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It’s Been A Long Trip (Resto MOP)

I (Shakk) have been out for a few weeks, slaying the foul beasts that were spawned in the infernal depths of hell by Diablo. However, just in time for raid testing on the beta, I have made my triumphant return to all things resto druid. If you recall at the start of T13 I didn’t sugar coat the state of resto druids, because quite frankly we did not have the toolbox to compete against the other healers. With the latest build being deployed on the beta today, most of the issues I had wrote down for continued feedback and testing were addressed. I will be covering these changes, and what type of changes to our dynamics you can expect because of them.

The Wild Wild Mushrooms?

In the recent changes that were deployed, there is a lot going on with the mushrooms. More noticeably their base healing was reduced significantly, as well as their base mana cost. Also I can confirm with the latest build that they are refreshing harmony to the full duration. What this means for raid healers is this:

  • The ability to refresh harmony, makes this spell more appealing through the nerfs
  • The reduction in the range of the mushrooms again goes back to reducing its effectiveness, so it is not a mandatory spell.
  • The reduction in the effective healing, will make healing split groups less appealing due to the minimal heal given to each group
  • My current conclusion is the changes will allow mushrooms to be a huge addition to our toolbox, while removing one more thing that would otherwise be mandatory in our rotation to compete. While at the same time, the use of this spell can not be neglected, is a well balanced choice for AoE stacking phases.

Lifebloom, Harmony, And You

These are the types of changes that make me very excited for launch and starting the new raid tier. My guild has been testing the bosses/challenge modes as they are released onto the beta. Druids are making a major comeback this expansion, and filling in their niche within a raid group very well. If you have are a veteran resto druid, or a beginner uptimes are something that druids must maintain to be viable. In tough situations, one might find it hard to keep harmony and lifebloom at 100%. With the changes that were just released onto the beta, keeping all of our heals at maximum capacity while still maintaining good throughput has become a lot easier. I will touch on some of the key points.

  • Lifebloom has had its duration increased from a 10 second hot, to a 15 second hot. Because of this change we no longer have to feel locked into our refresher spell, and will have more options opened up to us especially during periods of high damage.
  • It does not provide too much duration as to render refreshing with a direct heal completely useless.
  • Harmony’s new uptime will dramatically improve the druid quality of life, and will allow us to feel less GCD locked by our rotation.
  • The benefit of having a 20 second harmony uptime will allow us to have 100% uptime just from swiftmend, and also lessen the blow of refreshing LB with another cast of LB.
Ability Spotlight

With a lot of quality of life improvements, and some downtime freed up I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about Dream of Cenarius. First off, this is my second favorite ability on beta to date (behind symbiosis of course). I’ve been doing some heroic testing, and raid encounters and I can tell you this is a huge throughput gain if you utilize it correctly. If you have downtime, casting wrath to improve your next heal is huge! I can confirm that this ability does effect wild mushroom detonate, and I was able to see each individual hit as high as 70k! That is absolutely insane amounts of HPS. Currently I can’t tell if there will be a diminishing return on mushrooms, so don’t get into a 25 man raid and pop it and be like hey man it doesn’t work. The last tier took quite an extensive bit of testing, but once the raids opened up Dream of Cenarius was a very easy choice for me in terms of effectiveness while raiding. However, do not let this sway you from what you want to do in terms of your talent tree since all of the talents on the last row are viable, depending on your raid group.

Stats

I had a couple druids approach me on the beta (which is totally fine I don’t bite, and I like to run stuff), and ask me about stat priorities. At this time, due to the rapidly evolving nature of the beta I haven’t been posting guides on stats. These will largely change as we near closer to launch, but I am compiling the data and plan to have a guide posted closer to the launch date. My prediction and the trend I am starting to see in the gear is that our stat priority will not change much except to reach higher breakpoints in haste, and then the priority will be given to spirit for regen and mastery since we should have near 100% uptime as of now. The new workings of harmony are possibly going to effect how we value crit. I will have more detailed information available about class specifics around the time of launch, and should have a very large introductory guide available at that time.

Posted in Beta Feedback, Mists of Pandaria, Written By Shakk

Beta Feedback, All Things Resto

Intellect Changes

Normalizing mana across the board is going to force druids to change the way we play. Being an intellect based regen class, we were able to cut ourselves down to unreal amounts of spirit in favor of other secondary stats. However, we are now being forced into stacking spirit like the other healers. This has a positive side and a negative side. On the good side of the issue, our options on gear should open up a lot more. In the past, we have avoided spirit based pieces in favor of higher intellect gains, but now that we are going to be more reliant on spirit it will give us the option to pick up similar gear to other healers. The bad side is our primary regen ability, will no longer have the ability to be boosted by temporary stat gains. A well timed innervate along with multiple intellect procs, could restore 70 – 80% of our total mana, now innervate is going to be a stack gain across the board lowering the efficiency of our regen, and relying more our other healers to help us regen. With mana being a lot more tight, I’ve found it more difficult to efficiently keep harmony and lifebloom at near 100% uptime. My primary refresher had always been regrowth, because I had the extra mana to spare. This allowed me to keep lifebloom and harmony up at all times. Our dependency on nourish is going to go up, but in its current state we will need to see it reworked a little bit, either by lowering the cast time or raising the healing that it puts out.

Wild Mushrooms

Mushrooms have significantly been boosted from the initial release of the beta. The detonate on this ability is absolutely amazing in terms of efficiency, and gives us a solid burst heal. Granted that its dependent on spell power, I have been seeing each mushroom hitting for about 20k, so we are talking a 60k hit to all members within the radius of the effect. I am not sure what the AoE cap on this ability is, but I would assume that it will be similar to the boomkin version. The new placement method of setting mushrooms makes it more valuable in our rotation, and allows us to get them down quickly and effectively without wasting time like Liss pointed out earlier in a post. The only downfall I have found to this ability is trying to use it in pug groups were people run around, and you can’t get a good drop and detonate. This problem should be alleviated though, if you run in a constant guild group each week where the strategies are set. The only issue I think that really needs to be addressed with the mushrooms is their ability to refresh our mastery. It is a direct heal that costs 3 globals, it should activate harmony.

Glyphs

First of all, I just wanted to say that all of my concerns for resto druids were addressed in the forms of glyphs. Tree of life anyone? On a more serious note, glyph of lifebloom is something I have been requesting since they removed multiple target lifebloom. In a two tank fight, being able to swap lifebloom without wasting 3 globals will tremendously help our target switching, and effective healing. It is an almost must for a resto druid to take this glyph. I’ve been testing the benefits of glyph of lifebloom vs glyph of blooming, and there is absolutely no comparison between the two. Currently, letting your lifebloom expire will result in about a 90 – 100k heal, which is more than enough if you decide that its best to let your stacks drop off. Lifebloom is going to be our money maker in terms of mana return, because it has the chance to resto 2% base mana every 12 seconds, and should not be neglected.

Talents

The one thing that I really enjoy about the new talent set-up is that there aren’t many mandatory talents for a resto druid, and some of the ones that I would argue are mandatory probably really aren’t. You really have the option to make your game play both fun and dynamic by not being forced into a certain talent selection. We are gaining plenty of utility, as well as fun abilities. For example, wild charge could possibly have a use on encounters, but more than likely you are taking this talent to watch a tree go flying through the air and land on top of the target.

Cenarion ward is probably my favorite talented ability. The heal is really strong and it is a really passive ability. The best use I have found for it are people that are fixated by a particular ability, or ones that have aggro on a mob. The other thing to possibly consider if you run a balance spec, is that this ability can be cast while in moonkin form. As a balance druid, you will have the opportunity to provide a key heal at a moment when it might really be needed.

Incarnation vs Soul of the Forest, Round 1

I’ve been theory crafting these two abilities quite a bit, and from their current state (still early beta) they both will have their pros and cons. Right now I am in favor of Incarnation due to ToL and the bloom both being super powerful cooldowns, however Soul of the Forest will be a contender especially if it gets reworked. It really boils down to the question, do I want to go back after each fight respec to the ability that I am going to need. Some fights Soul of the Forest can be the more powerful ability in terms of throughput, however in most cases Incarnation is going to be the primary winner in terms of efficiency and throughput. I’d look for blizzard to rework these talents though, to make them a little bit closer together in terms of effectiveness.

Last but not Least, Funsies

I am going to be playing around on Lost Isle’s mainly, it is a PvE realm and I look to play with anyone that wants to play. Someone stole my name, so I had to pick the name Shakkix. Anyone that wants to come have fun before the raids open up, I’ll be around most nights and for those that can’t get into the beta you can always watch my stream and see what kind of shenaningans we are pulling today. As far as my fun ability combination of the day, I would have to say it was while doing some open world PvP with my guildies. A warrior decided that it was a good idea to charge a mage, and really give him a bad day with his bid sword. So I kindly Wild Charged over to the mage, and typhooned the warrior off the edge to his doom. When his friends were angry with me, I made sure to drop a vortex, intervene out and typhoon them down to their death. I proceeded to /flex because it felt good to be a druid again.

Posted in Beta Feedback, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Shakk

Down to Business

Hey guys, I (Shakk) have been absent from a couple weeks but that just means I have more things to cover this week with my post. Its been a busy few weeks for Seriously Casual. We finished off the Cataclysm expansion, and Deathwing three weeks ago, and have been filling our time with fun raids with friends. I’ve been getting a lot of requests to run old content with people, and I love to partake in this sort of thing so don’t hesitate to contact me. But lets get down to the good stuff. As always, thanks for reading my posts and you can follow me on twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/SCShakk, here you can keep up on what I’m doing, request to run content with me, or see when my stream is online!

Giving Back to Our Community

Recently, I have been putting a lot of time and effort into furthering new and old players knowledge of the wonderful class we play. I have been streaming raids for everyone to view, and also working with the guys over at l2ptv.com to bring the community guides from my point of view. I really enjoy helping out, and that is the reason I approached Liss about writing for her. As we move closer and closer to Mists of Panderia, be sure to keep up with all the new information that I will be publishing and distributing. Also, once the beta is upon us, anyone that wants to test things with me is more than welcome!

So What Will We Cover This Week

This will actually be a viewer requested topic, that was proposed during one of my live streams. I haven’t talked much about the information that has been released for Mists of Panderia, mainly because it will be just speculation at this point. However, with the beta on the horizon, I am going to give you my opinions on problems with our class that will be addressed in MoP.

Mobility Issues During Raid Cooldowns

This is probably one of the most overlooked issues with our class, and the solution that is currently put out for MoP has probably been overlooked too. Often times, we might need to shift into travel form to avoid sudden death, kitty form for a quick roar, or maybe even bear form for a stun, but what if this occurs during our ToL? Our inability to freely move in and out of ToL is both a problem and a throughput concern. With the talented ability Incarnation, we will be able to change in and out of our forms, allowing us to use our ToL when its needed and not need to wait or cut it short to use another cooldown.

Fun Stuff

Symbiosis, is going to be a blast. I know Liss posted an amazing article on this ability, so I won’t go too far in depth with my thoughts on the mechanics of the ability. I think the biggest appeal personally with this ability, is that we have something fun to us. Druids severely lack on interesting abilities, that really add dynamics to the class. Where as, playing a hunter for example I like to press disengage just to see what kind of trouble I can successfully escape from. We should see some pretty unique, funny, and down right amazing uses for this ability, and hopefully will add some entertainment back to our class.

Survivability/Cooldowns

Lets face it, during all of Cataclysm we brought nothing to the table except for raw throughput. With classes being buffed, and druids being nerfed our “value” during raids decreased. Ironbark will largely address some of the issues have had in the past. With a external cooldown, we can now effectively give a raid member a little extra boost when things get a little rough in a raid. The only problem I see so far, is that we aren’t being compensated with a personal cooldown for us to use. If we need to give the tank a cooldown to survive a big hit, then we need one for a lot of raid damage, we have nothing left to use. While I think this is a step in the right direction, it could also be a big oversight on our class as a whole.

Living seed as a passive ability is the types of changes I like to see implemented into our class mechanics. It strongly adds priority in refreshing our mastery, and lifebloom with a direct heal. Its a nice boost to our overall heals, since you know that at least part of the bloom will not go to overheal.

Healing mushrooms have been finally unveiled under our talent section. Its too early to tell, but actively refreshing these shrooms at the cost of 3 GCDs seems largely ineffective. The actual burst that they apply would have to outweigh the effectiveness of our other abilities during this time, to even be viable in a raiding environment. For fights where there is downtime, before a stacked up high AoE phase, I could see at least one set of them being useful since the explosion is off the GCD. At this point though, its just speculation until the beta starts.

Various other talents addressing utility have been introduced into our talent calculator also. I am not going to go through each one, since they are available to the public to view. There are lot of interesting abilities, that will both impact PvE and PvP effectiveness. Its all going to depend on your raid needs, and personal wants for most of these talents.

Quality of Life Improvements

If you are a keybinding and macro fanatic like myself, the next bit of information should wildly capture your imagination. Now that a lot of our useful abilities forces us into the forms we need, we can eliminate a lot of unnecessary keybinds and macros to free up bar space, add more room on our screen, and even free up that extra GCD. Its the little things in life that make a druid proud to be a druid.

Posted in Mists of Pandaria, Written By Shakk

Repost: Resto Druids In End Game Guilds

Progression raiding at times can be time-consuming, but a very rewarding activity. Breaking outside the normal, watch this video and kill the boss like this, and developing strategies for yourself gives a great sense of success when a mighty boss falls beneath your feet. Excelling your gameplay to the next level, is what some players inspire to do. I started out in a small, non raiding friends and family orientated guild. I studied, number crunched, and learned how to be a successful healer. If you are wanting to take the plunge into competitive raiding, or you just want to see what the process is like. Please keep reading!

Where to Begin

A common question I get asked by druids, is how do you get into competitive raiding?  The first trick to getting started is, look at all the knowledge about your class that you can. Read through theory crafting (even if you don’t understand the numbers behind it, just understand why it works), examine progression orientated raiders and learn from their gearing choices, and hit the forums for some good guides on proper set up for your characters. The bigger insight into your class that you have, the better your chances are of beating out your competition. There are tons of resources on the internet for bettering your game play, and if you are on this page, you are well on your way.

Another good resource that I always find useful, is watching a player stream their raids for you to view. This will give you a heads up look at how other druids play. Examine everything from their UI, down to their cooldown management, and how they take down each specific encounter. I offer a live stream Monday – Thursday 6:30 – 11:00 CST and always will make sure people know if we are not raiding that night, or if I am going to be late/unavailable to our raid (Twitchtv.com/SCShakk). All my announcements will be made viahttp://twitter.com/SCShakk. There are many other resto druids stream that can be found, and I urge you to tune in and watch at least one, to see how they handle progression raiding.

I’m Good, but I Have No Experience

Most progression orientated guilds, are going to want to see previous raiding experience in the current tier, as well as previous tiers. If you don’t have prior raiding experience, you have to start somewhere. Finding a guild for your given class, can prove to be tedious, however they are out there. Join a guild that has lower progression then what you are hoping for, and really shine. Perform well above the rest of the players, and advance through the ranks of the guilds on your server. Eventually you will have the required experience and knowledge to start the application process with a highly ranked guild.

Dedication of Time

The other problem that raiders generally run into is being able to allot that time to the guild each and every week. What you have to understand is, you are making a commitment to the other 9 or 24 players that will be there during raid times. By joining the guild, you are saying “Hey, I can make your schedule work for me”. Now, life does come up and most guilds allow for this, but it doesn’t hurt to check their attendance policy. If the guild you want to join doesn’t fit the times you need, keep searching.

Loot Rules

Loot rules will be the breaking point for some people. Loot is a means to an end. Gear is looted in a way to advance the guild into more challenging encounters. Open roll loot is going to pretty much disappear at this point. The good news is, you only have roll against balance druids, for now… KUNG PAO (Monk sounds) Having raided in both a loot council, and DKP system I can tell you that they both have their ups and downs, but in the end they are both fair loot systems in most cases.

The Dreaded Application Process

If you have ever browsed the forums of your favorite guilds, you’ve likely took notice to their application process. At first glance, you might shrug off the idea of filling in the information, to raid with a group of people, although you should never ever think of it like that. This is your time to shine in this guilds eye. First impressions are key, and demonstrating your class knowledge is just one more way to prove to the guild, you are ready to undertake the challenges of competitive raiding. Don’t rush through the process, take each question slowly, and really build a well written response. A sloppy or short application, will generally be disregarded. Players that put the time and effort into writing up a grammatically correct, well thought out application will have a upperhand over the other classes that are applying.

I would suggest keeping a high focus on uptimes during your application. Active casting time is HUGE for being a competent resto druid this tier. We have once again fallen from our spam model, and have to micro manage our buffs and hot timers.

What We Look For In Parses

I really rather enjoy analyzing parses. Sometimes I feel that they don’t do justice, but most of the time they will if the person reading them understands the mechanics of the fight. When I examine a resto druid, I check two things first. Harmony uptime, how often are you using a direct heal to make your hots more effective. Harmony is a key component for mastery based druids. (The exception would be of course experimenting with crit, but I don’t like stat weight discussions) The other important component is Lifebloom uptime. Giving that extra little boost to a tank, is a big help to the tank healers. I look for those stats to be above 76% on a standard tank and spank fight.

Then, I will move to effective HPS and overhealing done. If I look at your graph, and you are peaking highly on activity at the start, but slow all the way down towards the end it usually means you aren’t managing correctly and have run yourself oom. Usually, your overheals will be super high right out of the gate. Mana management is a key part on my determination of your competency as a healer.

The last section that I look at for parses is spell selection and cool down management. Is your lifebloom count high enough? Are you properly offering fillers into your rotation when damage is low? Did you use your tranq during a period of low damage? You can learn a lot from players by looking at their logs. I encourage you to compare your logs to other resto druids and see how you guys line up on particular fights.

It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask

I can’t speak for every guild in the game, but if you have questions about joining it never hurts to ask. Speak to a member about what it takes to join, what kind of experience they are looking for, and what classes they currently need. Your journey to the next level of gameplay is a just a little research away. Stay up to date on resto druids, and if competitive raiding sounds like it’s for you, best of luck on the start of your journey.

Posted in Druid - General, Written By Shakk

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