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In spite of what some people might think, ICC has not been nerfed. We, the players, have the OPTION of accepting a buff to our health, healing done and damage done. To me that is a big difference.

Am I bovvered?

Saying that though, personally, I’m not that bothered. Why? Because unless you are just on the verge of taking down a boss, 5% won’t make that much of a difference.

 

In my guild we are currently at an impasse with Festergut 25 as we do not have the required DPS to take him down before he enrages. I’m currently stuck in the basement of the Indian High Commission in London, so cannot check the exact figures but even if we use hypothetical figures I will be able to illustrate my point.

 

Say you need raid-wide DPS of 135,000 to take him down before he enrages. Say your raid currently manages 100,000. A 5% buff to that would mean that they now do 105,000 DPS – you are still short a very, very large amount of DPS. So even with this buff we aren’t going any further – it’s still going to be the same strategy of farming the first 4 bosses and 10-mans for gear and badges. This change might make us sail through our farm content faster (it is already pretty darn fast), but it won’t really allow us much more progression. At least not in 25-man.

 

It’s all in the timing

The buff was always going to be too soon for some people (that were ‘in the zone’ with the current difficulty level) and at the same time eagerly received/long overdue for others. Some guilds that are on the verge of downing Lich King will wish they had had just another 2 weeks, so they could have done it “pre-nerf”. But by that time there will be other guilds in their place wanting just another 2 weeks. That line of people will not end until Cataclysm hits.

 

At the end of the day, noone will be able to tell whether you killed a boss while using the buff or not (unless it shows in combat logs and someone decides to trawl through them). This means that it is your choice as to whether you want to prioritise being able to say that you did an encounter without the buff or whether you want to compete for those rankings.

 

It makes me think of Larisa’s post of how her guild decided to go into ICC blind – no strategies, no boss mods. They prioritised their internal pride in a job well done over getting bosskills done as quickly as possible to maintain external rankings. Is it more important that you know what you achieved or that others know that you achieved?

 

I will probably vote for leaving the buff on for our raids. I don’t believe it will make a massive difference, but I see no reason not to use it either. I just want to get things dead – I’m not too fussed if in some people’s eyes that makes me an uber casual raider.

State of my nation

I read Larisa’s post and was surprised to hear that there are people entering a game lull at the moment. Pondering this I also realised that I recently celebrated my 4-year WoWiversary – I started playing in Nov/Dec 2005. I certainly never expected that I would still be playing that many years on.

So I thought now would be a good time to have a look at where I am at and what I want to do – what is the state of the Land of Tuf?

 

Tufva - human priestTufva

My main (though not originally – my first level 60 was a very nooby hunter). She was holy from level 1 until dual specs hit (apart from one very enjoyable evening as shadow in Heroic Botanica way back when). I healed our guilds very first raid ever (Karazhan, early Dec 2007) and have done so until ICC hit when we ended up having too many healers and I pewpewed my way through it until recently. Exhilarating – a completely different game but on the same character.

It looks like I’ll need to fit her out in T10 on both specs as quickly as possible, so I am going to have to do some proper research on the best way of doing that. I still can’t quite get that our little social guild will be downing Arthas as a 25-man raid. At the start of Wrath we were rejoicing because we would be able to progress all the way as a 10-man guild, but somehow we acquired so many nice people at the start of TotC that we’ve ended up being a 25-man team instead of a 10-man team.

Tuf has a lot of achievements, but there are still loads more I would like to pursue:

  • Ulduar hardmodes
  • Finish off heroic 5-man achievements (both of which would help towards:)
  • The top level mount achievement
  • The top level pet achievement
  • The top level tabard achievement
  • Getting 40 reps to Exalted
  • Naxx, EoE and OS achievements
  • Completing Trial of the Grand Crusader (4/5 in 10 and 1/5 in 25)
  • Killing Yogg-Saron on 25-man setting (We downed Yoggie as a 10-man raid, but ended up doing TotC as a 25-man raid. We did go back to do Ulduar25 just because, but never got around to finishing off Yogg. He needs to die.)

I’d also love to go back and root out any and all tailoring and enchanting recipes out there, but I don’t think I will ever find the time to do that.

 

Maieve - NE druidMaieve

My kitty druid recently dinged 80 (my 2nd level 80). She was created back in vanilla WoW and was levelled a few levels here and there, but then always put back in an inn somewhere to languish for months on end. I tried feral and balance in various incarnations, but never got on with either.

One day I decided it was high time I got another level 80 as having my own JC would be very, very useful. So I dusted the desert sand off of my poor little druid, respecced from boomkin to kitty, sent her some heirlooms and some kitty greens from the AH. She zoomed off to Outland in no time (she was 56) and then onto Northrend. I had a great time levelling my little kitty (though levelling the mining was less fun) and I now really, really enjoy playing her. (Though I am still struggling getting the hang of melee positioning when in a group.)

I would love to get her kitted out as far as possible in T9 (she has 2 pcs so far, she got a lot of EoTs from doing the normal daily random while levelling). I need to so some research on where I can find some nice pieces for slots that can’t be bought from badges.

One day I hope to try my hand at bear-tanking, but that means more research, probably a dual-spec and more gear, so that is lower on the priority list.

I know it probably makes me a masochist, but I really like doing the holiday achievements and since Tuf now has her purple drake (even though Max insists it is pink), Maieve is next up. She already is a Love Fool and an Elder, only a few more to go.

 

Cielinne - BE mageCielinne

I thought that after 4 years of playing Alliance (apart from levelling a Blood Elf to 20 when they were new and shiny), I really ought to see the Horde side of the game before the Cataclysm hits.

Cielinne is a Blood Elf mage on another server (might as well, right?). I didn’t get on with the mage class last time I tried it, but this time around I’m loving it.

She is doing very well in spite of having to break new ground. No heirlooms, no high level main to feed her gold or crafted items. She’s level 41 at the time of writing and has her very own bank alt managing her investments in the ore and leather markets. I have a feeling that it won’t be an issue getting epic flight at this rate.

My aim is to get her to 80 and get Loremaster and Explorer done. And I’d really like to get her the title “of Thunder Bluff” as she is a Tauren at heart (closet roleplayer – who, me?).

 

Kyrienne - human paladinKyrienne

Now that I’ve started down the path of having multiple top level characters to fulfill my crafting needs, I feel a herbalist/alchemist would be really useful. I did enjoy the first 20 levels of being a ret paladin, so once Cielinne has her boxes ticked it will be time to re-spec Kyri’s professions, add any new heirlooms that are available and head for 80 yet again.

With the Dungeon Finder now available I’m going to make sure she has a tank action bar set up and a sword and shield in her bags and see how that feels. (eeep!)

 

Lucianne

I always knew that I’d want to level a character through the whole post-Cataclysm world, not just the top 5 levels. And I was going to level through the Worgen start areas (and the goblin ones, but that character will become a bank alt – seems fitting somehow), that was always a given.
Then I saw the Underworld Evolution movie and really liked the werewolf Lucian, he was a great character. When he fought as a human he dual-wielded big daggers.
Lucianne the Worgen rogue was created as soon as the movie finished. (Well, not quite obviously, but I have tagged the name.)

 

Deanah - NE hunterDeanah

Yrsa was my first main. My first character getting past level 24 (there were multitudes before her that were tried and eventually deleted). She was first to 60 and first through the dark portal, but once she hit 67/68 I fell out of love. I don’t quite know why.

She spent most of the Burning Crusade cooped up in the inn in Area 52. I did at one point level her up to 70, but the spark wasn’t there. So I dropped her off in Nagrand – seemed like a place a night elf hunter might enjoy.

Once Tufva had been 80 for some time, I thought it would be useful to have another level 80. The easiest thing would of course be to level the highest alt I have. I tried, I really did and I did quite enjoy it (I think), but she got to level 72 and then I got caught up in main business again.

I am determined to get her levelled and to get my head around huntering at some point, so I will give it another good go in Cataclysm.

I think she deserves a better name though. When I started playing I ended up unimaginatively naming all my characters old Swedish names. Tufva is still around of course, but I cannot imagine changing her name – it is me! Alfva is nowadays my bank alt, Ylfva became Maieve and I’m renaming Yrsa after the Roman goddess of the hunt (though I am taking quite the liberty with the spelling).

 

Lili-something

As I was working my way through this I realised that I will be wanting to level a character post-Cataclysm Horde side as well and I’m thinking Blood Elf warlock.

I’ve never managed to get on with playing an Alliance warlock, to me it just doesn’t quite fit. But a Blood Elf warlock I think would work really well.

Thinking of demons and such I of course think Lilith. But I find that name a bit harsh, so am leaning towards Lilieth, Liliandra or some such variation. Will need some thinking, but I think that I have some time yet.

 

The DK scribe

While making this list it occurred to me that Inscription for glyphs and maybe useful trinkets come Cataclysm would be a great addition to the team. And I’ve always been intrigued by the gas cloud extraction abilities of Engineering. And there’s some BoE pets I could make for Tuf.

Looking over the classes I would at that point already have priest, druid, mage and paladin. I have earmarked rogue, hunter and warlock for levelling post-Cataclysm. That leaves me with the options of shaman, DK and warrior. I’ve tried leveling a Draenai before and the tail really, really freaks me out. Really. So that means shaman is out for the moment.
So I think a DK is the way to go. They are quite different from other classes playstyle-wise which will be a fun learning curve and by the time I get to it – I think a shorter leveling curve might be welcome!

I will need to spend some time working on a good name though. I don’t want anything Death Knight themed, I want her to have a name that she would have had before, but that still kind of works. Hmm…

 

So those are my current plans. I keep thinking I’d like to learn how to play battlegrounds, but that will have to wait for WoW 5.0.

a_beg_heal

The Absolute Beginner’s Guides are aimed at people who may or may not be new to WoW, but need a basic overview of a specific area that is new to them.

This guide will not go into class specifics, but will give you an overview of some basic concepts of healing to get you started whether your starting point is Deadmines or Utgarde Keep. I will link to some class specific resources at the end.

So you’ve set up a healing focused talent tree, equipped some snazzy healing gear and you have an action bar full of healing spells – the instance portal beckons, but what are you supposed to do when you get to the other side?

 

work tools

Tools of the trade

Let’s start by looking at what kind of spells you will have at your disposal. Not all classes have all kinds of spells, but it is useful to know what the different types are – particularly if you go raiding as you will have to work together with other healers. There are 3 main types of healing spells.

HoTs

Healing over Time spells at their core are all based on the “does X healing per second for Y seconds”. There are various twists on this idea, but they all share that same core.

Direct heal

Direct heal does what it says on the tin, it will heal your target for a certain amount and that’s it.

AoE heal / group heal

I don’t really like to call them AoE heals as it often makes people think they work similarly to a mage’s Blizzard. Pop a target on the ground and everyone in that area gets healed. In fact, the basic idea of group heals is that they will heal your target and then also some other people. Depending on which heal it is, it will either heal a specific number of people within a certain range of your target or within the same group as your target. Some group heals are also smart heals – this means that they will pick their extra targets based on who needs healing the most.

 

You will also find various other spells that might be part of your healing arsenal, like a priest’s shield that mitigates incoming damage or a paladin’s beacon of light which heals the beaconed player for the same amount as whoever else the paladin is healing.

 

triage_stockxchngTriage

The trick is to figure out who to heal when using what. The more you heal, the better you will get at making these snap judgement calls. In a 5-man group, your priority order would generally be tank, healer, DPS. Without the tank the mobs will rampage through the rest of the group with impunity and without a healer people will probably die.

 

Unfortunately, you cannot just focus on the tank and yourself, the DPS will need to be kept alive as well or it will take a very long time to kill the boss (not to mention that you’ll have some very cranky DPS players in your group). If everyone knows what they are doing, the DPS shouldn’t be pulling threat from the boss, so they should only take damage if the boss have a “target random player” ability or some kind of AoE. So if possible, make sure you know if a boss does anything like that so that you can be prepared to throw some extra heals when it happens.

 

Different people like to heal in different ways, but if you are having problems spotting DPS taking damage in time to save them – you might want to consider tweaking your UI to make it clearer to you who is getting hit with what. For instance, you might want to have target of target’s target switched on (it is available as an option in the original UI). You will most likely have the tank targeted (target), the tank will have the boss targeted (target’s target) and most of the time the boss will have the tank targeted (target of target’s target). If you are able to see target of target’s target, then you can see if the boss is switching away from the tank to another player and be ready to heal them sooner. Just as an example.

 

A DPS player can go out and kill boars to practice their skills at killing things, unfortunately as a healer you do not have the option to go and do solo practice. To learn to heal instances, you need to heal instances. But trust me when I say – it does get easier! Each time you do an instance you become more familiar with your tools and with the rhythm of healing.

 

poison_stockxchngDispelling

All healing classes has at least 1 dispelling ability. The 4 schools that can be dispelled are curses, diseases, magic and poison. Some debuffs make little difference to a fight, whilst others will kill the affected player quickly or drastically reduce their damage/health/healing done to them. So whatever UI set-up you use, make sure you are able to see when someone is affected by a debuff. If it is one that you cannot dispel, it is even more important that you know that it is there so that you know to throw extra healing on that player if necessary.

 

running_stockxchngResurrections

All healers can resurrect dead players when out of combat. So if you only lost one or two players in a fight, you want to get them rezzed quickly so that the group can move on as soon as possible. However, if it is a wipe – do not feel pushed into being the only one running back while the others go afk for drinks/bio break/petting the cat. Just sayin’.

 

wand_stockxchngDoing damage

Sometimes things might be going really well and you feel almost like a spare wheel because very little healing is needed. So you wonder if maybe you should help out a bit with the damage-dealing. If you are comfortable that you will be able to swap from DPS-ing to healing someone who got pounced by an add that got loose, then fine – go for it. But don’t feel that you have to attempt to help with the DPS-ing. Your primary function in the group is to keep everyone alive and there will be times when healing is needed less, but that can change in the blink of an eye. And it might be slightly embarrasing to admit that people died because you couldn’t keep your wand in your pocket.

 

links_stockxchng

Resources

A couple of great resources for more information are PlusHeal and Elitist Jerks.

I know very little about healing as anything else than a holy priest, so cannot say how accurate the above guides are, but hopefully they will at least get you started. If you know of any great “Healing as class X 101″ guides, let me know and I’ll add them!

This is very much an overview, so if you have questions, please do feel free to ask via comments or send me an email.

 

Pictures in this post courtesy of forwardcom on stock.xchng, miqueias on stock.xchng, drmatiz on stock.xchng, gokce- on stock.xchng, lynnc on stock.xchng, ba1969 on stock.xchng (in that order, kitty on top excepted as that is my own).

a_beg_dps

The Absolute Beginner’s Guides are aimed at people who may or may not be new to WoW, but need a basic overview of a specific area that is new to them.

If you’ve decided you want to up your DPS, but you don’t know what to do – then you’ve come to the right place. This is not a class specific guide, so I won’t go into any details on exactly what YOU might need to do. What I will do is point you at the things you need to look into along with some suggestions on where to look for more information.

If you are aiming to mostly do your own thing, upping your DPS will help you as things will die faster. If you want to do top-level instances, heroics and raids – then there will be minimum DPS numbers for going. This isn’t people trying to be elitist, it is purely a matter of mathematics. A boss has a certain amount of health and there is only so much time available to kill it before it enrages or the healer/s run out of mana. This means that the DPS between them have to reach a certain output number in order to be able to kill that boss.

However, you should also be aware that your DPS numbers will vary depending on the type of fight and your assignment in it, so do keep that in mind if you see unusually low numbers. An example would be a fight like Maexxna in Naxxramas where some ranged DPS will be assigned to free people caught in spiderwebs. This is a really important task, but since you spend a lot of time doing that rather than killing the boss your DPS might be lower than normal.

 

Finding your DPS

To get started we need to get you a damage meter add-on. I would recommend Recount, but there are others out there (I think). Use the arrows in the top right corner to scroll through the different types of data it can show you until you get to DPS.

The easiest way to test your DPS is to head to an Old World Capital City and spend some quality time with the training dummies. If you are level 80, there are two that might be of interest to you. There’s one level 80 dummy and one raid boss dummy.

Make sure to reset your Recount (red X button), take a deep breath and then start whacking away at the dummy with whatever abilities you would normally use in a boss fight. Don’t pause and don’t stop until you are completely out of mana (for non-mana classes pick a length of time, say 5 minutes). Once you are done look at Recount, that number in front of the parenthesis is your DPS as it would be if you faced a boss. On the one hand in a real fight it might be a bit lower as you might have to watch your threat or have to move around a lot, but on the other hand in a group you would probably have buffs from other classes that improves your DPS – so this is a pretty good benchmark.

If you want to know details, you just click on your name and you will get another window with some graphs. Here you can see what abilities do the most of your damage and if you are missing some of the time.

 

Areas of improvement

Now that you know what DPS you’re doing currently, it’s time to think about what you can do to improve it. There are three main areas to look at:

  1. Your stats (stamina, agility, hit rating etc)
  2. Your talents
  3. Your abilities (frostbolt, steady shot, shadowbolt etc)

Just to make it a bit more confusing, they also affect each other.

 

cookiecutter_flickrTalents

The first thing to look at is your talents. For most classes there are so called cookie-cutter builds. If you look up a cookie-cutter raiding build for a DPS class, the aim of that build will be to give maximum DPS while also taking into account group utility. I’m not saying that you have to use those builds, but they are the most common ones for a reason. They have evolved from many people doing lots of boring testing and maths to come up with the best combination of talents. If you are going to make your own build – take the time to read up on the different talents. Talents that might seem useless when solo-ing could be key when in a group or vice versa, so it pays off to make sure you know why you are picking talent X over talent Y.

You don’t have to get involved in complicated calculations to do this research (unless you want to, of course), there are plenty of places on the internet that will present the outcome of other people’s work on this subject. There are lots of blogs out there covering all classes/specs and there are also a few class/spec/role-based forums. Have a look through them and you’ll quickly get a feel for the pros and cons of different talents. I can highly recommend the Elitist Jerks forums for this kind of research – they cover most classes/specs in detail, but are still easy to read and understand (just let your eyes slide past the numbers quickly).

 

numbers_stockxchngStats

Next step after going over your talents is taking a look at your stats. Different classes will need different stats, but when you were out there looking at talents you probably came across mentions of which stats are the key ones for you. Do remember that different specs of the same class can need slightly different stats, for instance one spec might need crit while another needs haste more.

The one stat that all DPS players need is hit rating. The more often you don’t hit the boss, the less damage you do = lower DPS. Hit rating is a stat that can be capped. This means that you want to reach a certain number as then you will hit a raid boss 100% of the time. It also means that once you reach that magic number there is no point in having any more hit rating as it is, in a sense, wasted. The magic number varies between classes/specs/races, so you are going to have to go and look up which number you have to aim for. Draenai has a racial ability that gives them an extra 1% hit, there are certain talents that give you hit and finally you get it from gear. You can also get it from buff foods and elixirs, so that might help while you are working your way to the cap.

Most other stats that you might need will need to be balanced. This is the reason why it can be difficult to tell whether an item is an upgrade or not. “I lose some crit, but I will gain expertise.” Again, if you’ve done a bit of research you will know whether the trade-off is worth it to you.

When it comes to stats you have to look at the big picture when you make decisions. You have to look at how the stats on a piece of equipment affect your overall stats, not just the stats on the piece it replaces. Gems and enchants can be changed out and you can change what buff food and elixirs you use, so don’t forget to take that into account as well. There are many sites that will suggest gear, enchants, gems for you – but don’t take their word for everything. They will purely look at what might be an upgrade for a specific slot and even then they could very well be weighting stats differently to what you would. They are great tools for getting an overview of where upgrades might be found, but you have to make the final call on which piece is best for you.

 

rogue_stockxchngAbilities

So you’ve done a bit of research and maybe changed your talents a bit or maybe changed your gear a bit, now it is time for the final part of the puzzle. The actual whacking of the boss upon the head. You have lots of different abilities, but there are usually some that will be your key ones to use to maximise your damage output. Out of all the abilities you have at your disposal some will just be better for the job – and it might not necessarily be the ones you think. That funny spell that you never get around to using might actually make a huge difference if you knew to use it together with another spell.

Some classes have quite rigid rotations – use ability 1, then 2, then 3 and start over. Others play the cooldown game – you use all your key abilities as soon as they are available. You will often also often have situational abilities that only become available or are of use if something else happens first. Have look to see if there are anything like that that you should be looking out for.

 

Go forth

This might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. One visit to your class compendium on the Elitist Jerks forum will tell you all the key information you need in order to figure out all of the above. Looking in other places is a good idea to make sure there aren’t differing opinions, but usually Elitist Jerks are pretty spot on. Things like starting hitting the boss as soon as it is safe to do so (tank has threat), making sure to keep hitting the boss as hard as possible throughout the fight while keeping out of fire/voidzones, swapping to adds and then back again quickly are skills that will also improve your DPS. But that will come with practice, so go forth and smite stuff in the name of learning.

 

Pictures in this post courtesy of Anna Sattler on Flickr, ilco on stock.xchng, victorward on stock.xchng (in that order, kitty on top excepted as that is my own).

fruitandveg2_freedigitalphotos

Doing the raid admin for a small-ish raid group within a social guild I have noticed that most people seem to fall into 3 categories when it comes to raid sign-ups (and quite probably other activities as well).

 

apples_freedigitalphotosA is for Apple

Apples are planners. Due to personal inclination or because of a busy schedule, they prefer to know well in advance when they will be raiding. They can tell you with 100% certainty which nights they are available to raid and which ones are not possible. This need to plan things out also makes them very dependable. Barring major trauma or a city-wide blackout, they will be there for raid start.

 

berries_freedigitalphotosB is for Blueberry

Blueberries are the opposite of apples. They don’t like to be tied down, to be committed. Systems where if you want to raid you show up for invite time are perfect for blueberries. That way they can be free to raid if they fancy it and not if they don’t. If you run a system with advance sign-ups, the dependability of a blueberry goes down in proportion to how far in advance of raid day they have to commit to the raid.

 

carrots_freedigitalphotosC is for Carrot

Carrots don’t mind planning in things in advance, but on a shorter timescale. An apple can tell you what evenings they can raid in 2 weeks time, but a carrot time scale is more like 2 days. Carrots often having leanings towards being either appley or blue.

Appley carrots are really apples that due to work or family commitments cannot plan as far ahead as they would like. This means that generally appley carrots can be counted on to show up when they have said they will, but there is always the risk that their commitments will change and they will have to step down. You can count on them to be solid attendees most of the time and if they cannot make it, they will let you know. Usually early on the day of the raid at the latest.

Blue carrots are blueberries trying to be planners, whether it be for personal reasons or in order to be able to raid. They will usually not be as flaky as pure blueberries, but they might not be quite as dependable as appley carrots. Expect the odd no-show from a blue carrot.

 

All pictures in this post are from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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