How to fix resto shaman (spread) healing : the best of !

5.4 patch note is out. And unfortunately, the first announced change for resto shaman aren’t very promising :

Healing Rain radius has been increased to 12 yards, up from 10 yards.
Glyph of Chaining now increases the cooldown on Chain Heal by 2 seconds, down from a 4 second increase.
Glyph of Riptide reduces the initial direct healing of Riptide by 75%, down from a 90% reduction to healing.
Riptide mana cost has been reduced by 25%.

Except for the Healing Rain buff (which is OK, but won’t help much, except for that guy – Dessa, I’m looking at you – who always stand just outside the blue circle. Maybe he’ll stand inside it now… Maybe), the rest doesn’t feel good. It seems like they’re trying to use glyphs to solves our problems, which is in total contradiction with what Blizzard want the glyph systems to be (glyph aren’t mandatory, and that’s why every advantage is either minor or come with a trade-off).

Anyway, I could write about that for a long time, but that’s not what I wanted to write about today (if you’re interested, I already wrote a post about it on eu forums). I know that this is only early PTR, blahblahblah, but if we don’t tell what we think early, then its to late. I also saw many shaman stating that Blizzard has absolutely no clue how to fix our problems. So, if it’s true, here are the best of the suggestion I read (plus the ideas that sprouted in my own brain after reading some). Continue reading

More thoughts about Resto Shaman, healing, and saving people

What I thought would be a short reaction to some things I read on MMO Champion turned out to be a pretty long post in the end. There’s a TL;DR in the end, but really, all the good things are in between.

As you might already know, I’m not quite happy with the resto shaman toolkit this expansion. The spec isn’t in a great shape in 10 man, and especially in all these ToT fights where the raid needs to spread out. People asked me : “Why do you keep raiding as a resto shaman, if it’s that bad ?” At first, I didn’t know why, but I knew I didn’t want to play something else.

healer spec score for 10 man normal (all parses)

Healer spec score for 10 man normal (all parses)

At some time, I tried a few raids with my disc priest. But it didn’t ticks. I didn’t know what it was at first, but I didn’t love it as much as I loved my shaman. As I didn’t have the time nor desire to gear 2 characters, I just let my priest aside and kept raiding on my shaman. And I began practicing auto-persuasion so that I don’t feel useless because I barely healed more than tanks. So I looked for what I can bring to the table, and how I can prevent people from dying.

Because in the end, healing isn’t about numbers, it’s about preventing people from dying.

So I revisited my gearing, talent and healing strategy with this aim in mind. I first thought at what I can bring to the raid :

  • Huuuge raid healing cooldowns. Ascendance doesn’t always provide big numbers (you won’t make full use of it unless you’re able to cast freely and have Healing Rain ticking on a few people). But in 99% of cases, the raid can’t die if I can use Healing Tide Totem ! (Well except for the tank, who could be stomped before I can hit the button, but that’s not the most recurrent cause of deaths in current raids). Spirit Link Totem is quite tricky to use to it’s full potential, but when the stars align it is amazing. 
  • Life saving direct heals. Healing Surge criting for 200k + 60k Ancestral Awakening on a low health raid member is quite huge.

And of course, I already knew my weakness too well : I don’t have any tool to efficiently heal a spread raid.

Work for realistic goals, and trust your team mates for what you can’t do.

Continue reading

The solution to the PVP gear problem

5.3 will introduce big changes to the PVP gear : players will no longer need PVP gear to have enough resilience to survive, and there will be an ilvl limitation in BGs. These changes aim to make stepping into PVP easier for new or PVE players, while also inciting players to prefer PVP gear instead of higher ilvl PVE gear for BGs, like you can read on the last MMO-Champion news.

But I don’t think this is enough. The solution would be to remove PVP gear from the game altogether.

No more PVE vs PVP gear : welcome “good for everything” gear.

Each piece of available gear should have all the stats needed for each activities. PVP power and resilience could become primary stats, or they could be removed from the gear and build in a PVP zone buff. With one single type of gear, it’d be easier than ever to go from one activity to another. Mainly PVE player ? You can do your Saturday night horde slaying in your hard-earned PVE gear. Mainly PVP player ? You can get your PVE achievement with your PVP gear. No more gear grinding for an activity you only want to do once in a while. But as it becomes easier to step in and out of each activity, you may want to alternate more often too! You could also choose to do both at a time. Like taking part in world PVP while doing dailies, and being equally efficient for both. No longer need to choose between being one-shotted by the first PVPer passing by or killing monsters quickly.

Choose the activity, not the reward !

Imagine that you can do BGs to farm your valor points instead of dailies and heroics… Don’t know you, but I would certainly like it. Welcome a new game where there only is one type of currencies, that you can get from any activity you’d like to practice in-game. When winning a PVP game, you could get a chance at some loot, be it using the LFR loot system for normal BGs, or with a looting system that allow for master loot in rated PVP.

For example, after winning a Warsong match Alliance side, you could be ported to an instanced Darnassus to get your reward directly from Tyrande Whisperwind, as a thank you for taking part in the victory.

Each BG or arena could have its own loot table, like PVE bosses. It’d be quite simple to balance the rhythm of loot acquisition between PVE or PVP activities by tweaking drop rates or amount of currencies you can get for each activity. And in case it weren’t quite balanced, don’t panic, it won’t affect your open world pvp activities :

PVP should be about skill…

… Not about who have the bigger sword. All the gear should be leveled out in BGs and arenas, like it is in challenge modes. The reference ilvl could increase at each patch though, so that you get bigger number when you advance in the expansion. Getting new gear would allow you to optimize your secondary stat distributions, or to show off your new set, and of course you’d do better in PVE and open world PVP.

The equalization could also help balance healing vs damage vs avoidance, by increasing some stat more than other. For example, you could have spell power at 100% of the reference, while healing power is only at 80%.

And many more benefits

One of the other benefit I can preview, is that Blizzard wouldn’t need to design so many different gear sets at each patch. Ok having different-looking gear is nice, but with 8 year of transmogable gear available, do you really need 2 different set at each patch? One a these you probably won’t obtain until the next patch… if you ever get it. Not that you did choose the one you’d get first because of look.

Of course, there are cons to this method. PVPers might not feel compelled to grind BG if the gear doesn’t matter. But they might also discover that because of not needing to grind gear, they can enjoy other activities too. And grinding random BGs shouldn’t become the new catch up mechanism (which would happen if you could drop gear equivalent to current LFR tier in normal BGs)

This system may also induce some inconveniences which would need to be addressed. For example, it would be nice to be able to preview what your stats will be like in PVP without being in there to be able to choose your gear and reforge accordingly. Also, it would be harder to design set bonus that are balanced and equally desirable for PVE and PVP. But I’m pretty confident Blizzard could come up with an elegant solution for that. For example, you could get a set with a pvp bonus from PVP activities, and a set with a PVE bonus from raids. Or the bonuses could be equally valuable for each activity.

PS : the way honor is gained during BG should also change, but that is another story. You shouldn’t get points for being around when an enemy is killed. You should get Honor points by taking part in the battle for victory. If you can’t imagine another way to attribute honor points for contribution, just look at SWTOR system here. You can earn the equivalent of honor points by completing a variety of objectives, called medals.

 

Healer design retrospective

Back in BC, Holy paladins were stuck into casting 2 different single target heals for every needs, including when they needed to heal many different targets. Blizzard decided it wasn’t a great design choice and added diversity to the paladin healing rotation : they now use a variety of single and multi  target spells, and are encouraged to alternate between holy power generating spells and holy power consuming spells.

Back in WotLK, Disc Priest tended to use a single single-target spell to blanket the whole raid with shields. Blizzard decided it wasn’t a great design choice and improved the disc priest toolbox. They now have many efficient multi-targets spells, each with different goals, being effectively healing the raid or creating preventive shields on many characters.

Back in WotlK, Resto Druids spammed a single-target hot to heal the whole raid. Blizzard decided it wasn’t a great design choice, so they forced the druids using a variety of spells to benefit from their mastery, while providing them new spells to deal with different damage patterns.

Back in BC, Resto Shamans used 2 to 3 different ranks of the same spell (needing different buttons on their action bars) to heal different damage patterns on the tank or stacked people. Shaman were also the only class capable of efficiently healing aoe damage, and thus surpassed all other classes for this purpose. Blizzard decided it wasn’t a great design choice and made Chain Heal less efficient to bring Shaman in the other healers range. They also gave shaman new tools to respond to their single target and stacked healing needs. Today, shaman are stuck using an inefficient single target spell (Healing Surge, mostly) to heal raid wide damage when the raid isn’t stacked (that is, at least one on two fights).

Note : This post is based from my current knowledge and remembrance of other healing classes. I didn’t make research just for it. So it may not be exactly accurate. However, its aim is to be an overview of the situation. Also, I didn’t talk about Holy priests because back in Vanilla/BC they were the most versatile healer, even if they’re not in as a good shape today (again, compared to other healers).

The morale of the story

Overall, Blizzard did a great job at designing healers over time. I remember a day when if you wanted to do timed Shattered Halls (needed for Tempest Keep raid attunement) as a resto shaman, your best chance was to go there with a paladin tank. Now you can do about any content with any spec.

But I’m pretty sure everyone out there is afraid of shaman becoming OP again as they were in Sunwell, and are afraid of making them better than other healers, even in their niche : stacked aoe healing. Since then, shaman were more in range of the other healers, occasionally dipping way below when the fights required a lot of spreading (mainly Ulduar, Firelands and Throne of Thunder).

In MoP, up until today, our emblematic spell, Chain Heal, was our worse spell. It healed for just as much as Greater Healing Wave, for about the same mana cost, had a longer cast time (as CH doesn’t benefit from Tidal Waves), and ran a high risk of only hitting a single target, reducing healing done by the spell by 60% (a lot of bosses hit boxes are so big that a Chain Heal doesn’t jump from the tank to the melees)

Today shamans’ main aoe healing spells were improved. This improvement may make shamans extremely good at healing a stacked raid (the 20% Healing Rain buff is pretty huge on an already strong spell, it may all be Sunwell again : shaman very powerfull in their niche but stuck in there). I understand why these improvements were chosen right now instead of more complex changes. But these don’t solve the true problem : shamans doesn’t have any suited spell for spread raid healing. They are forced burning their mana using an inefficient single target spell (Healing Surge) to aoe heal, or helplessly watching the other healers do the job. This isn’t fun. Healing should be about using the right spell for the right job. For a shaman healing a spread raid, our only right spell is a 3 minutes CD talent (Healing Tide Totem). We need something to fill this hole, be it via a new spell, a glyph or a revamped talent (Elemental Blast, I’m looking at you !). I just hope it comes in 5.3…

Improve your (poor) DPS using Weak Aura dynamic groups

I’m a healer. That is, I love healing, and I’m relatively good at it (well, I though I was until I had to heal Heart of Fear in my 10 man raid team, and then I felt like the worst healer of all time).

But you can’t always make your way through the game while just healing. Sometimes you have to actually KILL things, be it for dailies, prove your worth in the Brawler’s Guild, or simply because that boss only requires 2 healers.

My guild’s got 5 available healers. And sometimes it’s my turn to try to do a bit of damage. The problem is, I’m not good at dpssing. But fortunately, I have a secret!

This isn’t something that’ll make you become that awesome damage dealer who tops the chart on each and every fight while also taking no damage and doing his part on the CC and kitting jobs. It’s more a “DPS for the noobs” thing.

The trick is to use Weak Aura as a reminder for your entire rotation.

It’s very helpful when you don’t master your dps spec enough to be able to play it blindfolded and with your toes. At each second it’ll show you what you should cast next, so that you can focus on the environment and other jobs without getting lost with your rotation.

So, how do you do it ?

  1. Go to some resource site like Elitist Jerks, or MMO Melting Pot, or whatever your favorite class site is and pick your ideal rotation or priority list.
  2. Download Weak Aura
  3. Create a new dynamic group
  4. For each spell on your priority list, create a new icon, put it in the dynamic group you just created, and translate the conditions in which you should use the ability into as many triggers as you need.
  5. Make sure the icons appear in your priority order within your dynamic group.

And voilà !

For example, I found this priority list for my Elemental Shaman on Totemspot:

  1. Cast Flame Shock IF the DoT has expired or has 1 tick remaining.
  2. IF you have the L90 talent Unleashed Fury, cast Unleash Elements
  3. Cast Lava Burst IF it is off cooldown AND Flame Shock is on the target
  4. IF you have the L90 talent Elemental Blast, cast Elemental Blast
  5. Cast Earth Shock IF Lightning Shield is at 6-7 charges. Note: It is possible to pre-cast this with 3 or more charges if you need to recast Flame Shock shortly (ie: the dot has more than 5 seconds remaining). For more information on Earth Shock use, see the advanced section.
  6. Use Fire Elemental Totem IF the cooldown has expired
  7. Drop Searing Totem IF you have no active fire totem AND Fire Elemental Totem cooldown has more than 15 seconds remaining
  8. Cast Lightning Bolt

As Elemental is my second spec, I chose to simplify the rotation as much as possible and didn’t pick Unleashed Fury nor Elemental Blast, so I don’t care about points 2 and 4. I didn’t choose to pre-cast Earth Shock either as it adds complexity for a minor dps gain, so step 5 is simple. And as I’m the kind of people who forgot to use his cooldowns, I added them to the rotation, so that I clearly see when they’re available.

So here is the final result in Weak Auras :

My Elemental priority list on Weak Aura

My Elemental priority list on Weak Aura

  1. Flame Shock, static icon. Show when Action usable (trigger 1) and the dot has less than 4 seconds remaining on the target (trigger 2)
  2. Flame Shock, spinning icon. Show when Action usable (trigger 1) and the dot isn’t on the target.
  3. Lava Burst, static icon. Show when Action usable (trigger 1) and Flame Shock has more than 1.3 seconds remaining on the target (trigger 2), and I don’t have the Lava Surge buff (trigger 3).
  4. Lava Burst, spinning icon. Idem #3 but with Lava Surge buff.
  5. Earth Shock, static icon. Show when action usable (trigger 2) and Lighting Shield is at 6 stacks (trigger 1).
  6. Earth Shock, spinning icon. Idem #5 but with 7 stacks.
  7. Fire Elemental Totem. Show when action usable
  8. Searing Totem. Show when no active fire totem (trigger 1) and Fire Elemental Totem cooldown has more than 15 seconds remaining (trigger 2)
  9. Ascendance. Show when action usable. (So that I don’t forget to cast it in fights when I don’t always use it in conjunction with Fire Elemental Totem)

 

Note : depending on your triggers, you may want to force the displayed icon (in my case I had to do that for Searing Totem, as none of the trigger is about Searing Totem, and to be able to show Lighting Shield stacks on Earth Shock icon). You can choose that in the display menu. Uncheck “Automatic icon”, and search for the spell you want to use the icon.

During a fight, only actions that you should use soon are shown. In my case, I have to cast Lighting Bolt when there’s no icons. Here’s a random combat screenshot :

Combat screenshot

Cast Lava Burst NOW !

Here is the Weak Aura import for my Elemental priority list :
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And in case you’d want to make a dynamic group for your own priority list, I’d be happy to help. Just ask in a comment below or send me an e-mail : zahia at one more alt dot com.

Is Wrathion questline Legendary enough ?

Tzufit recently wrote a post about the Wrathion legendary questline. In this post he complained that Legendaries have become too easy to acquire thanks to the Black Prince, making them no longer legendary. This seems like a valid concern. As he said, when everyone’s Legendary, no one will be!

Well, this depends of what are your expectations concerning Legendaries. If your main definition of Legendary is rare, then effectively, the Wrathion quest is hardly legendary as anyone can complete it.

Although, if you look at the quest reward, these become scarcer. Of course, it’s easy to get your Sha-touched gem. But then ? Not really useful if you don’t have the associated weapon. So yeah, I suppose a lot of players have actually equipped the gem in the most advanced guilds, but if you’re hoping to get your Sha-touched weapon in LFR, it suddenly gets a legendary touch !

But Legendary isn’t just “rare” for me. It’s also epic, fabulous. And what would you call a gigantic questline that’ll keep you involved during a whole expansion ? In this quest you’ll have to do raids (all of them, as it seems), daily quests, battlegrounds, and maybe heroics, challenge modes or scenarios to get your 6000 valor points.

Of course, this can’t replace the legendary items for top-notch guilds (and I hope Blizzard will continue to introduce legendary weapon in future patches). But for the others ? For all the players out there who know in advance that they won’t be able to get the new legendary weapon because they aren’t part of a hardcore raiding guild ? Well, for all these players, the Wrathion questline really have a legendary fell in my opinion.

Nice 5.2 Patch Note Lines You May have Missed

While reading the 5.2 patch note today I discovered an information I had missed until now :

  • Level capped players will now have a chance to earn Lesser Charms of Good Fortune after winning a pet battle versus a pet within 5 levels of the highest level pet on their team. Higher-level pets will offer a better chance to earn a charm.
  • Winning a pet battle versus a team within 5 levels of the player’s highest-level pet will now award player experience.

This nice little addition will certainly make pet battles more appealing for a lot of us. When I encounter high level pets I sometimes wish I could engage them in a battle. But  unfortunately my battle pets have been sitting at level 7 for a few months. Leveling your battle pets can feel like a long grind, and getting nothing out of it doesn’t help. Now you can get experience or Charms of Good Fortune out of it. Nice change for when you get bored or when you’re in a raid group waiting for LFR or for your guild raid to begin.