Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Talent Review: Body and Soul

Here's another quickie talent review: Body and Soul

I suspect a lot of people, like me, looked at this talent, said "That's cute," and moved on. It's not exactly a reason to spec into Holy, and when you hold it up against the nice passives deep in holy that can improve all healing by 1 or 2 percent, it's easy to think of it as a gimmicky talent.

And it is gimmicky. But it is also made of pure fun and win.

Body and Soul is basically an on-demand Sprint. With Blink's cooldown. Castable on anyone. This gives a lot of mobility whenever you or a party member needs it.

At first when I saw Body and Soul, I thought it would be pretty fun for flag running in BG's, maybe in raids for catching up with a stray tank or fleeing DPSer. But it turns out there are TONS of uses for this baby:
  • Helping tanks get to mobs (from Violet Hold to Yogg's guardians)
  • Helping tanks kite (Gluth's zombies or even Vezax)
  • Helping people get out of AOE
  • Fleeing Kologarn's eye beams
  • Avoiding Mimiron's Laser Barrage
  • Dancing for Heigan
The list goes on: basically anytime anyone needs to be somewhere else NOW, this talent can be a big help. And since most of those times involve avoiding damage, having the movement be attached to a PW:Shield is great!

And the cool thing is, people notice this buff. Hit someone with Power Infusion and they might not even notice it. Hit them with Pain Suppression and they might ask what the shiny bubble is. But hit them with this, and they will immediately notice it, and often (literally) leap for joy. I first used Body and Soul in a heroic and within minutes, I had a tank asking for it on every pull (and to get to the bank faster in Dalaran, but that's another story). With good communication, this could help a tank position mobs faster than ever before.

Now, that said, raiders have gotten by at 100% speed (or slightly more with boot-enchants of the running fast) for years now, so Body and Soul is clearly not essential. Could you get more throughput out of investing talent points elsewhere in Holy? Probably. But you will not have nearly as much fun as with spammable shield-sprint. And sometimes having the right person in the right place can save a raid as surely as any heal can.

A word of warning, though. If you spec into Body and Soul long enough for your tanks or raidmates to become accustomed to it, be prepared to hear about it if you ever respec. You may prefer Disc healing or whatever, but your friends will value their ability to run around like maniacs at 160% speed. =)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Talent Review: Improved Flash Heal

I'm trying to get back into posting, so here's another installment of my talent reviews. This time a Disc talent: Improved Flash Heal.

Originally I thought Improved Flash Heal was almost mandatory. Back in the day Flash Heal was our workhorse, and so doing anything to improve it was a given.

Later on, after thinking about it and reading a post about the talent, I decided it wasn't so hot. Mana comes a lot easier nowadays, and 10% crit on a spell we don't use as much as we used to isn't that exciting.

But now, I think I have a more balanced view. There are pros and cons to this talent.

  • Cheaper Flash Heal. Who doesn't like Flash Heal?
  • More crit, when you need it most (low health target).
  • More crit also equals more Divine Aegises. Aegisi? Aegooses?

  • Only affects Flash Heal. Who casts Flash Heal?
  • Mana conservation not that big a deal for Disc priests.
  • Crit effect only applies to low health targets.
  • Unlike Test of Faith;s steady healing boost, this crit plays a RNG game with a low health target.

The pros may all seem to be heavily qualified by the cons, but let's look at an example situation where this talent shines: General Vezax. For Vezax, you need to conserve every last scrap of mana. And you need to focus on healing a single target, which means you're pretty much just casting shield, penance, and flash (in that priority order). With 3.2's longer Penance cooldown, you'll be casting flashes now and again, so you may as well get them cheaper. And you sure want to keep Inspiration up on the tank, so the extra crit doesn't hurt when it comes into play.

And the real test of any talent is, what else could you be getting with your talent points. In this tier of the Disc tree, you're basically comparing it to Focused Will. This used to be a PvP talent, but it now also increases your crit. Overall, I'd probably recommend going for Focused Will first (I am a crit fiend), but there are enough points to invest in both. At the very least, you can drop one point in Improved Flash Heal: the first point gives slightly more crit than the following points.

An interesting talent choice overall. Not the best talent for Disc priests (though I'm sure Holy would kill for it), but not bad either. And for times when mana may be tight, and single-target healing crucial, it's a solid choice.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Return of Onyxia

I don't usually post about WoW news, since so many other blogs and sites do a great job of it. But I had to post about Onyxia's announced return.

This is awesome news. I've been raiding on my priest since 15-man Stratholme was "progression content," and there has never been another fight like Onyxia's Lair. I'm sure nostalgia is part of it, but I think anyone who raided Onyxia in her native environment would agree that there's something special about her.

Everything about Onyxia's Lair was special. Preparing to raid there was a month-long guild field trip. Everyone needed to complete a long wide-ranging quest chain. You needed to travel far and wide (Winterspring anyone?). You needed to head into Blackrock Depths* multiple times. You needed to talk to the world's diplomats. You needed to confront a dragon in Stormwind, in the presence of great heroes, in one of the best scripted events in the game. And then, each week you and your guildies could all hop on a ship and sail off to Theramore, and then swim to the broodmother's lair.**

Once you got there, you got to see an awesome encounter. After getting past the warders, of course... I remember wiping to those guys more than once.

Phase 1 was straightforward. One brave soul tanks Onyxia. With their back to the wall, since she would bat them away like a cat swipes at a ball of yarn. Everyone else starts attacking her, and healing up any damage. Sounds like a tank and spank, but this was before threat meters, before stats like spell power, and before half the classes were half as viable as they are now. This was where we learned now-basic lessons like "Standing in front of a dragon is bad" and "Standing behind a dragon is bad" and of course "Pulling threat causes Onyxia's fire breath hit quite a few more people than it strictly needs to."

And for healers, all we had back then was Flash Heal (a mana hog), Greater Heal (with a frightening 3.5 second cast time), Renew (only one allowed on each player by the way), and Shield. Our top tier talents to help save the tank's life from this fire-breathing monster? Divine Spirit (single target buff), and Holy Nova (with 30 second cooldown). The strategy of the day was to spend all one's mana on Flash and Greater, then stand idle to regain mana while someone else stepped in.

But phase 1 was still pretty easy. Remember, there were 40 of us. But then she decides to take off (sometimes after eating an offtank or rogue). Then, phase 2: always an adventure. How long would she stay up there? Would she fly around a lot, or stay still and pelt us with fireballs? How many times would the hunters not look where they were going and get too close to the dragon whelps, who would proceed to eat us? And let us never forget the dreaded Deep Breath. Also known as, "Your raid is not a winner. Your consolation prize is a fiery death. Thanks for playing, come back next time."

Eventually Onyxia would tire of raining destruction on us from above. She would land, and be walked back to the tanking spot (sometimes after eating an offtank or rogue). Phase 3 was like phase 1, but with the added bonus of burning streams of lava all over, and a periodic raid-wide fear. Hmm... fear, plus nearby caves full of whelplings... it's almost like she planned it this way. Luckily, we overpowered Dwarves were there to save the day with Fear Ward (then a 10-minute buff, 30-second cooldown, only known to Dwarves).

And finally, if the stars aligned, and damage and healing were good, and the raid could avoid eating tail swipes and pulling the whelps, the broodmother Onyxia could be slain. An incredible accomplishment the first time for a guild, given all the prep time, and equally as satisfying each additional time. At least unless you found out she didn't have your tier 2 hat again.

I just can't write about Onyxia without waxing eloquent. It always struck me as a cool encounter, dripping with lore, strategy, fantasy, danger, and rich rewards. It's why we went there every week. It's why we ran Jailbreak 20 more times to attune initiates and alts so we could keep going there.

Just something about going into a cave shaped like the maw of a giant dragon, to confront a leader of the black dragonflight. Being tasked by the Alliance's finest to slay the dragon. Charging recklessly into her lair, where she lay waiting. Standing next to her, seeing her maul the tank repeatedly, hoping she wouldn't notice your side of the cave. Watching her take off and soar above us. Watching everyone launch their spells and arrows at her in the air. You don't get more Warcrafty than that, nor more high-fantasy.

Onyxia's lair has always been my favorite raid encounter. If Blizzard treats the old girl right for the upcoming anniversary, we're all in for a treat. And in the meantime, I'd encourage everyone to stop by the broodmother's lair. It's a very fun fight, even 3-manning it now at 80. You don't need a minipet and a mount and a new hat to enjoy this classic raid encounter.

Long live the queen!

*For newer players, to get a picture of BRD, start with Old Kingdom. Multiply it by ten. Ten times the twisty turns, ten times the little sub-zones with unique mobs, ten times the obscure quests, ten times the bosses. Make all of these sub-areas connect over and under and through each other, yet make it so you need to go through half the instance to get to any one thing you need. Then make every major quest chain in the game run through it at some point. Yeah, we spent a lot of time in BRD.

**After you did the quest chain and BRD runs 40 more times, for everyone else in the guild.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tournament Limmerick

I can't just post a haiku about anything, I have to come up with limmericks too. I think it might be a genetic condition.

A Blood Elf champ I had to surmount
But her lance-work I couldn't discount
So I winked at my steed
(a loaned Elekk, pay heed)
And it sat on her chickenhawk mount

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Patch 3.2 haiku

Trial of the Champ trash
Wall of Text crits you to death
Wake me when it's done

Champion's Trial runs:
Easier to heal when you
Unequip your lance

Penance cooldown nerf:
"That spell is not yet ready"
Want my two secs back