Friday, October 31, 2008

So you want to be a Healer ... which type? Part I

Say you like being a healer... what type of healer do you want to be?

Blizzard tries to force us into making choices. Guess what? They succeed. Unless you read the forums and swallow what someone claims to be the latest cookie-cutting build, you'll have to make choices. Tough ones, too.


A healing paladin will naturally spend a bunch of talent points in Holy. However, he can choose to focus on PVP or PVE talents.

After those choices have been made, said paladin has to decide whether to put the rest of the talents into Protection or Retribution.

Protection contains many talents useful for PVP, but not exclusively. Improved Devotion Aura, Divine Guardian, (Improved) Blessing of Kings and Guardian's Favor can all be useful for PVE healing. In addition, Stoicism, Improved Righteous Fury, Tougness and Improved Hammer of Justice are very handy in PVP.

Retribution helps PVE healing, but also aids PVP. Benediction, Conviction, Improved Judgements, Heart of the Crusader, Improved Blessing of Might and Sanctified Seals are all useful in a raid setting. For PVP, Pursuit of Justice and Eye for an Eye are neat talents.


Unlike Paladins, shamans don't have to choose which non-healing tree to spend the rest of his or her talent choices in. Enhancement is the obvious choice for almost all purposes. With that said, there are three different types of healing styles the restoration tree supports; PVP, PVE single target and PVE multi-target healing (semi-AoE). Or most likely, a mix of the latter two if you're raiding.

Multi-target healing talents: Improved Chain Heal. Not a very long list. However, the list of talents which does not affect Chain Heal is longer.

Single-target healing talents: Improved Healing Wave, Improved Water Shield, Healing Way and Ancestral Awakening.

In addition, Improved Reincarnation is a raid-healing talent.

PVP-healing talents: Healing Grace, Focused Mind, Nature's Guardian, Earth's Grasp, Guardian Totems, Improved Ghost Wolf, Anticipation and Toughness. To a lesser extent Shamanistic Focus, since this talent is so cheap that many PVE healers also will pick it up.

Talent tree design philosophy

Now, for some of you, this might be obvious. Sorry to you.

I'll share some thoughts about Blizz' design philosophy regarding the different talent trees. At least, what I think they are.

When WoW was made, Blizz tried to separate each class into three parts, corresponding to the three tabs in the spellbook and three different talent trees. I'm not going to debate whether that was a good idea or not. The basic point was that by separating the talents into different trees, no member of any class could have everything the class offered at the same time. Thus, they could choose to focus on one aspect of the game at the expense of the others, or several aspects without being top-notch in any.

Splitting each class' abilities into exactly three made for some very hard decisions and choices, as there weren't always logical reasons for splitting the way they did. But they tried.

The easiest way to split was on role, for those class that could perform several roles. The roles they split on was:

  • Tanks

  • Healing

  • Ranged dps (spellcasting)

  • Melee dps

Some of the classes was easily split using those ideas. I'm going to look at what they intended and worked towards, not the status at WoW launch. At that point, some of the talent trees were really messed up, like both Feral and Balance for druids.

The talent trees that were obvious from the role choices were:

  • Shaman: Restoration (Healing), Ranged dps (Elemental), Melee dps (Enhancement).

  • Paladin: Holy (Healing), Protection (Tanking), Retribution (Melee dps).

  • Priest: Holy (Healing), Shadow (Ranged dps).

  • Druid: Restoration (Healing), Tanking (Feral), Melee dps (Feral), Ranged dps (Feral).

  • Warrior: Protection (Tanking).

A special note for Feral druids here. Because druids could perform all four roles but still only had three talent threes, it made sense to stack tanking and melee dps together, as they shared many similarities, among them gear choices.

Now, the next wave of splittings was on a spesific aspect of the class. Both classes with pets had a tree devoted to that. Those with choices about weapon types got a single tree focused to that.

  • Hunter: Beast Mastery (Focusing on the pet), Markmanship (Focusing on the ranged dps), Survival (Focusing on melee dps and traps).

  • Warrior: Arms (Two-handers), Fury (Dual-wielding).

  • Mage: Arcane (high dps at the cost of mana efficiency), Fire (good, straightforward dps with fire damage) and Frost (slowing and bursting with frost damage)

  • Warlock: Affliction (DoTs and curses), Demonlogy (the pet), Destruction (Direct damage).

Rogues initially got Assassination (finishing moves), Combat (white dps), Subtletey (Openers). This, however, made less sense. Every rogue benefitted from all of those. Over time, Subtletey came to focus more on the "Ninja" aspect of being a rogue, Combat focused on being a light armored, quick fighter, and Assassination came to focus on poisons. Today, they also focus on the three different combo-point builders Mutilate (Assassination), Sinister Strike (Combat) and Hemorrhage. Backstab is the joker, trying to fit in in all of the trees. Blizz tries to make it an alternative to all talent trees, expect if you sink 41 points into Assassination. But I digress. Someone else can probably tell you a lot more about rogue talent trees. I recommend Parry! Dodge! Spin!.

The different playstyles offered by the different trees encouraged different aspects of the game. The warrior Arms tree with it's burst potential was a much better PVP tree than Fury, despite fury packing better PVE dps. Similary, mage Frost tree with it's burst and control was much better suited for PVP than Fire.

There were also some trees they failed with a bit with.

The mage Arcane tree seemed to focus more on meta-spells than standing on it's own. Presence of Mind and Arcane Power were much more useful used with fire spells (and to a lesser extent frost spells) than with arcane spells. Blizz has added new spells and abilities, until today, when it seems to be able to stand on it's own. But it's a bit questionable what it's focus is.

The hunter survival tree was focusing on an aspect of hunter which was generally counter-productive to the hunter playstyle. Melee attacks for a hunter? Granted, some abilities are useful for attaining the range nescessary to use ranged attacks, but a hunter in melee was generally a gimped dps, in addition to the fact that he was much more likely to take damage. Blizz has changed it back and forth. Currently, it's a mix between traps, utility and dps talents. At least from my perspective.

At an alpha or beta stage in Wrath of the Lich King, Blizz decided to change their philosophy. They had done so slightly already, but took a much greater leap now. Rather than letting each talent tree have talents which supported a spesific aspect of the game (such as tanking, PVP dps, PVP healing, PVE dps, PVP healing and so on), they tried to make every tree contain talents which aided in any of the roles the class could perform. The most obvious sign of this was when the description of the three Death Knight changed description. Frost was no longer a tanking tree, but a control tree, similar to frost mages. Every Death Knight tree was given talents that aid in tanking and dps.

At the same time, the warrior Protection tree changed from being bloated with mitigation talents to containing a lot more dps and offensive abilities, while Shield Slam was made baseline for all warriors.

Now, this brings me to my final point. Priests. There are two different observations I'd like to share.

From the start, discipline was a utility tree. Useful abilities for both holy and shadow, but unable to start on it's own. With Burning Crusade, it turned into a PVP-healing tree. Now, they've turned it into a tree that can support others (the lower 20 points), or stand on it's own (further down) as dps or healing, PVP or PVE.

The second observation is about non-shadow dps. Blizz wanted non-shadow priests to be able to dps. But since each class had three trees, this was at first a part of holy through talents on it's own. Then, through different patches and expansions, both discipline and holy have gotten new damage talents. It's interesting to notice, though, that the damage talents are clustered relatively low in both trees. The latest damage talent in Holy is at 27 point (but you need 28 to get all of Spirit of Rdemption, Spiritual Guidance and Surge of Light). Granted, Penance is 51-pointer, but I'm very uncertain that it's better than the talents you're giving up in Holy. Otherwise the latest damage talent is at 31 points (Power Infusion) unless you count Reflective Shields. Many would argue that the latter is not a dps talent, because it only works when you shield yourself. In an instance, that's usually a bad thing. Not to shield itself, but having to shield in the first place.

Now, priests' healing talent trees are built on a slightly different philosophy than the healing trees of Shaman, Druid and Paladin.

Thinking inside the box: Healing dps-spec?

The counter to my two posts about off-spec healing, how to spec in the healing tree(s) and maintain a decent dps?

If you want to spec into a healing tree, you already know that you aren't going to pick up a lot of dps-talents. In most cases, at least. There are a few, though. I'm using this to base some of my claims in my next post.

I'm skipping talents which improve mana efficiency.


I begin with one of the easiest covered classes, shaman. Why is it easy to cover? Because the restoration tree contains only three spells that increase your dps.

  • Tidal Mastery: 5% more crit on lightning spells. Not bad, but not superb either.

  • Blessing of the Eternals: 4% more crit (with a secondary heal-aiding effect), but for only 2 talent points. Much better. In addition, affects shocks in addition to lighting spells.
    Nature's Swiftness: A bit of burst on a 3 min cooldown.

And that's all folks.


Almost equally easily covered is the druid. The big difference here is that there are some talents which improves melee dps (and thus feral-levelling) and other which improve spell dps (and thus caster-levelling). Because spellpower aids both healing and caster-dps, I find it most likely that a healer will focus on the latter. However, each to her own choice.

Talents that aid your feral dps:

  • Naturalist: 10% more damage? Yes, please. So good, in fact, that you'd be a silly kitty not to pick it up.

  • Master Shapeshiefter: The ability I based my previous less successful blog on. 4% more crit as kitten, or 4% more damage as bear? Again, yes, please.

  • Omen of Clarity: For a caster (healer or dps), this is a mana-conserving talent. For a feral, this is extra energy/rage which can be converted into damage, and thus a dps talent. Handy.

Meanwhile, the following talents will aid your caster dps:

  • Nature's Focus: Because it reduces the pushback on Wrath, and your CC spells, which less time lost to reduced cast time from being hit.

  • Nature's Swiftness: Since druids doesn't have a big damage nature cast-time spell, this is less than the shaman version. But quite handy with crowd control spells, though, especially speaking from a PVP view.

  • Natural Perfection: 3% more spellcrit.

In addition, the two talents Furor and Master Shapeshifter aid your dps while in Moonkin form, if you've dumped 31 points into the balance tree. Furor because of synergy with other abilities in balance, in addition to the minor spell crit increase.

Phaelia from wrote an article about levelling and healing builds which I recommend.


Now we're getting somewhere. The paladin holy tree contains some juicy talents which helps. The fundamental difference between a paladin and the other three different healer is that you can't play a caster dps as a pally. You need to be in melee to damage your enemey beside your Judgement and Holy Shock, which are both on cooldowns. There are also Hammer of Wrath and Exorcism/Holy Wrath, but all of those are circuimstancal.

The bright side is that stacking spellpower will increase the damage of several seals, whichever you prefer to solo with, and seals deal damage on every melee hit. Good thing you don't need to rebuff them on every judgement anymore.

  • Seals of the Pure: 15% more juice from several of your seals and judgements. Not bad, as long as you use one of those seals while soloing.

  • Holy Shock: Now on a 6 second cooldown! A sure way to burn down your mana fast. Ignoring that, further improved by Sanctified Light.

  • Holy Power: +5% crit. Good enough.

  • Holy Guidance: free spellpower from int. Good synergy with Divine Intellect, in addition to the minor crit it gives.

  • Enligthened Judgements: The increased range of your judgements is handy enough, but the +4% hit is what really makes this a useful dps talent
  • .


And now for something different. Not, not really, but unlike a paladin, a priest can be pure casts and unlike a shaman and druid, the healing trees contains a bunch of dps talents. In addition, they're the only class with two different healing trees, which can both (at least now) work on their own.



  • Holy Specialization: 5% more crit on Smite, Holy Fire, Penance and Holy Nova. I've never used the latter to solo enemies, but it could potentially be good if paired with a good critrate and Surge of Light, further down the tree.

  • Divine Fury: Two of your nukes just got faster. This is a talent I'll pick up anyway for the healing effect.

  • Searing Light: 10% more damage on your nukes for 2 talent points is solid. Also improves Penance, but that'd require you to be lvl 80 first.

  • Holy Reach: Longer reach means you can hit them more before they're in your face.

  • Spiritual Guidance: Turns spirit into a spellpower stat. Very handy, since this also improves healing. Spirit of Redemption provides a minor spirit buff which there is no reason to skip for 1 talent point. Makes it worthwhile to pick up (Improved) Divine Spirit in discipline as well.

  • Surge of Light: A solid talent now that it also affects healing. There's no reason to pass up on this talent if you're this far down the tree.

As you can see, there's a big difference between the healing talent trees of the different healing classes. I'll cover that in the next post.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thinking outside the box: Off-spec Healing part II

Continuing from part I.


You'll always have Innervate.


  • Genesis: This is really a resto talent. It provides a veeery minor dps increase, or even a minor healing increase. I'd recommend Starlight Wrath for a balance druid intending to dps at all any day.

  • Moonglow: Quality mana-conservation talent. In fact, so good, you'd be stupid if you don't pick it up as a resto as well. No reason not to take it for anyone, in fact.
  • Nature's Majesty: +4% crit to most spells.

  • Nature's Grace: 0.5 sec caster heals when you crit. Except on Healing Touch if you have both Naturalist and Glyph of Healing Touch (which is pretty unlikely for a balance druid), this'll benefit all your cast-time heals

  • Nature's Splendor: Lots of talents with "Nature's ..." in them. For a single point, this is a rather solid talent to have while healing.

  • Celestial Focus: +3% haste. Useful.

  • Lunar Guidance: More spellpower!

  • Dreamstate: 3 talent points to get 10% of int as mp5. Cheaper than Unrelenting Storm. How come they don't cost the same? No, I'm arguing that the shammy version should be cheaper.

  • Force of Nature: When I had this talent, I noticed it has a taunting effect on the enemies when you first summon them. Handy. Doesn't work with enemies immune to nature damage (earth and air elementals, mostly).

  • Honorable mention: Brambles, to keep aggro away from you and where it belongs, and daze those that don't get the hint. Not that it's much of a problem with 3.0, though.


A lot less here...

Not an awfully long list. Thankfully, though, you probably have two talents from resto that benefits in healing as well:


Priests' talents tree are strictly different from other healer classes. While other healer talent trees, shamans' and druids' resto trees in particular, contain hardly no talent that aid in dps, both the discipline and holy tree of priests contain a bunch of damage talents. Holy paladins' talent tree contains some, but nowhere near priests' (IMO). I'll make a separate posts about that later, but for now I'll just describe the shadow's tree healing potential.


  • Twisted Faith: 10% of your spirit as spellpower. Strictly a lot worse than Spiritual Guidance in the holy tree, but there's a secondary effect to make up for it somewhat. Not that it benefits healing, though.

  • Veiled Shadows: Shadowfiend and Fade on lower cooldowns. Both useful while healing.

  • Honorable mention to Silence. Can save a lot of damage that would otherwise have to be healed.

And that's all, folks. Luckily, though, you'll be picking up stuff from the discipline tree that helps healing. But if you want to make a dps/heal hybrid spec, you're much better off with a holy/disc hybrid build. As I said, I'll make a separate post about it later.

Oxhorn never ceases to amaze me...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thinking outside the box: Off-spec Healing part I

Dual specs haven't arrived yet. And even if they did, I'll probably use my duel spec to have one total PVP spec and one PVE spec. Ideally, I'd have a tri-spec. One for PVP-healing, one for PVE-healing and one for PVE-soloing. I rarely feel the need to deal damage in PVP, and the few times I do I usually get kick enough from just staying the spec I am.

When levelling in Northrend, you don't want to die of boredom while levelling. The best way to do that is to level with someone else, because the conversation alone would prevent you from perishing. If you can't do that. a spec that allows you to deal relatively good dps is a another good option. Third options are stuff like soloing ten as a time as a protection paladin and other rather class-spesific ways of having fun.

Going for option 2 then, you often still want to be able to heal. But thanks to Blizz' design philosophy, that's possible! Welcome to part 1 of Off-spec Healing, Shammy and Pally version.


Common to all shamans of any spec: Mana Spring Totem, Healing Stream Totem and Wrath of Air Totem.


  • Thundering Weapons: +5% crit, including on healing spells.

  • Elemental Weapons: +30% effect on Earthliving weapon, which then increases healing done by 195.

  • Improved Shields: More mana return from Water Shield. Of course, it does require you to be hit occasionly, but that can be arranged...

  • Mental Quickness: We've hit the motherlode. 6% reduced mana cost on instant casts is okay, but the real gem is 30% of your AP as spellpower. That's major... better yet, combine that with:

  • Enhancing Totems: Each point of strength and agility gives us an extra point of AP, which in turn translates 3/10 spellpower. 15% more effect on Strength of Earth Totem gives 178 more strength and agility => 356 extra AP => 250 extra spellpower at lvl 80. 15% more effect on Flametongue Totem means it increases healing and damage done by 166.

  • Mental Dexterity: 100% intellect as AP. Which translates to 1 int = 3/10 spellpower. No, wait! We've also got:

  • Ancestral Knowledge: 10% more intellect. The synergy with Mental Dexterity which means 33/100 (about 1/3) of intellect is now added as spellpower. In addition to the extra mana and crit rate, of course. That is, fully talented. Given the choice between this and Enhancing Totems, I'd max that out and drop the remaining two points here myself.

  • Dual-wield: 2xEarthliving weapon? I haven't tested if they stack, though. If they don't stack, you could always try, earthliving + flametongue weapon if you have the glyph that gives +2% spellcrit.

  • Shamanistic Rage: Think of it as a interactive mana potion?

  • Unleashed Rage: 10% more AP = more spellpower thanks to Mental Quickness. Though, with a 10 second duration and a crit demand, it's less likely to be useful while healing. There are a whole lot bunch of talents which helps keep it up when you're actually on the front lines, though.


  • Earthliving weapon: Free healing, even without the improved version.

  • Totem of Wrath: Free spellpower... or is it? I'm not sure if this improves spellpower at all, or just damage done by spells. You could always fall back to the standard flametongue totem.

  • Unrelenting Storm: Free mana per 5 sec? Always useful.

  • Elemental Focus: 40% mana reduction on 2 healing spells after critting with an offensive spell; very circuimstancal. Casting a damaging spell in the first time is more likely to hurt your mana pool more than help it. But, combine it with Elemental Mastery, and we've got two cheaper healing spells every 3 min. Further combine with Elemental Oath for extra spellcrit. Watch the aggro, though.

  • Thunderstorm: For the mana return. Longevity is also an issue in healing.
  • Elemental Precision: If I read the tooltip properly, it says nothing about only reducing damage threat. Healing spells are nature, and it says it reduces threat from nature spells. Have anyone tested this?


Common to all hybrid paladins: Blessing of Wisdom, Seal of Wisdom, Judgement of Wisdom and Judgement of Light.


Somewhere in my mind, there's a part specialized in making bad jokes. "Two protection paladins walked into an instance. Then the first one says: 'Who's healing?' The other answers: 'Not me, I want to be hit.' The first one: 'Me too!' The other: 'Well, I suppose we can just stay here and hit each other?' The first: 'Splendid idea.' The rest of the party: 'WTF?'"


  • Improved Devotion Aura: A flat 6% more healing taken by all targets. In addition to a bunch more armor. It's veeeery likely that you picked up this talent anwyay.

  • Divine Guardian: Somehow, this doesn't strike me as a talent a protection pally would usually pick up. It looks more like a talent a holy paladin would pick up for PVP healing. Anyway, if you have it, it's great for a healer. Especially so with Sacred Duty which means you can use Divine Shield more often.

  • Blessing of Sanctuary: Makes it slightly easier to keep up the tank.

  • Touched by the Light: Again, we've hit the motherlode! The main effect, 30% of stamina as spell power, has a nice synergy with Sacred Duty and Combat Expertise! The secondary effect will help you get big crits on Holy Light, especially so with Healing Light from Holy.


Sheath of Light gives a bloody powerful HoT. 60% healed over 12 sec (in addition to the normal effect of the heal)? That's a lot! Compare that to the similar on-crit-heal talents Living Seed (resto druid version), Touched by the Light (protection pally version), Ancestral Awakening (resto shammy version) and Divine Aegis (disc priest version) which are all an additional 30% of the amount healed.

The only reason that can justify it being so high is that being a HoT, it doesn't stack, but is overwritten by new critheals (provided they are more powerful, a Holy Light crit heal HoT won't be overwritten by a Flash of Light crit heal). And of course, some of the other talents synergizes extremely well with other talents... Improved Regrowth for Living Seed, Rapture for Divine Aegis and Tidal Mastery + Blessing of the Eternals + Thundering Weapons for a total of +14% crit rate with Ancestral Awakening.

Edit: Forgot Shamanistic Rage and Unleashed Rage.

Monday, October 27, 2008

/envy Shaman

Right now I envy resto shamans. As I've come to know myself, that'll probably change sooner or later. Until then, the grass seems much greener on that side of the fence.

What do I envy about shamans?

  • Mail armor: Oh, the toughness.

  • Shield: Granted, much less useful with Dismantle around, but far from useless. Anticipation counters dismantle somewhat.

  • Earth Shield: Pre-emptive healing at it's best.

  • Water Shield: Free mana! Best dispel fodder in the entire game.

  • Chain Heal: Incredibly good multi-target healing. That means I have a good substitute for Circle of Healing.

  • Ancestral Awakening: Now, *this* is one of the best multi-target "heals" in PVP, given a reasonable crit-rating.

  • And speaking of crit rate: Tidal Mastery + Blessing of the Eternals + Thundering Weapons grants a total of 14% spell crit from talents alone. To compare: A holy priest can get 11% spell crit on targets at less than 50% health, and a discipline priest can get spell crit of 9% on targets affected by Weakened Soul, but only on a few selected spells. Generally, they only get 5% spell crit from talents, unless you count in spell crit gained from Mental Strength. Shamans get a bit less, but not all that much worse from Ancestral Knowledge

  • Earthliving Weapon: Free healing, undispellable (it might get temporarily removed while disarmed, but it'll return on it's own unlike a buff that needs to be reapplied). Also comes with a nice proc. Even better with Blessing of the Eternals. And if I need damage instead, Flametongue weapon instead. Granted, priests get Inner fire with spellpower attached, so it's not so important difference in PVE. Actually, priests get the better cake in PVE, as they can also use some kind of oil on their weapons. But I think I'd rather have the cake that is better in PVP for that purpose.

  • Totems galore: I think the totem system is incredibly neat, really. Granted, a lot more work than "buff fortitude, divine spirit and shadow protection as they run out." I think I like i. Especially the part that I can buff the damage output of any class at all.

  • Speaking of totems: Grounding totem: G-R-E-A-T defense. Requires a lot of timing, has a high skill cap, and I love it. Kinda hard to use effectively in a swarmed BG, though, as spells fly around all the time.

  • But hey, that's not the only thing: Earth Shock/Wind Shock, I can actually interrupt spells! Guess what I've never been able to do as a priest.

  • Frost shock and Earthbind Totem: I can slow people too.

  • Nature's Guardian: Excellent passive defensive ablitity. Much better than Blessed Resilience for PVE, but worse for PVP.

  • (Improved) Ghost Wolf: Runaway! Okay, it's much worse than Travel form on my druid, but it's much better than nothing.

  • Reincarnation: Game over? No, wait, I have an extra life! Priests are the only healer class without a form of wipe recovery. Druid: Rebirth on a res class (okay, you actually need a res class, but they're pretty common). Paladin: Divine Intervention (which also prevents durability damage, those lucky b...). Priests? ... pray?

  • Bloodlust: More powerful than Power Infusion, but isn't a talent. Longer cooldown, but affects the entire raid. I feel the envy in my veins.

  • Earth Elemental: Pocket tank! In fact, superior tank, from what I've seen. When a shaman has dropped it, the tank just can't peel aggro from the elemental until it's dead. "Mohahahaha, you'll have to pray aggro from my dead hands!"

  • Fire Elemental: Pocket dps! I want overpowered cooldowns! A priests have none... yet. I'll get one with Divine Hymn at lvl 80.

  • Thunderstorm: if I ever feel like speccing for damage.

Stuff I'm going to miss from my priest:

  • Dispel Magic: Okay, the offensive version of this spell is preserved through Purge. But I'll be trading the ability to remove magic from friendlies for the ability to remove poison and curses. The dispel magic glyph makes it even better... I healed the tank for about 1200 by dispelling a dot on him in Kharazan.

  • Mass Dispel: For really messing up pallies and mages in PVP.

  • Prayer of Mending: My preeeecious. One of the key selling features of a priest, in my opinion.

  • Renew and Power Word: Shield: Solid and good abilities with no/low cooldown. Granted, Riptide isn't all that bad, but it's not a perfect substitute. In addition, the absorbing mechanic of Power Word: Shield and Divine Aegis is a major help against any class with healing-reducing effects, of which which there are a lot.

  • Panic buttons: Pain Suppression or Guardian Spirit depending on the spec. Okay, Nature's Swiftness isn't all that bad, but I'd say either of the first two are better. Especially since I have Desperate Prayer which works like a NS+big heal on myself only.

  • Psychic Scream: Crowd control, baby. Have saved my behind a lot of times. Now, that's going to hurt, not having it. Okay, shammies get Hex at 80, but it's not really the same.

  • Mind Control: Oh, how many alliance has falled down from Lumber Mill thanks to this. Too bad it doesn't kill them unless they're already at half health.

  • Levitate, especially with the glyph.

  • Shadow Word:Pain and Devouring Plague: I like having dots as a way of damaging peeps.

  • Mana Burn: I can destroy enemy healers!

  • Binding Heal: I actally like this spell. Very good hps-output for PVP, given you've taken damage.

  • Spirit of Redemption: When everything else fails, this can save lives. Literally. Even better if I'll glyph it.

  • Surge of Light: As described in my earlier post.

  • Buff spells: While less interaction than with totems, it's nice to fire-and-forget buff 40 people with a single buff in AV.

Edit: Forgot reincarnation.
Edit 2: Forgot Earth Elemental, Fire Elemental and Bloodlust. How could I?

Friday, October 24, 2008

WTB Epic Skill: Situational Awareness.

I'll argue that Situational Awareness is the most important skill you can ever master in WoW, or even in most situations in real life. That means, having a complete overview and understanding of the situation, and know what actions you should perform to best solve it. Epic skill, no doubt.

Hybrid Theory

Given you define a hybrid as a cross between two or more roles, all classes in WoW are hybrids. Well, that depends on how you define the roles. I define the roles as
* Crowd-control (CC): Making sure you're in control of the situation and no the opposite way around.
* Tank: Really just a specialized form of multiple-mob CC.
* Dps: Anything that helps the enemy health bar move to zero faster.
* Healer: Anything that helps your ally's health bar move to full faster.

That makes all classes in WoW hybrids. Even rogues. They can decide to spend their opener and combo points on stunning (CC) or damage. Now, all hybrids (and thus all players) must decide how much hybrid they want to play. There are two traps of a hybrid: Pidgeonholing yourself, and overreaching yourself.

Pidgeonholing yourself

Push yourself into only one designated role, and you've pidgeonholed yourself. In many cases, that's fine. A designated healer doing nothing but throwing around healing spells or a designated dps only dealing damage will usually work fine. But when all hell breaks loose, she/he's going to be suboptimal. More so in 5-man or PVP than raids, though.

A classic example is a healer (not the role, but a player designated to this role). Despite having the responsibility of expanding the green bars of any friends, they also have damaging spells on their toolbar.

Take a boss like the Headless Horseman. During most phases, the dps must take his health in full body form to zero. But wait, that doesn't really kill him. Then his head falls off, and returns to his body in about 5 seconds. When it returns to his body, he is at full health again. If the head doesn't take damage during those cruicial five seconds each time his body "dies", the circle will go on forever. At least until the healer is out of mana.

Now, during the phase where the head is vulnerable, noone's taking much damage (in fact, noone's hardly taking damage during the fight at all except when he launches a burning pumpkin on someone's head, but that's beside the point.) Given that the healer has mana left, he should burn damage on the head. Even if it's not a lot, everything helps getting the boss down faster.

A better example is PVP. Say you're in AB, and 2vs2 fighting over a flag. Suddenly, one of the enemies are really low at only 500 health left, and the other one is about to heal him. If you (the healer on your team) limit yourself to only watching the health bars, the other healer will succeed and you'll still be fighting 2vs2 and perhaps loosing. If you, on the other hand, throw a Shadow Word: Death on him, you might suddenly find yourself in a 2vs1 which increases your chances to win a lot.

Perhaps the best example is a feral cat druid dps in an instace. Optimally, he'll pop into caster and throw out some heals while the healer is CC'ed or OOM, and he'll pop bear and catch a loose mob if nescessary. If he doesn't, he's playing suboptimally. He's pidgeonholing himself.


The other trap of a hybrid is overreaching yourself. If a druid tries to heal and tank at the same time, he'll (usually) overreach himself, leading to his death and neither healing nor tanking.

It's not as uncommon as it sounds! Take arena 2vs2, two dps+healer teams facing each other. A warrior on the first team wants to kill the other dps, but can't loose his own healer. Thus, he'll have to balance between spending time and resources dps'ing the enemy healer, and intervening/intercepting/hamstringing (CCing) the other dps to buy his own healer some precious time. Of course, all the while surviving himself.

In an instance, a rogue trying to CC and dps at the same time might end up failing at the dps, thus not getting the mobs faster down that the healer's mana bar.

It's also possible to overreach a single role, or even others. A healer trying to keep up the warlock pulling aggro and the tank at the same time might end up loosing both. A tank that pulls too many at the same time is overreaching his or her healer.

Situational Awareness

The best counter to both of these traps is... Situational Awareness. Always having awareness of what's happening around you. Understanding the consequences of your choices (or lack thereof). Know when you should switch your role, and when you need to stick to it.

I'll share a few examples of how being flexible can save the situation:

  • Any dps in a group can attempt to "tank" a mob or even several to save the group from wiping. Most likely, he or she will most likely die in the process, but the group might still be able to pull it through. Given the choice, what is better between the entire group wiping and just you dying?

  • Most dps classes can choose to CC more and dps less.

  • A tank can decide to use his emergency buttons immidiately rather than waiting to get low on health, when she/he notices that her/his healer is CCed or low on mana. (Okay, that's not really being a hybrid, just having awareness.)

  • A healer can choose to let someone die in order to concentrate on someone else, rather than loosing both.

  • Any dps can bandage.

  • ... but so can a healer, when he's out of mana.

  • A tank that has his threat well established can spend more resources on dps rather than threatgenerating.

  • A healer can pump spare mana into damage.

  • A healer can often CC. If you think you're on your way of wiping, what's the harm in trying to psychic scream the mobs away to give you some breathing space? Sure, they might pull more, but weren't you about to wipe in the first place? Isn't it better to do something that might work rather than not do something and garantee a failure?

  • The same applies to tanks, at least warriors.

Bottom line, Situational Awareness is a skill to keep practicing until the end of your career, or even your life.

I'd also like to recomment Out of Mana's Confidence and Humility: part 1 and part 2.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Wanted to share my template for healing/harming macros:

/cast [modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,harm][modifier:alt,target=focus,harm]evil, harmful spell;[modifier:shift,target=player][modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget][target=mouseover,help][help]holier than thou, helpful spell;[harm]same evil spell

Select the question mark as the icon.

It'll evaluate in the following order:

  1. Alt is pressed: Cast the evil spell on your focus.

  2. Shift is pressed: Cast the holier than thou spell on yourself.

  3. Ctrl is pressed: Cast the evil spell on your target's target, if harmable, or our holier than thou spell on your target's target, if helpable.

  4. No modifier, hovering your mouse over a friendly target: Cast the holier than thou spell on your friendly target.

  5. No modifier, not hovering your mouse over a friendly target, targetted a friend: Cast the holier than thou spell on your target.

  6. No modifier, not hovering your mouse over a friendly target, targetted an enemey: Cast the eeeevul spell on your target.

  7. No modifier, not hovering your mouse over a friendly target, no target or neither friendly nor harmful (think Shattrath guards): Do nothing.

As you press shift, ctrl and alt, the icon will change depending on which spell that will be cast. I especially love the last part: No target, no spell cast. Full control.

The only thing I regret is that I can't get space in the macro to press alt to cast a helpful spell on a friendly focus target. Banged into the 255 character limit.

There's a problem, though. It seems to be locally on my machine. Currently, macros that use alt as a modifier change icon, but won't cast the actual spell. Why not? Beats me. I'm trying to look into it. It worked earlier.

/love Holy 3.0

Prayer of Mending + Surge of Light

We all know Prayer of Mending. But 3.0 changed it to be crittable.

We also know Surge of Light. But 3.0 changed it to also affect flash heal, giving you an instant, mana-free flash heal.

The interesting thing, though... Prayer of Mending can crit on each jump. That's incredibly good. But each of those crits can also proc Surge of Light.

I was in AB, healing left and right. Suddenly I get a Surge of Light proc when I'm not casting anything. My PoM just leapt to someone else, critted, and gave me a free flash heal.

Just praying it's not a bug and will be fixed.

Guardian Spirit.

This is the best emergency button I've ever had. Okay, it's not perfect in the sense that it'll garantuee that the target lives 10 seconds, but pretty close. I'm pretty used to Pain Suppression from my numerous dabblings into discipline, and it certianly got similarities.

I think I like Guardian Spirit more. I tossed it on our flag carrier while he was dying, and *bang* 50% life again. ... I had a warm fuzzy feeling inside when that was what saved him from dying. I believe I also can cast it from Spirit of Redemption.

Desperate Prayer

Worth a honorable mention. Nothing spectacular (and it's too bad it's no longer mana free), but solid. Works wonders against the new breed of retribution pallies, as they lack a way to reduce healing. Still a solid 2k when I desperately need it against a MS warrior or rogue.

I may never spec out of holy again.

Who am I kidding? Of course I will. I don't just suffer from class envy, but even talent envy within my own class. But it's something I'll miss.

Healer ... and envious.

... or at least Jealous. I've tried all four healing classes. I've gotten two of them to 70.

What I'd really like is to stick to one class. One character. It sounds a heck of a lot less work than two, three or even more characters. Less gearing. Less rep-grinding. Less Money-gathering for epic flying mount. Not to mention that I'll probably never be good at any class, as long as I pop between several.

Granted, if I had lots of time, it wouldn't really be a problem. But as it is now, I'm only half-way through grinding with both characters, and suddenly the expansion hits me.

On the bright side, though, I don't suffer from content burnout. I do suffer from incredibly often class burnout, if that makes sense, though.

Almost all of the envy is connected to PVP abilities, being them healing, survivability or other uses.

At least I can take pride in being unique. I'll never be best, but I'll always be unique.