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Guild Leadership Corner: Can raiding guilds benefit from virtual realms?

We know that Blizzard is playing around with a virtual server technology (based off the cross-realm zones) that would have several features:

  • Virtual servers would allow for multiple realms to be virtually linked together. So, my realm of Elune would be virtually linked to at least several other PVE servers to form a mega-realm.
  • You can easily raid current content with anyone on your same virtual server.
  • For guilds, this has the benefit of being able to join another guild on your “virtual” server, without having to pay money to transfer to the actual server.
  • Resources such as auction houses are also shared across the same virtual realm.
  • This builds off the cross-realm-zone technology that is currently used for many parts of the game that allow for cross-realm grouping of quests and 5-man dungeons. PVP guilds can also benefit from changes that increase the ease of cross-realm grouping for BGs and arena teams.

So, as an officer in a 25-man guild, my thoughts are about what virtual server technology and associated game support systems need to be in place to help raiding guilds maximize the benefits of this change:

  • There needs to be an easy way to recruit guild/raid members based on your virtual realm. This includes the need for new recruitment forums for each virtual realm, a better in-game recruitment system, and other recruitment supports to make it easy to find people to join guilds and find raiding groups. The realm-specific forum is almost always a better recruitment tool for my guild compared to the general recruitment forum (where every single guild in the US is trying to recruit people). So, we will need a recruitment forum for each virtual server to have a chance of raiding guilds being able to successfully recruit new members.
  • In-game chat tools used for guild/raid recruitment will also need to work across the whole virtual realm so you can find other people to join raids and guilds. It needs to be easy to communicate with other people on your virtual realm. This includes having chat channels like General and Trade tied across the whole virtual realm – even if it attracts trolling. We may also need a  new in-game chat channel (given the failing of the guild recruitment “tool”), to keep recruitment for guilds or PUG raids out of trade/general chat (e.g., have a recruitment in-game channel for guild recruitment, and a “grouping” channel for forming 5-mans, raids, or pvp teams). Having an increased number of topic-specific cross-realm chat channels will increase the ease of connecting with other like-minded people without overwhelming general & trade chat (e.g., people wanting to join a guild can join “looking for guild”, people looking for group can join “looking for group”).
  • The cost of transferring to a new virtual (or actual) realm needs to be significantly reduced. It currently costs $25 to transfer one character to a new server. It costs an additional $30 to faction change. The $25 to $55 real money cost to transfer to a new raiding guild (and upwards of a hundred dollars if you want to transfer multiple characters) is one of the bigger hurdles that have made it incredibly difficult to recruit members into 25-man raiding guilds outside of the most hardcore raiding. Even for 10-man guilds, transferring servers has a huge cost and a huge risk. The new cost of transferring virtual realms and faction changing needs to be significantly reduced – as the physical realm becomes less meaningful, the cost needs to reflect this change. With new virtual servers, changing to a new realm should be no more than $10, and faction changes should come down to about $15 or $20 at most. With Blizzard moving to selling vanity items (toys and transmog gear) for real money, reducing the transfer costs permanently (and allowing ease of moving to new guilds) can breathe new life back into the game without hurting Blizzard’s monetary bottom line.

In conclusion, the new virtual realm technology can potentially increase the ease of guild recruitment. However, the support systems and real life monetary costs associated with joining new raiding guilds also need to be adapted to fit this shift in technology. I really look forward to how virtual servers may make my job of guild recruitment easier. I just hope that Blizzard keeps guild recruitment in mind when they polish their virtual realm implementation. What do you think Blizzard needs to do to support guilds in this time of huge changes to server technology?

Posted in Guild Leadership, Patch 5.4, Written By Lissanna

The healing mushroom change is good…

The Wild Mushrom healing spell change is good … and you should feel good!

Why did wild mushrooms need a change?

The original intent when asking for healing shrooms was that restorations couldn’t keep up with the burst healing of other classes. However, healing mushroom’s initial implementation left a lot to be desired. The current Wild mushroom spell allows you to plant up to 3 healing shrooms on the ground. While the original intent was to allow for spreading them out, most of the time you just clump them up in one place. Many people have found the current mushroom design to feel awkward. It takes a lot of setup time, and even when they are buffed to do a substantial portion of healing, they still don’t feel right in the current 5.3 version. While we now have a high risk/high reward spell, it just ends up being really frustrating when an encounter doesn’t give you that high reward in return.

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Original Healing Shroom problems from my 2012 post:

  • Targeting circle was originally too small: Previously solved by making the targeting reticule bigger. CHECK
  • Shrooms needed to interact better with our other healing spells: Previously solved by changing shrooms detonate to activate harmony. Also, the overall interactions with other spells were increased by allowing rejuvenation overhealing to increase the amount of healing done by shrooms. CHECK
  • Small 6 yard radius was too small: Previously solved by increased radius to 10 yards. CHECK
  • We needed some sort of HOT component on application when dropping the shrooms: Addressed in the upcoming patch (see below). CHECK
  • Three shrooms felt like too many: Addressed in upcoming patch (see below). CHECK
  • Have to target the ground: Many people didn’t like using the reticule to place shrooms on the ground. Addressed in upcoming patch (see below). CHECK

The big 5.4 changes solve the biggest quality of life problems.

Currently in the PTR patch files for the next patch, wild mushroom will now just be one shroom that you place on the ground. No more having to place three shrooms! While the moonkin version may still drop 3 (I haven’t been able to test it directly on the PTR), the resto version of healing shrooms only drops one.

Grow a magical mushroom with 5 health at the target ally’s location. After 6 sec, the mushroom will become invisible. The mushroom grows larger as it accumulates healing power from 100% of overhealing done by your Rejuvenation, up to a maximum of 200% of your health in bonus healing. Recasting Wild Mushroom will move the Mushroom without losing this accumulated healing. Wild Mushroom: Bloom can consume your Mushroom to heal nearby allies. Only 1 mushroom can be placed at a time. Can be cast in Tree of Life Form, Moonkin Form. Druid – Restoration Spec. 40 yd range. Instant.

The THREE underlined sentences are really the important changes. Most of the other changes are just adjustments to balance the amount of healing it does. However, there are two other important change in the above text:

  • If you move your shroom, it doesn’t reset your rejuv overheal stacks. So, if everyone moves, you can replant the shroom with all the overhealing it absorbed and bloom it right away! No longer do you have to be psychic and know in advance exactly where your raid will end up in times of heavy damage!
  • UPDATE: As many people pointed out the text now says “at the target ally’s location”. So, apparently your friends will be growing shrooms out of their backs. It appears to still sit on the ground and require a detonate, but it looks like you will target an ally to drop the shroom at their feet. No more reticule. If you have no one targeted, it drops at your feet. Mouse over macros are still behaving poorly on the PTR, but we may be able to work out some sort of macro to use for people by the time it goes live.

Also, they are allowing you to have the option to glyph for healing Shrooms such that your efflorescence is tied to your shrooms instead of swiftmend:

The Efflorescence effect is now caused by your Wild Mushroom instead of by Swiftmend, and lasts as long as the Wild Mushroom is active.  Additionally, increases  the healing done by Swiftmend by 20%.

This would allow Swiftmend to be a single-target direct heal only, and your Shrooms would carry the HOT component of efflorescence if you choose the glyph. This was something that members of the community recommended early on when druids were unhappy with shrooms mechanics, so it’s neat to see it get implemented. In true Blizzard form, the changes we ask for a year previously seem to magically make their way into the game.

So, in conclusion, if these changes go live, this will solve most of the quality of life problems related to healing shrooms. With all the other great changes they are making for resto druids, this last tier almost makes me wish I didn’t reroll mage. At least my guild’s resident resto druid, Juvenate, will be having fun!

Posted in Patch 5.4, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

Happy 5.3 patch day!

The new 5.3 patch is going live today. This has fairly big changes for resto druids, especially those in 25-man raiding.

Druid 5.3 changes

I have a post up describing the major 5.3 changes for resto & balance druids. These changes should be implemented today.

This means that I have also updated my resto druid healing guide:

I also made some minor edits to the blog’s leveling guide, but nothing substantial.

Mage 5.3 changes

  • Mages had a buff to Living Bomb that now theoretically makes it better for single target boss fights than Nether Tempest. Nether Tempest is still better for multi-target cleaving boss fights (e.g., Horridon).
  • Mages also had buffs to our AOE spells, though I’m not sure how these changes impact our overall AOE rotations yet, especially if you are going to be running around with Living Bomb for most of the raid and not consistently switching back to nether tempest for trash packs. I may need to spend some time in LFR tonight to figure out what buttons I should be mashing. :)

Other changes

  • You can upgrade gear again with valor points, so don’t forget to hit the upgrade vendor and cash in any saved VP.
  • Grab some friends and hit up Heroic Scenarios to help with your VP farming fun.
  • And of course, make sure you read one of the patch day summaries at MMO-champion, or WOWhead, or WOWinsider.
Posted in Patch 5.3, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

druid 5.3 changes on PTR

With 5.3 likely to come out in the next few weeks, I thought it might be helpful to write a recap of the 5.3 changes for resto & moonkin druids. Since this is still on the PTR, it is, of course, subject to change. The full PTR notes are available here.

We still don’t have an official release date, but I thought it would help to cover some of the changes in more detail.

Talent change

  • Both resto & moonkin benefit from general druid changes. First, Force of Nature  is undergoing some changes in 5.3. It is now going to be one big tree (without a pet bar) that is a little bit smarter, and should chain-cast spells (instead of pausing so much). For moonkin, the casting of roots in PvE is still likely problematic. However, the resto druid version (that now casts swiftmend in addition to healing touch) is likely a more viable option than it was previously. As a “fire and forget” spell, now off the global cooldown, it may be worth trying out, especially for new players .

Balance 5.3 changes

  • The main balance changes for 5.3 are really about PvP, with some solar beam changes.
  • In addition, the glyph of Omens seems like it could be used to fish for eclipse procs in PvP situations. However, most of the utility spells that generate Eclipse energy with this glyph aren’t often used in PvE.

Restoration 5.3 changes

  • Ironbark cooldown will be 1 minute instead of 2 minutes (the PvP set bonus change means that this won’t really impact PvP). This gives you the ability to sometimes cast this on non-tanks to save raid members from harm, rather than feeling forced to always save it for tanks. You can, alternatively, cast it more on the tank if that works best for the fight. The important part is that this should just generally be used more often to reduce the damage members of your raid are taking.
  • For 25-man raids, Tranquility will hit 12 people. In 10-man, it will continue to hit 5 people. Several other AOE heals of other classes (such as the priest divine hymn) were changed to also have a different target number for 10 & 25-mans. This will help druids scale better for 25-man raiding, where a weakness of druids was that our tools were really limited in the number of people we could heal at a time in 25’s.
  • Our “smart” heals will be smarter. One of the problems with smart heals was that they frequently targeted pets over players, leading to what looked like a lot of healing done, but was really wasted healing. So, now, these “smart” heals will now more consistently choose wounded raid members over their wounded pets. In addition, since pets should take a little less damage in raids, they won’t really be at risk of dieing. Note that if players are at full health, it will still do healing on the pets.
  • The radius of Swiftmend‘s Efflorescence AOE effect has been increased to 10 yards. With how spread out people tend to be, this still will be used more often in melee on 10-mans. However, you now have a higher probability of hitting both your tank and melee for bosses with smaller hit-boxes. In addition, for ranged spread-out times, there is now an increased chance of having more people hit by Efflo (and given the 3 person limit, anyway, that’s not so bad).
  • Wild Mushroom: Bloom was given two buffs. First, it has the same increase in radius to 10 yards that Swiftmend’s AOE got. Second, the baseline healing (and scaling with rejuv overhealing) was also increased. However, this doesn’t change the fundamental flaws that makes the ability feel more situational. That said, it will be worth using more often in times where you are likely to stack on one spot for AOE healing.
  • It is also important to note that some of the problems druids are having is with how HOTs don’t play well with discipline and paladin absorbs. The paladin absorb mastery is targeted for a minor nerf for 5.3, which may indirectly help out druids to look better on meters. ;)

 

Posted in Moonkin Balance DPS, Patch 5.3, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

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