Thursday, December 17, 2009

Multiple (raiding) personalities and mindsets

As I'm sure some already know, I belong to a guild that focuses solely on raiding the 10-player content in World of Warcraft. Our guild has 11 players, and one of them was recruited (and he knew this before joining, and knows this is his role within the guild) solely as a bench player, to fill in when someone out of the regular 10 could not make it.

So far, this has worked incredibly well for us. A good number of us within the guild have been raiding together for over four years, and everyone within the guild knows his/her role, and knows what to expect out of every other player within the raid.

Most important of all for a successful raiding environment like this though, is that everyone in the guild is on the same page when it comes down to what exactly they want out of the raids we do as a guild.

We are all of the same mindset when it comes to raiding. This is key, because there are so many different mindsets amongst WoW players when it comes to raiding, and what each player considers "fun" for them.

WoW is a game, and therefore players should actually have fun while playing it, and should genuinely enjoy the time they spend logged in.

Over the span of the five years I have been playing this game, I have been a part of seven different guilds. I have been an officer in five of them, and the GM of three. Believe me when I tell you that nothing can cause more drama, issues, and tension than trying to raid with a raidforce that is made of players with different mindsets when it comes to raiding. This issue, and this issue alone can be at the heart of the majority of different types of loot drama/disputes, it is a major culprit of creating elitist cliques within guilds, and it can cause guilds to split and cause mass exoduses... simply because raiders within a guild want different things out of their time spent raiding.

If half the folks in your raid lean more toward the "hardcore" side of raiding, and the other half tend to lean toward the "casual" side of things... the two mindsets are likely to inevitably clash.

Some folks in your raid may not care about how many bosses they get down in a night, and some may become frustrated with anything less than a full clear.

Some may not feel that always making sure they have epic quality gems or high level enchants are important, and others may sacrifice their first-born child in order to afford the shards for a +63 spellpower enchant over the +50.

Can guilds made up of players with varying raiding mindsets function and succeed at raiding. Of this, I have no doubt. I just feel that it is much, MUCH easier when players have similar mindsets, and all want the same things out of their raids. If your raid is made up of raiders who want the same things, and are expecting the same things out of everyone else... you can avoid the clashing (when it comes to raids) altogether.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a relaxed raiding environment, nor is there anything wrong with wanting a more hardcore environment. Everyone is different in terms of what they consider "fun." I personally just feel that making sure you are raiding with like-minded players will ensure that everyone in the raid is having a good time... and not some having fun, and others pulling their hair out of frustration.

This is ultimately the reason why we choose to only raid 10-player content. Finding 10 like-minded players... is much easier than finding 25. We figured that while the gear may be better out of the 25's, the frustration of raiding with people that may not want the same things out of raiding wasn't worth it.

We'll take the few ilevel points hit to our gear in order to always have a good time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fifteen years of WarCraft... and a trip down memory lane.

First off, let me apologize for my lack of posts over the last few weeks. It's the time of year where work consumes my life for a few months, and drains me of all the free time I once had. Me, being the stubborn fool that I am, find myself still trying to fit in as much gaming into my day as I once did... even though I *technically* probably don't have the time for it. It's the time of year where I pride myself on finding more and more creative ways to replace sleep with things like energy drinks, and lots... and lots... of coffee. Tack onto that the greatness that is Dragon Age... and WoW has of late been pushed to second place on my priority list... for now.


If you've logged into WoW lately (which is getting harder and harder for some of us every day as we wait desperately for new content) you've likely noticed the WoW five-year anniversary achievement and your new cute Onyxia whelp pet in your inbox. (For a good time, bring the Ony whelp with to an Onyxia PuG where folks use DBM...)

Also, if you've been to Blizzard's homepage or the WoW Community homepage, you've likely seen that they have put up a mini-site in recognition of the fifteen years since the WarCraft franchise was born. At this mini-site, there is a video feature where a bunch of the well-known Blizzard Devs that have worked on the games over the years tell about their most meaningful and memorable WarCraft moments.

Personally, as someone who's been playing the WarCraft games for fifteen years (that makes me feel kinda old... sad), I found this video feature incredibly interesting. It made me feel sort of... nostalgic. It made me stop and think about my most meaningful and memorable WarCraft moments... and it brought me down memory lane.

I have more memories about moments playing WarCraft 1,2 and 3 than I can could ever hope to list, and I still consider those games to be a few of the most entertaining games that I have ever had the pleasure of playing. WarCraft 2 was my first true multiplayer experience (aside from playing things like two-player Mario or other console games) that I had ever had... and although this may sound corny... I can honestly say that it changed my life. The first time I played WarCraft 2: ToD with a bunch of buddies over the LAN, was when console and single player gaming lost most of its luster for me. Granted, there are certainly exceptions to that, and I still enjoy some single player games (Dragon Age being a recent example) as well as many games on the console systems. There is a reason I keep coming back to a game like WoW though... and at this point in the game, I can honestly say that it isn't due to superior content, as much as it is the people whom I play the game with. If WoW was a Single Player game... I would have likely stopped playing about 4.5 years ago.

This video also got me thinking about those "meaningful" and "memorable" moments strictly in terms of World of WarCraft. I'd consider it a safe bet in saying that everyone has quite a few of those moments, that stand out over the years.

Like I mentioned above, prior to playing WoW, I played all the other WarCraft titles. Going into WoW, I knew the stories and lore from the previous games... I knew characters, places, knew what things had looked like from the previous games, etc.. I participated in the WoW beta... but as many folks realize from playing betas... they're not the same as playing the final, polished game.

In terms of the game itself, and has nothing to do with the social aspect of the game at all... there is one moment that truly "wowed" me (see what I did there?), and that was as a new NE character, walking through that gate into Darnassus for the first time. The ambience, look of the city, and music, just sent tingles up my spine the first time I did it. The beta did not prepare me at all for how epic of a feeling it was walking into that city for the first time. That and the first time ever flying over Menethil Harbor and "recognizing" the barracks there from WarCraft III was epic.

Another great moment, was creating my character.

During the WoW beta, I played as an Undead Mage, since mage/caster-types were what I had normally preferred in RPG's. I wasn't a hard-core beta player... I messed around with it, and did a few quests in the starting area, explored quite a bit, and tried out new abilities as they tested them... but I didn't dedicate much time to it. It was the beta, and like I said above... the game was not really in its finished, polished, and finalized form. The music wasn't implemented, and there were quite a few times where you were restricted to specific areas while they stress tested.

When it came time for the actual release, a buddy of mine bought it the first day, just as I did. We created toons on the same server, and were both Human (we wanted to try alliance, since we did Horde in beta). In our previous RPG exploits like Baldurs Gate 1 &2, Icewind Dale, NWN, and Dungeon Siege to name a few, he was always the heavy hitting melee/tank characters, and I was always the mage/ranged damage dealers... and we usually flipped a coin for the healer/paladin classes. We decided to stick with this plan, since it had always worked for us in the past. We chose the Garona server. He rolled a warrior, and I chose a warlock. We had both worked that day, and after installing, downloading the initial patch, and creating our toons and thinking up names (which always tends to take longer than it really should)... we finally got to play. We got to level 7 or 8 that night, before we had to call it a night.

The next day... the Garona server was down. We were both a bit irked, but not really all that surprised, considering the undertaking of launching a new MMO. We still wanted to play the game though, so we decided to start new toons on another realm that was up, and check out another one of the races, and their starting areas. We chose to try the Night Elves on the Malygos server. Sticking with the "plan" of he rolls melee, I roll caster, he decided on a NE Rogue.

Then we ran into a snag... Night Elves couldn't be mages... or warlocks. They could be druids... but a druid, after reading the description, didn't really appeal to me. Since we were only making these toons as a temporary fix until Garona was back up... I grudgingly decided to roll a priest, since they were the only "caster" class available. Based on the description of the priest... I remember thinking that I was glad it was only temporary. I didn't think I was going to enjoy it much, since I thought I was getting "stuck" with playing the healer... but I went with it anyway. We didn't even put that much time into creating our characters. We even used the random name generators for names, because we just wanted to get in quick and see as much of the NE starting area as we could before Garona came back up.

The RNG gave his toon the name "Aurora" and after clicking mine a few times, decided on "Monger"... since I found the name sort of ironic for a female Night Elf Priest.

Long story shorter, we ended up never logging back into our toons on Garona again. I never deleted it... but I ended up enjoying the priest, and he the rogue, enough so that we just continued to play them.

This is the toon I still play as my main to this day. She's gone through a faction change and a couple server transfers... but the BE Priest "Mongrr" is essentially still the same toon I started five years ago, never expecting to actually play. Aurora stopped playing WoW about half-way through Burning Crusade... but I still pester him about coming back, at least once per week. I figure maybe... just maybe, I'll wear him down and I'll hook him again.

The "memorable moments" a game like this can produce for people is one of the most amazing things about a game like this, and what fuels myself and I'm sure many others to continue playing it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Effects of a Failed First Impression: A Lightwell Story

The Importance of a positive "First Impression," whether it be in business, relationships, or any other social situation, is one of those things that cannot be stressed enough.

Having been in hiring and recruitment for a long time, and having done many interviews with potential candidates for different positions, I can personally vouch for how incredibly important a positive "First Impression" truly is.

This is also true of guild applications. Having been an officer in guilds, and a GM of others, positive First Impressions help there too, but that's a topic for some other time.

First Impressions are also important when it comes to class spells and abilities in WoW. To show my point, lets look at the Priest ability, Lightwell.

Lightwell is one of the most unique healing spells in the game, for any class. It heals for quite a bit, is incredibly mana efficient, it persists after death, and allows for healing outside of your GCD (after your initial cast).

Why then... is Lightwell still one of the least used Priest spells in the game? In my opinion, this is a direct result of a Failed First Impression. When Lightwell was first introduced, the spell straight up sucked. It did not benefit at all from +healing effects (spellpower), only had five charges (which one person could spam and take all five), had an obscenely long ten minute cooldown, took 3 seconds to cast (in a time where haste didn't exist to speed it up), the lightwell itself was incredibly small and difficult to click, and the effect broke on any type of damage. All of these things made the spell, in most priests' eyes, a waste of a talent point. It wasn't mana efficient, didn't get any better based on your gear, took forever to cast, was incredibly difficult to use, and so situational due to the effect breaking on damage that players may as well use a bandage.

All of these things, lead up to the popular adopted name for the talent as "lolwell" due to it being such a useless and unused talent.

Even Wowwiki states:
"Lightwell is a healing spell that can be acquired from the Holy talent tree, and is a 31-point talent. While situationally a very powerful spell on a health/mana basis, it is generally considered to be a lackluster talent, often jokingly referred to as "lolwell", and is rarely taken."
The Lightwell has come a long way since the "lolwell" name was adopted, and is now actually a pretty powerful and useful spell. The devs at Blizzard recognized that the talent was pretty useless in its original form, and have given the spell some pretty hefty buffs over the years.

To show just how far it has come, the Original spell description was:
"Creates a Holy Lightwell. Lightwell has a 3 sec cast time and a 10 min cooldown. Creates a Lightwell near the priest that party/raid members can click on to be healed over time. Being attacked cancels the effect. Lightwell lasts for 3 min or 5 charges."
The description of the spell now:
"Creates a Holy Lightwell. Lightwell has a .5 sec cast time, and a 3 min cooldown. Members of your raid or party can click the Lightwell to restore 4620 health over 6 sec. Attacks done to you equal to 30% of your total health will cancel the effect. Lightwell lasts for 3 min or 10 charges."
In addition to the changes listed, Lightwell now receives 100% of bonus healing effects from gear, whereas it received none of the bonus effects when the spell was first introduced. The cooldown now lasts as long as the Lightwell is up, meaning the only reason it would go down before the CD is up is if all the charges (twice as many as the original) are used.... or if it's killed (lol).

Let's look at the original complaints against Lightwell, and compare them to the spell in its current state to see how many of those issues have been resolved.

Complaint: "The cast time and cooldown are both too long."

Resolved? I would say yes. At .5 seconds to cast (before haste is factored in), that's pretty dang quick. Depending on the situation, it is also possible to pre-place the lightwell before combat even begins (since it stays up for 3 mins), making the use of a GCD irrelevant. Either way... on most fights, it's not too difficult to find .5 seconds of time to place a lightwell.

The cooldown is also reasonable now. Like I stated above, the CD is as long as the lightwell's life is, so if it goes down before the CD is up, it means you have a well-trained raid, and they're actually making use of your Lightwell.

It is possible to kill the lightwell, but since I have never actually seen it be killed, except in a duel after the player I was dueling used it himself (Well played sir... well played), that's not common.

Complaint: Players can spam the Lightwell, using up all the charges.

Resolved? First off, if a player is spamming the Lightwell, and you have players complaining about it... it means you actually have people who are trained to use your Lightwell. Well done! That's half the battle. Second, with the Lightwell Renew buff, and the mechanics around it, it makes it much more difficult for someone to spam it. Can it be done? Yes. Server lag, and other factors can play into it and it can still be spammed. For the most part though, it is relatively difficult for players to spam all the charges from your lightwell unless they're specifically trying to do so by clicking off their buff. If that's the case, there are larger issues regarding that player at hand that should be dealt with, and not any real fault of the spell itself.

Complaint: No one ever uses the Lightwell.

Resolved? Unfortunately, this is the only real issue I still see with the spell. The fact that you have to rely on someone other than yourself to make sure you get the full potential out of your spell can be truly aggravating. If you raid with the same people often though, it is relatively easy to "train" the group to use it.

It's a behavior that needs to be ingrained into a person's play style. Much like getting a raid/group member to not stand in fire, or getting DPS classes to utilize raid-frames to make sure they don't wander out of range of heals... this too is a learned behavior. Once the group adopts using the Lightwell as something that can benefit them, it can truly be a powerful tool.

The fact that players can click the Lightwell and receive the buff even when they're:
  1. Stunned
  2. Sapped
  3. Casting
  4. Running
  5. Feared
  6. Falling
  7. Eating
Makes it pretty useful if placed correctly.

If nothing else, it's one talent point, and as situationally useful as Desperate Prayer (imo). Even if you simply take the talent and use it for yourself, you can still get some use out of it by making it a cheap self-heal that's off the GCD.

Complaint: Lightwell is too hard to use/Lightwell takes too much time to go out of my way and use.

Resolved: I may be going against the grain here, but I'm going to say that this complaint was never a real issue to begin with, and just another lack of "training" in terms of players not being used to using it.

Below, I have video I Fraps'ed a couple weeks ago showing how quickly and easily a Lightwell can be clicked and used. I'm only Holy for the first half of the video, but that's the part I want to show.

The Lightwell can be an incredibly useful and easy to use spell.

Complaint: The HoT from the Lightwell disappears when damage is taken.

Resolved? I would say yes. The spell has been changed from its original form to only break when the player takes a hit that is equal or greater than 30% of their total hp. This means a single hit of 30% of their hp, not once they have taken that much damage. If a player has 20k hp, this means that they would have to take a hit of 6000 or more in order to break the Lightwell Renew buff and stop the healing.

Will some AoE's hit players for this much? You bet. There are not as many AoE effects out there from bosses that hit for that hard in a single hit as one may think though. It also takes into account resists. If a boss hits a player with 20k hp for 8000 but they resist 2500 of it, they're only taking 5500 damage, meaning the Lightwell Renew will continue to heal.

Now let's take an off-tank scenario. Let's say an OT has 40k raid buffed hp. 30% of 40k is 12,000. This means that (depending on the mob they're tanking) hits for less than 12k per single hit, even OT's could potentially benefit from a Lightwell.

Since the damage needed to break the Lightwell Renew scales (being it's a percentage of total hp, and not a static amount of hp), this means that Lightwell will continue to be useful, and scales with gear.

Complaint: Lightwell is too situational to be truly useful.

Resolved? Personally, I don't even see this to be a valid complaint. All spells are situational. Being able to know when and how to utilize them, and recognizing which spell/ability would be best used for each situation shows a mastery of the class/role.

Is Lightwell a situational spell? Yes. So is Hymn of Hope, Divine Hymn, Shadowfiend, CoH, PoH, Penance, PoM.......

There are certainly situations that are better than others in which to utilize Lightwell to its full potential, but that does not mean it's a useless spell.

To wrap this up, my overhanging point of this post is that I feel that the reason so many Priests in the World (of Warcraft) still consider Lightwell (lolwell) to be a "lackluster" talent is because of the "First Impression" it gave years ago when the spell was first introduced. It took literally years for the spell to get buffed and patched to is current state, and I think a lot of priests just gave up on the talent and have never really given it another chance. Players have gotten into a routine and play style without Lightwell being a part of that routine, and they haven't seen the point to try it.

The talent has come a very long way since "lolwell" was first used, and I think it deserves a second chance.

Sure, it can be argued that the spell still needs some work, but I could say that about quite a few spells in WoW. That doesn't mean that they are completely useless until those changes happen.

I may be a Discipline priest most of the time... but there's a reason I named this blog "Save the Lightwell."

I'm anxious to hear from others, and their thoughts on the Lightwell talent.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Pandaren Monk

Today, Blizz opened up their "Pet Store" where you can purchase in-game vanity pets for r/l money.

Since the announcement, I've seen all sorts of arguments for and against what Blizz is doing here, and I'm not going to get into either of those arguments.

Is this just another means for Blizzard to make crazy amounts of money off their cash-cow that is World of Warcraft? You bet it is. Is that a bad thing? Not really, in my opinion. Blizzard (namely Activision Blizzard now) is a profit oriented company. Blizzard may be dedicated to making great games, but they are also out to make a buck and do it in whatever way they can that's most profitable. This is just one of many ways that WoW can pay off for them... again. Good for them for putting out a product that provides this many different ways for them to capitalize. It's not greedy, it's good business and them capitalizing on an immensely popular product. Companies like Blizzard are out to make money, just like countless other companies. As long as they continue to put out quality games, people will continue to support them by purchasing their products.

Aside from simply being able to purchase the Pandaren Brewmaster, Blizzard is donating half of the money ($5 per pet, since they cost $10) made from purchases for this pet toward the Make a Wish foundation charity, through 12/31/09.

I bought a Pandaren Brewmaster........ and I think he's pretty freakin' cool.

Now.... would I have opted to buy one if the donation to charity was not part of the deal? Possibly, maybe even probably... (because he's so damn cool) but the fact that they are donating to a charity sealed the deal for me.

Charities like Make-a-Wish Foundation ( and other charities focused around benefiting children in need and their families really hit close to home for me, as I have seen the huge impact they can have on a child and their family first hand.

A year ago my niece Lynnea was born with only half of her heart developed, a condition called Mitral Atresia. Since that time, she has spent 177 days in the hospital, she has had five heart surgeries and six heart catherizations, as well as other difficulties associated with this type of condition. (you can follow Lynnea's progress on their family's blog at

Charities like Make-a-Wish Foundation, HopeKids, and others have been incredible not only for supporting Lynnea, but the rest of her family as well by doing things like providing toys for her older sister (who's 2 yrs old), providing them with equipment required so that they can actually have Lynnea at home, providing them with meals while they are in the hospital etc., and much more.

Needless to say, that whenever I see an opportunity to do something like this that actively supports this type of charity as well as being a part of something I already enjoy... I jump all over it.

I got a badass pet out of the deal that I can watch and be entertained by in my Fraps videos... and I get to support a charity at the same time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mongrr Metal Update: Saw VI soundtrack

First off.... Happy New-Slayer-Album Day.

If anyone read my metal post last week, I mentioned that Slayer's new album was coming out today. Be sure to pick up your copy if you're a fan, or if you're looking for some good Thrash to heal to. You know I picked mine up early this morning.

Another album I want to bring into the light is the SAW VI soundtrack.

Now, I haven't seen any of the SAW movies since the first movie how ever many years ago that was... I didn't personally find it all that impressive, so I never bothered to see any of the half dozen sequels. The soundtracks on the other hand, are some very good mix albums if you're into the metal scene.

I love soundtrack albums.

They're like a premade playlist you don't have to think about putting together yourself (making playlists before raids takes me forever and a day). Every now and again, you also stumble upon a gem of an artist that you never even knew existed.

I found one such gem on this SAW VI soundtrack. Personally, I find the track "Watch Us Burn" by Ventana pretty amazing. Ventana is a band that consists of members from Mushroomhead and you can certainly hear their influence.

Other bands on the SAW VI soundtrack include Hatebreed, Shadows Fall, Chimaira, Mushroomhead, Lacuna Coil, Type O Negative, and many other great bands.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Healing Questionairre Redux

So... while killing a bunch of time at work today, I was reading some of other people's responses to this questionairre, and I think I may have misinterpreted a couple of the questions. Namely the two questions about which healing classes I enjoy healing with most and least.

I took those questions as which healing classes I enjoy playing as instead of with. Due to this noob mistake on my part, I'm going to take the time and answer them correctly now.

  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

    The guild I'm in only has 11 raiding members, and our sole focus as a guild is 10-player content. Due to this, I find myself with one other healer in the raid 90% of the time.

    When it comes down to which class I enjoy teaming up with most, it would come down to a Druid. Since I'm Disc for most of the fights (I go holy for a few, but not many) I just find that the synergy between my shields and a Druid's HoTs works very well together.

    I have the burst Single target heals and mitigation covered, and a Druid has the AoE/HoTs covered. Overall, it seems to work incredibly well.

  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

    On the occasion that I do a PuG raid, or team up with another guild to do 25-player raids, I have to honestly say that the class I enjoy healing with least would have to be another Disc Priest... or Holy Priests that overly use PW:S.

    As a Disc priest, my sole purpose is to utilize PW:S as often as possible. It's what the spec is built for. Needless to say, I get grumpy when other priests needlessly shield targets in raids that I'm a part of, and waste the WS debuff time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Evolution of Priest Tier sets (part 2)

In continuation of my earlier post about Priest PvE Tier sets, in this post I'm going to cover the looks of the Priest armor sets from The Burning Crusade.

The Burning Crusade introduced multiple sets of the same Tier due to the differences between valuable stats, and set bonuses, for Healing and Shadow spec's of the class. The sets looked the same, but the stats and bonuses differed depending on which set you opted to take. This change was not added for the Dungeon 3 set, but the "heroic" Dungeon 3 set was focused more toward DPS.

Hallowed Raiment (Dungeon 3 set)

This set utilized the "halo" theme that Blizzard used for the Faith T3 set from Nax. Keep in mind that at the time TBC was released, due to the difficulty of Nax prior to TBC's release, not many priests actually ever had the chance to get their T3 sets.

Many of them had seen pics on various websites, or had dressing roomed the set from linked items, but had never actually gotten it themselves. Many priests thought the Halo was really cool, and therefore the D3 set right off the bat in TBC was a real treat for many players.

Overall, the set is very simple, yet good looking. There are no particle effects on the shoulders, and very little on the halo/helm. The Hallowed items dropped in non-heroic versions of the instances, but had a level requirement of 70. Making it possible to get the items before one could actually utilize them, if they did the instances prior to ding-ing 70.

Incarnate Raiment/Regalia (Raid Tier 4 set)

Tier 4 was the first Raid set that dropped from raids in TBC. Many pieces dropped from Karazhan, the first 10-player instance of that expansion. TBC utilized a new(ish) system of "tokens" for the raid Tier drops, wheras in [most] prior raids, the actual items dropped. Blizzard began the idea of Token systems in AQ and Nax, but in TBC is where they really took off with it. Once a token dropped and you received it, you then took it to a vendor that sold the actual Tier items, and traded the token for the item from the set (either DPS or healing) that you wanted.

Due to the vendors selling these sets being in Shattrath City, it allowed for players to Dressing Room the items prior to even doing the raids.... meaning many players were drooling over these sets (T4 and T5) shortly after setting foot in Shattrath, prior to even reaching 70.

This set had a particle effect that "flowed" up from the shoulders, and helm. This set also introduced the "collar" themed helms for caster classes, a theme you'll see many times over in sets to come. The helms from Prophecy and Transcendence were not so much "collars" like this one was.

The only problem I have with this set (and every other set that utilizes the "collar" helm) is the helm looks incredibly lame with long hair-styles. This is a graphics issue that really irks me (they still have not fixed it), since Blizzard seems to enjoy using the "collar" theme. In my opinion, if they can't get it to work and look good with every type of hair style they put into the game... then they shouldn't make armor that doesn't work with it. The barber shop addition helped with this a bit, since you can now change your toon's hair style to something that works if you choose, but prior to that option being available... my Priest looked like Darth Vader when he removed his helm in Jedi when I used this helm.

Avatar Raiment/Regalia (Raid Tier 5 set)

If you thought Blizzard was leaning heavy toward the "angel" theme with the wings and halo on the Faith set, and again with the halo on the D3 set... they really went to town here.

This set was (in my personal opinion) really cool looking... simply because it was so different than any other priest set to date. It was drastically different than the set before it, much like Transcendence was vastly different than Prophecy in Vanilla.

No particle effects on the shoulders for this set, and a few sparkly stars on the helm. Simplicity is the key here, but that does not make the set look any less "epic." I feel that the name of this set is very fitting for the way it looks. This set made you look like an Avatar of some angelic being.

Blizz went with a hood-type helm for this set, which was also bugged with long hair styles for a long time. Unlike the collar-helm graphic issue, they fixed this one a few months after the expansion was released.

Vestments of Absolution/Absolution Regalia (Raid Tier 6 set)

This is the only set I never actually used as a Priest (I had switched to raiding on my Shaman throughout my Black Temple/Sunwell experience) but I feel that again, Blizzard really nailed it with the looks of this set.

This set looked like something that should come from a place called "Black Temple." This set is Night and Day in terms of looks with the set before it.

There were particle effects on both the helm and the shoulders, although they were not overwhelming, and are not shown very well in the pic above. Personally, I feel the shoulders used for this set were some of the most unique shoulder designs they've used on any set to date. It shows that you don't need a ton of flashy particle effects and blinking lights to make an amazing looking set. It's an art that I feel has died a little bit with Wrath... but that's for another post.

This set also used the Hood-type helm, but in a drastically different way than the Avatar set before it.

I'll continue this later and go over the Priest sets from Wrath...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Healing Questionairre

I saw this tidbit on Adgamorix's blog, and he mentioned me putting my priest spin on it... so here it goes.

  • What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer? Mongrr, Priest, Disc (main)/ Holy(off)

  • What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) Mostly raids at this point in the game, although I do PVP and do five-mans.

  • What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why? Prayer of Mending is by far my favorite priest spell, but in terms of most widely used, it would have to be PW:S simply because as a Disc priest, shields are my specialty.

    Prayer of Mending costs virtually no mana so it's not situational in terms of when to use it. It's also a Core class ability, so I can utilize it regardless of spec. It heals for more than a crit Flash heal (non-crit) and as much as a Greater Heal when it crits, especially if you have the T9 2 pc bonus.

    In fights like Sapphiron, it can easily heal groups of people in virtually no time and by only using one GCD. There is no ICD on how often it can jump, so if you have multiple raid members taking ticking AoE damage, it's perfect, especially for grouped players like Melee.

  • What healing spell do you use least for your class and why? Heal and Lesser Heal, obviously... because they've been outdated since level 40. Since they've taken out downranking, spending 1k mana on a spell that heals for 150, just doesn't make much sense to me.

    In all seriousness though, I tend to use practically every spell I have on a very regular basis, depending on the situation. Obviously a spell like Divine Hymn is going to be used less when talking total times cast due to the 10-minute cooldown... but I utilize it as often as I can. Utilizing Divine Hymn with Inner Focus can literally heal up an entire 10-man raid from 50% in about 4 seconds... for free.

    Another instance of a spell I tend to not use as often as others due to being situational is Binding Heal. I tend to only use that if I'm taking damage as well as someone else to get a 2-for-1, or in the extremely rare case where I'm in danger of pulling threat.

  • What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? I can literally fulfill any niche that I need to in a raid when it comes to healing. I can very effectively heal a MT and mitigate obscene amounts of damage as well as do some AoE healing when needed as Disc... Or I can AoE heal the raid remarkably well as Holy.

    Priests may not be the "best" when it comes to doing either, but the versatility to do it if needed I feel is a huge strength of the class in and of itself.

  • What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? Being the only healing class restricted to Cloth armor is by far the biggest weakness of the priest class in terms of healing.

    Aside from the armor restrictions, I feel that the inability to cleanse poisons is a weakness. Seriously... "Masters of Healing" that can't get rid of a poison, is just silly to me.

  • In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? As I stated above, priests can effectively fulfill any healing role within the raid.

    In terms of specific "assignments"... I tend to not find them needed. Aside from Four Horsemen in Nax or possibly Algalon, I do not feel that there is currently a fight in Wrath (not counting ICC fights yet, obviously) that is complex enough to where specific assignments are required or the raid will wipe.

    To me, assigning specific healing assignments simply promotes tunnel vision, or giving people an opening for placing specific blame if someone dies during the encounter. Neither one of these practices tends to be constructive for the raid overall.

  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why? I've healed with every class that can heal at some point or another during my WoW career... although the Paladin and Druid were both pre-Wrath, with the Paladin being Pre-BC... which makes my expertise with those two classes a bit dated. It's a completely different game these days, and both classes have had extreme changes.

    In terms of my favorite class to heal with... let's just say that there's a reason I'm still playing the priest as my Main. It can do whatever I need it to do, and it isn't just spamming one or two spells like some classes, which makes it more fun imo.

  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why? From my experience, with healing on a Paladin pre-BC... I would have to say that was the most boring thing I have ever done in this game. Cleanse bot on Lucifron ftl. Like I said above though... the class has changed drastically since then, so I'm sure it's much different now.

    In terms of healing at 80, I'd have to say my least favorite is the Shaman, simply due to the lack of options in which to heal with. They make great healers... but their style of play when it comes to healing just isn't for me.

  • What is your worst habit as a healer? Trying to be too mana efficient. There have been times where someone has died because I waited that extra second waiting for the penance CD to be up because it's such a mana efficient spell, where I could have hit them with a quick flash and likely saved them. There are some times where you simply have to say screw the mana efficiency and spam something quick.

  • What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing? Healing Meters, hands down... and people trying to gauge how well they're doing based solely on the recount meter.

    It is my personal opinion that healing meters should not be utilized to measure healing performance, since healing is not like DPS in which "more is always better."

    It is my opinion that healing meters should only be utilized to see who isn't doing their job when it comes to healing, instead of using it to evaluate who's doing the best at healing because of how much they've done total.

    Example: Void Reaver back in TKE, we had a Paladin healer who was out-healed by a Warlock. In that case, the meter was able to verify other raid member reports of him just standing around for the entire fight doing virtually nothing. The meter showed me that he was outhealed by a Warlock and the Tanks (back when PoM and Lifebloom healing counted toward the tank), making the meter a useful tool.

    Unfortunately, I feel that more often than not, the healing meter is used in the same context as a damage meter, where the common thought is whoever is at the "top" is doing the best job (which isn't always true about DPS classes either). With this mindset, you have people who spam CoH or PoH for no reason other than to see their recount meter grow, even though 90% of their total healing done is overhealing.

  • Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? As "balanced" with four other distinctly different classes as it can be, yes. There's probably a reason that the Disc and Holy trees have seen virtually no changes over the last two or three PTR patches.

  • What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer? I run WWS and WoL's after the raid to check and see how I did in terms of overhealing. Call me old school, but I hate having too much overheal. I also run Grim Reaper to check deaths after a kill/wipe to see if they died to something I could have (or should have) prevented.

    Overall though, if the boss died and we're still alive and I didn't go OOM during the fight, I chalk that up as a win.

  • What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class? I think the biggest misconception (for Disc) is that by looking at the meter most of the time, Disc priests tend to be far below other Healing classes simply because so much of our "healing" comes in the form of absorbs and mitigated damage, versus actual green numbers flying up on the screen.

  • What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn? CoH is not the only spell we have. I think back in BC when Blizzard added the CD to CoH, it was quite an eye-opener for many healing priests.

  • If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)? As I stated above... Healing meters should never be used by itself to evaluate performance.

    In humoring the question though, it would totally depend on which meter you were running. If it was one that measured shields and absorbs, then you'd see a very high amount of mitigated damage done, while maintaining ~30-35% overhealing.

    If the meter did not calculate absorbs... you'd likely see my healing numbers far below the other healers, since my actual "healing" I throw around tends to be quite a bit less than that of a Shaman or a Druid.

  • Haste or Crit and why? As a Disc priest, I value Intellect over any other stat, with Crit at a very close second.

    Int increases my mana pool as well as my crit. A larger mana pool for a Disc priest means you receive more mana back upon PW:S being absorbed, and drastically increases your regen and longevity. Larger mana pools also make you benefit from replenishment more.

    Crit over Haste due to the Divine Aegis talent, which creates a shield around the target for 30% of the healing done on a crit. The more I crit, the more damage I mitigate.

    The only spell I have as Disc that truly benefits from Haste is Prayer of Healing, which as Disc I'm hoping I'm not having to use often enough to make prioritizing the stat worthwhile.

  • What healing class do you feel you understand least? At this point in the game, Paladins... by far.

    Their whole beacon of light thing along with all the Divine Sacrifices, and bubbling themselves... confuses the hell out of me.

  • What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing? I use Xperl for my Player and Target Frames, and Vuhdo for my unit frames. I tried using Grid, but I could not get it to show everything I wanted the way I wanted, so I searched around until I found something that did.

    I also use DBM for raiding, Quartz for the movable cast bar and GCD's, and Xorcist Forte for keeping track of my ability cooldowns.

    I've recently begun to mess around with Power Auras, but that's mainly because I want to make my game do the Mario "Extra Life/1-up" sound effect whenever Ardent Defender procs on our pally tank.

  • Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
    Int > Crit > SP > Mp5 > Haste

    Int has the biggest benefit on the biggest number of aspects of my class. Int benefits my Mana Pool, Crit, Mana Regen, Damage Mitigation, and Spellpower.

    I prioritize Haste lowest due to the fact that at this point in the game, it really only benefits one spell (PoH), since so many of my spells already have very fast cast times ~1-1.3 secs, or are instant cast.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Evolution of Priest Tier sets

Regardless of the reason(s) someone may play the game, a major part of the WoW universe will always be gear. Gear is the driving force for many people in any type of MMO, and WoW is no exception to this.

Upon reaching the max level, the most obvious way a player can advance their toon is by getting better and better gear. New raids are released with more powerful bosses, who in turn drop more powerful gear. It's the circle of the MMO life. Upon the release of a new expansion, the circle starts all over again.

If you play WoW and haven't been living under a rock, you likely know that sometime in the near future, Blizzard will be releasing the 3.3 content patch for the Icecrown Citadel raid instance.

Icecrown Citadel... Home of the Lich King himself, Arthas. This is supposed to be the pinnacle of end-game raiding for this expansion. Arthas has been taunting us since level 70 in Howling Fjord, and it's finally time to stick it to him and give him what he deserves.

You can find all kinds of info floating around about the new raid instance, and the new bosses from the PTR, but the real question burning on many minds is what will the gear be like?

Well, aside from a few crafted pieces, the majority of the gear that drops in ICC has not been released yet. What we have seen though, is what the new Tier 10 sets will look like for most classes. The real question now is.... will we be well dressed when it comes time to mingle with Arthas on top of the Frozen Throne?

Personally... I'm disappointed with how the new Tier 10 sets look for all the classes released so far. They are no where near as lazy as the Tier 9 sets were (only one model for each armor type per faction), but they are no where near as badass as I was expecting them to be in terms of looks. Sure... looks don't kill bosses... but I spend quite a bit of time playing this toon, and I want it to look cool. Making your toon look cool is just as important as many players as the stats on the gear itself is (anyone else remember making obscene amounts of money in vanilla selling beastslayer enchants for the red glow?).

In the name of reminiscing, and because I'm incredibly bored on a non-raid night... Let's recap on the different priest sets Blizzard has released to us over the years. This is strictly going over overall look of gear, and isn't hitting on the stats/set bonuses. I'll go over that more once the T10 stats are out.

Since this is already an insanely long post, I'm going to split this up over a couple days... covering the gear from each expansion.

Vanilla WoW Priest Armor Sets.

Vestments of the Devout (Dungeon 1 set)This set may not look like a whole lot now... but back in Vanilla prior to setting foot in Molten Core, this was some amazing looking gear. Think about it. You've just spent the entire time of your WoW career leveling up and now you're level 60. Time to collect some gear. This was the first "set" of gear available for priests that "matched" when it came to looks. People could look at your toon in IF/Org and see that you had put in the time to do the end-game instances like Stratholme, Scholomance and LBRS/UBRS.

It may not look like much now, but at the time when this was end-game... this was pretty awesome looking gear.

Vestments of Prophecy (Raid Tier 1)

This set was the first "epic" gear that most priests saw in Vanilla WoW. It was an epic eight-piece set that dropped from Vanilla's first Raid instance, Molten Core.

Many priests criticized the head-piece saying they looked like bunny-ear TV antennae, but overall the set looked very nice. It was extremely different than the Devout that most priests had going into MC, and again... distinguished that you were a raid-experienced priest just by looking at you.

Overall, a simple set by today's standards... but given the context in which it was used, it was pretty amazing looking.

Vestments of Transcendance (Raid Tier 2)
This set introduced particle effects to Priest armor in both the head-piece, and the shoulders. Again, the set is an extreme difference in terms of looks from the set before it. This set looked much more powerful than the Prophecy set before, which gave a visual sense of your character getting more powerful as they progressed through the content.

Vestments of Faith (Raid Tier 3)
While not as an extreme difference in looks from the set before it as Tier 2 was to Tier 1, this set had a distinctly different look. The particle "angel wing" effect on the shoulders was cool, even though it looked funny from certain camera angles. Due to the scope and difficulty of Naxrammas back in Vanilla, priests in full T3 gear were not nearly as commonplace as those in Prophecy or Transcendence... making gear even more of a symbol of accomplishment.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mongrr Metal Update: New Slayer Album 11/3/09


Possibly one of the greatest thrash metal bands of all time, has a new album coming out 11/3 entitled "World Painted Blood."

Here's the track list...

1. World Painted Blood
2. Unit 731
3. Snuff
4. Beauty Through Order
5. Hate Worldwide
6. Public Display of Dismemberment
7. Human Strain
8. Americon
9. Psychopathy Red
10. Playing With Dolls
11. Not of This God

I've heard the entire album... and it's amazing. The only complaint I have about it is that (like most other albums released these days) it is pretty short. Total running time is only ~39 minutes.

Definitely an album to pick up if you're a Slayer or thrash fan... but not the best album for long car rides.

Priest Blogs (and the lack thereof)

So.... I started a blog about priests in World of Warcraft, and other random musings.

While I'm certainly not the first person to ever do this, I did a quick Google search for priest blogs and did not see any that I was impressed with on the first page when it comes to the Discipline and Holy aspects of the Priest class. There were many blogs about shadow... but you won't find much of that here.

I play a Discipline Priest (main spec) or a Holy Priest (off-spec). I shoot holy lasers from my hands, or turn into a sexy angel when I die. If you see me in shadowform, you either need your eyes examined, or the end of the world is at hand.

I've played a priest for going on five years... and I've been a healer for 99% of that time. I don't read about how to play my class from sources like elitistjerks, or other sites. Everything I've learned, and everything I do when it comes to playing my priest comes from experience and a LOT of trial and error. If something I post about on here conflicts with something somewhere else..... I don't really care. I've found things that work, and things that don't.

I don't do a lot of theorycrafting in terms of doing all the math, etc.. If I have an idea about something, I try it. If it works, awesome. If it doesn't... well... at least I didn't spend a lot of time working out the math, and hopefully not too many raid members died because of it.

Along with the WoW musings, I'm also mildly obsessed with music... especially when it comes to the metal genre. I'll likely be posting noteworthy releases and reviews here as well.