[WoD] Dream of Cenarius, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wrath Spam

Since I started raiding in Warlords of Draenor, mana management has been a huge struggle for me.  I seemed to eat through my mana so fast, getting down to 10-20% mana while the other healers on my team were sitting at 60% mana or even more!  Worse, I was at the bottom of the healing meters, almost constantly.

I tried to throttle back my healing, to hold back on casting Regrowths, Rejuvenations, and Wild Growths.  But it was painful, and just made my overall healing even worse than before, even if I had mana available when it was truly needed.

Once we started working on Mythic Black Rock Foundry, I knew something had to change.  I ended up raiding in a Heroic pug one night with another Resto Druid who was doing an insane amount of healing.  Afterwards, I checked his spec and the logs.  Dream of Cenarius accounted for about 8% of his total healing per encounter on average.

Dream of Cenarius causes every Wrath cast, at any time during the encounter, to also send a heal to someone in need.  Heals that are completely mana free since Wrath has no cost.  Of course, these heals are (not-so-)”smart” heals, targeting an injured party member, but perhaps not the player most in need.

Nature’s Vigil, by comparison, only accounted for about 5% of my total healing, and required that I be casting mana-intense spells throughout its duration to receive any benefit.  I know I could be spamming Wrath during Nature’s Vigil, but timing a 30-second Wrath spam session every 1.5 minutes is not an easy task.  In most cases, I was simply using NV on cooldown and casting whatever I normally would (usually expensive heals).

When I had previously experimented with DoC I struggled with needing to change targets constantly.  I do much better in WoW when my targets are located in neat rows and columns, whose locations are fixed and known.  Trying to click on targets moving around me on the screen has never been my forte.  And it was even more challenging because I always had to keep an eye on my raid frame in case someone needed a real heal.  I have accidentally let dps and tanks die because I was too focused on spamming Wrath at a particular target when I should have been watching raid frames.  To put it short, using DoC felt incredibly stressful.

Recently, however, I realized that the damage caused by Wrath was miniscule, practically non-existent, when compared to the damage put out by actual raid DPS.  It didn’t matter which target I was attacking…. the damage I did was pretty much nothing.  While this might disappointing other players, it was a very freeing revelation for me.  I no longer felt as though I needed to burn down the add with the rest of the dps.  I could just stay on the boss, focus on healing and Wrath spam, and my damage wouldn’t really affect the course of the encounter.  Even better, since it didn’t matter who I was hitting, I could use a macro to DPS my target’s current target.  This made spamming Wrath during downtimes easier than ever, while still allowing me to focus on health bars and be ready for incoming damage.

#showtooltip
/cast [target=targettarget,mod:alt][mod:alt]Wrath; [target=mouseover, help][help][target=targettarget, help][target=player] Regrowth

Suddenly, instead of spamming Rejuvenations on the off chance that they might get a tick or two of healing through, I was spamming Wrath and sending free 20k+ direct heals to injured targets!  Since switching to DoC I usually spend the first half or so of an encounter around 80-90% mana, and use Wrath spam during down times later on in an encounter in order to regenerate mana while still maintaining a healing presence.

doc

My healing breakdown from Union’s first Mythic Beastlord Darmac kill.

Dream of Cenarius usually makes up about 7-9% of my total healing done which is a huge chunk of healing completely free of mana costs.  This made such a huge impact on my mana usage that I even swapped out my weapon enchant from Mark of Shadowmoon (spirit) to Mark of Warsong (haste).

It’s still a challenge, sometimes, to spam Wrath when my fingers itch for more targeted healing, but I’m a convert.  I’m not sure how I ever healed without Dream of Cenarius, and I can’t imagine going back to Nature’s Vigil any time soon.

Belkin n52te/Razer Nostromo Gaming Keypad

Back in May of 2009 I was inspired by Phaelia’s post in her (now retired) blog Resto4Life about the Belkin n52 to purchase my own gaming keypad.  Now, over four years later I still use the Belkin n52te keypad and I love it to pieces.  It revolutionized the way I played World of Warcraft, and was definitely one of the best decisions I have made in my gaming career.

When I first began using the Belkin n52te* Phaelia’s post really influences my choice of spell locations and macros.  Overtime, I’ve moved a lot of things around.  I’ve had to make room for our new spells and abilities, re-write macros to accommodate my shapeshifting preferences, and reorganize the movement keybinds.

Lately, I’ve thought it was about time that someone to put together an updated guide for (as it is now called) the Razer Nostromo Gaming Keypad*.  So here is my attempt at it.  Keep in mind the keybinds for the n52te/Nostromo* are highly customizable and I would recommend taking the time to see how a few different configurations work for you, especially regarding the movement keys and “alt” key locations.

*Note: For simplicities sake I’m just going to refer to the gaming pad as “n52te” from here on out.  From all appearances, my three year old n52te and the new Razer Nostromo are the same device.

Contents: n52te/Nostromo Guide

Configuring Your n52te

Character Movement Keybinds

Action Bar Layouts in WoW

Key Binding with Bartender4

Macro Planning and Considerations

My Macros


Configuring Your n52te

The n52te has 14 regular buttons, a scroll wheel button, a round thumb button, a D-Pad, and a large thumb pad.  This is how I have my n52te configured:

n52 setup

My setup for the n52te.

The very first button is the accent/tilde key, which is just to the left of the 1 on my keyboard.  It was sort of arbitrary when I chose that to be the first key.  Keep in mind that you can configure your keybinds however you like, I would just recommend avoiding keys that are bound to interface functions you use a lot (such as B for your backpack, P for spell book, or J for the guild roster).

I use the smaller round thumb button above the D-Pad as my L-ALT key (for use in macros).  The larger pad below the D-Pad is bound to my R-CTRL key (Push-to-Talk button).  Final item of note, I don’t use the scroll wheel on the n52te as a button, instead it controls my speaker volume.


Character Movement Keybinds
First, a confession:  I don’t know how to use WASD.  I never learned it.  I tried it once or twice, but pretty much failed miserably.   As a result, when I play using a standard keyboard, I cannot strafe or back up.  I could move using only the mouse.  Luckily, in the early days of WoW playing as a healer meant I was usually removed from the action and never needed to actually face my intended targets, so I never really found this to be a problem.

Once I had my n52te up and running, I began using the D-Pad to strafe and walk backwards.  I thought that was pretty neat, and I liked the flexibility of being able to move with my right OR left hand, but it was only after I began learning how to tank that I truly realized just how critical strafing and moving backwards was to World of Warcraft.

I have my n52te D-Pad keybind like this:

  • Analog Down: S (back up)
  • Analog Up: W (move forward)
  • Analog Left: Q (strafe left)
  • Analog Right: E (strafe right)

Sometimes, I end up hitting a corner of the D-Pad, instead of exactly up, down, left, or right, so I keybound all the diagonals to the corresponding strafe key.

  • Analog Down-Left: Q
  • Analog Up-left: Q
  • Analog Down-Right: E
  • Analog Up-Right: E

My center mouse scroll wheel on the right hand serves as my jump button. I can also move forward by holding down both the right and left mouse button and directing movement with the mouse.  In a raiding situation I can only actually turn my character to face one way or another using the mouse, though I can strafe easily with the n52te.  Lastly, I left both the keyboard Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys bound to turning so that I can “keyboard turn” in non-critical situations (such as flying while eating a sandwich).

I’ve found that having movement options on both my right hand mouse and left hand keypad to be very useful in many raiding situations.


Action Bar Layouts in WoW
As Phaelia suggested, my recommended action bar layout is a 3×5 grid of buttons, which mimics the physical layout of the n52te.

The last button on the bottom row, labeled “B5” is button 5 on my mouse. You could instead use this as the scroll wheel button of your n52te, personally I just found that to odd to hit in the middle of combat to be useful for me.

I use Bartender to manage my action bars, but since it has a limit of 12 buttons per bar, I had to use two separate bars to create the 3×5 grid.  The first bar has 10 buttons in two rows, and the second bar has 5 buttons in one row.  Other action bar addons may not have similar limitations, but I would recommend ending up with a 3×5 grid of buttons.

I prefer to put my main abilities in the center row, where my fingers rest.  Lesser used but important abilities find their home in the top bar.  I found the bottom four buttons to be the most difficult to hit, so I use that bar for abilities that should be key bound to the n52te but that are used much less often in a raid.


Key Binding with Bartender4
You may have noticed in the above screenshot that the top left button is NOT keybound to 1.  Instead I use `, which on my keyboard is the key just to the left of the 1.  It’s the accent key, or tilde key.  If I start there and then go across the keyboard, I have 13 buttons (“accent key” through “equal sign”) and then I have my fourteenth key bound to the forward slash.  This configuration made sense to me at the time, but keep in mind that you can bind the n52te to ANY set of keys that you want, and in any order.  It doesn’t really matter, you just want to make sure your keyboard layout matches your n52te profile set up.

A Note on Vehicle Fights

Vehicle fights may cause slight confusion if you use my current configuration.  For example, for me the first ability in a vehicle fight takes the place of the first button on my action bar, the ` accent key, the second ability is the 1 key, the third ability is the 2 key, and so on.  In fights such as Malygos, where I may normally be told to “spam my 1 key” I have to mentally translate that to spamming the top left button, or ` key, because of my unique keybinds set up.

If I had to do it all over again, I would probably start with the 1 key and put the ` key on the bottom row with the \ key, just to alleviate this slight incongruity.  By now, though, I’ve gotten so used to it, that it doesn’t really bother me.  But it’s something I would keep in mind when setting up your own keybindings.


Macro Planning and Considerations
As mentioned above, I use the smaller round thumb button above the D-Pad as my L-ALT key.  This enables me to set up an alternative action for each button on the n52te through the use of macros.  These macros let me use one ability when I hit a key, sch as 5 , and another ability when I hold down the round thumb button (or the alt key) and hit that same 5 key.  In their most basic form, the standard format of my macros look like this:

#showtooltip
/cast [mod:alt] AltAbility; RegularAbility

Since I use my thumb for both the alt key AND D-Pad movement, I prefer to put instant cast abilities in the “RegularAbility” slot and casted abilities in the “AltAbility” slot.  This assumes that my thumb wont be needed to move my character while I’m forced to stand still casting a spell, and that I can use my thumb to move around the room while hitting the instant cast buttons.

With the addition of Symbiosis (with which I usually grab Spiritwalker’s Grace from a Shaman) and some niche encounters (such as Earthrager Ptah in the Cataclysm dungeon Halls of Origination) the inability to use my thumb for both moving and casting has become a little inconvenient.  However, I’ve found that keeping Regrowth (the go to casted heal for Resto Druids) on the 7 key has helped keep my thumb free for quick strafing while still being able to cast strong heals.

In general, I tend to group my healing abilities on each button.

Key       Regular Ability Alt Ability
`    Tree of Life (location relevant shape shift)
1    Nature’s Cure Stampeding Roar
2    Nature Swiftness + Healing Touch    (nothing)
3    Barkskin (myself)
Ironbark (target)
4    Innervate (myself) Innervate (target)
5 Lifebloom Bash
6 Rejuvenation Genesis
7 Regrowth Nourish
8 Wild Growth Entangling Roots
9 Swiftmend Wild Mushroom: Bloom
0 (tab target) (nothing)
Moonfire Wrath
= Symbiosis Nature’s Vigil
\ Tranquility (nothing)
B5 Hurricane Wild Mushroom

Some additional notes regarding the above listing…

Since B5 is one of the side buttons on my mouse, I tend to like using it for abilities that require placement via the targeting circle, such as Hurricane and (glyphed) Wild Mushroom.  Moving the mouse towards the target location immediatly while tapping a button on it to activate an ability targeting circle feels like a smoother action then using a key on my n52te.

I’ve found the 0 key, located on the bottom left corner of my n52te to be very inconvenient to hit with my pinky. Perhaps this is just a case of having small hands.

As for the 2 key and the \ key, I’ve always been hesitant to bundle Tranquility and NS+HT together with other abilities in a macro.  I have this nagging fear that I would hit them accidentally and waste powerful healing cooldowns.

However, as the number of abilities in the Resto Druid toolkit has expanded, and the cooldowns for both Nature’s Swiftness and Traquility have been majorly reduced, I’ve begun to feel the need to explore better uses for these four essentially empty button slots.


My Macros
Please check out the links below for the specific macro configurations for Leiyan.

Restoration and Balance Spec Macros

[4.2] Timed Zul’Aman, Cataclysm Edition

This is one 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.  Here is the first, and I’ll have the second ready to go before the holiday.  Perhaps this will find someone still striving for their ZA timed run bear mount. =D

Healing Tip 1: Use Mana Regen Abilities on Cooldown
This should go without saying.  No matter where I was in the dungeon, whether we were pulling trash or coming up on a boss if I saw Innervate available I used it.  I might say to check your mana levels, but I never found myself with full mana while Innervate was available.  Your tank should be pulling something constantly, and you should constantly be healing your tank and DPS at all times.

Healing Tip 2: Bring Lots of Mana Potions (and Water)
When my mana dipped to around 50% and Innervate was on cooldown, I hit a mana potion.  Even if you are just pulling trash, use those mana pots often and early.  In a timed run you will not have the luxury of starting any major encounter with a full mana bar so prop up your reserves as much as possible during the trash.  Likewise, drink mana regen water as often as you can without slowing the group, even if you can only get one or two ticks off.  It will help.  The free pineapple drinks dropped from Heroic Deadmines trash are great for this.

Healing Tip 3: Don’t Let Them DIAF
Zul’Aman has some nasty ground effects, especially those Earthquake abilities near the Dragonhawk boss.  While your tanks and DPS should move out of those effects, don’t be afraid to throw them a barrage of liberal heals to help them survive…and pop a mana potion right after so you are good to go for the next pull.  Dead DPS waste time being resurrected and increase the likelihood of a group wipe.

Strategy Tip 1: Order of Bosses
I would recommend going for the Eagle boss first, than across the room to Bear.  After him head over to Dragonhawk, and again across the room to Lynx.  In this order, the Eagle and Bear bosses will both increase your timers, but the Dragonhawk and Lynx bosses will not.  Akil’zon (Eagle) –> Nalorakk (Bear) –> Jan’alai (Dragonhawk) –> Halazzi (Lynx).

Strategy Tip 2: Ignore the Prisoners (and Skip the Loot)
This seems counter intuitive, but upon killing any of the bosses do not waste time freeing their prisoners!  They (and their special loot) will still be there at the end of the run, whether or not you manage to down all four bosses within the timer.  Skip all loot!  Trash and Boss alike.  Every second you waste clicking on a shiny mob is a second lost on the timer.   Boss loot will also be there for you to collect at the end of the run, trash loot will despawn but it’s a small price to pay for beating the timer.

Strategy Tip 3: Run Straight to the Eagle Boss Gauntlet
Once you’ve helped Vol’jin sound the gong, have your entire team mount up and start auto running into the door.  As soon as it opens, make a B-line to the gauntlet before Akil’zon (the Eagle Boss).  Drag all those mobs that jump you when the door opens with you to the gauntlet and pull that first pair.  Keep a sharp eye out as you run down the stairs however… pulling the two mobs that pat on accident will negate any time you may have saved by the headlong rush towards the gauntlet.  If you can, stay mounted and ignore the little mobs while waiting for the Troll patrol to move away. As soon as it is safe, rush the gauntlet. AoE the mobs, burn them down, as you kill one or both of the paired mobs, move up the ramp and pull the next set.

Strategy Tip 4: Skip the Trash
This one speaks for itself; whenever possible avoid mobs.  As mentioned above, the pair that pats by the stairs in the beginning are a good set to avoid constantly.  Likewise the pair that pat between the Dragonhawk and Lynx boss is a good one to skip.  If you have a Death Knight, Priest, or Shaman in your group you can Path of Frost, Levitate, or Waterwalk your way over the lake and past the pair of crocodiles that pat along the bank. On the way to Nalorakk (the Bear boss) a Rogue can sap the closest Bear as the group moves around the corner, avoid that pack.  Stun the Bear Riders around 50-45% health and you can probably avoid having them split into two mobs.  At the first set of stairs up to the Dragonhawk boss, make sure you stay to the left (and pull up onto the left side of the platform) to avoid accidentally aggoring the group waiting on the wings to the right of the stairs.

Strategy Tip 5: Pull as Much Trash as (Safety) Possible
Only pull necessary trash, but when you do, pull as much as you can to get through the dungeon quickly.  This mostly relates to two specific sections of Zul’Aman: the Eagle gauntlet and the stealthed Lynx packs.  You want to keep moving up the Eagle gauntlet as you kill off mobs, the trash spawns behind you will not stop until you pull the guy at the top of the stairs.  As for the stealthed Lynx packs, if your DPS can hold back enough not to pull aggro, your tank should be able to pull two groups right away and then the third once some are dead.

Strategy Tip 6: Handle the Scouts Carefully
Assign someone to be specifically in charge of watching for and CCing the Scouts on the way to Jan’alai (Dragonhawk), and a high burst DPSer to taking them out quickly.  If a Scout reaches a war drum they will sound an alarm, spawning a couple of very tough mobs.  At best you will have simply wasted some time, at worst these unexpected mobs can wipe your group.  Keep a sharp out for the Scouts!  Some will be stationary and some will walk around.  Occasionally, one will appear behind you; if you aren’t always on alert for that one it can easily ruin your timed run.

Strategy Tip 7: Discuss Your Plan of Attack
Before you ring the gong and get going, have a quick discussion with your group.  Will you be trying for the timed run? What’s the order for Surge on Nalorakk? (Bear)  Which hatcher will you kill for Jan’alai (Dragonhawk)?  Ask your CC classes to take the lead on CCing mobs in big trash packs.  As the healer, tell the tank what mana threshold you are comfortable with (i.e. “If I have 40% or more mana, just keep pushing for the timers.”).  Make sure the tank knows that they can pull Halazzi (Lynx) as soon as his trash is dead, even if you have close to 0 mana; the Water Totems will quickly get you back to 100%.  Remind the DPS not to stand in the bad (but heal them if they do).

Your best bet is to get a consistent team together and practice, practice, practice!  After some attempts where you have a chance to get a feel for your mana usage, the incoming damage, and how to handle the trash packs, you should be able to pull this off.  Good luck!!!

[4.2] Resto Druid Tips for Ragnaros

We’ve been wiping on Ragnaros for a couple of weeks now.  Last week we decided to carry our lockout over and try for a kill on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, Ragnaros survived the evening but the time we spent on him was not in vain.  By the end of the night we were consistently getting into phase 3.  We saw one extremely painful 11% wipe (the boss is “dead” at 10%), and three or four more attempts under 15%.  Everyone was so pumped for a kill, but despite staying an hour over raid time, we just couldn’t take Ragnaros down.  Over the week since then, we’ve had some raid team set backs, including the loss of one of our main tanks.  Things are getting back on track though, and we’re still itching for a Ragnaros kill.

With all of our attempts on Ragnaros, I’ve learned a great deal about how to heal this fight, so I wanted to share some tips and tricks, specifically for Resto Druids.  This won’t be a detailed description of the encounter, just things I’ve found helpful to keep in mind for healing.

Hand of Ragnaros – This ability randomly knocks back anyone in “melee range” of Ragnaros.  Really, this seems to encompass the first 10 or so yards of the platform in front of Ragnaros.  More importantly, this ability will interrupt your spell casting and lock you out of that school for six seconds.  Obviously, this is intended to strongly discourage healers from standing in melee (where they are a bit safer from Sulfuras Smash).  Despite the changes in Cataclysm which have us focusing more on Regrowth and Nourish, and the even more recent change to our Mastery which requires a direct (often casted) heal every 10 seconds, Druid’s still have a slight advantage over other healers in having four instant cast heals.  If you find yourself needing to run into melee range for a few moments to avoid a trap or a lava wave, stick to those instant cast heals until you can retreat to ranged.

Bear Bash Stuns – During the Intermission phases, Bear Bashing a Son of Flame can mean the difference between making it to the next phase and an instant wipe.  Though your raid should be able to assign DPS to the Sons in a way that healers are not needed, I would recommend that you always keep eye out for Sons that are getting a little too close to the hammer.   Which leads directly into the next point…

Furor vs. Moonglow? – Although Jasyla proved that in terms of mana regeneration Moonglow provides “more of a benefit than Furor on any fight longer than 3 minutes,” Furor has a potential benefit for the Ragnaros fight; 10 instant rage.  Coincidentally, Bash costs exactly 10 rage.  Now, of course Bear’s have the Enrage ability, which also instantly generates enough rage for Bash, but it has a one minute cooldown.

Without Furor I found myself sometimes “stuck” as a Bear — I had used Enrage thinking I would need to stun a Son, but ended up not Bashing any target.  At this point I could either stay in Bear form until I stunned a Son or they were all dead, OR shift back into caster form to heal but forfeit any chance at Bashing another Son during that intermission.  Though healer stuns should not be a necessity…there were times when my Bash prevented a wipe and allowed us to get to the next phase.

By speccing into Furor I no longer felt “stuck” in Bear form; I could shift in to anticipate a stun, but if my stun wasn’t needed I was free to shift back out for quick heals.  I didn’t have to worry about not having enough rage to Bash a Son later on if it was needed, because if I went back into Bear form I would automatically have 10 rage again.

Innervates & Concentration Potion – This is a long encounter, and it can be difficult on your mana reserves.  Our good attempts were around 10 minutes long, which means you can get at least three Innervates in.  Use Innervate early and often!!

As for Concentration Potions, I found the best time to use one was during the second phase.   You start phase two spread out, then the seeds drop, and everyone groups up at the center.  After the adds are down, you spread back out.  A hammer with lava waves will drop shortly, and I used a Concentration Potion as soon as I knew I was safe from the lava wave.

Tranquility – The best time that I found for using Tranquility was when the raid grouped up for the second set of seeds.  This can be a difficult part of the fight as you may have to group up just behind the fire on the ground, and then once it dissipates, run immediately forward to be out of the way of the hammer.  With all of the movement, healing gets a little behind, but as soon as I was in position at the front of the room (safe from the hammer), I hit Tranquility to help bring the raid back up to full.

Tree of Life – If the first set of seeds looks a little dicey, I’ll hit it then, otherwise I save it for the third set.  I like to have Tree of Life available during the later part of the third phase as well.  Healing in the final phase is not very intensive, but just in case someone can’t move out of the fire fast enough or is hit by a lava wave while kiting, it’s good to have a emergency healing cooldown …or, in that last 1%, an emergency DPS cooldown. ^^*