Shared Boss Mechanics

January 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm (Borrowed Time, Circle of Healing, Empowered Renew, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Icecrown Citadel, Pain Suppression, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Serendipity, Talents)

This is not something I’ve written a blog post on before because, whilst it’s something I find interesting and it helps me think about my healing, I wonder whether it is unnecessary over-complication.
So I’m posting this with a little trepidation. If you don’t find it interesting, stop reading, I won’t mind.

Damage Profile

Whilst there are still new interesting fights designs coming out, and I’m certainly enjoying Icecrown Citadel, every fight tends to share certain things with fights that we’ve done before. Patchwerk, Gruul, Zul’Aman’s Panther boss and Marrowgar all share a Hateful strike/Cleave effect. They are all new fun fights, but they aren’t so different that you can learn substantial things from one to bring to the others. As such, when I’m thinking about how to improve my performance on a boss fight I try to think about what I call the “Damage Profile”. The style of damage the boss is doing.


The idea of a Damage Profile is probably best described with an example. There are various fights with high raid damage: Hodir, Kologarn, Loetheb, Festergut, Twin Val’kyr to name a few.
While in all these cases the raid damage is high, the style of raid damage is different. Kologarn does relatively little raid damage most of the time, but periodically does his smash for 10k damage to the entire raid group. Twin Val’kyr has constant ticking raid damage over the entire fight. Both these fights have high raid damage, but their damage profile is different. One is brief periods of high damage, the other is long periods of constant damage. Then obviously there are mixes of the two – XT, Festergut, Lord Marrowgar, Lord Jaraxxus.

Similarly Tank Damage can have a profile too. There can be high single Tank damage like Anub’arak, or a fight with high damage on both tanks like Lord Marrowgar, Patchwerk or Gormok the Impaler. There can be fights with Tank switches like Archavon or Thorim.

Spell Profile

Okay, so hopefully now we’re thinking about things not just in terms of “High Tank damage” Vs “High Raid damage” but in a little more detail. Is it ticking damage or burst damage? Is it random spikes to individual players, or hits on multiple targets at once? Is it predictable damage on a set timer, or it is random timing?

Once we have a good idea of the sort of Damage Profile going on we need to think about the spells we have and how they work.

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Addon release: Hero

October 30, 2009 at 8:41 pm (5 mans, Being a Hero, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Hero Addon, Pain Suppression, Raiding, User Interface)

I wanted to make a rather special post about what I’ve been doing recently, and specifically why my posting has been rather low recently. Much of my time over the past month or so has been spent on another WoW project I’ve been working on, and that is: I’ve been finishing up my first real WoW add-on.

It is now up on Curse as of a few minutes ago and I have relatively high hopes for it. I only started learning Lua (the language WoW add-ons are written in) a few months ago, so it’s been a bit of a learning process, but a tremendous amount of fun. If you have any interest in computer programming I would thoroughly recommend Lua as a great place to start. It’s a lovely little scripting language, very clean and easy to read, and very forgiving of mistakes

superhero

As for the add-on itself:

I started writing it because a) I wanted to learn Lua, and b) I wanted a better way of seeing what the other Healers and Tanks in my raid were up to. All too often I was finding myself using Pain Suppression just when the tank used Shield Wall, or Divine Hymn when the Druid cast Tranquillity. Sometimes you manage to pull off those raid saving ability uses, but all too often my plans were being foiled by other would be heroes all having the same idea. It was a wasted effort, Spiderman and Superman were both fighting to save the girl while the villain one shot the tank. The idea here then is to try and streamline things by helping you keep track of what’s going on in your raid.

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“It’s not my fault!”

September 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm (5 mans, Being a Hero, Divine Hymn, Fade, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Raiding)

With the new five man Trial of the Champion I have seen a lot of anxious Priests looking for reassurance recently. Often many of them are new to healing and, after a lot of wiping, they were blamed, or blame themselves, for being unable to heal the first encounter. I think this speaks to a more general problem.

There are a lot of things that can affect you as a Healer, but which you have no direct control over. Acheron {link to Acheron Death Report add-on} will tell you how a player died – they were killed by shadow damage the healer couldn’t cope with – but it won’t tell you why. It won’t show that the Tank charged out of range, that the healer miss-clicked, or that the DPS is too low for the encounter. These are complex group dynamics that nobody thinks about when they go right, but when they go wrong a judgemental group can be quick to place blame, and an inexperienced Healer can easily feel responsible. So when things are going wrong, what is the best approach?

Blamed

Don’t cry, just bring out the bag of tricks! There are many things that can go wrong, but even when it’s not your fault, that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do about it. As a Priest you have a really versatile set of spells, and making the best use of them is something you can and will learn from practice. It is not immediately obvious all the situations where Pain Suppression is useful, but over time you do pick up some tricks.

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Healing Trial of the Champion: Twin Val’kyr

September 3, 2009 at 6:03 pm (Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Pain Suppression, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Trial of the Champion)

I apologise for this article being a little late, my guild didn’t get a chance to raid ToC until Tuesday this week (which in Europe is the day before raids reset) and I’d rather not post tactics without having some personal experience of the encounter. Now that I do:

Twin Val’kyr

Two bosses enter. Fjola Lightbane and Eydis Darkbane

The fight itself is probably the most straightforward of all the ToC fights so far and requires two tanks and probably no more than two healers on 10 man.

When you begin the encounter the two bosses enter from the large double doors at the back of the Arena. They will proceed to stand each side of the centre circle facing towards the raid entrance.

If you stand back when they enter you do not immediately agro them.

If you are facing them you will have the “Dark” Val’kyr on your left, and on your right is the “Light” Val’kyr.

Light and Dark Aura’s

Stationary on the floor in front and behind of each Val’kyr will be a spinning portal-like object, one light and one dark, making four in total. Clicking these swirly portals will give the player a dark or a light aura.

Having the one of these auras will absorb much of the magic damage done by the Val’kyr of the opposite colour. You will also throughout the fight get a DPS boost against the Val’kyr of the opposite colour to your aura. Therefore the Tanks and all the DPS for the Light Val’kyr (for example) should all have the Dark aura to boost their DPS, and mitigate the raid damage they receive.

Each Boss does raid wide ticking magical damage to the entire raid. They also periodically cast some AoE’s around themselves for magical damage. If you have an an aura, either light or dark, it will negate the damage done by one boss so every player, even healers should have one to substantially reduce raid damage (and boost DPS).

Positioning

It is best to split the raid in half and have tanks and healers pick the portal appropriate for the Val’kyr they are attacking. For healers, either aura is fine but it’s good to have a mix so that you always have some healers healing even when others are swapping aura’s throughout the fight.

The two bosses share a health total so in theory it doesn’t actually matter which you DPS, however for various reasons it’s good to have the raid evenly split between them.

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Holy Spec

August 18, 2009 at 3:02 pm (5 mans, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Flash Heal, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Holy Spec 14/57/0, Holy Spec 18/53/0, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Talents)

Unlike a Discipline priests there really is a lot of decisions to make in choosing a Holy spec.

As you make your decisions it’s important to keep in mind what you plan on doing as a Holy Priest. You can Tank heal as a Holy Priest, but you don’t really have the single target heals that Discipline benefits from. So as a Holy Priest your job is primarily raid healing. Now if you do a lot of 5 or 10 mans then chances are you might find yourself Tank healing every now and again so, if you expect to, you should take that into account when making your talent picks. On the other hand, if you’re doing solely 25 mans then you will rarely be tank healing and should pick your talents accordingly.

Disc

So here’s a couple of possibilities:

The first focusing on Mana efficiency:  18/53/0

And the second focusing on being an AoE healing powerhouse: 14/57/0

Discipline Tree:

As a Holy priests, strangely enough, your first major decision is how far you are going into Discipline. The realistic options are either 13, 14, or 18 points.

13 Points

Thirteen points is obligatory to pick up meditation. Without Meditation you gain zero (absolutely zero!) mana back from Spirit while casting. Without meditation you will either run out of mana, or spend so much item budget on MP5 and intellect that your healing will be awful. If tanks run away screaming whenever you join a group, check you have 3/3 Meditation.

14 Points

If you want it, the fourteenth point goes into Inner Focus. Inner Focus is also a mana talent. With a three minute cooldown, you will use it 2 or 3 times a boss fight. Assuming you use it on your most expensive spells (once on Divine Hymn and two times on Prayer of Healing) you are saving something like 4,500 mana, and gaining a 25% crit chance on those casts. For the 4,500 mana alone, that’s as good talent point.

18 Points

The final option is to take Mental Agility. As a Holy priest 3 of your 5 main spells (Circle of Healing, Renew and Prayer of Mending) are instant cast. So 10% less cost on those spells is a lot of mana. Furthermore this is nothing to do with your gear. So if you are just starting out and you have mana issues, getting Mental Agility is a good way to keep up with better geared healers. You’ll have to waste a point to get to Mental Agility, usually it’s in Improved Power Word: Shield, but it really doesn’t matter too much where it goes. Wasting a point can feel messy, but really, Mental Agility is good, if you are starting up and are having mana problems, or you’re doing hard modes, you might have a good hard look at this spec.

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What glyphs should I take?

July 28, 2009 at 6:07 pm (Circle of Healing, Flash Heal, Glyphs, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Mind Flay, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Renew, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Pain, Spells)

Picks first, then there is a run down of all the majo glyphs incase you want a little more information.

PicksGlyph screen

Discipline Picks

I raid with Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Flash Heal, and Glyph of Power Word: Shield. In ten mans I would consider dropping Flash Heal for Glyph of Prayer of Healing if you can spare the mana.

Holy Picks

My picks would be Guardian Spirit, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Healing. If you need more mana take Flash Heal over Guardian Spirit for 10 mans, and over Prayer of Healing for 25 mans.

Shadow Picks

My picks would be Shadow, Shadow Word: Pain and Mind Flay as they offer the best DPS boosts and the range advantage from Mind Flay glyph can be a massive boost in certain situations.

Rundown of all the options:

Shadow

Dispersion : Reduces the cooldown on Dispersion by 45 sec.

You should not really have mana issues as Shadow so being able to use Dispersion more often would only really be useful for avoiding damage. It doesn’t work on many dangerous boss abilities. Essentially this is a PvP glyph and not worth it for PvE.

Mind Flay : Increases the range of your Mind Flay spell by 10 yards, but it only reduces the target’s movement speed by 10%.

A definite PvE glyph and not a bad one. For fights with positioning advantages like Hodir, Iron Council, Vezax etc where you don’t always have a choice where to stand, this glyph is a really nice one. Even where it doesn’t matter where you stand, any time you spend chasing the boss to get in range is a huge amount of wasted DPS.

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Tracking your cooldowns

July 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm (5 mans, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Penance, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Serendipity, User Interface)

It’s hardly news, or it certainly shouldn’t be, that Priests, just like every other class, spec and mob under the (fake) sun have cooldowns. As a DPS you use your cooldowns in a straight up rotation. Unless you are waiting for a DPS burn you spend cooldowns pretty much as soon as they are ready. As a healer you’re blowing cooldowns in response to the positioning of all the pretty multi-colored health bars and the abilities of the boss. In either case it’s important to keep a tight track of all your cooldowns. As a DPS player if you don’t recognise that Mind Blast is ready, you lose DPS. As a healer on the other hand the danger is not a loss of DPS but possibly the loss of a player.

There are two things you can do wrong. The first is to forget to use a cooldown. I’ve talked about this a little in the “Being a Hero” posts: If players are dying and you are consistently finding you have Pain Suppression, Guardian Spirit, Divine Hymn, Face etc off cooldown then you could probably of handled things better. Don’t assume the mistake occurred when the player died. Often I realise that the mistake was not letting that player die, but occurred ten to fifteen seconds earlier when I ought to have used Divine Hymn or Pain Suppression to get control of the situation. The death is result of something which I failed to do much earlier.

The other mistake, and the one that I usually make, is to try to use a spell when it is on cooldown. Most commonly this occurs with very short cooldown spells like Penance where you want to use it very often. It also occurs commonly with very very long cooldown spells like Divine Hymn where I try to use it and forget that it is still on cooldown from the previous boss attempt. Trying to cast a spell while it is on cooldown is often the worse mistake. If I try to cast Penance on the tank and nothing happens I usually will hesitate. “What happened? Am I silenced? Oh Penance is on cooldown, is it almost ready? Should I wait one second for the cooldown to end?” Usually the tank dies about now.

Whilst these mistakes will always occur, they are definitely reducible if you find ways to better keep track of your cooldowns and display this information. My suggestion is Addons and, in my view, displaying the same information in multiple places on the screen makes a big difference. Providing redundant information means that wherever your eyes are looking, whether it’s health bars, action bars, or you’re trying to manoeuvre around the battle field, you’ll always have the important information right in front of your eyes. Obviously don’t make the information too intrusive, if you’re obscuring big parts of the screen that’s bad, but I think the mistake I used to make was thinking that I only needed to display each bit of information in one place.

My Addon suggestions are:

OmniCC – Displays the cooldown of your spells numerically on your action bars. This is much much easier to see than the standard blizzard effect which is neither quantitative nor very obvious at a glance. Works  fantastic without much tweaking at all.

PowaAuras – A very popular Addon amongst DPSers to track important debuffs but this mod is extremely powerful. You can make it display icons, or shapes on the screen in response to all sorts of things. It will show you when spells are available, the cooldown remaining, when you, your target, your focus etc have certain buffs or debuffs on them. All kinds of things. For example: When a spell becomes available the icon appears, when the spell is used the cooldown timer appears. When I get a Serendipity buff the icon appears, additional stacks of the buff are displayed by additional icons stacking up in a tower so they are easy to take in at a glance. Anyway, definitely 100% recommend it for pretty much anything you want to do.

Satrina Buff Frames – A very powerful Addon for displaying buffs and debuffs for your player and your target. I use it for displaying things like Renew, Weakened Soul on my target so I know when these spells are worth recasting. It’s also great for showing up important debuffs. For example, Bosses with uncommon but key abilities like Ignis’ Slag Pot can be displayed very very clearly on your screen when they occur without otherwise intruding on your play. Again, like Powa Auras this mod takes a while to tweak with.

So, if you are finding yourself failing to use, or trying to use cooldowns you can’t, then consider ways of better displaying that information in your UI

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Being a Hero: Guardian Spirit

July 2, 2009 at 6:07 pm (5 mans, Being a Hero, Glyphs, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Raiding, Spells, Talents, Ulduar)

Guardian Spirit: Calls upon a guardian spirit to watch over the friendly target. The spirit increases the healing received by the target by 40%, and also prevents the target from dying by sacrificing itself.  This  sacrifice terminates the effect but heals the target of 50% of their maximum health. Lasts 10 sec.


Guardian Spirit looks similar to Pain Suppression but in some ways it is a very different animal. There are basically three parts to Guardian Spirit.

  1. 40% more healing on the target

  2. Prevents one killing blow

  3. A 50% heal if the target dies.

40% more healing means that Guardian Spirit is fantastic to cast on the tank. If you have more than one tank healer (in a 25 man for example) then casting Guardian Spirit on the tank can be used very similarly to Pain Suppression. All the same principles apply. By casting Guardian Spirit on the tank you free up one of the tank healers to help heal other targets. It can also be used just like Pain Suppression to get through difficult boss abilities like Flame Breaths or Fusion Punches. The danger to watch for is if you cast Guardian Spirit when the tank is already on low health. If a quick hit from the boss “kills” the tank the Guardian Spirit buff is removed and whilst the tank will be protected from that death he will no longer receive the 40% more healing so he may die again without the benefit of it.

Preventing a Killing Blow means Guardian Spirit can be used to make up for raider mistakes in certain cases. If a player is slow moving out of a Rocket Strike on Mimiron you can Guardian Spirit them to prevent them dying. On the other hand, it wouldn’t help a player caught in Spinning Up on the same fight because that hits multiple times so absorbing one killing blow would probably not be enough to keep the player alive.

The 50% heal if the target dies means that often Guardian Spirit will heal for 15-25k on a tank. It’s a dangerous game you play, but if your raid is in trouble casting Guardian Spirit on a low-health tank and letting them die can give you a chance to heal other targets. Keep in mind the time Guardian Spirit lasts for. I’ve seen tanks die because a healer overestimated the time left on Guardian Spirit and didn’t bother healing them.

Tip: If you value the 40% healing buff rather than just relying on the kill prevention then the glyph for Guardian Spirit makes a massive difference to how often you can cast it. Equally, having Guardian Spirit on the tank more often increases the chance of it being present if the tank takes a string of unexpected blows and dies.

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