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Heroic 5’s teach raid movement mechanics

So, with Cataclysm now upon us, many people have been running heroics and raid dungeons. One of the things that has become obvious is that we have returned to the days of “GOOTROF” (“Get out of the Rain of Fire”). The punishment for not moving in a lot of fights is not just a drain on healer mana, but is most likely just outright death. However, not all the ground effects are fire, and not all of the things that force us to move are obvious. Another problem is that some of the ground-covering effects in Cata are GOOD heals (like efflorescence, healing rain, etc).

For learning which ground effects each of the healing classes use for our AOE heals, Matt Low wrote an article on wow insider describing the GOOD ground effects to stand in. That article has pictures of what each of them looks like (though sometimes even the good effects share graphics with bad effects *grumble*).

The nice thing about heroic 5-mans is that they teach you some (but not all) of the visual queues to pay attention to in raid dungeons. Normal-mode 5’s teach some of the mechanics, too, but they tend to be less deadly than the heroic counterparts. When you are in the 5-man dungeons, it would do you good to pay attention to what is going on around you so you can learn some of the movement mechanics which will be important for your raiding experience in Cataclysm. Basically, one thing that makes heroic 5-mans hard is that they require everyone (tanks, healers, or DPS) to have fast reflexes and move at the right time.  For both 5-mans and raiding, situational awareness to your surroundings is going to be the key for success.

Here are some examples of mechanics shared by 5’s and raids:

  • Staying out of Cyclones: Altarius in the Vortex Pinacle 5-manhas some nasty cyclone effects that bounce you around and can throw you off the platform. This teaches you the mechanic used in the Conclave of Wind fight in the Throne of the Four Winds.
  • Multi-directional lines of death: General Husam in the Lost City of Tol’Vir 5-man has a shock wave that shoots out in lines from him going in 4 directions, where you basically have to stand in a safe spot between the lines. This is similar to (though not exactly the same as) Magmatron’s “Inceneration security measure” that shoots out in 4 directions from his body in the Omnitron Defense System in the Blackwing Descent raid.

In Cataclysm, we once again need to learn how to get out of “fires”. I’ve been tempted to take a guild group down to Baron Geddon in Mount Hyjal to practice running out of fires by playing “chicken” to see who can run in & out the most times without dieing. One of my biggest complaints about early WotLK is that it didn’t force people to have to pay attention to moving out of bad things, because most effects in WotLK could just be healed trough. However, most things in Cataclysm can’t be healed through. Regardless of what role we play in dungeons and raids (healing, DPS or tanking), we all have to do our part in moving out of various things happening in all the encounters, and we have to learn the difference between bad things on the ground, and good things on the ground. Once we all get better at moving at appropriate times, and learn the “dance” of all the different fights in normal & heroic 5-mans, we will be better prepared for learning the dance in raids. You should be mentally prepared for wiping A LOT, in either heroics or raids while everyone learns the dance of Cataclysm bosses.

I think that heroic 5-mans and such will get easier over time as we better learn what effects to watch for and better learn how our own abilities work in those encounters. Another important piece of advice – if your computer can’t handle all the visual effects or lags too much when grouping or raiding, you may want to look into hardware upgrades for making your Cataclysm experience smoother. We got a new video card and power supply for my computer, so that I could turn up some of the spell details for raiding without losing so much of my frame rate.

Posted in 4.0.3a, Cataclysm, Druid - General, Moonkin Balance DPS, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees

If resto druids get to see our armor…

Can they at least make the armor not buggy?

Okay, so today I just have a short update on a couple of things. At this point, my druid has been able to start running heroics. I’ve mostly run stuff as DPS, but I’ve solo-healed a couple of heroic bosses. I haven’t been able to run many heroics just because my pre-holiday schedule has been so hectic.

However, since I’ve been running heroics in a healer-heavy guild, it sometimes ends up working out such that we’ve 2-healed some of the heroic bosses. As several other bloggers have pointed out, the bosses don’t have real enrage timers, so having 2 healers (when we’re still undergeared for the content) turned out to be better than one. Too bad you can’t queue for double-healer PUGs. Anyway, back to the point of today’s story.

If I’m running around as resto, there is one thing that bugs me a lot, the fact that the graphic for my dress bugs out on me all the time. When I’m moonkin, I just don’t see my robe often enough to be bothered by the problem.

Here is what it is supposed to look like:

Sure, it’s a little bit drab overall, but I can live with ‘drab’. However, the vast majority of the time, it doesn’t look like that. I only get that graphic for a short period of time after I unequip and re-equip my robe. The rest of the time, it has an ugly flesh-colored band around my knees, where my skin has managed to bleed through to the outside of the graphic’s fabric and made it look super ugly, like this:

By the time they fix this bug, I’ll probably have a different chest piece (that hopefully won’t also bug out). It looks like there is a problem with the texture (and not just my computer) because it will show up with the bugged graphic on my loading screen & the armory. After I get the “right” graphic to show up, the “bugged” graphic shows up when I shapeshift, as in it’s not retaining the right texture/graphic once I’ve shifted in & out of any form. However, it looks like since my pants share the graphic with the chest piece, my pants graphic may be compensating some for the bugged chest graphic. I guess my Cursed Skardyn Vest really is cursed. Robes of the Loving Ursine have the same problem for me, since they share a graphic. I’m wearing them with Leggings of the Path. Is anyone else having a similar problem? The heroic versions of these items would still have the same graphic.

In other news, our first Team Waffle Podcast was recorded on Friday. Arielle (from Death Kitty) is currently working on editing. I guess that the main recording we were using cut out in a couple places, so he’s having to try and splice the backup copies we made to get it right.

Posted in 4.0.3a, Cataclysm

Healing Dungeons at level 85

So, the forums are full of healer tears over having to re-learn how to heal in Cataclysm. To make things worse, we went from being superheroes (in our high-end raid gear from WotLK) to being total scrubs in blues & greens. So, lets take a look at what is going wrong for many of my resto druid friends:

This is “fail tree”. Fail tree is having a hard time healing instances, and went to the forums to complain about how his class sucks. Lets see what Fail Tree is doing wrong & how to fix it:

The biggest problems fail-tree is having are: Not enough Gear, inappropriate spell selection, and the rest of your group not doing the right things.

It takes time to fix gearing issues:

Not Enough Gear for Heroics! While the normal-mode dungeons can be done in greens and low-end blues, Heroic mode dungeons basically require you to be wearing  high-end level 85 (ilevel 333) blues (from dungeons & quest rewards). Even then, some heroic-mode bosses will be VERY HARD. If you are wearing any ICC epics and complaining about being OOM, then your problem is gear. If you are wearing greens, your problem is not enough gear. Get gear, get powerful. I didn’t believe this when Ghostcrawler posted this when we were complaining about mana in Beta, but then they released ilevel 333 premades in Beta, and the whole world shone down upon me and told me that Heroics were now possible to do (but still hard for unorganized groups!). So, run normal modes until you are comfortable with the new healing style and have enough gear to tackle heroics.  Right now, I’m running OOM at the end of a normal-mode dungeon because my gear is still bad. Usually, when you have some mana reserves left over at the end of a normal-mode boss is when you are ready for heroics (ie. don’t just think that because your ilevel average of the agility leather in your bags is high enough to run heroics that your actually equipped items make the cut). Your tanks & DPS need gearing up, too – as it’s hard to heal under-geared people.

Needs gems & enchants & reforging: Now, the second problem people are having (according to their armory data) is that they aren’t putting gems in their blues, and aren’t taking the time between dungeon runs to get things enchanted (and then whine on the forums about how bad life is). Now, you don’t need the best enchants in the world. I personally picked up the cheapest things I could get from the AH to slap on them, but every enchant helps. I put lower-end gems in my gear, but I at least put something in my gem slots. I also reforged as much crit & mastery into spirit as I possibly could to boost my regen. This is one of the reasons why I included enchants in my healing guide that weren’t “Best in slot” enchants, because I expected the lower-tiered enchants to be more available. You can also go with old WotLK enchants for your easily replaced gear. I will call you out on the Druid forums if you post about running OOM and you have  no enchants or gems on your gear. You have to at least show that you are trying to take things seriously.

STOP wearing cloth!!! I covered that in another post here. You lose a 5% int buff if you wear cloth. Just ignore that cloth pieces exist. Don’t be like fail tree wearing a cloth blanket and losing his leather specialization.

Use the right Healing Spell Selection:

Stop relying on Regrowth: The 4.0.1 patch taught us a bad habit of using Regrowth too much as our direct heal. In addition, I heard someone complain on the forums about how fast the HOT falls off, and that he spends most of his time trying to keep the Regrowth HOT on the tank. Let me say this: Regrowth is not a HOT the way that it used to be. It’s impossible/impractical to keep up the Regrowth HOT on a tank because the regrowth HOT now sucks a lot and doesn’t heal for much. Regrowth is a direct heal that happens to add an additional HOT when you use it as a direct heal. The only reason you care about the HOT is to prime your mastery and swiftmend.

Start relying on Nourish & Healing Touch: People want to avoid these because they are slow. However, did you see how big everyone’s health pools got? The increasing of Health Pool size means that these two spells are how you will keep your tank alive in 5-mans (and raids!).

You can still use HOTs some: I think that Wild Growth & Rejuv still made up a decent amount of my healing in the HoO runs yesterday, and I spend a lot of time trying to keep up lifebloom on my tank. Efflorescence’s proc is also a HOT. However, my direct heals (Nourish & HT) are my most important anti-death tools. My advice in my healing guide applies to 5-mans almost as much as it applies to actual raids (since I healed more 5-mans than raids in Beta).

Use tranquility strategically: As you learn fights, you will see that some have periodic huge burst AOE damage. Tranquility trivializes those AOE damage phases (such as when Rajh comes to the middle of the room and does his huge AOE fire damage). I won’t do Rajh at all when tranquility is on cooldown (especially on the heroic-mode).

Anticipate your Group Interactions:

Hard modes are hard: I actually find it amazing that people are complaining about HARD modes being HARD. I think Blizzard messed up with WotLK by equating Hard modes & Heroic Dungeons with EZ-mode-cake-walk. They are now undoing all their past mistakes by making Heroic dungeons actually challenge people in the gear level they are designed to be run (and still challenging for people wearing epics from the first tier of Cataclysm raiding). You have to actually use the right strategy in hard-modes (and even normal-modes). Failure to understand the strategies will result in death.

Sometimes people will die: In the HoO run I healed, we had a few deaths – mostly because I went OOM or I had to choose between the tank and the DPS (and chose to let the DPS die). Success is killing the boss – it doesn’t matter if everyone was alive or not. So, just accept that deaths will happen, and they will happen frequently. You will sometimes even wipe a few times learning a new boss (especially on Heroic-modes). They are not meant for you to 1-shot everything in God-mode on your first day as an 85. The heroics are supposed to still be challenging even when you are decked out in the gear that drops from the heroic bosses (ie. heroics still weren’t trivial in the raid geared out premades on beta). This shift to increased difficulty (forcing people to move out of fires or die) is to make up for WotLK being too easy.

Crowd Control isn’t Optional: I ran two HoO runs yesterday. In the first, we didn’t have very good Crowd Control, and our healer really struggled on trash pulls. In the second, we improved our Crowd Control, and it went amazingly smoother. We went back to Burning Crusade where not using CC meant failure, and your mana constraints are part of what enforces the need for CC.

You will run OOM: Accept that mana is a limited resource. Bring many stacks of water (there is “new” level 85 water twice as potent as level 80 water). However, this down-time can be useful, to explain to your tanks & DPS what their jobs are (ie. set up crowd control for the next pack). Explain boss strategies in the down-time that you are drinking, etc. If people run ahead and pull when you have no mana,  let them die and have to run back and teach them that not listening has consequences. It might suck for a while in random dungeons, but someone has to teach the tanks & DPS about the new dungeon design (where they have to wait for healer mana).

Adapt or die! Every expansion, people have been wrought with panic over having to re-learn how to heal again. The druid class isn’t broken. By the end of Beta, we were one of the strongest healers in Beta raids. However, life is hard for everyone right now, because we’re all so undergeared and inexperienced. Six months from now, you won’t even remember how it felt right now. So, just run instances that you can handle. Then, practice and gear up to get ready for heroic-mode dungeons & raids!

And a comic from Ctrl-Alt_Delete’s Fail Druid sillies:

Good luck with your Cataclysm dungeon running! Give it time and it all gets better, I promise! Just hang in there and take the time to really gear up and just know that things get better once you are geared, the rest of your group knows what they are doing, and you get used to healing in a mana-constrained environment.

UPDATE: Various people have posted really great advice in their comments on this post, so I would make sure to read the comments section if you are struggling with healing at level 85! Also, thanks for all the helpful advice guys!

Posted in 4.0.3a, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees

gearing up for 85 raids

So, for raiding at level 85, you really should be wearing at least an average of ilevel 346 gear, which is the Heroic 5-man gear.You can get gear from the same item level (or better) from additional sources: crafting professions (including Archeology!), bought with Justice Points from vendors in Stormwind or Org, and reputation rewards from various factions.

Here is my caster druid pre-raid gear list for level 85 (both moonkin & resto). I didn’t include many of the craftable items (especially if they were BOP), and I mostly stuck to blues (with only a couple epics highlighted), so I recommend supplementing my guide with some of the others that I linked. It’s also not a Best-in-Slot list, since I included items for both moonkin & resto. Resto also has 2 playstyles for raiding (tank healing values mastery more than AOE/raid healing values mastery).

I made my list of items at least ilevel 346 for you to look for as you gear up for raiding in Cataclysm. You really don’t want to start raiding until you have this level of gear. It’s going to be difficult for you to ding 80 and then step into raids the next day. You will have to gear up in “Normal” 5-man gear to be able to handle running Heroics, and then you have to gear up in “Heroic” 5-man gear to be ready for raids. This is going to be a slower process than it was in Wrath of the Lich King, because they are hoping to slow down the speed at which we rush into the first raid instances. In Beta, they gave us premades with ilevel 346 gear to test the normal-mode raid dungeons, and we pretty much required people to have the premades to raid test. This means that the bosses were tuned around being difficult for people wearing Heroic 5-man gear.

I anticipate that some of the links may point to the wrong items, since there are LOTS of links in the gear list post.

It’s only 1 more week ’til Cataclysm!

Posted in 4.0.3a, Cataclysm, Moonkin Balance DPS, Restoration Healing Trees

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