[4.3] 7/8 Dragon Soul

The newest raid content in World of Warcraft has been sort of a roller coaster of experiences for my guild.  In our very first night, on patch 4.3 launch day, we took out Morchock, Zon’ozz, and Yor’sahj.  The boss kills flew by so quickly that in our haste we forgot to take screenshots!!

100% Accurate Morchock Screenshot Reproduction

The next night Hagara and Ultraxion fell before us (we finally remembered an official screenshot for Ultraxion!), and Warmaster Blackhorn died on Sunday.  Our first week of Dragon Soul was over and we were already 6/8 normal modes. It felt kind of surreal.  Almost finished with an entire new raid tier before the first week.

After clearing out Spine of Deathwing on the 11th, we’ve been working on the Madness of Deathwing for the last week.  Part of me feels like we should have had this encounter in the bag by now; he should have died by the 18th, at the very latest.   Another part of me is a little glad we didn’t just blow through the whole instance like tissue.  Well, that second part is a very small part.

We’ve been experimenting with a variety of raid compositions (2 tanks, 3 healers, 5 dps vs. 1 tank, 2 healers, 7 dps) and different platform orders (“green, yellow, red, blue” vs. “green, yellow, blue, red” vs. “green, red, yellow, blue”), and just haven’t found the right combination of everything for it all fall into place.  We’ve seen phase 2 a couple of times thus far though, so things are looking up.

So far this week, we cleared the first seven bosses completely in one night with minimal fuss, so we’ll have all day Thursday to (hopefully) finish off Madness of Deathwing.  Getting him out of the way before we take a week off for Christmas and New Years would be a relief.


[4.3] Transmogrification! Tsuki ni Kawatte Oshioki yo!

The only thing I could think about on Tuesday, Patch 4.3 Day, was TRANSMOGRIFICATION.  I know the blogosphere has lit up all over this topic, but I just can’t help adding my own two cents.

Being sentimental by nature I was well positioned for the initial announcement of Transmogrification, and had near complete sets of all tier gear from t4 to t12.  Despite that I spent a lot of time wavering between my favorite tier sets and coming up with an original look.  However no matter what I ended up with, one thing was always certain: the T8 Conqueror’s Nightsong Sailormoon Headpiece will pretty much be a permanent fixture on Leiyan’s head (as featured in my blog banner!).

Sailormoon hat image borrowed from Wowhead!

Sailormoon hat image borrowed from Wowhead!

This hat is the single most amazing piece of gear ever created by Blizzard… and now I will get to wear it forever.  To make my life even more amazing, Blizzard introduced new hairstyles for Night Elves back in patch 4.2 including “Sassy Buns” which looks pretty much exactly like Sailormoon’s hair does, except much much shorter. Still, the odango atama are intact and wearing it in white with the T8 hat is nearly the perfect combination.

Honestly, you have no idea how happy this makes me.

In addition to the Hat of Amazing Awesomness, I’ve decided on a custom look pulled from green quality gear for my debut transmogrification set.  The foundation of this set comes from the Archer’s set of gear.  However, I changed out the shoulders and boots for the Umbrafen set, the cloak (hidden in this image) from the Tracker set, and the belt from the Ranger set.  I completed the outfit with the Cenarion Expedition Tabard and Staff of the Verdent Circle, which set the entire look off nicely.  The Staff of the Verdent Circle is actually a really unique and interesting item, since it has animation effects that grow flowers and mushrooms along it’s length.

Overall, my goal for this look was of a Druid, blessed of Elune, in practical clothing, actively involved in the daily business of saving Azeroth.  She is out in the field, doing meaningful work, and has a no-nonsense attitude about her outfit.  I think I achieved that look quite nicely, and I am very pleased with the outcome.

[4.2] Firelands 10s – Resto Druid Tips for Heroic Beth’tilac

My guild took out Heroic Beth’tilac on Tuesday night!  Certainly an exciting moment, especially since it was only our second night on the boss and we had assumed we would still be wiping on her well into Thursday.  I had the privilege of playing a special role for the boss fight; the Broodling soaker (which was a ton of fun!!).

A couple of months ago I wrote a start guide/summary for normal mode Beth’tilac, which you can find here.  For the most part the Heroic version of the encounter is very similar (damage dealt and health pools are bumped up as would be expected) but there are two main encounter changes.

  1. The Drones will Fixate on a raid member.  That raid member essentially “tanks” the Drone, although it will do 75% less damage than normal so it hits like a wet noodle.
  2. Four Broodlings spawn with each wave of Spiderlings.  Upon contact with a raid member, the Broodling will explode and leave behind a pool of orange goo which will both do damage over time and slow anyone standing in them. A “soaker” must get to them before they get to the raid to keep the goo explosions away from the group as much as possible.

For the most part these two changes are independent of each other, but if your Broodling soaker is also fixated by a Drone, they must move away to avoid letting the Drones eat Spiderlings.  During this time, someone else needs to temporarily take over Broodling soaking.

There are plenty of general guides and strats for this encounter, but what I really wanted to touch on are some Resto Druid Tips & Tricks for taking on the “soaker” role that I discovered while learning this encounter.

Why Choose a Resto Druid as the Broodling Soaker?

I believe some groups opt to put a strong AoE DPSer in charge of the Broodling, but we found that our DPSer had trouble focusing on both their AoE damage rotation and making certain they were positioned properly to intercept the Broodling.  Additionally, healing on this DPSer was fairly intense because of the Volatile Bursts and general damage from the encounter.

Instead, we decided to switch things around, and have a healer act as the soaker, since they could just heal themselves up.  It was a risk to try, but it paid off for my group.  We found that Resto Druids are a great choice for the Broodling Soaker because of our mobility.  We can shift into Travel Form for a quick run across the room to the next Spiderling/Broodling spawn point (and don’t forget about Dash if you are desperate!), and our instant-cast HoT heals are fantastic for healing on the move.

Get your PvP-like Spec on!

After a couple of shots at being the soaker in my normal PvE spec, I decided to go with this specialized talent spec set up in order to pick up some extra survivability:

I’m sure once we have Beth’tilac on farm, I’ll be fine preforming as the Broodling Soaker in my normal healing spec, but the specific tweaking I did for my Heroic Beth’tilac spec seemed to help me out a lot.  The only thing I would change for next time is taking the point out of Nature’s Cure (no magic debuffs in the encounter) and putting it into Genesis for stronger HoTs and Swiftmends.

I choose talents that would reduce damage taken and increase my overall survivability.  Here are some of the highlights regarding my choices.

This was a fairly obvious choice as the Broodling Volatile Bursts and the orange goo they leave behind both cause magical damage.  Anything I could do to reduce the damage I took was really important when deciding on my new spec for this encounter.

Nature’s Ward
Since a single Broodling explosion had the potential to take me down to under 50% health (explosion coupled with being accidentally stuck in the goo), having a free Rejuvenation for the HoT and to use as Swiftmend fodder was incredibly valuable.

Empowered Touch
This is a somewhat controversial choice for me, but I believe the right one.  After a couple of attempts with Empowered Touch still in my spec, I found that I was somewhat limited in my ability to heal myself with direct heals.  I was often stuck needing around two direct casts to prop myself up enough for the next Spiderling attack, but time enough to only cast one spell.  Whenever I cast a quick Nourish or Regrowth on myself, it would delay Lifebloom’s bloom when in reality I would have benefited more from a bloom as soon as possible.  So, I removed this talent from my spec in order to force my Lifeblooms into blooming.  Allowing Lifebloom to bloom helped give me the extra burst healing I needed to stay topped off, and I never had to worry about delaying a large self cast in order to get the bloom.   The only downside is that I had to recast or refresh the three-stack on myself fairly often, but this was quite manageable during all of the running around.

Moonglow & Genesis
In order to pick up all those survivability and self-healing talents, I had to sacrifice points elsewhere so Moonglow and Genesis ended up on the chopping block.  On the upside, mana regeneration was not an issue for me at all throughout the entirety of phase one.  I started the second phase hovering around 90% mana with a still unused Innervate.  The extra healing from Genesis, while nice, didn’t seem that critical.  However, as already mentioned, I plan to move one point into that talent in subsequent attempts.

Graphic Settings

My group assigned a Hunter to kill the Spiderlings, and in order to kill them fast enough he had to put Frost Traps in their path to slow them down.  Unfortunately, despite high graphics settings, the Frost Traps would sometimes hide the locations of the orange puddles.  When I’m trying to skirt the goo as much as possible to keep the puddles placed closely together, this was a huge problem.

Through some trial and error we discovered that, in fact, my graphics were tuned too high, and that I needed to turn Projected Textures off in order to see the orange goo puddles properly while Frost Traps were in effect.  In fact, once I disabled Projected Textures, I couldn’t see the locations of the Frost Traps at all.  This also has the side effect of turned off the pretty green runic design of Efflorescence, so it took me a few seconds to get used to seeing my healing circle as just a circle of flowers.  I don’t think I could have successfully handled the Broodlings while Frost Traps were visible on the ground and covering the orange goo puddles.

How to Soak the Volatile Bursts

Four Broodlings will spawn, one at a time, from the same location as the Spiderlings.  Having never really paid attention to the Spiderling spawns before as a healer, I asked our Raid Lead to put up markers near the spawn locations so I knew where to look (later on, we also found these helpful for calling out where to run to next).  As it turns out, a small dust cloud forms where the Spiderlings are about to spawn as a warning.

The Broodlings are the bright orange colored spiders, pretty easy to pick out once you know what to look for (the regular Spiderlings are red colored).   They appear one at time, choose raid member to fixate on, and run straight for their target.  Your job as a soaker is to run through the Broodling and cause it to explore before it gets to its target (and the raid).

Generally, I started as close to the spawn location as I could, hitting the first one and strafing out of the orange goo.  Then I would move before that patch and get ready to intercept the next one.  If the raid is doing their job of staying fairly grouped up in the center, the Broodlings should all follow about the same path. The Broodlings move pretty fast… but you can keep up with them and even over take them a little by shifting into Travel Form –that is assuming you didn’t accidentally get too close to an orange puddle.

The key to exploding the Broodlings as safely as possible to be running -through- the spiders when you explode them.  Position yourself and strafe through them as they come by, then keep moving to avoid the puddles.  If you do it right, you wont be slowed by the goo at all.  Even if your a little slow, being already on the move will help prevent you from taking more than one or two ticks.  Of course, it takes some practice to get this right.  Sometimes I ended up strafing right in front of, or behind, the Broodling, missing the explosion completely (and typically wiping the raid…oops!).

As soon as the fourth Broodling explodes I started turning my camera around to scan the next two locations, and panning back to the near spawn point as well.  Sometimes we would have up to four waves of Broodlings spawn from the same location.  Generally, the first puddle of goo would dissipate just before the first Broodling appeared, allowing me to use essentially the same explosion locations.

If the next Broodling spawn point was at the far opposite location, I used Travel Form to get there as quickly as possible, usually getting the first Broodling more towards the center of the room, and then moving up to get the second Broodling as close to the spawn point as I could. Lastly, if the Broodling fixated on me, I usually tried to kite it away to the side a bit, rather than lining it up with the rest, just to get a bit more breathing space.

Essentially, I had to be on my toes for each wave of Broodlings, casting Regrowth or Nourish on myself if I got into intercept position early enough and keeping Lifebloom and Rejuvenation on me when I was on the move, especially when I was running between spawn locations.

The DPS assigned to kill the Spiderlings will also need a bit of healer attention, as he was often running out of the range of the healer in the center.  I found that a Rejuvenation, Wild Growth, and occasional direct cast was usually enough to help him stay alive, and I’m certain the ground level healer was also tossing him heals whenever we ran through the center between Spiderling spawns.

The last, and most important, point I want to make is regarding the Drones.  As mentioned briefly above, the Drones can and probably will Fixate on you at some point in the encounter.  As the soaker your job is to be near the Spiderlings…which is exactly where you don’t want the Drone to go.  As soon as I noticed that I was Fixated, I called out for back up soaking and ran away, towards the center of the room. The back up would declare his or her intention to move in, and start catching Broodlings as best as possible.  Once the Drone died or picked another target, I went back to the soaking job, making sure to heal up whomever had taken the hit in my place.

And…I think that’s about it!  Thanks for reading my ramble on Heroic Beth’tilac, and if your working as a Broodling soaker for your group, I hope these tips have been helpful!

[MoP] Theramore??! NOOOO!!!! =*(

…we find out a vague detail that some sort of unrelenting attack by the Horde on Theramore is to come…

I can’t say that I’ve ever really cared about Theramore the island, or Theramore the heavily fortified stronghold, or Theramore the seat of Jaina Proudmore’s power. I care about Dustwallow Marsh, the zone.

Something about that zone has always struck me as beautiful. The colors, the way the trees drape, the sounds, the muted tones. One of my earliest memories of World of Warcraft is discovering Dustwallow Marsh. I ran through this zone on my level 15 journey from Darkshore to Stormwind to meet my husband’s dwarf so we could quest together, and my view of Warcraft was changed forever.  Suddenly, Azeroth was a place of subtlety and beauty.  It’s hard to explain or quantify… there was just something about this zone that tugged at my mind and made me want to explore more of the world.

I remember the creatures, which were at least twice my level, chasing me down the road and taking me out. I made so many corpse runs as I desperately tried to flee to the safety of the docks. I promised myself I would return and quest in this zone no matter what. As you might suspect, I was highly disappointed to find out that, except for Theramore, Dustwallow Marsh was pretty much an empty zone. When Blizzard came back and revitalized Dustwallow Marsh in Patch 2.3, I was among the first people on my server to return and enjoy the new story lines.

When the Teleport:Theramore spell was introduced, the Mage alt I almost never play lined up at her trainer right away. Even now, I still look at that zone fondly and during the recent revision of my blog, Dustwallow Marsh was the obvious choice of location for the heading banner.

I suppose the future destruction of Theramore is only going to bring another revitalization to the zone. Perhaps players will have more exposure to Dustwallow Marsh in pvp related activities?

After seeing what happened to Azshara in the wake of recent Horde expansions, though, I am a little antsy. I can only hope the spirit of Dustwallow Marsh, the muted yet gorgeous colors and subtle textures, are left intact when the attack that helps to usher in Mists of Pandaria subsides.  But just in case, I think I need to make a special trip for screenshots.

Lunch Post: The Annual Pass

When we originally started playing, my husband and I bought time cards. We worked for a local electronics store that sold the game time cards, and buying them with our employee discount was essentially the same as some of the better subscription deals offered by Blizzard. As we moved on from those retail jobs, we moved up to the three month subscription plan, to save a little money.

About three years ago, we switched to the 6 month subscription plan. We’ve long been committed to throwing our money at Blizzard. Our subscriptions have never lapsed, and my husband even picked up a second account. Even in the nine month delay between ICC and Cataclysm, I logged on almost every day, and I raided that place all the way to the end of WotLK. I probably would have preferred to see Ulduar for longer, and then shorten ICC’s time in return, but, eh, it happens. I loved (and still love!) Ulduar, and I enjoyed ICC. My husband and I paid for each day of play time via the 6 month subscription, and we don’t regret it.

So when Mike Morhaime got up on that stage and announced the Annual Pass… I was on my computer furiously trying to give Blizzard my money as fast as humanly possible. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that (barring personal disaster) I am going to play World of Warcraft up to and through the Mists of Pandaria. And if I committed now to 12 months of subscription time that I was going to pay anyway, I would be given a free in game mount, a free copy Diablo 3, plus guaranteed Beta access for Mists of Pandaria… I was sold.

I’m really looking forward to the new expansion. I’m really looking forward to playing Diablo 3…which is new for me, because up to the moment of the Annual Pass announcement I couldn’t have cared one millimeter about it (now I will probably get Diablo 2 in preparation, so grats on money you would have never seen before but I am now happy to spend, Blizz). The new mount is pretty cool; having never played Diablo, I don’t have any special interest in it, so it’s more icing on the cake for me than anything else.

I am OVER THE MOON with excitement about the Mists of Pandaria Beta. I managed to get into the WotLK Beta about a month before launch and I had such a great time. When Cataclysm launched, I was so disappointed that I didn’t get beta access. Knowing that I have Mists of Pandaria Beta without a doubt, guaranteed, 100% mine, makes me so happy.

So, the Annual Pass?

Worth. Every. Penny.

[Cataclysm] Battle Rezzes and You: What Every Druid, Warlock, Death Knight, and RAIDER Should Know — Part 2

Every raider should know the slight differences between the three types of Battle Rez spells and understand how they impact the decision to resurrect a player during combat.

Warlock Soulstone

Warlocks have the unique ability to choose someone ahead of time for their Soulstone spell. Before an encounter begins, they can create a Soulstone and place it on another player. That player will receive the Soulstone buff for 15 minutes. If the receiving player dies while this buff is active they will have the choice to resurrect upon death. The main benefit to this is that as long as the Warlock has a Soulstone active on another player, the Warlock herself does not still have to be alive to bring that player back to life. There aren’t many situations in current content where this is useful, but I am reminded of the Assembly of Iron encounter in Ulduar. The tank with Overwhelming Power was going to die without question, using a Soulstone on them ahead of time would ensure they would be able to come back and finish the fight even if the Warlock ended up dead from other encounter mechanics.

Alternatively, the Warlock can use their Soulstone similarly to a Battle Rez, waiting until a character has died before using their Soulstone on them. The Warlock should ensure they have a Soulstone ready to go in their bags at the start of an encounter to eliminate cast times.

The spell Create Soulstone takes 3 seconds to cast, has no cooldown, and creates a conjured Soulstone. Soulstones are “unique,” meaning a Warlock can only carry one at a time. Using the conjured item is an instant action, but doing so will initiate a 15 minute cooldown on the Warlock preventing the use of a second Soulstone.

A Soulstone will resurrect a player with 30% health and 30% mana. This can be modified with the Major Glyph of Soulstone, which increases the amount health restored by 40%. In other words players brought back to life with a glyphed Soulstone return with total of 70% health and 30% mana.

Death Knight Raise Ally

The Death Knight battle resurrection is an instant cast spell. The downside to Raise Ally is that it costs 50 Runic Power, which often requires several long seconds of power ramp up time where the Death Knight must be very careful about avoiding abilities that require Runic Power. Using Raise Ally triggers a 10 minute cooldown on the ability. Death Knights are the only tank class that can cast a Battle Rez spell without needing to wait for taunt; using Raise Ally will not expose them to higher incoming damage as Rebirth would for a Feral Bear tank.

Raise Ally brings players back to life with 30% health, 30% mana, and a cosmetic 10 minute debuff called Void-Touched which gives the player a ghostly appearance. There are no glyphs that modify a Death Knight’s Battle Rez spell to grant its recipients more health or mana.

Druid Rebirth

This is the original battle resurrection spell. Unlike the other two types of Battle Rezzes, the unmodified spell requires the druid to carry a Maple Seed reagent which is consumed upon spell cast. Using the Minor Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth will remove the reagent requirement. Rebirth has a 2 second cast time and triggers a 10 minute cooldown on the ability.

Standard Rebirth will bring a player back to life with 20% health and 20% mana (10% less than either Soulstone or Raise Ally). However, the Major Glyph of Rebirth makes the Druid Battle Rez truly shine in all situations. Using Rebirth while modified by that glyph will cause the Battle Rez spell to bring a player back to life with 100% health and 20% mana. Yup, full health. Though a Battle Rez recipient should always be watching timers to make certain a big AoE damaging spells isn’t about to go off (see part 1!), coming back to life at 100% health certainly helps out in uncertain situations.

Though all Druids can use Rebirth, Druid tanks must be particularly careful about when they use their spell as it will force them out of Bear Form. In most circumstances, Bears should be the last ones called upon to use their battle resurrection. However, with common sense and consideration of encounter mechanics, a Bear can pull this off –just don’t expect an immediate Battle Rez.

Plan for the most effective use of each different battle resurrection spells. If a tank just died, a Druid with a glyphed Rebirth is likely the best choice to quickly get them back on their feet with enough health to immediately taunt the boss back. If the raid lost a healer and they need to be back in action immediately, a Warlock Soulstone might be the most appropriate spell as the recipient will return with more mana than if they were brought back by a Death Knight or Druid. Calling upon a Death Knight to use Raise Ally might be the best option when a DPS dies and the raid has a few moments to spare before they must be brought back. Admittedly, this sort of planning might make more sense in a 25s raid setting, but it is worth knowing what to expect from a Battle Rez in any situation.

As with most raiding strategies, communication is key. The caster should announce when they are using their Battle Rez spell, who they are casting it on, and if it has suddenly become unsafe to accept the resurrection. If you are the usual Battle Rezzer for your raid and someone dies while you are still on cooldown, make sure you communicate this to your group so that alternatives can be quickly put into action.

A Battle Rez cannot always save the day… but having a plan and understanding the spells can increase the chance that it will!

[Cataclysm] Battle Rezzes and You: What Every Druid, Warlock, Death Knight, and RAIDER Should Know — Part 1

This is the first of two slightly out of date posts that have been sitting in my draft folder for about a month or so.  They were intended to be helpful posts and may still be useful so I’ve decided to finish them up and post them.   It was getting a little long though, so now it’s split into two posts! Hopefully someone out there with questions about then whens, whys, and hows of Battle Resurrection spells will come across these posts. =D

With 4.1 came a big change: Warlocks and Death Knights now have the ability to resurrect fellow raiders during a battle.  This change follows closely along the heals of other changes Blizzard has recently implemented to the game; making certain that all critical raid buffs are spread out among at least three unique classes.  For another example you can look at Heroism/Bloodlust, which is now provided by Shamans, Mages, and (Beast Master) Hunters.

In addition to the recently added Battle Rezzes, Cataclysm changed how raid leaders and raiders should fundamentally approach the spell by enforcing a hard per encounter limit; three Battle Rezzes in 25s, one in 10s.

Historically, some guilds allowed resurrection to be used whenever the Druid thought it was appropriate, and some guilds restricted the spell, requiring the raid leader to call out for someone’s resurrection.   From my experience, many guilds and raid leads allowed for an amalgamation of the two methods.  Often times, the more Druids in your raid, the freer they were to use their Battle Rez at will.

However, in Cataclysm (even in a 25s setting) the increased number of people who can Battle Rez coupled with the decreased number of allowed Battle Rezzes and the method in which Battle Rezzes are counted forces us to be more careful about when we use the spell, on whom we cast it, and if we should accept a combat resurrection sent our way.

It’s that last bit I want to focus on:

Should you always accept a combat resurrection sent your way?

The short answer would be no.

A Battle Rez only counts against your encounter limit when it has been accepted by the recipient.  If someone sent a Battle Rez your way and you decline (or even if you simply sit on the “Accept or Decline” window), the combat resurrection does not count towards the encounter limit and another Battle Rez can still be cast.

This places an equal burned on the person accepting a Battle Rez as the person casting the Battle Rez.  The caster has triggered (and potentially wasted) their personal 10/15 minute cooldown, but the recipient has the final say on whether or not the resurrection counts against the encounter limit.

In this new world of limited Battle Rezzes, you should consider a quick checklist before accepting any combat resurrection sent your way:

  • Did someone more valuable die while the spell was being cast? (Be honest with yourself about what you can contribute to the raid)
  • If so, is there another Druid/DK/Warlock available to combat resurrect the other person? (Some addons, such as ORA3, will help track Battle Rez cooldowns)
  • Was the caster in a safe location when they cast the Battle Rez? (You’ll return to life at the exact location the caster was standing when they used their ability; listen/watch for communications from your rescuer, a good combat resurrecter will let you know if it is not safe to accept)

Ideally, you should be running through this list and paying attention to the locations of your potential rescuers from the moment you die until combat ends or you receive a Battle Rez.  The tides of battle can turn swiftly if you are able to act quick enough and get back into the fray with minimal downtime.

Part 2 of this post will cover the details of all three combat resurrection spells, including a discussion of their differences and suggestions on their best uses.