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Archive for the ‘Advice and Strategy’ Category

Heroic Warlord Zon’ozz

Posted by Malevica on January - 3 - 2012

NB: This guide will assume you’ve already read my normal Warlord Zon’ozz strategy, or otherwise know the details of the fight on normal mode.

Fight Summary

Moving from normal to heroic mode there are three big changes. The first is that Zon’ozz has an increased health pool but a very tight 6 minute berserk timer, so you need to bounce the ball more times to stack Void Diffusion higher on the boss so you can beat it. The second big difference is that during the Black Blood of Go’rath phase 8 tentacle adds will spawn around the room, and the damage dealt by the Black Blood of Go’rath is multiplied by the number of tentacles still alive. The third is that the Disrupting Shadows debuff he casts on 3 random players in your raid will deal AoE damage and and AoE knockback when dispelled, so you have to take great care with dispelling it.

Let’s go through the more straightforward two first, then we’ll come to the tentacles.

Void Diffusion

As a reminder, every time you bounce the Void of the Unmaking it gains a stack of Void Diffusion, causing it to do 20% more damage on the next bounce. It also gives Zon’ozz a stack of Focused Anger, increasing his physical damage by 20% and his attack speed by 5%. When the Void is allowed to hit Zon’ozz, he gains Void Diffusion instead, increasing all damage he takes by 5%, and his Focused Anger stacks reset. This also triggers the Black Blood phase, which we’ll deal with later.

The Void Diffusion debuff is the key to beating his berserk timer. The debuff lasts 2 minutes, so you are able to stack it up progressively over the course of the fight every time you let the Void hit him. However, in order to beat the berserk you’ll need quite a few stacks. A typical bounce strategy is to go with 7 each time, and 5 on the fourth round. After the fourth set of bounces, you ignore the Black Blood phase adds entirely, pop Bloodlust and hope to burn him down before he reaches Berserk or your healers run out of cooldowns/mana/will to live.

If your DPS is low, you might want to push an extra pair of bounces, either on the first or last sets. 7 bounces shouldn’t require cooldowns to survive (and you’ll need them later, so try and save them) but the damage will be pretty high by the end. 9 may require special treatment, perhaps a PW:B if you have one spare, or you can use tricks like having a Mage with Cauterise or a Shadow Priest with Dispersion solo one bounce.

Disrupting Shadows

On 10-man heroic Zon’ozz will cast this on 3 random players at a time. Before resistances it deals 35,000 Shadow damage per 2s, but the real danger it poses is that when it gets dispelled it deals 60,000 Shadow damage to, and knocks back, everyone within 10 yards.

Because of the significant AoE damage the dispel causes, usually no one should be dispelled before they’ve run out of their cluster. On the other hand, you don’t want too many people running out before the Void reaches your group either or the damage won’t be split widely enough and people are liable to die. So when the Void is on its way to your group, you need to heal the debuffed people through the damage, and only when you’ve split the Void damage should they run out and be dispelled. This will stretch healing, but is manageable; Disc priests can help a lot here with absorbs acting as an extra buffer.

Getting this right is one of the biggest challenges in the encounter. You need to watch the game space as well as your healthbars so you can see where people are and when they’re 10 yards away. It’s also worth coordinating who will do the dispelling so you don’t get two dispels at the same time or waste mana. We assign one healer to the ranged and one to the melee and they dispel their own clusters only.

Black Blood of Go’rath

On normal difficulty, Black Blood of Go’rath is just a raid-wide AoE, you group up and heal through it and get back to bouncing the Void again. On Heroic the Black Blood of Go’rath deals 3,795 Shadow damage per 2 sec for every one of the freshly-spawned 8 tentacle adds (one Claw, two Flails and five Eyes) still alive. What this means is that the AoE damage at the start of the fight is pretty intense, but becomes manageable once 2-3 of the tentacles have died.

The way to deal with this is to have everyone group up at the start of the phase, throw out heavy AoE healing along with a raid cooldown, and have your DPS quickly take out the nearest three tentacles. (I’ll describe our assignments in a moment). The timing is such that you will be able to use 3-minute cooldowns every other Black Blood phase, so plan accordingly; remember that if you’re going to go for a burn after the fourth round of bounces, you’ll need to save your best cooldowns for that phase, which might affect which you choose to start with.

The tentacles spawn in predictable places, which makes planning for them easier:

Heroic Warlord Zon'ozz Positioning Diagram - Screenshot with Raid Markers

Heroic Warlord Zon'ozz Positioning Diagram. Boss position is the red cross; Black Blood phase group-up spot is the blue square; the green triangle and purple diamond are the two Flail spawn positions

We split the raid into three teams at this point:

  • Left: 2 ranged + 1 healer
  • Right: 2 ranged + 1 healer
  • Middle: 3 melee

Here’s how we handle this phase:

  1. Everyone groups up on the blue marker, right underneath the Claw. The claw needs to be tanked or it’ll do substantial raid-wide AoE Shadow damage and people have a bad habit of getting owned by this.
  2. Left group takes out the nearby Flail (spawns on the green triangle marker) while the Right group takes the right-hand nearby Eye (number 4) and the Middle group kills another nearby Eye (number 3). Except for the melee everyone should be stacked up at this point to help with the healing
  3. Once these first three tentacles are dead, the Left group heads out to deal with their two assigned Eyes (numbers 1 and 2), the Right group kills their Eye (number 5) and Flail (spawns on the purple diamond marker), and the Middle group switches to the boss, cleaving the Claw down at the same time.

After this phase ends the boss continues to be tanked on the Blue marker while the ranged position shifts to the centre of the room. This positioning then remains until the end of the fight.

Spec and Glyphs

The damage is quite high, so you don’t get the natural lulls you get elsewhere, but Smiting can be very useful for helping your team kill their tentacles in time, and you can build up Evangelism stacks during the early bounces in preparation for either the later few bounces or the beginning of the Black Blood phase.

In terms of Glyphs, it’s again all about the output. Prayer of Healing and Power Word Barrier are must-haves here, and I’d be inclined to take Penance for spot-healing; towards the end of each light phase Zon’ozz will be meleeing the tank pretty hard, and people may also be low from having Disrupting Shadoew dispelled.

Prayer of Mending is a very strong Major glyph here, because of the long periods of sustained raid damage.

Cooldown Usage

PW:B should be alternated with another raid cooldown at the start of each Black Blood phase to keep the raid alive until a couple of tentacles are down. Once everyone’s grouped up you can throw it down and it makes a big difference. I’d recommend saving Divine Hymn for the final burn phase, since you’ll only get one chance to use it and that’s when you’ll need a second cooldown up your sleeve.

Pain Suppression has two uses. First, you can use it to keep the tank alive when Zon’ozz is at >5 stacks of Focused Anger (or whenever else they need it). Especially if your assigned tank healer has to run out because they were unlucky enough to get Disrupting Shadows. The other use for it is if the ranged DPS are slow to return to the middle after killing their tentacles, you can save someone who will find themselves taking a larger share of the damage.

Life Grip can be used to get people to cluster points quickly, but shouldn’t be relied upon.

The Berserk timer on the fight is 7 minutes, so if you want a second Hymn of Hope you’ll have to use it very early in the fight, pretty much just after the pull. You could spam bubbles like crazy before the first bounce and then regen all that mana, but this might not pay off. The best time to pop this, if you’re only going once, is just after everyone’s got back in position after the Black Blood phase, but not when there’s a round of debuffs coming out. The damage is relatively low at this time.

You should be able to get a second Shadowfiend cast in though, so use it early and have it ready for near the end of the fight to allow you to spam like crazy.

Other Tips

Not too much besides what I’ve already touched on. The damage profile is more ramped than spiky, so if you can build up Evangelism before the high-damage portions you’ll be in a strong position. Clever, sparing use of PW:S as a buffer can be really helpful here too, because raid members will be taking some pretty large hits from time to time. In particular, bubbling the people with the debuff is a great way of buying time to allow them to run out and be dispelled safely.

The other thing of note is that Smite and Holy Fire are affected by Zon’ozz’s Void Diffusion buff. Especially in the nuke phase at the end you can get a lot of mileage out of Smite healing. At 45k per Smite your HPS will approximate that of PoH-spamming, plus Atonement stacks DA when it crits and is smart-targeting; not to mention you could also be pushing out 50k+ DPS at a time when, especially on early kills, you’ll be right up against the berserk timer.



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Heroic Yorsahj the Unsleeping

Posted by Malevica on December - 15 - 2011

NB: This guide will assume you’ve already read my normal Yorsahj strategy, or otherwise know the details of the fight on normal mode.

Fight Summary

The key difference between normal and heroic mode is that Yorsahj spawns four slimes instead of three, dramatically increasing the damage and meaning that you have some more difficult choices to make about which add to kill.

What this means in practice is that you’ll have to deal with the Purple debuff a lot more often, about half of the combinations will include a Purple, and your DPS will need to be much more on the ball to kill the double spawn of adds that comes from a Black/Yellow combination.

There’s also a trick to using the Blue Mana Void to your advantage, which I’ll talk about later.

First though, those combinations. There are in fact only 6 combinations that come up. I’ll list them all, along with a recommended kill target (underlined), and then talk about them all in detail.

These are listed in the order that the current version of DBM reads them out so you can use this as a quick reference if need be. I’ve left Black as white, for obvious reasons.

PurpleRedYellowBlack

PurpleGreenBlackBlue

GreenRedBlueBlack

GreenYellow – Black – Red

Blue – Black – PurpleYellow

BluePurpleGreenYellow

Combinations in detail

PurpleRedYellowBlack

This is just nasty. Kill the Yellow to keep the damage in check, and then go easy on the heals. You may blow one or two people up, but keep your head and plan ahead and this one is manageable.

If you have a surfeit of cooldowns, you could consider killing Purple, but you’ll need your cooldowns for a later combination so I’d recommend going with Yellow initially and learning to handle it.

The rest of the damage is pretty rough though, so blow those cooldowns and crank out the AoE heals.

PurpleGreenBlackBlue

By contrast, this is one of the easiest combinations to deal with. We kill the Black here to allow ourselves some solid distraction-free DPS time on the boss, but you could go with Green instead for a real healing chillout.

GreenRedBlue – Black

You have to pick between Red and Green and since you want to stack to kill Black adds, pick Green to kill. There’s a fair amount of raid damage out there, but there’s no Purple to worry about so go to town with the heals and you should be fine.

GreenYellow – Black – Red

This is another really rough one. Whichever way you slice it you’ll end up with 3 AoE damage abilities to deal with, so you’re going to need to pop some raid cooldowns and AoE heal your heart out to get through it. If there are no cooldowns available pop a Bloodlust instead, which will also help with the Black adds.

You’re pretty much forced to kill the Green so you can stand in to reduce the damage from the Red.

Blue – Black – PurpleYellow

An easy one. You need to kill the Yellow, because if you don’t the AoE it does will overwhelm you and you can’t heal enough because of the Purple, leaving you with just the damage from the adds to handle, which is manageable.

BluePurpleGreenYellow

Here you’re picking between Yellow and Green to kill, and as with the previous combination you should kill the Yellow for the same reason.

That leaves Green and Purple, which is healable.

Handling the Mana Void

The trouble with the Mana Void is that when you get your mana stolen you really need it back immediately to deal with the silly damage, and because four combinations include a Cobalt Blood you won’t have mana cooldowns available every time. You don’t have time to wait while the Mana Void is taken down from full HP, people will be dead by then.

So, when the first Mana Void spawns you should pop your raid mana cooldowns (Mana Tide, Hymn of Hope) and get by without killing the Mana Void at that time. Then either throw spare DPS on it or assign one person to it specifically while the next slimes are coming in; either way, get it down to around 10% then leave it alone.

Now, when the next Mana Void spawns and you have no mana and no cooldowns left, quickly kill off the old Mana Void for a free full mana bar. DPS the new Mana Void down to 10% again, rinse and repeat.

The advantage of this, despite being a bit more complicated, is that you’re always only a few seconds away from a replenished mana bar whenever you need it.

Deep Corruption

Here’s a full list of abilities that stack Deep Corruption.

Highlights for Discipline Priests:

  • Atonement – 1 stack
  • Binding Heal – 1 stack to the person you heal. NO STACKS for yourself.
  • Divine Hymn – 1 stack per tick (i.e. will wipe your raid)
  • Holy Fire (with Atonement) – 1 stack per tick. Do not use if you have atonement.
  • Penance – 1 stack for the whole channeled cast (i.e. not 1 per tick)
  • Power Word: Shield – 1 stack (even when glyphed)
  • Prayer of Healing – 1 stack
  • Prayer of Mending – NO STACKS
  • Renew – 1 stack on initial application

Binding Heal is a useful spell, because it doesn’t add stacks to you. The downside is that it doesn’t heal for as much as Greater Heal, so if the target is taking big damage and you’re not in danger GH is still favoured.

Do not try and use Atonement here, especially not with Holy Fire. Atonement in general is bad because you can’t plan where it’ll go and it’s fairly weak healing anyway, and especially not Holy Fire because every tick adds another stack.

Penance, Greater Heal and Power Word: Shield are your staples depending on what’s needed most, and because it doesn’t generate stacks, keep PoM bouncing at all times for stack-free healing.

PW:B doesn’t do anything here, so use it if you need it, although it’s better to save it for the evil combinations with 3 AoE damage abilities.

Spec and Glyphs

This fight requires really high output, and is a great example of a time when Archangel shines. You can DPS the boss or the incoming slime to stack Evangelism, then pop it for a healing boost when things get rough later on. It’s also a fantastic boost just after the Mana Void has spawned.

In terms of Glyphs, it’s again all about the output. Prayer of Healing and Power Word Barrier are must-haves here. Pick between PW:S or Penance depending on your usage. I went with PW:S, but there’s a case for both.

Because of no dispels and high raid damage, Prayer of Mending is the Major top pick here.

Cooldown Usage

PW:B and Divine Hymn should be kept for the Yellow – Black – Red combinations. You’ll need them to survive the damage.

Pain Suppression should likewise be use on the nasty AoE healing combinations to keep the tank relatively out of trouble while you focus on the raid. Anything with Yellow up will do that.

Life Grip is useful either to get people in on the Red or out to the incoming slime to get it killed in time.

I’ve touched on Hymn of Hope before, it can be used just after the Mana Void spawns to get your raid some mana back up. Remember that the buff grants a chunk of free mana while it lasts, so even if you have to break off to heal after only a couple of seconds chanelling it’s still worth it. If you’ve got your raid pre-shielded, this ought to buy you enough time to get a few ticks off.
Ideally though, you’d like a non-healing Priest to pop HoH if you have one, so you don’t need to take time out from healing.

I’d suggest saving Shadowfiend for another Mana Void phase. Although you’ll get mana back soon from the Mana Void, there may be times when you need it sooner. Because of the effect of the Mana Void, there’s no point holding more mana than you need throughout the fight, it’s better to have it in reserve.

Other Tips

As I’ve mentioned previously, Archangel from DPSing the adds or boss is very useful for AoE damage phases. Just don’t Holy Fire the boss for a Purple phase, because each tick of Atonement adds a stack of Deep Corruption. he fight on normal mode.

You can prepare for either a Blue or Purple (or both) phase by throwing as many heals and particularly PW:S around the raid as possible before the Deep Corruption buff comes up, to get some stack-free healing and protection out there. You’re going to lose your mana or be limited in your healing ability anyway, so you might as well get a head-start even at high cost.



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Heroic Morchok

Posted by Malevica on December - 15 - 2011

NB: This guide will assume you’ve already read my normal Morchok strategy, or otherwise know the details of the fight on normal mode.

Fight Summary

The key difference between normal and heroic mode is that at 90% HP Morchok splits into two clones, one named Morchok and one named Kohcrom, with a shared health pool. Both have the same abilities as on normal mode; Kohcrom does his approximately 6 seconds after Morchok does his, with the exception of the Earthen Vortex/Black Blood of the Earth, which happen simultaneously.
Morchok and Kohcrom both get Furious at 20% HP.

In addition, the Stomp applies a debuff making you take 100% increased physical damage for 10 sec, so you have to split the raid into two teams spread at least 50-60 yards apart (so that one boss’s crystal can’t spawn in the other boss’s Stomp range either) or risk players, especially tanks, being gibbed. There is no Crush Armor, at least!

This splitting of the team requires some thought: in each 5-man team you need a tank plus someone pretty tough to soak the double-hit from the Stomp, which was hitting our Ret Paladin for ~140,000 Physical damage after armour. Rogues can Feint every Stomp, making them excellent candidates, otherwise you’ll need to keep your soaker well topped-off and where possible give them a PW:S too.

On top of that, you need three players to split the damage from the Resonating Crystal. It is unclear whether this targets only ranged players or just ignores the two closest players to the boss, it was merrily targeting someone on the other side of the map rather than picking on the melee DPS soaker if we lost a ranged DPS or healer. You may need to check, and maybe switch an extra melee DPS for a ranged.

A note on composition: we ended up using 4 healers for this encounter, 2 per side. You might be able to lower this eventually but I’d strongly recommend starting with 4 and seeing how you go, even if you get an offspec healer in they’ll be valuable.

Once you have the two teams sorted out, the execution is pretty straightforward, although it is fairly challenging for healers to prioritise healing where it’ll keep people alive – the long-lost art of triage.

There’s a rhythm to the fight, but the most important thing to remember is that every crystal explosion is preceded by a Stomp, so it’s important that when a crystal spawns you wait and soak the Stomp before then running for the crystal. You have roughly 5 seconds to get there, which is easy as long as the tank isn’t miles away from the crystal.
The number one cause of early deaths was people immediately running for the crystal and not splitting the Stomp.

Before the first Black Blood:

Time Korchom Morchok
0 Crystal
5 Stomp
12 Stomp
15 Crystal
20 Stomp
21 Crystal
26 Stomp

Subsequently:

Time Korchom Morchok
0 Stomp
5 Stomp
8 Crystal
14 Stomp
19 Stomp
21 Crystal
26 Crystal
26 Stomp
31 Stomp
35 Crystal
41 Crystal
41 Stomp
46 Stomp

Note that Morchok’s side takes one additional crystal each time, so bear that in mind when planning teams. For example, if your raid has limited mana restoring cooldowns it might be worth putting more on Morchok’s team.

Remember: when a crystal spawns, wait for the next Stomp, then run out to the crystal. You have ~5 seconds to get there, which is plenty of time.

Spec and Glyphs

This fight, on heroic, really rewards damage mitigation. I’d recommend a Soul Warding spec so you can cover your entire group, or at least the three people taking the crystal. Archangel/Atonement is less useful here because Prayer of Healing, with the associated guaranteed Divine Aegis absorption, is a much more valuable tool for recovering from and preventing Stomp and Crystal damage. Given the heavy weight placed on PW:S and PoH it’s probably worth glyphing those.

Cooldown Usage

Morchok takes a little over 6 minutes. To get a second PW:B in, you need to use it between the first and second Black Blood phases, and it will be available again during the Furious stage.

Pain Suppression should be used to support your tank and your Stomp soaker during the enrage, when they’ll be taking extra damage from the stomp and may not be able to rotate cooldowns for every one. Earlier in the fight, it can be handy if one person on your team is too low before a damage spike.

Life Grip can save someone’s bacon if they’re slow to run out to get away from the Black Blood or especially if they’re too slow getting in for a crystal.

Finally, the Black Blood phase is a good time to use Hymn of Hope, since there’s no damage caused while you’re safely behind the pillars. Shadowfiend is also safe from the Black Blood because it’s AoE damage, yet Morchok himself can still take damage.

Other Tips

Discipline shines on this fight, because there’s spaced-out damage spikes.

Make sure you PW:S the Stomp soaker and use a few casts of PoH to stack Divine Aegis before the Stomp, then while running to the crystal you can get PW:S on the three people that will take the damage. Once you’re back by the boss and in the ~8 sec lull before the next Stomp, bring everyone back up with Binding Heal and PoH in preparation for the next round.

Binding Heal is a real gift on this fight too, it really helps keep you alive while healing other people and it’s a nice quick cast for triage purposes.



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4.3 Quick Guide for Discipline Priests

Posted by Malevica on November - 30 - 2011

So, what’s in store for us Discipline Priests in 4.3?

The New Outfit

The Vestments of Dying Light are available in tasteful gold, blue or red, depending on your raiding tier of choice.

After my initial “WTF!” reaction, I sat and looked at the set for a while and it really grew on me. There’s definitely something Priestly about it, but not the gentle, friendly image of a Priest but instead has us putting our serious face on (literally), filling ourselves with smouldering, barely-restrained power of the Light and getting prepared for the grave business of taking on Deathwing.

How badass it’ll manage to look on a gnome though is anyone’s guess…

Set Bonuses

First, the bonuses themselves:

Healer, 2P — After using Power Infusion or Divine Hymn, the mana cost of your healing spells is reduced by 25% for 23 sec.)

Healer, 4P — Your Power Word: Shield has a 10% chance to absorb 100% additional damage and increase the mana granted by Rapture by 100%, and the duration of your Holy Word abilities is increased by 33%.

So, let’s take a look in detail.

The 2-piece bonus is handy, but also a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s been pointed out on EJ and elsewhere that this presents Disc Priests with something of a question: should we be casting Power Infusion on cooldown just for the mana reduction, or should we be saving it for when we actually need the throughput.

PI has a split personality already though, with the throughput and mana saving components. I find myself mostly using it as a throughput cooldown, popping it when I shift to the healing-intensive part of a fight, and since that’s where the expensive spells (PW:S, FH, PoH) hang out, I figure I’m probably getting a good benefit from it.

The thing to remember is to make sure you’re using it vaguely sensibly, i.e. when you’re going to be healing hard, and make sure you get as many uses as practical and don’t leave it languishing on cooldown unless you know there’ll be a point where it’s vital.

It’s also attached to Divine Hymn, which works for the same reasons – we’ll be casting DH when things are getting tight, and this mana cost reduction will help offset the costs of healing people up afterwards.

The 4-piece bonus for Discipline is a bit of a conundrum. The way it works seems to be that one in every 10 times you cast PW:S (on average), it’ll absorb twice as much and give a double-sized Rapture proc when it breaks.

This in itself is a decent bonus: Disc Priests bubble someone at least every 12-15s for Rapture, more often if you’re tank-healing, and in the Dragon Soul you might well find yourself with moments where throwing out bubbles more frequently pays off, so as long as you’re using PW:S regularly you should get the benefit. You will have to be careful when using PW:S as a pure raid-healing spell though, because a larger bubble is less likely to be totally consumed and possibly end up preventing what might otherwise have turned into a Rapture proc. It’s fine for tanks, but on the raid you may want to think about where you PW:S to make sure it will be fully absorbed. Depending on your Mastery you may need a hit well over the 60k mark to burst it.

The Patch

As usual, very little for Priests in the patch notes, although what there is is definitely worth a look:

Divine Hymn now affects 5 targets, up from 3.

Discipline
Atonement will now account for the target enemy’s combat reach when calculating proper range, enabling it to be used on large creatures such as Ragnaros and Ala’kir.
Divine Aegis has a new spell effect.

Holy
Spirit of Redemption has been rebuilt to address a few functionality issues and make it more responsive. Spirit of Redemption otherwise remains unchanged.
State of Mind has been redesigned and is now called Heavenly Voice. Heavenly Voice increases the healing done by Divine Hymn by 50/100%, and reduces the cooldown of Divine Hymn by 2.5/5 minutes.
Guardian Spirit’s healing bonus has been increased to 60%, up from 40%.
Holy Word: Serenity now has a cooldown of 10 seconds, down from 15 seconds.

Glyphs
Glyph of Circle of Healing now also increases the mana cost of Circle of Healing by 20%.

Source

For Disc, the big change of course is the new Divine Aegis bubble! Have some videos:

On the left is the “old DA” applying and then persisting, and my “new DA” video from the PTR is on the right. Unfortunately the old DA procced from a Glyph of PW:S crit, so there’s the PW:S graphic in there to confuse things, but the effect is clear enough.

And here’s the proc effects in close-up, old on the left, new on the right:

That new still is so damn tasty I’m using it as my avatar just about everywhere I can. It looks so sweet!

The old Divine Aegis used to wrap beams of light around the player as the bubble appeared, while the new one sort of expands a rainbow-coloured soap-bubble effect instead. I can see how the old effect could end up looking very flashy and noisy on screen, whereas the new one, while still really cool and colourful, has less point movement and is less bright overall.

I was really thrilled to be getting something all-new, until I noticed that this same soap-bubble effect procs when a Mage uses Arcane Blast (it’s Arcane something anyway) on a mob. Still, it looks damn good, even if it is borrowed. It’ll look better on us anyway!

OK, more seriously, the Atonement change. Finally, two tiers later, Atonement works off the boss’s hitbox rather than the boss’s centre. I presume there must have been something big and scary and technical preventing this change from making it in earlier, or perhaps Ragnaros brought it to a head in a way that Al’Akir didn’t manage to. Anyway, good news.

Finally for us, a small buff to Divine Hymn for all Priests, with it healing 5 targets rather than 3. That should help its throughput for both specs, although Holy gets a much improved version as their new raid cooldown: double the healing and a 3-minute cooldown means Holy has its own Tranquility to play with.

My initial reaction was (of course) to get all angsty and bitter that Holy gets buffed and Disc doesn’t, but actually there have been several fights I’ve ended up staying Disc because of the combination of PW:Barrier and an AoE pulse. Now that Holy gets a powerful raid cooldown of its own the dual-spec option opens right back up again, and that can only be a good thing for the class. It’s no nerf to Disc, just a rebalancing of the specs in the sorts of bursty fights where Disc currently dominates because of a single spell. GC agrees.

Just think of it as another powerful raid cooldown for the rotation and enjoy it.

Other Healers

We need to know how our other healing friends will be changing this patch too, so we know how to work well with them and play to our respective strengths.

Shaman are staying more-or-less the same in terms of playstyle, although they will be getting a buff to their Ancestral Healing talent:

Ancestral Healing now also causes the shaman’s heals to increase the target’s maximum health by 5/10% of the amount healed, up to a maximum of 10% of the target’s maximum health, for 15 seconds. This effect does not stack if multiple Restoration shaman are present, and does not apply to heals from procs.

The wording suggests that this doesn’t need a crit and is a bonus attached to the Ancestral Healing talent, not the buff, so it shouldn’t matter whether the tank has Ancestral Fortitude (the damage reduction buff) or Inspiration on them.

Your Shaman should try to keep up the Ancestral Vigor buff (the 10% HP buff this creates) on tanks. On the PTR, when it fell off it dropped the player’s maximum HP back down again, but also reduced their current HP by the same amount, which was certainly not ideal because it meant that extra healing done while the buff was up was lost again when it expired; hopefully this has been fixed before going live.

Druids don’t have much new this time, although they are getting small nerfs to Wild Growth, they shouldn’t change how they heal much.

Wild Growth healing has been reduced by 20%.
Glyph of Wild Growth now also increases the cooldown on Wild Growth by 2 seconds.

Paladins are getting a revamped version of Holy Radiance:

Holy Radiance now has a 3.0-second cast time, no cooldown, and requires a player target. That target is imbued with Holy Radiance, which heals them and all group members within 10 yards instantly, and continues to heal them by a smaller amount every 1 second for 3 seconds.

This, combined with Light of Dawn, means they will be capable of some pretty loopy (albeit costly) burst AoE numbers when the raid is all stacked up, so bear this in mind when considering healing assignments. It might be that we Discipline Priests shift more onto tank-healing when the fight mechanics favour the new HR, and swap with our Paladin brethren when the raid is more spread out.
Paladins are also getting a small mana nerf because Judgement will no longer return 15% of base mana. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem, and it’ll free up a lot more GCDs for them.



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Patch Preparation

Posted by Malevica on November - 29 - 2011

I always like to be well-prepared for a new patch, and given that my guild is aiming to progress quickly through the Dragon Soul normal modes, I want to be sure I’m prepared to hit the new content.

I thought I’d share my last-minute preparation process with the world.

Step 0: Get on the PTR

This is down as Step 0 instead of Step 1 because I do regard this as semi-optional. To be as ready as possible it does help to get on the PTR and get a feel for the new content and how your class changes work in practice. More importantly it also helps Blizzard get the game as wrinkle-free as possible before the patch goes live, making for a smoother experience and fewer of those annoying restarts and maintenance issues that we all enjoy so much(!).

That said, some people don’t like playing buggy or non-final content, others would rather not spoil the surprise, or maybe, like me, you’re on a capped, low-speed internet package and an extra 16GB download just wasn’t an option. In which case, make sure you follow the remaining steps even more thoroughly.

Step 0.5: Start the Background Downloader

If you usually bypass the Launcher, or if you have downloads turned off for another reason, make sure you turn the background downloader on in plenty of time to receive the new patch. It can be several gigabytes, and you really don’t want to be panicking about a humongous download five minutes before you’re due to raid.

Get prepared well in advance and let the downloader do its thing, so you’re ready to go on release day.

Step 1: Read the Patch Notes

While there have been versions of the patch notes at the PTR has progressed, it’s always worth checking the official patch notes too, in case any last-minute changes have snuck in.

After that, check the Technical Support forum for any Known Issues lists, and it’s often worth checking Wowpedia’s lists of undocumented changes, which are updated frequently in the early days after a patch comes out.

Finally, you might try reading blogs or posts from other people who have been testing the new patch. Usually the top guilds are very active on the PTR and will test their class in depth, so they are good sources of information. For example, for healing Priests Dawn Moore of WowInsider put together a this great, handy guide.

All of this helps prevent you looking silly when a spell doesn’t do what it used to, or costs more and causes you to run OOM, or your stat priorities have shifted, or countless other ways a new patch can catch you out.

And for raiders, don’t forget to find out about other classes as well; for healers, that means knowing how the patch is going to affect your fellow healers and even your tanks.

For example, Wild Growth is getting a small nerf this patch, while Paladins’ Holy Radiance is being dramatically changed from a caster-centred AoE HoT to a spell with a 3 sec cast time which is placed on a target and which heals them and all group members within 10 yards instantly, and continues to heal them by a smaller amount every 1 sec for 3 sec. What this means is that Paladins now have very powerful (albeit very expensive) burst AoE while the raid is grouped up, and will probably push them towards a raid-healing role in certain fights, rather than being the default tank-healer.

Step 2: Read Up About the New Raids

If you’re going to be raiding soon after the patch is released then you should have at least a basic understanding of what the fights will entail so you can prepare your character’s spec and glyphs, pull out any rarely-used spells, and generally not be surprised when it hits you.

Learn2Raid and Icy Veins are two sites that have PTR strategy guides and videos to read and watch, and there are many more.

Shameless self-plug: Part of my preparation consists of not only reading and watching guides to the fights, but I also like to think about them and then synthesise a new guide; the process of re-writing helps to make sure I understand what I’ve read, and also gets me thinking about how my class fits into the encounter and what affects me the most.

Step 3: Update Your UI

Now you’ve got your knowledge base assembled, but before you log into the game, you should visit the main addon sites and update any addons you use, especially ones you rely on heavily such as DBM.

With boss mods, it’s important to download the alpha or beta package if it’s available because that will have the very latest updates, added sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis. Get it from the authors themselves too, even the beta versions on Curse are several revisions out of date, and that all matters when you’re pushing progression.
And forget about the “release” version. DBM’s release package is usually not updated for as much as a couple of weeks after a patch is released, so that the authors are absolutely sure it’s correct before stamping it with the official seal of approval, which can leave you with a very underwhelming boss mod for the first lockout.

Beyond boss mods, many authors, particularly those responsible for the popular addons will have been on the PTR to test their code and if at all possible they will make sure it works smoothly on release day. And don’t forget to update again before your first raid, because there may well be a number of addons that have been updated during the day.
And don’t forget to tick “Load out of date addons” on the addons page of the character selection screen; many addons do not need more than a version update to work fine with a new patch, but you can always disable those which are problematic.

If you want to be extra-safe you can have backups lined up, just in case one of your addons doesn’t work and hasn’t been updated and you need a replacement. XPerl or Shadowed Unit Frames instead of Pitbull, for example, or VuhDo instead of Healbot or Grid.

And finally on this subject, if an addon you use isn’t updated, don’t go and rage about it, especially not to the author(s). They make addons for nothing, and it’s something they do in their free time. If you can offer practical help that may be welcomed, but otherwise just wait patiently and trust that the addon author is working on it.

Step 4: Make a Wanted List, and Prioritise It

Gear lists abound just before a patch, so they’re a good place to start.

In the early days the priority isn’t to get your Best in Slot, just to get your gear upgraded as quickly as possible; BiS can come later when you’ve got more time to spend. So at this stage you’re looking for the low-hanging fruit, the quick gains, and that means the Auction House, the 5-mans, anything that can be bought with Valor Points and anything you didn’t get round to buying in 4.2 which you can now afford thanks to it costing Justice Points instead.

In 4.3, the new 5-man instances drop ilvl 378 gear, the same as normal mode Firelands, so look down the lists and see if there’s any items that are either a direct upgrade to your current gear or which are better-itemised than what you’re currently wearing. For Tellisa I’m considering going for the Foul Gift of the Demon Lord as an alternative to my normal Jaws of Defeat for a output boost, and perhaps the Scepter of Azshara so I have an acceptable main-hand if an off-hand drops while raiding.

Because of the VP cap the only thing that will be purchasable in the first week will be the wands/thrown/relics at 700 VP each. If you’re running a few 4.3 5-mans anyway you may be able to pick up an upgrade, but remember these are ilvl 397, so if you have an ilvl 391 version already from the last tier you might be better off saving your VPs and getting a bigger upgrade in week 2. I know what I said earlier about ignoring BiS, but 6 ilvl points on a relic slot really is a miserly upgrade.

As for BoEs, don’t count on getting your hands on the craftables (Dreamwraps of the Light and World Mender’s Pants, for healing Priests) in the first few weeks because it’ll take time for the patterns and the Essences of Destruction to drop, and guilds will tend to gear up internally first before putting these items on the AH.

There are some other BoEs listed on Wowhead; although they don’t have a drop location yet they probably come from Dragon Soul trash. For healing Priests the Sash of Relentless Truth looks promising, for example. Early in a new tier the raid trash drops are either very unavailable or very expensive, but if you have deep enough pockets you may just get lucky.
Edit: There is also the Drapes of the Dragonshrine, a drop from the Hour of Twilight, which might be useful if you haven’t got the Avengers of Hyjal cloak yet.

However much or little you need to gather, the key thing is to have a plan so that you can focus your time on the most valuable things first.

Step 5: Log In Early

The final piece of advice I always follow is to log in as early as possible, even if you then /afk in Stormwind while you go off and do whatever it is you usually do before your evening WoW session.

There are multiple reasons for this: you might find you have more data to download, in which case you either have time to download and install it or you have time to let your guild-mates know why you’re running late; there might be a queue for your realm if it’s high population and there’s a lot of people itching to jump back in; you might log in and find your UI is a total mess and needs addon replacement or setting up again; or you might need to respec or reforge.

All of these things take time, and you don’t want to be doing them in a rush because it’ll only spoil your enjoyment of the new content.

Step 6: … Profit!

You’ve done the prep work, you know your class changes and what the new raid, dungeons and other content has in store for you, and your UI is working beautifully. Now you’re ready to get started exploring the new content.

Good luck, and have fun!



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