Saturday, February 27, 2010

Are mods getting too good?

I've been pleasantly surprised about how sophisticated some addons have been getting recently (and throughout WotLK). Healbot, through the last couple of it's own patches, has gone from tracking your own buffs to tracking anything you can think of - tank cooldowns, healer cooldowns, healer buffs, who's not ready, etc. When moused over, the Healbot tooltip shows the duration remaining on the buff and who cast it.

While this might be information overload for some, I'm using it as an opportunity to learn more about what the people in my raid are doing. Now I know when the DPS are using survivability cooldowns, and I also see what my tanks are doing. It's prompted me to ask questions, especially to my warrior tank sitting next to me. "Hey that thing you just did, what's it do? What's it called?". He's happy to oblige me (who doesn't like talking about their class mechanics?).

Deadly Boss Mods has always been a great helper for raiding, but it's latest installment of announcements for heroics is as thorough as can be. Fights with waves of adds have a list of with quantities of each type of add and timers. We're told to interrupt.. the trash! I was blown away the first time I saw DBM remind me to get out of Commander Kolurg's Whirlwind (and subsequently watched all three melee dps eat it).

With WoW being as popular as it is, it's also made these mods popular. And by extension, they get more development time and show more sophistication. They bounce back quicker if patches break them and are constantly looking for more ways to help us players out, as well as stay competitive with other similar addons. We're getting more options, more customization, more features, and more information.

One of my favorite features of DBM is the countdowns for boss abilities. Knowing when the next Spore is coming helps me plan cooldowns for Festergut. Knowing that the next ability the twins are doing is going to be a "change color or die" helps me know how long I have to get in position. Knowledge is power, and DBM puts that knowledge in bullet-point form with countdowns. It's like a PDA for my healer.

These modules are fantastic to help your game, and are invaluable for me when learning an encounter. I sometimes wonder, though, for those less willing to learn, if they can be a crutch. We can come to the encounter with the mindset that DBM will tell me if I'm standing in a void zone, so I don't need to be watching my feet. DBM will tell me when Anub comes back up, I can daydream for ten seconds or grab a handful of chips. DBM has the potential to be a poweful enabler if you are a good player, but it also has the potential to carry players.

Sometimes popular mods will find their way into the standard UI. Many of the features added in through the last few patches were mods (or features on websites) to begin with - gear sets emerged from Outfitter, we got the option to look at talent builds before officially spending them thanks to Wowhead and other sites, and the "show iLevel" option from, uh, somewhere.

With all the buzz for Cataclysm, I can't help but wonder what new mods (and what new features to the mods we already know and love) we will see. Knowing that Ghostcrawler has had some open discussion over at the WoW healer forums about the standard UI and what could be improved for healers, I half-wonder if we'll see some healbot-esque options show up as options in the base UI. As we approach a new expansion, are developers going to be designing encounters based on the assumption we're running DVE or DBM because they are considered 'mandatory' for raiders? Will healing in raids be tuned with the assumption we're running decursive (like they pretty much are now), or will we see new options to highlight debuffs as standard? Please, Ghostcrawler, can you give me a standard ui Bacon timer? I understand you can't give my priest a pony. But my paladin doesn't like Bacon when it's fallen off my tank.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In-Game Personality Quirks

Do your in-game habits reflect your real-life habits?

I have a couple of interesting in-game "personality traits" that have no bearing whatsoever on my habits in real life. IRL I tend to be a minimalist. I have pretty much only what I need, mostly because I loathe shopping.

And yet, in game, I have characters and my own guild banks devoted to all the stuff I don't need, but love to have. I positively delight in a good deal on the Auction House. It doesn't matter so much if I already have plenty of something, if it's going cheap enough, I'll stock up and find a use for it. The first thing I do when I sign on is shop. I love shopping in-game, but I can't drag myself into a department store (or worse yet, a mall) save for that one time the week before Christmas.

I keep my characters stocked up to overkill levels of all supplies. My pally never leaves town without: three kinds of food, another three kinds of flasks, black jellies and regular waters, every color and quality of uncut gem, drums, more reagents than anyone could shake a stick at, and off-set gear as well as non-set gear.... holy crap, I have too much... crap. Did I mention I carried around a Scroll of Enchant Shield for two tiers of raiding for the special moment I got that upgrade? (It felt really good, at least...)

And yet, IRL, I leave the house with a little pouch that holds my license, and my keys. I'm simple and unburdened. Free, if you would. I had to find my purse today because I felt awkward going to a professional meeting without it. Otherwise, if it doesn't fit into my coat pockets, I don't need it. Not so for my in-game persona! If my bags are not clogged with consumables, craftables, and gear, I'm not ready. It will drive me nuts until I can restock (or even just get back to the bank where I keep my reserve-reserve of supplies).

Do you find yourself in the same situation, or do you feel that your character in-game reflects your character in the real world?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rant Incoming -

Here's the buzz: The Noisy Rogue, Cranky Healer, and Kurn all have some opinions on the recent choice for the new Holy Pally writer on After reading their complaints, I took a look at the article and was disappointed myself.
We can also use Divine Plea during medium damage phases by tying it with a healing boost cooldown like Avenging Wrath or Divine Illumination (with 2pc Tier 10, of course).
Incoming Rant #1. Linking abilities with different cooldowns limits how many times you can use them throughout the fight. You will get less uses of each of them when they must be paired together than when they are used individually as appropriate.

Rant #2. Divine Illumination was awesome before 2t10. This is not the first time I've heard a paladin suggest they would only use this ability this way, but the paladins who take this attitude fail. Divine Illumination is good - ridiculously good - and to see it suggested that this ability is useful only with certain gear AND when linked to another ability is limiting and shows a lack of understanding both encounters and paladin healing.

A paladin who is afraid to Plea without cooldowns is a paladin I'm afraid to raid with.

Please bear with me a moment. Divine Plea's MS effect isn't nearly as terrifying as some paladins make it out to be. There are definitely times it shouldn't be used, but there are more times that Divine Plea can be used safely than many paladins give credit for. If a paladin starts thinking of mana regen as a micro-game within the encounter, the best use of DP is early and often. If you're concerned with regaining the most mana in a fight, you should not ever link cooldowns because that is less mana overall than using them seperately.
I like to wait until a phase where I'm casting quite a bit and my mana is lower (less than 50%), and I'll use Divine Illumination and Divine Plea together. I end up with the 25% mana from Divine Plea, and since I was casting pretty often, Divine Illumination saved me 50% on each cast.
Divine Plea. The best use, in my humble opinion, is early and often. Don't wait to Plea until you realize you're at half. You've missed out on a lot of mana. When I Plea, I cast as few Holy Lights as I can get away with and still keep my tank comfortably alive. When used properly, you'll still have the throughput needed (in fact, you might just have no overheal instead of the 50% overheal you had before you Plead). Why would you use Plea when you know you need to spam? If you need to spam, you need the throughput! Use Plea when you don't need the throughput.

Divine Illumination. I'm annoyed that the author cares more about the healing boost from this ability than the mana savings of casts during Illumination. Forget the healing boost - for 15 seconds you get really cheap Holy Lights. The best use of Divine Illumination is when you expect to spam as hard and as fast as possible - when you need throughput. 2T10, if you have it, is icing on your spam flavored cake. Heroism is an awesome time to use this ability, but also spam-intense parts of an encounter (Festergut Ph3, Anub Ph3, Marrowgar Ph1, Deathwhisper Ph2, just a few examples). With my level of haste, I can get in 11 Holy Lights each time I'm Illuminated. Without knowing the exact numbers of savings, that's at least 5,500 mana saved every three minutes. If you do like the author says and wait to use this ability till 50% mana, you're only going to get in one Illumination in a given fight. Again, the key is to use it early so you can at least twice a fight.

Avenging Wrath
. While on the surface this might seem like it's not a bad idea to pair Plea with Wrath (I've seen it often enough), the idea I presented above is that you don't need to. And if you don't need to use them together, there's a another use for Wrath as well. Spamming Flash of Light. Flash of Light with a 20% oomph (especially when you can spam a tank taking damage with Sacred Shield up for lots of crits) is often just enough a bonus to make Flash worthwhile for twenty seconds. And if there's a moment where you're afraid it won't be enough, it's okay to throw in a Holy Light every few casts (it will be a hefty Light, as well). With the gobs of mp5 available from raid buffs and trinkets, each Flash cast as a HL-specced paladin actually nets you mana (once you have a 30k+ mana pool).
Abuse your cooldowns as often as possible, and leave no stone unturned when it comes to optimizing your mana and healing management.
While I agree with the premise of the statement I would like to nitpick at his use of "abuse" (which means to use wrongly or improperly
). There are very few ways to abuse an ability in game. Abilities that are powerful often have cooldowns on them to limit their use, and we are not abusing by using them on cooldown, we are using them properly. I present to you my raiding philosophy: if an ability has a cooldown of 2 minutes, Blizzard is balancing the encounter assuming you are using that ability every 2 minutes. While for tanking saving cooldowns for emergencies might be nice, as healers, our mana regen abilities should be used as close to on cooldown as possible. That isn't abuse, that's 'working as intendedTM'.
However, on fights like Festergut, Saurfang, or General Vezax, you can safely stand on top of either tank, safe from all the explosions and acid splashes that threaten the ranged groups.
I would not ever recommend standing next to Saurfang for any healer. I've seen groups try it and it doesn't work because the Blood Beasts will invariably beeline towards the healer in range and cause more marks and damage than it's worth. This fight is not at all intense on mana; it's not a throughput fight, it's a focused-target healing fight. This is a fight that showcases the speed of Flash of Light and power of absorbs from Sacred Shield - mana squeezes are not necessary. Also, being further at range can help you support your DPS getting down those beasts - your ability to stun out in the field is valuable.

I also disagree with standing on top of the tank for any encounter. If you're concerned about SoW procs, the best place to be is behind the boss. We lack hit rating and expertise to not be dodged and parried, but standing behind the boss will alleviate more of those misses.

I agree that positioning is vital as a holy paladin. We always want to make sure we are moving as little as possible and able to stand and chain-cast as much as can be squeezed out of the encounter. However, in my experiences, there are no encounters that require mass-spamming and movement at the same time. If I have to move from the Slime Spray on Rotface, I don't stress, because Rotface isn't actually hitting the main tank while he's casting the spray. Understanding these encounters and being in the right place before the spam is necessary and using those moment-phases to our advantage is the best way to downplay the weakness of Holy Paladins (limited mobility).
You could open with HoSac for 12 seconds, followed by DiSac for 10 seconds, ending with improved LoH for an additional 15 seconds, and you've just created a ~40 second window of tank survivability.
What encounter demands 40 seconds of this kind of tank survivability? I know the author is talking about Festergut, but I submit to you, dear reader, that there are better uses these abilities individually than chaining them. (see above, Rant #1, where linking abilities with different cooldowns limits how many times you can use them). For Festergut Ph3, it takes more than one person throwing out cooldowns to keep the tank alive. Chaining your abilities during the first Ph3 will make none available to you during the second. Instead, it would be far better to use one or two abilities during the first inhale (alternating them as you see tanks using their own), keeping a third handy for the next (I would save improved LoH because of the amount it can heal for in a pinch, and because you'll only get to use it once a fight anyways). For a fight like Festergut, it's important to remember that Ph3 is a team effort. It takes proper cooldown management from the tank and ALL the healers to make it work.

Also there's one cooldown that never gets any mention that's important. Divine Favor. Guaranteed crit Holy Light with mana back? Yes, please! Divine Favor is off the GCD meaning you can macro it to a Holy Light and you will never see any delay. How does this escape the discussion for cooldowns to help keep a tank alive?

I will give this guy credit for one idea. He suggested that when the boss fight is almost done, you start popping any mitigation cooldowns you have left just to make sure the last 10% is smooth. There's merit to that idea... although if you follow his logic, they will still be on cooldown because he blew them all at once! ;D

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Don't Steal the Bacon!

Who gets your Bacon?

Part I: How I use Beacon of Light

I'm not sure why, but our guild has this custom where our two holy paladins (because our guild insists on using two) are assigned one to each tank, and to Beacon the other paladin's tank. I never said much about it, although I've always felt it constricting. I could understand this type of setup with the original Beacon of Light when it didn't transfer overheal. But now that it does, it's much more reliable and can be used on anyone who needs constant heals, making it better to decide by fight who gets your Beacon.

I suppose it comes down to the most simple of theorycrafting: I'm a tank healer. My sole purpose in the raid is to keep my assignment alive. When any triage becomes necessary my focus becomes the survival of two entities: me, and my assignment. Beacon of Light is a great asset for survival. Any healing I do is transferred to that player. If I'm assigned to keep someone alive, it makes the most sense for me to Beacon my assignment, allowing me the freedom to cast on members of the raid.

During hard moments, Beacon of Light on my assignment is the safest practice. If I take damage I can heal myself while still doing my job. If a healer is spiked/charmed/diseased I can heal the healer and his assignments while still doing my job. If I have to move and get more than forty yards from my Beacon I can heal anyone in range while still doing my job.

There are other times where I might choose to Beacon someone else's assignment. On fights like Saurfang, I Beacon a tank (someone else's assignment) until my assignment gets the first Mark. When we did Lady D last week with the weekly 25 raid quest, I Beaconed the tank in the back holding Darnavan knowing he would be taking damage the whole fight, most of it out of my range. On tank-swap fights like Festergut, I Beacon whichever tank is taking damage, and switch my Beacon around their swapping. On Marrowgar, I Beacon the main tank regardless of my assignment.

For a fight like Rotface, I Beacon my healing assignment. If I'm assigned to the ooze tank, I want him Beaconed because he will often be out of range. I can focus my direct heals on the Main Tank but if I'm diseased I need my holy pally mobility cooldown (Divine Favor + Holy Shock + Insta-FoL) that I cast on myself to also be transferred to my assignment. If I have someone else Beaconed, it puts the ooze tank in danger any time I have to stop casting and have to catch up. If I have to move, the very next heal I cast must be on my assignment if he is not my Beacon. It's a world of difference in playstyle if I Beacon my assignment - I can perform valuable triage throughout the raid without taking chances on my tank.

Part II: In which attempts are made to steal my Bacon

Last week we hit a brick wall on Rotface in more ways than one. First, our main tank couldn't survive through the angry poo poo because he wasn't getting enough heals. Holy Paladin A tells me in the healing channel that I need to Beacon his assignment and he would beacon mine. "No thanks", I say. "The ooze tank is often out of range and Beacon is the perfect solution to that problem". Paladin A whispers me, demanding I do as he says. I say no. He doesn't reply, so I know what's coming...

The healing lead, in the healing channel, says "Hey Enlynn do what A just told you to do with your Beacon." (As a side note, we've had this problem before. When I don't Beacon or help heal his assignment, his assignment goes splat).

"No, thanks. Beacon is the safest way to keep the ooze tank alive, he goes out of my range otherwise."

We wipe again, and I get a whisper from the healing lead. Please? Please can I Beacon the main tank? He keeps dying.

I'm normally not a snottydin, but my response was clear. "You gave me an assignment, and I'm using all the tools I have at my disposal to do what you've asked me to do. If you want to switch around the assignments and give me the tank that's taking more damage, that's fine, but I can't carry Pally A through this fight."

Strong words, I know. Normally I'm all about cooperation and teamwork but if one person is failing at one specific point of one fight, the answer isn't to have me change what I'm doing, it's to have that person change what he or she is doing.

The raid was called early and the officers were asked to drop to the officer chat channel in vent. I couldn't believe it - this Beacon debacle cost us raid time and caused an officers meeting! Did I just cause... drama?!

The next night, we get to Rotface, the healing assignments are doled out. I'm still healing the ooze tank, but things have changed. A holy priest is assigned to the main tank, and Pally A is assigned to the raid. As an aside, our healing lead quickly threw out: paladins use Beacon at their discretion.

Victory for Enlynn! Hurray!

I'm quite sure I made some people unhappy but after giving it some serious thought, I am glad I stuck to my instincts. I don't think it's fair for someone to tell anyone else what to do like that. I've never made demands on anyones buffs or spells - I trust the healers in my raid to do what they need to do. And if I can't trust them, why am I raiding with them?

As an aside, any healer who thinks we need 9 healers for Rotface needs to drop raid and let us get a real healer, or even another DPS.

I am curious how other holy paladins (and raids) handle assignments. Do healing leaders even think about Beacon when they tell holy paladins to handle tanks? Or is Beacon a standard part of assignments given out? If that's acceptable, what other spell "assignments" get tracked: Earth Shield this tank, keep up Inspiration on this guy, Regrowth on this tank, Rejuv on that tank? At some point, it gets pretty ridiculous. Most of us don't need to be told exactly what to do to what we do best. I want to use all my abilities for the best of the raid, and I know when and where to use them.

And don't you try to steal my bacon!

Monday, February 15, 2010

turn off crusader aura!

I admit, sometimes when I'm doing a heroic I often forget to switch from Crusader Aura to something more useful.

There are a lot of players who are so happy to remind me I've made a mistake. I don't know why a hunter would care that we have Crusader instead of Concentration, but evidently he does.

With the sick sense of humor I have, I often just turn it off. So when the mage sees the Crusader icon disappear off his buff bar, he thanks me. He didn't realize that instead of a useless aura, he no has no aura at all. And I get thanked for it!

If you go aura-less throughout heroics, few if any people will ever even notice (I forget to put an aura back on after switching specs, most often). Yet if you leave up Crusaders, you will surely hear about it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

People Watching in the LFD

I admit it, I'm somewhat of a people watcher. I've never gone places specifically just to watch people, but when I am out and about I'm often paying attention to the people around me. The things people wear, the way they compose themselves, the facial expressions they make.

Since we outgear heroics, I don't have much to heal. I've taken to people-watching in the LFD. It's a sort of social experiment of mine. I am no longer quick about topping people off in a five man. I look at the damage characters are taking, and what the players do about it. Sometimes they don't notice until they are almost dead, and then they panic, jumping out of the fire and jumping all over the back of the room. Why continue to jump? I don't even know. It wasn't like they were jumping to get my attention, I was up hammering the boss!

Most of the time, if there's fire on the ground, I am happy to heal it once you get out of the fire. But like I said, I am watching you to see how long you stand in it, and how long it will take you to respond. If you die before you get out of it, I can resurrect you after the boss is down. If you jump out at the very last second, I'll do what I need to do to make sure you survive. I just wanted to see if you were going to save yourself, and how you would do it.

I stopped healing DPS death knights. That might sound inflammatory but after people-watching in the LFD, I realized the class has enough of its own abilities to self-heal and mitigate damage that death knights are on the bottom of my triage. Good death knights can take care of their own health without so much as a glance from me, and even the bad ones can keep themselves alive while standing in stupid.

I'll sometimes target a caster DPS, especially if it's a boomkin or a shadow priest, and watch them do their rotation. What spells are they using and when? I doubt I would be able to improve my rotations from wisdom gleaned from a heroic, but it's always interesting to me to see what other people are doing.

If a DPS pulls off the tank, I will prepare an emergency heal for them but I do watch and see how they respond to the situation. Healbot shows tanking-related cooldowns, so I am often able to see people's emergency buttons - either by the icon on my raid frames, or the graphic in the game. If a mage pulls but is quick to iceblock, I'm quick to get him back up to full health and DPSing again. If a ret paladin pulls and continues his max DPS rotation, and gets his face caved in without using any of those awesome utility spells I am always talking about, well, that happened too fast for me to heal through anyways.

Another thing I've taken to doing is helping the ranged DPS that pull off the tank. If I see a stray coming to the warlock or hunter, I'll start DPSing it too. If we can kill it before it kills you, I'll heal you back up. If you die before the trash mob dies, you pulled it too soon.

I know that the tyrant healer topic is raging recently, and people are fed up with healers who can demand the earth and the sky in exchange for some Flash Heal love. Not all of us are demanding the earth and the sky; even if it's only me, I just want to know that you're paying attention.

QQ: My Mana Pool Is Too Big!

My mana pool is too big... receive Replenishment in a 25 man raid with only one replenisher. Lately, that's all we had. I am probably the only person in the raid who cares. It means that only 10 people (with the lowest mana) receive this buff-that-gives-you-lots-of-mana when the replenisher his that special button in his rotation. It means that five to ten of us are left unbuffed each time.

It's like need before greed. Obviously, it makes sense to do it this way. A buff that gives you mana, if "smart", should definitely assign it by need, naturally, the people with the least mana need it the most.

However, the disparity of mana pools does impede those who focus on having larger pools to work with. Retribution and protection paladins have a mana pool of approximately 7,000. Hunters in ICC gear are sporting 16,000 to 17,000 mana. Caster DPS in our raids have anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000, and only a couple of us healers clear 30,000 (our mages all focus on Intellect and have 30,000 to 33,000).

That means that the smaller your mana pool, the more guaranteed your getting Replenishment, even if you get less mana per tick than someone with a larger mana pool. A hunter with 99% mana (15,999 of 16,000) will get the buff before me, unless I have spent 61% of my mana pool just to so that the server will consider me a candidate for the buff. I have to exhaust my resources considerably just to be eligible for Replenishment in this scenario.

My mana pool is by far the largest, after all, I'm an intellect-stacking holy-light spamming holy paladin. Part of the reason that Intellect is so great for us is because of all the mana regen that is based on max mana. Replenishment is a lot of mana for us. I've been vocal that I consider Replenishment overpowered because when I have it, things are often trivialized. When I don't, I am in danger of going OOM with out thoughtful cooldown management.

Oh, QQ, healers have to manage cooldowns just like everyone else.

Life without replenishment sucks. Ok, yeah, most content is trivial and it doesn't matter and QQ MOAR you don't need Replenishment, Enlynn. *sigh* Except, when it's not trivial. For Festergut and Rotface (progression for our guild), I end those fights with less than a thousand mana. Healing without replenishment sucks. It's stressful because Blizzard designed the encounters around having Replenishment. A holy paladin in ICC gear can expect 33,650 mana from Replenishment in a seven minute fight. That's 29 Holy Lights I get extra just by having a replenisher in the raid. OR, if I don't have replenishment, that's 29 Holy Lights I don't get to cast.

Obviously, the best course of action for me would be to convince our mages that they are not getting their fair share of Replenishment (and that it's hurting their DPS), and they should demand MOAR RESTOPLENISHMENT for our raid group.

My mana pool is too big! QQ

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Lonely Pally

How often are you the only Paladin in your 10 man raids? How do you feel it affects your raid composition?

For several weeks now, I have been the lonely pally. Thankfully, I come prepared with Drums. The people I run with know they are going to get Might/Wisdom and the ghetto kings buff. It's not as nice as having two paladins in the raid, but it works.

It might seem like the the inconveniences end there, but they don't. I am the only one to offer Judgements to the raid. Judgement of Light is powerful. I do use it as often as I can, but the other specs of paladins are able to judge as part of their rotation. As a holy paladin, I often can only judge when I know its a GCD I can spare. I am able to judge enough to get healing done from JoL, however, I can only have the debuff up at one time, which means any times there are multiple targets, I can't get more than one by myself.

Judgement of Light isn't game-breaking by any means. I'm sure there are plenty of groups who go without it (or go with one of the comparable buffs... Shadow Priests, Feral Druids, and Shamans and Paladins all bring a similar blanket-hot for the raid). These buffs are extremely powerful. It's true that most of the time, the little ticks of healing provided are straight overheal. I agree, if things are easy, these things aren't noticeable and that utility isn't needed.

However, all sources of little heals and mitigation also extend a character's time until death when it's a new and challenging fight. Festergut comes to mind. When we're progressing, the utility of a second paladin (assuming I'm the holy paladin in the raid, a ret paladin will bring replenishment, and a protection paladin will bring Sanc - 3% damage reduction) can be the difference in a really good attempt or a kill.

I know a lot of people three heal that fight but two-healing it is FUN. I did feel the "lonely pally" pressure, though, as I didn't have a cast to spare. I managed to keep up well enough of Judgements during the first inhale but by the time we got to the third I was afraid to do anything but Holy Light. I'm sure that in a few weeks this won't matter because it won't be progression. But therein lies my point - paladins are better in numbers while you're progressing, when our hybrid utility is a competitive edge. Throw in our Hands for the mistakes we all make as we're learning the fights, it means that two paladins are more powerful than one. It's not a problem for paladins, but there are so many other classes whose utility does not grow in numbers.

So what is it, then, about one-paladin raids that feels so lacking? And why? After all, a second rogue in the raid isn't cheered, and no one could care less if we have two mages instead of two casters. In fact, that repetition can be crippling to your raid composition, if all of your melee DPS are rogues. I'm not saying it doesn't work, it surely can, but it's always going to be more ideal to have some variety in the raid. Hybrids get away from this a little bit - Druids of different specs bring special auras and buffs, Shamans bring special spec-specific totems, Paladins bring auras and blessings, and Priests bring unique spec-specific buffs. Bringing a Shadow Priest and Disc Priest to the raid is awesome and not gimp. Even if you brought two rogues of different specs, you're still... bringing two rogues. Again, it's entirely possible but not near as optimal.

So why is there so much room for more hybrids in a raid than pures? With DPS being the majority of the WoW playerbase, and the majority of the raid, it works out. Classes are certainly balanced closely enough that no one is going to get benched because of their class. In that regard, I think WoW is in pretty good shape balance-wise.

But it's still irksome to me that we can be encouraged to stack certain classes. That I feel "lonely" when I'm the only paladin. When I play my priest or druid, I'm happy to be the only priest or druid. I don't feel gimp being the only Druid in the raid, because we can live without excess battle-rezzes (the argument could be made that needing multiple battle-rezzes is just messy playing), and any other utility that I bring as a Druid, I can provide as the only Druid (lol yes you can have my innervate). I don't feel that way when I'm the only paladin.

I am not complaining because I want another paladin in our 10 man group. In fact, I wish I couldn't tell the difference either way. I like how for the most part 10's are flexible enough that most raid comps will work. It's broken to me that a second paladin would be at all considered necessary. A raid without a second paladin feels incomplete to me, and that's a problem, when a raid with two (let alone three!) of any pure class is "too much".

I'm not saying it can't be done. We did Saurfang last week with no knockback whatsoever, and had no problems downing him with only one Mark at the end of the fight. It took some creative use of the abilities we had (crippling poison + fan of knives, lots of stuns, and a rare opportunity for me to use Hand of Reckoning. I enjoy taunting as a healer far more than I should...). Anyways, moral of the story here is that raid composition can be a challenge, and while good groups will overcome it, it's often daunting to overcome those challenges without a second paladin. Maybe I need to be a better paladin if I'm not paladin enough for my raid, but my argument is still valid: multiple paladins bring multiple utilities, while the utility of many other classes is only filled by the first and not multiplied by the second.

It makes me a lonely pally!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I wanna be a Horde...

When I watch random WoW movies I always feel a tinge of sadness when I see dancing Undead, cheering Belves, and Tauren doing the peanut butter 'n jelly. I started out playing Alliance, but after thirty levels or so I joined some friends rolling Horde, so I made (a bunch of low level alts and) a priest. She was undead, and I loved her.

Sometime thereafter we decided to make new characters on Alliance side on a new server. I wouldn't have known it then but the spacegoat paladin I created to run around Westfall (she thought she was human, and went straight to Stormwind upon her creation) ended up being my main for most of Wrath. Alliance is okay. I don't have anything against them.

It's just that the Horde is so much cooler. I mean, really, so much cooler. Alliance has better choices for Paladins (and by better, I do mean, they have a choice while Horde does not), but, which warrior strikes more fear into your heart: an orc or a gnome? Gnomes are cute, but, if I wanna be a fearsome warrior, I wanna be a Horde.

Blizzard has made switching factions and servers so much easier now, for a price. I did server/faction transfer my Druid on the Horde side to join my raiding characters on the Alliance. I swore it would be the last time I did it - the costs get ridiculous for multiple transfers/changes. When I made that choice, I decided that Malfurion is where I was going to stay. Now I have three 80's, and keeping them together to share crafting for raiding is really what I want. Our friends have called us a one-stop raiding shop, because between Mayhem and I we have everything we could possibly need to raid - enchants, jewels, armor kits, spellthreads, flasks, drums, glyphs, and scrolls - all ready just by logging in to one our characters, most likely perched at the Eventide. I really like not having to rely on others - and I enjoy being prepared. I carried around a Scroll of Enchant Shield for months just to be ready for that moment when I replaced my Naxx shield. (And believe me, it was soooo worth it).

Now if only we could get Replenishment on a piece of paper, I would be a very happy Paladin.

Anyways, the point is, I know enough about myself to know what things I want to spend time doing in the game. I don't have the time to keep up two mains in different raiding guilds, for example, while I do have time for one main and an alt (maybe even two). I got my Druid up to speed and ready to raid ICC in no time. I stopped actively seeking upgrades on her because I can pug ICC on her whenever I want while still pulling my weight in a group. She doesn't need "more loot" in this expansion. I'll take an upgrade if I can get it but I don't spend time worrying about her stats like I do my main (more haste! more int! more sockets!).

With this in mind, I play Alliance because it's where I am. I don't think I could fit both factions into my playtime. Nor do I want to try. The disadvantages of playing cross-faction (from the crafting/sharing standpoint) are too annoying. And like I said, I don't have time for two mains, so why would I create an lonely alt who can't share in the resources I already have, knowing I'm not going to devote enough time to it anyways?

And yet, I still would rather be identified as Horde. Their slogans are better. Blood and thunder! Lok'tar, friend! FOR THE HORDE! Their dances are better. Sure, the human males know how to deal with Disco Fever, but the undead males know how to seriously rock out. Even the capitols - Stormwind City is alright, but fuedal and prissy. I'd much rather hail from Orgrimmar, with its huge bonfires and carved wooden totems.

It's merely aesthetic differences for players focused mostly in raiding as I am. Inside the raid, there's few, if any, differences. The racial abilities our characters have are nice but in no way make a class viable or inviable. There is no playstyle change between factions because our playstyles are built around our gear, talents, and class choices - not factions. The people you play with shape your end-game PVE experience more than your chosen faction.

That doesn't stop me from wishing, once in a while, that my priest was undead (or that my paladin could be undead). Hell, I'd rather call myself a blood elf before I admitted I played a night elf (druids excepted). Sometimes, I just wanna be a Horde.