Glow's branches

Ramblings of a resto druid

A close look at mana potions

Managing mana is one of the fun things about healing that I’m glad Blizzard have added back into our game.

There’s a school of thought that any mana left at the end of a fight is mana wasted, and that if you’re managing your mana well you should be using every consumable, cooldown and trinket available to you to squeeze every last heal out by the end of the fight.

Well. The main game is beating the boss. Our role in that is to keep people alive, but if I can’t do that because I’m doing my utmost but running out of mana then I need to take stock of the consumables and cooldowns I’m using and make sure I’m optimising that.

So a close look at the three mana return potions available:

  • Mythical mana potion
  • Mysterious potion (alchemists only)
  • Potion of concentration

I’ll review these below, using their raw numbers, not adding in any alchemists bonus in order to keep it simple and generally applicable. It doesn’t change the *relative* value of these potions.

The options

Mythical mana potion: Restores 9250 to 10750 mana. (1 Min Cooldown) (Average = 10000 mana)

The stock-standard mana potion. As with all potions, useable once per fight. It doesn’t matter when you use this, as long as you have a deficit of at least 10750 mana and you aren’t in the middle of an innervate (or mana tide or similar) that will overfill your blue bar.

Mysterious potion: Restores 1 to 30000 health and 1 to 15000 mana. (1 Min Cooldown) (Average = 7500 mana)

This is an alchemist-only potion, and in any case unless you are after an instant health boost as well, doesn’t seem worth it. Also, as the range of possible returns is so large, it’s not something you can rely on. And reliability is a huge factor when we want mana back and want it back now. (But it is cheap to make if that matters to you.)

Potion of concententration: Puts the imbiber in an elevated state of concentration where they can restore up to 22000 mana over 10 sec, but they are defenseless until their concentration is broken. (1 Min Cooldown)

This delivers more than twice as much mana as the standard potion…. but what’s all of the defenselessness about?!

Concentration

The concentration potion puts you to sleep for 10 seconds. Anything that would break spell casting, like moving, being stunned, silenced etc will break the effect. While you sleep you regenerate 22000 mana. If your concentration gets broken half way through, you will have regenerated about half of that. Clearly the best way to use this potion is to get 10 seconds worth of sleep out of it, and hence the full 22000 mana.

“But hang on, Glow!” you’re saying. “When can I afford to sleep for ten seconds?! The raid will burn to death, the tank will die, and the other healers will point at me in rightful indignation!”

This is a good question. When can you afford to sleep for ten seconds?

When to sleep

Any time that you don’t need to move for 10 seconds, and your heal assignment isn’t taking much damage. If it’s a possibility for another healer to cover for you in that time, chat with them about it before the pull and see if it’s okay, then call over Vent when you’re about to take the potion.

Some specific times I use mine:

Magmaw: During vulnerability phase. This is a no brainer. Raid damage can be heavy on magmaw, plus I keep HoTs rolling on the tank, so I often have mana issues on this encounter. I innervate early on, and usually use my concentration potion in the second vulnerability.

Maloriak: During a blue phase. This will depend on your role and the random order of the phases. My role for the fight is healing the add tank, and off-healing the raid. If the second round of blue/red has blue first, my add tank will not have adds yet, and the raid damage is light, and I don’t need to move, so I can safely sleep knowing the other raid healer will cover the iceblock targets.

Chimaeron: During feud. Yes, you read that correctly, during feud. I’m tank healing for Chimaeron (I’m guessing lots of druids reading this are too). For the first feud I pop WG Tranquility WG and innervate myself. For the second feud our shadow priest pops hymn and PoHs. I throw a WG, sleep for 10 sec and then start hotting up the tanks.

Snoozing during Feud

I haven’t used Potions of concentration in Bastion, all of the bosses there have so much movement that I haven’t seen a good ‘window’. Open to suggestions though šŸ™‚

In summary

If you haven’t tried sleeping during raids yet – it’s time to start! Quite a few of the BWD fights have healer ‘downtime’ phases where movement isn’t critical, so look for an opportunity to use a Concentration potion. And discuss it with your other healers, you might find it helps to coordinate when you’re each sleeping. Nothing like a nap rotation šŸ™‚

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Small revamp

Just a quick update to say my basic healing guide is up (yay!) and explain a small reshuffle of some pages, in case you’re looking for them.

I’ve just completed my Ultra-Basic-Druid-Healing-Guide (here), but realised that it probably ‘lived’ with my druid CC guide (this one) so I’ve bundled then together in the menu structure under Druid guides (this). As I explained earlier, I’m working on a ‘Part 2’ of the healing guide, which will live there as well – it just seemed a more logical structure.

I actually found writing a short-short version of the healing guide extremely difficult. After playing a resto druid for so long, I love chatting about the intricacies and nuances of the class; so splitting it down to ‘do this, then do this’ felt a bit wrong.

But I was driven by a conversation I’d had with another druid. He was stepping into healing for the first time in Cata, and he was having mana issues. So we chatted about what spells he was casting – and when I mentioned using Omen procs for expensive heals it dawned on me.

He didn’t know what clearcasting was.

And that’s not surprising in a sense, as it’s not entirely intuitive for a beginner. But that planted the seed. If I was writing a ‘get started in 30 minutes’ guide – what bones would I strip it back to?

So anyway, hence the ultra-basic-ness of it. No spec choices, no glyph choices, no detailed ui. Just ‘here’s a spec, here’s a healing strat – go for it’ approach. All of that hurt a bit.

But it’s done – the pages reshuffled, the guide published –Ā  and any feedback is welcome.

Dark Phoenix pet

Finally, bugged guild reputation implementation aside, I have a dark phoenix companion. And he’s very cute – and flies!

Dark Phoenix pet

Hit exalted with the guild this evening upon killing Valiona, so that’s 58 (I think) exalted reputations. So at last I have enough for guild to the United Nations achievement. (Though it would have been nice if it had worked across multiple guildies.)

Quietly busy

I haven’t posted for a few days, but I have been busily updating the blog stealthily in the background.

I’m currently working on a guide to druid healing. Sigh. I know it adds to the huge waving sea of information out there, but my concern is that there isn’t much that’s pitched at absolute newcomers to the spec/class. With that in mind I’m currently shaping up a two part guide:

1. Resto druid healing for absolute beginners: including

  • one sample talent build with a brief rundown of talents,
  • our key healing spells described in plain language,
  • a simple strategy for healing 5 man dungeons, and
  • simply key binding and ui tips

2. Resto healing, the details: including

  • managing mana,
  • tank and raid healing strategies for raids, and
  • setting up raid frames/macros

Not surprisingly, this is taking me a while.

I’llĀ  post the first part soon (hopefully over the weekend) as that’s nearly done; I just need to add some screenshots and flesh out the last section a little. Writing this to be as short and simple as possible is a challenge, especially when I love the class/spec and tend to ramble when I let myself loose.

The second section I’m mainly writing for self-indulgent reasons. I know there’s already lots of detailed druid guides out there,Ā  but I don’t want my ‘simple’ guide to be seen as all there is, so the need to flesh this out in a second ‘chapter’ compels me.

So in summary: watch this space, especially if you have a friend/alt/offspec interested in dipping toes into the pond of resto druid healing for the first time.

Healing Atramedes 10 man – resto druid thoughts

Atramedes has two phases, a ground phase and an air phase. He starts out on the ground, and this is the most healing intense phase. He stays on the ground for 80 seconds then takes off. His air phases lasts for 40 seconds, and in general that will be a good regen phase for us healing. He then lands again and repeats this until he dies.

Atramedes has an unusual mechanic in that he is a ‘blind’ dragon and uses sound to feel out his prey (us!). When you engage him you get a sound indicator showing if you’ve tripped any of his sonar pulses, and the higher your sound indicator the more damage you take from his attacks (because he knows more accurately where you are… or something.) If you reach 100 sound, he knows exactly where you are and erases you with his magical fire (or something… anyway – you die.) So the aim is to avoid as many of his sound based attacks as possible.

We position like this:

Atramedes - ground phase positioning

TheĀ  yellow circle is Atramedes, the skull is Atramedes’ face munching on our main tank. We have a tight ranged camp shown in the green circle and a loose melee group ranged around Atramedes’ rear quarters.

When I heal this fight, my role is raid healing and keeping hots rolling on our tank.

Phase 1:

Atramedes during his ground phase has a number of abilities that you’ll need to watch for as a raid/tank healer.

  • Modulation: this is a room wide aoe pulse. Everyone will take about 40k damage and gain a little bit of sound (7 sound level). I throw out a Wild growth after each modulation, and a RJ on anyone that’s really low.
  • Sonar Pulse: 3 or 4 little disks of sound will emerge from Atramedes and travel fairly slowly radially otwards. They are aimed at a player when they spawn, but they don’t deviate from there path once the player moves. We have the melee fairly spread to make it easier to avoid theirs since they are close, and the ranged staying tightly bunched so we can side step the pulses pretty much as a group. This positioning is also to help us with his next ability:
  • Sonic breath: this is a breath weapon that targets a specific raid member. Atramedes turns to face the Sonic breathĀ  target, then after a second or so starts breathing sound at them. This is a bad bad thing to stand in. We have range targets of the strafe right, while the rest of us step left a little. I throw a RJ on the strafer as they run off, in case they get a tick of sound/damage. This is the main thing that causes wipes for us, when things go wrong with the breath kiting, sound levels of the raid can get very high.
  • Searing flame: (I like to call this “Searrrring FLAME!!!” because Atramedes has a funky voice) this is a raid-wide aoe that is interrupted using the gongs. Be aware that one or two pulses of this can go ou depending on the latency of your gong-ponger.Ā  Also, it does more damage to those whose sound is high – so it helps to know who in the raid have high sound and throw them an extra heal going into the Searing flame.

I tend to save my tranquility for when the raid damage is high and you’ve just had a sonic breath/sonar pulse so you know you won’t have to move.Ā  Use treeform early though, you’ll probably get 2 or three opportunities to go tree, depending how long your kill takes.

Phase 2:

Once he takes off, we scatter to the edges of the room, like this:

Atramedes - Air phase positioning

In this diagram, X is the initial sonic breath target, and star is the designated gong-ringer.

Duting his air phase, Atramedes continues to try to ‘locate’ (ie: kill) your raid, using these abilities:

  • Sonar pulse: more pulsing yellow circles to avoid, this time indicating where a sound missile is about to land. Everyone needs to stay out of these as much as possible.
  • Sonic breath: he targets this at a raid member a couple of seconds after taking off (variously reported to be the person with the highest sound, but this is hard to predict).Ā  Again, the breath needs to be kited, but unlike his ground phase, he doesn’t stop casting it, AND it gets faster and faster AND it leaves a trail of fire on the ground. The fire does a bit of damage, and leave a (dispellable) dot. The fire is not a major worry unless people are already low on health, and there are lots of gaps in the fire trails. However the Sonic breath IS an issue.

In the air phase, the Sonic breath is interruptable by a gong, and our strategy is to have another designated gong-ponger that has a form of speed boost. We have variously used a rogue, a shaman or a druid or a worgen (or combinations thereof). As a druid, I can’t use Dash on every air phase, as it has a 3 minute cooldown, but the air phases are two minutes apart. So when we use druid kiting, we alternate with another kiter for each air phase.

Atramedes takes flight

Breath kiting:

Kiting is fun! When I kite, just before Atramedes takes off, I pop into kitty form and wander over to a gong on the far side of the room (eg star in our diagram above). Atramedes’ breath target is announced, and I watch that person run away from the big laser beam of death. When I think they are getting a bit close, I use the gong beside me and start moving off around the edge of the room.

The beam takes a while to get to you, but it will ‘appear’ where you were, so I don’t wait for it, I start moving as soon as I click. I’m zoomed a fair way out so I can see how close it’s getting. Once I feel it’s starting to catch up, then I pop Dash, and keep running around rim of the room.

As a guide, if I ring the gong where star is in my example diagram, I’m usually around about where X is before I pop Dash. And I’m usually around to where the green tank symbol is by the time Atramedes lands again, and the beam is getting a bit close, but not dangerously.

Phase 1 again:

So now it’s back to ground phase, with the added complication of that fire from the air phase still being on the ground.

Our ranged once again cluster up, finding a ‘safe spot’ fairly clear of fire. If we need to kite Sonic breath through existing fire, sobeit. Make extra sure you have a hot or two on the breath kiter in ground phases from now on, as they may be taking extra damage.

That’s it! Rinse and repeat three or four times and you’re done.

The Atramedes experiment fails

Preparing for raids

Sitting at work, I realised that I was looking forward to raiding tonight. This should be no surprise, but as I was working away on my mundane tasks I realised that I was also thinking through what I need to do to make sure I’m ready for the evening’s adventures.

My guild is a casual guild (we only raid two nights a week for 3 hours a night) but when it comes to getting ready to raid each week, maybe I’ve carried over habits from my hardcore raiding days. Or maybe I’m just a little bit of a control freak and like to have everything uber-organised.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, how I prepare for raiding: obtaining consumables, knowing the strategies and getting into the right frame of mind.

Consumables

Our guild generously provides consumables for folk who don’t bring them. I spend lots of time online playing outside of raids, so I don’t see any reason not to provide for myself. Plus I like to be self-sufficient in any case and know that I have enough of everything (more evidence for my control-freak personality). So here’s the food, flasks, pots and other bits I stock up on each week.

Food

I carry:
How to obtain these:

You need to have a cooking skill of 500 to make the sagefish, 475 for the guppies, and a total of 6 cooking daily tokens to buy both recipes. The Cooking dailies are ultra-easy, so they are worth doing to buy these recipes.

The sagefish come from coastal open water in Uldum or Twilight highlands; there are no schools of these delights, so you’ll need a high level of fishing and/or some lures. The guppies come from inland river/lake pools in Twilight highlands, and so you can catch these even if you have a fishing skill of 1.

You can buy these at the AH of course, but I’d like to encourage anyone seriously raiding to level cooking and fishing. Even if you aren’t online a huge amount, it will save you heaps of gold in the long term. Plus fishing is a nice easy thing to do while waiting for the raid to form up, or while you’re on ‘sit’ duty.

Comments:

Why do I carry both fish, when the sagefish are a super-set of the guppies? Well to be honest, the sagefish are pretty painful to fish, so I tend to save them for when I think I really need them. So when we’re still learning a boss and wiping in the first 30 seconds, I tend to use the guppies. When we’re making headway and I feel having a ‘bit extra’ might make the difference between winning and losing, I switch to using the sagefish.

Our guild just got the Seafood Magnifique achieve, so we’ll probably be dropping feasts in raids now, So I may cut back to jst one stack of each fish, but I’ll still bring them just in case šŸ˜‰

Flasks and potions

I carry:
How to obtain these:

Again, you can buy these from the AH I guess but they are fairly expensive at the moment. Glowberry is a herbalist/alchemist, so I gather my own herbs and create my own concoctions. If you have a herbalist, it might be worth collecting the herbs and asking an alchemist in the guild to make the flasks and potions for you, espcially if your guild has an elixir or potion master.

Basically I do three farming loops to collect my herbs:

  1. Twilight Highlands: for the jasmine and cinderbloom in the Int flask and mana potion. I loop around the southern part of the zone, doing a fairly broad sweep back and forth.
  2. Vash’jr: for the Aszhara’s veil in the Int flask and the conctration potion. I loop around the central ‘abyssal’ area of the Abyssal depths; but the veil grows across most of Vash’jr, so there are plenty of other loops you can use. It’s also almost always worth doing a loop of Tol Barad. If noone else is there herbing you can collect a stack of veil in five minutes, which is a nice quick way to keep stocked up.
  3. Uldum: for the whiptail in the mana potions. I just do the usual loop following the edge of the inland water courses. I went a bit crazy collecting whiptail for making my Tsunami deck, so I can pretty much auto-pilot this route while asleep.Ā  Again, whiptail grows on the TB Peninsula, and you can pick it whether your faction controls the zone or not. So if Uldum is really busy it may be worth checking if there is any around the crocodile area at TB.
Comments:

Our guild can create cauldrons for the raid, but again I tend to supply my own flasksĀ  – as at our glevel the cauldron only supplies 7 flasks.

I carry the spirit flasks, but I don’t use them much, so I don’t tend to farm to keep them topped up. If you want to collect herbs for these, you’d want to go to Deepholm for the heartblossom, instead of collecting twilight jasmine in the highlands.

My mana potion of choice is the concentration potion as they deliver twice the mana. But you’ll need to look for opportunities during specific encounters and plan for them. I carry both potion types for that reason. (There’s a whole post to be written about conc pots, but I won’t clog this post up with that discussion.)

Bandages

I carry:
How to obtain these:

You’ll need a first aid skill of 500 to make or use these. If you’re finding it hard/expensive to get your hands on enough cloth, I can recommend killing the combatants on the shore in Twilight highlands. It’s not a *huge* amount of cloth (unless you’re a tailor) but the mobs are all tanked for you by the opposing faction, so it’s easy farming – especially if you have two healing specs.

Comments:

Okay so I haven’t *relied* on bandages since lvl60-Loatheb days. But I have used them when I’m totally out of mana and used every cooldown I have. For those that may not realise: you can bandage other players (that aren’t being damaged) so if it helps survive one of those 1% wipes, whip out a bandage!

A final note regarding consumables:

I don’t use all of the above consumables every week, this is just what I carry with me. So I don’t always restock each week unless I feel I don’t have enough to last me through 2 nights of raiding. So each week I might only do a small portion of the collection to restock.

Strategy

I like to go into a raid encounter knowing it. This can mean a number of different things, depending on whether you’re approaching it for the first time, or working on it from a progression standpoint, or just going in and doing it well once it’s under your belt.

But regardless of my level of experience with the encounter, I like to step back and think through both the general strategy and my specific role in each encounter, and kind of rehearse that to myself.

The sort of questions I ask myself for each boss in a raid instance:

  • What will I be doing in each phase? Where will I be standing, when will I be moving, what will my priorities be?
  • Am I healing the tanks or the raid? Which raid members will be likely to be taking the most damage? Can I position myself to make sure these people are in range?
  • What are the high damage phases, and the low damage phases? When will I use my cooldowns so that I get most benefit from them?
  • When can I get a bit of ‘regen’ time in, and when’s the best time for me to use innervate and/or trinkets?
  • What consumables will I use and when?
  • What did I do last week on this encounter? Did it go well? what did I forget? How can I improve on that?
  • Is there anything I need to clarify with the raid leader/healing leader?

Sometimes I’m just thinking through these things during the week, when I’m sitting on the tram or having a cup of coffee at work. But I always run through those kinds of questions in the hour or so leading up to the raid, and before each boss once we’ve zoned in… Which brings me to my last preparation point.

State of mind

I need to be relaxed, or at least calm when I step into a raid instance. Yes, I’m excited to be there, and be working with a great team of like-minded raiders. But if I step up to the plate and I’m feeling stressed, I know I won’t enjoy the evening. And raiding should be enjoyable. It’s fun!

Knowing what stresses you can help a lot. For me this means not feeling rushed.Ā  I need a good 30 minutes of free time before the raid foms up to know my consumables are sorted and review to myself what my role is for the night. I know for example I shouldn’t try and fit in a heroic before raid. If I miss out on the 70 valor points for that day, sobeit. If I have to dump a pug mid-instance and rock up outside the raid 2 muntes before we zone in, I’ll be panicking about whether I’ve remembered everything or not.

A good spot for some peaceful pre-raid fishing

So I’m online at about 7pm for our 7:45 raid forming up. I check all my consumables, make sure I’m repaired and go grab a drink or a snack. I can park outside the raid or go throw a line in a pond somewhere and wait to see if I get a raid spot.

Luck favors the prepared – Louis Pasteur

Visualising search terms

I’ve been playing with some of the data that WordPress supplies. I’m mildly disappointed with the stats package that you get in WordPress, and the inability to use Google Analytics with my blog, but I digress.

Over the past couple of months, the main thing I’ve been watching are the search terms people have used when they land on the site. It’s self-filtering, as the things they search for are the things I have on my site, or they wouldn’t end up here… but nonetheless it’s interesting to see what folks are looking for, and how that matches to the content I have created thus far.

I naturally started off playing with generating a graph* from the search terms and phrases. A bit of a population map showing the frequency of the terms and the number of connections between them. I tried using yEd and Gephi (both great graphing tools), and using TGF and DOT formats.

I had to spend a lot of time cleaning up this data before manipulating it. There are *many* ways to refer to the Twin Emperors for example, so I tried to unify as many synonyms and remove as many typos in the search terms as I could.

My clean data looked like this kind of thing: (this is just a fragment of course)

vial_of_the_sands
twin_emperors 85
druid healing magmaw
healing maloriak
twin_emperors 85
druid healing 4.0.6
healing magmaw druid
solo aq40 85

This then almost naturally falls into then had to convert the terms into a DOT file – which would be simple if either of yEd or Gephi fully supported DOT, but they don’t. So I ended up setting up adjacendies in the data for connected terms, which isn’t ideal, but at least preserves the relationships between terms. So the data I ended up importing into Gephi looked like this:

vial_of_the_sands;
twin_emperors — 85;
druid — {healing ; magmaw}
healing — maloriak;
twin_emperors — 85;
druid — {healing ; 4.0.6}
healing — {magmaw ; druid}
solo — {aq40 ; 85}

And the output of this in Gephi, after some further massaging and playing with different layouts: (click for full version)

Graph of search terms using Gephi

This is only the ‘main body’ of the graph. There are quite a few ‘islands’ of terms that aren’t connected to this, but the scale starts to get a bit crazy, so I’ve just pasted in this main connected ‘contintental landmass’.

There’s a lot to be said for just removing the nodes that only appear once, to give a better feel for the connections between the terms that occur most often.

Then of course I tried not displaying the edges, and scaling the labels according to their connectedness. But of course if I’m going to do that, I may as well use a tool like Wordle:

Wordle word cloud of the search terms

But then I lose the actual connections between the terms, and some of that is really interesting. But of course Wordle is fast, and it’s pretty.

So. I will persevere with my graphs. Maybe in another couple of months when I have more terms under my belt I’ll have another play. And who knows,Ā  maybe Gephi will fully support DOT so I can skip a few steps in transforming my data from search terms to a graph of connected relationships.

* [I like graphs. And when I say graph, I mean one of these, not one of these. I was actually goning to do a postgrad in graph theory, but ended up along an entirely different path. Alas.]