Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nerf Incoming: Discipline and Saurfang

As some of you may be aware, Icecrown Citadel (henceforth ICC, as it's called on Windrunner) has been out for a while, and I haven't posted about it yet. The reason is real life reared its head, and blogging got pushed aside to make room for studying for exams, spending time with family and Assassin's Creed II.

To recap, the guild roared into ICC10 (yes, 10, I'm in a 10man guild now, we pug some 25s, but rarely make up more than 3/5 of one) towards the end of the first week, all of us having had a crack at it in a pug or two and failing miserably, and cleared through the gunship battle in a couple hours. We wiped for another few hours on Saurfang, and called it a night. I and one of our tanks poured over the World of Logs data, (which, by the way, is amazingly useful for debugging new raids) and designed a new strategy with which we came back and two-shot Saurfang the next night, and our kill was so perfect that Saurfang died without getting to cast Mark of the Fallen Champion at all. At first, we just assumed a few things: we're pro, the stars aligned, World of Logs is distilled awesome, we're pro, etc. Now, however, I know why it worked so well.

Disco is OP for that fight.

Quick crash course on the Saurfang fight (spoiler warning? Not sure anyone but me likes to go in blind, but w/e): Saurfang starts with zero Energy. Whenever he hits anyone with anything, he gets +1 Energy. Each Energy makes him hit 1% harder. When he gets to 100 Energy, a random raidmember gets horribly raped, and his Energy resets to zero. His AoE and pets all need to be managed so that he gains as little energy as possible.

Why is Disco OP, and why do I see a nerf incoming?

Fully absorbed hits (most notably DoT ticks and pet melee swings) don't trigger an Energy gain. This means that simply by having a Disco priest healing your raid, Saurfang is deprived of 2-5 Energy from every Boiling Blood cast, and you can cover the add-control team's fuck-ups.

Side note: Yes, the Boiling Blood tooltip says it hits for 5k per tick, which would lead one to believe that you can only absorb one, maybe two ticks, but it's physical damage. After armor, talents, and Renewed Hope, it's more like 1.5-2k on plate DPS, 3k on everyone else.

So, enjoy it while you can, my priestly bretheren. Get yourselves into failing topguild runs, save the day, make off with the loot, and get asked to come back next time, all because of some slight healing class imbalance.

(But don't worry, we're boned for that green dragon encounter that's coming up in a few weeks.)

How it Works:

(P.S. You may notice the previous post, a crappily formatted list of some of the raid buffs. It's mostly for my own use, but I'll clean it up... eventually.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On Leadership - Raid stacking

So, there you are, on the n-th wipe of the night. You've read the strats, you keep wiping because you were so close last time. And yet, every try, DPS is just a little weak and you hit the enrage. Or during a particularly large damage spike a tank drops. Or you get two Mistresses. So what can you do?
Call it for the night and come back with proper raid stacking. By planning your buffs, you can give your raid that extra edge in the DPS or Tank/Heal that you would otherwise need to wait a couple weeks of gear farming for.
So, what is raid stacking? Raid stacking is the practice of carefully choosing which classes/specs you have in your raid to maximize the power of the raid itself. For example, you may want a Shaman for Bloodlust in nearly every raid, but a Rogue's Expose Armor is rather useless in a 10-man raid with 8 casters and a Warrior tank.
Below, I'll list all the buffs, by category:
Physical DPS
+178 Strength and Agility
Improved Strength of Earth Totem (Earth) - Most Shamans (Aura)
(155) Horn of Winter - All Death Knights (Buff)
(155) Strength of Earth Totem (Earth) - All Shamans (Aura)
+687 Attack Power
Improved Battle Shout - Most Warriors (Buff)
Improved Blessing of Might - Most Paladins (Buff)
(550) Blessing of Might - All Paladins (Buff)
(548) Battle Shout - All Warriors (Buff)
+10% Attack Power
Trueshot Aura - Marksman Hunters (Aura)
Abomination's Might - Blood Death Knights (Proc)
Unleashed Rage - Enhancement Shamans (Proc)
+30% Haste for 40 sec
Bloodlust - All Shamans (Spell)
+3% Damage Done
Sanctified Retribution - Retribution Paladins (Aura)
Arcane Empowerment - Arcane Mages (Proc)
Ferocious Inspiration - Beast Mastery Hunters (Proc)
+3% Haste
Swift Retribution - Retribution Paladins (Aura)
Improved Moonkin Form - Balance Druids (Aura)
+5% Physical Crit
Leader of the Pack - Feral Druids (Aura)
Rampage - Fury Warriors (Proc)
+20% Melee Haste
Improved Windfury Totem (Air) - Enhancement Shamans (Aura)
Improved Icy Talons - Frost Death Knights (Proc)
(16%) Windfury Totem (Air) - All Shamans (Aura)
+52 Stats, 1050 Armor, 76 Resistances
Mark of the Wild - All Druids (Buff)
(37, 750, 54) Drums of the Wild - 450 Leatherworking (Buff)
+10% Stats
Blessing of Kings - All Paladins (Buff)
(8%) Drums of Forgotten Kings - 450 Leatherworking (Buff)
Caster DPS
+30% Haste for 40 sec
Bloodlust - All Shamans (Spell)
+3% Damage Done
Sanctified Retribution - Retribution Paladins (Aura)
Arcane Empowerment - Arcane Mages (Proc)
Ferocious Inspiration - Beast Mastery Hunters (Proc)
+3% Haste
Swift Retribution - Retribution Paladins (Aura)
Improved Moonkin Form - Balance Druids (Aura)
+5% Spell Crit
Moonkin Form - Balance Druids (Aura)
Elemental Oath - Elemental Shamans (Proc)
+5% Spell Haste
Wrath of Air Totem (Air) - All Shamans (Aura)
Demonic Pact - Demonology Warlocks (Proc)
+280 Spell Power
Totem of Wrath (Fire) - Elemental Shamans (Aura)
(165) Improved Flametongue Totem (Fire) - Most Shamans (Aura)
(144) Flametongue Totem (Fire) - All Shamans (Aura)
+80 Spirit
Divine Spirit - All Priests (Buff)
(70) Improved Fel Intellegence - Affliction Warlocks (Felhunter Aura)
(64) Fel Intellegence - All Warlocks (Felhunter Aura)
+52 Stats, 1050 Armor, 76 Resistances
Mark of the Wild - All Druids (Buff)
(37, 750, 54) Drums of the Wild - 450 Leatherworking (Buff)

+10% Stats
Blessing of Kings - All Paladins (Buff)
(8%) Drums of Forgotten Kings - 450 Leatherworking (Buff)
Survival (Healing / Tank Mitigation, other than listed above)
-15% Physical Damage Taken
Inspiration - Healing Priests (Proc)
Ancestral Healing - Healing Shamans (Proc)
-3% Damage Taken
Blessing of Sanctuary - Tank Paladins (Buff)
(One-target) Grace - Discipline Priests (Proc)
(One-target, reduced threat) Vigilance - Tank Warriors (Buff)
+6% Healing Received
Tree of Life - Healing Druids (Aura)
Improved Devotion Aura - Tank Paladins (Aura)
+2818 Health
Improved Commanding Shout - Most Warriors (Buff)
(2547) Commanding Shout - All Warriors (Buff)
(1729) Improved Blood Pact - Most Warlocks (Imp Aura)
(1330) Blood Pact - All Warlocks (Imp Aura)
+214 Stamina
Improved Power Word: Fortitude - Most Priests (Buff)
(165) Power Word: Fortitude - All Priests (Buff)
(165) Runescroll of Fortitude - 440 Inscription (Buff)
+1807 Armor
Improved Devotion Aura - Tank Paladins (Aura)
(1205) Devotion Aura - All Paladins (Aura)
Battle Resurrection
Rebirth - Druids not Tanking Right Now (Spell)
Additional Healing
(Party-Only, 5% of DPS) Improved Vampiric Embrace - Shadow Priests (Aura)
(Party-Only, about 100 HPS) Healing Stream Totem (Water) - All Shamans with Spellpower (Aura)
+240 Healing Spellpower
(Dangerous on fights with many magical attacks) Amplify Magic - All Mages (Buff)
Reduced Magic Damage Taken
(Useful on fights with many small ticks of magic damage) Dampen Magic- All Mages (Buff)
+130 Fire Resistance
Fire Resistance Aura - All Paladins (Aura)
Fire Resistance Totem (Water) - All Shamans (Aura)
(63) Fire Shield - All Warlocks (Imp Buff)
+130 Frost Resistance
Frost Resistance Aura - All Paladins (Aura)
Arcane Resistance
None (Use Mark of the Wild for +76)
+130 Nature Resistance
Nature Resistance Totem (Air) - All Shamans (Aura)
Aspect of the Wild - All Hunters (Aura)
+130 Shadow Resistance
Shadow Protection - All Priests (Buff)
Shadow Resistance Aura - All Paladins (Aura)

On Leadership - The series begins

Us tanks and healers often end up needing to lead groups. In the new cross-realm PuGs, this job is almost exclusively the tank's, regardless of who actually has the party leader tag. In raids, I find that the leader is often a tank or healer, and I attribute this to tanks and healers often being the sort of person with the initiative to form a guild or PuG raid. Because of this, and because I find myself needing to plan raids in my current guild, I am going to begin writing a series of posts about proper raid leading.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gone Disco

Do you refer to it as a disco ball or as bubble wrap? So, as you might guess from the title, I've gone Disco. Which means I don't even have Guardian Spirit anymore. I'm not going to be changing the blog though, I'm going to be giving a quick rundown of how Disco works for any priests out there considering making the switch.

Pro: I can't go OOM. Ever.
Between Rapture (which can and does trigger 10+ times at once if bubbles are popped simultaneously) and Mental Strength, I have in-casting MP5 coming out of my ears, and my most common heals are much cheaper than in Holy. I think the last time I had to pop Shadowfiend was... uh... just before I respecced, I think?

Con: I really miss Circle of Healing.
Back when I was Holy, I used to be able to snap 5 6 people instantly out of the red zone, and I didn't even need to target it properly.

Pro: ...but Power Word: Shield is IMBA.
It pulls someone way out of the red zone with ~10-11k shielding and another 2-3k from the glyph. Not to mention that I then get +25% Haste for my next spell three spells from Borrowed Time. It's supposed to be only one spell, but Penance doesn't consume it, neither does Renew, and Power Word: Shield just refreshes it again. So in most cases, Borrowed Time is affecting about 70% of my spell casts.

Con: ...which puts me past the Haste cap.
The global cooldown won't go below 1.00 seconds from Haste, so my .9 second Flash Heals aren't quite going to full use. But then, 1.5 second Greater Heals are nice. I'm pretty sure a fully-Serendipitied one took longer than that as Holy.

Pro: Crits don't overheal.
Okay, they do, like anything else, but with Divine Aegis, it doesn't feel like as much of a waste. And since the shields from it stack up to 10k total and are used before Power Word: Shield, all those times you find yourself spamhealing a tank because of big spike damage, well, about 13.5% of it's going into shields that otherwise would have been overheal. Plus, that puts our effective Crit heal multiplier at 1.95, which is the highest of any healing spec as far as I know. Since I'm over Haste cap, I know what stat to trade all my Haste for!

Con: I really miss Guardian Spirit.
It was the ultimate Oh &$@*# move, no matter how many stupid things were happening, I knew that my target would live to see another few seconds at least. And with it instant cast and off the global cooldown and usually only a 1 minute cooldown, I used to use it often and to great effect.

Pro: Pain Suppression.
It's even stronger than Guardian Spirit when not being used to absorb a rediculous amount of damage. 140% healing dealt means 71% healing required. 60% damage taken means 60% healing required. It's too bad the cooldown is 3 2.4 times as long, but man can this save raids more effectively.

Pro: Power Infusion.
Your DPS will worship the ground you walk on. Well, one of your DPS. On an average 8 minute raid fight, this will be up for 75 seconds, making it significantly more valuable than Bloodlust... for that one person. Alternately it can be used for buffing another healer during an intense healing phase, but it's rarely useful to self-cast since I'm already past the Haste cap. I recommend Destro 'locks or Fire mages in general, but really it should go to the highest caster DPS.

Con: You show up low on the healing meters.
Not really low, mind you, just a little below the other competent healers. And a surprisingly large number of idiots will blame your low HPS for any and all wipes. You can tell you're doing fine if your Healing plus Absorbs total to around that of the highest on the meters (most absorb meters can be a little wildly inaccurate if you frequently do things like have multiple people's absorb shields on a target at the same time, however they tend to be good to within a few percent under typical situations.) Clearly healing meters aren't everything, and certain assignments may require you to do less in order to keep important raid members alive, but the above figure is a fair way to get meter hounds off your case.

Pro: It's not much of a stretch to pronounce "Penance" as "penis".
...and we can all use a good laugh about how much the tank likes your "Penance".

Pro: Disco lolsmite actually does fair damage.
I deal ~1.5k DPS with the Penance -> Holy Fire -> Mind Blast -> Smite priority queue. That's actually a somewhat meaningful contribution to pure burn phases like that final Massive Crash when Heroic Icehowl is in his Hard Enrage and everyone but the Pally Tank all died and you Soulstoned to finish the last 100k before he un-stuns. (That's how we got our first Heroic Northrend Beasts kill last weekend. =D )

So there you have it, a collection of my impressions of the Discipline spec. Basically, Disco is for you if:
  • You almost never run with another Disco priest.
  • You want to prevent rather than heal up after hits.
  • You want stronger tank heals.

I find that my raid healing ability is undiminished compared to Holy; I just need to mass bubble beforehand, rather than spamming AoE heals afterwards. And if needed I can still do that; a Borrowed-Timed Prayer of Healing is a wonderful thing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Rules of Raiding

In my previous post I mentioned a reference to the Rules of Raiding. Here I'm posting what I see as the most commonly ignored Rules, even in mid-high end raids, in descending order of importance.

-Rules for thine Raide Group-
Thou shallt follow the commandments herein, unless one shall conflict with another before it.
If it shall improveth thine odds of killing the boss, thou shallt do it.
Thou shallt own up to thine epic fail; teabag unto others as you would have them teabag unto you.
Shouldst thou taste defeat, identify the cause, maketh all aware, and ensure that it may not occur again.
Shouldst the cause of thine defeat be incorrigable, thou shallt not waste thine raide's time and gold on a wipe night.
Shall it not help thine raide group, thou shallt not discuss it upon the sacred Ventrilo.
If it can be spoken to full effect in thine raide chat, officer chat, a class or spec channel, therein shall it be spoken.
Know which of thine loot is an upgrade, or be able to decide correctly at the drop of a hat.
Shall you stand victorious and it's a loot chest, thou shallt link every item inside as soon as possible.
Shall you stand victorious and it's a loot chest, thou shallt get the hell off the chest.

On Doing what is Required to Kill the Damn Boss

Every possible course of action should be considered by every player no matter what they do in order to beat the encounter.

This is the quote recently posted on World of Matticus. It was posted in reference to a fictional document, the Rules of Raiding. I'm reposting it here for emphasis; take it to heart.

This can only lead to WIN

Taken from the new tutorials on the 3.3 PTR for great justice.

Reading, Raiding and 'rithmatic: Why ignoring the math will get you into trouble

You know them, the people you always refer to as "that guy," the people who say things like "i wunt work for a game lol," the people who get called things like "Fail-Druid" as though it were their name. Well, I'm here to say that even decent raiders can be gimping themselves (I.E. reducing their effectiveness by doing something easily avoidable) just like that guy. Sure, it's not as obvious as the when someone needs this, but the things even 'good' raiders do can be losing literally thousands of DPS for your raid. I am talking about ignoring the math.

Let me tell you a story. On my previous ToC10 raid, two sets of caster boots dropped, which were upgrades for many players present. I won the first pair and stuffed them away for my shadow set since they were a sizeable upgrade to my old shadow boots. Then a boss later, a second pair of boots dropped with int/spirit/crit/SP on them. The warlock and I rolled on them, and the warlock won. In my case, they were a strict upgrade (same stats but more of them) over my old boots, in the warlock's case they were a different stat array trading haste for spirit, she rolled simply because the boots were higher item level. Another boss later, I got a whisper asking if I still wanted the boots; the warrior in our group that knew the warlock in real life had run the math for the boots; they were actually worse than her current boots. Luckily the mistake was corrected, but ignoring the math behind your class can lead to problems such as gimping your own DPS and screwing a guildie out of an upgrade.

So, how much do you need to know to know 'enough' about how your class works? Simply reading a set of stat weights should be sufficient for most purposes. However, I have two caveats: One, the stat weights you're likely to see listed on sites like Elitists Jerks or Lootrank are based on a set of assumptions about your gear, spec and playstyle that, if inaccurate (and they probably are,) will mean that the stat weights are similarly incorrect for you. And two, all stat weightings are relative, both between items and within them; never take the total value of an item to mean anything other than the item is 'better' than items with a lower value.

For those not interested in actually doing the math to find the perfect stat weightings for you, here's how to apply the knowledge once you pester a guildie to tell you yours. When you get your stat weightings, it will be a list of stats that you can find on gear and numbers. To find an item's value by typing the number of each stat on the item times the weight value of that stat into a calculator and adding all the products. For example:

I'm currently using the following stat weights for my shadow spec (assuming about a 5 minute boss fight, I'm hit capped, I don't run out of mana, etc, etc.):
Spell Power - 1.00, Hit - 0.00, Crit - .501, Haste - .506, Spirit - .220, Int - .216, MP5 - 0.00, anyting not listed here - 0.00

Note that Spell Power is exactly 1.00. This is not a coincidence; I defined these stat weights relative to Spell Power, the numbers are how much SP one point of the given stat is "worth". I could as easily chosen a different stat to be the 1.00, or I could use an entirely arbitrary scale, the point isn't the numbers themselves, but rather how they relate to eachother.

So to compare two items, I just calculate (Spell Power * 1.00) + (Crit * .501) + (Haste * .506) + (Sprit * .220) + (Int * .216) for both items. Whichever one is the higher number is the better item. However, sine I know that the stat weights I calculated are not perfectly accurate (Stamina is not quite worthless, nor is MP5, for example) I tend not to trust the numbers unless they're at least 5% different from eachother, and even then I tend to have a look at the items myself just to make sure there's not something dumb going on, such as me going under hit cap if I swap the items.

And that's all there is to it once you have your stat weightings. If you're just raiding pre-hardmodes, you probably don't need a great set of stat weights custom-made for you, and it will be sufficient to just ask a guildie or Google. If you're like me, however, read on, and I'll explain how to come up with your stat weightings.

First, identify what you want the stat weights for. Is it for DPSing a Sarth+3 zerg? If so, that would lead to a very different set of stat requirements from, say, healing Crazy Cat Lady, or even from just DPSing a "normal" boss fight. Things like fight length, spec, your current stats, which spells you usually use, etc. all affect the final stat weights, so make sure you know what you want from your stat weightings.

Then, you'll want to figure out how much each stat is worth, relative to some standard measure. For DPS weightings, I like to use 1 DPS as my standard, meaning the weight is how much DPS I would gain for one point of that stat. For healing, it's more complicated; recently I've been using "how much healing I can do before I go OOM on an 8 minute fight" as my measure. Clearly this is a bit more difficult to measure than the DPS standard since, on most fights, while I do go OOM, how early and whether I can keep running on mana fumes is mostly determined by how much fire my guildies stand in. Nonetheless, difficult or not, it's possible to find equations for these values.

To find such an equation, take what you know, and be ready to do some research to fill in what you don't. For DPS, you can use your spells' spell power coefficient divided by the spell's casting time (modified by your current Haste, of course!) to find the DPS per spell power. Similarly, if you know how much bonus damage you get on a Crit (which is based on the crit% modifier and how much damage you do normally, which is in turn based on Spell Power...), you can find a DPS equivalent for Crit rating, and so on for the other stats. If a stat doesn't have a connection to the standard you're using to measure the worth of stats, then it should probably be given a weight very close to zero. Also, be sure to take into account Use, Chance on hit, Set effects and similar abnormal abilities, while the math may be more difficult, the reward is often in the hundreds of DPS.

As you'll notice, the stat weightings for your stats are very likely to depend on which spells you cast, and how often, and what buffs your raid has (taking account of Kings is particularly easy to do; just multiply your base stats' weights by 1.1), and what gear you already have, and so on. Because of this, your stat weights will change, a lot. I would recommend re-calculating your stat weights every 5 or so new pieces of gear you get, or when you respec, or if a new patch comes out that changes your class. Do it more or less often to fit your taste. If you find your guild hitting a brick-wall to progress, it might be a good idea to find specific stat weights for the fight that's giving you trouble and prepare a set of gear custom-made for the fight (like I did for my OS+3 zerg; since the fight is so short I dumped literally all of my mana regen).

As always, use common sense; if a set of stat weights looks like it's giving you bad advice, it probably is. Sanity checking your results is the best way to know if you've made a mistake in your calculations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

/bow to the Hypnotoad

How dare you? You turned me, a priest into a toad? I shall have my revenge... a revenge of Mind Controlling goodness! /bow before the Hypnotoad! Muahahaha!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pimp My U/I: Thoroughput

Welcome to the first installment of Pimp My U/I! In this episode, I'll show you how to boost your thoroughput tenfold* without a single change in gear or talents.

*May not actually be tenfold.

The basic premise of increasing thoroughput via User or Interface changes is identifying what's using your time that's not actually casting a healing spell, and finding a way to work around or eliminate it. First off: Latency!


As most should know, the internet is not a big truck; it's not something you just dump something on, it's a series of tubes. Those tubes can be filled, and when they're filled, the internet will be delayed for you and me.

So, if the internet is being delayed for you and me does this mean it's slowing our heals down? Absolutely. You can find your 'ping' or 'latency' by mousing over the Game Options menu button on the default blizzard UI. It is also displayed on the top of Ventrilo (this is typically close to the latency with the game server), and several addons exist that can track your latency. The number is listed in milliseconds (ms), which are 1/1000 of a second.

You can speed up your heals by casting the next heal before you finish casting your current one by a time approximately equal to your latency. If you're a little early, the game server will remember that you want to cast the next spell, and will pop it for you immediately when your old spell ends. On 200 ms latency (like I have) this tactic provides a benefit equivalent to 500 Haste Rating. This is a massive difference and well worth the effort to learn and employ.

I use a handy addon called Quartz to help with this, Quartz is a castbar mod that replaces the blizzard one, making it easier to read, and marks the bar with the spot where you should send your next spell to nullify the effect of latency. Very useful, and so far has worked every patch without a hitch.


For many raiders, this is a basic thing that they've long-since eliminated. For others, it would never even occur to them that there's a better way. Simply put, moving the mouse around takes time, time that could be used doing something else, like anything else. I will admit, that I am still a clicker; I commonly click on other players or their healthbars to target them. This is mostly acceptable, because the only other thing I could be using my right hand for is uh... well, I don't plan on keyboard turning, but I just thought of a great reason to figure out how to free my right hand.

At any rate, the preferred solution is to either: eliminate clicking to cast spells, or find a way to select your spell without moving the mouse. The popular addon, Healbot, offers the option to bind spells to your mouse buttons, allowing you to left-click to Flash Heal someone, or right-click to Greater Heal them, for example. My current setup actually uses no addons to help manage my spells; I only use the basic UI. I have simply dragged the raid frames out of the Social tab. I click a health bar to target it and I have (almost) all my spells bound to my keyboard. Whether you choose to use addons or not, you need to find a way to avoid using your mouse to cast spells, because it's slow, imprecise and can make your buttons run away.


As a priest, I have somewhat more spells available to pre-heal than, say, a Holy paladin. Proactive healing isn't really an option on every fight or for every healer, but when applicable, it can make the difference between a boss kill with loot, or a wipe with ball jokes. The idea of proactive healing is to use some kind of pre-healing on someone likely to be taking damage when you wouldn't otherwise be casting. Typically the tank is a safe bet, but putting HoTs on the tank is something every healer knows to do; what people typically miss is other raid members who are likely to take damage. That warlock who can't control its threat? Shield it. The tree standing in front of a Deep Breath? Yell at him over vent while putting shield, mending and renew on him. Did you forget to grab the Dark Essence for the Dark Vortex? Guardian Spirit will actually cover your mistake for you! (Not that I'm speaking from last Tuesday's experience or anything...) Pre-healing won't always keep people on their feet, and there's some kinds of stupidity that you simply can't do anything about, but this skill has definitely saved plenty of lives, and routinely makes the difference between wipes and kills for me.

Although I'm sure some addons may exist that would help, I have yet to find one that can replace simply paying attention to your raid.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gearing for Thoroughput

Last time, I covered how to decide which stats to collect to increase your mana regenration. Typically, skill and mana regen will be enough to get you through heroics and the easier raids. Once you start pushing deep into Ulduar, trying ToC or attempting hard modes, you may find that even infinite mana couldn't keep your tanks up. When this happens, you know that it's time to start looking more seriously at thoroughput, however, it's good to at least consider it, even before then.

Thoroughput is loosely defined as the amount of healing you can possibly do in a given space of time without regard to mana. For example, a priest with very low spellpower and haste might heal 2.5k with Flash Heal every 1.7 seconds (no haste, 0.2 seconds lost due to latency) = 1470 HPS, which is very clearly less than my priest which heals 5650 every 1.33 seconds = 4248 HPS with the same.

Maximizing your thoroughput is something like being a DPS; you're looking to cram as much healing into as tiny a space of time as possible. Much like DPS, typically we look at single-target and multi-target HPS differently, despite the fact that both use the same stats. Let's take a look at the stats you use to do this:

Spellpower - All spells (not just healing) increase in effectiveness based on the caster's spellpower and the spell's Spell Power Coefficient. As an example, Flash Heal has a base healing of 1887 to 2193, and a SP coefficient of 0.8068. Thus, a priest with 2500 SP would heal 3904 to 4210 before talents and other buffs. Spellpower will likely be present on all gear you use, and is a fine choice for gems and enchants.

Spell Crit - Crit rating and Intellect both contribute to your spell crit chance. Most spells (including healing spells) gain an additional 50% of their effect when they crit. So, following the above example, the same 2500 SP Flash Heal would heal 5856 to 6315 on a crit. Each 2% crit chance adds on average 1% thoroughput, however, due to the random nature of both incoming damage and crits, average healing isn't always a good thing to measure by. Generally, go for crit for thoroughput only if you have talents like Inspiration and Holy Concentration that improve your crits. Also, never consider crit if your healing spells can't crit (I.E. If you use primarily heal over time effects.)

Spell Haste - This comes from Haste rating and Bloodlust. Haste is an exceptional thoroughput stat, particularly for classes that use zero-cooldown direct heals. Every 32.79 Haste rating is a 1% increase in Thoroughput (as compared with 91.82 Crit rating for the same,) and has the added benefit of speeding up your reactions, since you'll finish that last-second spell that much sooner. The reason we don't all stack haste until we have it coming out of our ears is twofold. The first is that whatever you gained in thoroughput, you also lost in mana consumption; 1% Haste = +1% Thoroughput and +1% Mana Usage. The second is that there is a soft haste cap; no spell's cast time can fall below 1 second, and neither will the Global Cooldown. Thus, for common 1.5 second spells, you cap haste at 50%, or 1639.5 Haste rating. While this may seem so high that the cap is ignorable, certain trinket effects, like that of the Egg of Mortal Essence, and Bloodlust (which is about 1000 Haste) may go to waste if you have too much Haste already. For slower spells, ignore the cap; it's irrelevant. Haste is an excellent way to trade mana for thoroughput, do so only if you can afford the mana.

Spirit - For some specs, Spirit can give Spellpower bonuses. Do not aim to collect Spirit for thoroughput; it will always be inefficient for that purpose. That said, when comparing very similar gear, do not ignore the effect.

Intellect - Much like spirit, Intellect can convert to Spellpower. As above, do not attempt to stack Intellect for thoroughput.

Strength - For PvP healing prot pallies, this is frikkin' broken. Good luck killing one, and absolutely don't try to collect strength for PvE healing, ever.

So, in summary, for a Holy priest: a fair thoroughput piece has SP and Crit, a good thoroughput piece has SP and Haste on it, and an excellent one has SP, Haste and Crit all on one. Weigh your stats differently depending on the talents you have, and the type of healing spells you commonly use. Next post, I'll go over another way to improve your thoroughput-- without spending a single copper, badge or raid lockout.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to: Mana Regen

Mana: It's what's for breakfast As we all know, healing requires mana. If you run out, someone you're supposed to be healing might very well die. Clearly then, every healer should find a way to not run out of mana. Today I will be explaining how to gear for mana regen, primarily for Holy priests, however I hope to make my explanations broad enough to apply to other healing specs as well.

In general, there are two ways to ensure that you don't run out of mana. The first is to get your mana regen so high that it exceeds your mana consumption. This is reasonable for 5man Heroics, Naxx and parts of Ulduar (IE trash). However, it is more difficult to attain for the more difficult raids or hard modes. Thus, the second option is to have a large enough mana pool that, although you're depleting it throughout the fight, it won't run out before the end. This strategy is viable at all levels of play, and depends on a balance of max mana and mana regen.

Now that we have some goals in mind, let's examine mana stats.

MP5 - The most basic and easily predictable mana stat. MP5 does exactly what it says; you will regen the listed amount of mana over five seconds, every five seconds, for until the effect ends or you unequip the item. MP5 is typically used by any healing spec that wouldn't use Spirit. (see below)

Maximum Mana - Boosted by Intellect and (rarely) +Mana enchants, the size of your mana pool not only allows you to last longer before going OOM during intense healing, but also increases the mana you regen from effects like Replenishment, Shadowfiend or Arcane Torrent. Every class can benefit from the boost to Replenishment, and similarly, there are class spells/talents and racials that also scale to max mana.

Spell Critical - Boosted by Crit rating or Intellect, some classes regen mana based on crit heals, and this will also be useful when you go to look at your HPS. As an example, the Holy Priest talent Holy Concentration scales mana regen to Spell Crit, Int and Spirit. Look for similar talents in your class' healing tree to see if crit is right for you.

Intellect - Increases maximum mana, the effect of Spirit and (slightly) spell critical chance. This is a core mana stat for all healing classes, due to the max mana component, and the boost to spirit and crit add even more benefit for classes that use those. Good for +15 Mana per point.

Spirit - Grants MP5 that is subject to the "five second rule". The amount of MP5 you gain from spirit is proportional to to the square root of your Int times your Spirit. Typically Spirit is a bad choice as a mana stat unless your class has talents like Spiritual Guidance and Meditation.

So, what does this all mean? Gear to match your talents. While MP5 is useful for any healer, Spirit is usually better for Holy Priests, simply due to the talents we have available. When in doubt, go for Int.

If you no longer run OOM on the content you intend to run, then you should stop gearing for mana and start gearing for HPS. Next post I'll examine HPS stats on gear.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Fundamental Theorem of Guardian Spirit

As I mentioned in the first post, Guardian Spirit is all about the tanks and healers, the part of the raid dedicated to keeping everyone alive. However, this does not mean that nothing I write will be of any use to the DPS among us, as you shall see in this post, the DPS also have an important role in ensuring that everyone lives through the fight as well.

"In order for everyone to live through a fight, the healing each person receives must be no less than the damage they take minus their health."

This is just a fancy way of saying that you die at zero HP, however writing it this way makes it more clear just what factors go into successfully healing a raid.

For example, by stating that the healing must be at least close to the damage taken makes it obvious that if the healing team's maximum total Healing per Second is less than the raid's Damage Taken per Second, then people will eventually die, no matter what.

Another consequence is that if the DTPS of any single person is greater than the healing team's combined single-target HPS, then that person will surely die as well.

(Side note: henceforth, I will use the following abbreviations: HP - Heath, HPS - Healing per Second, DPS - Damage Dealt per Second, DTPS - Damage Taken per Second.)

So, clearly it is not only the quality of the healers that decide the success or failure of the healing team, but also the tank's mitigation and HP, and the DPS' ability to mitigate or avoid splash damage.

So, as all good tanks know, while HP is the most visible stat, having low mitigation means that you require ever stronger heals in order to live through a long fight. Others before me have considered the idea of "Tank Points" which is something like:

Tank Points = HP / %DamageTaken
%DamageTaken = ((1 - Mitigation%) * (1 - Reduction%))
where Mitigation is Miss Change + Parry + Dodge
and Reduction is based on Armor and Block

This value comes out to the true amount of attacks a tank can take from full health before needing a heal. The bigger this value, the more time the healers have between the tank coming under attack and needing to have a heal land. Thus, it is important to balance HP with other stats that reduce damage taken, as this will actually lead to a greater Tank Points than HP alone.

As always, it's not just this simple. When the tank and/or the healing team is only lightly geared for the given content, then %DamageTaken can be even more important than Tank Points, because the incoming damage might otherwise exceed the healing team's max HPS. (As long as the tank's health is greater than the biggest hit the boss can deal.)

Along these lines, there is a non-equipment way to reduce damage taken. Every single person in the raid has the ability to simply not be targeted by attacks. Is there a huge line of fire across the room? Don't stand in it. A rocket about to land? Don't be under it. Tail Swipe? Cleave? Impale? Hot Pocket? Avoid it, avoid it, make sure to be on the far side of the permafrost, and cast Ice Block or something. Any damage you take that was avoidable is healing the healers could have used on the tanks. Many tank deaths are due to the healers stopping to heal avoidable damage on each other or the DPS.

This is a rant I've been needing to give for quite a while, if everyone would take it to heart, I swear every guild would be an entire raiding tier forward, or deeper into hardmodes. So install the new FailBot, run out of the lightning nova, and pop Feint right before XT's tantrum, because the leading cause of wipes is everyone dying, and only you can prevent florist fires. (Or insert non-herbalism pun here.)

Note that we are currently not even considering mana consumption; once mana is taken into account, the requirements on the tank and DPS become even stricter. In the coming articles, I'm going to run through the basics of maximizing HPS for healers and getting enough mana to do so.

Warning: this blog occasionally contains descriptions of violence (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and basic mathematics (which may be unsuitable for the majority of WoW players).

Guardian Spirit begins!

Before we begin, I have one thing to say...

First post!

Ahem, now to begin properly. Guardian Spirit is a blog dedicated to those of us that keep those of you that make the boss die alive. It is about both tanking and healing, and will be written primarily from the perspective of the classes that I play. Guardian Spirit is about PvE strategy in World of Warcraft. The majority of my posts will likely discuss non-hardmode raiding, although I am liable to wander off my chosen topic from time to time and write about anything even remotely related to WoW.

With that said, the first real post will be up right after this one.