Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Raid NIght! (What's Up With That!?)

So I mentioned this briefly in my update post, but I wanted to take a little more time to bring something to the community's attention. I am sure it is nothing new and we have all experienced it, but I still feel compelled to point this out. In this past Friday's raid on Ulduar, we had the majority of our usual group but had to PuG one member. I went and started looking at the list of folks who were sitting in LFG and I see this Mage. Now he was absolutely perfect. I looked him up and he was arcane spec. I checked him out on Pugchecker.com and he had been in Ulduar before. I looked over his gear and he was well geared. He was sporting some nice items from both Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader (25). Just looking at his gear, he should of been punching out 3500 DPS blindfolded and if he has any clue about playing his class should of been hitting between 4000 - 5000 DPS. This was a no brainer. I whispered the guy and asked him if he wanted to join us and he immediately said yes.

So we summon him and in we head. I really did not pay much attention to him during Flame Leviathon as I was too busy trying to do my job and gun things down from my siege engine. We hit Razorscale and I noticed the guy is only putting out around 2300 DPS. I figure that it was no big deal. It takes some time to get use to running in a PuG and maybe he just did not want to look too good. We downed Razor and moved on to the creepy robot. We wanted to kill the heart and then him and felt that we had all the right tools. We failed. I looked over DPS and once again this guy was only putting out around 2400 DPS. Sure it was an improvement and if this was back when Ulduar first launched that would of been alright for a ten man run, but this guy was sporting item level 245 gear and talked like he knew what was going on. I pay it no attention and figure let's go down Ignis and move on. We go in and proceed to wipe on Ignis. I was pretty pissed off at the wipe to be honest, but did not yell at anyone just took note of who had gotten hit by flamejet and who had low DPS. Sure enough, our Mage was hit by flamejet a whopping six times and he was sporting a cool 2000 DPS. Now when we do Ignis, we have one tank take the adds and the other holds him facing the water and we proceed to rock his world. We have always done this with little trouble. So we roll back in there and proceed to roll Ignis with minimal effort. I am going to be honest, at this point I was aggrevated and only healed the Mage because it would have been a reall ass move not to.

Having knocked out Ignis, I went in officer chat and debated what to do. It was clear our PuG Mage was unable to get over 2400 DPS and that he was probably carried by friends within his own guild (which we all know I dispise). We decided to down Kolgram and then call it. We had been moving slower overall and felt that it was because we were out of rythm, aka the Mage sucked. So we went and cleared the trash to Kolgram and proceeded to down him. Oh and a big surprise here, the Mage stood in the eye beam! Yeah, this guy was not impressive and definitely made a poor representation for his guild. After we downed Kolgram we looted and I announced it was getting late for me and that I would need to be leaving. My wife stated she would be leaving with me and losing two of your healers is rough. Now, we did leave. I was hungry and so I wanted to get a bite to eat before all the food places closed for the night. We did decide to extend the raid since no one really needs anything off the first few bosses at this point.

So here is my issue, you are getting players who are looking like they are geared out their ass, yet they are unable to produce what their gear is indicating they should. I think ToC 5, ToC H 5, ToCr 10, and ToCr 25 are really at fault here; well, more accurately, Blizzard is at fault. I understand that they wanted to make gear accessible so that everyone could try the new instances and ICC when they drop, but they have really destabalized the whole raiding game. PuGs have always had bad reputations, but at this point and time I would rather not raid than take a PuG who I do not know. This is not the first time this has been encountered. When I go into the LFG channel looking for something specific and get whispers from people asking what I need, I always look up these folks to see if they can fill a roll and perhaps we can bring someone's alt in to do a different job. What I find is that people do not understand their classes and have specs that boggle the mind, or they are a healer with +hit gear, or they have all the gear and when you bring them in they have no clue what is going on. Now I do not consider myself a hardcore raider at all. I have one raid group I run with on one night a week. We value our time and want to clear content as much as possible. I will run with the guild on other nights if something is posted for us as well.

I am just afraid that at the rate this is going, ICC is going to be a laughing joke. Sure, there will definitely be the guilds that clear it. I am intending for MAS to clear it. However, there are a lot of people who have the impression that because they have all epics that this makes them perfectly geared. I hate to break it to you all (if you are reading this), but it does not make you perfectly geared. It just shows that you love you some Trial of the Champion/Crusader. I am sorry, I do not want to step on anyone's toes, but from now on, if the only gear you have is from ToC/ToCr, then there is no chance in hell I am picking you up. It just has gotten to the point where I feel the same about this as I do about most Death Knights (and I know there are a few good ones out there). People need to understand that a blue item may be bette for you than a purple item. For instance, on my lock I currently am rocking something like five blue pieces of gear, yet I can put out numbers comparable to those with much higher gear score. Why is this? Because I understand itemization and that you need to be able to hit the baddie before you even think about anything else. (That is just an example, I do not consider myself a great player on my Lock.) However, I suppose I should jump into the new age of raiding and throw on all my ToC/ToCr gear that has no hit rating, but will give me a hell of a gear score. I will definitely get picked up by PuGs who will be in awe of my purple haze, but once the shit hits the fan they will realize I am litterally just shit.

So in closing first let me apologize, I try to keep the blog "G" rated, but people are starting to really piss me off with their stupidity. Secondly, if the only gear you have is from running ToC/ToCr, then please start running some Naxxramas, Ulduar, Obsydian, Vault, and any other raid where you will first learn what raiding is about and then secondly gather some other gear which may be itimized a little different. Thank you and have a good day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekly Update: November 16 - 22 (2009)

This has been a pretty active week for me really and I look forward to jumping in and talking a little bit about everything that has been going on!
  • Ulduar - As a guild we have been pretty focused on raiding as of late and have managed to acquire a few achievements this week that I am proud of. In Ulduar we decided to activate the hard mode for Flame Leviathon and we managed to get Orbital Bombardment on the second attempt. Now we were a few short of our regular members, but we also went after Heartbreaker with no success. We did however have the solid numbers from our core group. Had we not taken a Mage who had the right gear and numbers but no clue how to actually play, we probably would have achieved this as well.
  • Onyxia - It is weird but we have never done this raid as a guild. So, Nymeros (one of our raid coordinators) decided we should go for it. We gathered together and had six guild members online. We ended up picking up some great folks to help us and we went in there and in true MAS style wiped the first attempt, but owned her on the second attempt. We also managed to acquire She Deep Breaths More. I have no clue how we went from total chaos to accomplishing that, but hey we did it and kudos to everyone for working together to down her.
  • Whoopy - Yes, my Rogue gets his own spot here as I have been working hard on developing him. I believe I said this before, but I had enough of the Combat build I was using and switched backed to Subtlety. I have spent countless amounts of gold changing my spec and adjusting my rotation to where Whoopy puts out solid numbers in PVE with this spec. I will probably go a little more into detail on Friday about him and what the build will ultimately look like. The main drive behind leveling him is that he is my jewelcrafter and I am tired of buying cuts or waiting for a guild member to log online. The thing I discovered that I did not know was that you could work on the jewelcrafting dailies as early as level 71 (probably sooner). The nice thing here is that every daily can be completed in the Howling Fjord or the Borean Tundra. On top of doing the daily, I can now make myself the Delicate Dragon's Eye cut (which Whoopy has all three in use) and I get 20,000+ experience at my current level of 73. On top of working on leveling his jewelcrafting, I am working on leveling his mining (which is much lower and a much bigger pain to level). I finally caught up his lockpicking skill, so now I just need to lockpick some big viking wanna-bes and we are golden. Seven more levels till I can see if this will all come together for him.
  • Blogging - Yeah, I had slacked off some and I apologize for that. I feel like I am back on track and I actually love spending time sharing my thoughts on certain aspects of the game. I also miss it when I am unable to actually blog. So hopefully, with the broader topics and more flexibility on my part, I will be able to give you a little more of my time.
  • PuGs - Man they have been getting more stupid every day. I actually have taken a break from running Emprius and Lrem through stuff simply to avoid the PuGs. I have played with every level of stupidity known to WoW. I have had several runs where I could have punched a baby. Thank God, my kid is in a different room usually. If it stays like this, I will be spending most of my time leveling through questing, which I simply despise.
  • Auction House - Oh yeah, the cow is back into dominating the auction house. I had laid off of listing for quite some time simply because I had acquired enough funds for what I wanted. However, two brand new 80s later and the desire to acquire a few other things and get duel spec on six of my alts, I now feel the urge to list. That and I find it quite enjoyable. I am actually working on writing up a series for Holeycow on auction house tips for a new player. It will not be anything insightful, but it will cover what I used to get started and it has proven to work on servers even with next to no population (Alliance Cho'gall). So hopefully I will have some time to get all my thoughts in order and get an outline up and running on that.
Well, that is all that my mind can think of right now. As always, thanks for reading and catch everyone later!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Red Sunday: PVP and My Lack of It!

So, I typically dedicate my Sunday blogs to PVP, but I have one problem! I have not been involved with much PVP at all lately. There are a couple reasons for this actually.
  1. Alts - I have been spending so much time focused on my alts lately that I just have not had a desire to spend a lot of time running them through battlegrounds and arena.
  2. Professions - It is freaking annoying how much time I have spent leveling up enchanting, jewelcrafting, leatherworking, and inscription. Do not even get me started on the gathering ones or the secondaries.
  3. Raiding - While I use to not spend much time raiding, now days I typically raid two to three days a week and then on the nights I am working I typically spend time working on my alts or professions (see above).
However, do not take this pause as a change of heart. Nothing makes me feel warm and fuzzy like the screaming sounds of a dieing Night Elf. I plan to get some time back into at least arena. I am currently wanting to work in some time to be able to run on all three of my arena teams. My main focus is on getting Ruhtra's 2v2 team back on track. I also am very focused on getting Emprius' 2v2 team solidified. My partner with Ruhtra has a druid and we have been running some arena with a Destro Lock/Resto Druid team. We have seen some good signs, but neither of us have had the time to really dive in and see what we can do. Then there is Lrem who is on a 3v3 and 5v5 team. Quite honestly, I just want to run some 2v2 with him while I get use to PVP with a BM Hunter.
Aside from the three level 80 characters, I am also leveling my Rogue Whoopy. Now with Lrem and Emprius I spent a lot of time leveling in the battlegrounds. That was a great way to level and I really nailed down a good system that mixed questing, instances, and battlegrounds to provide decent gear for them. However, trying to play a Rogue in a battelground where your enemy NPCs can spot you a mile away and kill you in three shots takes much more patience than I usually have. Ofcourse it is not nearly as annoying as being told you are playing completely wrong because you do not haul your little level 70 Rogue ass up to the enemy's base bunkers. I mean to hell with the fact that you cannot litterally sneak there and sure your whole DPS ability is dependant on being able to sneak behind someone, but that is for me to work out because some PuG battleground Priest obviously knows better. Yes, I had one really loud mouth Priest who thought he knew everything about every class and just made me so mad I wanted to punch babies the last time I was in there. So, I have decided to give the battlegrounds a break and do some other constructive things.
On the battleground subject, there is a couple things that I wish Blizzard would do with AV. One of the biggest is bring down the level of the marksman/bowman that guard the towers. This is not for the sake that I cannot sneak anywhere, but for the sake that they left the NPCs the same level as when we shared battlegrounds with level 80s. It simply does not work out that well, but I doubt there will be any change on this front. Blizzard has their hands full with a lot of other things that are much more important (at least we hope they feel ICC is much more important). The other thing I wish they would do is find a way to balance the teams a little more. There is nothing more frustrating than going into a battleground and having everyone on the team being level 70 - 71. Then you find out that your opposing team is level 78 - 79. Yes, I have seen this happen both favorably and unfavorably. I really do not think there is much that can be done about this, but it would be nice for them to set a certain percentage of slots for certain levels. This could provide some form of balance overall, but would require a lot of resources I am sure to develop a system for this. The final thing I wish that Blizzard would consider doing is rebalancing the battlegroups. It takes forever to get into a battleground now days, even at level 80. I do not know of any way for them to overcome this other than enlarging the battlegroups. It would also give them a prime time to move some of the servers to different battlegroups where there me be a higher representation of one faction verses another.
Well, that is really all that I have for today. What about you? Do you like PVP? If so what do you think they could to improve certain facets of the game? We are talking minor, not complete overhauls. I do not think some of the suggestions for AV are large. The battlegroup realignment is large but definitely needed though. What about those who do not like PVP, what could Blizzard do to make it more appealing to you?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Raid Night!

So as promised I was switching some of the themes around on the blog and this is one of those that is changing slightly. Do not misunderstand me, we are still going to talk about raiding and what is going on with MAS and our raids, but at times we are going to discuss other aspects of raiding and today is going to be one of those days! You see while I was listing a billion auctions late Friday/early Saturday (yeah it takes that long) I came across this post from WTF Spaghetti that asks why do you raid? So I figured I would answer that right here on my own blog. See, doesn't this make you want to have your own blog? So let's jump into the heart of this question!

So why do I raid?

The simple truth? I felt insulted when some former guild members indicated that MAS should just be a "PVP" guild. See, I took it as saying that we were not going to ever be good enough to clear any raid content, much less do any sort of raid progression. Now the truth be told, I hated raiding with a passion. I mean how difficult is it to go online to WoWiki (or any other site) and find some strategies and watch some videos and then go do exactly what they say? I mean really, if you are not one of the top ranked guilds in the world, then you are simply reading what others did and repeating that formula; whereas, with PVP (specifically arena) you never have the same match twice. You have a constant change in oponents and thus there can never be one strict guideline to go by. So, you see that I truly did not have a use for PVE.

So I guess first I should thank the folks who left as at the end of 2008 through the first quarter of 2009 for laying down a challenge to me. I would have never taken raiding seriously. Trust me, you can ask my fellow guild members. Sure I am all business when healing, but if I saw an Alliance player outside a raid I was likely to go running off and pick a fight with them instead of running into the instance. However, I had a purpose to show those who said we couldn't that we could. We established a core group and proceeded to clear Naxx with little effort (other than some folks who have two left feet). It was during this time that through unforseen circumstances we lost our raid leader and I had to step in. Now, I am the last person you want to have explaining fights, but I am a great organizer. So, I did just that and simply organized and relied on other guild members to explain the fight for certain groups. I handled working with the healers (at least I knew that much). It was funny because during this time is when I really started to like raiding, and by saying I liked it, I mean I wanted to go all in and that has led us to where we are now. Are we a top ranked guild? Nope, but we are not a bottom rung guild either. We are the quiet guild that makes steady progress.

So in response to your question WTF, here is my chart:



So, let's take a look at what my chart represents:
  • Pride - Is one of the largest sections on the chart, representing 30%. When I say pride, I am referring to my own personal pride in my character for being able to clear this content as well as the guild's progression. For every member who left us to raid with another guild, I take great pride in the fact that we are running much of the content that these folks left us to run. (So thanks for doing us a favor!)
  • Challenge - This is the second section which takes up 30% of my chart. I love running content that is challenging and I strive to run hard modes, not for the achievements (although some of those are rather nice), but to say that I did it (yeah it is hand-in-hand with the pride section).
  • Social/Fun - This section will increase as the challenge section decreases. I raid with MAS because I want to run with my friends. I have (in the past) been recruited by some of the top guilds on our server and each time I have turned them down because I love raiding with my friends and family in MAS. (It's base value is 15%)
  • Gear - Yes, gear takes up 20% of my chart because it is what allows me to push on into more challenging content.
  • Bored - There is 5% of the chart devoted to this as I sat up in Dalaran for around an hour tonight bored enough to look for a scrap of a raid.
So there you go. Now you know my thoughts on raiding and more importantly why I raid. Anyone who reads this, pick this up and post a response on your own site or drop a comment here on Holy Shock.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Through the Eyes of the Leader

So, since I am taking this particular series in a new direction I think a new name is in order. So from today on we are going to refer to this series as "I am the leader! Which way did they go?"! I am almost mad that I did not think of that name for the title of my overall blog. At any rate, I felt that since we are heading in a new direction here that we should go over what to expect with this particular series.

As I stated in yesterdays post very briefly, I want to move from very narrow topics to allowing for a little more breathing room in regards to topics. So what topics will we actually cover now in this series? Good question and here are some themes that are open to discussion:
  1. Leadership - It is always good to be willing to talk about leadership in a series that wants to focus on leadership right?
  2. Guild Drama - Or more sepcifically, how to squash it quickly. I do not think there is a way to say how to avoid it as people will always find ways to create drama and our job is to squash it like a nasty bug.
  3. Direction - How does one set a direction and how does one achieve that direction? This is a tough topic to tackle, but we shall do our best to take it on here. Having led a guild for a little while, I have learned a few things about direction.
  4. Delegation - We cannot do it all ourselves and therefore we need reliable people to delegate authority and responsibilities to and that is what we will talk about.
  5. Penalties - I was trying to think of a nice way to say what to do if someone completely fails at their assigned task or even how to tell if you are failing at your own duties and this is what we are going to look at.
  6. Voodoo - That is right, we are going to examine the mystic art of running a guild, which often may be voodoo (or "smoke and mirrors").
So there it is in a nut shell. I am sure some other topics will creep in every now and then, and when they do we will tackle them and welcome them to the party that is "leadership". I wonder what kind of questions folks may have about leadership, because you know I am always willing to give my opinion on anything.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where Have You Been?

So, it has been a while since I posted consistantly and I apologize for that. Life seems to keep throwing some crazy stuff at me and the family, but we are still here and going strong. I am actually working on a couple different things and you know I hate to talk about anything I cannot at least back up based on personal experience, so it may be a while on a few things. I did want to hit on a couple of subjects today (which may turn in tomorrow depending on how long it takes me to write this), so here we go!

1. I am going to stick with the series method on this blog. I like having some direction and focus for writing posts. Many of my posts are written and then scheduled to post at midnight my time. The ones that are written the day that they post could be any time, although I typically try to schedule them for noon if at all possible. In regards to the series theirselves, I am going to keep most of them the same. I am merging topics of leadership and guild management together as they often combine similar elements. I am switching the raid project from a specific topic (Naxx 10 & Ulduar) to a more broad base topic. Now I will always continue to provide updates on where we are in our raiding as I love to share personal experiences. I just do not want to lock myself into mroe narrow topics. I have not decided if I will stick with a certain series on a certain day. This has worked well, but has also left days with nothing when I felt that there was not enough information to make a decent post.

2. On the topics of overall blogs, I have not done a whole lot with any of the blogs I curently write on and this will also change. Over at Holeycow I have been cranking back up the auction business and I plan to look at some ideas on way to help generate some funds with little effort. Do not expect the "get rich quick" methods, but I want to approach it as a beginner guide. I will also deal with anything related to the auction house or economy of World of Warcraft over there. So do not expect anything like that here on Holy Shock. My other blog which is more of a vent release, sort of died quickly. It was too shortly lived since I have much to rage about and I plan to start raging again. I just found that trying to balance being a husband, father, guild leader, raid coordinator, employee, and blogger was a bit much. I have since been working to maximize some of my time to allow me to enjoy all of these things. I think I have a good plan in place and time will tell.

3. Alternate Fridays has been focusing alot on only two characters. This has actually been a good thing. I am planning to start running it more in a continuing series where I follow the development of one character as they level to their final version at 80. I will provide updates then in the weekly update section which I am hoping to include at the end of each Friday edition. So hopefully that will work out well.

4. I switched my second spec on Ruhtra to protection for fun. It has not been fun. I am only kidding. I actually had a lot of fun with it the few times I have used it. I just have been spending more time on alts and auctions than actually playing Ruhtra. This trend is probably going to continue as I pretty much only take him out to do the occasional daily and run the raids. I guess it was destined to happen, but I was running out of things to do with him. Well, at least things that I consider fun. Chasing achievements and grinding for stuff is not overly fun to me.

Well, that is all I have for today and hey what do you know? I actually got this done today. Well, I will see everyone a little later. Take care!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Alternate Fridays: Emprius

As I stated twice before, Emprius hit level 80! I was unsure of how best to play him and build his spec. While I was leveling him I ran with a hybrid build that went far enough into the demonology tree to gain my Fel Guard and then spent the rest in the destruction tree. This build proved quite useful to me for leveling via questing and battlegrounds, but put out way too little single target damage in instances. So I knew I would need to decide on a spec when I hit 80 and my love of trying to learn it on my own had me firing up target dummies for two days. When i found a build that seemed decent I would then PuG a group for an instance (typically ToC regular). I was satisfied, somewhat, with the build and decided to hit a heroic up. It took forever to find a group that wanted a fresh 80 along, thank you gear scores. I hit heroic Nexus and I did absolutely terrible. Well, I guess 1500 DPS was not as bad as some I have seen, but I definitely knew that there was room for improvement.

So I finally broke down aftr blasting target dummies for hours and started looking over some resources. The majority of them said the same basic stuff that was useful, but nothing that I did not know. I knew I wanted to go with a destruction build as it provided some of the best overall DPS for raids and I had come to love the flaming of others in battlegrounds. On a side note, there is just some sort of strange satisfaction I get out of firing up a Paladin. So, on my search I came across this:



Now, I have made it known that I am not a huge lover of following a set guide or "cookie-cutter" spec, but I am a firm believe in trying and using what works best for you and this was so close to the spec that I was working around that I had to try it. I chose the first spec as I plan on getting to 17% (446) hit rating since we currently do not have a shadow Priest or Boomkin in our guild or raiding groups. I was amazed at how much better my DPS was overall with the Glyph of Life Tap (GoLT) and using Curse of Elements(CoE) more regularly. I am going to admit it right here folks, even I do not know everything and while I recocgnized the importance of CoE, I had never tested it out on the target dummies to really compare it to say using strictly Curse of Agony (CoA) or Curse of Doom (CoD).

The end result was going into ToC regular and being the number one DPS for overall and boss encounters. I have not yet had enough runs to guage where I will fall in heroics yet though. I did run a heroic Utgard Keep, but went in with a group, who's gear, composed of ilvl 232 - 245 (litteraly all of them) and then me. I did manage to pull down around 2200 DPS on average (mobs and bosses). Where I saw the biggest difference in my current build verses my previous build is in single target DPS. My single target DPS was really awful and since the switch, I have kicked it up to being even greater than dropping Reign of Fire (RoF) on mobs.

With my spec nailed down, and a priority set (see the video for that), I am now focusing on my gear. I managed to get the crafted dagger the day after I turned 80 and that should last for a while. I crafted the ebonweave gloves but soon replaced them with the pair that drops in ToC reg. I also got the waist, bracers, and pants from ToC reg as well. I am keeping my ebonweave gloves simply because they still have more hit, so if I get into a PuG raid (Naxx 10) then I can switch them on if I need the additional hit. I am currently using the veiled cut gems which I will replace as my gear improves. The plan is to gain the hit cap off of gear and enchants and then focus on adding spell power from gems. I am wanting to get a decent amount of haste, but believe that I should be able to get that via the gear itself. If I find that I need more, then I can always try to switch some gems or enchants around.

Aside from gear issues, I will need to start doing some dailies to get my reputation grinds over with and also to acquire some gold. I still need epic flying on Emprius and also need to get a good supply of flasks and food for him. Sure I can fund Emprius from my auctions, but I like to get each of my level capped toons to a point where they are self sufficient. My professions will be easily utilized for this. There is never enough ebonweave out there for the impatient and enchants are always a solid money maker, especially the vanilla ones such as agility. I am considering leveling cooking on either Lrem or Emprius just so I can supply my own food. It is becoming harder and harder to find the buff food at fair prices and it seems I am on less and less from the folks who I used to get to make some for me. That will be probably the single worst thing of it all to me, I hate maxing professions. In regards to both Emprius and Lrem, I used their professions to gear them as they leveled which naturally means that they are almost leveled, but starting from the beginning to leveling something like cooking, fishing, or first aid just makes me want to go do something else (which usually happens).

As far as for future plans for my alts? I am somewhat at a standstill. I am not sure what alt I want to level now. I have two Druids (one feral and one Boomkin), a Priest (currently Holy although thinking of going Discipline), and a Rogue who are all apealing to me right now. I could just pick to level in order of highest to lowest, which would put Walani (Shaman) next in line. The rule of thumb here folks, do not end up having a rediculous amount of high level alts, because they always demand attention too.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekly Update: November 1-7 (2009)

It has been a while since I have done an update so I thought that I should get back in the swing since I have been working on a lot of stuff and the last three weeks was pretty much spent with me sick and not writing a whole lot of stuff. So here we go!
  • So, I think a lot of bloggers get out there and dedicate a post to their one year annivesary. If I were a huge important star in the blogsphere I may feel the need to, but November 6th marked my first full year for blogging. So there it is for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing. I did think it would be for to share my very first blog post, so go check out....here.
  • In more exciting news which I did take time to post about, my Warlock Emprius hit level 80 as only he can. (Have to go read the blog to see that.)
  • I hope people did not fall into a coma after reading my clarification piece of the whole haste/crit issue that came up a few posts back in my comment section. I did have a guildie or two tell me they attempted to read it before they got critted out. Sorry, but I warned you all I was rather wordy.
  • On a side note, if you are a healer, please go check out the Miss Medicina's post for the links of everyone who responded and posted for that survey since there are a lot of good link to some great healing blogs (some are known and some are not as well known). Seriously, why are you still reading this? Go! Shoo! Be gone!
  • Well, if you stayed to check out the rest of this, then you must be dedicated to my blog or just really bored. At any rate, we formed up an Ulduar raid team and hit Ulduar on Friday evening (late night, it sort of blurred together) and managed to push through and down the crazy cat lady. I was pretty happy as we one shot her with a group of folks who were well geared and followed instructions. You have to love folks who take it serious (some of the time). So now we shall be focussing on the Keepers! (I will have more about this in my Tuesday raid topics.)
  • After the Ulduar raid was called from sleep deprevasion (what slackers, up for twelve hours and crying for sleep....tsk tsk) I got into a ToC 10 run and was pleasantly ssurprised that we one shot everything and blew through it about 40 minutes of actual play time. It took a little longer than the play time because we needed to have some explanations for some folks, but well worth it. There was some really nice things to come from it and perhaps I shall share some of that at a later time when it begins to take shape.
Well, that is pretty much everything that I have that I can think of, at least that is not gross and involving being sick!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Something Evil In Icecrown!

Something happened last night in Icecrown. Something dark and evil occurred. In the early morning hours, when the sun was barely shining down on the icy fields. There were sounds of explosions! Chaos was raining down everywhere. The undead of the Lich King were set aflame as were any unwelcome mortals who happened onto the scene. Through the smoke and fire a feint sound could be heard. It was a voice, softly whispering the words spoken by only those who dared to challenge fate and unleash the darkest of arts known to the races of the Horde and the Alliance. In the midst of the fire a dark flaming beast could be seen and there upon this wretched mount was the Warlock Emprius. Laughing maniacally as he surveyed the scene of destruction that he had wrought at the end of his long journey. A cold wind swept over the field as he turned his mighty steed and slowly rode away.

That is right, this morning, after a very long night, Emprius hit level 80 in the only way that felt right to me. I had been running a combination of battlegrounds and quest grinding all night when the server reset hit, I headed for the Argent Tournament and the quests available for the new day. Emprius finished off the first set of quests and became a Valiant for Silvermoon City. He then headed out to challenge the forces of the Lich King where in the heat of combat, he finally reached the end of this journey and hit level 80 while lighting up the night sky.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Haste or Crit? Not So Simple of a Question

Alright, so as promised I am going to attempt to explain my choosing of crit over haste, but before I can even begin to explain this we first have to understand how Ruhtra is built. This is actually a lot more comprehensive than I had originally planned and may be a bit longer of a post than even my usual wordy posts, so bare with me. In order to understand how Ruhtra is built we are going to be first looking at his talents and the glyphs that were selected. After we examine the talent build, we will then look at the gear that is equipped on Ruhtra and see how this fits in with his style of healing. Finally after we have reviewed his build and his gear, we will attempt to wrap this all up and, hopefully, explain the reasoning for my choices. However, before we even take a look at any of that I want to state what my opinion is on haste and on crit. I think there are some misconceptions regarding my thoughts overall.

My Thoughts Overall

So, I had an anonymous poster who got on and made a remark that they had built their character to be much like Ruhtra and that they too spammed Flash of Light. I need to point out the fact that while I have built Ruhtra around Flash of Light, I rarely stand there and do nothing but spam Flash of Light, except for when running basic heroics where quite frankly I could probably spam Holy Shock and not have anyone drop. I do not want anyone walking away from any post of mine ever assuming the only spell they need to cast is Flash of Light. If you are healing this way, then you are walking a really bad path. It will allow you to succeed probably 90% of the time, but you will in no way be an effective healer, or even more to the point a clutch healer. I will get more into how this all works in my approach to healing later on in this post, but please do not dismiss my healing as spamming Flash of Light because that would be an insult to me.

I have built Ruthra with a lot of consideration in regards to not ONLY being a tank healer, but instead being able to provide healing at the raid level. I hope that by the time you finish reading through this post, that you will understand that while the Paladin has three true healing spells (Flash of Light, Holy Shock, and Holy Light), there is a lot of depth as to how to heal with this class and I feel sometimes that we are all too happy to accept the status quo when we should be looking for ways to improve ourselves and our skills and show everyone else that we are capable of doing other things than standing in one spot and spamming any one healing spell. Because let's face it, everyone who thinks about a Paladin's healing, generally assumes we spam only one heal, regardless if it is Flash of Light or Holy Light and I cannot imagine that any Paladin really just stands there and can spam only one heal, and if you are doing this, then please level a new character and quit ruining it for the rest of us who care about the class. Sorry, I get aggrevated by that mentality really easily.

Now, in regards to haste and crit. I feel that you cannot have a successful Paladin without both of these. I think where the question becomes all chaotic is how much? That is a bit trickier to answer as you have to really decide what method of healing you want to do, which hopefully we will get a little bit clearer idea of later. In regards to haste, the easiest way I have found to understand it is simply that it litteraly allows you to cast your spell quicker. For instance, a player who chooses to have a Holy Light build is going to want alot of haste because it allows them the ability to cast that huge healing spell that much quicker. Typically they are looking to get it down to around 1.5 seconds (at least with most of the builds I have seen). This is casting it as quickly as the base Flash of Light spell, which means you are going to have a high output of healing on a target. Now haste works the same for Flash of Light except it is a shorter cast time and less powerful healing spell when compared to Holy Light. I think we all can understand haste, it is a pretty easy concept. If you are wanting a deeper number crunching type of post, then you are going to be disappointed as I leave that for some other folks. I like to talk simple since I think people get more out of this. So what is haste? The ability to cast your spells quicker, which in practice leads to a higher healing amount on your target.

So what about crit? Crit adds to your chance to land a more powerful healing spell. The key thing to remember here is that it is a chance. It is not guaranteed. You may crit your first heal and then not see another one the entire fight (depending on the length of the fight). I think the part that makes building with crit less attractive is the fact that it is not guaranteed. When you compare haste to crit, you can clearly see that haste is going to provide you with a guaranteed result; whereas crit, may give you a boost in your numbers or it may cause you to crit when you didn't need it, such as the crit on the first heal of the fight. So why would anyone want to use crit over haste? That is a good question. I do not think it is so much a question of which one is better as it is of how do you prefer to heal? If you are using large spells, then you need a guarantee that the spell will arrive before the target is dead. If you are using crit, then you need to make sure that you are putting out a lot of spell casts in order to get advantage of any crit rating you have. The trick is balancing between the two and that is what I ultimately hope to bring across in this lengthy post.

Ruhtra Talent Build

So let's take a look at how I have built my own talents in regards to focusing on flash of light with crit:

Holy Tree
  • Spiritual Focus 5/5 - Pretty self explanatory
  • Healing Light 3/3 - Increases Flash of Light (and Holy Light) by 12%
  • Divine Intelect 5/5 - Increases total Intellect which increases your spell power and larger mana pool.
  • Aura Mastery 1/1 - A good utility spell
  • Illumination 5/5 - Restores mana
  • Improved Concentration Aura 1/3 - Reduces push back (Not a necessity in my opinion)
  • Improved Blessing of Wisdom 2/2 - Increases mana regen
  • Divine Favor 1/1 - Auto crit ability (Macro this one to your healing spell of choice)
  • Sanctified Light 3/3 - Improves crit chance of Flash of Light (and Holy Light) by 6%
  • Holy Power 5/5 - Ups your crit chance of holy spells by 5%
  • Light's Grace 3/3 - Reduces casting time of Holy Light.
  • Holy Shock 1/1 - Not just an "oh shit" heal. This should be used in your rotation as often as possible in a Flash of Light build. If macro'd correctly, you should be able to instant crit with it and cause the next Flash of Light to be instant as well. This is a huge advantage because you are going to drop a HoT with your tiered set plus get an instant Flash immediately.
  • Holy Guidance 5/5 - Increase your spell power by 20% of intellect.
  • Divine Illumination 1/1 - Reduces mana cost by 50% for all spells for 15 seconds. If you are not using this, then you should start working it into your rotation, especially if you opted to go with a Holy Light build.
  • Judgements of the Pure 5/5 - We do not care about the judgement bonus, but we should care about that haste bonus. If you keep this up at all times by judging, then you get a free bump in your haste. Always take the free buffs, they were put there for a reason. Also, by building to optimize crit, a 15% bump in haste is nice.
  • Infusion of Light 2/2 - Regardless of build, this is a must in my opinion. Again, if you macro Holy Shock for the auto crit and work it into your rotation of healing, then you will reap a reward of instant Flash of Light for this build or 20% increase to crit rating for your Holy Light spell.
  • Enlightened Jusdgements 2/2 - Increases the range of your judgements. This is the key to making sure you have your free 15% haste bump. You can effectively judge from your maximum healing range, thus removing yourself from AoE damage.
  • Beacon of Light 1/1 - Any healing build needs this regardless.
Protection Tree
  • Divinity 5/5 - Increases your healing by 5%.
Retribution Tree
  • Benediction 5/5 - Reduces mana cost by 10% for all instant cast spells. This is a nice one to have for working in all your utility spells and Holy Shock.
  • Improved Judgements 2/2 - Reduces the judgements by 2 seconds.
  • Heart of the Crusader 3/3 - More utility for a party/raid. Increases the targets chance to be critically struck by 3%. Might as well get some utility for the three points we needed to spend.
  • Conviction 5/5 - Increase crit chance by 5%.
So there you go, that is my basic Holy build that I will use 90% of the time in raids. What is key to remember is that when I state I built for Flash of Light, what I am saying is that my preferred healing spell will be Flash of Light; however, I will be using both Holy Light and Holy Shock throughout, the course of a fight. Now, let's take a look at the glyphs that I will use. Something to note here is that I prefer to rotate my glyphs quite often. It really depends on the group I am with. I shall try to explain each glyph I like and the reason I will use it over another. I will list the three major glyphs that I currently use first. (I think minor glyphs are fairly easy to figure out for our class and will not go into detail on them in this post.)
  • Glyph of Divinity - Doubles the mana granted and also grants you the same amount of mana. I pretty much took this one for selfish reasons because of the mana it grants me back when I use it. I also run with my main tank being a Paladin probably 75% of the time, so it comes in handy when I have to use it. In all honesty I am probably going to be removing this glyph in favor of something else, since it is not nearly as effective as it was when I first turned 80. Yes, my one weakness in this game is that I rarely mess with my glyphs, but I am working on that.....really I am.
  • Glyph of Holy Light - 10% of Holy Light to surrounding party/raid members. You definitely want this regardless of what you build to because of its' usefulness. It is important to remember that even though you build for Flash of Light, you will use Holy Light and this provides a nice splash heal to your melee, which will make your raid healer's job a little easier.
  • Glyph of Flash of Light - 5% chance of crit. I hope you are seeing that even though I favor crit, there are ways to get it without dedicating all of your gear to it. Also, remember that when you build to Flash of Light, there are spells, talents, and even gear which cators to it. Sometimes you just have to look a little, but I promise that it is out there.
  • Glyph of Holy Shock - Reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by one second. In all honesty, I need to replace Glyph of Divinity with this one on my main build. Being able to cast Holy Shock every five seconds is such a nice thing, especially on those mobile fights or even when you need to spot heal raid members.
  • Glyph of Beacon of Light - Increase Beacon by 30 seconds. This is another nice glyph and depending on the length of the boss fight (or the lack of DPS) this one here can save you some serious mana and it also makes it a little nicer to manage healing a raid as it is gives a little more breathing room for casting it.
I have all of these glyphs on at least one of my Holy builds and they really are important for me in the way that I heal, as I am sure they are important to all Holy Paladins. I did want to mention one minor glyph to consider taking and that is the Glyph of Lay on Hands, which decresses the cool down by 5 minutes.
The thing that I hope you take away from looking at my current build is that there is a lot of room to pick up crit rating in your build itself, which leaves you room to work your gear around your own style of healing. I also hope you see that you can grab some haste rating so long as you remember to keep the judegement up during fights. We will talk more about this at the end of the post where I shall try to tie everything up in one nice little package. Onward and upward!
Some Key Gear and Notes
Alright, I am not going to link every single piece of gear that I have. That would take way too long. I am not even going to list every single piece of gear that I have. I just want to hit on some highlights!
  • Conqueror's Aegis Headpiece and Tunic: Alright, so these should be easy enough for every Paladin to get a hold of, but they are highly desirable for a Paladin is building with Flash of Light in mind as we should definitely be utilizing Holy Shock in our healing and the two piece set bonus gives us a nice little HoT (heal over time) when we crit (remember our instant crit ability that I said to macro?).
  • Epaulettes of the Grieving Servant: It is not so much the item itself (although it is an extrmely nice piece), but rather the itemization of the stats. It contains both haste and crit. I have noticed that the gear you get from the raids like Naxxramas and Ulduar tend to be better itemized than that of the badge gear. Do not just look at the item number on something, but look at what it has on it actually.
  • Furious Gladiator's Librim of Justice: A librim from the PVP vendors that is made for the Flash of Light healers. If you can tolerate running arena and can find a good partner, you only need a rating of 700 for this one. I believe the previous seasons is available for simply honor at this point. Definitely worth picking up, especially if you are still carrying the Librim from Nagrand or Kara (which is not bad, but there are upgrades which can be obtained that are superior).
  • Forethought Talisman: If you can spare the stats, this is a nice trinket for any build really. It places a HoT when it procs on your target that you just healed. It is a little bit random, but it is another HoT that is going out for us Holy Paladins and it comes with 111 spell power.
  • The Egg of Mortal Essence: This is extremely important to have in a build where you have favored crit. This is some more free haste and the nice thing about this trinket is that it procs fairly often.
There is so much to go over with gear, but I really want to take a moment and talk about the second bullet point. I mentioned those shoulder, not as a must have, but because I want you to realize that there is gear out there that has both haste and crit. As a crit build we are reliant on casting a lot of heals to take advantage of the higher crit rating. How do we cast a lot of heals? A really long fight? Well, yes but then the whole issue of raid wiping because of enrage timers comes into play. You have to have haste on your gear and you need to use any abilities which will increase the haste. I think that everyone knows this and if for some reason you didn't, then now you do. The trick is that because we are casting Flash of Light, we are already on a shorter casting timer and therefor should not require as much haste. I understand that people feel that the near instant Flash of Light would be a great idea, but then you should really just be casting Holy Light because there will not be enough of a crit rating to make Flash of Light worth while. We will touch on this a little later.
If you went and looked up my armory then you are going to see that along with a modest crit rating that I have an insane amount of MP5. To cut to the chase and stop any sort of debate on this subject, the average Paladin will not need this much MP5. For one, if you are going Holy Light build, then you should have an unwordly amount of mana as you will need it to sustain the casting of Holy Light through an entire encounter. If you are building for Flash of Light, then you will need, in my opinion, a little more MP5 as you may end up overhealing other targets. As you begin to become more familiar with the build, then this should cut down and you should be able to add either haste or crit, depending on which you need more of. So why in the World (of Warcraft) do I have so much? Good question and a great lead into our next topic.
Wrapping It All Up
The truth be told, I have been going through this part in my mind for probably close to two hours now. I want to make sure that we are clear on a few things. The first thing is that as a Flash of Light healer you should never, ever, ever be standing there spamming nothing but Flash of Light. When I say that I am built for Flash of Light with crit, I mean that Flash of Light is my primary spell, but it is simply unable to keep a raid alive. The trick is that we must understand how it all works together. So let's take a look at everything and put all the parts together. The first thing to realize is that my Holy PVE build gives me around 32.98% critical strike rating, or every third heal works out to be a critical heal. My haste rating comes in at a base of 10.07%. Finally my MP5 (mana regenerated while casting) is at 289 unbuffed.
Looking at these numbers you would wonder how in the world I manage to put out solid numbers because it seems that my haste rating is way too low and my MP5 rating could definitely be lowered. However, we need to add in some important talents into the equation. The first one is my 6% boost to critical strike rating for my Flash of Light spell from Sanctified Light which is going to push me to 38.98% unbuffed. Also, remember that I stated it was imparative to keep your judgements up at all times. This has two reasons, the first is that it provides a great little boost in healing for all melee based party/raid members (which includes Hunters). You may not think it adds up to a whole lot, but there are many fights where my Judgement of Light will come in as my number three highest spell. This translates to providing some assistance to the raid healers. The second benefit is from the talent, Judgements of the Pure, which increases your haste rating by 15%. That is putting me to a 25.07% haste rating on fights (so long as I keep judging). However, we need to take a look at the trinket, Egg of Mortal Essence, which procs often and provides a solid boost to haste.
So, where conventional wisdom says stay away from this build, if we look at the gear and talents, we can see that the haste rating is no where near as bad as what it looks like at a glance. Finally, let's take a look at the MP5 rating of 289, when Greater Blessing of Wisdom is applied (with the talent), it pushes my MP5 to over 389 (sorry but I warned I wouldn't do a lot of number crunching). That does seem like a lot, but not when you think about the fact that I can sustain casting Holy Light on the fights that require this without having the large mana pool that is common among the Holy Light build. I rarely feel the need to use Devine Plea or Arcane Torrent and when I am pushed into overdrive, those are readily available, along with Runic Mana Potions, which then allows me to pump out the large Holy Light spells (and large is extremely large when you are receiving critical strikes on every third cast) that will more often than not, save the raid.
Now the trick to making this build work is to beacon your main assignment (most often MT/OT). I also cast my Sacred Shield on my assigned target (unless they are a Paladin, in which case they should be keeping their own Sacred Shields up) and begin the fight by casting a Flash of Light and triggering the HoT. I then have two specific groups of party/raid members I focus on. I watch, like a hawk, the health of my fellow healers and if they drop I am right there with either a Flash of Light or an auto-crit Holy Shock. The biggest weakness we healers have is tunnel vision of healing where we ignore our own health and I like to keep my healers up as it makes my job that much easier. If I am in a group where the other healers are keeping their own health up high, then my second group I am watching is the top two DPS (one melee and one ranged). I realize that along with a tank and healer, you must have a DPS up in order to down a boss and so I monitor recount DPS data during every encounter and make sure to keep my firepower up and firing. This is the point where Holy Light is going to come into play. I will more often than not drop a big heal on my DPS in order to top them off hopefully in one shot or at least by them time till the raid healer works their way to them. It is a lot of information to be watching, but it is what seperates a great healer from a good healer (and I am not claiming to be great/good/average/bad, I am just me). All of this is going on with Beacon keeping my assignement alive.
A couple other things that I will be watching while the encounter is in progress is going to be the timer on my judgements as this is a key to my healing. I have my JoL (Judgement of Light) hotkeyed to my equal button (as it is what equals success for me) and constantly can tap it as my judgement falls off of the boss. I always set my focus to display my tank at the bottom of my screen above a select group of buttons and macros for a couple of specific reasons. The first reason is that if something goes wrong and the tank is taking massive damage and my Lay on Hands has been burned, then I am going to be using Hand of Sacrifice with my Divine Shield to eat the damage while I bring their health (tank) back up to full. The second reason is to monitor my Beacon of Light spell, since that is the key to my healing. It also allows me to see the true timer on the Sacred Shield and its' HoT, which then allows me to refresh each of these as the need arises. Another key thing that all Paladins should be monitoring is any sort of dispellable debuff. I handle this by setting up my Healbot to display a certain color for what my cleanse ability is able to remove and set it as my middle mouse button so it is a one click and done. Another ability that you should use (but consider carefully when) is Avenging Wrath. This is a make-or-break ability. Once you use this you lock out Divine Shield (and vice-versa) for 30 seconds, so you have to really consider how you want to work this into a rotation. I prefer to use it more towards the beginning of a fight rather than the end where I may need Divine Shield to keep the main tank alive.
One big thing to remember is that when you build Flash of Light, you will be casting it often. After all, why build for it? However, do not become lame and rely only on it for healing. You need to use Holy Shock as often as possible (this means every 5-6 seconds depending on glyphed or not). Holy Shock is the one ability that you have that can provide solid heals to raid members who may be on the verge. Holy Light I reserve for my tanks and top rated DPS to get them back up full. If they drop to 50% health, you better bet that Holy Light is heading their way. Lay on Hands I tend to hit my tanks at 25% health and I will use it on either the main tank or off tank. One thing I noticed the other night and have not had a chance to try yet to confirm, but it appeared that when I hit Lay on Hands on the off tank and had the Beacon active on the main tank, the main tank received the heal as well. I have not had time to confirm this or not, so if someone has seen this as well, please share, but that only adds to the importance of using it.
Oh don't worry we have a few more things to discuss. Another big one that I do not see a lot of Holy Paladins use is Aura Mastry. It may not be such a huge boost if you are the only Paladin in a group, but we tend to run with at least three Paladins (typically at least one Prot and one Holy). The trick is in the little bit at the end, "and improve the effects of all other auras by 100%." Notice it is an "and" not an "or". It will buff the Prot Devotion Aura by 100% which will increase the armor thus causing a reduction in damage to the entire group. I am pretty sure that I have hit on this a lot, but make sure to use Divine Favor as often as it is up. I personally have it attached to Holy Shock via a macro. When it is not available, it just casts Holy Shock, when it is available, it will automatically be used. The same goes for Divine Illumination, make sure and use it as often as it is up.
Final Thoughts
I hope that after all of this, you all can see that there is a legitimate build for a Flash of Light that focuses on crit. The thing you have to remember is that if you go down this road you are going to have to learn to anticipate some damage and react very quickly. It is a very fine line for healing with little room for error. If you miss time one important Holy Light, then you could be the raid breaker instead of the boss. It requires you to be focused on a lot of numbers besides what is going on all around you. The thing I have found I like about this build is it allows you the flexibility to cover when your raid healer may go down or be otherwise unavailable (via some sort of CC). I have always loved the thrill and challenge of pushing myself to the limits and this build will do that. It will take you to the brink and it is up to your own skill if you can come back.
I have mentioned in the past that a hallmark of Paladin healers is overhealing. In this build I tend to have a much lower degree of overhealing verses what I had when I built for haste/Holy Light in the Wrath expansion and even compared against the old true spam of Flash of Light during the Burning Crusade expansion. It is an all or nothing build that relies on the gear such as Furious Gladiator's Librim of Justice (Flash of Light spell power only), utilizing your talents to obtain desired goals (both crit and haste), and learning to not just spam but create a true rotation where you are watching timers and abilities. In truth, I think a lot of people do not prefer a build like this because it requires much more focus than other healing builds that may be available. I realize that this build is not for everyone and I do not mean that based on a skill level, but simply that we all have certain things that we excel at, and the trick is to find what you excel at and then challenge yourself so as to not become complacent.
What about the other classes out there? Is there anyone else who has built against the "cookie cutter" and found success in their roles? I truly hope that this has shed some light on my particular build and maybe, just maybe, helped someone who may have had some questions about a build that incorportates crit as a focus based on a Flash of Light build.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Another Quick Update

Trust me folks I have not forgotten the post for crit/haste and how it fits into my build, but I have been pretty worn out and just feel like crashing. I have an off day scheduled on Wednesday and plan to tackle this subject then, so look for a post sometime then later in the week.

I am also curious as to what other questions may be out there in regards to Paladin healing? I have never really thought much about it a whole lot. Way back a long, long, long time ago I did a series on some very basic Paladin healing and have never looked back. I think that often times we spend more time reading sites with the "pro" tips that we do not discuss the basics. A start athlete is not born a pro but has to develop the bodies into that level of play and the same holds true for playing any class in WoW. So hit me up with any questions that you may have regarding healing as a Paladin or in general. I know some pretty good healers and if I do not have the answer, then we can always get some other folks to share their opinions on things.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quick Post

Hey all, just wanted to drop a quick note as the posts have not been so regular. I have been sick over the last two weeks with a stomach virus and so that has interrupted the usual posts. I am currently working on putting a post together talking a little more in depth on the haste or crit and the reasons why I have chose the build I have. I am also going to list my builds in another post discussing the reasons I have selected what I have. Also, it will show the differences between the two holy specs that I am currently using. I say currently as I sometimes switch out of my PVP holy spec into ret or prot (but shhhh, we don't want people to know I can tank). Catch you all later.