Tag Archives: Cataclysm

Short and Sweet

6 May

On Tuesday, my guild successfully downed the Heroic Madness of Deathwing encounter on 25m and thus wrapped up our time raiding in this expansion.  We spent Thursday night in Heroic Firelands and cleared up to Heroic Ragnaros, but decided that we didn’t want to spend all of tonight wiping on that (which we probably would end up doing because that encounter is still really tough), so we decided to take tonight off.  Next week will be spent getting people their achievements for the Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider achievement and then we are officially done until Mists of Pandaria comes out.

This is the first time that I have ever killed every boss in the current expansion before the next one comes out.  I was just shy of an Illidan kill in Burning Crusade.  I was a resto druid warming the bench on Heroic Lich King (because resto druids weren’t considered to be very helpful on the 25m mode of that one).  And don’t even ask me what the final boss technically was in Vanilla, because I don’t know and frankly can’t remember.  Suffice it to say my time spent raiding in Vanilla was mostly a blur and full of plenty of noob moments that I can’t help but look back on and laugh out loud at.

It’s such a weird feeling knowing that next week is my last week spent raiding seriously in Cataclysm.  I don’t know what to do with myself after that.  I’m so used to raiding and logging in solely to raid that those three days are going to feel sort of empty without having raiding to rely on.  Some part of me really wants to pack those three days with other things to do, like PVP, or more Magic the Gathering, and the other part of me really wants to enjoy having nothing to do those nights and getting a good night’s sleep or just doing something simple like reading a book.

Other than the Heroic Madness kill, not too much is going on in my neck of the woods.  The latest expansion in Magic the Gathering came out on Friday, so this weekend and the weekend before were filled with pre-release and release day events.  I got to try out some new formats and see some of the people that I usually play in Friday Night Magic with in a different light.  It’s nice to see people who come to Friday Night Magic with the most minimaxed deck possible trying to create something out of a couple of packs of cards.  I think it puts everyone on more even of an even playing field and it’s fun to see what people come up with for themselves.

I am still in the Mists of Pandaria Beta and I will also have Diablo 3 when it comes out.  I have never played a Diablo game before, so I’m curious to give it a try and see what all the fuss is about.  Diablo seems to have some pretty die-hard fans and I respect any game that can keep people interested and happy during long periods of time between releases like that and any game that has been around that long and helped pave the way for many games after it.  I’m not really going into it with any expectations.  I just want to poke around and see if it’s something I could get into or get the hang of.

Last but not least, I am participating in something called the Newbie Blogger Initiative that was started by the creator of a blog called Bio Break.  This is something that will be happening throughout the month of May and is meant to give new bloggers some motivation to start blogging or to welcome back retired bloggers who are thinking of getting back into the scene again.  I signed up as something called a Sponsor and I will be throwing up a post next week with some tips that I have for up and coming bloggers.  I really wanted to do this because I definitely feel that I have taken a more unconventional approach to doing things, which has worked for me, and I would like to offer up some different perspective, other than what most people would suggest you do if you want to be a successful blogger.

Leave a comment and let me know what you have been up to, or if you have anything to share or add about the end of raiding in Cataclysm, Diablo 3, the Newbie Blogging Initiative, or anything else that I have mentioned in this post.  Let me know what’s on your mind!

Mists Of Pandaria Beta – The Morning After

22 Mar

While I was not one of the first few to receive a Beta invite, I did pay close attention to all of the information that was trickling down through Twitter, MMO Champion, and WoW Insider.  I figured I would start compiling all of the priest based information and share my thoughts on what we do know about various things that could affect us, so far.  As with anything that comes out of the Beta, this information could change at any time. 

Let’s begin!

 

Glyphs

*  Glyph of Circle Healing – Your Circle of Healing spell heals 1 additional target, but its mana cost is increased by 35%. 

Currently, the glyph only increases the cost of Circle of Healing by 20%.  While this may sound like the new version of the glyph is going to make Circle of Healing even more costly, it actually makes sense when you consider how much larger our mana pools in the next expansion are going to be – what with the staggering amounts of Intellect that we can expect from even green and blue quality gear. 

*  Glyph of Dispel Magic – Your Dispel Magic spell also damages your target for ___ Holy damage when you successfully dispel a magical effect.

The current incarnation of this glyph heals a friendly target for 3% of their health when you successfully dispel a magic effect from them.  This new version seems to be a bit more aggressive, as it will only see any use against hostile targets, and not friendly ones.  I wonder if this glyph implies that we may be doing some offensive dispelling in a PVE setting, or if this is just something that priests who PVP may get some use out of.

*  Glyph of Fortitude – Reduces the mana cost of your Power Word: Fortitude spell by 90%.

Currently, Glyph of Fortitude reduces the cost of your Power Word: Fortitude by 50%.  This glyph is usually taken simply for lack of any other minor glyphs to take, and it can help reduce the cost of having to re-buff someone if they come back from receiving a battle res. 

*  Glyph of Holy Fire – Your Holy Fire spell is now instant.

This is great news for Atonement priests, for whom Holy Fire is a staple in their rotation.  The faster you can get Holy Fire out, the faster you can dish out some more Smite, or focus on healing the tank or the raid. 

*  Glyph of Inner Sanctum – Spell damage taken is reduced by 6% while within Inner Fire, and the movement speed bonus of your Inner Will is increased by 6%.

This glyph does exactly what the talent called Inner Sanctum in the discipline tree does right now, which leads me to believe that this talent may be on the chopping block, and replaced with this.  I consider Inner Sanctum to be a staple for anyone doing Heroic raid content, so this is probably something I would suggest that you pick up when that time comes. 

*  Glyph of Leap of Faith – Your Leap of Faith spell now also clears all movement impairing effects from your target.

Leap of Faith is already useful for pulling people out of things that they shouldn’t be standing in or for pulling people close to you who need to get somewhere fast.  With this glyph, it also means that Leap of Faith can help pull people to you who may not have been able to get to you, otherwise.  This may see some use in a PVE setting, but I think it will see a lot more use in PVP. 

*  Glyph of Lightwell – Increases the total amount of charges of your Lightwell by 2.

This glyph could be considered a bit of a nerf, as the current version gives you 5 additional charges, instead of just 2.  Assuming that Lightwell comes with the same amount of charges (10), this means your raid will only have access to 12 charges, instead of 15.  I don’t think it’s going to cause a dramatic loss of healing or affect us in a huge way, but it is certainly a noticeable change, and one that I am not too pleased about.

*  Glyph of Penance – Reduces the mana cost of Penance by 20%, but increases the cooldown by 2 seconds.

Currently, Glyph of Penance reduces the cooldown of Penance by 2 seconds.  The updated version serves to do the opposite – it increases the cooldown by the same duration of time, but also reduces the cost by 20%. 

While I don’t have too much experience with discipline, I do know that Penance was never something that anyone really spammed, or used on cooldown.  It is best used in situations where someone needs a fast, emergency heal, or for when you need to build stacks of Grace on someone (usually the tank).  I don’t see this glyph really changing this in any real way.

*  Glyph of Renew – Your Renew heals for 33% more each time it heals, but its duration is reduced by ___ seconds.

The way Renew works right now is that it generates one tick of healing every 3 seconds (or 4 ticks) for 12 seconds, but you can gain extra ticks depending on how much Haste you have.  At 12.50% Haste, you can receive one extra tick from Renew (5).  A second tick can be gained by reaching 37.50% Haste (6).  The duration of the spell itself doesn’t change, just how many ticks are included in it.

Let’s say for example that this new version of the glyph will shave off 3 seconds from the duration of Renew.  That essentially means that Renew will generate one tick of healing every 3 seconds (or 3 ticks) for 9 seconds, with the extra ticks still becoming available once you reach certain Haste breakpoints. 

The current incarnation of this glyph increases your overall healing from Renew by 10%.  Let’s use the amount stated in the tooltip for Renew to do some math here.

 

 

Right now:

1224 healing  x 10% = 122.4
1224 + 122 = 1346
1346 healing  x 4 ticks = 5384

Now let’s add this all up, assuming that we were using the newer version of the glyph.

1224 healing x 33% = 403.9
1224 + 403 = 1627
1627 healing x 3 ticks = 4881

So assuming that Renew works the way that it does in Cataclysm, this appears to me like the glyph will result in a loss of healing – not an increase.  Factoring in Divine Touch could close the gap, but it still seems like an awful lot of work just to net the same results from a spell that we shouldn’t be relying on too heavily to begin with.

*  Glyph of Spirit of Redemption – Increases the duration of Spirit of Redemption by 10 seconds.

In Mists of Pandaria, Spirit of Redemption is looking like it is going to become a passive ability or talent that every holy priest will end up having.  My thought is if they are going to basically make us take it that they can throw in a little incentive to make it more enjoyable for us.  This glyph could serve to do just that.

There is also another glyph floating around with an unfinished name that indicates we may be receiving some kind of instant cast heal that can only be used while under the effects of Spirit of Redemption.  I’m excited to see what that turns out like, if it even makes it to Live at all.

 

Enchants

The Heartsong v. Power Torrent debate was easily one of the most talked about topics amongst healers of all classes in this expansion.  Priests were certainly no exception to this.  It looks like Blizzard has decided to take the guesswork out of all this and created one enchant to please everyone. 

*  Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit:  Permanently enchants a melee weapon to sometimes increase your Intellect by 1650 when healing or dealing damage with spells.  If less than 25% of your mana remains when the effect is triggered, your Spirit will also increase by 750.  Requires a level 384 or higher item. 

 

So what do you think?  Do you like what you have seen or read about so far?  Were you one of the lucky few to obtain a Beta invite?  Leave a comment and let me know what’s on your mind.

A Lifetime Of O’s – Then And Now

13 Mar

Have you ever had one of those moments where you take a second to look around and you think to yourself  “How did I get here?”  I have those moments more often than most people do, but I felt compelled to answer the question a bit more seriously after some other bloggers started a trend of writing posts detailing where their characters came from compared to where they are now. 

I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to tackle this one.  The character that I play now is not the one I started out with, so I wasn’t sure if I should talk about the history that I have with my current main, or my previous one, or even the one before that.  This post could be as long or as short as I wanted to make it.  In the end, I decided that I wanted to go all the way back – back to the beginning.  How did I get here?  Let me show you.

It all started on a little realm called Thunderhorn, which is actually still around, and is considered to be one of the oldest realms in the game.  I was an Alliance healing priest named “Kemintiri,” in a guild called “Chosen of Valhalla,” which was run by Shoryl.  I was so green.  I didn’t know how guild politics worked.  I didn’t know anything about what it meant to be a raider and how to handle yourself as such.  I knew nothing. 

Thunderhorn was grossly overpopulated – so much so that before Burning Crusade was released Blizzard was thinking of either splitting the realm in two (so there would be a Thunderhorn 1 and a Thunderhorn 2), or they were going to offer free realm transfers to lower population realms.  The guild that I was in was part of an alliance of guilds and they all agreed that the free realm transfer was the better option, rather than staying on Thunderhorn and leaving fate to decide which half of the server we ended up on.  As it turns out, the split never took place, so we really had nothing to worry about.

Shortly after we arrived on Zangarmarsh, I was kicked out of the guild.  I was pretty distraught over what happened and what I perceived to be a betrayal from people that I thought I could trust or who I thought were my friends.  I really wanted nothing to do with the Alliance anymore at that point.  I decided to create a Horde character, but I couldn’t come up with a really good name for my character.  Codi was my roommate at the time and she had an encyclopedia of gods and goddesses that I used to borrow from her frequently. 

I remember browsing through the pages and the name “Ouranos” jumped out at me.  It was unlike anything I had ever heard of before.  Since I was thinking of making a Tauren druid anyway, the name seemed kind of appropriate.  Codi loved the idea and told me I should name my character that, so I did.  I had an issue with how the Tauren females looked, so I opted to make a Tauren male instead.  I thought it would be kind of neat to have such a masculine looking character and be someone seemingly so girly behind the screen.  I really got a kick out of that dichotomy. 

So I leveled Ouranos as a balance druid with some friends of mine and we even created our own little guild to call our own.  Once we hit level 70, the urge to raid came back strong.  We took the guild apart and joined a guild called “Resilience,” which was run by a rogue named Ricen.  Little did I know that the real person running the show was a warlock named “Raaziel,” who paid for the website, the Vent server, managed the DKP, ran the raids, etc.  I also didn’t know that Raaziel and I would eventually end up dating and that I would be part of the reason the guild fell apart.

Raaziel really didn’t want to be running the show.  I grew tired of hearing him complain about things that he really didn’t want to do and so I politely suggested that maybe he should do something that does make him happy for a change or maybe even take a break.  He went one step further – he quit the game completely.  Without having him on board to run the show, the guild slowly descended into chaos.  Raaziel and I broke up a short time later and the guild eventually split into two – half the guild chose to stay with “Resilience” to try and make the best of it and the other half formed a guild called “Ens Entium.”

One night, while partying in Halaa with some friends, I ran into a boisterious warlock named Joecmel, who was the de facto raid leader for a guild called “Big Tymers.”  Joe and I hit it off right away and he was amazed that I was guildless and not doing more with myself and my character.  Within days I had joined the ranks of “Big Tymers” as a raiding moonkin and he and I started to get to know one another.  Before we knew it we were dating and even making plans to move in together.  This of course didn’t sit too well with the guild.

I was constantly fighting off accusations that I was being carried or that I was using  Joe for status, or gold, or a raid spot.  He was coming off winning the Gladiator title during the first ever Arena season, so everyone on the realm and even some people outside of our realm knew who he was.  He was this sort of celebrity and I was a total nobody.  We became affectionately known as “O and Joe,” and before we knew it everybody seemed to be involved in our business.  It got worse when I actually did move out of state to be with him.

We decided to leave “Big Tymers” together and threw our lot in with a guild called “Scurvy Dogs,” a pirate themed raiding guild, where you would literally get greeted with a “Yarr” every time you logged in.  This is where I got my first real taste of serious raiding and I loved every minute of it, with the exception of one little thing.  It was a labor of love to be a moonkin back then and you either played one because you truly loved to do it or because you were a masochist.  

I felt like I had taken being a moonkin as far as I could go, or like I was starting to plateau in that role.  We had just started to break into Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep when a couple of resto druids on our roster had decided to take an indefinite break from the game.  This left a huge gap in our healing line up that was going to need to be filled.  I felt like I needed a challenge, so I offered to respec and try out resto, to see if I could potentially fill that void.  My guild master, who was also named Void, took me on a Karazhan run to sort of test my mettle.  I two healed it with a holy paladin and I had never been more scared in my entire life.  Did I forget to mention that Void was wearing a wedding dress the entire time?  Petrified.

From that point on I was a raiding resto druid and things continued to progress nicely until Joe and I fell apart.  I used to say that we were the Ben and J-Lo of our realm and everyone wanted to know what happened and had started to choose sides.  I was miserable – crying on Void’s shoulder on Vent because I had nobody else to talk to and it all got to be too much.  I decided that Joe could have custody of the guild, while I went looking for more elsewhere.  Shortly before Wrath of the Lich King came out, I joined a guild called “Invalid Target” back on Thunderhorn.

Things with “Invalid Target” started out well enough.  I was able to finally clear Zul’aman (which was a very difficult 10m back then) and get an Amani War Bear.  I was able to see progression fights at a steady pace.  I was happy.  At least until Ulduar came out and the controversy over who was going to be awarded the legendary healing mace began.  There had been a lot of talk on our forums about who was going to get Val’anyr and the officers still hadn’t made a decision by the time we pulled Flame Leviathan for the first time.  I guess they thought that the odds of getting a fragment our first night on the first boss on Normal mode were rather slim.  They were wrong.

The officers were frantically trying to figure out what to do, and so they just decided to have all of the healers roll on it.  I rolled a 98 and was to become the first recipient of Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings.  Needless to say the other healers were not pleased at this and things only got worse from there.  One healer, in particular, felt very slighted and it didn’t help that she was friends in real life with most of the guild.  Things got ugly fast.  People were making comics about me on the boards.  I was being goaded into fights in guild chat.  It was not pleasant.

I decided to leave and joined the top guild on our server (Horde side, at least), a guild called “Lobster Brood.”  This guild had a great reputation and they really believed in me as a healer and as a person and I was very excited to be a part of their ranks.  It wasn’t until after I joined that I got to see the inner workings of the guild and I didn’t really like what I saw. 

The guild had an unusually high turnover rate and I felt like we were in this endless cycle of gearing up people, losing them, and then having to recruit more people that we would have to gear and train.  We could have gone a lot further, progression wise if we weren’t constantly losing people and then replacing them.  I started to resent having to repeatedly sit for new people again and again, just because we either couldn’t keep people on board, or because of a string of bad luck with recruitment. 

After that, I moved the now female “Oestrus” (who had her name and gender changed shortly after Naxxramas was released) to Khaz Modan, and joined a guild called “Retribution.”  The guild was serious about progression, but still home to a likeable cast of characters, including an openly gay GM, and a fantastic resto shaman named Natoro.  Seeing as how Natoro was also our healing lead, he was the one that I had the most contact with during my trial period, and he and I hit it off right away.  He began to court me and the feelings became mutual.  Before I knew it we were dating and he was flying in to see me over Labor Day weekend of that year.

Natoro and I didn’t make it much past that weekend, and so I left “Retribution” for a brief stint on the Hydraxis realm, only to return to Zangarmarsh.  Joecmel and I had long since made amends after our relationship ended and he was now running a guild called “Cause for Concern.”  Although the 25m raids weren’t very successful, he had his own 10m group and asked if I wouldn’t mind being a part of it.  I got most of my Heroic experience in Icecrown Citadel with these folks and it was a very enjoyable experience for me.  I had started to take on some recruitment duties for the main raid and I was happy.  Or at least I thought I was.

The truth is that I missed a certain standard of raiding that just doesn’t exist on Zangarmarsh.  It never has and it probably never will.  Zangarmarsh tends to exist in a bubble and what they consider raiding is very different from what I consider it to be.  I had tried to take more of a hands on approach to replace the bad players by handling the recruitment myself and it just wasn’t working.  I started to really resent the people I was raiding with who weren’t trying as hard to do well and I also started to resent the officers and Joe, who seemed to stand by and let it all happen.  The guild had literally become a cause for concern. 

I left “Cause for Concern” for a guild called “Scientific Method” on Maelstrom.  With their help, I was able to finally complete my Val’anyr and clear up to Heroic LK 25.  I didn’t really have much in common with them on a personal level, but I certainly enjoyed them on a professional level.  They got shit done.  That’s all I really wanted at the time.  Around this time I had gotten my hands on a Beta key for Cataclysm and I was very unhappy with the direction that Blizzard seemed to be taking resto druids.  I was pretty sure that I wanted to re-roll for the next expansion, but I wasn’t sure if “Scientific Method” would have room for me as the class that I wanted to play next.

I had begun to get to know Kurnmogh through my early adventures in the blogosphere and she was attempting to breathe new life into her former guild, called “Apotheosis.”  This guild sounded like a dream come true to me.  I really wanted to be in a guild that would allow me to see progression, but with people that I could genuinely like, and not just have to stomach in order to get what I want.  I moved my former alt priest (now my new main, Obscene) to Eldre’thalas, turned her into a Dwarf female, and spent the rest of Wrath and my time in the Cataclysm Beta trying to master my new class. 

I enjoyed being in “Apotheosis” immensely – from the leveling process, to the process of gearing up through Heroics, and then our first raids together.  Where I started to take issue with certain things was on a social or administrative level.  I felt like there were certain situations that I was bringing to people’s attention or that others were creating for themselves that could have been handled proactively and wouldn’t have turned into the firestorms that they had become.  They were molehills that were allowed to become mountains, so to speak.  There were situations that I felt I had to handle myself, because Kurn or the other officers weren’t doing anything about them.  This ended up being my downfall.

Eventually I had gone too far and I had received word that the officers basically didn’t know what to do with me, that they didn’t know if I really wanted to even be in the guild anymore (based on my behavior), and that they would need to sort of deliberate on what to do next.  I felt like I had been backed into a corner and I didn’t like the prospect of waiting for other people to decide my fate.  I felt like I needed to take the power back and that if I was going to be made to leave a guild that I was going to do it on my terms.  Before the officers could make their decision, I told Kurn that I was going to leave. 

I definitely could have handled that situation better.  I don’t know what the officers would have decided, had I stuck around to see the final outcome.  What I do know is that I still consider “Apotheosis” to be the guild equivalent of “the one that got away.”  I was never happier than when I was raiding with my two best friends, Dahrla and Hestiah.  I enjoyed Kurn’s long winded and yet necessary explanations and posts on the forums.  Those things became a distant second to the burnout that I was starting to feel, which would lead to my most dramatic outburst ever.

I had been in “Occasional Excellence” on Quel’dorei (now the home of both Dahrla and Ophelie) for about two months when we came up against the wall known as Heroic Nefarian.  I was tired of caring more about the fight than other people did.  I was tired of wiping due to human error – not even due to Nefarian himself.  I felt like there was a lot of fuckery going on in the raid and like that focus should have been put into our performance, not on Heavy Leather Balls and the like.  A couple people thought they were being funny and amusing and I wasn’t having it.  So I left the raid. 

I was given the opportunity to stay in the guild, if I would offer up some form of apology, and I refused to do such a thing.  I felt like I was owed an apology for the poor performances of others and that this was again a situation where people saw something like this coming and they did nothing to prevent it.  I made it clear that I was annoyed, that I didn’t enjoy the Leather Balls, and people still kept throwing them.  I told them they would be sorry and I wanted to make very sure that I stuck to my guns on that.  Was it the right thing to do?  Of course not.  Would I do it again?  No.  At the time I wasn’t thinking about all of that.

Somehow my priest (now known as “Oenomel”) made her way into “Serious Casual” on Mal’ganis, which marked my return to the Horde side of things.  Firelands had just been released and things were not looking good for holy priests.  I was very clear during the application process about the fact that I was predominantly holy and I assumed that the raid knew what they were in for.  I remember being told my first night there to “Go disc or go home.”  Eventually I was given an ultimatum by the healing lead at the time that if I didn’t go discipline when asked that I could be benched – possibly even permanently.  To me this was the final straw.

It was never being discipline, in and of itself that I had an issue with.  I took issue with the fact that I wasn’t given a say in when I got to go discipline.  I was never trusted to make that call for myself.  It was basically “You’re going to do this and you’re going to like it,” and I wanted no part of it.  After certain people in the raid found out that I had blogged about this there was a heap of drama and it all became too much to bear.  I was pretty sure that I was done with World of Warcraft for good and threw my lot in with some friends who were playing Rift.  This lasted for about four months, or until shortly after BlizzCon.

BlizzCon made me realize how much I missed the community and how much I missed having people with a similar interest to discuss said interest with.  I met a few folks from “Big Crits” there and was encouraged to apply for their more casual run, known as the “Da Crew” run.  I was told that they already had 2 10m runs under the “Da Crew” banner and that they were looking to recruit for a third one.  This sounded like a good fit to me.  I had been gone long enough where I didn’t have the history or experience to get back in with a more serious group and I wasn’t even sure I wanted something that serious to begin with.  I figured this would give me an opportunity to sort of get my feet wet again and to figure out where I wanted to go from here.

“Big Crits” ended up being nothing like I imagined.  If I had to describe my time in “Big Crits,” I would probably compare it to sitting at the dinner table with a really dysfunctional family.  You know – one of those families where everything looks perfect, but dad’s really an alcoholic, and mom’s having an affair with the tennis instructor, the daughter is secretly a lesbian, and the son is a pyromaniac.  But nobody talks about it – and as long as you don’t talk about certain things, and you don’t acknowledge that they’re actually happening you will get along just fine.  So there were a lot of issues that kept coming up that nobody wanted to deal with and because I did (although maybe not in the best way possible) I got a lot of flak for it. 

There were other issues, with regards to personality conflicts and such, but it all led to the same conclusion.  It just didn’t work out.  I took about two weeks off from raiding after I left “Big Crits” and had a one week stint in a guild that a friend recommended, which then led me to my current guild.  I enjoy the people I raid with now.  I enjoy the progression that I’m seeing.  I like that they trust me to make my own decisions, with regards to my character and my class.  I feel good.  I can’t say that I’ll be here forever, but I also can’t say that I’m looking to leave them anytime soon.  I’m just taking it one day at a time.

I have certainly come a long way and I have learned a lot in the five years or so that I have been playing this game.  There are things that I would do differently, if I could, and there are things that I would probably have never done – if I knew then what I know now.  It’s been a wild ride and I am proud to say that I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. 

I really do believe that you can’t know where you are going until you have known where you have been, and so I encourage anyone reading this to really take a good look at what brought you to where you are now.  Relive the highs and the lows.  Remember the friends (and the enemies) that you have made along the way.  They helped make everything you are today possible.  Don’t ever forget that.  I know I sure won’t.

The 4 Most Common Holy Priest Mistakes

15 Feb

Whenever I write a post about being a healing priest, or more specifically a holy priest, I try really hard not to tell people what to do.  I try not to make it seem as if there is only one right way to do things.  Most of the advice that I give is meant to be taken as a suggestion or as something that I know has worked for me and that could possibly work for you.  I have always been someone who is not afraid to try something new or break the mold when I can and I have always been really fortunate to be in guilds with great leadership that are as open minded as I am.

With that said, there are times where I see a holy priest doing something that goes so far against the grain that even I have to strain to see why such a decision or course of action would make sense.  Of course, I try to see where they might be coming from.  But more often than not I just can’t wrap my head around why a holy priest would do certain things.  Inspired by the recent trend of posts on WoWInsider that highlight common mistakes made amongst the various classes and specs of World of Warcraft, here are my selections for the most common mistakes that I see among holy priests.

 

They don’t take Heavenly Voice.
It is not completely unrealistic to say that holy priests have waited this entire expansion for a talent like Heavenly Voice.  I don’t think that we really noticed just how lackluster Divine Hymn was when compared to other cooldowns until Firelands came out.  Then we really started to feel it.  It’s not that holy priests were nerfed – it was more that we were not built to react to the encounters the same way that a discipline priest could or that our playstyle just didn’t mesh well with certain mechanics.  We watched our representation in raids fall to very depressing numbers and I was one of many holy priests who wondered if this trend would continue well into Dragon Soul or even beyond.

Then word got out that the developers were going to replace a completely useless talent, State of Mind, with one called Heavenly Voice and that this new talent would serve to compliment Divine Hymn and help make it a much more viable raid cooldown than it had been in the past.  Our proverbial prayers had been answered.  Priests from here to Kalimdor were pulling out their talent calculators and trying to figure out which talents they were going to take points from in order to make sure they had enough to max out on Heavenly Voice.  It was pretty unanimous that Heavenly Voice was going to be something that any holy priest worth their salt was not going to want to miss out on.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of holy priests out there who have not caught on to just how incredible Heavenly Voice is.  Now I know that in my recently released 4.3 guide that I indicated it was acceptable to not max out on Heavenly Voice if you had just turned 85 or were spending most of your time healing nothing but 5 man dungeons.  This is still true.  However, once you reach the point where you are ready to raid (even if it’s just LFR) you should most certainly have two points in Heavenly Voice.  If I inspect a fellow priest and I see that they are very clearly doing some sort of raid activity and they don’t have points in Heavenly Voice I really question how effective they are being in a raid setting.  Please do not make the same mistake and miss out on this amazing talent.

 

They spec for shields.
While Power Word: Shield is a spell that both holy and discipline priests have available to them, it’s a pretty well known fact that a discipline priest will get far more out of placing a shield on someone than we will.  I rarely cast it on a tank and I can’t even remember the last time I cast it on someone when I was raid healing (unless I wanted to give them a speed boost with Body and Soul).  We don’t cast Power Word: Shield for the same reason that discipline priests don’t cast Renew – because they don’t get as much out of it as the priest with the opposite spec would and they have other tools that can do the job better.  This is how it is and how it will most likely continue to be.

So I find it very strange when I see holy priests with talent points in things like Improved Power Word: Shield or Soul Warding and I see them using Glyph of Power Word: Shield.  If your chances of beating a certain encounter hinge upon you being proficient with shields, you’re not going to do this as well as you could be if you were discipline.  Even for fights where Body and Soul makes a noticeable difference (e.g. Atramedes or Warmaster Blackhorn), you’re not using the shield for the absorption effect.  You’re using it for the burst of speed to help you or someone else get out of something bad.  That doesn’t require any enhancements to your shields that could come from talent points or a glyph.  In short, it doesn’t make any sense to divert so much of your resources towards something that someone else could do with noticeably less effort.

 

They have excessive amounts of Spirit.
Healers of all stripes went into Cataclysm knowing that we weren’t going to be able to enjoy the infinite mana pools that we had come to know and love from the days of Wrath of the Lich King.  It was almost a necessity when we were leveling up and gearing up for that first initial bout of Heroics to enchant for Spirit and gem for it, etc.  Some people took really well to the idea of “triage healing” and having to put more thought into the spells that you cast and others really struggled with it.  Eventually we reached a point where we could afford to do without all of that regen and we could sacrifice some of that Spirit for throughput.  Then Firelands happened.

The pieces that many priests would have used until they had enough Valor Points to start purchasing their tier 12 armor or until they were lucky enough to win the tokens came with a noticeable loss of Spirit or sometimes no Spirit whatsoever.  This was very shocking to many priests, who basically felt like they had the rug pulled out from under them.  Many of us felt like we were getting mixed messages about just how important Spirit was supposed to be to us.  We went from needing it, to not needing it – but still having it around and on our gear just in case.  Now it was noticeably missing from several pieces of equipment and priests tended to react in one of two ways.  They either adapted and found better ways to manage their mana and to make the most out of their cooldowns or they overcompensated and started making Spirit more of a priority than it should have been.

The number one complaint that I hear from people who decide to level a holy priest is how much they feel like they are running out of mana so much faster than other healers do.  It’s tempting to try and fix this by pouring on the Spirit, thanks to talents like Meditation and Holy Concentration that have made us unusually dependent on it (or more so than other healers are).  But there is such a thing as too much Spirit.  It may not even have anything to do with your attributes.  You could be having to work harder because someone else on your healing roster isn’t bringing their A game every night or you may have people in the raid who aren’t reacting to environmental damage like they need to and so you’re having to heal more to keep up.  Adding more Spirit to the mix is not always the answer.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a set amount of Spirit that I can tell you to shoot for or that I can say is too much.  It really has to be something that you get a feel for and that you just know when you have reached that point.  I always compare it to those classic spy movies where someone is trying to come up with the combination to the safe by putting their ear up to the door while turning the dial.  They turn it ever so slowly and keep their ears open for that very subtle click that will let them know when they have found the right number or numbers to crack open the safe.  That’s what you need to do.  Watch closely how your mana bar goes up and down during an encounter and how your cooldowns and the cooldowns from others affect it.  Look at how much mana you have left over when the fight ends.  Eventually you will tap into that sixth sense of just knowing where your regen is at and whether or not you could stand to have more or less of it.

 

They don’t commit to using Lightwell.
Whether we like it or not, Lightwell has become one of the defining spells for a holy priest, if not the most defining spell for us.  It used to be Circle of Healing, then Guardian Spirit was our trademark for a while, and now it’s Lightwell.  Never has a spell been so misunderstood as Lightwell has.

The problem with Lightwell is that it is not only as good as the people who have to actively make the choice to click it, but it is also only as good as the priest who is responsible for dropping it.  I have come across very few people in my travels who actively dislike Lightwell or who try to go out of their way to not use it.  Most people would love to use it, if it was dropped anywhere remotely near them, or if they knew that you were dropping it in the first place.  This is where you come in.

The first thing I can suggest, with regards to how to get the most use out of your Lightwell is to know the fight ahead of time.  There are some fights where it will pay to drop a Lightwell at the start of the pull or slightly before it and then there are fights where you may not want to drop it until the middle or even close to the end of the encounter.  Knowing when your Lightwell will get used the most or when it will be most in demand is very important.  The people that you raid with have to feel a pressing need to click on it and if there isn’t enough damage going out to put them in danger they are not going to use it.

Second, you need to think about where you are going to drop it.  While you can click the Lightwell from a good bit of distance away, that doesn’t mean that you should drop it at the farthest point of the room.  You also don’t want to drop it on top of the raid, where it may be hard to target the Lightwell and click on it with a bunch of bodies and other graphics in the way.  If you notice that people aren’t using it, feel free to ask them where they would like it dropped or where it would be easier for them to use it. Try to meet them halfway on this one.

Like any cooldown, it helps if people know that you are using it.  I use a now out of date addon called Raeli’s Spell Announcer to let the raid know that I have dropped a Lightwell, but there are several other addons that do the same thing, or you can even make a simple macro that will do the trick.  Be careful not to make your announcement too obnoxious or people will equate your Lightwell with that and they may not click on it, simply just to spite you.

An acceptable Lightwell announcement would be:

 

“A wild [Lightwell] appears.”

 

An unacceptable one would be:

 

“This is George.  He is my Lightwell.  George is currently holding 15 charges of holy healing goodness for you and will be eagerly awaiting for you to use him for another 2 minutes and 41 seconds.”

 

You also want to make sure that you are not keeping track of who is using the Lightwell openly in raid.  There are some addons that will tell you how many charges are left, who is using them, etc.  It’s fine if you want to keep track of this information for yourself, but do not broadcast this in party or raid chat.  Remember, you have to make people associate the Lightwell with something positive and overbearing raid announcements will not help your cause any.

Along with creating a macro or using an addon to let people know that you have cast Lightwell, it helps to say in Vent or Mumble (or whichever program that you use) that you are doing this and where you have placed it.  For example, I may say “Lightwell on the left,” or “Lightwell in the back.”  Again, keep it short and sweet.

If at the end of the day you have truly done everything you can to train your raid how to use the Lightwell and they are still not meeting you halfway on this, then you can feel free to /spit on them and tell us how terrible they are in Trade chat or on the PlusHeal boards.  We’ll understand.

 

My Top 10 Posts of 2011

27 Dec

It has been one hell of a year here at The Stories Of O, and I figured now would be the perfect time to take a look back at the previous year’s worth of entries and single out the 10 which I am the most proud of.  Some of these posts were funny and perhaps even heartwarming.  Others were surprisingly candid and unflinching.  Let’s take a look at my choices for the top 10 posts of 2011, in no particular order:

 

“What’s In A Name?”

Nothing like finding out your screen name for the past three years is actually something offensive that is worthy of a ban by Blizzard Entertainment.  I was feeling so many things when I was going through that whole debacle.  I was frustrated and bitter, seeing people with worse names than mine running around major cities, while I was being punished.  I was upset that the people at Blizzard wouldn’t give me the benefit of the doubt and that they didn’t even try to see things from another angle, with regards to how offensive my name truly was.  Lastly, I was sad at the thought of giving up a name that I had developed a very personal attachment to.  This post showed exactly what happened, as it went down, and really showcased my anger at the final outcome.

“I Am Legend(ary).”

This post was inspired by the heated discussions that I witnessed going on around me, on Twitter, and in the blogging world, regarding how various guilds were handling the decision making process when it came to who was going to be awarded the legendary staff from Firelands.  I felt like a lot of emphasis was being placed on those who just make the decisions and not necessarily those who get chosen to wield such an incredible piece of equipment.  I wanted to show the other side of what it’s like to win a legendary – the anxiety, the stress, the isolation.  I think this post did a good job of illustrating that and hopefully some other people were able to relate to what I went through and did their best to not treat others in a similar fashion.

“Sellout.”

I wrote this post when I was really at my lowest point, in terms of my feelings of burnout with World of Warcraft and at a point when I was desperately clinging to my identity as a priest and as a blogger.  Firelands was a dark time for me, for a number of reasons, and this post really encompassed everything I was feeling around that period.  I feel like I have come a long way since then, in that I understand how important it is to be a versatile healing priest and how you are kind of selling yourself short if you don’t stay open to that possibility.  With that said, I don’t take back anything I wrote here or that I felt at the time.  I do still resent guilds that sat holy priests or put unfair demands on them to be something they’re not.  It was never the idea of being discipline that I was against.  It was the idea that many priests, including myself, were forced into it.  We didn’t have a say.  We were told to do it, or else.  That’s where the emotion behind this post came from.

“How To Create Your Own Luck With The Dungeon Finder.”

I tend to have a better attitude towards Random dungeons than most do.  I leveled my resto shaman alt entirely through the Dungeon Finder.  I don’t mind doing Randoms to score my last few Valor Points for the week.  The things that would upset or annoy most people tend to roll right off of me in a Random 5 man.  I use a few of the tips featured in this post to get me through the experience and I genuinely think that they could work for other people, too.  When I wrote this post, I wanted to show my support for the Dungeon Finder and the Call to Arms system and I still stand behind them, to this day.

“Understanding Echo of Light.”

This post was my first foray into number crunching and I received a lot of link love for writing it.  Writing this post inspired me to want to know more about my spells and abilities – how they really work, the numbers behind the way that I heal, etc.  I would like to think that this post got people to take me more seriously as a priest blogger and not just as a storyteller who happens to be a priest.

“Mirror, Mirror.”

One thing I have never been afraid to do, as a blogger is cast myself in a negative light.  I’m not afraid to paint myself as the villain or the bad guy in a certain scenario and I think this post really showed that.  I have a very nasty competitive nature that I have toned down quite a bit, but that still rears its ugly head from time to time.  I was really surprised by the response that I received from this entry, mostly from people who had felt the same way that I did, at one point or another.  Overall, I think it’s natural and healthy to feel competitive towards others, if you channel it properly.  I didn’t always do that and that’s what this story was really about.  The best part about this post was that I actually got back in touch with the person that I wrote about, who inspired me to write this, and he and I made amends.  How cool is that?!

“Balls.”

2011 was a year of firsts for me.  This article talked about the first (and hopefully the last) time that I rage quit a guild.  This was easily one of the most divisive posts that I have ever written.  I think this changed quite a few people’s opinion of me and not necessarily for the better.  I own that and at the same time, I also had people who agreed with what I did and said they would have done the same thing.  I would say that I was just starting to feel the burnout that led me to take a four month break from World of Warcraft and that this was sort of a preview of things to come.

“Waste Not, Want Not.”

Cataclysm changed the game, in many ways.  One of those ways was how we look at raiding and how accessible raiding has become for most players.  Blizzard expressed the desire to have more people be able to see and experience the content that they work so hard on and while I agree with that idea, I do think that the overall work ethic of raiding has sort of gone down the tubes.  I think that some people feel like because it has gotten easier to see content that less effort is involved and that you don’t have to try as hard.  I don’t agree with that at all.  This post was my response to people who felt like doing certain things was too much to ask and why I felt like this was a sign of things to come.  This was another hot button issue and I was really glad to see how the topic really took off.

“Queen.”

This was a more recent post of mine, written after I had come back from my break from the game.  I was dealing with some things in my personal life that I also happened to be facing in my gaming life and it felt right to combine the two and write about what I was feeling about all of it.  I have always been eager to defy and shed labels and I think this post really summed that up nicely.  To this day, we as women players and as personalities still have to fight to overcome stigmas and barriers that keep us from being seen the way that we would like to.  While I have never really considered myself too much of a feminist, I definitely think this post kind of sparked something in me that made me want to do more in that arena and to learn more about others who may feel the same.

“Out.”

Last but not least, the post that changed it all.  To this day, I still get comments about this post.  I cannot even begin to tell you what I was feeling or thinking when I wrote this.  I think I spit it out in less than an hour, with very few edits or changes needed.  I think that I had secretly already had the post written in my head and I was just waiting for the right time to get it out on the screen.  I remember thinking that my time as a blogger was over.  I thought I would become a social pariah and that nothing good was going to come from this.  I had nothing but doomsday scenarios playing over and over in my mind.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  I received so much support and love that I absolutely did not anticipate.  I would like to think that maybe I inspired others to come out, too.  Even now, I still have to take a moment when I think about this post and let everything just sink in.  Like, “Did that just happen?”  It did.

 

Honorable mention:

“Why I Hate Al’akir.”

I said that I would not witness another Al’akir attempt, so long as I live, and I have kept that promise!  I don’t care if I’m wearing Tier 15 and someone wants to drag me back there.  I was happy to see that so many others felt the same about this encounter, an encounter which I feel is absolute bullshit and easily one of the worst designed fights in the history of World of Warcraft.  This fight serves absolutely no purpose to me.  I do not mind explaining to each and every person who looks at my Armory profile why there is a gaping hole right there, where an Al’akir or even a Conclave kill should be.  You would think I would have downed one of them by now, but no.  I won’t go.  You cannot make me.

 

Thanks for taking this stroll down memory lane with me!  I look forward to seeing what other people have in store for the upcoming year and what kind of trouble I can get myself into, as well.  Please be safe and have a wonderful New Year’s weekend.

 

Proud

27 Nov

I’m not proud of the time that I have spent in Cataclysm.

I’m not proud of the fact that I went through three different guilds, to get to the one that I’m currently in and that I don’t know how long I will remain with this one, either.  I’m not proud of the fact that there’s a huge three month gap in my activity, due to burnout, which led me to try other games and to pursue other avenues.  I’m not proud of the fact that I don’t have a single Al’akir or Conclave of Air kill on my record, despite the fact that I’ve spent countless nights wiping on said bosses, but missed out on the kill as a result of poorly timed nights requested off.

I can do better than that.  I know that I can.

Last night, I attended my 10 year high school reunion, and I came back home with a lot on my mind.  It was midnight and I needed something to do, something to take my mind off what I was going through, so I clicked on a link that someone posted on my guild’s forums and found a documentary called “Race To World First.”  It was an hour long film, which documented the competition that exists between guilds like Blood Legion, Premonition, Method, Ensidia, etc. and what goes on behind the computer screen, as well.  As I lay in bed, with a carton of milk and a package of cupcakes by my side, I thought to myself “I could do that.”  Then I asked myself, “Why aren’t I doing that?”

I don’t presume to think that I’m “good” enough to ever get into a guild like one of those featured in the movie, but I definitely think I could shoot for something higher than I have been.  I admit that I wanted something casual, to close out Cataclysm, simply because I missed too much and I wouldn’t have any legs to stand on if I tried to shoot for something better.  But, I think when Mists of Pandaria comes around that I want to go for something bigger.  I would like to be in a high ranking guild, somewhere between the top 250 to 500 range.  That’s the goal that I have decided to set for myself.  Bear in mind, that I am technically in a guild that meets that criteria, but I’m not part of the group that actually got there.  Right now, I’m just a casual ranked member, and I’m OK with that.  Come Mists of Pandaria, though, all bets are off.

I realize that I have a lot of work to do and a lot of time before I can make this dream a reality.  Here are a few of the immediate things that come to mind, in terms of things I could stand to work on:

 

1)  A profession change.  Most of the cool kids don’t keep a gathering profession and a crafting profession.  I would probably have to swap out my Herbalism for something else.  As long as I have an alt that can farm the herbs needed to level Alchemy, I should be OK.  But what profession would I take in its place?  Inscription?  Enchanting?  I don’t have it in me to level Jewelcrafting, so that’s out.  But I would need something else, to squeeze that extra drop of performance out of myself and my character.

2)  A change in perspective.  If I’m going to shoot for something loftier than what I’m doing right now, I have to be more flexible.  I can’t just be a holy priest or a discipline priest.  I have to be a healing priest.  I can still have my preferences and have that spec which I enjoy playing more, but I have to be willing to do what’s best for the fight and for the raid, as needed.  I would like to think I’m already making progress with this, but I still have a lot to learn with getting as comfortable with discipline as I am with holy.

3)  A change in attitude.  Ah, the big one.  I admit that I can be a handful and that I tend to jump to conclusions.  I admit that I don’t always know when to keep my mouth shut.  I work hard, I play hard, but my attitude and people’s perception of me always seems to get in the way of that.  That can’t happen if I’m going to try and hang with a different crowd of people than I’m used to.  It has to be about the work, about the performance.  I can’t let my opinions or my snark get in the way of that.  I can still be myself, but I have to rein it in a little bit.

 

I know I have a long road ahead of me, before I get to the point where I feel I’m ready to do this, and that’s even if a guild is gracious enough to see the potential in me to take me on board.  A number of stars are going to have to align for this all to work out, but I really want it and I’m determined to make it happen.  I want better for myself and I know that I can do it.  My mind is made up and now I have to start plotting out my course.

Who’s with me?

Initial Thoughts On The Mists Of Pandaria Priest Changes

24 Oct

This weekend, I was one of the 26,000 people in Anaheim, California to attend BlizzCon 2011.  I was there bright and early on Friday morning, for the opening ceremonies and for the preview panel that came shortly after that.  As expected, the trailer for the next expansion, Mists of Pandaria was released and there was much discussion afterwards about upcoming changes to our characters and many of the systems or mechanics, at large.

I was particularly interested in the proposed changes to the talent system.  To me, this is one of the most needed and noticeable changes that was brought up in the panel that morning.  For those leveling new characters, you will still choose which spec you want to focus on once you reach level 10.  You will still receive a few talents or abilities at that level, which will fit into the grand scheme of things, with regards to what your chosen spec is meant to do or how it should perform.  After that point, you will choose your talents from one talent tree.  There will no longer be a clear cut holy, discipline, and shadow tree.  Each tier of the new talent tree will give you a couple of choices and you will only be allowed to choose one, per tier.  These talents also do not come with any ranks.

With the release of Mists of Pandaria, you will receive one talent point to use at levels 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90 (which is what the level cap will be increased to).  Let’s take a look at some images of the proposed talent choices for priests and my thoughts, criticisms, and predictions for each tier.

 

Level 15

As I mentioned earlier in this post, there are no clear cut talent trees anymore.  You will find that each tier of talents will include things that used to belong solely to one tree that now a priest of any spec can possibly enjoy.  You will see talents that were in one tree merged with talents from another tree to create a whole new talent that you could choose to put a talent point into.  I was pleasantly surprised by this and I feel like this new system goes a long way towards creating a versatile healing priest, which is something that many priests struggle with (myself included).  We will have to incorporate aspects of all of our trees to make ourselves the best healers we can be.  I am certainly up for the challenge and I hope that other priests are, too.

This first tier seems to focus on a priest using various forms of crowd control.  I don’t foresee us being asked to crowd control much in raids or dungeons, but I do see some of these abilities being used in an emergency, like if you suddenly end up with aggro.  Or they could be extremely useful in PVP situations.  I see these three talents as being more personal preference talents and not being something that will drastically affect your game play, otherwise.

Void Tendrils are very similar to an AOE root that druids are also going to be receiving.  Like the druid version, damage dealt to the roots or tendrils can terminate the effect.  This reminds me of the enhanced Earthbind Totem, which shamans can use to create a similar rooting effect.  It works really well and I’m glad to see other classes getting a chance to use something like it and hopefully with the same effect.

Psyfiend seems similar to a shadowfiend, except this minion will stay in one place and constantly use Psychic Scream on a single target.  It doesn’t sound like you will be able to choose the target or assign it to fear a specific enemy.  The tooltip itself is very vague, stating that it will only prefer to go after targets attacking you or your allies.  I wonder if the psyfiend is something that an enemy can target, like the Void Tendrils, and if doing so would cancel the effect early.  I’m also curious if the psyfiend will fear the same target repeatedly or if it will swap targets, if more than one enemy is attacking you or your allies.

Psychic Scream is something we already have in our arsenal and actually saw some use early on in Cataclysm.  I remember using it in 5 man Heroic dungeons, due to how difficult they were when the expansion first came out.  I also remember glyphing for it for Cho’gall, to help out with breaking the Worship effect on those that were affected in the raid.  If I had to choose one of the control type talents in this tier, I would probably choose this one.  It doesn’t come with any fancy gimmicks.  It does what it has always done, what you will most likely need it to do, and that is what really matters to me.

 

Level 30

This next tier of talents seem to revolve around abilities that increase your movement speed or the speed of others and allows you to remove movement impairing effects on yourself.

First up is an old favorite, Body and Soul.  From being holy for so long, I am a huge advocate of this talent and I am pleased to see that now every priest can potentially enjoy what it can do.  So far, it looks like Body and Soul will remain exactly as it is now, with the movement speed increase still coming from both Power Word: Shield and Leap of Faith and with the actual increase remaining the same.  That is good news on both fronts.

Path of the Devout is something new and increases your movement speed by 25% while using Levitate.  I see this being more of a fun talent, since you can’t give this effect to someone else and since it’s very rare that you will manage to keep Levitate on through the entire duration of a fight.  Levitate is usually something silly that you cast on yourself or others in between pulls and not necessarily something that gives you a real advantage in groups or raids.

Phantasm hasn’t changed much from its current showing in the shadow tree.  By using Fade, you can shed all movement impairing effects on yourself and then be immune to additional effects for 3 seconds afterwards.  The only problem I have with this one is that, like Path of the Devout, you can only use this on yourself.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s great for getting yourself out of a bind.  It doesn’t do anything for other people, like a tank, who I feel may be more prone to suffering from movement impairing effects and who would be at more of a disadvantage, if they had those types of debuffs on them.  I think Phantasm would be great for PVP, but I would choose Body and Soul over this or Path of the Devout, if I had to choose something for my everyday PVE activities.

 

Level 45

This tier consists of an old favorite, with a new name, an old favorite that hasn’t changed much, and a completely new spell that could be added to your repertoire.

From Darkness, Comes Light is basically just Surge of Light.  It functions exactly the same as it does right now, with certain single target heals having a chance to proc a free, instant cast Flash Heal.  Surge of Light was a very polarizing talent in Cataclysm that neither healing spec seemed to have much interest in.  Holy priests typically aren’t asked to tank heal too often, so they weren’t using the spells included in Surge of Light enough to enjoy the free heals, while discipline priests only had so many talent points they could invest into the holy tree and viewed other talents as being more important.  I don’t see this talent becoming any more important or desirable than it is now.

Divine Star is something new and will allow you to fire a star out in front of you, which will travel 20 yards and do damage to enemies and healing to allies that are in its way.  Then, the star will fly back to you, and do damage or healing to enemies or allies that are  again in its way.  I have two concerns about Divine Star.  First, I wonder how line of sight will affect this.  Let’s say you throw the star out and then are forced to get behind something that would normally prevent a spell from being cast because you are not in sight of your target.  Will this prevent the star from coming back to you?

Second, I worry about heals that require your allies to be in the right place at the right time.  I know shamans kind of had this problem with Chain Heal only reaching so far and every healing class has had issues with their zone heals, like Efflorescence or Holy Word: Sanctuary, at some point.  The neat thing about Divine Star is you can sort of steer where the star goes and who it will heal on its way out and then back to you.  You can toss it out in one direction and then move, to be in line of some other people who may need healing.  I am curious to see how wide the Divine Star effect will reach.  I know it goes 20 yards in front of you, but will it heal people in a straight, narrow line?  Will it have a nice amount of width, in order to heal people who may be standing next to someone else?

Archangel appears to have made the cut, but I feel like I can’t really talk about the future of this talent without discussing Evangelism, because the two do go hand in hand.  Right now, you can only gain stacks of Evangelism from using Smite, Holy Fire, or Mind Flay.  You can gain up to five stacks and then consume them all with Archangel.  The effects of Archangel are increased, the more stacks you have of Evangelism.  With a full 5 stacks, you will receive 5% of your total mana back, and a 15% increased healing buff, for 18 seconds.  This comes with a 30 second cooldown.

The new Archangel would give you a 25% increased healing buff, with a full 5 stacks of Evangelism and no mana regen.  The 30 second cooldown will stay the same, but there is no mention of whether this effect will last for the usual 18 seconds or not.  I wonder if the prerequisites for gaining Evangelism will remain the way they are now.  Will you only be able to get Evangelism from doing damage or will you be able to get stacks from healing spells, too?  We don’t know yet.  At first glance, I don’t like that the mana regen portion of Archangel has been removed.  I do like the buff to throughput, but it seems like a hard bargain, especially at the start of a new expansion, when you don’t necessarily outgear something enough to be frivolous with your mana.

Based on what I know so far, I would probably go into Mists of Pandaria with From Darkness, Comes Light, if only for the initial Heroic farming to gear up for raids and then I would probably take Divine Star over Archangel.  Mind you, this is just because I feel like I know more about Divine Star (as much as I can, at this point) right now and I don’t feel like Divine Star is missing something, without another talent to support it.  Once I know more about Evangelism, I may change my mind.

 

Level 60

Your choices for talents at level 60 revolve around keeping yourself alive.  I was really happy to see that just about every class will have the opportunity to put a talent point into something that will help keep them alive.  I think it is a really great idea to put more focus on the player, regardless of their class or role, and to have them do their part to stay alive longer.  I would much rather see cooldowns like this spread out across the board, rather than just seeing them all go towards healers, who usually end up being solely responsible for getting their group members out of tight spots during an encounter.

Desperate Prayer does not appear to have changed at all, which is good.  It is already quite lovely and doesn’t need to be fixed or altered in any way.  I am glad to see the developers appear to be leaving it alone, for now.

Angelic Bulwark is a new talent, which I hope will tie into other things that increase the strength of your shields (like Shield Discipline).

Final Prayer looks like it has some potential.  If you are attacked and fall below 30% health, you will generate a shield around yourself that will absorb 20% of your total health, which will last for 20 seconds.  I think this is a neat way to give yourself some time to heal yourself back up to full, if you suddenly lose a lot of health and need time to recover.  I hope that the shield generated is for 20% of your total health, when fully healed, and not 20% of your total health that you have remaining.  I am pretty sure it would work like that, but you never know.

 

Level 75

Twist of Fate contains bits and pieces of Test of Faith, from the holy tree, and Mind Melt, from the shadow tree.  I can see a talent like this being useful, especially in earlier tiers of content, where you don’t outgear everything just yet and where people aren’t necessarily guaranteed to be topped off all the time (in keeping with the triage style of healing that was briefly practiced after Cataclysm’s release).  However, once that happens, or depending on how well the healers you run with react to incoming damage, a talent like Test of Faith starts to decline in usefulness, as people spend less time being at 25% or lower health to get the benefit from this talent.  I would take this talent, but only in the beginning of a new expansion and only if I were doing more than just tank healing.

Power Infusion will now be available to all priests.  It appears that it will remain the same as it is right now.

Serendipity is primarily a holy talent that can now be picked up by discipline priests.  Like Surge of Light, this was another hotly debated talent that priests could never seem to agree on.  I wrote a post about Serendipity a while back and highlighted some ways to get the most out of it.  It is a moderately useful talent, but I don’t feel it holds up well against Power Infusion or even Test of Faith.  I’m tempted to say that I would choose Test of Faith first and then Power Infusion, only because I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to use Power Infusion (since I was primarily holy, until recently) and so I have sort of learned to get by without it.  Ultimately, though, I think Power Infusion would win out, if I had to choose between any of these three talents in this tier.

 

Level 90

They certainly are saving the best for last.  In my opinion, these three possibilities are each nothing short of game changing.  You could hear the sounds of awe throughout the discussion hall, as Ghostcrawler was going over these new talents and what each of them can do.  Let’s dig into them ourselves, shall we?

Vow of Unity basically takes the effects of Binding Heal and applies it to any heals that you cast on a friendly target.  I don’t see any sign of a duration on the tooltip, so I wonder if this is only temporary, or if this will work sort of like Beacon of Light does for paladins.  I think knowing how long this effect will last will determine how much I might want to invest a talent point into it.  It also depends on you taking damage, as well.  If you’re not in any real trouble, then you could just get away with using Binding Heal and not having to resort to blowing a cooldown on this to heal yourself and the tank (or any other individual needing your attention).

Void Shift is a very interesting new ability that we are potentially being given.  It’s important to note that you are not swapping health points with a target, you are swapping percentages of health with them.

Let’s say your tank has 250,000 health and you have 150,000 health.  He falls down to 10% of his health, while you are at 75% of yours.  You cast Void Shift, he goes back up to 75% health, which is 187,500 (up from the 25,000 he was reduced to).  On the other hand, you will go from the 112,500 that you were at down to 15,000 and will then receive a heal for 25% of your total health.  Hopefully, this is total health that you would have had, if you were fully healed and not 25% of the health points that you are currently sitting at.  Even if Void Shift heals for 25% of your total health, fully healed, that still may not be very much.

Going back to the previous scenario, if you fall down to 15,000 health and then receive the 25% heal, you are only getting back 37,500 health, which would leave you at 52,500 hit points.  You could very well heal yourself back up from that, especially with a little help from Final Prayer, but you may also die before you get a chance to do that.  One would argue that it is better that you die, instead of the tank.  You could also use Spirit of Redemption, if you do end up dying early and that way you are still able to put out some healing before you die permanently.  Void Shift has the potential to tie in nicely with many other talents, both new and old.

Based on the tooltip, it sounds like the effects of Void Shift are permanent.  It is not like you would swap health percentages and then the effect wears off and you go back to where you were at.  I also like the sound of this, because if you were to die shortly after doing this, it doesn’t seem like it would cause the effect to wear off on the tank and put them back in dire straits.  You could still use your cooldown and know that your death wouldn’t change anything.  That gives me an enormous feeling of peace of mind.

Vampiric Dominance reminds me of a talent called Surging Flames, from the Purifier soul in Rift.  I remember thinking how great it would be for a talent like this to make its way into World of Warcraft, specifically for discipline priests.  This talent is basically a re-vamped version of Vampiric Embrace (no pun intended) and now includes healing spells, in addition to damaging spells.  This talent could be quite powerful, for both tank and raid healing, and would be a good fit for both discipline and holy priests.  Depending on whether or not Echo of Light stays in the picture, (word is that it might be getting scrapped in the next expansion) it would be nice to see a HoT placed on each target that received some of the splash healing from Vampiric Dominance.

As of right now, I’m leaning towards Void Shift being the talent of choice here, followed by Vampiric Dominance, and then Vow of Unity.  Void Shift seems extremely powerful and I get a feeling that it is going to see a lot of testing before the expansion hits and that it may not end up working the way that we are seeing it in these previews.  Vampiric Dominance has the potential to really shine here, too.  I think what you choose in this tier will really depend on your particular healing assignment for each encounter.

The developers did say that they wanted players to be able to change specs with the ease that they would be able to change glyphs, so it may not be that unusual to see people having a different spec for each fight in a raid instance.  I remember Lissanna saying something over the weekend about us bloggers potentially having to do individual suggested specs for each boss and not looking forward to that.  I have to say that I kind of like that idea.  I think something like that opens up more room for discussion and goes a long way towards making our talent choices seem less static or set in stone, which was also the goal of the developers.  They wanted “cookie cutter” specs to become less common and this could very well accomplish that.

Overall, I’m quite happy with what I have seen, so far.  I realize that anything that has been revealed could change at any moment, but I am feeling quite positive with the direction that healing priests are going in and hopefully will continue to go in Mists of Pandaria.  I look forward to seeing the lines blur between a discipline priest and a holy priest and seeing each sort of enjoy some of the benefits that the other provides (i.e. holy priests getting more cooldowns, discipline priests getting more raw throughput that isn’t just from absorption effects).  I will be taking part in the beta, so I hope to provide some input on these changes and to do my part to making priests the best that they can be in the next expansion.

Feel free to leave a comment about what talents stood out to you or which talents failed to impress you.  Are there any talents you would like to see make the cut or get removed, in favor of something else?  Let’s talk about it!