Friendly Competition and Misery Loves Company

Our usual heal team consists of 2 priests (a disco priest and me, generally as holy) and a resto druid.  Now, considering that priests are being horribly mistreated in this patch with respect to spirit gear, the other priest and I are both grudgingly grinding VP.

We are a little bitter about it.  And by a little bitter, I mean pretty fucking bitter.  Whenever plate, mail, or leather drops with spirit on it, we gripe.  Whenever someone gets an upgrade and cheerfully announces “Now I won’t have to grind for the VP version”, I die a little inside.  Since VP is our only GOOD option, we are siblings in solidarity or some such nonsense.  It’s easier to put up with bullshit when someone else shares your pain and is putting up with the same bullshit.

We have been pretty much lock-step in getting our VP pieces.  Neither of us caps every week, but we seem to be on the same VP collection schedule.  However, when other priest got his gloves while I was on vacation, and was therefore one piece ahead of me, I was twirling my virtual mustache yelling “CURSES!”  This made me want to grind MOAR VP.  Even though I have my 2 piece bonus and am much more comfortable with my mana and thoroughput, I must have ALL THE THINGS.  I am MOTIVATED, dammit.

How does friendly competition affect your in-game activities, if at all?

(P.S. Laral is a dirty smitey cheater and does not really need the gear.)

Taking A Break Did Not Make Me Want To Quit WoW

Hi everyone!  So, vacation is over… and I have been reading a lot of bloggers who take a break and say “you know, I don’t miss WoW, I like it better without WoW.  So long!”  Well that didn’t happen to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I was not missing WoW during the vacation.  I didn’t have the shakes or a real desire to play.  I looked at the guild forums once or twice.  But basically I had a nice, solid break, and that was good.

But, when I did get back, I still wanted to play.  It was still fun.  I reconnected with the guild and told them Twig stories from the vacation (the little weasel climbed up on Grandpa’s pool table).

Going away on vacation is completely different than taking a WoW break while at home.  When I have people visiting me, I still have the urge to check in.  I want to make sure raids get off the ground.  I want to talk to people online.  It’s really hard to get away from that.  But while on the road, that draw is not there.  The guild knows we’re out of pocket, and that’s that.

So, yay… I’m catching up on feed reader (since I didn’t even check that while on vacation.  Vacation is srs bzns.) and getting back into that raiding thing.  I’ve been practicing disc so much for Baleroc, I hope I remember how to do the Holy thing.

Vacation

That’s right, we’re off to visit Papa Murloc in a few days.  See you after Labor Day!

Now, you ask, what is the difference between Papa Murloc and Mama Murloc?  Let me explain:

Mama Murloc says: “I hope they don’t stand in the fire.”

Papa Murloc would say: “Hey, shithead.  Get out of the goddamned fire.  Moron.”

I trust that Twig will pick up some exciting vocabulary.

(That is, if we get to go, due to hurricanes and whatnot…)

Walking the (Casual Raiding) Line in Firelands

Well you’ve heard me yabber on about VP and how I hate getting them, but how I don’t really have much of a choice in the matter.

Capping VP every week isn’t reasonable for my life as a casual raider.  But at the same time, we were very much struggling in the beginning without any T-12-equivalent gear.  Clearly some out-of-raiding work is required.

There once was an ex-guildie who strenuously objected that I did not do dailies.  To him, this omission meant that I was clearly not serious about raiding.  To me, dailies were lower priority than heroics to get gear.  He assumed I had time to do both – which of course was erroneous!  Based on the time I had, I chose to focus on heroics.

Right now, I’m doing some valor point grinding (not capping), and no dailies, because the dailies gear is not that good for my class/spec.  Maybe someone out there is incensed that I am not doing my dailies, or not capping vp.  I, on the other hand, may be irrationally stabby at someone who, after all this time, has not obtained a piece or two of VP or faction/dailies gear.

I clearly think that the person who expects me to do dailies is being a little too hardcore.  But am I being too hardcore in the (admittedly moderate) amount of work outside of raids that I expect?  At what point does “not being hardcore” morph into “not making the effort?”

Holy Priest Mana Management

I have mana issues.  A lot.  Looking at the upcoming spiritless cloth gear (bleh), I had to use some serious strategery for not going OOM as much…

Gear

My fellow members of Team Heal surprised me with Darkmoon Card Tsunami.  Apparently they love the lolwell so much, they want me to stay holy.  Awww.

I got the first piece of tier gear (chest).  In raiding I was already seeing a difference.  I just got the pants last night for the 2pc bonus.  It should be a pretty constant mana increase, since it will be kept up by my basic healing rotation.

And finally, I reforged down to the bare minimum of haste for 12.5% raid buffed and am relying on the mastery: echo of light.  In current content, because there’s SO much healing to be done, echo of light is not as much overheal.

Mana Cooldowns

Potions

So first, I tried those concentration potion doodads.  That doesn’t really work for me, since being out of pocket for 10 sec doesn’t work on most fights. I can barely have time for Hymn of Hope.  So I’m stuck with regular old mana pots.

Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope

Now, you can get super extra mana if you cast shadowfiend then swing into hymn of hope.  But that would require being pretty low on mana to pay off… and I don’t want to wait that long for throwing the first fiend (so it can reset).  Plus, finding time to channel is something that is a challenge.  I decided that I’d be better off doing hymn of hope separately from shadowfiend at a predetermined time coordinated with the rest of the healers – while I toss shadowfiend as soon as feasible (i.e. at a mana level where I wouldn’t waste any mana returns) and toss it again right off cooldown.

Now on to using the fiend better.  See… I would wait too long to cast the damn thing.  And I might not cast him right when he got off cooldown.

First, I made a Power Aura to show when I’m at 70% mana, so I know to toss the first fiend then.  Well, I kinda stole it from Beru and then tweaked the mana level to one that I thought was appropriate for fiending.

Second, I used MSBT to create a more obnoxious noise for when fiend is off cooldown.  I had a noise already but it was clearly not annoying enough to get my attention.

Spell Choices

I’m not doing so hot here.  I’m trying to use Heal, though it pains me to do so.  I’m not sure why my fail here deserves its own heading, but there you go.

Lightwell Harassment

Toward the end of the last tier, we got a little complacent in our awesomeness and didn’t need to click the lightwell as much.  Now, I’m getting people back into the habit by harassing them over vent to CLICK IT during periods of intense AOE damage.  If my lightwell disappears before the cooldown is up, it means that all the charges are getting used up.  That makes me a happy camper.

Using Addon Sounds (Sparingly)

Last week, Wow Insider talked about using audio cues to help you raid.  However, add too many bleeps and blorps, and it just fades into the background.  So here is my handy guide.

When To Add A Sound

In order to prevent sound overload, figure out what things you normally forget, and then add a sound.  If it’s not something you forget, then you don’t need a sound.  Save the blings and beeps for things that are currently giving you problems.

And if, after adding a sound, you still forget it… add a more obnoxious sound.

1.  Something you are not supposed to be standing in.  If it’s something at your feet that you have trouble seeing and you need to get out ASAP, use noises!

2. Low Health.  This is extremely useful.  If you are focused on doing complex aspects of a fight, your health may drop and you might not even notice.  I usually pop a cooldown in response to this audio signal.  This noise can also be extremely annoying on fights where people are routinely kept at low health levels, such as Chimi.

3. Low Mana (or a specified level).  Don’t let OOM catch you off guard.  You might want to set the sound at a certain threshold, such as the mana level at which you want to pop a mana-regen cooldown or alter your rotation to a mana conserve phase.

4. Something that procs.  If something procs rather infrequently, and you need to do something to respond to the proc, a sound may help your reaction time.

5.  Something off cooldown.  Now, this is only if it’s an ability that you absolutely want to use the INSTANT it is off cooldown.  I don’t recommend this for cooldowns that are under a minute long, or it might drive you batty.

6. You pull aggro.  Then, you know to pop an aggro-shedding cooldown.  If you’re not the tank, that is. If you are the tank, you probably want to have a sound if you lose aggro.

Addons to Add a Sound

For shit you should not stand in, see if your boss mod has a setting.  Or get GTFO.  I use both Bigwigs and GTFO to make sure I’m totally aware of shit I should not be standing in.

For low health, low mana, procs, and cooldowns.  I use Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text primarily and Power Auras sometimes.  You can add a sound to a scrolling event on MSBT or to a visual aura on Power Auras.

The one reservation I have about Power Auras is that if you use a “noise when off cooldown”, Power Auras will ping you every time you get into combat because most people only have auras display while in combat.  You get into combat, your aura appears, and you get a PING.  It is quite annoying.  Whereas MSBT will only ping you once your cooldown is up – the disadvantage to that is that you will get pings out of combat when you might not care.

If I recall correctly, you can set up Omen Threat Meters to warn you if you have aggro.

Using GridStatusPriestAOE for Maximizing Priest AOE Spell Effectiveness

OK, this is the most embarrassing thing ever.  You see that Group 2 needs healing!  No problem, Prayer of Healing to the rescue!  You center it on someone and… it hits only that person.  Everyone else was out of range.  Waste of mana.  Waste of time.  And embarrassing.  (How do I tell whom the AOE hit?  GridStatusHealTrace.)

But seriously, you’re staring at bars.  How are you supposed to know who is in range of whom?

Enter GridStatusPriestAOE.  If you are using Vuhdo, TOO BAD!

How GridStatusPriestAOE Works

This lovely addon gives you a suggestion as to which person, if healed, would maximize the healing done by that spell.  You’re gonna cast POH on group 2 anyway, but on whom should it be centered?  GridStatusPriestAOE knows.

Now, this is best used as a range checker, not as a suggestion on which group to heal or where your circle of healing should be.  It is NOT good at telling you what to do.  You have a brain for that.

With that said, let’s get to the setup.

Configuring Status

Looky, here it is under your status tab.

I wouldn’t put “check only for first group”… well maybe if you’re in a BG.  But honestly, you need to know ALL THE GROUPS.

Here’s the config for circle of healing.  It has all sorts of nifty options, like hiding it when I’m not in holy spec or hiding when on cooldown.  Yes please.

Now, what is this heal threshold?  It’s so you don’t keep seeing the icons when nobody is hurt.  I would say, just TRY the defaults and then fiddle around from there.  The defaults are pretty good.

The priority is 99, which is higher than that of Prayer of Healing, because I don’t want to cast prayer of healing if COH will do the job.

Now the Prayer of Healing!  I don’t recommend “always show best target in each group”.  With that checked, it will have a dot for each group up ALL THE TIME regardless of whether anyone is hurt.  I unchecked the other options as well.  Do whatever you prefer on those.

The priority on this one is 97, lower than that of COH.

Put It Somewhere In the Grid Frame

Now, there are colors for these boxes, so you can tell which is POH and which is COH in your frames.  I opted to just use an icon plugin and reserve a spot for those two icons.

Examples

I took some screenies when I was in a srs bzns raid.

OK, now Ashe is the person you want to do POH on for group 1.  You don’t want to do POH in group 2.  However Kari in group 2 is the person on whom you want to center the COH.  Here’s the interesting part… Kari is not actually injured.  However, Circle of Healing is smart and will splash AROUND the central person.  I think you can even center it on a mob.  So, without this addon, never in a million years would I see these health bars and think the druid is the one I have to COH.

On this one, Group 1 and Group 2 are both injured enough to warrant a POH.  At least according to the threshold I set.  My threshold is probably too low.  And there’s the COH target (once again, not injured).

In which PUG Raiding returns Arcanetinkertank’s Confidence

I’ve been in a weird place since 4.2 mentally. It might be the unbearable summer heat or maybe frustration with trying to get a new set of progression bosses down, but I’ve been feeling like my mage DPS wasn’t up to par. I know that I am not a top guild progression mage, but in the guilds I’ve ran with I’ve always been near the top of the DPS meters. Lately it was slipping to fourth or fifth.  This is personally disappointing as I think of myself as reasonably geared to my Effing DPS peers. So a little over a week ago I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and get back into magery shape.

Finding a Spec

First thing I did was re-evaluate my specs. I had been going Fire spec primarily and decided to try out arcane as most people seem to be getting better parse results with that. I read up on Elitist Jerks and saw that Fire just wasn’t scaling as well into the new tier. Yes you can still do quality DPS, but there will not be the consistency you’d expect from Arcane. I toyed around with Frost which can be viable, but you sacrifice output for what you gain in control.

Tweaking my Gear

Next I downloaded Rawr and started getting my enchants, gems and reforging in line with where I should be for optimal DPS output. I followed the suggestions and regemmed and reforged my gear to maximize for my arcane spec. I kept fire as my second spec simply for AoE DPS situations. Arcane’s emphasis on mastery works well with Fire’s DoTs, though my gear is not optimized for Fire at this time.

Worked on My Rotation

I needed a baseline to figure out where my DPS should be. I figured I cannot control what buffs and debuffs will be in play from week to week with our revolving roster, so I should try and find what my self buffed (minus food and flask) should be. I downloaded Simulationcraft and played around with it to make sure I was getting an idea for how much damage I should be doing at teh practice dummies. Then I went there and practiced a lot. This led me to make an arcane burn phase macro. The core component of the Arcane burn cycle is timing your cooldowns to all stack when you have 4 stacks of the Arcane Blast debuff. You follow the burn phase with Evocation and go into conserve phase until they all line up again. My macro:

#showtooltip Arcane Power
/use 13
/use 14
/use Mana Gem
/cast Arcane Power

What this does is makes sure I use my on use trinkets as well as my mana gem for maximum DPS output. I also make sure I have the mana gem and DPS trinket visible on my bars as wellto make sure everything is off cooldown when I pop Arcane Power.

Take Myself Out for a Spin

On Saturday I was on standby for our Firelands raid. I felt pretty good about my DPS on Friday’s raid, but my situational awareness on Shannox was pretty bad. So while the Effers were off I ran some heroics, did my dailies, and got into a Baradin’s Hold 25 man raid PUG. I don’t pug raid often, but I find it kind of interesting because here is a group that has no knowledge of you, and in many ways you find yourself needing to prove yourself not an idiot by standing in the fire or they will verbally berate you and kick you from the group.

In the 25 man I didn’t stand in the fire. I stacked properly and I finished 6th on the recount I had running. I was significantly over similarly geared mages in the same spec, and the difference in the top 8 DPS was just a small amount. I didn’t get any loot, or recognition as a great player for anything. But I felt coming out of that thing that I had done really well. It was like going for a run and realizing you did 3 miles in 25 minutes. Yeah you could do better, but maybe you aren’t in suck bad shape as you thought.

I’m the best tank in the world! (And so can you)

Eff the Ineffable has a strict no alt policy on current content. T11 is about to get booted to farm night so alts are welcome and we will start to see some long time raiders wearing different shoes which will be a refreshing change. So with this no alt policy I’ve not done much raid tanking except the occasional Baradin Hold and a few wipes on Halfus one night when we had no geared tanks when we started raiding. So up to this point all of Gnoblerage’s tanking gear has been Reputation, Justice Point, Valor Point, Troll, Heroics, or crafted.

Last night a guildie wanted to finish a PUG BWD ID he had going. I was asked to tank, and three wipes later I am officially 1/12 on T11 content.

Yes this is post nerf obviously. And the troll heroics and addition of T11 to the Justice Vendor helps a lot in gearing choices. But that said I still had to maintain threat against T12 ready folks, and use my cooldowns properly. The point of this post is that by staying focused on what you want to do, you can catch up to progression ready people. I wouldn’t say Gnoblerage is ready for T12 yet. But he clearly is fine for anything in T11. With a few choice pieces he could be ready for T12 soon though.