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...