Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kae's Cata Resto-Talents Ponderings, Sept 2010

As usual, I am tentative about posting Cataclysm stuff when it's not official beyond beta testing and not as close to release as I'd like, but with the months ticking down and the resto talent tree still looking unpolished, I did want to dig in and voice my concerns with it.

First, to make a point, let's add up the total talent points in all of the trees:
  • Balance: 41
  • Feral: 44
  • Resto: 45
45 talent points. Feral's 44 include talents that are specific to only bear or cat: specializations allow them to easily skip some that are inapplicable to their role, while resto has a very limited number of inapplicable talents (and that only out of pvp vs pve). The resto tree is a bit heavy on useful talents, making the talent specification process very difficult; nevermind attempting to still pick up some useful healing talents in the balance tree.

Talent Commentary

Moonglow, Genesis and NG (balance):
I'd like to see Nature's Grace and Moonglow (or Genesis) swapped in places in the talent tree. I don't think such a swap would impact moonkin badly, and it would save restos some wasted talent points off of a haste talent that is supposed to proc off of a DPS ability. I am mostly bothered by the need to spend so many points in DPS talents to reach the healing talents in the second teir of the balance tree, especially as we are unlikely to then be able to reach both healing talents and are forced to choose between half of moonglow or half of genesis (or to forgo healing talents in the resto tree to get 5 points to split between them).

If mana is truly the problem the beta-testers are complaining of, I can see some restos looking to the 15% mana pool increase as a possible way to alleviate mana problems. While I don't think it needs to be moved, I did want to point it out, as it still is a talent of interest in the whole "how do I spec?" question.

The First Row of Resto:
9 talent points all useful to a resto druid. This is a heavy hand of points to have to spend. Naturalist is dependant on how often we are casting our longer heals. Blessing of the Grove could potentially be skipped if you can put those points instead into Genesis (which is a more powerful boost), but that requires you to forego Moonglow.

Genesis vs Blessing of the Grove:
BotG (2/2): 4% healing to rejuv. Genesis (2/3): 4% to all HoTs and swiftmend. Keep this in mind when building your own specs, as there are opportunities to replace BotG with Genesis, assuming you need to put points in Naturalist.

Fury of the Stormrage:
If we're having mana problems and need to actually be spending our GCDs on healing, will we have the time to throw around DPS spells? Wrath has a 2.5 second base cast time. Considering it is opening up a mana talent (Malfurion's Gift) for OoC procs off of LB ticks (rather than just spellcasts) I worry at the points being shoved into a flavor talent.

Swift Rejuvenation:
As a deep-tree talent, you can easily yank a point or two based on your haste. The talent allows you to have a capped GCD for Rejuvenation, without any haste on your gear. While it sounds like they don't want us capping to the 1second GCD from haste alone, this talent is one that is more flexible based on gear. In addition, some players may not even make good use of this talent without being impeccably aware of their changing GCD timer: a fluctuation from 1.3 seconds (for example) to 1.0 seconds depending on what spell you cast in the heat of a busy combat is tiny and easily missed. We all have an internal timer that we develop for our keystrokes around successful spellcasts, anyway, and it can be difficult to alter it for rejuvenation alone. So, when looking at this talent, you need to be honest with yourself about how useful it is at your gear level with 2 points, or if you would be better served with 1 point or 0 (compared to other talent options).

DPS talents: Take your Pick
Overall, it appears that we can't really get away with a pure healing build. We are currently forced to pick up a pure DPS talent somewhere. These are a couple options I created while toying around:
  • Moonfire and IS: the insta-cast DoT spells: these are quick to cast, but cost you precious mana. NG and Genesis both build on these DoTs, as does Blessing of the Grove. With NG, each DoT will proc you 15% spell haste which will apply to your healing spells, which not only impacts your GCD (should you notice the proc and slightly faster timer) but also your nourish, HT, and regrowth casts. You could replace Genesis with moonglow to help reduce mana cost, as this particular build appears to be much more of a mana hog than the one below.
  • Wrath and Starfire: with Fury of the Stormrage, wrath will have a cast time, but no mana. This also opens up Malfurion's Gift, making the build reliant upon lifebloom to be efficient: this is a build for tank healers, certainly (or some very glorious mana returns when you go ToL and blanket the raid in lifebloom). You can replace NG with Starlight Wrath to reduce your wrath to a 2-second base cast time, though the points spent in the resto tree will limit how many you can feasibly put into the balance tree. I left Swift Rejuv off due to the lifeblooming build this spec lends itself towards.

Point Adjustments: the Solution?
Ultimately, the resto tree is heavy on talents, and I think it would be best served by reducing the number of points it takes to max out some of the talents from 3 to 2, such as Nature's Bounty, Revitalize, and/or Living Seed and Efflorescence. This would free up more talent points to put into the more questionable talents like Naturalist, or into the balance tree's yummy healing 2nd-tier talents (for example, this build or this one, assuming that revitalize and nature's bounty were reduced to 2/2 rather than 3/3). Even 2 points freed up would be adored; 3 points would be quite useful as it would then reopen options like full Naturalist or Genesis+Moonglow, together with Swift Rejuv. This would also prevent the need to ignore or complain about DPS talents, as Blizzard seems to be pushing us towards picking up some DPS versatility.

Otherwise, swapping NG and it's DPS-triggered haste proc with either moonglow or genesis would probably make many druids happy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Mashup of Commentary

A bunch of topics that I don't really feel like making separate posts for.

  • CATA TALENTS: the talent tree for resto is still confusing me, with its tendency towards dps talents. The feral tree is nicely straight-forward and I can put a build together without issue, but the resto tree is not nearly so cut-and-dry in terms of talents. I think much of this stems from not knowing exactly what to expect with mana management and spell use, as well as time available for DPS (regardless of free wraths).
  • CATA GUILD RECRUITENT: I've noticed a lot of people apping specifically to join a guild for the expansion, rather than for current raiding. I have a bit of advice: if you're going to play as a different character for Cataclysm (or are willing to level and play a different character as a main), make sure you SAY that in your application so that the guild can plan around that class and role, rather than your current main. Linking to your current main is only useful in terms of showing off the care you give to your gear, spec, and reputation-grinding.

  • SAWMILL: I went to a sawmill late last week. Live, operational, industrial sawmill. I watched as trees were methodically turned to lumber. The resto druid in me was screaming... but I couldn't hear her over the earplugs necessary to protect my ears from the screech of metal on wood. I did have a philosophic moment as I watched a tree be quickly decimated into boards, scrap, and sawdust that this was much like what Blizzard was doing with current resto druids: cutting it down, slicing it apart, making it something that looks visually nothing like the treeform it once was.
  • BIRTHDAYS: It was my birthday over the weekend... went to dinner on Saturday with Kitarha to one of those hibachi grill places. The grill table we sat at had not one but two other birthdays, and we heard at least 4 other birthday song-and-cakes go out (not all birthdays buy this special treatment, either). In addition, I shared my own birthday cake on Friday night with 2 other birthdays. It makes me empathize a bit with twins and kids who have their birthdays over the winter holidays. It steals the specialness of your birthday. You're just another one littering the weekend, unremarkable, overdone, "lol what was in the water 9 months ago."
  • PUPPY: River had her first dog-to-dog socialization over the weekend, and did well. She also met a bunch of "the college kids" whose common exclamation over her was "FLUFFY!" I left the camera at home because I didn't want to risk it getting lost or damaged in the rush of dogs (and wanted my full attention on her rather than taking photos), but I'll try to remember to bring it to her next playdate.

  • OLD MOVIES: Last Dragon and Gymkata are more bearable than Zardoz. One word: mankini.
  • NEW MOVIES: Legend of the Guardians was cute and decently done. As a "kid's movie," it couldn't really delve too deeply on topics it skirted around... an adult/teen version would actually do well. As an adaptation from the books, it did well in cutting out a lot of the slow parts that I thought unnecessary, but it took some liberties and shortcuts I was upset with given how short the film itself was. SPOILERS TO FOLLOW:
    1. It took two completely different, rival factions and merged them into one conglomeration (St. Aggies and the Pure Ones were mashed together). While it worked, more or less, it was a surprise and forced several of the plot changes.
    2. It made Kludd out to be nicer than he was supposed to be. He PUSHED SOREN (and later, Eglantine) out of the tree AS A SACRIFICE to the Pure Ones... he didn't fall with him and it wasn't an accident. Kludd was never kidnapped. He also tried to kill Mrs. Plithiver when she refused to stay silent about him pushing his siblings out of the nest. He also WAS Metalbeak. Kludd was evil from the start.
    3. Otulissa was underdeveloped, as was the training at Ga'Hoole which was completely understated; they could easily have added that time to what was a short movie.
    4. What happened to the entire Collier chaw? That whole firestorm thing was something Ezylryb trained Soren and Otulissa to do, among others: they collected coals for the Blacksmiths.
    5. Ummmmmmm wtf was up with the magnetism? It's just MAGNETISM. It's not visible. It attracts metal and messes with the owls' navigation and makes them woozy/disoriented. It's. Not. Visible. In addition, the vampire bats were just around to drain the St. Aggies owls to make them weak and unwilling to try to fly: they were not warriors with their own metal weapons (they also just ignored the whole plot point about metal and magnetism when it came to the movie-bats' weapons).
    6. If I'm remembering right, Soren's parents "vanished" (aka killed). IIRC, it was hinted that they were killed by Kludd himself. They certainly did not magically show up at the Ga'Hoole tree after months of their childrens' disappearance and say "oh we were so worried about you!"
    7. I was disappointed that they didn't include Madame Plonk; I was looking forward to hearing their adaptation of the Taps song she sings at the Ga'Hoole tree, with the harp the nestmaid snakes play. It was, possibly, the part I was looking forward to the most. I think it was also what was supposed to help cure Eglantine's moonblinking.
    8. WTH did they do to Twilight? In the books, he was harsh, he was strong, he was violent, and he certainly did not have a lute. He was a warrior who happened to sing war songs in combat out of ego and as a tactic to confuse and inflame his enemies. At least, that was always my impression of him: a world-hardened young owl, not a showy (and bad) bard.
    9. ....echidna? Hello, puffin-replacing movie plot device that makes me /facepalm. The crow mob got nuetered from the true danger it was supposed to be, and they certainly didn't know any nuerotic echidna-sages.

Okay, I think that's everything for now :)

Currently Listening To: Linkin Park - The Catalyst

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Still Truckin': Raiding at the End of the Expansion

Blizzard: Hey look! Shiny Cataclysm! Expansion!

Vortex: ...but we're still working on Lich King. And technically Halion.

Blizzard: oh, that's nice. Most of the 25s who care have already done it. Don't you want to read about how we're gutting your classes and rearranging the pieces into newer, shinier, better bionic versions of your former selves?

Vortex: Yeah, I suppose... but it doesn't really affect us right now. We have an end-boss to kill. You know only one guild in the world has completed the fight in 10-man gear, given the trinkets and weapons that provide better itemization in 25s no matter the item level, nevermind legendaries and a broader raiding roster? You've... certainly thrown us a challenge.

Blizzard: Yeah, we're fixing that balance thing for the expansion with shared loot tables. Most people have stopped caring about WotLK raids. Look! Shiny expansion!

Vortex: Mmn hm. Well, we can't very well let the expansion come out without us toppling this, first. Or at least trying our hardest. We know it's possible because Typhoon Struggle is awesome and managed to make it happen.

Blizzard: Hey, if you're still banging your heads against a brick wall and enjoying it, we're cool with that.

Vortex: ........Thanks, Blizzard. Alright guys. Let's do this.

Accomplishment as a Guild

We then proceeded to eek our way slowly through each phase. We studied strats. We studied parses. We studied videos of our own attempts. We nitpicked at every mistake... thankfully not to the point of falling apart, where it had collapsed so many other guilds. We hung in there. We all got better. We learned from our mistakes. We found innovative new ways to work together and make use of our spells and raiding roster and off specs. We tweaked our specs and gear specifically for the fight. We rejoiced over our accomplishments as we progressed through the Lich King's health bar. When we had a rough night, we chalked it up to what it was: a rough night, and we knew we could do better, and we went back in there and tried again the next raid night. We supported each other in our varying ways.

We didn't give up, and we adapted.

A friend of mine has a motto: Adapt, Improvise, Overcome. Any achievement you truly earn is rooted in these three words. We stuck through it, adapting, improvising, and finally overcoming the challenge as the expansion is in its twilight. It is the most amazing rush to finally climb over that hurdle you have been sharing digital blood, sweat, and tears to overcome with your small, tight-knit team of friends:
  • The one who you've been raiding and playing alongside for, like, 7 years, though you've never met her in person.
  • The one who you respect enough to call "sir."
  • The one who jokingly blames you for everything, and you take it with a grin.
  • The one who you just want to hug every time you see her.
  • The one who always seems to be able to make you laugh.
  • The one who is like a little brother: he may make you roll your eyes a lot, but when it comes down to it, you're glad he's a part of the family.
  • The one who you helped teach to heal, and are proud to call one of the best healers you now know.
  • The one who always surprises you with something completely off the wall... and makes it work.
  • The one who makes you feel like there's something important missing when they're not in the raid.
  • The one who always seems so calm and laid back, even when you're on the 40th wipe of the night.
  • The one who you know will always have a kind word for you, even when you feel you've completely failed.
  • The one who you barely know, but still extend that warm feeling of friendship because they have joined your ranks.
If we didn't have that camaraderie and stubbornness to succeed even in the face of a changing game, we would not have made it this far.

Why Others Stop Raiding

Ignoring the reasons why some just quit WoW (which are more varied), these are the reasons I have seen for why some guilds stop raiding in the months leading up to a new expansion:

Some stop raiding because they have already completed what's avilable. Maybe they had better luck, or better gear, or better raid makeups or attendance or skill or RNG, or had more raid nights each week to devote to clearing the instance, or more badges and gear available to speed up the gearing of raiders. Whatever the reason, if they've already done all of the content available and gotten their buddies their achievements too, there's less reason to keep raiding on those characters.

Some stop out of despair. They just don't think it's possible for them, so they give up.

Some stop because the expansion will make all of their work obsolete. What does it matter that they can get better gear from the instance when they're going to replace it all in Cataclysm, before they have any need to "compete" for top DPS/gear/whatever again? These people place higher emphasis on their gear and stats than they do on experiencing the game.

Some don't want to put in the effort. Why bother when you can come back at 85 and steamroll the place? Or, they are players who never really put in much effort to begin with, and don't want to be challenged with something "too hard" in their play.

Some are just forced to stop because they can't fill raids, because their guildies fall into the above types and PuGs (usually) lack the cohesion necessary (largely due to being unable to screen each player in depth as you would in guild recruitment). These players want to see the content, they're willing to put in the time and effort for it, but they just can't get others to go with them and put forth the same effort. I've been this one in all of my previous raiding guilds: I always asked, "Why are you giving up? Why did you stop caring? We can DO this! If you actually TRIED we could see this content completed!" ...and this is why WotLK is the first expansion in which I can contentedly sit back and say "Yes. I did complete the content. And it felt great."

Why Vortex wanted to see it Done

We don't care about getting superior loot: if we did, we wouldn't be 10-strict.
We don't care about the looming expansion: it is just a deadline before we have to relearn our classes.
We don't care that it will soon become defunct: we want to see the content.
We don't care that we can come back at 85 and pick daisies while we kill him: we want to earn it.

We want the accomplishment. We want to know that we have risen to the highest bar available to us as 10-strict raiders. We did it our own way, just us, fighting together to overcome and achieve that which challenges us to each perform our best. The guild, together, all shared a thirst for achievement over the content. We wouldn't be raiding otherwise... even as Cataclysm looms, casting a shadow over the Wrath instances. As one person commented of us, "Playing the game for what it is today & not for what it will be in the coming months."

I love my guild.

....bring it, Halion.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

HLK, Vortex's videos

The following videos were taken of our first kill of hardmode Lich King, September 19, 2010 as a ten-strict guild. Most of our strat can be found here.

Warlock PoV
Driven by: Harsesis, specced as Demo

This video is split into two parts, and can also be watched in 720p HD (I recommend fullscreen... I just left it at 360 for those with slower connections). His grid frames show incoming heals; the top left-most player is our offtank, and bottom left-most our maintank. Note the moonkin (Beranabus of RNGesus) casts tranquility around 4:10 because our disc priest was grabbed by the first Valkyr; our tank healer tree (me) was also grabbed by a valk once, but luckily the healer grabs were not back to back!

-- Part 1 --

-- Part 2 --

The MT dies around 3:10, and the OT picks it up after the locks mess their pants and soulshatter. The tank was soulstoned, which is how he resses himself while the others are in Soul Harvest phase and then battle-resses the ele shaman around 3:36. The tree stands in a bad place around 4:15 and nearly eats it ;) This is why we must stay away from our soakers! We are all alive when he reaches the 10% mark.

...gg moonfire spam from the giggling resto druid.

Shadow Priest, Prot Pally PoV
Driven by: Kuchki, specced as Shadow, and (to be added) Alyae, specced as Prot

This is the "short," raw version. They plan to expand the video with dual views between the two players and an intro sequence.

OT: Your Puppy Fix

Apparently some of you cannot get by a week without a puppy fix. :)

River discovered the hose this weekend. After playing joyously in the water stream, she promptly found a dirt pile to roll in.

Go figure. :) It took more hosing and much toweling to finally have a clean puppy again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

World 2nd, US 1st...

10-strict Bane of the Fallen King!

Kae: "I was singing along to Owl City's Fireflies as he went down... interspersed with SHIT and UH OH."

I am fairly sure we got it recorded from a couple different view points :) Will be linking them up as soon as they're hosted!


((Edit note for Beru: had nourish, swiftmend, RR glyphs))
((Edit 2: if you're one of those that likes staring at meter parses, have at: WoL, WMO))
((Edit 3:

Raid makeup:

MT: Feral Druid
OT: Prot Pally
Heals: Disc Priest, Resto Druid
Ranged DPS: Marks Hunter, Shadow Priest, Boomkin, Ele Shaman, Destro Lock, Demo Lock
Melee DPS: ....... ?

(Does me punching the Lich King in the back a few times count as melee?)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What is the iconic girl gamer?

Let's take a moment to look at some female heroes.
  • Belle. Beautiful bookworm wishing to get out from under society's expectations of her, loyal and brave in the face of gloom and danger, self-sacrificing for the sake of her family, and empathetic to the plights of monsters though ultimately weak and human, herself.
  • Mulan. Beautiful klutz wishing to get out from under society's expectations of her, loyal and brave in the face of gloom and danger, self-sacrificing for the sake of her family (and friends), picking up martial activities, and with a failed attempt at mascarading as a man before she was "true to herself." Saves her country.
  • Lara Croft. Strong, beautiful tomb raider, confident, deadly, and powerful. Barbie mixed with Indiana Jones, and given a darker pallet to add to a mysterious and dangerous glamor. Saves the world and hunts for shinies.
  • Buffy Summers. Strong, beautiful vampire slayer, deadly and powerful. A teen Barbie who kicks ass and bridges the cheerleader-geek gap. She is supported by lots of other likeable female characters (a favorite being Willow), and saves the world. Repeatedly.
These 4 are the best female role models I got from story media (movies, TV, games) while I was growing up in the 90's, and the most memorable. They all broke the stereotype of the female side-kick or love interest: they were the main character, and they broke from what their society viewed as traditional female roles while retaining their feminism. They all told me that I didn't have to be the tomboy I was in the 80's who would rather watch teenage mutant ninja turtles and play army men, super mario, and sonic the hedgehog than my-little-ponies: I could just be me, I could be a girl who wasn't a high-heel-wearing princess whose only conflict was who to invite to the dinner party and how to attract a boy with my poofy hair (as was the 80's view on beauty).

"Create your own character" games that allowed me to play as a female reinforced this: Morrowind, Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter, Dungeons & Dragons. In creating my own strong female character, I helped define who I wanted to become, and that it was okay to be a girl without being "girly."

It's Okay to Game

This is, in my opinion, what being a girl gamer is about: breaking conformity and embracing your true self. That it's okay to fight for what you beleive in. That it's okay to be the hero. That you can be strong and beautiful without being a helpless damsel in distress. You can save the world without being a sidekick. If you want to do it in hiking boots or stilleto heels is up to you: just be yourself. That guys will still be interested in you even though you can speak your mind, and sometimes speak it through a Sniper scope in Unreal Tournament or a huge sword as you cleave through pixel-dragons.

On Beauty

Now, there is one other thing that these heroine images all share: beauty. This is a conformity that they retain, that of the idealized, perfect, super-model imagery. I don't think that it's just because the marketers want to appeal to male audiences as well: is it really any different than the Barbie dolls and Cinderella beauty stereotype? "You must look like this and go get married!" That stuff *IS* marketed directly for girls, rather than to both genders.

Many male role-model images are the same way: you must be handsome, fit, strong, and go save the world to get the girl. You must be exceptionally smart, confident, and/or have a great sense of humor: all things desired by potential mates.

Why? The Disney theme: "to find the one you love and get married and live happily ever after." After saving the world or overcoming a curse or bewitchment, in the case of some. Love is the ultimate goal of most, which biologically makes sense, as it benefits survival of the species, especially a species that requires such a time commitment to raising its offspring. The fact that appearance plays a part in selection is not incidental, and that's an aspect that overcomes society's gender-specific strictures on behavior and place. So, while stories of heroes and heroines can be breaking a society's traditions of a gender role, general beauty or handsomeness is one thing that is rarely degraded in its heroes and heroines.

Exceptions are stories like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera, where beauty is found in other ways, but can ultimately be viewed as tragedies rather than stories about role model heroes.

The unfortunate aspect of these beauty-based ideals is that relatively few girls can attain them without a) destroying their health or b) photoshop. Programs like Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty are designed to lessen the impact of the media and advertisements on girls' self-image, and many of the beauty images found in role models are less extreme than those found in model magazines and photoshopped ads.

While physical beauty seems to be important in role models, absolute physical perfection it is not the ultimatum for success or being a role model. Taking care of oneself and others, and having the self-sufficiency and confidence to protect those you love overshadows simple looks; beauty itself goes beyond the physical and into the realm of how these role models act and feel about themselves.

Regardless, some amount of physical beauty stems from physical fitness. While gaming in itself is not a very cardiovascular activity, we appreciate the fitness of those capable of pulling off the feats we accomplish in-game. Though some may not be able to do a roundhouse kick or run for miles without breaking a sweat, they wouldn't play it if they didn't, somehow, wish that they could.

(FYI, I am envious of parkour runners)

The Avatar

So many of our avatars are aesthetically pleasing. Some few may choose to be the wrinkle-faced gnome or decrepit undead or snaggle-toothed, snarling orc, but generally speaking, most females would rather have an avatar that looks nice. It is either a reflection of what they want to be, what they are comfortable being, or a mask to hide beneath.

The avatar itself is also, in most cases, physically fit. How else would they have the stamina to run from hither and yon, fighting dragons or aliens or enemy soldiers without so much as getting a blister?

These things lend themselves to girls recreating themselves in their avatars to match their role models, in physical ways they may feel they can't otherwise attain. Like the clutz who can't do a cartwheel is on her avatar doing loops in the air, or wall-jumping to reach a special power-up. While character and animated role models aid in providing that super-human image a gamer can mimic, seeing living-flesh role models who can do these things and still enjoy the gaming as a hobby serves as an inspiration to get up and try: try to become more fit, have more confidence in themselves, and generally become more healthy.

Of course, this in turn often results in sayings such as "do not try this at home." :) Those words are usually directed at the boys, but it's a good danger warning to females, too.

The Iconic Girl Gamer, for GIRLS

There are, I think, two kinds of girl gamer: the expressive, and the practical. The expressive is more flashy in dress and makeup, while the practical is more subdued, but both are likely to bear some form of peraphanalia/imagery from a favorite game or subject (fangirlism) rather than simple and meaningless patterns, flowers, or solids.

If I were to create some sort of pro-gamer-girl icon, it would be something to this effect:
  • Good-looking, fit, aesthetically pleasing
  • Confident
  • Self-sufficient
  • Nurturing, empathic: feminine ideals that are contrary to the competitive nature of most games, but are not impossible to reconcile as many games are also team-based.
  • Practical or comfortable clothing with subtle imagery suggesting a game or geekery (to cover most bases, digital imagery ala "digital angel" would probably work best)
  • Maintains feminimity in form, shape, and pose
... without being overly sexual. Once she gets suggestive, she becomes marketed for men, or rather for fantasies. I don't think it's much different for guys, either, though: if a male's image is sexually suggestive, he's being marketed for private fantasies and not as a role model. Once you cross a certain threshold of sexual suggestiveness, leaving what is appropriate in public, they leave the realm of role model.

While role models inherently portray sexual appeal, it is idealized and publicly permissible. The threshold must be maintained in order for the heroine to remain her place as a role model rather than as a marketing slut.

So, that is my long-winded ramble on being a girl gamer and the role models that support it. It started as a reply to Keredria's post on the Geek and Gamer Girls parody video, and ended up consuming my morning. Whoot.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Healing ICC10: HLK as a Resto Druid

Edit: This guide was written for patch 3.3. Alas, we can no longer roll lifebloom on two tanks anymore, as of 4.0. I suggest keeping it on the shambler tank, as their health tends to spike more with the enraged adds. Go ToL to roll it on both tanks towards the end, as LK's plague-induced-stacks start eating the MT. Similarly, lifebloom is now very cheap to cast and no longer grants mana back when it blooms, so those tips are also now outdated.

With repeated attempts into the sub-20% range, I'm ready to expound upon healing Heroic Lich King (10-strict). This fight very nearly requires that you have a disc priest in your raid: they will very likely be your co-healer. My own guild, Vortex, has chosen a resto druid as the second healer to aid in the final phase's AoE healing and movement requirements, but we are fairly confident that any other healer could handle that spot.

EDIT: well, we killed him, US-first and world-second kill for strict-ten's. I added a few notes to the final phase; this is the strat that worked for us!

Phase 1:
"WTF I'm tank healing?"

With the disc priest put to bubble-shielding the Infest, your primary job as the second healer will be keeping the two tanks alive. For the sake of limiting the movement of the DPS, don't stand with them: stand either in between the ranged and the tanks, or on the other side of the tanks from the ranged dps group. This prevents others from having to move away from your shadow traps. Also, always make sure you are within running distance of the adds so that you can drop off your disease on them. FYI, it is safe to stand in front of the Lich King: he has no cleaves or cone attacks.

Below is a general diagram of how we handle Phase 1. Light blue is the platform, light gray is the inner circle, blue dot is the useless ice blocked dude, and the dark gray is the outer, cracked ring of the platform. Purple circles are example shadow traps that we've moved away from :)

Rejuv, lifebloom, and regrowth: try to keep all three running on both tanks as much as possible. Use nourish around them, and cast it proactively rather than reactively. You should (hopefully) have between 1/4 and 1/2 mana left at the end of this phase, if DPS is strong. For the sake of mana, I recommend letting the lifebloom stack bloom off of one tank or the other (only one at a time) whenever possible, but here are a few conditions:
  • do NOT bloom when both tanks are low health, as you can't immediately restack them; get one tank up to higher health before letting the other bloom.
  • do NOT let both bloom at the same time or you'll be scrambling for GCDs to restack both.
  • do NOT let the add-tank's bloom when s/he has an enraged shambler, or has two shamblers and there is no Tranq shot in the raid. Keep it rolling and bolster her with nourish.
Use swiftmend to pop a tank up while you are moving. Save NS for real emergencies, but don't be shy about using it and thus waste precious seconds in indecision that could kill a tank. The tanks will drop low from time to time. They will need to use their own cooldowns to help you out, ESPECIALLY if you have no tranq shot in the raid (no tranq shot is doable, but painful). Don't worry much about healing anyone EXCEPT the two tanks; you can pop wild growth on the main tank (MT) to spread wild growth out to melee, but the domain of raid healing should be left to the disc priest. Only help with raid healing if they request it and the tanks are both topped off. Otherwise, your raid heals will result in a healing gap on the tanks that the disc priest may feel the need to help with, which in turn results in a bubble gap that will spiral down to a wipe to Infest... or a dead tank.

Don't hit a shadow trap, and don't run in front of the shamblers. Be very aware of where EVERYTHING is around you: this can be difficult when you're glued to the tanks' health bars, but it is very necessary.

If you have ghoul aggro, don't let it stick on you long. Call out for a tank to taunt them off of you, or run them to a tank, if necessary: ghouls have a nasty habit of dazing you while you're trying to escape an incoming shadow trap.

"Hope the RNG gods put enough diseases on the shamblers."

As LK nears 73%, get yourself towards the outer rim of the room without letting HoTs drop. Make note of how many adds are up, and definitely make sure the add tank maintains full HoTs. As the Lich King reaches 70%, he will transition as normal, and you can let HoTs momentarily lapse off of the MT until he begins picking up spirits. Mind that you don't cross in front of the shamblers while moving forward.

Make sure the group splits roughly half and half on the shelf, sort of like so:

We have the shambler tank cross over to the far right of this diagram, while the MT picks up spirits and tanks them in the center of the dps' cluster.

Keep full HoTs running on the OT until the shamblers are dead of diseases; the little ghouls won't hurt much and only require a rejuv or so to heal through. As the MT picks up and begins tanking the spawned spirits in the middle of the group, begin reHoTing him and keep the HoTs going, though allow your lifebloom to bloom off for mana. Use an innervate in this phase if you need it, otherwise use it early during the next phase.

Phase 2:
"Let's do the Defile Dance!"

As the group is running in to meet the Lich King again, get full HoTs rolling on the MT if they've dropped at all and be ready for some big hits, as the Lich King's buff stacks from Phase 1 may not yet have dropped off. Keep some HoTs rolling on the OT, as well, until the spirit she is tanking from the transition is dead: the MT will be taking far more damage, however.

Ironically, this is probably the easiest phase for me. While the disc priest is back to raid-bubbling around Infest, I go back to tank healing... but we only use one tank, so I don't have to maintain two lifeblooms again. In normal mode, we choose to swap tanks for soul reaper, but for heroic, we've moved to a single-tank strategy, using cooldowns for every reaper to shield the tank. This allows me to keep HoTs rolling on the MT at all times, and allows our OT (prot pally) to focus on just maintaining soul-reaper cooldowns and stunning the valkyr. The OT should periodically be taunting to ensure she maintains secondary threat on the Lich King in case the MT dies.

You will need to watch ALL timers. They are all important to you.
  • Infest: if the timer is ticking down and someone is missing a shield (due to bubbling fail, disc priest taken by valk, or the target loosing their shield to standing in a defile), the disc priest needs to CALL OUT who is missing the shield if they will need help clearing the infest. In cases where 2-3 people in a party missing a shield, things like the moonkin or a feral druid using tranquility is a great split-second rescue; otherwise, the MT-healer can usually save those couple people. A ret or prot pally can be asked to use lay-on-hands to counter a disastrous infest, as well.
  • Defile: the group needs to move out of the center circle to drop these. About 3-5 seconds before it goes off, run yourself up towards the throne side of the platform so that, if you're targeted, it'll drop the defile harmlessly out of the path of everyone. Just don't run far if a valkyr is about to spawn. We have most of our raiders drop their defiles up in this region, while a few of our dps scatter to the sides. The key is making sure the defiles are not in the center of the platform (it's hardest when it's on tanks) and that all raiders scatter from each other in the seconds before defile is dropped. Having a largely ranged-dps raid aids in this.
  • Valkyr: be close to the center. It's the same as normal mode, which you should, by now, be able to handle :) My only note here is that you try to refresh lifebloom to full on the MT before the valk swoops down in case you're the one grabbed, so that the tank has more time with HoTs while you're in the valk's clutches. If you are the one grabbed, make sure to call it out, so that your co-healer knows they need to cover your job and so that others know they may need to blow extra cooldowns/potions.
  • Soul Reaper: the raid needs to maintain a cooldown rotation on the MT, assuming you are not tank-swapping. As the reaper begins to tick off, spam nourish so that it will quickly offset the health drop, before the tank takes another hit. If you are tank-swapping, monitor it so that you can catch both the drop in health from the first tank, and the incoming hits on the second.
After ten zillion attempts, you begin to know the defile timers by heart. First Valk: wait for it to swoop down, then position yourself on the far side of the ice block for defile. After defile, move back in. 2nd Valk coincides with the 2nd defile: either may come first, though usually the defile comes right after the valk; move quickly, then regroup. 3rd valk, then move for defile, then regroup. 4th tends to coincide again. Etc.

For a general idea of the movement, refer to these diagrams:

Note that people are avoiding putting a defile puddle at their back, as compared to the dead center of the room. This is because if they were picked up, the valkyr would take them over that puddle, which would inhibit melee assistance as well as possibly drop them into the puddle when they are freed. Using a pair of example defiles, you can see by the red-tint where you don't want to stand when a valk is about to spawn (unless you're a warlock with a teleporter at your back).

As with normal-mode, make sure the group doesn't transition past 42% without grouping at the edge of the platform together. Don't let the group move to the edge until after a valk spawn, and mind defiles: push him to 40% only when there is no risk of either a) people getting caught in the middle during the transition or b) people getting valk'd while too close to the edge for a rescue.

"Hai, I can haz mana?"

I generally heal everyone during this phase. Similar to the first transition, sans the adds, though I recommend having both tanks picking up spirits to split the damage they're taking; keep them both lightly HoTed, but you can give your lifebloom button a bit of a breather in favor of rejuv and wild growth, with nourishes to quickly boost someone who the Pain and Suffering debuff is stacking high on, or tanks.

Innervate again if you need it: the next phase will be intensive.

Phase 3:
"Ghost-bombs! FLEE!"

The group can just step onto the platform and work immediately on killing the leftover transition spirits. In the meantime, we had the MT and healers work their way towards the center platform to pre-position themselves; this worked because we had such mobile healers. This first bit doesn't last long: just get HoTs rolling on anyone who needs it, as the whole raid will shortly be Soul-Harvested. Also, make sure no one stands in front of the adds' silence-cones.

With the whole raid getting sucked into sword-land, group up immediately in the center, then follow a pre-determined "leader" (likely a tank or melee appropriately marked) around the room. Heal everyone. Rejuv-blanket, wild growth on cooldown, swiftmend as emergency. Use every GCD. This is going to be hard when you've also got to be following someone through the shifting maze of falling bombs. I really suggest having that leader be vocal in vent about movements, ie "going a bit towards the center" or "moving a bit further, watch the bombs behind us" or "hold up here, don't go too far," being the vocal shepherd while you're distracted by keeping everyone alive.

A few notes:
  • The sword-phase is the best time for a bear tank to provide an innervate to healers.
  • Anyone who takes an ankh, battle res, or soulstone after the group is sucked into the sword will have that time peacefully unmolested on the platform, where they can heal themselves, rebuff, and poke the Lich King. I don't suggest having people suicide needlessly for this... but it is a good use of people who get pancaked by spirit explosions.
  • About 5 seconds before the sword phase ends, get HoTs restacked on the MT.
Defile will be cast immediately after you exit out, so begin spreading to the sides as soon as you zone back onto the platform. Focus on keeping the MT alive, and yell at the tanks if they split too far from each other; monitor the soul reaper timers closely. The OT should periodically be taunting to ensure she maintains secondary threat on the Lich King in case the MT dies. Stay generally out of the center of the platform, and run circuits of the outer edge. Slowing traps will go in the center, and the tank will run through the middle from time to time to set them off.

We kept non-tanks out of the center line of the room (north to south) aside from dropping traps, because they used this line to kite the Lich King back and forth each add spawn. We aimed to keep it free of defiles, and the soaker (be it the OT or a dispersioned shadow priest) would hop in to absorb a chunk of explosions; all other players needed to steer clear of it. If you, as a healer, get out of range of one of the tanks, let your other healer and the tanks know over vent so that they can cover appropriately while you get back in range.

You can take one ghost hit at a time (two if you have a priest bubble plus barkskin). Use your barkskin to help shield against impact. Spread out a bit from the rest of the group, and constantly be on the move so that you can pop rejuvs around the raid while keeping the MT standing. Don't stand right next to the tank in case a defile drops. A range mod set to 10 can help you with keeping clear of others who are taking an explosion near you.

Once the leftover transition adds are down, the raid will focus on dpsing the Lich King and killing the flying spirits. Just focus on staying alive and keeping the whole raid up, especially the MT around the Soul Reapers. Have your raid make use of all available CC and survival mechanisms to handle the spirits: moonkin typhoons, dispersion, frost traps, etc.

...good luck :)

Nazantia: "So that was Kae's fault?"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Heroic LK!

ARGH! So close, I can taste it!

OT: A Cat's Training Methods

True story. Sans sound effects. I had to help her up the last steps afterwards, because she didn't want to be hissed at in the face again. I swear the cat laughed. "Myah, myah!"

Speaking of sounds, I found this very odd "Martha Stewart Collection" (lol) dog toy bat thingy. It has multiple squeakers wrapped up in one ball, so they squeak in synch, with this demented and ghostly wailing, keening, crying sound. The moment I squeaked it in the store, my husband and I locked eyes and grinned: it was too weird to NOT get. And River loves it, even though her jaws aren't strong enough yet to get it to squeak for herself.

If you see one at the store, yourself, give it a slow squeak and you'll see what I mean.

On a related note, sorry about the high-pitched puppy barks in the background of vent last night, btw, guildies >_> She was generally well-behaved through the raid, only getting into trouble once when she discovered the toilet paper roll in the bathroom, and I had to spend Sindragosa with a raccoon-squeaky trapped under my leg in the chair so she could pull and growl at it while I raided.

Rawr, squeaky. Rawr.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Watching for Tank Cooldowns

Patch 3.3

But you're a resto druid. Why?

While watching your own cooldowns and boss timers can be hectic enough on its own, there are times where sharing cooldowns with someone else is necessary to manage a regular, heavy-damage spike. As a resto druid, though, I have no tank-saving cooldowns: I am limited to a NS+HT macro for an instant big heal, which may or may not crit. All I have are "OSHIT" buttons; they have no special abilities beyond healing.

Alas, H-LK has shoved the idea of monitoring other peoples' cooldowns down my throat. In order to handle the massive damage without requiring tank swaps and relying purely on 10-strict gear, we've moved to a wild and crazy cooldown rotation that dominates our ventrilo chatter during attempts. Since they have determined that I am a beast at the final phase's AoE healing requirements, I have been drug into the hell that is soul reaper without a tank swap (because swapping tanks in itself often resulted in one or the other dieing, and my mana running dry from the dual-tank lifeblooming required). Also, if we don't have a tranq that night, then we get to play cooldown-dances during P1 for the shamblers, too! FUN TIMES!

While they don't use any of my abilities as a "tank-saving" cooldown, I *do* need to be aware of when there isn't one available, or that our expected cooldown is currently floating away in a valkyr's grip; if that is the case, I know I need to be prepared to dump some heavy, direct heals in to try to save them, and time a cast to heal just after the reaper but before any other damage hits the injured tank (which would easily kill them). Or... I have to prep for a hasty tank swap (which means stacking HoTs on the other tank) and possibly a battle res around infest and defile timers.

So, to the meat of my post: I want to collect and learn what the different cooldowns are, and memorize their icons so that I can quickly process that information without interrupting myself in the chaos that is hardmode Lich King. So, this post was born.

The Mod

I have used the mod RaidCooldowns as a way to monitor innervates and battle reses, ankhs, and soulstones for a good long while, now. It's useful in that it is based off of the combat log events, so that it does not require another person to have the mod installed in order for you to track their cooldowns. It's got its problems, like not realizing that Beranabus' tranquility is talented and set-bonused to have no cooldown, but that's just because it doesn't actively synch with other people (if they have a different cooldown than the base) unless they have the mod/CTRA/oRA2.

The interface is fairly self-explanatory. You can limit what shows up, and style and position the bars to your preference. Notice the icons: these are the most important part, because these are much easier to glance over and process than trying to read a long ability name tacked onto the bar in addition to the character name it's reading for. For the purposes of decluttering, I think it's best to learn the icon, and ditch the ability name from the bar.

There are other mods you could use, like oRA3, but this is the one I have experience with. I'm also quite certain that you can set up Power Auras to alert you whenever your target or focus has a tank-saving cooldown active, if your tanks are less vocal.

The Cooldowns

"Tank Savers"

A tank-saving cooldown is an ability that can be used to protect a tank from incoming damage or otherwise avert a tank's death from an incoming attack. These are often talented special abilities and can take the form of reducing the damage coming in, or increasing the tank's ability to resist or soak the damage without dieing. Some of these are personal, while others can or must be used on targets other than the caster.

  • Some non-tanks have a personal cooldown akin to a tank-saving cooldown, like Evasion or Dispersion. It's not a tank-saving cooldown because they aren't tanks :)
  • Anything that is purely reactive or just a healing-ability is not a tank-saving cooldown, as it does not mitigate the damage about to be taken. They are useful, certainly, but they do nothing to shield the tank above what their current health and defensive stats can handle. These abilities include things like Nature's Swiftness and +healing received buffs.

"Tank Savers"

Guardian Spirit: anti-death. Provides a 40% +heal buff as well as negating one death.

Pain Suppression: damage-reduction shield. 40%; also includes a small threat reduction.

  • Dispersion: personal damage reduction. 90% (shadow)

"Tank Savers"

Divine Shield: personal immunity, but reduces damage you deal.

Divine Protection: personal damage reduction shield. 50%.

Ardent Defender: personal damage reduction + anti-death. (prot)

Hand of Protection: shareable physical immunity, but target is unable to attack.

Hand of Sacrifice (single) and Divine Sacrifice (party-wide): shareable damage transfer to the paladin. 30% of each hit is transferred.

  • Lay on Hands: shareable extremely large heal based on the paladin's own health pool
  • Divine Intervention: shareable complete-immunity and removal from combat. Wipe protection.

"Tank Savers"
  • none.

"Tank Savers"

Shield Wall: personal damage-reduction shield. 60%.

Shield Block: personal block increase (physical damage). 100%.

Last Stand: personal health increase. 30%.

Stoicism via Bloodrage: SPECIAL. Usually causes a drop in health, but with 4-pc T10, it will provide a personal damage-absorption shield. (thanks, Koch, for pointing this one out!)


"Tank Savers"

Bone Shield: personal damage reduction. 20%

Unbreakable Armor: personal armor buff. 25%

Icebound Fortitude: personal damage reduction. 40%+

Vampiric Blood: personal health increase (15%) and +heal buff.

Anti-Magic Shell: personal spell damage reduction (75%, unholy 100%)

Anti-Magic Zone: shareable, stationary spell damage reduction (75%). (unholy)

??? via Bloodtap: SPECIAL. With 4-pc T10, it will provide a personal damage-reduction shield (12%)

"Tank Savers"

Barkskin: personal damage-reduction shield. 20% (feral).

Survival Instincts: personal health-boost (feral). 30% (45% glyphed).

Enraged Defense via Enrage: SPECIAL. Enrage typically decreases armor, but with 4-pc T10, it will provide a personal damage-reduction shield. (thanks, Kaethir, for pointing out the proc buff!)


Pure DPS Personals
Other classes have personal "oh shit" buttons that you may wish to be able to recognize:
Note that including these in your raid cooldowns tracking may create clutter that you do not need to know, making it difficult to pick out the important timers at a half-glance. RaidCooldowns will allow you to deselect cooldowns like these, so that you do not have to track them. This may help you immensely if you are, like me, still learning what the important icons look like.

The Cooldowns, Re-Organized:

Tank Personal Cooldowns
  • /

  • /

Others' shareable Tank-Saving Cooldowns

Other shareable "OSHIT" Buttons

What I'd LIKE to have:

Yeah, yeah, I'm picky and possibly dreaming.
  • A light-up "action bar" style row of abilities, showing what IS available for those in my raid to use, greyed out with a spiral-cooldown OmniCC type timer to show when they will next be ready. This would be limited by class and spec and if they're even alive. If it could also light red to say "hey, out of range or unable to cast cuz the guy's been stunned or is falling down a hole into an abyss of doom," that'd be great. ...I suppose that's what voice chat is for, but hey, I'm a visual person!
  • OR at least a way to reskin the RaidCooldowns bars to DamiaUI skin... it doesn't block as much screen :) I've dug through the mod files but haven't been able to figure out yet what to copy, as the DBM skin template is a separate xml file and I'm a mod-script noob being distracted by a fluffy puppy. >_>