[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.

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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.

[WoD] Restoration Druid Updates in 6.1

Patch 6.1 goes live on Tuesday!

Here’s my comparison of the 6.1 updates between live and the PTR.  To get the best comparisons, I made sure both my live and PTR toons were wearing the same gear.  However, since I’ve upgraded several pieces on live since copying my toon over, I had to remove a lot of mismatched pieces.  As a result, their matching gear maxed out at ilvl 589, with no weapons or offhand items, and no buffs.  So if the numbers seem low in general, keep in mind they have a low item level for this testing. The difference between the numbers on live and PTR is more important than the amount.

Fix for Wild Mushroom

@WarcraftDevs is tooltip for Glyph’d Wild Mushroom fixed in 6.1? More importantly, is the mana cost for Glyph’d Wild Mushroom fixed?

It is working properly in 6.1, and we’ll investigate the tooltip. Thank you for the heads-up!

This is a pretty big fix!!  Currently, if you use Glyph of Wild Mushroom (which lets you place the Mushroom on a location instead of centered on a player) the cost of Wild Mushroom is also increased by about 2,000 mana.  During a 10 minute encounter, if you cast your Mushroom on cooldown and use the glyph, you will have spent about about 40,000 more mana on Wild Mushroom than if you hadn’t been using the glyph.

The tooltip has already been fixed on the live servers, but the cost is still about 2k more than it should be.  This bug has been stealth fixed in 6.1 (it’s not included in any patch notes!), but after Tuesday we will no longer be unintentionally penalized for using the glyph and we’ll have a pretty significant amount of extra mana throughout a boss fight.

Buff to Force of Nature

Force of Nature’s Treants has been buffed with a 35% increase to their health and spellpower, and an 80% increase to their armor and attack power.

Here are the amounts healed by a single Treant’s Swiftmend and Healing Touch:

LIVE PTR
Swiftmend: 2376 Swiftmend: 3209
Healing Touch: 2377 Healing Touch: 3210

As you can see, this is a a decent buff to our healing Treants, but still probably not enough to get me to use the talent regularly.

Buff to Dream of Cenarius (via Naturalist Buff)

Naturalist (Restoration) now also increases the damage of Druid spells and abilities by 15%.

I am a recent convert to Dream of Cenarius, so when I saw the buff to Naturalist I got pretty excited.  Sure enough, the Naturalist buff also makes healing via DoC stronger, making this talent even more attractive.

LIVE (avg over 6 non-crit hits)
PTR (avg over 6 non-crit hits)
Wrath: 8291
Wrath: 9196
DoC Heal: 12437
DoC Heal: 13793

Other Changes

Talent Changes:

  • Moment of Clarity (Restoration) now lasts 7 seconds (up from 5 seconds).
  • Rampant Growth (Restoration) now also increases the healing of Swiftmend by 20%.
  • Renewal now instantly heals for 30% of max health (up from 22%).
  • Heart of the Wild (Restoration) now increases spell damage by 150% (down from 200%), and Agility in Cat Form by 75% (down from 110%).
  • Displacer Beast is now classified as an Arcane School ability and can no longer be used while silenced.

Spell Changes:

  • Moonfire’s mana cost has been reduced by 55%. (1056 mana to 480 mana)
  • Genesis no longer requires a target.
  • Ironbark is no longer usable while silenced.
  • Nature’s Cure can no longer be cast while in a shapeshift form and is now classified as a Nature School ability.

I don’t have too many thoughts on these changes…  Mostly they just seem like minor balance fixes.  The decreased mana cost of Moonfire is nice, but since it doesn’t contribute to DoC, I rarely cast it.  Slight buffs to Moment of Clarity, Rampant Growth, and Renewal make them more attractive, but I don’t really see myself switching to those talents in most cases.

The fact that Displacer Beast and Nature’s Cure have been added to spell schools means that it is now possible to be locked out of them, if interrupted while casting.  But it is basically just another reason to avoid getting locked out of abilities.

Fun Changes!

Cosmetic transformations that alter the character’s appearance now have a higher priority than Druid combat forms. This means Druids can keep a transformation while shapeshifted.

Many Druid shapeshift forms now have attachment points on the head and back for cosmetic toy effects such as Blazing Wings or Pepe. Additional shapeshift forms may receive attachment points in the future.

I wanted to include a screenshot here of my Druid in cat form using Blazing Wings, but for some reason that toy did not survive the copy to the PTR!  However, I was able to transform into a Druid of the Flame using Leyara’s Locket while shifting into cat form.  These cosmetic changes will be a very nice and fun little quality of life improvement for all Druids.

Overall, 6.1 looks pretty good for Resto Druids.  Buffs to a few spells, fixes for Wild Mushroom, minor balance changes to others, and not really any nerfs.  I can’t wait till Tuesday! =D

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

Battle rez spells have been highly normalized in Warlords of Draenor, though there are still some slight difference between all four options which every raider should be aware of.  Please read my first post on this topic for an overview of how battle resurrections work in a raid environment.

Death Knight Raise Ally

The Death Knight battle resurrection is an instant cast spell. The downside to Raise Ally is that it costs 30 Runic Power, which often requires a few  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 when not in a raid encounter.

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 a Death Knight to higher incoming damage like Rebirth would for a Guardian Druid. Raise Ally brings players back to life with 60% health, 20% mana, and a cosmetic 10 minute debuff called Void-Touched which gives the player a ghostly appearance. The Major Glyph of Raise Ally will remove the Runic Power cost, making this free for the Death Knight to cast.

Druid Rebirth

The original battle resurrection spell. Feral and Guardian Druids have a 2 second cast time for Rebirth, while level 100 Restoration and Balance Druids have a Enhanced Rebirth, which makes Rebirth an instant cast spell. When not in a raid encounter, using Rebirth triggers a 10 minute cooldown on the ability. Rebirth will bring a player back to life with 60% health and 20% mana, but this can be modified by the Major Glyph of Rebirth which will cause players to be returned to life with 100% health and 20% mana.

Guardian Druids 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.

Hunter (Beast Mastery Spec w/ Quillen Pet) Eternal Guardian

This is a very rare battle resurrection spell as Hunters do not always favor the Beast Mastery spec, and when they do, they don’t usually prefer to run with a quillen pet.  Eternal Guardian is an instant cast spell that, when not in a raid encounter, will trigger a 10 minute cooldown on the ability.  This will bring a player back with 60% health and 20% mana.  There are no glyphs that modify Eternal Guardian.

Outside of raid encounters, Eternal Guardian has a unique, and very gimmicky feature: the cooldown is tied to the individual pet.  A Hunter with multiple quillen pets could use Eternal Guardian, then switch to the second quillen and use it again; the first quillen is on a 10 minute cooldown, while the second was not.  A Hunter could even do this while in combat (in a dungeon or world boss or group quest). Note, this will only work in non-raid situations.  During a raid a pet switch would not be necessary as all of the quillens’ Eternal Guardian cooldowns would be the same time as the duration left on the charge timer (see my first post on WoD battle rezzes for more details on battle rez cooldowns during a raid encounter).

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, during which, if they die, they’ll have the option to use the Soulstone and be resurrected.  The main benefit of using a Soulstone before the encounter begins is that the Warlock does not still have to be alive to have a potentially useful battle rez.  However it can be very difficult to predict ahead of time who might die during any given attempt.

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 with a 10 minute cooldown (when not in a raid encounter), 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, and will give the target player a 15 minute buff.  If the Warlock creates another Soulstone after their 10 minutes cooldown has expired, but before the first 15 minute buff expires on the first target player, and casts it on a new player, the old Soulstone buff will be removed on the first target player, superseded by the new cast on the new player.  A Soulstone will resurrect a player with 60% health and 20% mana. This can be modified with the Major Glyph of Soulstone, which increases the amount health restored to 100%.

When using battle resurrection abilities, 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 you have died, make sure you communicate this to your group so that alternatives can be quickly put into action.

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

Battle resurrections went through another big change at the start of Warlords of Draenor.  Instead of being limited to 1 battle rez for a 10 person raid and 3 for a 25 person raid, battle resurrections are now available on a charged based system.  Your raid starts with one available battle rez and then after a few minutes an additional resurrection can be come available.

Battle Rez Charges

For each raid encounter, your team will always start with 1 battle rez, and will gain 1 additional battle rez charge every 90/x minutes, where x is the number of people participating in the encounter.

For example, a 10 person raid will earn a charge every 9 minutes (90/10 = 9).  Since most encounters are less than 10 minutes in duration in LFR, Normal, or Heroic raid, you will probably have only the starting battle rez available to your team.

During a flex encounter with more raiders, such as 15 people, the raid will earn a charge every 6 minutes (90/15 = 6).  It’s feasible that a raid encounter on LFR, Normal, or Heroic mode could last 6 minutes, in which case you would start with a single battle rez, and then after 6 minutes of fighting the raid boss, a second charge will be earned by your team.

During an encounter with 20 raiders, the raid will earn a charge every 4.5 minutes (90/20 = 4.5).  During a 10 minute encounter (something typically seen in high difficulty Mythic raids), the team will earn a total of three battle resurrections through out the duration.

You do not need to use a charge in order to get a second charge.  The timer starts ticking the second an encounter is pulled.  In a 20 person raid, the second battle rez is earned 4.5 minutes into the encounter, the third 9 minutes into the encounter, etc.

A battle rez only counts against the raid’s charges when it has been accepted by the target player.  If the target player declines the battle rez, the raid will NOT lose the charge and the caster’s battle rez will NOT go on cooldown.  If a battle rez is pending on a player (meaning they have neither accepted or declined) the caster’s battle rez will be unavailable until the target accepts, or it will be refunded if the target declines.  This last bit may not seem important, but if you having a pending resurrection and someone potentially more valuable to your raid (i.e. a tank) dies, you have the option to decline the battle rez so that someone else may use it.

The Battle Resurrection Cooldown

The tooltip of a typical battle rez says the spell has a 10 minute cooldown.  This is not the whole picture.  If you are in a dungeon, participating in a group quest, or you are just casting the battle rez on someone while soloing out in the world, your spell will indeed have a 10 minute cooldown.  However…

Raid encounters change everything. For simplicity, I’m going to use a 20 person raid team in these example (meaning the raid will earn a battle rez charge every 4.5 minutes).

All battle rez casters will have their battle rez go on and off cooldown at the same time.  If a Druid casts Rebirth 2 minutes into the fight, the raid will then have 0 battle rez charges remaining and all Warlocks, Druids, Death Knights, and Hunters in the raid will have their battle rez spell go on cooldown.  All caster’s battle rezzes will go on cooldown if another member of the raid team accepts a battle rez and the raid has no additional charges.

If a caster’s battle rez has gone on cooldown, the length of this cooldown is the same as the time remaining until the next charge. In a 20 person raid, the caster’s battle rez cooldown has a maximum of 4.5 minutes.  If a caster rezzes someone 3 minutes into the encounter, the cooldown for every battle rez caster in the raid will be 1.5 minutes long since the team’s second battle rez becomes available at that time.  If a caster uses the first battle rez on someone 5 minutes into the encounter, the raid will have earned a second charge and no one’s battle rez spell will go on cooldown.  If the raid team has additional charges, all battle rez casters will NOT be on cooldown, even the caster.

Effectively, in a 15 minute encounter with 20 raiders, a sole Druid can cast all three Rebirths.  She could cast them once every 4.5 minutes, or, if raiders have died only after 13.5 minutes have elapsed, she could cast all three in quick succession.

No matter how much time is left on a caster’s battle rez cooldown, it will reset at the end of a boss encounter (killing the boss or wiping to the boss).  However, if a battle rez was used on the trash leading up to a raid boss, that specific caster will have to wait for the full 10 minute cooldown before being able to cast it, even if the raid has pulled a boss and the raid has charges available.  In this scenario, other battle rez casters will still be able to use theirs normally.

Tracking the Shared Battle Rez Charges

The best way to manage your raids shared battle rez charges is to use a simple tracking addon.  Personally, I find oRA3 to track encounter battle resurrections very effectively.  The oRA3 addon does a lot of raid leader related things (tracking healer and dps cooldown usage, making it easier to invite many people at once for a raid, etc), but for battle rezzes specifically it puts a timer and a counter on my screen, which tells me at a quick glance how many battle rezzes are currently available in this encounter and how long until the next one will be available.  It also shows who rezzed who throughout the encounter.

Since I’ve been using oRA3 as a general raid addon for years, I haven’t searched out other options for battle rez tracking.  If anyone has a suggestion for a solid, standalone, battle rez tracking addon I’d love to hear about it!

[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.