Thursday, April 23, 2009

Razorscale: graceful swan or lame duck?

Razorscale, skybound
Now she descends gracefully
To melt our faces

Dark Rune adds pop up
Like gophers on a golf course
Let's play Whack-A-Mole!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An ode to Ignis the Furnace Master

Ignis is a mean Furnace Master
And you must be aware, as a caster
Casting through Flame Jet
Could cause you regret
Resulting in fiery disaster!

The off-tanks get all of the fun
As they pick up their adds on the run
If it's one of their lot
To ride the Slag Pot
The raid'll be roasted, well-done!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PW:Shield in the news

A few weeks ago I wondered if Power Word: Shield was overpowered, what with all the stacking bonuses it gets in the Disc tree. My reason for saying it might be "too good" was really just wondering if it made sense to base so much of Disc's benefits on one situational spell. It'd be like if 20 talent points in Holy affected Renew.

This week, others are noticing and pointing out how good PW:Shield is. Matt Low (of World of Matticus) posted on WoWInsider about how Disc can use preemptive shields as AOE mitigation. Disc has come a long way if what was once a panic button spell can now be used to pre-shield whole chunks of the raid against upcoming damage. Matt makes a good point that, thanks to Soul Warding making PW:Shield cheap and quickly recastable, this is a very viable strategy. I honestly think that in some encounters, you could do more "effective healing" this way than through Penance and Flash Heal.

There was also a post this week on the WoW forums, by a paladin who was comparing Disc's shielding to pally offerings. Most of the replies were critical of the analysis, but I think the paladin had some good points. Fully talented PW:Shield is a big instant-cast low-cost "heal" that also comes with an energize effect and a haste buff. Plus, frequent pre-shielding (as the WoWInsider post discussed) is clearly helpful in many places in Ulduar. I think Disc as a spec, and Shield as a spell, are very unique and powerful.

The Blizzard reply began, "Power Word: Shield is a really useful tool for Disc priests in particular. We want them using it." It's fortunate that Ghostcrawler said this, instead of, say, "We think Shield is a little too good and we're looking at scaling it back!" I do still wonder if Disc has a little too much invested in one spell, but on the balancing side, Weakened Soul keeps it from monopolizing our repertoire. And I do have to say, now that I've tried it, that the Glyph of Penance does give us a very attractive alternative spell to cast every six seconds!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Flame Leviathan: a bird's eye view

The catapult my friend commandeered;
He said "I need one volunteer!"
I said "I'll ride with you,
But what's this button do?
And why's my seat say "Ammunition goes here?'"

I've decided to write some poetry about each encounter in Ulduar as I come to them. So far it's been going well; you could say we've been flying through the instance! Whatever happened to "Nobody tosses a dwarf?!"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Viable talent specs in 3.1

Many people have already posted on talent specs for 3.1. I wanted to post my own thoughts sooner. Hopefully these thoughts will remain relevant throughout 3.1, so the post isn't immediately out of date!

As priests, we have a few options for our two specs. We can use either or both specs for healing, DPSing, or PvPing. I think it really comes down to personal preference and guild situation whether one chooses to have 2 healing specs, or a healing spec and a PvP spec, or a raid healing spec and a trash DPSing spec, etc. I think I will start out like many priests and pick up a disc and a holy spec for starters, at least until the healers in my guild stabilize and I have a better idea of what's needed.

Here are what I think are the viable/best specs:

Deep Discipline PvE Healing (57/14/0)

In my opinion this is the logical best Disc spec. You get all the goodies, skip the PvP stuff, and get enough in Holy for Inspiration (and Desperate Prayer, a favorite of mine as a Dwarf!) You could make a case for putting 4 more in Holy to pick up Improved Healing, perhaps taking points from Focused Will or Improved Flash Heal, but I don't think it'd be worth it, with Penance's cheap cost. It depends on the frequency of casting Greater Heal as Disc.

Deep Holy PvE Healing (14/51/0 + 6)

This is the skeleton of most deep Holy builds, I think, covering all the essentials and leaving 6 points to place where you like. Circle of Healing and all the talents that help it, the staples Holy Concentration and Surge of Light, and all the passive healing boosts for big throughput. With the remaining points you can choose to also have a better Renew in your arsenal, the passive Test of Faith for healing where it counts, Serendipity for faster Greater Heals, or better efficiency from Mental Agility in Disc. You could shave a few more points off of say blessed Resilience or others too, depending on taste.

Holy/Disc PvE Healing (21/60/0)

I cooked up this odd spec, squeezing the Disc talent Soul Warding into a CoH build, and I'm not sure if it's any good. I thought of it because I think PW:Shield is underused by Holy priests as well as Disc ones, and Soul Warding would let you through out a couple of shields in between CoH cooldowns. Without Disc's massive shield buffs, it may not be worth it, but it could be interesting for dangerous trash packs, or perhaps for some gimmick encounter.

Holy/Disc DPS

The idea of a LolSmite spec has a soft spot for me, and with dual specs you can always get a wacky spec for your off spec. Surge of Smite is probably not going to top a raid damage meter but it can do decent DPS if you're looking for something fun to try. For more info I have to recommend Xel's new smite DPS blog.

Shadow DPS

Of course, Shadow is the traditional DPS spec, and comes with excellent trash-pack APE damage in Mind Sear, so it can be a good secondary spec for clearing trash. WoW Insider had a great post on shadow specs the other day.

PvP Healing or DPS

I'm afraid I haven't kept up with PvP in WotLK, and I don't want to post a PvP spec without any experience. I would imagine that deep Disc is the preferred arena spec for its enhanced survivability and shielding, but that deep Holy has potential especially in battlegrounds. The new talent Body and Soul seems very nice for the BG involving flags and quick travel.

Hopefully this spec advice is sound and helpful. Time will tell, as we advance through Ulduar, which specs are best for the encounters there. Have fun choosing a spec and switching between specs!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The difference between Holy and Discipline


If you should perish,
You'll be reborn, phoenix-like:
Guardian Spirit


If you're hurting bad,
I'll say, "Suck it up and deal."
That's Pain Suppression

Monday, April 6, 2009

Is Power Word: Shield TOO good?

PW:Shield has historically been a good, well-balanced spell. It's an instant-cast shield, but you can also think of it as a front-loaded heal, or an extension to tank hit points, both of which are naturally very good. No other healer has a spell like it. It even has a cool echoing sound effect when people whack you while you are shielded! And yet the spell is balanced, by its cooldown and Weakened Soul, and untalented it's not as mana efficient as a heal.

It's been a spell that has always been very powerful, even back in WoW and TBC, and I think it has always been underappreciated and underused. Disc priests now understand its strength thanks to all of its new bells and whistles, but I think it's worth using as Holy too.

And if PW:Shield is good in 3.0, it will be amazing in 3.1! For Disc priests in 3.1, shields also cost 30% less mana, have no cooldown, energize the target with mana/rage/etc, and shielding anyone also reduces all incoming raid damage by 3%. This is in addition to how they are already stronger than normal shields, return mana when they are consumed, grant spell haste when cast, and with a glyph they even heal a bit. Don't forget the upcoming tier 8 set bonus, which grants 250 spell power each time you cast a shield. Not many spells have this many features!

So what prevents PW:Shield from being ridiculously overpowered? Once the 4-second cooldown is gone, only Weakened Soul will prevent it from being spammed. Weakened Soul makes using shield as a regular heal impractical, and means it will still only play a small role in tank healing.

I am not sure if this a healthy way for the Disc tree to work, with PW:Shield so insanely good, but with a harsh limit on how often you can use it to heal a tank (which is Disc's "specialty"). It seems a little odd to spend a dozen talent points on a spell, when perhaps it will only mitigate 1/8th of a boss's attacks. Is it unusual to have a spell so transformed by recent improvements, but have its balancing debuff unchanged since WoW's release?

An interesting side effect of all this is that PW:Shield is actually looking pretty good as a raid heal. A talented and glyphed shield costs very little and absorbs a whole lot (and heals 20% of that amount too). With no cooldown, and with Borrowed Time hasting each cast's global cooldown, it could mitigate a lot of raid damage from AOE or adds.

So, is PW:Shield too good? It depends on the encounter, and on how it's used, and on how Weakened Soul comes into play. We will see how well it does in 3.1. Perhaps the mechanic of Weakened Soul will be changed to let us shield tanks more often, or perhaps it will be kept as-is, to remind us that we're not just tank healers. In any case, PW:Shield and Penance will definitely remain Disc's signature spells, and all the shield buffs and the new Penance glyph should provide for some interesting options for Disc priests.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Priestly blogroll

I have a collection of links to some great priest blogs on my sidebar, and I'm gradually expanding the list. I've been exploring and finding more blogs, and reading a ton of great posts on healing, raiding, UI mods, you name it.

But blogger Bob Turkey recently posted a blogroll of more than two dozen great priestly blogs in his WoW blog, and I wanted to point to his list. It contains all the ones I've linked to and more, a smorgasbord of excellent blogs. I will definitely be checking out those on the list I don't already follow, and recommend that other interested healers do the same!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A break from haiku... time for limmericks!

A druid, I met, from Darnassus
We spoke while we healed up Naxxramas
"You heal great as a tree,"
said I unto he,
"But when hit, do you bleed out molasses?"

Resto shamans are really quite slick
Their Chain Heal's a nice magic trick
But think of their plight
When after each fight
They must go back and play Pick-up Sticks!

A pally, with shield and a blade
Caused me to ask, while dismayed,
"Why, when we slew Noth
Did you roll on that cloth?"
"Oh, that was a fashion upgrade!"