Glow's branches

Ramblings of a resto druid

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Tank cooldowns for druids inc?

At least it’s been acknowledged I guess:

“We agree with the sentiment among some players that Restoration druids and Restoration shaman are lacking in the healing cooldown department. The shaman buff and Power Word: Shield adjustment above should bring all healers reasonably close in terms of throughput. The decision on who to bring then might end up being dictated by the strong cooldowns offered by paladins or priests. This isn’t the kind of thing we can address via a hotfix, but it is something we are looking at for the next major content patch.”

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2089271114

Still interested to see what this looks like. Suggetions around the traps have ranged from barkskin as a targetable buff through to Swiftmend giving a Pain-suppression-like mitigation effect, but it would be nice if it was something more creative (but still useful).

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4.0.6 – More druid healing thoughts

Firstly, I have to admit: I chickened out in my “less healing, more survival” build and didn’t end up spending the two points in Nature’s Ward. I popped them into topping up Gift of the Earthmother. My current build looks like this:

Glow's respec for 4.0.6

My rational for this was the extra heals on the LB bloom when I’m a tree, but I’m still not 100% sold on this. I started comparing my healing profiles from our Chimaeron kills pre and post 4.0.6, but the differences were SO hilarious (just way too hilarious), and I remembered we swapped from having a warrior soak tank to a DK soak tank so things were a little skewed.

So I pulled up logs for our Maloriak kills to compare. At least there the tank I’m healing is exactly the same each time, and my role and the raid composition is pretty much identical between the two weeks. Ok so here are the two graphs for my healing. First one lokos like this:

Glowberry's healing spells v Maloriak, pre 4.0.6

and then:

Glowberry's healing spells v Maloriak, 4.0.6 version

These are a week apart, my role in each case was to heal the add tank, but of course I’m spraying around HoTs as well.

First thing that stands out to me is how much less is going on in the second one. No Living seed and no Effluorescence. Did I notice the difference? No.

Well, except that I wasn’t casting any Swiftmends just to put green circles under people, so my Swiftmend numbers were way lower in the second week. Actually how much lower scares me a little. I use swiftmend on frozen targets to rapidly top them up before they are broken out, so it worries me that I only cast three SMs on the kill shot. Perhaps I was just trusting our other (excellent) healers more, and panicking less. Or perhaps I was just less attentive. Something to watch for this week.

Third thing I noticed is the huge difference between WG and RJ each week. they’ve swapped places. Wild growth is stronger after 4.0.6, but I didn’t realise how much difference it would make. Also, I actually cast maybe 20% fewer RJs on the second week – maybe this was due to the slightly increased mana cost from the week before, or maybe WG was filling the role of RJ in some cases for me. Again, one to try to be a bit more aware of this week.

I spent the extra two points in GotEM, so what am I getting out of that?

Lifebloom was about the same across the two weeks, though the bloom was slightly higher the second week (the bloom is the second spell marked as lifebloom in each list).  I only pop into tree form in Maloriak during the last 25%, so there won’t be a huge amount of blooming. I DO let LB bloom as an emergency heal if my tank is out of range or I’m on the move and he’s low, so I get an occasion bloom out of treefrom, but it’s rare.

I’m getting a small amount of extra from the initial RJ heal as well (again the second spell marked as Rejuvenation in each list) but again, 30k extra over nearly 7 minutes… I’m not completely sold on it. Also, it’s not like I feel it will be saving lives at any stage either; despite being an instant heal it’s still only 1800 a pop.

Another standout is that I’m casting Healing Touch a lot less and Regrowth a lot more. That kind of blew my mind.

I wondered if it was a change in my tank-heal style, now that regrowth refreshes LB, or whether it was from using it more on the raid (which would be insane!). So I dug out my actual heals on my add tank to see if that’s where the difference was.

First week:

Glowberry's add tank healing on Maloriak, pre 4.0.6

and second week:

Glowberry's add tank healing on Maloriak, after 4.0.6

It seems that although I am using Regrowth more on my tank, I’m also using it a whole lot more  generally.

This shocked me.I’m not a Regrowth spammer, and never have been… but I’m sliding down the Regrowth chute here without even knowing!

I was also concerned as I noticed my effective HPS on my tank had gone DOWN from one week to the next! Well, I was concerned until I dug into the tank’s damage taken and realise that he’d taken less damage from the adds in the second week. Phew. I guess we’ve all gotten some better gear and some more experience in the fight under our belts, and that all makes a difference.

Apart from the difference in effectiveness between some of these spells from one week to the next, the real thing I’ve leaarnt (and relearnt) here is how much of how you heal is completely under your own radar. If you’d asked me how I healed the second week I would have naively said “the same as last week”. In fact, that was my whole rationale for choosing these two fights.

The difference in the Chimaeron logs between the two weeks I laughed off as a difference in tanks: the difference was an outlier, a once-off.

But maybe a shift in talents and spell effectiveness has a bigger differnece in how I actually play then I had ever realised. It’s hard to be self-aware when you’re still learning fights, so much of your spare ‘concentration GCDs’ are spent staying alive.

Time for me to step back a little this week and use some of those spare GCDs to look a bit closer at how I’m healing, not just who and when.

Being asked to heal

Playing a hybrid class brings lots of utility to a party, a raid, or even a guild. But when it comes to crunch time and you are asked to perform a role you don’t enjoy – how do you respond?

Lets consider a scenario. Glowbird is a moonkin. She’s researched her class, geared/gemmed/chanted/forged for dps, practiced on dummies for hours, poured of the spreadsheets… she lives to burn her enemies with white lasers from the sky. When the raid is in trouble she casts tranquillity. When the tank is down she casts rebirth. When the healers are down she spams Healing touch until she has no more.

But she hates healing.

She tried it a few times – healed some heroics for guildies early in 2008. It wasn’t disastrous, but she didn’t enjoy it at all. It was another layer back from the combat, and she felt like an onlooker rather than a participant. Why play when the other four party members played and she only got to watch? No. Thanks.

And then one evening, they can’t fill that last healer spot and the raid leader asks Glowbird to heal for the night.

The question itself ellicits a number of different reactions, and it’s highly context dependent, but it interests me. It also provokes a number of questions that I’d like to discuss here. There’s also a parallel discussion for ‘being asked to tank’, so replace ‘heal’ with ‘tank’ if it best fits your own role.

If you’re a hybrid class and you don’t mind healing, you have a healing offspec and a few bits of gear aside for that role… then I’m assuming you’d probably say ‘yes’. If you say yes but feel uncomfortable about raid healing, you might let your raid leader know “I’m a bit rusty” or “as long as it’s just till Glowberry is back” or similar.

But what if you actually dislike healing? Is it okay to just say ‘no’?

By playing a hybrid class, you can sometimes feel very ‘put on the spot’ when you’re asked to pinch heal, knowing that if you say ‘no’ the raid might not go ahead. This can be really awkward, especially when there are genuine reasons for saying no, that go beyond ‘I just don’t feel like it’.

So the question is: when you roll a hybrid class, do you sign up for a hybrid role?

This kind of thing is thrown around in trade chat and/or pugs with reckless abandon; usually Glowbird would be told something like “if you want to dps, reroll a mage”.

Is Glowbird within her rights to say “I rolled a druid to play a moonkin, it’s what I enjoy and am good at. I’m really sorry we can’t raid tonight, but I’m just not a healer.” Or are the other 24 raiders right to quietly look upon her with scorn?

Or is she obliged to respec and give it her best shot, for the benefit of the raid?

(And will anyone wonder why she quietly gquits one Tuesday night?)

Soloing Magtheridon

I knew some amazing death knights had soloed Magtheridon at 80, and we’d 3-manned him at 80 – so I was keen to go and see how tough he was for a level 85 character.

He was tough.

Vermin! Leeches! Take my blood and choke on it!

I’d read that his channelers were the hard part of the fight. Five of them, and they cross heal. The damage of five channelers + their summons + Magtheridon beating on me is too much to survive. SO the aim is to kill them, and then Mag.

Setup

  • Spec: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#0ZfMGfRubzRckMcz – Kind of a munted feral  build, aiming to make sure I had King of the jungle plus tanking talents.
  • Gear: most of my feral gear is gemmed/chanted for tanking, but I have a few duplicate slots where I have a dps piece. So mainly I was wearing tank-ish pieces, which wouldn’t be my preference. If you can wear all-out dps gear, that would be optimal.
  • Consumables: Flask of the Winds and Potions of Tol’vir. I should have brought some dps food as well. I prepotted on the pull so that I could use two potions.

Strategy

I tried this with multiple different strategies before I was successful, so I’ll outline the way that worked. It’s still a bit luck-of-the-draw, depending on how the channelers decide to cross heal.

I started the pull in cat form, standing on a channeler, popping a potion of Tol’vir, then Tiger’s Fury, then engaging. My aim was to get max dps bleeds up before switching to bear form as the other channelers arrived. I knew I wouldn’t kill the first add, but I wanted to have DoTs ticking on it.

Once the others rocked up, I switched to bear form, enraged, popped berserk and my trinkets. Then I mangle spammed with one finger hovering over the Skull bash key to interrupt the heal of my target. I threw in a Maul when I had enough rage. If I killed two channelers before Berserk was over, then I knew it was game on. Any less than that, it was game over – I’d Shadowmeld to reset it then wait for all of my cooldowns to come up, then start over.

So after killing two channelers, I was good to continue; the aim is to survive until berserk comes up again. Magtheridon becomes active at some point before that, so I just popped mitigation cooldowns as needed, waiting on berserk while tanking Mag, the three remaining channelers, and all of the Abyssals.

I timed going Berserk just after Magtheridon finished on of his spates of throwing me around the room. I made sure I had a channeler targeted, chugged another Tol’vir potion, popped trinkets, and mangle spammed again. This time with only three up, the cross healing is much less, so I killed all three, then onto Matheridon.

Finishing off the channelers. Aka: Magtheridon's sword in my face.

Once the channelers and the abyssals are dead, it’s just tank and spank till Magtheridon dies. He collapses the ceiling at 30% health, but that’s not a significant dent on a lvl 85 health pool. I shifted into cat to maximise dps, shifting back to bear as needed to self heal.

So after a few days of going back in and trying with different setups, I finally killed him solo and got to enjoy the spoils: random tier 4 chests, 490g and a huge demon head on a stick.

One large dead pitlord. Hoo-ray!

Addon spotlight – LootCount

LootCount is a lightweight little addon that helps keep track of items in your bags for you, without you having to open your bags and count things up to see how you’re progressing. I use it when herbing, fishing or collecting items for rep/achievements.

Here’s how I have mine set up in-game:

LootCount, showing my fishing catches

And here’s how easy it is to set up.

Step 0 – how to download and install

You can download LootCount from WoW Interface or Curse. Once you’ve downloaded it, unzip it, and copy the LootCount folder into your World of Warcraft -> Interface -> Addons folder. Load up the game, and check to make sure its in your enabled addons, in the character selection screen.

Step 1 – how to count your loot

Once you’re in the game, type /lc to toggle the small green LootCount frame’s visibility. (If your frame doesn’t appear first time, relog and try again, this is a known issue for the first time load.) Once the green frame is visible, you can move it by clicking and dragging on the corner of the frame. Drop the frame where you’d like your loot icons to appear.

To get LootCount to start tracking, you need to have one of the items to track in your inventory. Once you’ve caught/gathered/looted your first item, drag it from your bags and drop it into the centre frame, like this:

40 Sagefish

The dark squares show where you can drop other items. Once you’ve let go of the item’s icon, the dark squares disappear, and the centre frame will display how many of that item you have in your bags. Often, I just leave it at that, and just track one item. In this case, Deepsea Sagefish.

Step 2 – how to count even more loot

To add more items to your tracking, drag a second item of another type out of your bag, and hover over the lootcount frame. The surrounding dark squares will appear. Drop your new item onto one of the squares and hey presto:

Sagefish AND eels!

You can keep building up more and more items as you farm/fish.herb/loot.

Sagefish and eels and water and ...

To remove items from the frame, double right click on its icon.

That’s it!

For those who like to delve deeper into addons and features, read on. Ninety-nine percent of the time I only track one or two items as above, but I do like to explore other features, like below:

Menu options

To bring up most of the options for LootCount, right click on an edge of the centre frame (but not the corners):

LootCount menu

Some options you may want to consider:

  • Lock – will lock the frame in place, as well as disable removing of items from the frame
  • Fade center frame – will make the green rectangle fade away when you are not interacting with the frame
  • Set “LootCountREP” etc… I generally have these addon plugins turned off to simplify the menus, but may be useful if you wish to use the same mod to track rep/exp etc
  • Bigger/smaller text is useful especially if you resize the icons and/or set goals (see below)
  • Include bank / include alts – this is very useful if you’ve banked or ‘muled’ items when farming to make space, but still want to track your total counts. Switching both of these on and the display looks like this:

Including alts/bank

The top left grey number in the number of the item you have in your bags, the lower right number is your overall total, including (in this case) the character’s bank and on alts. Note that you can get all of this information in detail when you hover over each item.

Item options

Set goal – you can set a goal for each item to keep track of how close you are to a target. Right click on each item, select ‘Set goal’ and enter the number of items you’re aiming for. Select ‘Accept’. The item should be displayed with a count of how many you have left to reach your goal. This is a bit buggy in the current version, but a lua fix is explained over at wowinterface.

Command line options

Resizing – to change the size of the frame, use the text comands: /lc tiny, small, medium, normal, big. You’ll almost certainly want to enlarge your icons if you’re tracking totals across alts/bank or tracking goals. It’s a lot of text to fit on a tiny icon if you track more than one number.

Toggling LootCount on and off is easy – just type ‘/lc’. For more text options, type ‘/lc config’.

Tooltips

Another neat thing about LootCount is the tooltip integration. Whenever you hover over an item in your inventory, a small LootCount icon appears in the top left of your tooltip:

LootCount tooltip

I use TipTac to manage my tooltips, But I imagine it would work the same with the default tooltip, or other tooltip mods. This also works with items that are linked in chat channels – really useful if a guildie asks “does anyone have any peacebloom?” You can ask them to link the item and when you click on it you can see how many you have (great if you’re also tracking alts/bank).

That’s it  – LootCount, makes collecting and managing your farmed items a little bit easier 🙂

Soloing Heroic Nexus

After a bit of a break, time to get back into soloing (work has been crazily busy and I’ve been unwell, so I’ve been focussing on just getting through raids without falling over).

As a nice easy warm-up, I headed into the Nexus with my usual setup: feral tank spec – 346ish ilvl gear.

The trash was fairly easy, so after clearing a few packs I tended to stealth past whatever I could. The patrolling dragons in the entrance corridors, and the Mage slayer hounds can all detect stealth, so you’ll want to take those out in any case. Also, the chaotic rifts zap anything close (breaking stealth) so you’ll want to give those a wide birth, or just take out those mana wraith groups.

Kolurg was a simple tank and spank, I just popped berserk on the pull to burn down his priests.

Urg, Commander Kolurg

Telestra I tanked mostly in kitty form, just shifting into bear on the split phases, then back in kitty to be thrown around the room, trying to put up bleeds as I whizzed past…

Paying my Telestra bills online

Onto Anomalus, who was pretty much a tank and spank in bear form. again I popped berserk on the rifts when they were close.

Anomalus looking as threatening as a glowy thing can

I stealthed through the gauntlet, gasping at the stupid new bright yellow treant models, and onto Ormorok. He was the simplest of the instance, truly stand-and-hit bear-tanking.

Ormorok the bear-shaper. Er, tree-shaper.

Finally to Keristrasza, avoiding her stealth-detecting patrollers, and killing the one in her room before engaging. Then it was jump, jump, jump while burning her down. I seemed to resist all but one of her frost snares, so didn’t end up taking much damage from her.

Keristrasza and the jumping bear

In summary – any tanking class could solo this heroic easily at 85. I didn’t need to use any self healing or major cooldowns. It’s fairly quick with stealth, about 20 minutes all up, even without stealth, the trash would be mostly avoidable or able to be burned down pretty quickly.

Reasons for doing this heroic at 85? Well there is no mount/pet – so in my case it’s just to cross it off my list.

And finally, a screenshot for Voros:

Keristrazsa, frozen in time

4.0.6 Restoration druid changes – my thoughts

I will be respeccing tomorrow after the patch; playing in a slightly different space with my healing. Hopefully I’ll be a stronger raid healer, I’ve been pigeonholing myself as a tank healer over the last few weeks and would like to be more comfortable with a versatile role in raids.

Here are the ‘biggies’ for me in the resto changes about to land in 4.0.6. It’s not a complete list of changes that affect me, but the ones that will impact significantly on my play.

The big things that matter

Change

  • Tree of Life duration has been reduced to 25 seconds, down from 30.
  • Natural Shapeshifter has been reduced to a 3/6-second increase to Tree of Life’s duration, down from 5/10.

Impact

I currently take Natural Shapeshifter so for me this will mean a reduction of duration from 40 sec to 31 sec. On the face of it, this seems like a major nerf, but I honestly feel like treeform’s duration is a bit long at the moment. Sometimes, I admit, I’m looking at the buff timer thinking “it still has 10 sec left?! Are we there yet?!” I don’t see this having a huge impact, espeically as the main reason I watch the timers was for setting up a multi-LB roll, and the Empowered Touch changes have curbed that.

Change

  • Empowered Touch now also affects Regrowth. In addition, after Tree of Life is no longer active, this talent will only refresh the most recently cast or refreshed Lifebloom, and will not refresh other copies of Lifebloom.

Impact

I’m liking adding Regrowth to this. At the moment I’m only casting RG in two scenarios. Firstly to proc Nature’s Grace, which is usually because I am ramping up on tank healing and need a bit more burst, knowing that LB will be refreshed in that situation is great. Secondly after a clear cast, especially during tree-form LB spam. If I set up a series of LBs during treeform and the instant RGs I get on clearcasts are also refreshing the LBs and therefore setting off MORE clearcasts…. I think this could be lots of fun.

The second change to this talent will have lots of druids crying, albeit in a kind of resigned “we saw this coming a long time ago” kind of way. To be honest, I never really got good at multi LB rolling – partly because we weren’t pushing bleeding edge content so I didn’t need to. By the time I was really aware of the possibilities, the community was already pointing to PTR changes to it, so I didn’t try to train myself to do it (although I did play with it occasionally). So I won’t really see the impact of this in my own play.

Change:

  • Nature’s Bounty no longer affects Swiftmend, but now has a new effect. When the druid has Rejuvenation on 3 or more targets, the cast time of Nourish is reduced by 10/20/30%.
  • Wild Growth healing has been increased by 30%, and the cooldown has been reduced to 8 seconds, down from 10.

Impact

Both of these changes combine should mean that druids are more viable as raid healers. There’s been a bit of fiddling with the cost of RJ over the last few weeks, so we will se a *slight* increase in its cost tomorrow, but nothing too prohibitive I’d think. In any case, in a raid healing setup I imagine I’d want to have 3 RJs up pretty much all of the time during aoe damage, most effectively cast on targets with WG hots, and then I can spot heal with a speedy Nourish as needed. I’ll be looking at what this means for Chimaeron: our only reall attempt on him I was tank healing, and we kind of one-shot him, so I’m not sure how these changes will pan out in that kind of burst scenario. I’d also like to have a play with Power auras to see if I can create an alert for having three RJs active…

Change

  • Symbiosis (Mastery) benefit from mastery increased by approximately 16%.

Impact

I’m a long-time quiet lurker/observer on EJ and have been following the debates about Mastery and the pluses and minuses of ‘healing to it’. Simply put, Symbiosis increases our healing to any target that already has one of our own HoTs upon it. When we’re tank healing, we benefit from Symbiosis without even trying. When raid healing though, we need to be a bit more ‘deliberate’ to make use of it – and whether or not that is an effective way of actually keeping people alive has been a small argument around for a while.

I’m in a tens guild, which makes it a bit easier for example to pick targets of my WG to throw extra heals to. With this in mind, knowing the mastery buff was coming, and also with the amount of tank healing I have been doing, I have been playing with my gear reforged to mastery over haste for a few weeks. I’m therefore looking forward to this change, as I can see it impacting positively on both my tank healing and raid healing when taking into account the WG/NB changes above.

Change

  • Shapeshifts: Entering or leaving a shapeshift no longer cancels root effects. It continues to cancel movement slowing effects.
  • Disentanglement (new specialization): Causes shapeshifting to remove roots in addition to snares.

Impact

I almost overlooked the second one of these. A guildmate was *very* upset at the root/snare shifting nerfs coming in this patch, and after listening to his concerns I wasn’t sure where I stood on the whole thing. I must admit I’ve been *mightily* iritated at being polymorphed in heroics and not being able to thumb my nose at it. Calling “I’m sheeped, please dispel me” is SO humilating. Self-deprecating jokes aside, his concern was that shifting out of snares is part of what it means to be a druid. And I kind of agree – but the main place that would impact on my play would be when tanking. Being able to rapidly shift in and out of bear when frost novaed and the mobs are moving away is awesomely powerful. It feels like a delicious luxury to have it back as a resto druid, but boy I wish I had it in my tank spec a whole lot more.

The little things that matter

Change

  • Soothe is now instant cast, down from 1.5 seconds.

Impact

Yay! Soothe is insanely useful in heroics, lots of large trash and bosses can be Soothed to remove their enrage and reduce the damage you’re healing. Having this as an instant is lovely.

Change

  • Mount Up: This guild perk now applies to Flight Form and Swift Flight Form as well.

Impact

Yay! Finally I can be fast in herbform, I mean flightform.

Change

  • Druid forms now have an Archaeology Survey animation.

Impact

Yay! No more silent cheetah standing blankly while I dig. I asssume this will be the same animation the gathering professions have. On a side note, how annoying is Archaeology in flightform?! Oh. My. god. Enough with the ‘you cannot do that while pacified’ already. I shifted out 3 seconds ago.

Change

  • Druids can correctly cast Barkskin while silenced.

Impact

Yay! A few fights recently I’m complained out loud about this one, so I’m very pleased this is being fixed.

Where to from here?

As I mentioned in my intro, I’ll be respeccing. I’m looking at something like this: http://ptr.wowhead.com/talent#0hbhZMZMfuhdcrzRko

It misses Living seed and Effluorescence and adds Perseverence and Nature’s Ward. I’m nervous about that. It’s removing two healing talents and adding two survivability talents.

But I haven’t been happy with Effluorescence, the healing is situational and a bit lacklustre, and it adds ‘more ground clutter’ that I can’t avoid creating whenever I want to swftmend.  Even at its best, it’s 4% of my healing – maybe because I tend to use Swiftmend often as a direct heal. Still- it just feels like more trouble than it’s worth.

Again, Living seed is about 1.5% of my healing even when I’m mainly tank healing, I doubt that I will miss this.

Picking up two suriviability talents? I’m not sure how this will pan out…. I doubt I’ll be pointing to the logs and saying “I survived because of this”. Though I may, I do like pouring over logs…

I’m also toying with taking 3 points from Furor and/or Moonglow and putting them into Genesis. Again, still deciding if I’m ready for that, mana has felt okay for me so far, and I’d like to gun for a little more throughput if I’m HoTing more.

So – there’s still scope with playing with builds. Taking survivabilty talents feels like a gamble, but I don’t foresee missing the 6 points I’ve rescued from LS/Eff.

Where else could I put those points? Or: am I just crazy?