mage who has Arcane Power up, you will get the “a more powerful spell is active” error message.  The mage will, however, be able to override PI with Arcane Power.

It’s also worth having a conversation with your casters to ask about their preference for receiving the spell.  Good DPS have their casting rotations down to a science, and they’ll be able to tell you when the buff would most benefit them.  For example, the mage Mirror Image ability reduces a mage’s threat, and so Mirror Image and Power Infusion work well together as the mage will be able to pump out the extra DPS without the risk of pulling aggro.  This spell is often their opening salvo, and if so, you should cast PI on them right away.  (I need to figure out a better way of tracking when a mage has Mirror Image active — other than, ya know, looking at the screen)

With a 1.6 minute cooldown, one can cast Power Infusion a lot over the course of a raid.  (You can use WWS to check the “uptime” of the spell.  For help with WWS, check here.)  This is something I’m trying to improve in my own gameplay, making sure that PI gets worked into my “rotation” regularly.

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mathOne of the frustrating things about waiting for Patch 3.1 is that I’m uncertain if I should “play around” with some changes to Khaeli now — in terms of gear, talents, gems, glyphs — or if I should hold off for a larger scale re-evaluation once the Patch hits.

Crit vs Haste

Khaeli has 28% crit unbuffed, with a haste rating of 173.  I don’t want any more crit, but I think my haste is a bit low.  Adding haste will likely help my throughput (faster heals means more heals I can snipe from the paladins, amirite?)  Barring gear upgrades, which as an Initiate, I don’t anticipate receiving, I could regem some of my Luminous Monarch Topazes for the Reckless ones (I’d lose +8 INT but gain +8 haste rating for each gem I change).  I could swap out the Forethought Talisman for the Egg of Mortal Essence (a loss of +13 spellpower and a weak-ass HoT, but a gain of a 505 haste rating proc).  But with the changes to the Disc talent tree with 3.1, will haste will be less important now that we PW:S bots as will be able to maintain a greater uptime on Borrowed Time?

I’ll probably play around with this tonight.

Holy Talents

Currently, Khaeli sports the standard 57/14/0 spec.  As the priest trees are changing quite radically in Patch 3.1, switching my talents now feels a bit silly.  I’m happy with the Discipline side of things.  It’s the Holy talents that I’m just not sure of.  Currently I have points in Divine Fury, which lowers the casting time of my Greater Heal by a whopping .5 seconds.  I don’t really use Greater Heal all that much, honestly.  But my alternatives just aren’t that great.  I could take those five points and split them between Improved Renew and Spell Warding, but Renew doesn’t do much for me as a Disc Priest — it doesn’t work with Rapture, and it doesn’t crit (so can’t proc Divine Aegis).  The HoT ticks so slowly that someone else has typically healed the damage before the spell has completed.  Divine Fury will be even less appealing come Patch 3.1 as Greater Heal will no longer trigger Rapture.  But that won’t make the other Holy talents any more inviting.

I probably won’t bother respeccing.

The Third Glyph

Khaeli currently has Flash Heal, Power Word: Shield, and Holy Nova glyphed.  Again, changing Holy Nova to a different glyph seems silly since in a week or two, I’ll switch to the new Penance glyph anyways.  But if I’m swapping out the Forethought Talisman, should I swap in the Prayer of Healing glyph for a HoT?  I dunno — underused spells are underused.  I don’t really get brought along to raid or group heal (oh wait, sometimes I get mis-assigned, so meh), so I’m not sure either of these are great.  Glyph of Renew shortens the length of the HoT, but blah.  There’s Glyph of Dispel Magic, I guess.  But the 3% heal is lackluster, and I’m more likely to use Mass Dispel.

I probably won’t bother reglyphing.

Power Infusion Blog Post

No really, I’m working on it.

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“Gee, this isn’t like I imagined it would be in the bathtub.” — Dianne Wiest, Best Supporting Actress, Hannah and Her Sisters (1987)

oscarHis Holiness, the Dueg, has bestowed a Blog Award upon me.  In lieu of accepting, I was going to send Sacheen Littlefeather to register my objection to such awards when Discipline Priests remain so maligned and misrepresented on the healing meters.  But Sacheen was busy, and hell, I feel like soaking up the adulation.  I was in the midst of prepping a guide to casting Power Infusion — the who/when/why/how sorta thing.  But it’s far more fun to write an acceptance speech about me me me than to write about how to make a Mage look good on the damage charts.

/sucks in her belly and pushes out her boobs.
/smiles and waves on the Red Carpet.
/hopes she can remember the name of her Designer.
/shadowmelds to avoid Gary Busey.

When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.

Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends.

Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

Honesty:

  1. I can raise my right eyebrow quizzically but, despite trying to train the muscles, can’t seem to get the left eyebrow to do so.
  2. I have six tattoos, which helps feed my delusion that I’m incredibly badass.
  3. Growing up, my family owned a small grocery store, and I have bad memories of watching sides of beef being unloaded from the trucks.
  4. My mom is from England, but fortunately, I didn’t inherit the genes for horrible British teeth.
  5. I have been interviewed several times by news organizations as the foremost academic expert on the politics of pie-throwing.
  6. K- likes it when I talk to him in Russian.  I need to brush up on my skills as while he finds it incredibly hot to hear the language, my two years of studying the language leaves me saying not just “You have a sexy mouth” but things like “Excuse me, where is the library?”  And “I would like to order the chicken and the green beans.  Thank you.”
  7. I know far too much pop culture trivia, and while I think about trying out for game-shows, inevitably I’d end up getting math or sports questions.
  8. I wear Doc Martens almost every day.  See #2.
  9. I know it’s corny as hell to say, but K- truly is the love of my life, and I never thought I could be so happy.
  10. I am incredibly hungry right now, and I think after I publish this entry that I’m going to go get a bagel with egg, sausage and cheddar cheese.

More Blog Awesomeness (And this is a repeat award for some of these folks, I’m certain):

  1. World of Matticus
  2. Misery – a shadow priest blog
  3. Violaceous Mana
  4. Pugnacious Priest
  5. World of Snarkcraft
  6. The Egotistical Priest
  7. Startin’ A Ruckus

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“Fair speech may hide a foul heart” — Samwise

When we were looking for a guild, there were a lot of things that made our new one very appealing:  they demanded a high level of dedication, skill, and knowledge and as such, they got shit done.  When signing the “Have you read and do you agree to the guild policies” portion of the application, K- and I both commented on how pleased we were to see their loot distribution system:  loot council.

I have raided long enough to have experienced almost every method of handing out gear:  random rolls, suicide kings, DKP, EPGP, loot council.  And I’ve raided long enough to have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly that can arise from each.  I’ve personally benefited from each system, whether it’s via lucky dice for random rolls or via consistent attendance and smart spending for DKP.  But my benefit and the raid’s benefit aren’t always the same thing; and while “the numbers” (the numbers on the dice or in the DKP logs) might indicate “I win,” I believe that loot council does a better job making sure that “the winner” is the raid, not just the individual.

Some examples:

The Throatripper:  Other than gear that dropped from the contested Avatars, this dagger was, at the time my dirge won it, the best-in-slot for several melee DPS classes.  The dirge in EQ2 is a support class:  a dirge provides required buffs for the raid and debuffs the mobs — DPS optional.  Now for me, DPS wasn’t optional, and I didn’t autofollow/tab out like many dirges did.  I was a beast.  But I was a dirge, and my DPS, while exceptional for a support class, always ran behind the damage of, ya know, DPS classes.  But I was at every raid. (Can’t raid without a dirge!)  I had the most DKP.  The dagger was an upgrade.  I bid.  I won.  The brigand and the assassin were pissed off, and in some ways, rightly so.  The guild probably would have been better served had the weapon gone to one of them.  I won, but the guild lost.

Betrayer of Humanity:  This weapon dropped the second time I killed Kel’Thuzad with our former guild.  Best-in-slot for a Blood DK, I was thrilled for Kaleyen, as I assumed that he would win it.  Since joining the guild, we’d attended all the raids, and Kaleyen had been saving his DKP for this upgrade.  But an alt of someone who’d been in the guild far longer than us, someone who had DKP stockpiled from the Burning Crusade, bid and won.  Now granted, the axe is probably best-in-slot for a ret paladin too.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that an alt won, an alt who never attended a raid again.  An alt won, but the guild lost.

There’s some discussion in our new guild about loot council as some initiates seem rather unhappy with it (that an initiate feels compelled to question guild policies is a bit shocking to me, but that’s a different issue).  They’re pressing for a DKP system as they contend it’s fairer.  I guess I’d argue (if I had the balls to post on the guild forums as an initiate, that is) that loot distribution is unfair from the get-go — from the very moment that RNG causes the item you want to drop the one night you aren’t around.  Although the word is wielded like there is a clearcut “right” or “wrong,” what’s “fair” is actually pretty subjective, and sometimes has more to do with whether you personally feel slighted than whether an injustice has occured.  Loot council isn’t perfect — nothing is — but as the system weighs input from a group of people and from a variety of factors (including attendance, which is really all that DKP monitors), I think it does a good job of making sure that when a raider wins an item, the guild also wins.

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