Sunday, January 31, 2010

Diseases last insanely short in WoW...

...compared to real life, where you can be knocked out for almost a week easily.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tree-healing, gotta find your roots.

I'll make one blog post about each of the healer classes and what I like and don't like about them.

Demand 1:

PVE healing style that fits me

I generally enjoy druid-healing. I've always - or at least since BC - thought that a good druid healer is a godsend to any raid. While they're not able to keep up everyone alone, on any encounter where a large part of the raid often take damage, they can ease the damage taken by spreading out their hots. A druid healers' throughput when they've got hots running everywhere is rivaled only by paladins spamming glyphed Holy Light through their beacon, if all of it is effective healing. Paladins are also the only to rival druids at overhealing. Can't stop the hot from ticking even if the target has been healed up, after all.

Druids also make good tank-healers. With 3-5 hots rolling and glyphed Nourish to cover spikes, they've got solid tank-healing.

I also like the fact that Nourish with Nature's Grace and Nature's Bounty has so good throughput while still being a short cast when massive healing is required.

Another good thing for PVE healing is Barkskin. It can when properly used help them staying alive through large bursts.

Druids lack any buffs which gives a good reason to stack several druids, like shamans and paladins can provide a bigger range of buffs when there are several of them available. They also lack any kind of damage reduction ability on the tank, such as Pain Suppression and Hand of Sacrifice, so they've got to heal through it all. Nature's Swiftness + Healing Touch is the closest thing they've got to an emergency button. It's not too bad, but it lacks the scaling of Pain Suppression and the like. However, they're the only healing class with a battle res, which can in some cases enable you to avoid the wipe despite losing a tank or something earlier.

All in all, I believe I'm fine with their PVE healing.

Demand 2:

Potential as PVP healer

Well, reading at, it seems druids are not in that bad position. They're generally regarded as the "outlasting" healer, as opposed to disc priests who are better fit in arena teams where the goal is to win in less than a minute, max two.

In battlegrounds/Wintergrasp/world PVP, they have the advantage that they can away from most fights. Particularly if they're healing, then they usually have a decent range from the action when they start noticing things go bad and run. Innervate is also awesome for mana regen.

What I don't like with druids in PVP is two connected problems. One is that their healing and survivability potential is tied to staying in tree-form. They have a rather serious arsenal of crowd-control abilities, but need to drop tree-form to do anything apart from healing, which in most cases means at least a 10% drop in healing done until they return to tree again and a drop in damage mitigated = easier to die. The other problem is that I feel a resto druid seriously lacks dps. Granted, healers aren't "supposed to" be good dps, but they're really only beaten by holy paladins in the "bad dps" apartment. It's very handy in arena that the healer can put out some dps when you need to burst someone down. Besides, doing dps as a druid healer destroys any advantage they have in mana-conservation over other healers.

Conclusion: Druid healer PVP is not my personal favorite.

Demand 3:

Potential as ranged dps

This is a less important demand, but I consider it an advantage if I could have a dual-spec healer who can also do ranged dps. I can do melee dps with my DK if I desperately want to. To be the best healer I can be, the optimal situation is to have two healer specs, one PVP and one PVE. However, since I'm not doing anything cutting-edge, I'd stick with a PVP healer spec and use that for PVE as well. The difference isn't that noticeable for anything below serious raiding.

Ranged druid dps translates to boomkin. Hm. Getting good balance dps is highly dependant on squeezing the maximum benefit of Eclipse. And Eclipse procs randomly on Wrath and Starfire. I left Frost because I didn't like the proc-watching, and this isn't much better.

There's also another reason why I don't want to be boomkin. I've yet to meet a single boomkin in PVP as my DK that actually posed a serious threat against me in 1 vs 1. Of course they are dangerous if left alone, but their dps is nada and they can't keep me off as long as I'm focusing on them. I use Anti-magic shell to go immune to Nature's Grasp, Death Grip to stop them from Cycloning me after Typhoon, I interrupt any of their nature spells with Mind Freeze, and got Strangulate for any kind of emergency or just chain it with Mind Freeze to really stop them from casting spells. Their instant-healing (Rejuvenation and Lifebloom) isn't strong enough to keep them alive for long, and I'll stop any attempt to use cast-time heals. I can see how they can pose a threat if they can live through my initial arsenal of shorter cooldowns, in effect with a healer to back them up. However, they'd be terrible with a healer in arena. If I'm sticking with my DK on top of them, I can stop a lot of their dps.

So... ranged druid dps is not my cup of poison.

Second options

I could go cat-dps with a druid. While I have done some cat dps earlier, I've never done so while kitty-specced and glyphed. I kinda like the kitty dps style, it's fairly challenging to put out good dps. Can even tank a random heroic in kitty-spec, but not in a raid. Which is fine for me.


I like the druid feel. Protectors or avenger of nature, or any other RP variant. Ironically from one who also enjoy the death knight feel, they are practically opposites.


Possible, but not probable

I like druid healing fairly well. They've got potential for PVP, with a minor annoyance for me. I don't like druid tanking or ranged dps. So, while I can make it work, I'll test my other options first.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Confessions of an altoholic

I've always been weak for female tauren. I'm sure Freud would've had something to say about that. Like the female dwarf, they aren't sexy to the point of being extreme. They are ... cute, in their own way. What's more, they are, along with female dwarfs, the least populated gender/race combination in the game. I've always enjoyed being a bit underdog.

Anyway, I wasn't going to write a full post about my psychological relationship with my characters. However, I was intending to write down in which order I've played the various classes.

My third character ever was a female tauren druid. My first two were a white-haired female gnome mage, and a dark-skinned female dwarven priest. I reached level 12 before deciding I'd much rather be horde. The druid made it to level 30, then I deleted her because I had built up quite a bit of bad rep with my temper. I decided that I wouldn't let my temper get the better of me in 5-mans with my next character. It took time before I managed to fulfill that decision, though.

My next character was a troll priest, Zuna. At this time my wife started playing, and made a troll rogue. After getting Zuna up to 60 - which took almost two years, I was a primary roleplayer at that time - I decided I wanted a druid again and rolled Ayeba on a RPPVP server, and levelled her alone when my wife and I couldn't play together. RPPVP servers didn't exist at the time I created Zuna. I got her to 60 right before Burning Crusade. My first raiding experience was raiding Zul'Gurub with Zuna.

When BC hit, I created Tirvin, my paladin. Again solo. For some time he was my main, then I returned to both Zuna and Ayeba. I never managed to decide whether to stick to Zuna or Ayeba, and so I took turns playing each of them. My wife stuck to her rogue all the time. Got them both to 70 right before the end of Burning Crusade.

When WotLK hit, my wife was almost done with WoW. She had a druid at low level which she played with my paladin. We got them as far as level 61, then she more or less topped played. I left Zuna at 70, played a bit with Ayeba up to 72ish, and left her alone. Then I rolled an orc shaman, Kirba, and got her up to 80. After having Kirba as my main for a while, I decided I wanted a tank, and leveled Ayeba to 80. Kirba was put on the sideline, Ayeba was my new main.

At some point I picked up a low-level paladin on another server and levelled her to 71, and abruptly stopped. I also got my taste of a serious raiding force. They needed a shaman more than a druid, so I played a lot to get Kirba up to date on equipment, dashed through Trial of the Crusader 10-man, and wiped several times on Mimiron hard mode. My one night of raiding.

At this point I created my Death Knight, Vigan. Played with him a bit, and loved it. Leveled him fairly quickly to 80 and made him my new main.

Now I'm at another crossroad; Which character to pick up again as my healer?

My options:
  • My druid Ayeba. She's already geared for healing the new heroics, making it faster.
  • My shaman Kirba. She's geared as well.
  • My priest Zuna. She's level 73 now. However, I've played with her a lot earlier, it was almost nostalgic when I ran a few dungeons with her again.
  • My paladin on the other server at level 71. Not Tirvin. I need to keep Tirvin at that level in case my wife wants to start playing again. In which case she'll most likely want to pick up her druid rather than her rogue, as she seemed to enjoy healing more than dps.

I have healed, and enjoyed, all the healing classes in various stages of the game. What to do now? I'm not sure. In fact, I'm very unsure what to do.

I'll be creating separate posts outlining what I like and dislike about the various healer classes. I'm fairly certain I've done that earlier. However, I consider myself a bit more experienced now, and have had some viewpoints changed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just when I thought healing was soooo last year...

Just when I thought I was happy with my DK... I suddenly feel like healing again. Bah. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I can imagine why, too.

My current theory is that I've hit the "roof" with my DK. The only thing left to do with him is serious raiding - which I can't do because I can't meet any raid force attendance requirement - and arena PVP - which I can only do in limited amounts due to the same limit. So, I run my daily random heroic and some pug raids, but generally, there's not much more to do with my DK.

So, I've reasoned a bit. Obviously I can't heal as a DK. However, I can tank as a DK. What's more, I like it a lot.

If I could, I'd prefer to have only one character to rep and gear up. Originally, the plan was to get a character that could both tank and heal. In effect, a druid or a paladin. However, as noted in the last post, I've come to dislike the druid spam-tanking, thus they are no longer an option. That leaves paladins. I've never liked them too much... which is an elitist opinion I'd rather rid myself of. They are still an option. I even leveled a paladin once to 71 on a different server. It's an option to pick her up again. I'm seriously considering it.

Anyway, since I joined the dark side, I've thought that I no longer need a healing class; I'm happy being tank in PVE and dps in PVP. Worked for me for a while, too... 3 months? That's quite decent for me.

Now, I want to heal again. Apart from the paladin option, that means I have to keep up two characters. Still possible.

The question, which of the characters to pick up? My priest (72), druid (80) or shaman (80)? Obviously I make it much easier for myself if I go for either of the latter two.

The character I want to heal with need to work for me both in PVP and PVE. "Work" is a relative term. It means they have to be effective enough to not annoy myself to death in PVP, and have a playstyle I'm comfortable with in both PVE and PVP. Every healer class works in PVE, as a matter of fact.

So, I ran through heroic Pit of Saron with both my druid and my shaman as healers to gauge how well I liked them. Then I ran a few random dungeons with my priest. I need to test PVP later.

Okay, the comparison between my druid and my shaman wasn't quite fair. I got a crittable, slightly underequipped, and less experienced tank with my druid. I still liked him, though, he was willing to learn. My shaman got an ICC equipped pally tank. Talk about difference.

First thought: Addons make a hell of a lot of difference. Having Grid set up to tell me exactly what hots/buffs were on each party member and how much damage they had taken made all the difference in the world. Without addons, healing is a lot harder, in my opinion.

Second thought: I'm rusty. It know the classes as I've healed a lot with each of time. However, it took time to put myself back in the healing mindset again. In fact, I found tanking a lot less stressful than healing. With a bit practice, it'll come back again.

This post was getting awfully long, so I chose to split it into more than one post.

Friday, January 8, 2010

DK vs Druid tanking

(Note: I decided not to spend the time parsing all spell names to wowhead-links. If someone miss that, let me know in a comment, and I'll start doing it again.)

I decided to test out the new instances with my druid, Ayeba. She's geared enough for that place, but far from overgearing it. I tanked Forge of Souls heroic and healed Pit of Saron heroic. I might discuss the healing in another post, but for now I'll focus on the tanking side.

Okay... where to start...

Gathering the mobs

First, Death Knights have a HUGE advantage when attempting to gather mobs. Against "ordinary" melee mobs, I need to get close enough to hit them all with swipe at least once. I'm used to dropping a Death and Decay (which is really rather big) and it will tag almost all mobs so they'll run to me. Slightly irritating, but I can live with that.

Now, what about ranged mobs? Uh-oh... bad stuff. Druids have no way of moving them at all to where you want to tank them, apart from getting aggro and breaking Line of Sight on them. Bash? Stuns them, they just start casting from the exact same position when the stun fades. Feral Charge? Immobilizes them for exactly as long as the interrupt lasts.

In effect, any group with at least two spellcasters who aren't already grouped are a pain. Consider the third group in FoS (excluding the single skull): as a druid I have to run back and forth all the time to keep aggro on all. It is also possible to keep aggro on a single ranged by hitting him with Feral Faerie Fire every time it's off cooldown, but painful. While running, I risk putting my back towards the melee mobs, killing all the avoidance I have.

Death Knights have... Death Grip! Oh, how I love it. But also Mind Freeze, usually causing the spellcaster to follow for as long as the spell school is locked out, and Strangulate to silence at range, guaranteeing that they will come to you. And I don't even need to collect them all to keep aggro on them: If I target a mob in the middle, I can keep aggro in a 30 yards range. Pestilence has 15 yards ranged glyphed in every direction, and once I've got diseases ticking, I can usually hold threat on them.

Health and avoidance

My druid had 45k health during the run... but some 40% avoidance. My DK has only 34k health self-buffed, but almost 60% avoidance. I do notice the difference. Avoidance stacking is not recommended, but I don't recommend stamina stacking either. If damage taken is fairly low, though, Improved Leader of the Pack rocks with a high max-health.

Generally, it's a trade-off, with both having their advantages. However, the tank will require more healing over the course of a raid or instance the lower avoidance is.

Emergency buttons

Druids have 3 emergency buttons.

A bear-tree? Tree-bear?

Barkskin is solid, -20% damage from all sources, lasts 12 sec, only 1 min cooldown, and doesn't cost any resources at all. It (usually) lasts longer than Bone Shield, provides more damage reduction than Unbreakable Armor and works against magic as well. Bonus that it can be used while feared or stunned.


Frenzied Regeneration is a bit so-and-so in itself. It's very costly on rage, meaning that it's hard to get off any other rage attacks while it's on without hurting it, but glyphed it's pretty good. +20% healing taken compared to Vampiric Blood's +35% healing taken. Lasts fairly short, though, only 10 sec, compared to Vampiric Blood's 15 sec glyphed duration.

Must survive. Must survive.

Survival Instincts is rock solid. Increases current and max health by 45% (glyphed) of your total health for 20 sec. More than Vampiric Blood's 15%, and lasts longer.

Druid roundup

Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regeneration work extremely well together. God-like survivability. That's both an advantage and a disadvantage: Many times I feel I have to save both for the same time, because Frenzied Regeneration isn't too powerful on it's own. So, you get either a fairly good 1-min CD and a superb 3-min CD (combining both), or you get a fairly good 1-min CD, one decent 3-min CD and one good 3-min CD.

The same logic can be applied to any tanking class: of course you get a much better CD if you combine two at the same time. But all CDs should be powerful enough on their own to be worth using alone. I don't feel Frenzied Regeneration is, particularly not unglyphed.

The next sad thing is that you have to glyph two survivability cooldowns, leaving you only one for threat-generation or utility.

OMG Owerpowered magic-ignoring stuff

Now, DKs. They have Anti-magic shell, which has 3 simultaneous effects. First, it absorbs 75% of spell damage taken for it's duration. Second, it prevents the application of any negative stuff and suppresses debuff auras for its duration. Third, it converts spell damage absorbed into runic power. It also works on poisons, diseases and curses. It has low duration, 5 sec unglyphed (and no tanks I've ever seen choose to glyph it), but also a fairly short CD of 45 sec.

There are fights where AMS doesn't help at all. However, I think most boss fights feature something AMS shell works against.

I love AMS. It almost trivializes some fights, like Goarfrost where you can reset the debuff stack, and Falric, where it suppresses his -75% healing and damage done debuff for it's duration, allowing you to be healed fully up.

Chill out, dude

Icebound Fortitude is possibly the most powerful DK cooldown. In non-tanking gear, it reduces damage taken by 20%, equal to Barkskin or Bone Shield. At 540 defense (raid boss crit immunity) it reduces damage taken by 41%. At 600 defense it grants 50% damage reduction, same as Divine Protection. Most DKs have something in-between, meaning it mitigates between 41% and 50%. Quite solid. It also grants stun immunity, but this is very rarely important in PVE. It's a solid cooldown.

Rise and ... never mind, die again

Death Pact provides instantly 40% of total health back. Usually used with Raise Dead, but can also be used with Army of the Dead or Summon Gargoyle. The latter is a very rare talent in a tank build, though. I like it. Especially poweful when combined with Vampiric Blood, restoring 54% of your health. Less powerful in raids, but does have it's place to help the healers overcome a spike.

1 min talent CDs

Each talent tree has a tanking cooldown: Vampiric Blood for ... guess what, Blood. Unbreakable Armor for Frost. Bone Shield for Unholy. Personally, I think Vampiric Blood is the best of these three cooldowns. The other two are fairly good too. Unbreakable Armor does nothing against magic damage, and Bone Shield is a bit unstable; it can fade in as fast as 6 seconds, or last for 5 min... though the latter is very unlikely. The nice thing about Bone Shield, though, is that you can pre-cast it and have it ready again when you enter combat, so you can "chain" it from the start of a fight, or have it up at the start and use it again before 1 min has passed. Bone Shield's duration can be extended by combining Bone Shield with an activated avoidance trinket, like Glyph of Indomitability.

The downside of all these three cooldowns is that they require a rune... which means you either must save one rune until you need it (loss of threat), wait until it comes off cooldown when you need it (risky) or combine it with Blood Tap which also has a 1 min cooldown. I have a macro which I press without modifiers to cast the CD, and press with shift to cast Blood Tap -> CD.

Wait wait, another talent CD

In addition to the 1-min CD, Blood and Unholy has another tanking CD you can spec into.

For 4 talent points in Blood you can have Improved Rune Tap, which restores 20% of your health on a 30 sec at the cost of a blood rune. Frost and Unholy tanks can get the 10% health on a 1 min cooldown without sacrificing much. However, only blood tanks can really use this talent well. To effectively use it, you need to save a blood rune for it (loss of threat, loss of blade barrier), wait until it's off cooldown (risky) or use it with Blood Tap (which means you can't use it with your 1-min CD) or with Empower Runic Weapon (5-min cooldown). I don't like it. Blood has much easier access to blood runes since you can turn both unholy and frost runes into death runes. The unimproved version isn't very powerful at all. The improved version is fairly good, especially combined with the rest of Blood's arsenal like Vampiric Blood, then it restores 27%.

Unholy tanks can spend 4 talents points as well to get Anti-Magic Zone. 3 of those points boost AMS to 100% and reduces spell damage taken by 6% at all times. Anti-magic Zone requires an Unholy rune, and thus is a bit unpractical. However, it can absorb a ton of magic damage, well worth spending Empower Runic Weapon on if you need. It lasts for 10 sec or until it's absorbed enough damage, then fades. Unfortunately it's extermely stationary. It's a very circuimstancal cooldown, and can really shine on some bosses. Since it also absorbs damage on your party, it has extra utility.

Frost doesn't have a second cooldown, but Icebound Fortitude lasts 16 sec for a frost tank, compared to 10 sec for everyone else.

My flesh was only getting in my way

Army of the Dead can be used in one of two ways. While channeling the army (4 sec), you take reduced damage equal to your parry + dodge chance, which means somewhere between 40% and 60% damage reduction. However, the duration is painfully short, and you can't avoid anything at the same time. Statistically you will take the same damage in the long term against dodge/parryable attacks. However, against attacks which are unparryable/undodgable, it will still reduce damage. It is very circumstantial to use the army this way.

The second way of using the army is that it will taunt anything lower level than a raid-boss. Each skeleton dies pretty fast, though, so it's only a temporary help. The main problem is that you can't taunt the boss of them again until they're gone, or they'll just retaunt. Their taunt seem to have a 1 sec cooldown EACH. That means you can't move the boss where you want him or her, and that can prove death for your group certain places. Against a raid boss, they will provide a bit extra damage and fodder for Death Pact, but nothing else.

Desperate measures

If all other cooldowns are on ... cooldown, it is possible to spam Death Strike like crazy. For a Blood or Unholy tank it restores 15% of your health for each DS that hits, and 10% for a frost tank. Combine it with Empower Runic Weapon and you can theoretically restore 60% of your health (without Vampiric Blood) over 4 GCDs.

DK roundup

DKs have a lot of cooldowns. The main difference between theirs and a druids' is that many of their cooldowns are very circuimstancal. I believe they're better if you can use them in the right circuimstances, but for general-purpose they're about equal.


Any properly equipped tank can hold aggro on a single target without any trouble at all, barring a string or dodges/parries from their target.

Well, not true. A druid must choose to spend his GCDs swiping (generating AoE threat) or Mangling/Lacerating/Fairie Firing (generating single target threat). Maul will usually be macroed to all those attacks, causing your auto-attacks to generate solid amounts of threat. Glyphed it will even hit two targets. However, I found that I was not always able to hold threat on my primary target while only swiping: I had to throw a mangle or something to stick an enemy to me.

Even spamming swipe, I felt that my AoE threat was only on par with a blood DK. That might be because my DK is better geared than my druid now, but it was very annoying still. Frost and Unholy seem able to put out much more AoE threat.

This is the part of druid tanking I hate the most, and the reason I switched to a DK in the first place; The endless, mindless spamming. Granted, a DK rotation can also be viewed as a bit spammy, but a 20 sec rotation is much more interesting than a 6 sec rotation. And AoE is much smoother as a DK. You drop Death and Decay and get some threat on all enemies, then you hit your primary target with Icy Touch and Plague Strike and then pestilence. The two single-target attacks on your primary target + auto-attacks provide enough threat to hold the primary target to you. Then you weave your abilities as you best see fit.

Conclusions, sort of

I hate swipe-spamming. Otherwise druids are okay. I'll definitely stick to my DK for now.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Your daily heroic addiction-shot

This post is based on a nagging feeling I've had lately. Let me take it from the start.

Let's assume we can divide the player-base into three parts. On one end, we have the hardcores. I define them as players logging on every day. It doesn't matter if you're not actually raiding or doing arenas or anything, you just log on every day to do whatever you like to do in WoW.

On the other end of the scale, we have the very casuals, who just log now and then. They don't spend much off their time when they're not logged on thinking about WoW. They might be pure RPers, or just level alts (or mains) very slowly. They have no goals such as "become level 80, down a specific boss, obtain a specific item".

On the middle end, you have the group of moderate casuals. They log on regularly, but not every day. They have goals, and might even raid. However, they have a measure of control over their game-time and are generally not addicts.

Enter the daily heroic

I belong mostly in the last group, the moderate casuals. At least used to. Okay, I've always had a lot of playtime on release of new content, but generally. Now I'm feeling I belong more in the first group. Why? Because I feel I lose something if I don't log on every day to do the daily heroic random. Somehow, it's gotten worse in patch 3.3. In 3.2, I knew that whatever gear I acquired with Emblems of Triumph were much easier to get in 3.3, and it was a lot of places dropping them. VoA, Onyxia, Trial of the Champion...

I like doing the daily random heroic, but I don't like the fact that I feel forced to play every day. The "forcing" is of course all in my own mind. It feels like it's pushing me further into WoW-addiction.