Sunday, November 30, 2008

What happened to the fish of Zangarmarsh?

They've been electrified. Why, I'm gathering Unidentified Plant Parts. Can't you tell?

Not so strange, perhaps, since I count 14 full stacks of Grim-encrusted Scale.

The thing is, this time (as opposed to last time I was levelling someone 60-70) I knew that I should wait with the quests from Cenarion Expedition (or for that matter, most other BC factions) until I reached honored. And after I'd done Slave Pens and Underbog about 6-7 times total, I grinded plant parts for Identify Plant Parts.

First I did all the other quests I could find in Zangarmarsh, boosting my Darkspear Troll rep by quite a bit. In the process I got about 100 plant parts. I farmed the rest from the Mudfin Frenzies. I postponed the farming by quite a bit, since it frankly wasn't something of a hurry, and a lot of grinding is utterly boring. It was, however, fun to gather about 10-15 Mudfin (more than that, and I started loosing some because they abondoned me) and use an Elemental Mastery Thunderstorm on them. The word insta-gib just got a new definition for me.

I think I gathered a total of about 30 stacks of Grim-encrusted Scale, for a total of about 600. From the 80% droprate, that means I killed something around 750 of them. Will I do it again? No chance. I've resolved in the past to don't grind unless grinding itself is fun. This was moderately fun, but I'm glad I didn't have to do it again.

Why do I bother with Cenarion Expedition anyway? Well, I figure that I'd like a nice mount sometime in the future, and Cenarion War Hippogryph is one of the better looking ones for how hard it is to get. I don't care much for the achievement.

I'm currently 68 and technically ready for Northrend, but I'm not going there yet. I'll wait until at least 70. Meanwhile, I'm doing all the Cenarion Expedition quests I can in all of Outland. I'm done in Hellfire and Zangarmarsh, with Terokkar Forest and Blade's Edge Mountains waiting. I don't think I've seen Cenarion-guys in any other zone, but who knows.

I'm also running a lot of instances, which is why I'm so high level before I finished Zangarmarsh. I've also, for the first time since WotlK, done an instance with no death knights.

By the way, I don't see any reason to hide my shaman. Her name is Kirba, as seen on the screenshot.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quick delivery, elemental buffed.

Quick delivery, Blizz. You're fixing something I pointed out only yesterday.

Seriously, though, these decisions are discussed back and forth, and they've probably decided them a week ago. Warning: Some of the links here will be broken when they make the change on wowhead.

1) Unrelenting Storm – reduced from 5 points to 3 points. Bonus is 4/8/12% of your Intellect returned as mana.

A good buff. 2 more points freed up, and more mana to play with. I don't mind.
2) Elemental Warding – now reduces all damage (not just Nature, Fire and Frost) taken by 2/4/6%

Handy. Now it's definately a talent I'll take next time I'll respec elemental. 6% less damage taken will aid me more in PVP and soloing than 3% more damage done will. Raiding might be a different matter. It's perfectly skippable, but it's a much better option now than earlier.
3) Elemental Shields – this talent has been removed, since its effects were combined with Elemental Warding.

Fair enough.
4) Storm, Earth and Fire – reduced from 5 points to 3 points, but keeps around the same net benefit. In addition to current effects, also increases Wind Shock range. The damage bonus to Flame Shock has increased to 60% at 3 ranks. Storm, Earth and Fire has been moved up the tree as well.

As I said, the talent was a bit lacking for a 5-pointer. The Wind Shock change makes a lot of sense. The next part, will it be mandatory? If it's no longer a prereq for Thunderstorm, perhaps it'll be skippable for those that don't like it?
5) Shamanism – this is a new 5 point talent in the old Storm, Earth and Fire position. Your Lightning Bolt and Lava Burst gain an additional percentage of your bonus damage. We have not finalized the numbers, but it will probably be something like 10% for Lightning Bolt and 20% for Lava Burst at max ranks.

A talent similar to Druid's balance talent Wrath of Cenarius. But the numbers have a quite different thinking. I imagine Starfire got 20% and Wrath got 10% because of their casting times, 3.0 sec and 1.5 sec respectively, with Starlight Wrath, disregarding any procs from Nature's Grace.

With elemental shamans, you have a slightly different toolbox. With Lightning Mastery, Lightning Bolt has a 2.0 sec cast time and no cooldown, while Lava Burst has a 1.5 sec cast time and 8 sec cooldown. What does this tell us? That they aim for a different goal, namely make us use Lava Burst at every possible cooldown, while boosting elemental shamans' base dps by a less amount. Makes +hit gear even more important, as a few missed Lava Burst really is going to hurt.

I'm also wondering why they don't give any benefit to Chain Lightning. They have earlier stated that they want elemental shamans to have the option of doing some AoE, like other caster dps. If so, why not buff Chain Lightning a bit as well, not just the totems?

Shaman – we are removing the threat component from Fire Nova Totem and Magma Totem and increasing the damage from Magma Totem. This should provide the Elemental shamans in particular with some formidable AE.

I assume this means the "additional threat" component of the two totems. They'll still generate normal threat, or it'd be slightly broken. At least while soloing.

Some people argued that it wouldn't be worth it since you couldn't use Totem of Wrath at the same time. Ghostcrawler answered:

But the change to Magma Totem in particular is substantial. The base points went from 170 to 370 and the coefficient from 0.67 to 1.0. In our tests, the pulses were doing something like 600 damage. You would be hard-pressed to get that kind of increase out of Totem of Wrath, even considering its benefit to the whole raid.

In addition to what he says, there's also the raid stacking to consider. Dwarf Priest wrote an excellent guide. If we look at it, we see that Totem of Wrath is considered among the best available spellpower buffs, but tied with Demonlogy Warlock's Demonic Pact, which doesn't really go away. So you may not loose a lot of spellpower. On the other hand, the spellcrit debuff isn't so easily available. A tier 2 paladin talent Heart of the Crusader duplicates the effect, but on one target only, for the duration of a judgement (10 seconds). And when would you lay down a Magma Totem in the first place? When you need AoE. AoE = Multiple enemies, so a single, or even three or four judgements doesn't really replace the effect.

The good part, though, is that Magma and Fire Nova totem has threat of their own, so if they overaggro, you just lost your mana investment, while you retained your life. Unlike certain other AoErs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Elemental suggestions, my dear Tesla.

After about two levels as an elemental shaman, I've made several observations. I'll spare most of them, and concentrate on something constructive first.

When soloing, I put down Wrath of Air, Mana Spring and Totem of Wrath, throw 2-3 Lightning Bolts, then use Frost Shock to limit the movement, another Lightning Bolt and then decide to either throw the mob using Thunderstorm and keep lighting them up, or just melee the mob to death. Given at least two crits, most mobs are dead before they reach me.

As I said earlier, I find Frost Shock lacking. Well, it does slow the mobs and deal a fair amount of damage. Further, it's not supposed to be a dps-shock, not least since it generates a lot of threat. But there ought to be at least some talent which improves Frost Shock, since we have talents improving both Earth and Flame Shock.

Storm, Earth and Fire is lacking as well. The reduced cooldown on Chain Lightning is very circuimstancal. The improved dot damage on Flame Shock is good, but nowhere near a 5-point talent. Finally, the increased range on Earth is pretty useful, but nothing major.

Thus, here's some constructive suggestions on how to solve both problems.

First, there's one thing which I really don't see why they haven't done already. The range increase on Earth Shock should apply to Wind Shock as well.

Second, the increased range on Earth Shock should be improved to 2 yards per talent point, for a total of 10 yards increased range, thus 30 yard range. Why not? This is the base of most offensive spells. And Flame Shock still trumphs that, with Lava Flows. I think this'd be a minor, but a good upgrade.

Third, I think there ought to be some improvement to Frost Shock from the talent. This change should be something that can be useful while soloing and PVP, but not nescessarily while doing dps... it should be strictly worse dps-wise than both Flame Shock and Earth Shock. The change should be something circuimstancal as well, not to make the talent overpowered. Here's some suggestions:

  • Improve the snare effect from Frost Shock by 2% per talent, for a total of 10% better snare. That means frost shock will reduce speed by 60%. This will make frost shock a better snare than Hamstring and Wing Clip, worse than Crippling Poison, identical to Frostbolt with Permafrost and Chilled to the Bone, worse than Cone of Cold with both talents, better than any frost mage ability without said talents, and identical to Slow, just to mention a few. I doubt that it'd make it overpowered.

  • Apply the range increase from Earth Shock to Frost Shock as well. Slightly boring, but handy.

  • If you hit a target affected by Frost Shock with your Thuderstorm, the target will be rooted for 2-3 seconds after it's been pushed back. The duration of the root must be small, not to make it overpowered. On the other hand, it mustn't be so small that the global cooldown of Thunderstorm eats it all away. I think this'd be one of the most interesting options for an upgrade.

  • If you hit a target affected by Frost Shock with your Thuderstorm, the effect spreads to all targets affected by thunderstorm, and the duration is refreshened. I like the earlier suggestions better, but I'm just brainstorming here.

  • The two suggestions above could also be triggered by Lava Burst instead of Thunderstorm. As long as it's triggered by something that has an inheret cooldown.

  • Casting frost shock on a target affected by Flame Shock can increase the snare by a total of 20-30%, making it a superior snare, but taking some time to set up. At least 10 seconds with Reverberation.

Another constructive suggestion: Make a Glyph of Thuderstorm that removes the pushback, but adds a small bonus useful for PVE. For example, increases the mana restored by Thunderstorm by 2%, or reduces the cooldown of Thunderstorm by 10 seconds. I guess something similiar could be argued for with other pushback-abilities, such as Blast Wave and Typhoon. The big difference is that both of those classes (Mage and Balance Druid) already have excellent AE, and that both of those abilities cost hefty amounts of mana and thus is less useful in PVE, while Thunderstorm is a button you (almost) want to press every time it's up.

Chances are pretty low that devs read my blog, so I may post it on the official suggestions forum.

Edit: Why did I mix up Tesla, Darwin and Watson?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Style vs game mechanics.

There are plenty of differences between various classes.

Lore divides the classes neatly, sometimes even dividing members of the same class from different races. Blood Knights vs Silver Hand paladins, anyone?

Game mechanics of course divides the different classes, even though some are shared. For example, all healing classes have a big, slow, cast-time, direct heal. On the other hand, plenty of other mechanics are different, ranging from armor proficiency to unique mechanics and spells.

The next part is closely tied to the lore, namely the theme of each class' abilities. The names of various abilities are usually a giveaway. Holy Light, anyone? Graphical display of the various abilities are another good pointer. Several of the druid graphics include leaves. I'd also put the look of class-spesific armor and weapons in those categories.

Then there's another game-mechanic side, namely balance issue. What makes a warrior a counter to a druid and death knight a counter to druid? The warrior can be immune to psychic scream and can limit the priest's movement indefinately. Similary, druids can't remove death knight diseases, and death knights can remove HoTs.

To me, the discussion can be summed up as style vs game mechanics. As noted in the title, I'll always envy some class ability of another healer, but that doesn't mean I have to envy the style as well. I try to ask myself, what kind of style feels most correct for me?

Priests' style are based on a mix of between prophets and angels. Armor that looks like wings and ahalo. Spells like Guardian Spirit and Spirit of Redemption. Greater Heal gives a brief display of a ritual circle on the ground when it hits the target. Plenty of abilities with "prayer" in it. All built around the concept of a connection to some higher power. The shadow part is a bit fuzzier. I have two respecs to shadow, for a grand total of about 1 hour of playtime, so I'm not planning to delve too deeply into that.

Druids' style are much more split between the different trees (no pun intended, actually). All are obviously focused around some aspect of nature. D'oh! It's kinda hard to miss that ferals embrace the animal aspect of nature. Restoration focus more on plants and (re)growing. Turning into a Tree is a sort of giveaway, right? Names like Regrowth and Living Seed also helps. The balance part is a bit strange. Part of it resolves around the night elf lore about the stars and the moon (Star- and Moonfire, respectively), other parts resolves around the Wrath of nature and some weather fenomens, such as Hurricanes and Typhoons. Finally, apart from the "Moon" in the name, how does Moonkin aka Space Chicken fit in?

The line between druid and shaman style are very thin some places, but generally, shamans are built on the idea that some people have an inherit ability to sense and communicate with (elemental) spirits, which does not include angelic spirits (those are the priest domain). They also harness their power through totems. Further, restoration shamans seem to be focused around the concept of the ocean and ancestral stuff. For example, (Lesser) Healing Wave, Riptide, Mana Tide Totem and plenty of talents with the word "Tidal". Riptide looks like you're washing someone with water, too. Enhancement are harder to pinpoint, but are at least somewhat focused around storms. Look at Thundering Strikes, Stormstrike and Maelstrom Weapon. Elemental also focus on storms with a bit of volcanic activity added in, from Lightning Bolt to Thunderstorm and Magma Totem to Lava Burst.

Paladins, finally, share some parts of the priestly style, but also focus on a different aspect of them. I will always associate them with the christian crusaders who killed, raped and looted in the name of their god. Which might explain why I don't like them all that much. Even being a blood knight, who care only for the power and not the ideals, didn't really remove the idea in my head. Anyway, paladins also share the angelic and divine aspect of priests, but instead focus more on the ideal of a martyr, a protector and an avenger, respective to each talent tree. More like a divine judge than a prophet.

Inheretly, I like the idea of not pushing your own ideas on others. That doesn't mean you can't share them, but not force them on others. To me, the idea of a judger/avenger/crusader really doesn't appeal to me. It doesn't help that I'm not a big fan of the class mechanics either. There are some, though. I like several aspects of paladin tanking, but find both their healing and dps incredibly boring. While it's nice to be completely immune to everything barring a non-focused priest nearby in PVP, the rest of the abilities are so-so. It got a lot better with 3.0, though. I may overcome my prejudice simply because I like the tanking. Doubt so, though. My desire to tank is a lot less than it was. Healing remains my first call.

That doesn't prevent me from envying some of their abilities now and then, though.

Putting paladins aside, there's three healing classes left which I all feel at least pretty comfortable playing, style-wise. Regarding game mechanics, I can adjust to any of them. Right now, I find priest and shaman most interesting. The primary problem with druids, the removal of endless lifebloom-rolling, has been fixed to a certain extent. I don't know. I'm still not ecstatic about druids. Part of the problem is that I like spells as a part of my arsenal. As a feral, I do technically have access to spells, but they don't pack a squat of a punch. Compare to an enhancement shaman, which is a more hybridish role, and one which I like more. That leaves me with balance and resto. It works, but I don't have a lot of motivation towards them right now.

Then there's the second part, style. Do I like the druid style? I do have a history as a boyscout... I guess I can relate (as opposed to paladins), but I'm not sure...

I like the mechanics of both shamand and priest. I'll just have to realize there'll never be any one class I find vastly superior to the other. I miss dispel (defensive) as a shaman. I miss the serious buffs totem bring as a priest.

What about style? To be completely honest, the priest style is a bit... unclear. Which means that it's hard not to have it appeal in some way. The shadow part doesn't appeal at all, but I've stayed safely away from that for quite some time anyway. I'm probably among an minority of priests that have actually specced holy dps for instancing. It worked quite well, actually, except for the fact that I constantly pulled aggro and had to drink a lot.

I like the shaman style, I think. I'm not more sure than it sounds. It's enough to keep me playing my shaman when I log on. It's probably not enough to keep me away from my priest or druid. There's also one other motivation, but that's more of a defect in my brain. I like shamans because it's one of the least populated classes. As I said, a defect.

Besides, druid is the only class I have that can tank. Unless I roll a DoucheKnight.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

3. LookingForGroup: I'm a healer. Instant invite.

For those wondering why I'm not on my druid or even priest: I don't have Wrath of the Lich King installed yet. I don't even see the point of it yet. Yes, I'll get it eventually and look forward to it and stuff, but I don't see the point in annoying myself by fighting over quest mobs with everyone else when I can have fun elsewhere.

So I'm playing my shaman, now lvl 63. About 2/3 of my XP from 60-63 is from instancing. 2xRamparts, 3xBlood Furnace, 1xSlave Pens, 1xUnderbog. Finding people for an instance has never been easier. During those runs, I've grouped with a rogue, a warrior, a paladin, a warlock and mage. And 23 death knight. Go figure.

For most of those runs, I healed as Enhancement. For Underbog and the last Blood Furnace run, I healed as resto. The last Blood Furnace run was slightly interesting: Apart from myself, the highest level was a 59 death knight. We were actually inbound for Ramparts, until the message: "Instance is full." had flashed on my chat log for a few times.

Some observations as Enhancement, using the glyphs of Flametongue Weapon and Windfury Weapon:

  • As enhancement, I had almost 600 healing spell power with totems up, without Blood Fury. 600! That's insane. With the old spelldamage system, that'd be equal to about 1100 +heal. As enhancement. Wow, that's a lot at lvl 62.

  • Healing Stream Totem was ticking for 70 health as enhancement, which was about 1-1.5% of each party members total health. Nothing will ever remotely come close the the mana efficiency on this baby.

  • 2xEarthliving Weapon meant 36% chance of proccing Earthliving, which ticked for a considerable amount.

  • Feral Spirit is a decent emergency button thanks to their taunt-ability. Still, they don't build up enough threat to really keep aggro away from me, and I guess that's intended. But on the bright side, their attacks heal me, giving me a decent chance of surviving aggro... if only I remember to equip a shield when I get aggro. Caught myself forgetting that several times. Speaking of forgetting, I also forgot Shamanistic Rage.

  • Maelstrom Weapon should in theory make me capable of staying in melee and healing quite well even so (even instantly). However, staying in melee makes it easier to pull aggro and allows less time to react, many mobs have silencing AoEs which can be avoided by staying further away, and I need to heal one more character, myself. On the bright side, water shield procced slightly more often, yielding a bit more mana to work with.

  • I need an addon which lets me know when Water Shield is down.
  • The ability to drop totems while silenced actually means I can do something to prevent a wipe while silenced. Stoneskin Totem, Grounding Totem and the occasional resistance totem can prevent some damage until the resto-buttons flash up again or silence wears off.

  • Speaking of stuff I forget, my resistance totems are so far unused, which is stupid. The last boss on Blood Furnace practically screams Fire Resistance Totem. Okay, what he actually screams is "Come closer... and BURN!". Even if I warned all three of the groups I was in about it, they still get caught in it all the time. Last time, I even got caught in it myself, misjudging it's range.

Some observations as Restoration, using the glyphs of Earthliving Weapon and Healing Stream Totem:

  • When I respecced resto, I lost a ton of healing spell power. With totems up, I only had about 300 healing spell, which meant that Lesser Healing Wave and Healing Wave healed for about the same as when I was Enhancement, and then only thanks to talents such as Purification and Tidal Waves.

  • What I gained, on the other hand, was a healing toolbox of healing tools.

    • Nature's Swiftness + Tidal Force (+ Blood Fury) + Healing Wave = Big instant heal.

    • (Improved) Earth Shield + Riptide + Earthliving Weapon + Healing Stream Totem = stability healer de luxe. Stability in this sense means a constant stream of incoming health to the tank, as opposed to having to rely on direct heals all the time.

    • Survivabilty of another dimension. When I called back Earth Shield to myself, riptided myself and spammed Lesser Healing Waves on myself, I could survive practically anything. The only time I've died as resto was at the last boss at Blood Furnace, and that was because I'd forgotten to heal myself up after his initial AoE. Earlier, I survived a double pull where mostly everyone died, except me and a blood knight.. and he had 104 health left when the last mob was down.

    • Tidal Waves is a fantastic talent. Since Riptide has a six second cooldown, it's practically up all the time. 1.05 sec LHWs? Yes, please.

    • Mana Tide Totem feels like a weak version of Innervate. Then again, it might be because I was grouped with only death knights except a warlock which life tapped anyway. Go figure.

    • I regret not testing out Ancestral Awakening. I'll do so on next resto-respec, dropping Improved Chain Heal and a point from Improved Earth Shield.

    • I will test out Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave and possibly Water Mastery next time I respec resto.

  • Even with Glyph of Healing Stream Totem and Restorative Totems, Healing Stream totem ticks for less than as enhancement. 60/tick as resto, opposed to 70/tick as enhancement. Something feels slightly wrong here...

Some other random observations:

  • I'm in love. Reincarnation is the best ability for a healer to have, ever. With a bit of judgement, it can either be a superior wipe recovery, or a way to make you survive any time of aggro whatsoever. Well, survive is a relative term. You understand what I mean.

  • I used to, but I no longer like multiple tanks. With a single tank, I can precast and if nescessary abort a big heal, to make sure I always got damage under control. With multiple tanks, I often end up loosing one member here and there. I suspect most death knights have yet to learn to switch to Frost Presence when they get aggro. Okay, I don't mind having an offtank sometimes, but with 3-4 death knights, aggro was jumping around like a frigthened frog, making it hard for me to keep up with the healing all the time. I've noticed a trend: The more exercise my Chain Heal button gets, the less good the group is. Not always, but often. With all that said, it's a lot easier to keep up a group where aggro flies around as resto than enhancement. Working as intended, in other words.

  • Death Knights seem capable of getting every physical buffing ability a shaman has to offer, and they don't stack. Horn of Winter = Strength of Earth Totem. Abomination's Might = Unleashed Rage. Improved Icy Talons = (Improved) Windfury Totem. But very few if any blood knight will have both Improved Icy Talons and Abomination's Might. On the bright side, being a shaman, I've got other totems to drop instead. Stoneskin Totem if I'm grouped with a blood death knight, and Wrath of Air Totem if I'm grouped with a frost death knight, at least as soon as I hit 64.

  • Earth Shield is a fantastic ability. I can see why they won't give it to a spirit-based healer class like priests and druids. In combination with my other stability tools, I often get extended "downtime" while healing. If I'd had decent spirit, that'd allowed me to gain a lot of mana back. But being more of an mp5 class, I don't get too much benefit from that. It'd be overpowered in the hands of a priest or druid. I expect there's a similar thinking behind the new paladin ability Sacred Shield.

  • Earthliving Weapon adds a new random factor to healing. Every healer already has crit as a random factor. Druids, depending most on HoTs, have the least amount of randomness to their healing in my book. It's pretty obvious that Blizz wants to change that, though. As it is now, I'm tempted to say shamans have the most randomness in their healing, but I'm not sure if it's true.

I decided that I didn't want to solo as resto, so I went ahead and respecced Elemental and glyphed Flametongue Weapon and Lightning Bolt. Now I'm looking forward to testing out Thunderstorm... especially in PVP. Did you hear a MOHAHAHAHAHA? No, it must've been your imagination.

There's a special thing, though. I'll try healing as elemental at some point (that's mainly why I picked Unrelenting Storm over Reverbation for PVP). When I do, I have to stay faaaar back not to hit mobs with my Thunderstorm when using it for mana regen. It's a perfect tools for pissing off the tank and physical dps, pull more mobs, and ensure a hillarious (or tragical) wipe all a the same time, when applied incorrectly.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Healing self-buffs.

Shamans got Earthliving weapon, which with Elemental Weapons improves healing done by spells by 195. I'm not sure that means the equivalent of improving healing by 195 spellpower (that is, 195*1.88) or just plain 195 healing. That's not the point right now.

Priests got Inner Fire, which with Improved Inner Fire improves spellpower by 174.

Both of these abilities are core. No talents. Further, the talents are in such a place that practically every lvl 80 shaman or priest will have them. Either they're discipline/enhancement already, or they'll off-spec from restoration/holy/elemental/shadow.

Why doesn't druids or paladins receive anything? Does that mean their spells are balanced on having lower +spellpower? From looking at descriptions only, it seems Holy Light vastly outperforms Greater Heal, which in turn outperforms Healing Touch.Finally, Healing Wave is at the very bottom of the scale. Perhaps it makes sense that Shamans got the "best" spellpower buff available (given it actually improves healing spellpower by 195. I'll have to test that.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Res please... no, wait...

When it hurts because you loose someone, that means you loved them.

I haven't had much chance to write. Not only because of the funeral, but that's a major part of it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Journal of a zombie hunter.

At about the same time as I wrote /envy shamans I picked up my lvl 52 shaman again, who had been stagnant since... some time. Before they made it easier to level 1-60, at least. And certianly before Water Shield.

Because of 3.0.2, all my talent points had been refunded. I specced into Enhancement, since I was planning on soloing a fair bit. Then I headed to Western/Eastern Plagueland to make zombes regret their unlife and grind skeletons into dust. At the moment she's lvl 56, with 0/47/0 build.

Some observations:
  • The change to Windfury Totem (from a weapon buff to allies to a flat 16-20% melee speed buff, depending on talents) rocks. Earlier, it was a totem reserved for grouping with warriors and retribution pallies. Now, it's also a superior self-buff while soloing... in addition to benefitting feral druids, rogues, pets... With Improved Windfury Totem, 20% faster auto-attacks... which synergizes with Flurry and Maelstrom Weapon. I love this totem.

  • The change to Flametongue Totem (from a weapon buff that noone ever had a use for to a spell healing/damage buff) also rocks. Another superior buff incoming, especially with Enhancing Totems.

  • The folding of Grace of Air Totem into Strength of Earth Totem is great as well. I don't feel it directly as I used to have Grace of Air totem out while soloing anyway, but now I can have that an Windfury together.

  • I like the change to Flametongue Weapon as well, using it on my off-hand. I'm packing the Glyph as well. Now I get a slightly less spiky and more stable dps, compared to earlier using 2xWindfury Weapon. Besides, bursts on the off-hand is a lot less interesting than bursts on the main-hand, due to the 50% reduced damage on the off-hand. I will have to try 2xFlametongue. More damage on my shocks at the expense of bursts. I wonder if the glyph works twice then, giving total of 4% spellcrit. I could also pick up another glyph rather than the Windfury glyph

  • Lava Lash is a neat spell to have on my hotbar, but doesn't really pack a lot of punch. But it's nice to have an extra button to push. Especially when silenced. More interactivity is rarely a bad thing. With that said, Lava Lash is the last ability I'll use if several are ready. I did skip Improved Stormstrike. 2 sec less on CD is nice, but significantly worse than most other talents. And the extra charges would be wasted, I have trouble spending them already. With Maelstrom Weapon maxed and Static Shock, perhaps I'd see the point.

  • Bloodfury no longer includes a healing debuff. Sweeet! And 2 min cooldown? It's a superb ability. Better than Berserking (which I have on my priest)? The only downside with Blood Fury is that it triggers the global cooldown unless almost every other metaspell, but that's fortunately getting changed in 3.0.3.

  • The change to spell pushback is a major buff. I can now reliably heal and throw out Chain Lightnings. Of course, Maelstrom Weapon makes it even easier, but I only got the first rank at lvl 55.

  • Mana is a nonexistant problem. Water Shield provides most of my needs (especially with Improved Shields), I use Healing Stream Totem while soloing. When I occasionaly run almost dry, Shamanistic Rage, often combined with Bloodfury, fills up my mana bar pretty quickly. Well, most of the time. Often I end up killing the mob within 4-5 seconds, leaving me with 10 seconds of "wasted" rage. No, I'm not complaining! On the other hand, without Water Shield I would have run into a lot more trouble. I skipped Static Shock because I prefer having water shield while soloing.

  • Thanks to the different talents and abilities (described in an earlier post), I'm packing 500 (!) bonus damage when Strength of Earth Totem and Flametongue totem is out. And then I can hit Blood fury for additional bonus damage. That's a lot! I mean, I didn't exceed that until about lvl 67-68 on my priest.

  • The change to merge +dam and +heal into spellpower is great. Now both my healing and damage spells pack a lot of punch. My lightning bolts hit for about 700-750. Compare that to my priest's smites at about 1000-1100 at lvl 70. Granted, she's healing specced, but even so... Naturally enough, my priest beats my shammies healing by heads and toes. Healing Wave heals for about 1500-1600. Greater Heal heals almost 5000.
  • I don't really feel the change to crit and hit gear (merged spellcrit and physical crit into crit, merged spellhit and physical hit into hit), but I know shammies are really benefitting from it. Looking forward to when I actually pick up +crit and +hit gear.

  • The other change, that 1 agility gives 1 AP (as opposed to 0 earlier) and 1 strength gives 1 AP (as opposed to 2 earlier) is also something I don't feel a lot. But it makes the decision to pick up agility gear easier.

Soloing has never been easier. Yellow mobs? With totems out, Stormstrike, Earth Shock and Lava Lash, complete with a Windfury proc and the auto-attack during the same time are usually enough to kill. Orange mobs? Easily soloed, but it takes a bit longer.

I killed a lvl 60 (non-elite) mob at lvl 55. No sweat. I survived 5 equal level mobs, on three different occasions. Only one of those times did I use a healing potion. I soloed a lvl 57 elite at lvl 54. Piece of cake.

I feel a bit overpowered, but I'm having a lot of fun.

Debating what talents to pick up at 62. Until 61, I'll be more enhancement (0/52/0) then I'm a bit less certain. But heck, that's a minor problem.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Healing through walls

Tested yesterday, and it's still possible to heal through the walls using Prayer of Healing. That is, it doesn't check for line of effect, only range.

That's rather interesting. With Holy Reach, PoH attains a reach of 36 yards, almost the same as the standard 40 yards healing range. While there are other spells that have similar effects (Holy Nova and Circle of Healing being the most obvious candidates), none other have such a massive range.

Since you have a wall between you and your healing target, it's almost always safe to blow a full cast-time spell. There's two questions still waiting, though. Does it have enough healing throughput (hps)? How's the mana efficiency?

Let's look at the last question first. Warning, theorycrafting incoming.

PoH efficiency and throughput

Let's look at the best case. The priest in question is specced Holy (which isn't such a bad idea, now that damage is through the roof in PVP. Blessed Resilience is more useful than ever). I include the following talents:

Test of Faith is also a nice talent for this purpose, but doesn't always apply.

I have no idea how much spellpower a lvl 80 healing PVP priest packs, but I assume it's somewhere near 2500, including talents and abilities such as Spiritual Guidance and (Improved) Inner Fire. That is a pure guess, but please entertain me with the thought. That will increase all healing spells by up to 1.88*2500 = 4700. Pretty hefty number.

Now, Prayer of Healing's base healing is (2091+2209)/2 = 2150. A 3-second cast-time spell receives 3/3.5 of +heal, unless the rules have changed. It gets penalized for being an AoE healing spell, divided by 3. Thus, it gets a bonus of 4700 * 3 / (3.5 * 3) = ~1343, for a total of 2150 + 1343 = 3493 before talents. Talents modify this, 3493*1.1*1.1 = 4227 average healing per target.

Base cost is 48%. With Healing Prayers, that's reduced to 38.4% base mana. Healing Per Percentage of Base Mana (hppbm) = 4227 health per target / 38.4 % base mana = 110 health per target per base mana. Healing throughput = 4227 health per target / 3 sec = 1409 health per target per second. The "per target" part is interesting.


I choose to compare it to Flash Heal. Part of the reason is that I know of course that nothing will ever come close to Greater Heals mana efficiency given you've picked up all the talents boosting it. The other part of the reason is that Flash Heal is the most likely spell you'd pick for that purpose, apart from ducking around the corner to tossing some instants.

I'll evaluate it to the best and worst case of Flash Heal.

Flash Heal best case

Best case: Maxed out Empowered Healing and using the Glyph of Flash Heal.

Flash Heal, average (1887 + 2193) / 2 = 2040. Incrased by 4700 * 1.5 * 1.2 (Empowered Healing) / 3.5 = 2417. Total of 4457. Further incrased by Spiritual Healing to 4457 * 1.1 = 4903.

Mana efficiency: 4903 / (18 * 0.9 (the glyph)) = 303 hppbm. Compare that to PoH's 110 per target per percentage base mana, and it's almost three times higher on a single target. On two targets, it's 303 vs 220. On three targets, 303 vs 330.

Healing throughput: 4903 / 1.5 = 3269 per sec. Well over twice PoH's 1409 per target per sec on a single target. Getting close at two targets, 2818 per sec, and miles behind on three targets, 4227 per sec.

Flash Heal worst case

No Empowered Healing, no Glyph of Flash Heal.

Flash Heal, average (1887 + 2193) / 2 = 2040. Incrased by 4700 * 1.5 / 3.5 = 2014. Total of 4054. Further incrased by Spiritual Healing to 4459.

Mana efficiency: 4459 / 18 = 248 hppbm. Significantly worse than best case. Compare that to PoH's 110 per target per percentage base mana, and it's still a lot better to use Flash Heal on a single target. On two targets, it's 248 vs 220, pretty close. On three targets, 248 vs 330.

Healing throughput: 4459 / 1.5 = 2973 per sec. Still twice PoH's 1409 per target per sec on a single target. Very close at two targets, 2818 per sec, and again miles behind on three targets, 4227 per sec.

There's one other obvious comparison we ought to include. If you're already planning to heal yourself and one other target, we have a spell for that purpose...

Binding Heal

There's one problem here. I have no clue how well Binding Heal scales. Identical to Flash Heal? Half as good? I'll just have to assume it scales identical to flash heal.

Quickly, best case: (2230 base avg healed + 4700*1.5*1.2 (Empowered Healing)/3.5)*1.1(Spiritual Healing)*1.1(Divine Providence) = 5623 per target. Since it heals exactly two targets, 11246 healing done.

Mana efficiency: 11246 / 27 = 417 hppbm. Healing throughput: 11246 / 1.5 = 7497 (!) hps.

Worst case (still with Divine Providence, since I'm comparing to PoH): (2230 base avg healed + 4700*1.5/3.5)*1.1(Spiritual Healing)*1.1(Divine Providence) = 5136 per target. Two targets = 10271.

Mana efficiency: 10271 / 27 = 380 hppbm. Healing throughput: 10271 / 1.5 = 6847 hps.


Working as intended

Flash Heal is much better on a single target. Binding Heal is a heck of a lot better on two targets if you're one of them. Then there's also the risk of "missing" because unlike targeted heals, you don't get any error message if the intended target is out of range.

That doesn't change the fact that you can surprise someone with this trick, but it remains very circuimstancal.