Monday, July 25, 2011

I looked at Magmaw funny

A foray into 10 HM...

Now that we're doing t12, my guild put together a 10-raid for HM Blackwing Descent. Perhaps regular modes have been nerfed all to hell (and they have, they have) but HMs are still--wait for it--hard.

The group was really cobbled together with the folks who happened to be on on Saturday. So it was my absolute favorite healing composition (two holy paladins + anything else) (sarcasm alert!), but we made it work. Only kinda, though, since we didn't get any bosses down. But I had expected as much, since we hadn't touched a single Hardmode yet this expansion and none of us had really researched the fights yet.

But even so, it gave me a chance to see my mastery gear working in a 10-group. At first, I went in my hybrid gear (17% mastery, 1000+ haste, more crit) and used my Tower of Radiance spec, but after a couple of wipes I switched to my "main" set and to my non-ToR spec.

A couple of reasons why: In a raid with the haste buff, the difference between 970 haste and 1200 or so haste is... not noticeable. Perhaps you get an extra Holy Radiance tick (a handy chart would be neat, but I digress), but the cast time on direct heals is the same either way. And in 10-raids, Holy Radiance isn't quite the I-Win button it is in 25's.

My "off spec" gear is lower i-level. I ran into this problem before, in Icecrown Citadel, trying to keep up a FoL set (haste to soft cap, stack spellpower) with random pieces of gear. Except, I never had a full offset so some of my pieces were still gemmed for intellect. So it wasn't a true specialist set, it was entirely cobbled together, and the real kicker: lower average i-level. I lost so much to put that gear on. I ended up using it Saurfang while we were progressing and that's about it. Once it felt on farm, I didn't bother.

I feel much the same way with my "haste and spirit" set now. I lose 4-pc t11 bonus, several thousand intellect, and 7% bubblage for... a couple hundred haste, an extra % or so crit, and... wait for it... all those i-level drops actually give me less spirit. Because this all off-set gear, old gear, lower i-level. All my new stuff is part of my mastery set.

A part of this is that it isn't a true offset. I still have too many pieces that are reforged for mastery, so instead of being a second specialist set, it still favors mastery while not favoring it enough.

And I do believe that I would be saying the opposite, if I had cobbled together a mastery offset, if I had half-assed it and coming up with 15% bubblage instead of 24%, I would not be the mastery cheerleader that I am right now.

A part of me dies every time I cheerlead for mastery. But the point is: your best gear will probably give you the best results. And why this is news for me, well, I haven't had my coffee yet.

Is there a point to all this? I really thought I had one but now that I'm here, I don't. I was able to "compete" with the other healers in my mastery gear, though we had to do healing assignments to work around me and I do not like being in that position. We had the other healadin beacon the tank, focus the raid, while I beaconed the adds tank and focused on the main tank. Sometimes I was a bit overwhelmed by the damage, but for the most part I wasn't. I never thought "whew, glad I got all this mastery" or anything.

I'm going to have to do some research for next weekend. I'm really not motivated to reforge my gear for one run on the weekend just to switch it back for the week, but we'll see what happens.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

still upset about crusader aura, take two

I don't often miss game mechanics, at least not on a regular basis. Sure, sometimes I whine about not having Divine Intervention anymore, but honestly it's an artifact of paladin past and I've accepted that.

But I just can't get over not having Aura Mastery work with Crusader Aura anymore. I miss it every time I log in.

A lot of times, I use it just to hear the sound it makes, but I get sad, too, because Aura Mastery has two sound components: the shing of AM and the rahw of Crusader Aura. It only makes the shing now.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

bacon flavored playstyle

Bacon, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

There's a few approaches you can use to using Beacon of Light in PVE encounters, and your favored approach will likely affect your gut instinct for stat priorities. (This is a mastery post, believe it or not).

The method I've used for most of T11 is to assign myself a tank (ah, the joys of being heal lead, I'm known for giving myself the heaviest tank-healing duty), and Beacon my assignment.

Beaconing Your Tank

For fights like Magmaw, Atramedes, the second half of Halfus, Double Dragons, and Chogall, you've probably already done this. With Beacon on your main assignment, you're free to spam the raid with heals. In 4.2, we can use Holy Light as often as it can cover tank damage (which on one-tank fights can happen, if you've got other paladins using their Beacon the same way and full-rolling hots and shields from other healers).

I like giving my tank my Bacon. It ensures my tank will always be getting a heal (not just the 1/2 direct heal, but tiny heals from PotI and JotP as long as I'm staying active, but on the occassion I do need to land a big heal on the tank, I get Holy Power, which allows me to do even more raid healing with LoD, which transfers a good-sized heal to my tank. More raid healing and solid tank healing. It's win.

This setup favors haste>spirit/crit and employs all spells, potentially favoring Divine Light and Light of Dawn. A paladin has less reason to use Word of Glory unless she's really trying to be mana efficient (crossing her fingers for a HP refund with each WoG use). Casting Divine Light on your tank procs more HP and allows you to spray lots and lots of LoD over the raid, to the point of planning out holy power for big attacks and timers, and regenerating it quickly by spamming the tank with Infusion procs.

This setup makes mastery look like a chump stat. With the changes in 4.2, mastery is better (our bubbles are a little more likely to last long enough over the raid to be absorbed), however, the scatter shot raid-healing approach means a lot of those bubbles can get wasted (phase changes or timed AoE pulses longer than 15 seconds). This approach means we're healing reactively, while mastery really shines with proactive healing.

That's a drawback if you're trying to avoid mastery. We "pay" for it in terms of class balance so for fights we're not able to utilize our bubbles, we're running without one of the tools in our already limited toolkit.

This strategy is solid for fights with moderate tank damage and moderate raid damage, and allows you to switch between direct heal-bombing your tank and raid healing on the fly.

Beaconing Someone Else's Tank

I think a lot of paladins still use this approach (the other two healadins do this unless we agree otherwise). For fights that feature two tanks and limited raid damage, this is a solid way to keep up two targets.

The drawback is, you put your tank in danger when you help heal the raid, because while you aren't healing them, they aren't getting any of your heals. With this setup, WoG shines a teensy bit more than LoD, if a healadin wants to keep constant heals on her tank. (And fights that encourage this type of Bacon may not have raid damage to heal).

Mastery is an amazing stat for this playstyle. I am not yet comfortable with the stat weights for this setup but I have heard other paladins gear for a 1.9 second HL/DL (mine is 2.0 with 790 haste) and enough critical strike rating to keep up solid uptime on Conviction (at 15% crit I kept up 97%). What a healadin gives up in raid-healing flexibility she becomes a beast tank-healer. Constant bubbles on cheap heals. It's ridiculous.

Holy Light takes precedence over Divine Light, since this style is proactive healing, building up bubbles whether the tank needs a heal or not. That means you can get away with less spirit. That means--you guessed it--room for more mastery. Truly a specialist build.

This strategy is awesome for fights with insane tank damage. Your healing team will love you for your mastery and your ability to keep a constant stream of heals and bubbles on the main tank. However, you may feel like the last kid chosen to play at recess for AoE damage fights. For progression-minded raiding groups (and aggressive raid healers who don't care), that may not be a drawback.

Talent Builds

I've had two holy specs for a while now. My off-spec was last tuned for Alakir (Pursuit of Justice, go go!) but I've been contemplating redoing that build to fully utilize a mastery playstyle. I think Tower of Radiance is wasted on a full-on mastery build. That's not to say I would scoff at a paladin who had it, but for players like me who prefer to keep two variants of their main spec instead of a true offspec, I think there's room to play around.

I'm writing this post a bit ahead of its post date so I'm going to go with this build here (31/5/5), and hopefully I'll let you know how I feel about it. I'm not really happy about 1/2 Blessed Life but it was the best I could do without taking the DPS talents in the Holy tree.

I'm further thinking that if I'm going this route of having one specialized tank-healing build and a raid-healing build, I could take out Eternal Glory in my raid-healing build and try Pursuit of Justice instead. In theory, I'd be casting far more LoDs than WoGs, and the extra movement to help position myself for Holy Radiance would be helpful. But I'll keep you posted. I haven't decided yet. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

et tu, enlynn?: mastery build

I imagine you've already seen some hullabulloo about the changes in 4.2 to mastery. Buffs, yes. Changes, yes. But enough changes to warrant a dramatic playstyle and gearing change for Firelands?


I read the Holy Paladin: Mastery thread over on the Blizzard forums and thought to myself that going Zaroua's route was probably a great idea for 25 HM raiders. But, I'm not a HM raider, not yet. We're shooting to get normal modes down for Firelands but it didn't happen in T11 and quite frankly we had enough on our metaphorical guild plate without them. So I did think, when I read through this, that it didn't apply to me.

Then I saw that Rohan had joined the Mastery Club. Again, HM raider.

And then Adgamorix threw in his vote and I realized something: tank deaths on Shannox were wiping us. Back-to-back Arcing Slashes and melee attacks in .12 seconds were dealing 120k and 95k damage faster than my UI could display it. And if this build is supposedly very good for crazy ass spikey tank damage like this, then why wasn't I at least willing to give it a try?

I spent some justice points and got 4 pc set bonus (not so much for the bonus, but the two pieces with mastery were the best deal for the JP I had). I reforged and regemmed (all my Reckless became Artful), and picked up the pieces of gear with Mastery from the Firelands Rep Guys (vote: pathetic or not pathetic that I don't even know the faction I'm grinding for right now?).

I cobbled together a 23% bubble with hardly any effort. Previously, I had 77 mastery (so basically a 12% bubble).

And so after almost 50 attempts at Shannox over the last few weeks, we went in last night and killed him the second time. Our RL takes full credit for the first wipe, but the second pull was beautiful, pitch-perfect, and the loot flowed.

My meters were borked. According to Skada, my bubbles were... 44k. Which is actually the bubble I had on the MT when we pulled (which is crazy). I was disheartened, but I had several healers whisper me saying they felt the difference, that whatever I had done was a good thing.

Fortunately, WoL has the story. But I'm going to drag this out and first talk about my healing before, since I think that's important. Here's a picture of last night, a very-close Shannox attempt. My assignment is the same for both: Luxinterior, Shannox tank. He, I believe, made some minor to his gear over the weekend but I'm fairly certain the only change between last night and tonight was me.

Before, my haste-stacking paladin self:

Lots of Word of Glory, and lots of Divine Light spammed on my Beacon target (Lux) to generate Holy Power. Holy Radiance popped just about every Magma Burst, and I made a point to be inside the raid when it happened to maximize my AoE healing.

And now, with Mastery:

I made radical changes to my healing style. Beacon of Light jumped to my highest healing done because I set it on the other tank and basically forgot it for the fight. But check out my bubbling- a solid fifth of my healing done.

But did you catch the overheal on my direct heals? Oi.

A thought on Holy Radiance: Because my goal for this fight was to spam Holy Light on the tank the entire fight whether or not he needed it, I spent less time positioning myself to help with AoE. The numbers here are deceiving, because not only did I get less in-range ticks with this change and those ticks healed for less, but I was off by myself or sometimes just in the melee. I used Holy Radiance 10 times for both samples, but the data can't be compared because I behaved differently.

I might have lost a tick with the haste I lost, but I didn't lose any intellect so in theory each tick would have healed the same if I had played the same.

What didn't change

Judging on cooldown, plea and trinkets early and often, hitting AoE heal button every XX seconds in response to AoE pulses. Tank healing like it's going out of style.

I healed for a bit less overall with a mastery build, however, my ranking within my raid didn't change. The healing done page looked fairly similar for both in terms of what other healers were doing.

What did change

Everything else! Who I healed and what spells I used. I went from favoring Divine Light to being afraid of it. I lost several hundred spirit to make this change, pigeon-holing me into favoring Holy Light and using DL and Flash of Light for oh-shit moments (even that oh-shit moment that I used an instant-cast FoL while running ended up being 100% overheal because others beat me to it). Beacon became a fire-and-forget buff on the other side of the raid instead of an active tool to help me raid heal and generate Holy Power while keeping my assignment up.

(BTW, raise your hand if you forgot Infusion procs insta-cast FoLs again! Cause I sure did till last night).

Beacon probably deserves its own post since I find I'm using mine differently than other paladins in the raid. But before I derail entirely, I had to mention the Beacon change because it did change how I healed the tank. When Beacon isn't on my assignment, I am restricted. With a mastery build, I am further restricted to healing my target. Raid healing with this setup doesn't heal my target, and those raid bubbles aren't likely to get absorbed in a fight like Shannox. Also, time spent not healing the tank is time not spent building up bubbles. So this build really, really pigeon-holes a paladin into one thing and one thing only: spamming Holy Light on the tank whether or not he needs it.

Pardon me. I could have sworn I just heard a skeleton screaming "Bone Storm!" from across a chamber of ice.


This build is effective for crazy tank damage fights. I can not deny it. For 25 raiders and both 10 and 25 HM raiders, I can see why stacking mastery would be a benefit to the raid for specific fights.

However, (and of course there's a however), a paladin really ought to take a long look at her playing habits and raiding roster. There are a lot of situations where a mastery build would be a great idea, but I also believe there will be a lot of situations where a haste-spirit build would be stronger.

After Shannox, we went and did a few attempts on our next boss target, Lord Ryolith, and holy cow had we not gotten Shannox down I would have felt useless for Ryolith. Heavy raid damage fights are not not friendly to the mastery build. (However, after comparing myself to the other holy paladin in my raid, I could have tried a lot harder so the verdict is most certainly not out yet for how best a mastery build paladin can use her abilities in this kind of fight. I'll post more once I figure it out.)

Should you go mastery? If and only if you play with a regular group of folks so you can be a designated main tank healer and work with the rest of your raid to help you get the most effectiveness out of this playstyle. I'm not so sure that 10 regular modes require a stacking setup, either, my experiences with 10s isn't near as great as 25s, but I just don't see the tank damage as crazy enough to warrant it. 10's, to me, seem to encourage staying general (ie, flexible) instead of going specialized, and with 10 mans that loss of spirit to focus on mastery is going to hurt.

But in 25s (even regular), volunteering to be that paladin might not be such a bad idea, especially if your group is solid enough that it's just assumed you're going to be one of the main tank healers. Does your 25-raid need 2? I have no idea. I'm not going to recommend that the other healadins in my raid make the switch.


If my snark earlier was not obvious enough, spamming a heal on a person whether they need it or not... is not FUN. I have squirmy feelings about casting with no regards to overheal. I half-wonder if we're going to see nerfs since the mastery build encourages spam-casting that goes against design intent.

Did I mention it's not fun? Sure, it felt real good to get the boss down but being a Holy-Light-Metronome (too bad paladins can't be Gnomes, har har!) will get real old, real fast. I mean, I'll do it, I like getting bosses down just like any other gal, but I lost a lot of flexibility to gain tank healing stability. Especially since I got feedback from the other healers saying it made their jobs less stressful. For me, sticking with a mastery build will be taking one for the team.

And a HM raider will have different experiences, since they will have a lot less overheal.

TLDR, for real this time

If you're struggling with keeping up tank damage that, by the logs, looks impossible to heal, going with a mastery build might be the ticket to downing those bosses.

But I would say, if you don't heal with a steady raid group, if your raid roster is constantly changing and your focus within the raid is different every night, then a more balanced approach might be better. And if you value your flexibility within your raid group, then you probably will not enjoy this specialist build.