Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Archive for the ‘Raiding’ Category

Healing Questionnaire: Pally Edition

Now, I wasn’t really around then so I don’t remember this, but apparently there was a healing questionnaire thing that happened over at Miss Medicina’s. Saunder from Non-Squishy Heals is starting it up again, and Shintar poked me to fill it out as well. At the end, I’ll be tagging someone else – it has to be a healer that doesn’t play the same class as I do!

DRAENEI holy paladin. Did I mention the draenei part?

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Vidyala, holy paladin extraordinaire!

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Up until recently I was healing five mans like a fiend. Only with the patch (and shortly before it) did I make the switch from being full-time DPS to full-time healer. Now I heal ten-man raids and five-mans and I’m trying to find my feet as a paladin. I think fives are great practice for raiding. I also like to do BGs with friends as a healer, unless the BG is a premade that should really be doing RBGs and they school us repeatedly, again and again.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
I’m going to have to say Holy Shock. Is that a boring answer? It builds Holy Power, which then lets me use my other fun (free!) heals. The Word of Glory buff has made this even more fun. Of course I used it before, but it’s nice now to feel like it’s actually doing something when I use it. Light of Dawn is still not as good in tens, but I also use it where appropriate. I really like the Holy Power mechanic, I feel it added a whole other dimension to the class. The feeling that I got from other holy paladins as I began leveling one was, “Let’s see if you can make it to level cap without dying of boredom.” I hear it’s no longer like that, and so that’s successful design, I suppose!

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Flash of Light, for sure. It’s a rare situation when one of my other bread and butter heals won’t do, and the mana cost of FH is just too steep to justify it. I imagine they’ll look at making it more useful sometime, or else just conveniently forget that it exists, but in the meantime its button sits alone and dusty.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
The wide variety of CDs available to paladins make them such a versatile healing powerhouse. I love that we have something for every situation. I am thrilled with both WoG changes (as mentioned above) as well as Holy Light transferring 100% through Beacon. It freed me up to do a lot of raid healing while still watching my tank. I guess that is the crux of what I think is the biggest strength of the class – the capability to do most healing tasks as necessary. Traditionally paladins were shoehorned only into a tank healing role but I don’t think that’s necessarily a given anymore. I know my friend Walks loves raid healing (although he also raids 25s). Now that we have two paladins in our raid… double beacon is overpowered!

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
I think the only sometimes frustrating thing is that our AoE is all so very proximity-based. We just aren’t effective at AoE healing from a distance, given that both Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn rely on positioning. I don’t necessarily mind this, it’s an interesting mechanic and keeps the healing classes with separate flavour, but it can be a hindrance. For instance, yesterday I had to specifically ask all our ranged players to group up (we ended up just grouping on me) when I know they are most used to/comfortable doing their own thing. It’s no big deal though, and you work with it. Keeping them up was much, much easier when I knew they were all grouped around me.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
This seems like an outdated question to me! I’ll answer it for both raid formats. I’m guessing from what I’ve heard that most paladins (in both tens and twenty-fives) are still typically tank healing. Beacon is obviously a great tool for this. I do know paladins, as mentioned previously, who enjoy and can make raid healing work for them. What I described was similar – in the case of multiple paladins, Beacon a tank, raid heal and go crazy. I think if I only ever tank healed I’d get bored, so I like to mix it up. It helps when I don’t LOSE my tank in the middle of the fight and blurt into Mumble, “Where ARE you?” I’m so pro, p.s. thanks for nothing, Shannox.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
I have no particular preference at this time and am still too new back to healing to really tell you. I can tell you that one paladin and two druids wasn’t exactly ideal. I think, as with most things, a good class distribution is nice. Double Beacon is fantastic, and paladins have enough different buffs that I don’t think it’s detrimental to have two. Priests are another really versatile class, druids have the awesome HoTs and Tranquility. I can’t really say much about shaman because we haven’t had one in ages.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
I don’t have a good answer for this. I think that two priests or two paladins works fine, but two druids is not as strong. Any other class on its own I’m sure is great. Even though each class has its own strengths and weaknesses, I’m pretty sure you could make it work with whatever is available to you, and that’s my attitude. I’m not the kind of person who would really be upset or fussed about healing with one class versus another, it’s just not my style.

What is your worst habit as a healer?
I think this probably falls under five-man habits I’ve picked up, like blowing all my CDs too early or forgetting them because they aren’t often needed, or running myself OOM really quickly. Since I heal so often in smaller groups (where I AM the only person who can/will heal) I often want to heal ALL THE DAMAGE as quickly as possible. I need to learn to sit back and wait a little bit and trust my other healers (not that I don’t, but you know what I mean). I think I will improve in this regard as time goes on and I learn who will heal what and what to expect from my teammates.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
Pretty much my biggest pet peeve in anything (including DPSing) stems from one thing: lack of communication. I will be the one asking what I should be healing, whether the healing is working out for everyone, whether the positioning works, or if I should change something. This goes with the rest of the group, too. Do they need to be someplace else? Is what we’re doing working for them? Nothing frustrates me more than glib/unhelpful answers. It’s become something of a running gag in the guild to say “his health reached zero,” as an answer to “What happened there?” and honestly I sort of clench my teeth everytime. I am probably humourless.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
Yes, I think so! Obviously Blizzard felt that our mana was a bit extreme – and having healed since the nerfs, I guess I can agree. It’s still manageable, and it must have been a bit high before. Especially if you Judge on CD and use mana regen abilities wisely, we’re still good, and we have a lot to offer a raid in terms of sheer healing throughput, CDs and versatility. I don’t envy any other class their tools, really. I’m happy with where we are at.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
I go through our World of Logs looking at things like buff up-time, overhealing, etc. A friend also recently connected me with CompareBot, which is another log analysis tool. I like that it will go through and separate out different things like firestanding, CD usage, potion usage, etc. It’s pretty spiffy.

I also ask paladin friends about things (and I really never stopped doing this). Sometimes the best resource is just comparison and discussion. I’ve mentioned before, but I think that holy paladins have an awesome community that I’ve always enjoyed. It makes me feel fuzzy and happy.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
That paladins can only tank heal forever.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
That’s a good question! Probably (I surmise) it takes folks awhile to get used to being a melee healer at times. I know it sometimes scares or surprises tanks that I am right there in the thick of the action if I can be. The other healing classes are more likely to hang back (and it’s usually a good idea, because of AoE, etc.) but if mana is a concern then being in there to melee is very helpful for us. I love that aggressive dual nature of Holy. You’re healing, but you’ll also hit someone a good one with your sword and can take a hit if need be.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
Pretty high output, and pretty high overheal. It’s something I’m working on. I think I have really solid throughput, but sometimes I also heal when I don’t need to, so right now mana management is my biggest concern. It’s hard to judge because as I said, I’m still finding my feet. I wanted to make sure I was giving it my absolute all. Now that I know I won’t hold our group back, I can focus on some of the finer details a bit more.

Haste or Crit and why?
Haste all the way. You only really need enough crit to make sure you keep up Conviction, whereas Haste is pretty much always awesome.

What healing class do you feel you understand least?
Shaman, definitely. I healed very briefly as a shaman and now mine languishes at 80. We had a resto shaman for a short time at the start of Cata but now we do not have one. The only resto shaman I know are bloggers. When I did run with another guild I was bewildered and intrigued by the shaman. I watched the effects of Spirit Link Totem with great interest. (I hear it’s since been nerfed, though, aw.)

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
I am a Vuhdo gal. For awhile our guild was embroiled in an entrenched Vuhdo vs Grid debate, which I think may have settled now. We may even outnumber the Gridders. I also use Power Auras to monitor CDs and buffs, and some of MiksScrollingBattleText, but I am evaluating the necessity of that right now. I could probably get by with just Vuhdo and Power Auras. A bar addon is also a necessity, as I have a Razer Naga and it makes it easy to set up my bars for use with that. All of my heals are either bound in Vuhdo or set-up as mouseover macros bound to my mouse keys. I keep other CDs (Divine Plea, Judgement, etc.) on my keyboard.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
This is an interesting question. Naturally, I stack Int to the sky, but it isn’t like being a DPS where you can just disregard the other stats. I feel I’d be well-served to get some more spirit, for instance, and that’s my current goal. In the past my gearing philosophy was always: regen until I didn’t need it, then throughput all the way. A stat like spirit is funny because it’s really really useful…until it isn’t, if that makes sense. More throughput is always useful, and depending on damage patterns in an encounter, it can prevent the need for as much spirit since you’ve already healed the because of your awesome, beefy healing. It might just be that I like big green numbers.

That was fun, thanks Saunder. I’d like to tag Beru to fill it out next (although I know she did it when it originally came out, I imagine the answers may have changed!)

Now 100% More Holy

You can expect a few smaller “slice of life” updates here over the next week or so. I’m going to be out of town on vacation and I don’t want things completely barren while I’m gone, but I also have to pack and run a million errands before we leave (this compounded by the jerk who threw a rock through our front window last Saturday, but don’t get me started about that).

Anyway, I had my first raid with Business Time last night as a holy paladin. We went to Throne of the Four Winds to do heroic Conclave of Wind again since some people had missed it when we got the kill a bit earlier this week. I was a mage for our first kill, but I’d never healed it before!

To say I was nervous would probably be a fair understatement. The only raid I’d healed in recent history was with another guild, and I knew I could always bow out gracefully if it just wasn’t working out. There was no “out” for this raid, I’d put myself forward as a healer and I won’t play the “I’m sorry guys, I’m not that good yet,” card. I was there to win. (By which I mean kill some pixelated wind lords, not “win” somehow at healing. When dragons die, everyone wins!)

It went well. We were able to repeat the kill. I screwed up some times, other people screwed up some times. I had to learn the rhythms of tank damage. I started out on the Nezir platform healing our bear tank and then transitioning to Anshal, but at some point we made a healing switch and I swapped to healing Voss.

Healing your significant other is interesting. In the past it has served us well, but it’s been awhile. I think it’s good because there is 1) an immediate line of communication since we’re sitting right next to each other, as well as 2) almost a decade of knowing/trusting each other. It also comes along with 3) willingness to say anything because it’s your significant other and not your internet friend. So me healing Voss goes something like, “Okay, moving now.”

“Where are you going? Oh my god, ice patch.”

“You can’t be in front of him!”

“I’m not in front of him!”

“You’re in his frost breath!”

“I’m not in his frost breath! Oh my gawwd use a cooldown.”

“I used a cooldown.”

“I used another cooldown.”

“Okay. We’re good. Okay. I have no mana left.”

“…okay.”

This is a screenshot that doesn't actually include Vid at all, but it's still thematic!

At some point we had a misunderstanding about the way Nezir ought to be moved, as each tank was doing it differently, and we actually pulled off our headsets to run around and do a little pantomime of where we each thought the boss should go. One of our other healers remarked that it was kind of hilarious to see the two of us running in circles and wonder what we were talking about (off-vent) and I suppose it would have been. I realized again that healing takes so much coordination with your team mates. Healer chat was going a mile a minute with questions and comparisons and feedback. Let me say it now:

I loved it.

Really, truly. The cooperative aspect of this role appeals to me so much. I had an absolute blast. I did not play perfectly (far from it) and I will need to make some adjustments to my UI with reminders to use CDs and auras so I can track my own buffs. But still. Holy heck, you guys, I healed heroic Conclave of Wind! I don’t usually post any bragging type things, so it’s not that, it’s really just – I was happy with my performance generally although I know many areas I can improve. Conclave of Wind is really a great acid test because it’s three individual groups each ‘on their own.’ There is no secondary healer to back me up; if my tank dies, it’s on me. Particularly at the end things started falling apart a little bit, but we pulled it off.

After this, we didn’t have much time in the raid so we went and killed Cho’gall (normal) and ODS (also normal). I honestly thought that just because we now have two holy paladins, those bracers would drop, but clearly this is a logical fallacy. (I was not, incidentally, intending to claim them for myself or roll on them in any way). That means Sin, our other holy paladin, killed Cho’gall 15 times throughout this tier of content without ever once seeing the bracers drop. Thank goodness they’ll be available for VP in Tier 12, because that kind of loot “luck” is enough to make me reconsider being a holy paladin, after all.

ODS also did not drop the ring I was hoping for. It’s a minor upgrade (I have one 359 and one 353) but every little bit helps! I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with my VP before we go on vacation. Should I go ahead and buy something off-spec (I can’t afford anything main-spec) since I’m already at the JP cap as well? Otherwise those VP are just going to be wasted, so I may endeavour to get them to 700 so I can snag the Retribution relic, probably. No sense in wasting them. I can already begin to see that gearing a retribution off-spec is going to be dead easy. I picked up two OS pieces last night alone, including a chest from Cho’gall and some bracers from ODS. I don’t anticipate having to play it often, but I like to be ready just in case.

No, this will not become a retribution paladin blog. Ever. It just won’t happen. (Sorry Antigen, it’s not you, it’s me.)

Finally, in my random list of paladin-raiding things that aren’t much related; I’m probably going to drop engineering after 4.2. (I’ll drop it when a viable helm upgrade presents itself, so probably not immediately). I just can’t see it being that strong a profession for a healer without the cogwheel sockets, and the on-use intellect tinker is okay but it’s not constant (as, say, jewelcrafting would provide). I imagine it evens out to approximately the same thing but I had engineering as an “alt-fun thing” and not as a serious raiding thing. I’ll be sad to say good-bye to my roflcopter, and in-character Vid will always be an engineer, but I can’t really stay engineering just for that purpose. I wish they’d introduce another tier of engineering helms. I suppose other professions as well suffer at the second tier – Alchemists may let go of their trinkets, etc. Honestly? I just really like the goofy goggles. They contribute to the paladin feeling of field medic/triage to me.

Or, to quote Voss (anxiously), “You, um. You’re sure a MELEE oriented healer, aren’t you?”

Yes, yes I am. “I’m healing youuu—!” /whack

 

A Main By Any Other Name

I went ahead and did it, folks. I took the plunge. I was writing this long entry trying to explain when I realized, why am I justifying myself to the internet at large?

For the next tier, I am going to be raiding as a holy paladin.

Oh hey. And yes, Vid rocks a Gnomeragan tabard. She is friends with gnomes. I'm working on her tabard collection, though. Achievement points are a sickness.

What precipitated this radical change? What’s the future of Manalicious?

First of all, when I moved from Pugging Pally to this new blog space I deliberately gave it an ambiguous name. Yes, it is like delicious conjured pastries and confection. But it could also apply for any class that uses mana. I knew that no matter what I might play, it would always be a mana user. So you might say I future-proofed the blog, which won’t be changing at all.

I know that many folks read here for mage content and/or have me in the mage section of their blogrolls. That’s fine, because I am still staunchly pro-mage. I never wrote that much about theorycraft here. I don’t anticipate this will have much impact on Manalicious at all.

As for why I did it, I have quite a few reasons. Our healing search was not going well. Our healing team has been extremely unstable in this expansion, experiencing nearly 100% turnover. I wanted it to be more stable. I’ve never raided primarily as a healer in progression content. I’m excited about it. I did run the majority of heroic BWD with a friend’s raid. I’m confident I can increase my skill as a healer, and work well with the other team members. I guess that’s a big part of it, too. As a DPS you may sometimes need to coordinate with the other DPS but for the most part you’re running solo. A self-sufficient spellflinger in the middle of the group, if you will. It comes with its own set of stressors. But the longer I play WoW, the more I realize that I greatly enjoy working with a team. The entire raid is a team, but the smaller microcosm of healers and tanks are also their own mini-team.

I still love being a mage. If I had to DPS, that would be my first choice. I just expect it’s going to be easier to find a great DPS than it has been to find a great healer that is also a personality fit. I’m excited about this change! The reactions I’ve gotten have ranged from dismay through to cautious enthusiasm. I wouldn’t do this if it was going to make me unhappy, truly. It’s just ironic that right after I was writing about how you should be playing your main, I realized that the fact I wasn’t playing mine might be trying to tell me something. I just wish that achievement points didn’t exist. I am going to have to try to stop caring about them, along with my pet collection. Millya’s not going away, she’s just pursuing other things for awhile. I joked that I could be happy playing any character so long as it’s a draenei. Sadly, this is probably true.

My friend Walks once remarked that druid heals are like a hug, and paladin heals are like a punch in the face. The gauntlets are on!

p.s. – We’re looking for a shadowpriest, moonkin, and we’d consider any exceptional DPS. Check us out!

How Playing My Alt Was Hurting My Raiding

I once wrote about how I think that playing alts can actually make you a better player. I still believe that to be true. If you’ve played a class, you’ll often better understand the cooldowns and abilities available. This helps with leading raids and organizing rosters. In PvP, it helps you understand how to counter another class because you know what to expect. I am a staunch advocate of alts! I love getting inside another class and seeing what makes it tick – or in the case of my paladin, making a list of spells with various iterations of Hand, Blessing, and Divine to try to keep any of them straight.

There’s just one possible pitfall, and I’m afraid it blindsided me. I think it’s a fairly common scenario. If you’re a raider, your raiding main is decked out in great gear. You take your main to raids, but other than raids, they don’t “need” anything. So… If you’re like me, you play an alt. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and of course, it all depends. There’s no right or wrong way to play a game, there’s only deciding what’s right for you. But if you are a progression raider looking to maximize your play, I’m going to suggest something radical: playing too many alts might be hurting you, as it was me.

On the surface, there wasn’t a problem. I mean, I wasn’t routinely at the bottom of the meters in raids. I think my performance was solid. I continued to enjoy raiding as a mage. I was just playing Vidyala, my paladin, constantly outside of raids. She was the one who needed Valor Points to upgrade her gear! She was the one who needed gear. I get a bit obsessed with upgrading gear, because it’s such a tangible improvement. I’ve geared alts to the teeth only to completely abandon them once they no longer “needed” anything, having hardly used the gear at all. I just like the completeness of it. It also happens that I enjoy healing, and I enjoy five-mans, and so I didn’t see any detriment to this alting – except when I started to take a hard look at my own performance. With the kind of gear I have, I felt I should be performing better. I’d grown complacent. I wasn’t pushing myself to excel and find ways to maximize my damage output, due in large part to the fact that I wasn’t playing Millya as much as I could be.

I decided that I wasn’t satisfied with the state of my DPS or my play. I wrote a whiny blog post (and deleted it, unpublished). I asked myself, “Do you want to put energy into complaining that your numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be, or do you want to put that energy into figuring out how to improve your numbers?” I checked up on mage resources to make sure that my theorycraft was current. I asked our guild’s other mage, Fsob, to look at my World of Logs. He is both my respected colleague and a wizard (har) when it comes to reading WoL. He gave me some valuable feedback that I used to plan my improvement, but the grunt work would have to come from me. I needed to play Millya as much as possible. One of my problems was not casting enough. Especially when a fight is new, it’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics and movement and not nuke as often as you should. To improve this, I was going to have to really focus on it.

I resolved that when I wanted to run a pug, I’d do it as a mage (thirty minute wait be damned). When I ran a BG, I’d do it as a mage. I ran dailies constantly. Tol Barad fears my name. The Argent Tournament is tired of seeing me. I was all mage, all the time – and I got results. Really and truly. Partly through a combination of research and practice, I improved my damage on heroic Valiona and Theralion by 1000 in just one week. I nearly doubled my number of “main nuke” casts, while keeping Scorch casts at the same amount. If you’d asked me before, I would have answered that I was “always casting” on the first V&T fight I looked at. But to see such a marked improvement in such a short time the following week floored me. I hadn’t received any significant gear upgrades in that time. I was just playing better.

"Thanks for killing my worthless minions!"

What Alts Can Do For You

(Doesn’t) Stand In Bad
If your goal is to maximize your raiding performance, in some ways alts can help you with that. Some things are completely universal – situational awareness, for example. High survivability is something I’ve always prided myself on, and that tends to be true no matter what I’m playing. As a healer, I can usually dance out of something oozey and painful very quickly. As a tank, I can neatly sidestep something coming my way. I believe situational awareness is a skill that can be learned, or at least honed – and you can practice that no matter what you’re playing.

You know the big spider forest in Tol Barad, and how those spiders will spit a big puddle of green goo at you? Did you know that you can usually start to move before the goo hits the ground so that it never hurts you? Half of situational awareness is anticipation. The same thing is true of the dark oozes that play a huge part in the heroic version of Maloriak (and it used to be the case for Trial of the Crusader and countless other raids). You can see the ooze flying at you and actually move before it hits the ground. Forget about getting out of bad – how about never getting in it? Of course, this isn’t possible for everything. There are some things that will hit you no matter what you do, and you really do have to move out of them. That’s something you can practice no matter what you’re playing!

At What Level Did I Get That Ability Again?
Another thing that you can do if you love alts and don’t always want to be playing at end-game is to level an alt of the same class as your main. I know tons of people who have done this! Vosskah has something like four warriors. I have two level 85 mages, as does Fsob. I know that Kurn just finished leveling another paladin. Leveling your “own” class can give you insights into it. The game has probably changed since you leveled up for the first time. Even if you don’t level as the same spec, it can be a valuable experience (and still scratch that alt itch).

I’ve had folks laugh at me for having two mages at maximum level. It’s kind of a running gag for people who wonder why you’d ever want more than one character of the same class, but it’s actually more common than you might think. If you’re playing a class at 85, it’s probably because you enjoy it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the best players I know have “multiples.” They are so passionate about their class that it’s no chore to make a second one. I sometimes wish I could “unlevel” Millya just to do some quests again and revisit zones that I liked. That’s not possible, but leveling another mage alt might be the next best thing.

Playing alts (especially in pugs) definitely accustoms you to the controlled chaos of a raid. Or at least, it accustoms you to chaos!

What Alts Can’t Do For You

I’m Sure Iceblock Is Around Here Somewhere
My pugging has honed my emergency button reflexes. My instincts have me reaching for Hand of Sacrifice so quickly; it’s like lightning! Unfortunately, that doesn’t help me whatsoever when I’m in a raid, because I don’t raid as a paladin. You might have lightning reflexes that are completely useless if your muscle memory isn’t remembering the right thing. (I also happen to have a lightning-fast Iceblock reflex, but that’s neither here nor there). Experienced alters often mimic a “basic” keybind set-up between all of their characters. So if you’re playing a druid tank or a warrior tank, your taunt is the same button (no matter what it’s called). This can help ease the transition between different characters when you do play them. I think there’s no substitute for playing your own character, though.

In a raiding situation, you can’t look down at your buttons and try to remember where you keybound your emergency heal or health potion. Well, you can – but you might be dead first. The faster you can instinctively reach for your key abilities and cooldowns without even thinking about it, the better you’ll do. You also learn a rhythm for when things are available. It’s weird for me to play my second-string mage, Tazya, because she has less haste than Millya and she feels sluggish. I think the effective difference is only a fraction of a second, but it makes a big difference when I’m playing her.

Being attuned to the nuances of your own class takes time, and here’s the thing… the time we all have to spend on WoW is finite. We all have other obligations, families, lives outside of WoW (hopefully!) It can be a fun diversion to level an alt for awhile, but if you aren’t 100% satisfied with your performance and your main, that’s time that you don’t spend improving and learning it.

Practice Makes…Probably Not Perfect, But Closer

I feel that I need to add a huge, honking caveat here. I’m not saying that “You shouldn’t play alts,” or “Playing alts makes you a bad player.” No. All that I am saying, from my own, highly subjective and biased personal experience is that I wasn’t playing as well as I wanted to, and I think part of the reason was because I was playing too many alts. That’s a decision that only you can make for yourself. If I was in a guild where I could casually top the DPS meters in a raid, I’d probably never have worried about it. It’s only when I thought, “I could be doing better,” and started to seek out reasons why that I hit upon this conclusion.

I’m a big proponent of doing what makes you happy; in life, in WoW, wherever. If hitting the fifty character limit is something that’s fun for you, why not do it? Cynwise wrote a great post about making a low-level PvP character just for kicks. If you get tired of them and want to delete them, no harm, no foul! (I’ve been thinking of doing this…with a mage, naturally). For me, what’s fun is progression hardmode raiding. That is my passion, and it’s one that is shared by the people in my guild. If I’m not doing the best I can, then I’m not just hurting myself, I’m letting them down too.

So lately, if you’re looking for me, it’s a pretty sure bet I’m flinging fireballs at trolls, or freezing Horde to the ground in a BG, or running around a grim island off the coast of the Eastern Kingdoms stealing fish from villagers. I’ve been digging through WoL to figure out ways to increase my DPS, and usually when I’m in-game I’m practicing. Diversions like learning PvE Frost as my raid off-spec have kept me occupied. Far from being bored, I keep finding out things I hadn’t thought of before. Besides, playing a mage is never a chore! It’s my favourite WoW thing to do. It’s been nice to see tangible results, too. I’m sure I will always have plenty of room for improvement.

What do you think? Are you a one-character sort of person, or do you wish Blizzard would increase the ten-character per server limit? Has playing an alt helped you improve your main character’s play in an unexpected way? Zinn over at Jinxed Thoughts wrote some great tips for dedicated alters while I was still working on this draft, and the irony wasn’t lost on me! I’ll admit, I still have and love playing a bunch of different alts, I just intend to temper my playtime with equal dedication to my main!

Business Time Raid Guide: Heroic Chimaeron (10)

This is the second post in a series of heroic tens encounter guides. The first one covered Heroic Halfus. It’s called a Business Time raid guide because that’s my guild. I don’t take credit for the strategy contained herein;  I have written it out and compiled it based on guild member input and our forums. In fact, entire sections here were written by guildies . The tank healing section was written by one of our resto druids, Ullariend. The tank taunting section was written by Autoriot, our rogue, and reviews and information were contributed by other healers as well. Theirs is the toughest job on this fight, so it is only natural that they had more to say!

Overview

Chimaeron is generally accepted as the “next” heroic mode to tackle following Halfus. Your mileage may vary; we actually defeated both Heroic Maloriak and Heroic Atramedes before getting a handle on Chimaeron. This fight is very similar to the normal version of the encounter and puts a lot of pressure on the healers and tanks. It is a definite gear check. If your healers do not have the mana regen and the throughput to last the fight and keep your raid and tanks alive through Feuds, you won’t succeed. If your DPS is not able to put out enough damage (especially in phase two) it will likewise be impossible.

What’s unique to this fight is that a “Break” or tertiary tank is not optional. This can be any plate-wearing DPS (DK, Warrior, Retribution Paladin) or possibly a cat druid – any class that is able to taunt. This player serves the function of taking the Break debuff so that your real tanks don’t have to, because there’s another twist. During Feud on normal mode, Chim is too busy fighting with himself to attack your tanks directly. In the heroic version, Nefarian interrupts Chim and admonishes him to get back to the business of killing your raid. This means that you’ll need a tank for each Feud that does not have the Break debuff.

The other change from normal is that past 21%, Nefarian emits a shadow aura that will damage your raid for 2K damage each second. As in normal, the raid is unhealable and so this acts as a soft enrage for the battle. If you trigger the final phase with your raid too low in health, you won’t have enough time to DPS him down before you die from unavoidable damage. The key to this encounter is managing your healer cooldowns, tank taunting, and carefully coordinating when you will push the final phase, at which point it’s all on your DPS.

Abilities/Effects

These are Chimaeron’s key abilities.

Caustic Slime – Deals 270480 Nature damage and briefly reduces chance to hit for all enemies in an area. Damage is split between all enemies within 6 yards of the impact crater.

Massacre – Inflicts maximum damage to all players.

Feud – Unable to perform melee attacks while his heads are fighting each other – until Nefarian interferes.

Break – Chimaeron attacks viciously, breaking through his target’s defenses. Increases Physical damage taken by 25% and reduces healing done by 15% for 1 min. Stacks.

Double Attack – Chimaeron will strike twice on his next attack.

Mortality – Chimaeron goes into a rage, rendering him immune to Taunt effects but increasing the damage he takes by 10%. Reduces healing effects for all enemies by 99%.

Special Notes

This fight is unique in that it requires a DPS player to act as a tank. Make sure that the person handling this task is comfortable with their taunt button and understands the mechanics of the fight so that they know when they need to taunt and why. Tank gear is not necessary and in fact will likely make it impossible for you to beat the enrage at the end. Your DPS can wear their normal gear and spec, but they may need to swap stances or forms in order to taunt. Our warrior stance dances from Defensive stance to perform his taunts. Because of their role tanking, your Break tank is likely to be one of the first to die when Chimaeron switches phases. This is actually of great benefit to you if you have a battle rez available. Once your Break tank goes down, have a (druid, preferably) battle rez him or her. They will join the action at full health, and their additional DPS will prove invaluable.

An alternate strategy is to actually have three geared and specced tanks – giving one additional target for Chimaeron to chew through in P2. This isn’t the strategy we used but could be a viable option, although it will put additional strain on your tank healer who will have to top off not two but three tanks just prior to the transition. The battle rez in this case would be saved for the first DPS to die in P2.

Raid Composition

  • Two tanks
  • One Break “Tank”
  • Three healers
  • Four DPS

Healers that have strong AoE healing are very helpful for the Feud phases, and DPS that are able to reset aggro or delay pulling help with the final phase. In our case, we have two mages that save Mirror Image, and a rogue that can evasion tank for a time after the tanks have died. Any delaying tactic could make the difference between a kill and a wipe here! Note that this does not include kiting; it’s not possible to kite Chimaeron and so you may as well stay put with him.

See below for legend.

Positioning

Everyone needs to maintain a minimum distance of 6 yards because of Caustic Slime. We position one healer in a central location (indicated by the green circle). This is where the raid will stack for Feuds, and that healer never moves. Put one of your least mobile healers here. Other healers arrange themselves nearby and the rest of the ranged DPS are arranged around the room (I always go to the far left because it’s easy for me to Blink into the group). The dot marked with a purple diamond on the left is the “Break” tank and the other tanks are in green. We only have two melee DPS at a time but if you have more you may need to adjust positioning to ensure everyone is six yards apart. His hit box is gigantic, so this shouldn’t be a big issue.

Strategy

Your Break tank should begin the fight by talking to Finkle Einhorn. Here is what the tanking should look like from that point. (You have a Break Tank, Tank A, and Tank B).

Fight starts, Break Tank (DPS)  is tanking everything but Double Attacks.
Tank A taunts to take every Double Attack (watch the timers).
Break Tank taunts back immediately following the Double Attack (it looks like a big swoosh in the air). Be careful not to taunt too soon!
Feud starts, Tank A tanks everything and uses a CD for Double Attack. Tank A does NOT collapse with the rest of the raid. All healers must keep the raid close to full as usual, plus heavily focus on this tank.
Feud ends, Break Tank is tanking once again
Tank B now takes Double Attacks.
Tank B will now tank everything in Feud, using a CD for the Double Attack and staying away from the collapse point.
Repeat, always rotating the Double Attack/Feud tank each time so that their stack of “Break” falls off.

The RNG of this fight is how often feud happens. They can happen every 2-3 massacres (not counting the one right after Feud), so if you get them back-to-back too often, you’ll run out of tank and/or healer CDs. This is what the tanks will be doing, while the healers are spot healing members with Caustic Slime and then keeping the raid alive for Feuds. This healing is very intense and all DPS raid members should consider glyphing or talenting anything that will increase their healing received or grant them a self-heal. Draenei are able to use Gift of the Naaru, and our entire raid bandaged during the Feud phases. Feuds should happen more or less often enough to allow you to bandage each time. Every little bit counts!

Once Chimaeron has approximately 25% of his health left, the timing gets tricky. Ideally, you want to push him into the next phase at the very end of a Feud so that your healers are able to top everyone up (but prior to a Massacre). If you wait too long, the raid will be too low to execute Phase 2 correctly. He transitions at 21%. We DPS right up until about 24%, wait for the next Feud, and then time it so that Phase 2 begins before he can Massacre.

At this point, all healing is useless. Your healers should go into “DPS mode.” Your tanks should try to live as long as they possibly can. Use heroism and any other DPS cooldowns, and as mentioned above, have a plan for DPS to juggle the aggro long enough to kill him. If you are a mage, you should use Mirror Images at the very beginning of the encounter and then rather than using it on CD, save it for this phase. If your DPS can BURN HIM DOWN, you’ve won!

Healing! Slime! Orange Fog! Our healers tell me this is their absolute favourite fight! Honest.

Tanks
Timing is everything for this fight, and watching your aggro. This isn’t something a tank usually has to worry about, but when it’s not your turn to be the active tank you must ensure that you do not pass the current tank’s aggro. Even if that means you have to stop white-hits, that’s what you have to do. If you accidentally pull Chim before your turn, you are likely to receive a stack of Break or a Double Attack making it impossible for you to tank when it IS your turn or killing you outright. We have someone announcing who is the current Double Attack tank at each transition so that healers always know precisely who will be taking the heavy hits.

Use a cool-down as soon as Feud begins. The healers (at least 2/3) will be moving into place and preparing to heal the raid. You will be taking heavy damage. This was one of the major blocks we had to deal with as we were learning this fight, and we would often lose tanks at this crucial phase. If you are using your CDs appropriately to help healers and coordinating with your fellow tanks, you’ve got your part of the fight squared away. If you have any cooldowns available to you at the beginning of Phase 2, use everything you have to live as long as you can (but not at the expense of skipping out on these CDs during earlier Feuds).

DPS
I’m going to be honest with you here: Prepare to be bored as your raid learns this fight. There will be many learning wipes, and it will feel out of your control – because it is. Your primary goal is to 1) live, and do everything you can to keep yourself alive and 2) do not push the transition into P2 early or late. You won’t get to practice that until your raid actually gets here, though. Once P2 begins, then it’s all up to you and you must kill him and kill him as quickly as you can. You will learn the rhythm of the fight and when to use your cooldowns so that they’re available to you in the final phase when you most need them.

As our gear has improved, we spend some time standing around at the end; the first part of the fight isn’t exactly a DPS race (although of course you want to get him down to 25% ASAP). The fewer Feuds your raid has to deal with, the better your chances. Above all, remain patient and remember that your tanks and healers are juggling some pretty crazy feats. If you are a hybrid DPS, your services may be useful in off-healing during Feuds (Healing Rain, Tranquility if you are a druid, etc.) Coordinate these with the healers.

Soon, it will be Phase 2. An incredible amount of burst DPS is needed to push Chim from 24% to 21% at the end of the last Feud. If you push him too soon, the raid might not be healed up. If you don’t push him quickly enough, a Massacre will happen and it’s game over. Once you’ve successfully transitioned, check Omen and your raid frames so you can see who is still alive, and who has threat, and whether a really big hydra is soon headed your way. Plan to use any threat reduction you have to live as long as you can.

Healers
This is a somewhat gimmicky healer fight. Some healers enjoy that (most of the healers I’ve talked to hate this fight). There’s something about seeing almost the entire raid at 1% health that gives healers the shakes. You’ll want to give specific healing assignments as well as have a plan in place for coordinating healing cooldowns on the raid during Feuds.

  1. Healer – Tank healer
  2. Healer – Raid healer/Targeting Group 1 for low health
  3. Healer – Raid Healer/Targeting Group 2 for low health

The RNG of this fight makes it impossible to determine exactly when Feuds will occur, but you can plan a sequence for when they do occur. This will vary depending on what healers you have available to you. Our raid plans for one druid to use Tranquility on the first Feud, and the second druid to use Tranquility on the second. Discipline Priests could of course use Power Word: Barrier (and Discipline priests in general could buy you some extra time in the final phase, because “reduced healing” does not apply to shields, and such a priest could shield the whole raid.) The healing for the final Feud is something that will vary depending on your group’s overall DPS. I’ve been told that when DPS is high enough, it deemphasizes the need to have the entire group at maximum health (because the burn will be completed before the soft enrage). If your group’s DPS is a bit lower, you will definitely want to make sure that healing CDs are available to top the raid off as much as possible before the second phase.

The Caustic Slime can sometimes hit two people in the same group. If you are assigned to heal Group 1 and no one in your group is affected, you should help out the other healer and try to discuss beforehand how you will do this. (i.e. make sure your raid frames show people in the same order and agree that outside of your own group you will heal the person lowest on the list, or similar. It doesn’t matter how you arrange it, just so that all of the targets are covered!) I would add that making sure your frames are set up to display relevant debuffs (Caustic Slime, < 10K health) is pretty much mandatory here. You will need to get a feel for which of your heals can bring someone above 10K without wasting too much mana, because when learning this fight mana can definitely be a concern.

Paladin Specifics
Our paladin recommends using Avenging Wrath for the first Feud, Divine Favor for the second and then continue to rotate the two when they are off CD (but it’s unlikely you’ll have a CD for each). He recommends saving Guardian of Ancient Kings for the final “top-off” Feud. Beacon should be placed on the Double Attack tank.

Paladin healers should also activate Righteous Fury for this encounter; this will generate aggro throughout the fight so that you will be the next target after the tanks die. What you’ll want to do is at the start of P2 run to a corner, when he gets aggro on you let him run towards you and BoP yourself. He will run back to the stacked group, cancel your bubble and he will run back to you. This helps buy the DPS some valuable time.

Druid Specifics
Our raid healing druid recommends Glyph of Regrowth for additional healing. As mentioned above, strong healing CDs might be needed at the last Feud, and our druid used Tree Form along with Wild Growth and Tranquility at this point. The following is also druid-specific, but focused on tank healing.

Tank healing

Your responsibility will be to keep the Break Tank above 10k, to top up the tank following Double Attacks and Massacres, and heal that tank during Feuds.

Break Tank: Chimaeron has a 5 second swing timer, so you will need to heal 10k every 5 seconds, except where the Break Tank skips a swing due to double attack. Lifebloom, so long as you don’t let it fall off will be enough to keep the break tank alive. It does cut it pretty close, but there have been two times in all of our attempts where Lifebloom hasn’t been enough. Unfortunately, I can’t give advice to other classes for the best spell to rely on for this

Tanks: The tank taking the Double Attacks must be completely topped-off after a Massacre before the next Double Attack. If the tank is missing any health, and does not avoid or block the first swing, it can take them below 10k causing the second swing to kill the tank.

During Feud that tank should be healed as quickly as possible after the Massacre and kept topped off. The tanks should be using cooldowns during this phase, but they can still take a huge amount of damage very quickly, and the closer they are to full health the more likely they are to survive.

Massacre Timer Awareness

These two jobs sound simple enough, but it can be difficult to get healing out fast enough to get the Tank topped up in time, and to have enough mana to maintain the throughput for the full duration of the fight.

The key to getting through the fight is watching the ability timers in whatever bossmod you use. You should always be aware of when the next massacre will be cast. Doing so will allow you to do two things:

1. Get a head start on topping off the Tank by pre-casting your largest heal on the Double Attack tank so that it lands immediately after the Massacre hits.

2. Save mana by knowing when you don’t need to top up the Tank. When a Double Attack will be followed by a Massacre you don’t need to top the Tank off, just get them to 10k. If there are less than 10 seconds till the next Massacre when the double attack happens you will be okay.

Druid Glyphs for Tank Healing

I strongly recommend Glyph of Healing Touch for tank healing. Since you will be using Healing Touch so much, this Glyph will reduce the CD of Nature’s Swiftness so that it is available every Feud. A +50% instant Healing Touch is very helpful for topping the tank up following the Massacre that begins the Feud.

Glyph of Regrowth is often recommended for druids, but I have found there is little benefit to it with the healing strategy I have described. You will not need to use Regrowth on the Break Tank to keep him healed above 10k, Lifebloom plus passive healing like Healing Stream Totem and Vampiric Embrace will do this on its own, so casting Regrowth on the Break Tank is wasted. The Tanks will rarely have the Regrowth HoT effect on them when they take damage as you will be relying on Healing Touch to top them off as Regrowth is too mana inefficient for that task. (Regrowth should pretty much only be used to trigger Nature’s Grace every 60 seconds)

Pro-Tip: Don’t have the “Interact with Target” function bound to the same key as your Push-to-Talk key. When you are standing within melee range and try to say something in vent, fun things happen. And by ‘fun things’ I mean everyone dies.

Conclusion

Heroic Chimaeron is a gear and coordination check for your entire raid. Most wipes will happen as your tanks grow accustomed to the taunting and timers involved, and as your healers learn to balance intense healing with mana conservation. If you can execute the first phase of the fight and learn to anticipate and manage Feuds, you’ll soon be tackling P2 which is a really easy burn comparatively. Good luck, and if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments!

Business Time Raid Guide: Heroic Halfus (10)

First, a brief preamble. It’s been brought to my attention that there aren’t many heroic tens guides out there – or many guides assume that you are a twenty-fives guild (with a twenty-fives roster to draw from) for these heroics. There are, of course, many strategies and what you choose to do will be based on the classes you have available to you. I’ve never written an actual boss-strategy guide, so bear with me here. This strategy may not be the one that your guild uses, in which case, feel free to offer your suggestions below. Keep in mind, though, that I run a troll-free operation. If you aren’t respectful and constructive in your remarks, they’ll never see the light of day.

If these prove useful to folks I might consider writing more; your feedback is welcome as to format and key information! Guides are so much more work than any other blog posts; this post alone has taken me many hours to write and research. Thanks to BT members that read and reviewed the strat for me; I wanted to make sure it contained key information for all roles.

Overview

So, your guild has cleared all of the normal mode content in this tier! Or maybe you haven’t, but you’re working on Nefarian and you’ve killed Cho’gall and you think, hey, maybe we could do some of the easier heroics. Well, Halfus has a reputation for being “the easiest,” and once you get a handle on it, it’s definitely doable by most ambitious raid groups. It is intense, and requires coordination from everyone to understand what’s going on. Heroic Halfus varies from the normal mode encounter in that you don’t have specific “active” drakes week to week. They are all able to be active. Everything does more damage (duh, I know). After six minutes, Halfus will use Berserk and the fight is effectively over, this is the enrage. This guide assumes that you are familiar with the normal mode Halfus encounter and all of the abilities.

The key to this encounter is the debuff Dragon’s Vengeance. After you kill one of the dragons, Halfus will take 100% more damage. This ability stacks up to five times. The fight will start out incredibly hectic and become much more manageable as each dragon dies. Less damage will be going out, and Halfus himself will take more. At the end, when Halfus has a full stack of this debuff it is generally easy to bring him down.

Abilities/Effects

These are Halfus’ key abilities. Where applicable, variations applied by releasing a drake are noted in blue.

Frenzied Assault – Increases the caster’s attack speed by 120%. Nether Scion: Nether fog blinds Halfus, reducing his chance to hit, attack speed, and damage done by 25%.

Malevolent Strikes – Halfus’ attacks wound the target, reducing the effectiveness of any healing on it by 8%. Stacks up to 12 times for a max reduction of 96% to healing. Slate Dragon: Once every 35 seconds or so, Halfus will occasionally become stunned for 12 sec.

Shadow Nova – [0.25sec Cast] Dark magic is unleashed, causing 47500 to 52500 Shadow damage and knocking back all enemies within 50000 yds. Storm Rider: Slows the cast speed of Shadow Nova by 500% (to 1.50 seconds) and makes it possible to interrupt.

When his health is below 50%, Halfus will be able to cast Furious Roar – [1.50sec Cast] Halfus roars periodically, inflicting 19000 to 21000 physical damage and knocking his enemies to the ground.

Activating the Time Warden allows the raid to dodge fireballs, and activating the whelps decreases the amount of damage done by the fireballs.

Special Notes

You’ll want someone in the raid providing Shadow and Fire resistance. Sub-50%, someone has to be able to break out of a stun in order to interrupt a Shadow Nova, as Halfus will cast Furious Roar. He roars one, two, three times and then immediately begins to cast Shadow Nova. A mage can do this if positioned far enough away from Halfus that a Blink will land you facing him. (You can practice this on normal, too). I count his roars aloud, and on the third roar (immediately after I’ve been stunned) blink and then counterspell. Our raid has two mages doing this so we’re double protected. A human can also do it using Every Man For Himself, but regardless of how your raid handles it, someone has to or you’ll be eating Novas in that phase.

Raid Composition

Two tanks (three tanks)
Three healers (four healers)
Five DPS

It is worth noting that our initial H Halfus kills were accomplished with a slightly different layout than this; we used one Atonement/smite specced priest in place of a DPS, bringing the number of healers to an effective 3.5 or so. This additional healing allowed us to survive longer and we were still within the enrage timer, but better gear has allowed us to do it with only three healers. Another factor to consider is what type of tanks you have. A paladin is able to cleanse stacks of Malevolent Strikes off him/herself. Our paladin healer can do the same for our warrior tank, but not for both a warrior and a bear. This ability is huge in this situation. I’m sure it’s possible to use another composition (I’ve heard of both three tanks and four healer compositions, although naturally you can’t have both three tanks and four healers). This is the strategy that worked for us, it is by no means the only option.

See below for legend.

Positioning

Your tanks should be close together to facilitate AoE damage to drakes and whelps and for ease of taunting. The rest of the raid should be loosely spread out on the right side of the room. Not so far as to be out of range of healers, but for much of the fight you can’t dodge fireballs and so should arrange yourselves accordingly. If you stand on a buddy, you will get fire dropped on his head.

I made the diagram above to illustrate this. Here’s the legend:

Skull: Storm Rider

Cross: Nether Scion

Star: Whelps

Square: Time Warden

Orange Circle: Halfus

The DPS on the far right is someone releasing Nether Scion and then joining the group. The melee DPS by star is someone releasing the whelps; he/she will then move in to begin DPSing skull.

Strategy

Your goal here is to kill one of these dragons so fast they don’t even know what happened to them. Ideally, you want to kill the second two in rapid succession/simultaneously. The longer the drakes are active, the greater the chance that something will go wrong with the tank swaps and your raid will be taking heavy AoE damage as well so you need to burn them down. We use the following drake order:

1. Storm Rider – the off-tank releases Storm Rider at the beginning of the fight, and it is the priority kill target. All DPS focuses on him.

2. Nether Scion – Someone has to release Nether Scion at the same time; I usually do this and then blink towards the group (but not INTO it). Our hunter misdirects to the OT; but in the absence of a hunter we have also used healer aggro to draw the dragon across the room and have the OT quickly taunt it.

3. Whelps – Released simultaneously with Storm Rider and Nether Scion. A special note about whelps; their ability isn’t particularly noteworthy however it is worth your time to kill them, and many classes are capable of doing so while simultaneously killing their primary target. Hunters and rogues have excellent AoE for this purpose, and fire mages are absolutely ridiculous. If you can get a good Combustion rolling on Storm Rider and then use Impact to spread it to the whelps, you will be laughing. Heavy AoE can bring the whelps down almost exactly when Storm Rider goes down, and so you already have two stacks of the debuff on Halfus!

4. Time Warden – Released only after two drakes are down.

5. Slate DragonIgnore, do not release, although on our very first kill of this our OT ran over and released him and the subsequent stun on Halfus allowed us to get the kill. Use at your own risk, but 5 stacks of the debuffs are not necessary to complete this encounter.

I’ll get into specifics for each role after this, but basically the fight goes like this: Chosen drakes/whelps are released. The tanks will do some swapping. Storm Rider dies. Nether Scion and the Whelps die (likely together). After two drakes are down, Time Warden can be released. Once Time Warden is down, DPS Halfus. Below 50%, he begins to roar – but so long as you make sure to interrupt his shadow novas (and even if you miss one, perhaps) you win!

This is what "winning" looks like. I PROMISE.

Tanks
One tank will be tanking lots of things (many whelps, handle it). This tank handles Storm Rider, Nether Scion, and the whelps at the same time to start the fight. The challenge here is maintaining aggro on all of the targets and using your CDs simultaneously so that you don’t keel over. Any debuff you can put on the whelps and dragons to reduce their damage done will also be a boon (Demoralizing Shout, Thunderclap, etc.) All of the adds and Halfus should be tanked in the same area to allow for easy taunting.

The other tank initially handles Halfus. Note if you are a warrior tank (and usually charge to begin the fight) do not charge towards Halfus. Pull him and make him come to you at first. The reason for this is because the Halfus tank will be gaining stacks of Malevolent Strikes quickly. If you acquire these before Halfus receives the debuffs from the released drakes/whelps, a dead tank could result! With MS stacking, this tank can’t take Halfus for too long before becoming unhealable. If your main tank is a paladin, then they can let their MS strikes accumulate to ten and then cleanse them by quickly using bubble and then canceling it. Here’s a macro to help you handle that, straight from Rhidach. You have to hit it twice.

/cancelaura Divine Shield
/cast Divine Shield

The tank will begin to gain fresh stacks of MS. At five stacks, the OT will taunt Halfus off of the main-tank and the MT will taunt the two dragon targets (It can be too messy to pick up whelps, but for a short time the OT can handle Halfus and the whelps).

At this point, another exchange is performed when the MT’s five stack drops off naturally (after thirty seconds). If you have access to any other spec of paladin, they can use Blessing of Protection (quickly followed by Blessing of Freedom) to ‘cleanse’ a stack of debuffs from a non-paladin tank, thereby easing the difficulty of one of these exchanges. The “quickly” part here is important; every paladin healer knows what happens when you just BoP the tank!  Learning how to handle the tank swapping is a major obstacle in the fight.

The other factor here is Shadow Nova. Our raid is geared enough now that we can afford to leave one melee DPS on Halfus throughout the entire fight (and this is what we do). Their sole responsibility (in addition to damaging Halfus) is to interrupt Shadow Novas. In the absence of the raid DPS necessary to accomplish this, tanks can now more easily interrupt Shadow Nova, but beware of Shadow Novas going off during a tank swap. It’s extremely helpful if ranged DPS in particular focus Halfus and be prepared to back-up Shadow Nova interrupts during the first few minutes of the fight. The damage from these is punishing, and can wipe your raid if even one goes off (considering the other AoE and heavy tank damage going out).

DPS
Your task in this encounter is actually fairly straightforward: kill the first and second dragons and whelps before they can kill your tank. Initial aggro here is going to be shaky – we’ve had some clumsy wipes from pulling aggro on Halfus himself before we really figured out the encounter. DPS on Halfus hardly matters, especially initially. Don’t even attack Halfus right away. Give your tanks time to position all of the drakes. Your first target is going to be Stormrider. Depending on your class, you may also be responsible for releasing one of the drakes (I always release Nether Scion and blink, as noted. Our rogue usually releases the whelps and then uses Tricks to direct them towards the OT). If you’re a hunter, misdirecting Nether Scion to the OT is incredibly helpful. Once the tank has aggro on Storm Rider, we use Heroism/Bloodlust.

Classes with the ability to do incidental (cleave, DoT) AoE damage to whelps and other drakes are invaluable here. As a fire mage, it is no DPS loss to use Impact to spread your DoTs to the whelps – in fact, it will help you to do ridiculous DPS (upwards of 50K). The reason for this is also because of the way the damage debuff stacks on Halfus, you can attack Halfus and chain your DoTs to other dragons to do 100 (200, 300%) more damage as the fight goes on. I’m not going to speak to every class’s abilities, here – I know our rogue does very high AoE in this encounter, as does our hunter. One thing to note though is if you are using a method that allows for direct damage on Halfus and splash damage on the dragons, be careful. His health drops very quickly; and if you mistakenly push him below 50% while your group is still handling drakes and whelps, you will very likely wipe. I usually swap around targets after the first drake is down to make sure to not push Halfus too far while still gaining some benefit from his debuff.

Other than that, be aware of the kill order, watch your aggro and be prepared to use any threat drops you have available to you. Help with Shadow Nova interrupts if at all possible; I use the following macro:

/cast [modifier:Alt, target=focus, exists, nodead] [] Counterspell

This will interrupt your Focus target if you hold down Alt as you press whatever key it’s bound to. Replace “Counterspell” with your interrupt of choice.

Healers
This is not a kind fight to healers, especially initially. Everything is happening simultaneously here. You have two tanks, both taking heavy damage. They are also trading a debuff that makes them unhealable. On top of that, you have an incredible amount of raid damage happening in the form of fireballs hitting the raid. They can’t be dodged until Time Warden is released. Make sure healers are assigned to specific roles, and plan to use any cooldowns you have to keep the tanks and raid alive in this crucial first phase. You’ll want:

  1. Healer – Halfus Tank
  2. Healer – Drake Tank
  3. Healer – Raid Healer
  4. Optional: Fourth

Another option is to just assign one healer to a specific tank. I conferred with one of our guild healers for this section of the guide, and he wanted me to mention that a four-healer strategy is highly recommended and will help with the significant raid damage going out until Time Warden is released. You will, of course, need to have the DPS to compensate for the loss of one healer, and if you have the option of something like an Atonement priest, by all means use it. They do DPS and healing. Also, as a healer, use any mana regen abilities early on. You will get a brief reprieve (before Halfus hits 50%, and after drakes have been dying) and you won’t need much mana until phase two at that point. Paladin healers should save their personal bubble for phase 2; much like a mage’s Blink it can be used to escape Furious Roar and begin healing immediately.

Our paladin, Sinpree, describes H Halfus as a pretty basic fight from a healing perspective. The biggest thing is maximizing mana regen at the beginning and making sure you put out the HPS to keep everyone alive, and then leaving yourself enough mana to finish the fight.

Conclusion

Heroic Halfus can seem like a very complicated fight with so many things happening. You will probably wipe most while your tanks and healers sort out the initial damage and taunting mechanics. Above everything, keep your cool and remember that if you can survive the first portion you are well on your way to defeating the fight. Apart from interrupting Shadow Nova in P2, it’s all downhill after the first few drakes have died! Good luck, and if you have any questions feel free to ask them in comments. Here’s to more dead internet dragons!

Cataclysm Recruitment

I’ve been the ‘recruitment officer’ in some capacity for my guild for almost as long as I’ve been in the guild. To be fair, this means something different in a ten-man group than it does for a big twenty-fives guild. We don’t need to recruit constantly or usually more than one person at a time. Because of our niche, recruitment has always been interesting. In some ways, it was harder because the vast majority of folks were looking for a “real” raiding guild (i.e. not tens). In other ways it was easier because there were very few tens-only guilds to serve the needs of those who were seeking them specifically.

More often than not a year ago I would have to approach people who hadn’t indicated a preference for twenty-fives, on the off chance that they were open to either raid size. Sometimes this worked and we gained an excellent guild-member because of it. Other times the person would scramble to specify, “I meant twenty-fives!”

The balance of power has shifted in the recruitment forums. An explosion of ten-man guilds scramble alongside twenty-fives to try and fill their rosters at all levels of progression. The way that guilds snap at the heels of any prospective applicant is a pretty strong indicator that it’s a buyer’s market out there. Happily, the number of people looking for a tens guild is about evenly matched with those seeking a twenty-fives guild. This is good for us. Unhappily, hardly anyone is viewing my ads.

Forum Organization

Since Battle.net was integrated with the official Warcraft site, the forums have also changed. A change I’m really not happy about is the way that the guild recruitment forum was rolled into one biiiiig forum. It used to be that there was some division between Horde and Alliance forum. I can see why they did away with this – after all, since faction transfers exist there are many people willing to switch sides for their guild of choice. It’s okay to me that Alliance and Horde posts are mixed together, but I still think this forum needs vast improvement.

Despite there being many other sites that have tried to fill the recruitment niche, none of them have ever really been as useful as the official forums. It’s a simple numbers game – if 80% of the population doesn’t know about or use your tool, then it’s not even worth the time it takes to register on the site. People ARE using the recruitment forums, but they’re a big mess.

I propose that the forums ought to be divided into at least two sections – one for people seeking a guild, and one for guilds seeking people. I wonder if they haven’t done this because it would reduce visibility for guilds advertising? I’d accept that sacrifice in exchange for an easy way to browse through the ads of individuals rather than the hundreds of other guilds I don’t care about. There are external sites that work to alleviate this problem, which is kind of telling. If you need another website to navigate your forums, it’s possible your forums could use some tweaking. They could even sub-divide the forums: one subforum for 25s raiding and one for 10s, and maybe one for PvP/Other (although I’m pretty sure most RP folks aren’t using the official forums for the majority of their recruitment. An RP guild would have better luck on the ‘realm’ forums).

The Many and The Few

The other obstacle facing recruiting guilds right now is a simple matter of supply and demand. So many new guilds sprang up for Cataclysm that competition for available players is fierce. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been browsing the recruitment forums for over a year and I’ve never seen it quite like this. If you aren’t one of the first people to reply to someone’s ad, chances are that your interest will simply get buried in the deluge of ad spam that follows.

It’s great for the people looking for a guild! There’s never been a better time to locate a guild that matches every criteria you have – server type, raid type, size and attitude. The flip-side of that is that it’s a difficult time to be a guild seeking personnel. As a guild leader or recruitment officer, you need to think about what makes your guild so different than the others also trying to attract a person’s attention. Are you more progressed, do you have better times for them? You know your guild is awesome, but you have to convince this person of that enough that they will apply. This also brings up the issue of quality. I’ve seen applicants advertising themselves that have, let’s say, 9/12 experience (with normal mode encounters). Which is fine! I’m not judging. But this same applicant will advertise that their guild of choice must have “at least” 6/13 hard-modes down. I can understand wanting to find a guild a bit more progressed than you are, especially if you are at a progression block in your current guild. You want to know that the guild you’re joining is pushing the content you want. But I can tell you now, if you personally have only done 9/12, there’s no way you are geared enough for doing the later hard-modes, at least in a ten-man guild. You would be a liability to that team until they were able to gear you further, and also until you actually learned the encounters. But these people will inevitably find a guild with that kind of progression, because that’s the way recruitment is right now. This is still a bit of a red flag for me, though – I wouldn’t want someone making those kinds of demands to join my guild. I’m pretty sure our attitudes towards perseverance and progression wouldn’t match up. It’s not that I wouldn’t recruit someone who hasn’t done any hard-modes, I might consider it if the personality and attitude were a match. Encounters can be learned. But in that case you are the one that has to impress me, not the other way around!

Something Wicked This Way

I can’t write a post about recruitment without mentioning another trend that’s really been disturbing me. It seems to be completely acceptable now as someone seeking a guild to post your Real ID e-mail address in your recruitment ad. I’ve seen folks casually say more often than not, “Here’s my Real ID contact information, so message me this way.”

First of all, are these people crazy? Posting up your Real ID in a public forum is just begging to be hacked. Hackers know it’s the same e-mail address you use to login to Battle.net in the first place, and you’ve just given them a key piece of information. So there’s the fact that it’s a security risk. Secondly, Real ID is intended to be a method of contact between real-life friends. It uses your actual name, unless you used a pseudonym when you first registered for Battle.net (You can’t change your name in the system without phoning a customer service rep, I looked into it). So you’re giving complete strangers access to your account e-mail and your real name without a second thought.

I’ve seen recruiters that also include their Real ID information along with, “Here’s how you can get in touch with me.” Well, this is a fine pickle. I’ve actually been frustrated to see that potential applicants are having conversations via Real ID before anyone has even posted a “reply” to their ad. The advent of Real ID being used this way might mean that I miss out on potential applicants to my guild – and so be it, because I am not going to be giving out my first and last name to a complete stranger just so that I can ask them some questions about their tanking spec.

In-Game Guild Finder

This is the newest development in the guild-seeking and finding scene: the in-game guild finder! Scott Andrews over at WoW Insider wrote an article for GLs about how to set your guild up to find applicants this way. This is what the interface looks like:

The description section has a harsh character limit. Hence, I could not put a period at the end of that last sentence, or use the entire word "apply."

That’s what ours looks like. Any requests your guild receives show up in the “Requests” tab where an applicant is also given space to send a message (although you can send a request without any message at all). So what do I think of the new tool? Well, any tool designed to bring a guild to the attention of prospective applicants is a good one. We’ve had a number of “requests” this way, but none of those people have actually joined the guild. There’s actually an “invite” button on the tab, and maybe some guilds would be happy to invite a member just on the basis of three sentences, but we’re not going to be changing our outlook on that anytime soon. People still have to go to our website to fill out a “real” application, and so this tool is an intermediary at best. Still, it increases visibility and might sometime gain us the right applicant so I don’t mind it. I hope they refine some things such as the “availability” section. Plenty of people are available on “weekdays,” but are those weekdays the days my guild is actually raiding?

Hanging In There

Having said all of the above, though, all of our recent recruitment has been quite successful. When we needed a new tank we had to look at an unprecedented five(!) quality applications, and it wasn’t an easy decision. We found our holy paladin healer back in February reasonably easily (and I don’t think it was my clever ad that attracted him either, more’s the pity). Recently we had our fury warrior swap to healing and subsequently recruited a friend of an existing guild member to fill the slot. This is naturally the ideal – never having to resort to “cold” methods of recruitment at all. If you can find quality people via word of mouth or existing contacts you are reasonably assured that the applicant will be a good fit for your guild at least in personality, and you also have someone to vouch ahead of time for their quality of play.

As it happens, BT is still recruiting for two members at the moment. We’re looking for ideally a moonkin and an excellent healer; either paladin, priest, or restoration shaman. If you want to read more about the specifics you can do so on our recruitment ad or our website. I’m also happy to answer any questions here. (Hey, it’s my blog, a little advertising never hurt anyone!)

The Tortoise and the Hare: It’s Okay If You Aren’t Raiding Yet

The other day I read this post by Oestrus over at World of Matticus called Keeping Up With The Paragons. It touched on something that I’ve been thinking about pretty much since launch. It’s easy at this point in the expansion’s life to feel as if you are getting left behind, will never accomplish what you want to accomplish – or if you do, it’ll be so long after the fact that it’s irrelevant. It’s not true. The expansion just came out – approximately yesterday! Really. You have to dive in at your own pace, not the pace of everyone around you. Not everyone is going to have server firsts, or world firsts – in fact, I think the majority of us are comfortably someplace in the middle. The guilds that are blowing through content like tissue paper are impressive, but they make sacrifices and commitments to be there. That’s not a criticism, it’s a fact. Finally, the content isn’t going to go anywhere. You still have time.

It’s okay if you aren’t raiding yet, honest.

Time Well Spent: Always Includes Cookies

The expansion has been out for twenty-eight days, or exactly four weeks. Of those days, depending on your beliefs – at least three were likely holidays. (The twenty-fourth, fifth, and first of January, for anyone keeping track). That leaves you with exactly twenty-five days that you could have been playing WoW, but I’m probably being generous there. In my case, my brother was here from out of town for Christmas. I don’t see him more than once a year – and the once is if I’m lucky – so I sure wasn’t going to be playing WoW in the evenings when he was here. Several of our guild members had other obligations; travel, family, holiday. One of them moved across the country in the middle of December, a few more went home to another state to celebrate the holidays with their families.

I’m not here making excuses. (“Oh, we absolutely would have been server-first at xyx if only we’d had the time!“) But the fact is, the expansion is still quite young. Presumably most folks had to attend to that pesky work-thing for a good chunk of December. I know that being behind the leveling curve can be frustrating. I started playing WoW pretty late in Burning Crusade, and it felt like an eternity before I could catch up to play with the “big people.” When Wrath came out, I was bound and determined not to be left behind, and I wasn’t. This time around I’ve been much more relaxed. I leveled at what I consider a reasonable pace, and my reasonable pace is probably different from yours. At least two guildies were 85 quite literally overnight. I wasn’t among them, but that’s okay. We’re all going to be raiding at the same time.

In my world, Gingerbread Draenei Cookies > Blackwing Descent, if only for the month of December.

Expectations and Priorities: We can’t all be first.

Only you can know when you’re ready to raid. You should raid when you’re ready, and not a moment before. If you aren’t raiding right now, it doesn’t mean you’re lazy, or bad, or slow. It means that you made different choices. You chose (or had no choice) but to use your time in a different way. Now you’re hearing reports of all these first-kills rolling in via Twitter, or other blogs, or whispers from friends, and you start to feel panicky. “Why isn’t that me? Did I wait too long?”

Not everyone is going to be first, even though the competitive WoW culture is a bit obsessed with it. It can be nice to compare yourself to other folks to see how you measure up, and can serve as a form of recognition for the effort you’ve put into your character and the game. But it’s important to recognize that those kinds of achievements require a sacrifice. To use myself as an example, we could have pushed the guild harder to be ready on time. I could have made sure to run more heroics over the holidays instead of going out for supper (and sushi lunch!) with my brother and my family. I could have done that, but I didn’t want to. I’m not passing judgment on people who would have made a different choice – I’m not in their shoes! Maybe they don’t celebrate the holidays, or their family was out of town. I can’t possibly know that. I do know that I’ve chosen to be in a guild of people who are adults. They have children, jobs, and other obligations. We’re also a small guild (by choice) and so we have to wait for our full roster to be ready before we can dive into ten mans. I know some twenty five-sized guilds have been able to work on tens. They have a “head start” on us, and that’s fine too.

We expected to start raiding in early January, and that’s what we’re doing – right on schedule! I know a few of our members would’ve preferred for us to start sooner, but the sacrifice didn’t seem worth it. We have a great group of excellent raiders with real-life obligations that prevented us from raiding sooner, but we know that when we do raid we’ll be ready. One ill-fated Blackwing Descent evening back in mid-December proved that. Gearing, gemming, and enchanting don’t happen overnight. The only possible problem is when your expectations and those of your guild don’t match up. In most cases, I think that if you wait a month you won’t be disappointed. Everything feels very urgent right now, but raid progression will settle as we all get a chance to get to it.

Inevitable End: This, too, shall be patched.

As Wrath proved, Blizzard is firmly committed to making sure that everyone who wants to see end-game content will be able to do so. Whether your guild raids once a week for kicks, or five nights a week, you’ll get there. Even the heroics that folks have alternately lauded and complained about will become easier as people acquire raid gear and are more willing to pug. There’s no knowing when the next content patch will be. Clearing what’s available at a reasonable pace is something everyone has to decide for themselves, much like leveling. You can have raid goals even if you haven’t started raiding yet. You can meet those goals. I’m confident in our particular group’s ability to learn quickly, and I think the time spent gearing while people rested and went on vacation is better spent than if we’d tried to rush into raiding too soon. The frustration would have outweighed any imaginary benefit to be achieved from “doing things first.”

Regardless of when you start, if you have the will and the people to make it happen, your raiding will be successful. What successful means is something only you can decide for yourself, and don’t let the accomplishments of others cast a shadow on your own. Congratulate your further progressed friends (sincerely!) and rest assured that your time is coming. That tortoise knew what he was talking about.

Hey, never understimate the benefits of fishing for your guild and raiding! That's something that has to be done slowly.

Pre-Raid Mage Gear List

A few weeks back (because he’s on top of things like that), a guildie of mine compiled a list of mage gear, following in the footsteps of other folks on the Mana Obscura mage forums who were getting ready for Cataclysm. I read it, said “Hey, that’s great!” and filed it away for future reference. I didn’t think I’d be needing it immediately. I was wrong.

I’ve found myself referring to his list often over the past few days, but I’ve also started squirreling away information of my own, and so this edited list was born. My favourite style of pre-raid gear list was defined by the excellent Gearing Your Feral Druid at 80 guides by Allison Robert. I am following in her footsteps by categorizing the drops because sometimes you can’t depend on drops, and it’s nice to see at a glance what you can use in a pinch. I’m not really doing the level of analysis that Allison did with those guides, though, because what’s BiS for one spec may not be quite so for another. Naturally, you’re going to want to prioritize hit until you’re capped or near it, and then chase specific stats as your spec and playstyle demand.

A huge thanks to Fsob for his original work and permission to use his list as a starting point. If you just want to know about all the very best gear, here’s where you can find that list.

Please note that this list covers Reputation items, BoE profession items, items that can be bought with Justice Points, and 5 man heroic drops. It does not cover BoE raid drops, PvP items of any kind, holiday items, items bought with Valor Points, Archaeology items, or profession specific items, enchants, or gems.

All Reputation items are from Alliance reputations. Horde have the exact same items, just with different names/reps.

I changed the formatting a little; assume that all instances refer to heroic drops UNLESS otherwise noted. For all of the items, you can assume that the normal drop of the same item is a solid choice while leveling, or will at least stand you in good stead until you can replace it.

Do you have your head in the sand about your gear? Refuse to admit it's time for a wardrobe update? We can help!

I intend to use this list to focus my efforts and identify weak spots in my gear that can be improved. I’ve tried to make it as relevant and thorough as possible, adding parts in where I thought they were missing, but I make no claim of 100% accuracy. Feel free to mention any additions you feel I’ve overlooked, I don’t want to have misinformation! Each slot is divided into four categories: Purchased/crafted items (including Justice Points), drops, quests, and faction rewards. What is best for you will depend on your spec.

Please note that all instances referenced below refer to heroic versions.

Head

Purchased/Crafted
Cowl of Pleasant Gloom – 2,200 Justice Points

Drop
Crown of Enfeebled Bodies – Grim Batol (Erudax)
Blinders of the Follower – Shadowfang Keep (Lord Walden)
Helm of the Typhonic Beast – Halls of Origination (Setesh)

Quest
Kata-Mary Crown is a decent option as a quest reward from the quest Gnomebliteration in Uldum. Plus, you can hum the Katamari song when you wear it…

Faction
This helm is available at Honored with the Earthen Ring. Save yourself some justice points and pick up Helm of Temperance as a good starter helm. It’s almost identical to the normal version of Crown of Enfeebled Bodies, and it has a meta and one socket as well.

Enchant with Arcanum of Hyjal (Guardians of Hyjal, Revered).

Neck

Purchased/Crafted
Eye of Many Deaths – BoE, crafted by Jewelcrafters with a skill of 525
String of Beaded Bubbles – 1,250 Justice Points
Charm of the Muse – BoE zone drop in Heroic Halls of Origination

Drop
Pendant of the Keep – Shadowfang Keep (Baron Silverlaine)
Pipefish Cord – Throne of the Tides (Neptulon’s Cache)
Tauntka’s Necklace – Lost City of the Tol’vir (High Prophet Barim)

Quest
Eye of Despair – Reward from the quest Eye Spy in Twilight Highlands

Faction
Lightning Flash Pendant – Requires Wildhammer Clan – Exalted

Shoulder

Meadow Mantle – 1,650 Justice Points

Drop
Mantle of Master Cho – Lost City of Tol’vir (Siamat)
Mantle of the Eastern Lords – Shadowfang Keep (Lord Godfrey)

Quest
Clan Heart Shoulders
- Reward from quest The Loyalty of Clan Mullan in Twilight Highlands.
Blight-Lifter’s Mantle
– Reward from The Source of Their Power (dungeon quest) in Lost City of Tol’Vir (normal).

Faction
There is no good reputation option, unfortunately.

Enchant with Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone. (Therazane, Exalted).

Back

Purchased/Crafted
There are not any viable options that don’t require Valor Points.

Drop
Periwinkle Cloak –  Throne of the Tides (Lady Naz’jar)
Shadow of Perfect Bliss – The Vortex Pinnacle (Asaad)

Quest
Stone-Binder’s Cloak – quest reward from The World Pillar Fragment in Deepholm.

Faction
Cloak of Ancient Wisdom – Requires The Earthen Ring, Revered
Cloak of the Dryads – You can also pick up this cloak from the Guardians of Hyjal at Honored. It’s not the greatest (spirit, ick) but you can reforge a bit of that until you’re able to replace it with something better.

Enchant with Greater Critical Strike or Greater Intellect.

Chest

Purchased/Crafted
Robes of Embalmed Darkness – 2,200 Justice Points

Drop
Corsair’s Overshirt – The Deadmines (“Captain” Cookie)
Inquisition Robes – Blackrock Caverns (Rom’ogg Bonecrusher)
Robes of Arugal – Shadowfang Keep (Baron Ashbury)
Robes of Rampant Growth – Halls of Origination (Ammunae)

Quest
Overly Intelligent Robes – Reward from the quest Skullcrusher the Mountain in Twilight Highlands.

Faction
Robes of Orsis – Requires Ramkahen – Revered

Enchant with Peerless Stats.

Wrist

Purchased/Crafted
There seems to always be a dearth of available bracers. If you can’t snag any of the other options, these two tailored resilience pieces are almost identical except for one stat: Emberfire Bracers has haste while Fireweave Bracers have mastery.

Drop
Armbands of Exiled Architects – The Deadmines (Vanessa VanCleef)
Sand Silk Wristband – Lost City of the Tol’vir (Augh)

Quest
True Archaeologist’s Bracers – Reward from quest Doing It The Hard Way (dungeon quest), Halls of Origination

Faction
No options.

Enchant with Precision, Greater Critical Strike, or Greater Speed.

Hands

Purchased/Crafted
Gloves of the Painless Midnight – 1,650 Justice Points

Drop
Mnemiopsis Gloves – Throne of the Tides (Neptulon’s Cache)

Quest
Corruption Resistant Gloves – Reward from quest Magmalord Falthazar, Twilight Highlands.

Faction
Flamebloom Gloves – Requires The Earthen Ring, Exalted
Gloves of Atherial Rumours – Wildhammer Clan, Honored

Enchant with Haste or Greater Mastery.

Waist

Purchased/Crafted
Dreamless Belt – BoE Crafted by Tailors with a skill of 525 (but these are going to be pretty dear until enough time has passed for people to level tailoring and acquire cloth).
Incense Infused Cumberbund – 1,650 Justice Points
Triple-Loop Belt – BoE zone drop, Halls of Origination

Drop
Beauty’s Silken Ribbon – Blackrock Caverns (Beauty)
Stratosphere Belt – The Vortex Pinnacle (Grand Vizier Ertan)
Girdle of Nobility – BoE zone drop in Dead Mines (Heroic)

Quest
Pillarbind Waistguard from quest in Deepholm The Middle Fragment.

Faction
Cord of Raven Queen – Again, another spirit option that isn’t ideal but if you happen to have a ton of Guardians of Hyjal rep, it’s better than nothing (Exalted, Guardians of Hyjal).

Add an extra socket with an Ebonsteel Belt Buckle.

Legs

Purchased/Crafted
Breeches of Mended Nightmares – BoE Crafted by Tailors with a skill of 525
Flame-Ascended Pantaloons – BoE Crafted by Tailors with a skill of 525
Pensive Legwraps – 2,200 Justice Points.

Drop
Legwraps of Astral Rain – Isiset in Heroic Halls of Origination.

Quest
Narkall’s Leggings from quest reward Narkall, The Drake-Tamer in Twilight Highlands

Faction
No viable option unfortunately.

Enchant with Powerful Enchanted Spellthread or Enchanted Spellthread.

Feet

Purchased/Crafted
The crafted options here are not as good as quested, and the BoE drops will be very rare initially.

Drop
Slippers of the Twilight Prophet – The Stonecore (High Priestess Azil)
Corpse Rompers – BoE zone drop in The Deadmines (heroic)

Quest
Magma-Proof Sandals – quest reward from A Fiery Reunion, Twilight Highlands

Faction
Desert Walker Sandals – Requires Ramkahen – Exalted

Enchant with Lavawalker, Mastery, Haste, or Precision.

Fingers

Purchased/Crafted
Abandoned Dark Iron Ring – BoE zone drop from Grim Batol
Ring of Warring Elements – BoE crafted by Jewelcrafters with a skill of 525.

Drop
Anthia’s Ring – Throne of the Tides (Mindbender Ghur’sha)
Band of Rays – Halls of Origination (Rajh)
Lavishly Jeweled Ring – The Deadmines (Admiral Ripsnarl)
Rose Quartz Band – The Stonecore (Slabhide)
Spirit Creeper Ring – Lost City of Tol’vir (General Husam)

Quest
Red Dragonheart Ring – Quest reward from Battle of Life and Death, Twilight Highlands

Faction
Band of Singing Grass – Requires Wildhammer Clan – Revered
Diamant’s Ring of Temperance – Requires Therazane – Revered

Trinkets

I was fortunate enough to have a jewelcrafting trinket for this slot. Trinkets are notoriously difficult to obtain but look to the quested options if you are unlucky with drops. The three listed here are all fairly decent.

Purchased/Crafted
Darkmoon Card: Volcano – BoE, obtained by turning in a Volcanic Deck or by purchasing from someone else who did.

Drop
Anhuur’s Hymnal – Halls of Origination (Temple Guardian Anhuur)
Gale of Shadows – Grim Batol (Erudax)
Sorrowsong – Lost City of Tol’vir (Siamat)
Tendrils of Burrowing Dark – The Stonecore (Ozruk)
Witching Hourglass – Blackrock Caverns (Ascendant Lord Obsidius)

Quest
World-Queller Focus – Quest reward from Once More Into The Fire, Twilight Highlands
Talisman of Sinister Order – Quest reward from Firing Squad, Uldum
Stonemother’s Kiss – Quest reward from Audience with the Stonemother, Deepholm

Faction
Stump of Time – Requires Baradin’s Wardens – Exalted

Wand

Purchased/Crafted
Wand of Dark Worship – BoE zone drop from The Stonecore
Cyu’s Ornate Wand – BoE world drop

Drop
Cookie’s Stirring Rod – The Deadmines (“Captain” Cookie)
Corla’s Baton – Blackrock Caverns (Corla, Herald of Twilight)

Quest
Beach-Sweeper Wand from quest Landgrab in Twilight Highlands

Faction
Nothing. Squat (diddly).

Two-Hand Weapon

Purchased/Crafted
Staff of Solemn Secrecy – BoE world drop

Drop
Cerith Spire Staff – Throne of the Tides (Commander Ulthok)
Emberstone Staff –  The Deadmines (Foe Reaper 5000)
Staff of Siphoned Essences – Grim Batol (Erudax)

Quest
Very Manly Staff - Quest reward from the Crucible of Carnage quest chains, Twilight Highlands

Faction
Insidious Staff – Requires Baradin’s Wardens – Revered

Enchant with Power Torrent or Hurricane.

One-Hand Weapon

Purchased/Crafted
Beak of Julak-Doom – BoE drop from a world boss Julak-Doom
Elementium Spellblade – BoE crafted by Blacksmiths with a skill of 520
Fire-Etched Dagger – the lesser BoE crafted option from Blacksmiths with a skill of 425

Drop
Biting Wind – The Vortex Pinnacle (Grand Vizier Ertan)
Blade of the Burning Sun – Halls of Origination (Rajh)
Modgud’s Blade – Grim Batol (General Umbriss)

Quest
Salhet’s Ornate Dagger, quest reward from Salhet the Tactician in Uldum

Faction
They’ve got nothing.

Enchant with Power Torrent or Hurricane.

Off-Hand

Purchased/Crafted
Dungeoneering Guide – BoE crafted by Scribes with a skill level of 510
Hermit’s Lamp – a steal at 950 Justice Points, if you have a decent main-hand

Drop
Beauty’s Favorite Bone – Blackrock Caverns (Beauty)

Quest
Skyflight Beacon – Quest reward from Doing It Like A Dunwald, Twilight Highlands

Faction
Sadly nothing.

Enchant with Superior Intellect.

Conclusion

Quest through Twilight Highlands if at all possible, because some of the best quested gear is from there. Then you can isolate your weakest points and upgrade those, or see what drops. If you’ve already acquired a normal dungeon drop in one slot, maybe you’ll spend Justice Points or count on crafted gear to fill another.

Again, huge thanks to Fsob for putting in much of the grunt work to compile this list, and for generously allowing me to add to and edit what was already done. It would’ve taken three times as long otherwise. As it is, I’m going to use it to help me with my own gear, and I hope my contribution is some small help to any other mages (or cloth DPS folks).

There are some other great guides out there; Poneria at Fel Concentration has done one for warlocks. Let me know if there are others I’ve missed and I’ll be happy to add them!

…I’m on a seahorse.

Voss and I were in line last night at 11:30 along with other hapless Canadians, shuffling in place and freezing our feet to the ground. It was actually not ridiculously cold – about 17 degrees Fahrenheit, for you US folks – which was cold enough by the time midnight hit! Fortunately this year (unlike the Wrath release) the game store folks let us wait in line inside. This was greatly appreciated by all.

I retrieved my Collector’s Edition (the only real reason to be standing in line instead of downloading it digitally) and then came home to get ready to play!

One of the things I love about a new expansion is that there are so many different possible approaches. For me, primary goal is to get Millya to 85. That is top priority. Other folks were rolling a worgen or a goblin or trying for a realm first with professions or other things. I know some folks had trouble logging in, for us it wasn’t bad and we were online at about 1:20 AM.

We started leveling through Vashj’ir initially and it was a mess. There were creatures and people everywhere – and the quests unfortunately (while interesting and fun) have a heavy focus on gathering or finding specific mobs or items. It was not a recipe for success. I stopped playing at 4:30, only a single bar away from level 81 but unable to push on.

Today we quested for a very short time before deciding to give Hyjal a try instead. As a leveling experience it’s much easier; it’s more linear and there are fewer gathering quests so far. I recommend it. Especially if you’re leveling with a partner or friend, the gathering quests in Vashj’ir are a killer and it’s easy to lose track of your buddy once you get this fellow:

Now look at your mount. Now back to me. I have a copy of that game you love! This is the mount your mount COULD be if you were questing in Vashj'ir. I'm on a seahorse.

Just for that, Vashj’ir was worth it. I have this reaction with some things in WoW – perhaps because others are difficult to attain or require a long grind… It’s like, “You’re going to give this to me? You’re just… you’ll just give it to me. Right here? …What’s the catch?”

I felt that way about Withers when I first got him. “They give you a pet!? Just for doing the quests? …But why?”

Not that I’m complaining.

My impressions of the expansion so far are immensely positive. I have professions to level, zones and quests to see, and I’m loving the new instances. I’ll try to keep posts fairly free of spoilers, but I can’t make any guarantees. I am loving the content and I want to talk about it!

What have you loved about Cataclysm so far (or not loved, if you prefer!). What was the first thing you did?

 

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