Priest Talent Previews for Cataclysm

June 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm (Cataclysm, Cataclysm Expansion, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Heal, Healing Mechanics, Hymn of Hope, Mana, Patches, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Renew, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Pain, Shadowform, Spells, Talents)

So Blizzard have released some Previews for the Priest, Shaman, Druid and Rogue talent trees for Cataclysm. Of course they are rough – there are duplicate talents, place holder names and so forth. And obviously it’s Alpha. However it gives some really great insight into where the Priest talents are going. And with a little careful thought it gives us more information on things we have been left in the dark about up until now – Shadow Orbs, Casting while moving. Smite DPS specs! It’s all really good stuff. And more to the point Blizzard are actively looking for feedback on it, so it’s a great time to get out there and talk about it.

Rather than write a post this week I’ve made a presentation – mainly because I thought the software was pretty cool and I wanted to try it out. However, it’s a pain in the tush to get it working on WordPress, and the files take a long time to download. Moreover the fullscreen – which is really needed to see the text – doesn’t work on WordPress. Awesome… So my suggestion is to click here which links directly to it.

Anyway – if you can. Enjoy!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Leading your Raid into the Unknown

February 17, 2010 at 3:17 pm (Grouping, Icecrown Citadel, Patch 3.3, Patches, Raiding)

Icecrown Citadel is completely out now, and everybody is making their own way through it. My guild downed Blood Princes for the first time last week. That fight in particular has really got me thinking about the process of learning a new boss. This isn’t something we think about very often, and it’s not discussed a lot. I see other Priests play, and learn from them. I don’t often see other Raid Leaders raid lead, and so I pretty much make it up as I go. When it comes to learning a new fight you can’t really go inspect another guild to see how they do it. “Progression” is this mysterious thing which some guilds are better at, and we don’t really know why. We just watch a Tank Spot video and copy it as best we can.

So, in the spirit of sharing I want to talk about four simple things which I think every raid leader and raid group can keep in mind to learn new fights faster. If you have any strategies you employ I would genuinely appreciate hearing about them.

So, 4 ways to learn fights faster:

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The Tier 10 bonuses, and how it’s been handled

October 10, 2009 at 10:21 am (Circle of Healing, Flash Heal, Patch 3.3, Penance, Surge of Light)

Tier 5

So the Tier 10 set bonuses have been top of the news list recently because of a new style of approach. Rather than have them simply data mined out, Blizzard have posted them, asked for feedback, and changed the bonuses accordingly.

Whilst subject to change, the current plans are for the bonuses to look like this.

Priest

  • 2 Piece Bonus – Your Flash Heal critical strikes cause the target to heal for 25% of the healed amount over 9 sec.
  • 4 piece bonus – Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells.

Let’s be honest, Tier set bonuses are a rather minor part of the game. However having a good tier bonus encourages people to get excited about their tier gear, the next patch, the next raid, and gives a bigger feeling of reward for killing new bosses. I’m always a little disappointed when I find that the next Tier of gear doesn’t look as good, or is strictly inferior because of a worse tier bonus. In the case of the last tier of gear Blizzard can afford to make things a little overpowered because they know everybody will ditch it for new gear as they level to 85. So the bonuses now can be really nice ones.  Personally I think asking for feedback on them was a masterful move for getting people excited about it, and I think the fact that the feedback has provided positive results is fantastic.

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Maybe Deathwing fixed my Talent Trees

August 25, 2009 at 4:04 pm (Cataclysm, Cataclysm Expansion, Patches)

The world is changing, the zones we know so well being completely reforged from the ground up. Things which we’ve taken for granted are disappearing or close to destruction. The bastions we return home to after a day’s raiding are suffering from the devastation. Orgrimmar destroyed, Malfurion returning to rally the survivors of a broken world, Volcanoes erupt, Dragons scourge the land, the Wetlands overthrown, Blackrock Mountain rising again, Desolace reborn, old quest lines advanced. When I think about travelling the skies of this new Azeroth I have so many questions. Things like, did Hogger survive? Has Mankrik found his wife?

Deathwing

But the changes are not just physical and temporal. I posted very recently about how I felt there was not enough flexibility in the Priest talent trees about where you were realistically able to put points. I ended that post by asking whether at this ‘late’ stage, Blizzard were really committed enough to overhaul the talent trees to the degree that would be needed.

Well, then Blizzcon happened and we all got a very good insight into how committed Blizzard are to this game. Where many companies would have tacked yet another Expansion onto the end of the game, Blizzard are not only totally revamping a gigantic amount of old content, they are also fundamentally changing a lot about how the basic game mechanics work. For example, Player Stats, Talents trees, and the impact of Path of the Ancients.

At the very minimum the changes to Player Stats means that a gigantic amount of work will have to be done on the Talent Trees themselves. Of course, this definitely doesn’t mean Blizzard agree with me about what the problems are with the current talent trees, but it certainly demonstrates their willingness to change them at a fundamental level. Whatever your views are about the direction you want WoW to go, it certainly shows they aren’t resting on their laurels.

Take a random spell that everybody seems reasonably happy with: Inner Fire grants you Armour and Spell Power. Well, in Cataclysm there will be no spell power, so will Inner Fire grant Intellect instead? A minor point, but it shows just how pervasive the changes will have to be. Hundreds of spells and talents will have to be removed, overhauled or at the very least tweaked to match up with the new vision Blizzard have.

Talents like Darkness, Spiritual Guidance, Empowered Healing, Spiritual Healing, Empowered Renew, Mental Strength. Shaman Totems, pretty much every Raid buff, scroll, food or enchantment in the game. All these things will have to be reforged. There is no spell power, so now you can expect that new healing staff to have, what? 500 intellect? And you will enchant it with what? More Intellect? Crit? Mastery points? Think how much work will have to be redone!

The world is changing, many things have fallen away and enemies new and old rise up to try and cast us down. It was beginning to feel like we might be near the end, but there is a long journey still ahead of us. It’s going to kick ass.

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Healing Trial of the Champion: Northrend Beasts

August 11, 2009 at 3:20 pm (Patch 3.2, Raiding, World Events)

The Trial of the Champion is the new big thing in 3.2 and comes in 5, 10 and 25 man versions.

In terms of the 10 and 25 version there is currently only one boss fight available and the idea is that more will be released each week until eventually 5 fights are available.

The fights are very accessible. It’s relatively simple, and doesn’t require excessive gear. To try and help people get involved with this new raid I’m going to run down how the current fight works, and then as the new fights get released I’ll explain those.

WoWScrnShot_081109_150937

The Northrend Beasts encounter consists of three sets of bosses, but only rewards one set of loot. Presumably the Argent Tournament is short of funds. So it’s really one big three phase fight.

The three fights occur one after the other with no break. So in terms of mana management it’s one long fight and you need to use Mana Potions and other mana cooldowns accordingly. Similarly if you wipe you start again from the beginning and have to kill each boss again.

Even though there is no break, if your raid is here for the first time I’d suggest you only explain the mechanics for the first phase until you are clearing that, then explain the mechanics for the second phase etc. Chances are you won’t clear each phase first time anyway, so better not to overcomplicate things by trying to explain all the tactics in one big lump.

Gormok The Impaler

A giant Magnataur. Minor things to worry about are an AoE physical attack he does which will interrupt spell casting. It doesn’t hit very hard, but it’s only got a 15 yard range so healers and casters should be staying out of it.

In terms of the important abilities there are essentially three mechanics to this fight:

Impale

The first is that he stacks an Impale debuff on the tank which eventually become unhealable. The idea therefore is to have two tanks. The first tank takes the boss until he’s about to get a third stack of the debuff. At this point he second tank taunts. As soon as the debuff has fallen off the first tank he takes back over again.

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Did you get what you wanted from 3.1?

July 31, 2009 at 1:48 pm (Patch 3.2, World Events)

With 3.2 due out very soon, patch 3.1 is really winding down. It seems like we’ve come a long way from the days of levelling up, gearing up in heroics, and guilds finding themselves clearing Naxx in their first couple of lock outs. 3.2 dawns on a very different world (of Warcraft) from the one we started with, but are you done with 3.1?

Ulduar

In my view Ulduar has really vindicated Blizzard in terms of the raiding scene. It’s proved hard enough and enjoyable enough to keep most of us going back. I would say if anything there has been too much Ulduar content. Few guilds heave their Rusted Proto-Drakes, or have completed the really tricky hard mode achievements. Many more casual guilds, including my own haven’t cleared all the content, or got their full Tier 8. There would be room for another few months of raiding.WoWScrnShot_073109_140921

Back in the day we’d have seen all the regular raiding guilds move on to the next tier while the rest of us languish in Ulduar for another few months before hitting Tier 9 content. This time around it seems like Blizzard don’t want us to gear up in Ulduar, we’re supposed to push on through badge gear and “normal mode” raids straight into the next tier of content. So Ulduar really is looking like it will be left behind.

The first legendary healer weapon since Atiesh dropped by the waydise. A relatively quick patch, a slow weapon to collect from 25 man only raids, and offered in a conspicuously mid tier raid. Even with a stat makeover to make it good in tier 9 content, I would say Valanyr will be one of the more forgettable legendaries. Inevitably a few will still farm for it, but it’s missed it’s chance to have the impact of a Thunderfury or a Warglaives of Azzinoth.

I think it’s fair to say that Flame Leviathan was better than most people feared. I know some dislike it, but I found it very well balanced on the hard modes, and a lot of fun even after repeated clears. I’d put it up with Mimiron as my favourite boss of the instance. It makes for a very impressive opening to the instance, and a bit of variation in terms of the role you can play.

Achievements and the Argent Tournament:

Achievements got old real fast. I think somewhere around the Argent Crusade I stopped caring. I like mounts, pets and titles probably more than the next guy, but achievements for their own sake quickly lost my interest in 3.1. If an achievement drives you to try new content like Glory of the Hero then that’s great. Too many achievements only reward points, and a quick bit of guild spam and I think I’ve really grown out of that.

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Looking at the 3.2 changes for Priests

June 24, 2009 at 6:19 pm (Patch 3.2, Patches, Penance, Spells) (, , , , , , )

As promised, a first look at the upcoming 3.2 Priest Changes:

Prayer of Healing

Prayer of Healing: The percentage of spell power this spell gains in healing (per target) has been reduced from 80.7% to 52.6%.

I’ve not seen a massive amount of complaining about the change to Prayer of Healing. Whilst it’s a reduction from 80% ish to only 50% for the spell power coefficient that’s not horrific. It’s already got a very high base amount of healing. So for a Naxx geared priest it’s the difference between healing for 3750 Versus 3150 per player. Of course, those numbers are minimums. Talents, crits, buffs etc will increase that. But the % change will stay the same at around 16%. It’s substantial, but probably not game breaking.

It is a little surprising to see a nerf because the 2 piece Tier 8 set bonus increases the crit chance on Prayer of Healing by 10%. So maybe Blizzard didn’t realise how powerful Prayer of Healing was going to be when they made that set bonus. Prayer of Healing has benefited a great deal from now being targettable, as well as recent talent changes, particularly in the Holy tree. The biggest problem with Prayer of Healing used to be the mana cost, but since 3.0 mana has been much less of an issue. Since then the main difficulty was the casting speed, and with Borrowed Time in the discipline tree, and the new Serendipity in the Holy tree since 3.1, both specs have had ways to overcome the slow cast time. That’s probably why it’s become so powerful.

Penance

Penance: Cooldown increased to 12 seconds, up from 10 seconds.

I’ve seen far more complaining the increase on the cooldown for Penance from 10 seconds up to 12 seconds. The complaining has been because there is already a Glyph of Penance in the game which decreases the cooldown on Penance by 2 seconds. So it seems a little strange to increase the base cooldown instead of just removing the glyph. If they removed the glyph from the game it would have the same effect (increasing the cooldown) and would free up a major glyph slot for priests. Seems an odd choice.

Having said that, what’s the impact? Fully talented and Glyphed a Disc priest could get Penance down to a 6.4 second cooldown. From a base of ten seconds the glyph reduced it to eight and then 2/2 Aspiration reduced that by another 20% down to 6.4. With a twelve second base cooldown the glyph reduces to 10, and Aspiration takes it down to 8. So in actual practice it’s a loss of 1.6 seconds not 2.

Increasing the cooldown is not as bad as, for example, reducing the amount healed by Penance. An increased cooldown is not always something you feel the effects of because often you aren’t using the spell the moment it’s available. It’s painful to raw healing throughput because Penance is available less often, but you will only feel it those times where you are trying to max your throughput as much as possible. So for hard mode fights you’ll feel it more than easier fights.

There has been some complaint that it’s primarily a PvP nerf and PvE players are just caught in the crossfire. I’m sure there are PvP reasons for this nerf, but I don’t think that’s the only reason. Discipline is a very powerful healing spec and Penance is an extremely powerful clutch heal and very very mana efficient. To ensure fights are balanced at the right difficulty you have to restrict how often players can get access to Penance. If it had no cooldown we’d be casting it non-stop without bothering with Flash hHal or maybe even Power Word: Shield. Greater Heal would never get used. As a result, tweaking the cooldown of Penance is important to getting Discipline perfectly balanced in PvE and encouraging us to use a nice mix of spells. In this case using Greater Heal with the benefit of Borrowed Time perhaps.

The danger with cooldowns on healing spells is that often you are already having to make complicated decisions weighing up Mana, which player to target, what sort of heal to use, how much time you have, as well as where you are standing and what damage might be coming soon. If you are also constantly having to check your cooldowns to see if a spell is available that can become very frustrating. I can name a number of occasions when I hit Penance, it doesn’t cast, and during the time I hestitate, to work out that it’s still on cooldown, somebody dies. So cooldowns can be very frustrating when you are Healing. We’ll have to see how it feels to go back to an 8 second cooldown like we had before the Glyph.

Replenishment and MP5

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target’s maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

also:

Mana Regeneration: All items that provide “X mana per five seconds” have had the amount of mana they regenerate increased by approximately 25%.

A quick mention on the Replenishment changes. It seems to me that with 20% less mana coming back from Replenishment that should balance things about right. I do feel I have a lot of mana at the moment, and with the 25% buff to MP5 on gear that should give us something to gear up more if we feel our mana is running too low. Given that Discipline got no benefit from Spirit anyway apart from mana having the option of gearing for Mp5 instead is just dandy. Holy priests will almost certainly still prefer the spell power benefits that Spirit brings. That being said, could we now see more MP5 and Int on gear please Blizzard? It seems it’s all Spirit, particularly now DPS classes want (read: Don’t hate it as much) spirit as well.

Inspiration

Inspiration: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target’s armor.

A slightly odd one. Armor reduces your physical damage anyway, so this change seems to me to be mostly aimed at balancing the power of Inspiration regardless of how much armor the target has. It also means it should work better with things that directly reduce a targets armor such as boss effects from people like Gluth or Kologorn, or in PvP if an enemy player is using a lot of Armor Penetration. Decoupling Inspiration from Armor seems to me to be a good improvement. For the most part armor tends to get debuffed down much more often than it’s buffed up, so it’s good that we are relying on it less.

Silence

Silence, Strangulate, Silencing Shot, and Arcane Torrent: These abilities will also apply a 3 second interrupt effect against non-player controlled targets, making them more versatile against creatures immune to silencing effects.

Silence has been pretty much exclusively a PvP and 5 man ability. There are so few silencable mobs in Raids that it just wasn’t worth taking, particularly with those two points wasted in having to pickup the reduce cooldown on Psychic Scream. It’s still not great, but given that it can now be used as an interrupt on mobs and bosses even if they aren’t Silenceable means it can get involved if for example you are short of Interrupt on General Vezaxx or other boss mobs who need regular silences. And if you’re a blood elf your racial can do some work as well (although you probably still want to stay out of melee range of Vezaxx. It’s not a fantastic buff, but it’s a little more raid versatility for shadow priests who’ve got the talent for PvP anyway.

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3.2 Changes for Priests

June 19, 2009 at 12:43 pm (Patch 3.2, Patches)

The PTR patch notes for the next major content patch, 3.2, are up and there are very few changes for priests, but those changes are actually quite significant.

The first major change isn’t listed under “Priest” but under “General” and it’s a Replenishment change.

General

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target’s maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

So we’re seeing a 20% reduction is the amount of mana regained from Replenishment. The notes also seem to suggest that it will come it gobs of mana every 5 seconds rather than small amounts trickling in every second. I may just be reading too much into the wording, but that’s what it sounds like.

Priest

  • Prayer of Healing: The percentage of spell power this spell gains in healing (per target) has been reduced from 80.7% to 52.6%.
  • Discipline
    • Penance: Cooldown increased to 12 seconds, up from 10 seconds.


  • Holy
    • Inspiration: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target’s armor.

    So lets quickly take those in turn. I’ll come back to this later in the week when there is a little more analysis available.

    The Prayer of Healing change is a straight up nerf. Probably in the region of a 15-20% reduction. I’ll check the maths later.

    The Penance change is also a straight up nerf. It returns Penance to an eight second cooldown. There has been some discussion as to why the base cooldown is being changed rather than simply removing the Penance glyph (which reduces the cooldown by 2 seconds). I admit I’m a little puzzled myself. The Penance glyph is already mandatory for Discipline in PvE and PvP, so I see no reason why Blizzard would want to leave people with the option of not taking it. It’s a big nerf to Discipline both for PvE and PvP. I’ll come back to it.

    The Inspiration change is as far as I can tell not a buff nor a nerf. In some cases it will be more powerful than the previous 25% armor effect, in other cases less. I’ll work it out and get some idea of exactly when it’s good and when bad.

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