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[MoP Beta] Priest Mana Regen Revisited

Posted by Malevica on June - 24 - 2012

This is a follow-up to my previous post on the subject, to look in a bit more detail at actual, not just potential, returns from From Darkness, Comes Light.

As of 1st July 2012 I’ve merged the corrections and the discussion on the various options from here into the previous post to keep it all in one place. The big change is that the recent buff to Mindbender with Build 15799 (1.0% per swing -> 1.3%) it’s a stronger choice now and competitive with the others, although still probably not an automatic go-to since PW:Solace and FD,CL have greater potential.

FD,CL Procs and Regen

In my initial comparison of FD,CL procs I chose to simply treat them as occurring on 15% of casts, and thus attributing 15% of the mana saving (19,500 mana) to each eligible heal.

That’s fine in spreadsheets and for simplifying the analysis, but how can we quantify the randomness? One way is to simulate a lot of encounters and see what sort of range we might expect.

Considering a 5-minute fight, and two usage scenarios, here’s what I get from an arbitrary run of the sim (10,000 iterations):

  1. Bare minimum – 2 casts per minute – Mean saving per fight: 29,253 mana – StdDev: 22,456 mana.
  2. Tank-healing heavy – 20 casts per minute – Mean saving per fight: 295,563 mana – StdDev: 70,406 mana.

The standard deviation (StdDev) is a measure of the size of the variation from the average, and that’s the important figure here. The more statistically-minded will already have drawn their own conclusions, but for the rest of us the short version is this:
If you’re casting FD,CL-eligible heals infrequently you might get lucky and nearly double your returns but you’re just as likely to end up with practically nothing. If you cast frequently you’re better off, but you could still end up losing out on a quarter of the returns you were expecting.

Obviously over a longer fight the numbers will even out a little better, but the majority of the fights do fall into the ~5-6 minute range, at least in Cataclysm.

The point of all this is that because of the huge variations of FD,CL’s procs you really need to be casting a lot of eligible heals to be sure of getting the benefit. When comparing PW:Solace and FD,CL, you should underestimate the value of FD,CL, particularly if running out of mana is likely to be a killer rather than an inconvenience. PW:Solace gives you flexibility that FD,CL does not.

Again, this doesn’t change the conclusion that PW:Solace is better for raid healing and FD,CL only if you’re tank- or single-target-healing a lot, but it does shine light on the massive unreliability you can expect to see in FD,CL returns.



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[MoP Beta] Priest Mana Regen Options

Posted by Malevica on June - 22 - 2012

Tier 3 of the Priest talent tree for Mists of Pandaria will be all about mana regeneration. But which is the best option: From Darkness, Comes Light? Mindbender? Or the shiny new Power Word: Solace?

Updated 24th June, see the follow-up post for details.
Updated again 1st July, to take account of the 1.0% -> 1.3% bump in Mindbender’s mana return. This changes the conclusions a little: originally Mindbender was barely an advantage over Shadowfiend, now it is a viable option.

For another take on this, Derevka at Tales of a Priest has carried out a similar analysis including presenting the data in some slightly different ways. That’s well worth a read as well; more eyes and more opinions are of course always a good thing for the community, as are different ways of explaining and presenting things.

It Depends

Obviously it’s going to be situational, there’s no question about that. Each of the talents has a different focus and will help in different scenarios:

  • From Darkness, Comes Light – Gives you a 15% chance on casting a Smite, Heal, Flash Heal, Binding Heal or Greater Heal to get a free, instant-cast Flash Heal. You can store up to 2 free heals.
  • Mindbender – Replaces Shadowfiend with a Mindbender. With Mindbender you get 1.3% Mana per swing instead of 3%, but a 1 minute CD instead of 3 minutes. You also get an extra two swings from the Mindbender because it has a 15s duration compared to the Shadowfiend’s 12s. The Mindbender’s damage is around 5.5k per swing (for me at level 88) compared to around 6.5k for the Shadowfiend.
  • Power Word: Solace – New! Deals light damage to an enemy, but grants 2% of mana back per cast. Priestly Telluric Currents, if you will. (Currently this restores mana even against immune enemies or if you miss, which is convenient).

First I’ll look at Mindbender and compare it to the other two options, then discuss the comparison of FD,CL with PW:Solace. If you just want the short version, then skip to the conclusions.

Mindbender

The graphs below show the amount of mana returned for Mindbender compared to Shadowfiend for a range of fight durations from 3 to 12 minutes. Because Mindbender replaces Shadowfiend, this is the net benefit of taking the talent.

The first shows the best-case situation, where you cast Shadowfiend or Mindbender pretty much on the pull and none of the mana returned is wasted. At level 90 this is consistent with chain-casting anything but Heal. This also assumes a 15% miss chance (healers are likely to have no hit bonus, and 15% is the standard chance to miss a boss-level mob).

Mindbender and Shadowfiend mana returns for a range of fight durations (Level 90, Immediate first cast)

Mindbender and Shadowfiend mana returns for a range of fight durations (Level 90, Immediate first cast)

Under this scenario Mindbender generates additional mana, both because of the extra swings and higher mana per swing, and because of the greater granularity (so you can fit more casts in.

If you don’t need the mana in the very early stages of the fight and delay the first casts of both until you’ve opened up a suitable mana deficit, the effect is more pronounced. The second graph shows the effect if you choose to delay Shadowfiend for a minute after the pull compared with waiting 20 seconds to cast Mindbender (in both cases the delay is sufficient to let a sufficient mana deficit build up, even being fairly frugal with mana).

Mindbender and Shadowfiend mana returns for a range of fight durations (Level 90, Delayed first cast)

Mindbender and Shadowfiend mana returns for a range of fight durations (Level 90, Delayed first cast)

In this case the greater granularity of Mindbender lets you fit an extra cast in much earlier, opening up a slightly larger gap over most fight durations.

However, remember that the benefit of Mindbender is the difference between Mindbender and Shadowfiend. So the possible advantage of Mindbender over Shadowfiend needs to be weighed against the potential benefit of the other two talents.

Looking at the graphs the gap widens and narrows as the encounter duration changes. For a 12-minute fight the gap is the largest, at 162,180 mana. To compare that to the other talents, consider that PW:Solace gives 2%, or 6,000 mana, per cast. So Mindbender equivalent to 162,180/6,000= 27.03 PW:Solace casts over the course of the fight, which is 2.25 PW:Solace casts per minute over 12 minutes. So if you can squeeze in just over 2 PW:Solace casts per minute, PW:Solace beats Mindbender. Since 2 FD,CL-eligible heals are worth roughly 1 PW:Solace cast, double those figures to see how Mindbender compares to FD,CL.

Let’s look at how the gap looks over the same range of fight durations as before:

Advantage of Mindbender over Shadowfiend, expressed as PW:Solace Casts per Minute

Advantage of Mindbender over Shadowfiend, expressed as PW:Solace Casts per Minute

The dotted line is where things used to be at 1%, and the solid line is the current state, including the buff to 1.3%.

While there is a lot of variation depending on the fight length, the range is generally between 1 and 3 PW:Solace casts needed to break even, and typically comes out around 2, on average.

The bottom line is this: if you can cast at least 3 PW:Solaces per minute of the fight then Mindbender is simply the weaker choice. If you’re not sure, check the chart and consider the likely fight length, and decide whether you think you can hit the target number instead.

Mindbender does have other advantages to be aware of though that could change the equation in specific cases:

  1. If your Shadowfiend is likely to get killed, the Mindbender gives you more bites at the cherry. 2/3 of the mana if one Mindbender dies is better than 0/3 if you lose the Shadowfiend. But this shouldn’t be a huge problem. More importantly;
  2. Mindbender is very much fire-and-forget. When the button lights up you just cast and get a nice mana income. No fuss, no bother. Usually encounters aren’t non-stop from start to finish, but if you find yourself really struggling then MB isn’t a bad option
  3. The Mindbender does a lot more damage over the course of the fight. Each SF cast is good for about (depending on crits and misses etc, of course) around 50,000 damage; Each Mindbender cast also accounts for around 50,000 damage but you get 3 Mindbenders to every Shadowfiend, so you’re comparing 50,000 to 150,000. When DPS counts, Mindbender gives an advantage, albeit a small one.

FD,CL vs Power Word: Solace

Power Word: Solace

Power Word: Solace

If you’re not casting single-target heals very often, the choice becomes simpler because you’re not going to see the benefits of FD,CL. But if you’re doing a bit of both, how do you decide?

Let’s get a feel for the numbers first.

  • Assuming no internal cooldown, FD,CL has a 15% chance to proc from one of the named heals. We can (very roughly) say that each eligible cast you make is worth 15% of the mana cost of Flash Heal, or 2925 mana at level 90.
  • PW:Solace is worth 2% of your mana per cast, or 6000 mana at level 90.

With those numbers in mind, have a look at your logs or just make an educated estimate of how many times you’re casting an eligible heal in a fight. Divide that by 2 and that’s how many PW:Solace casts you’ll need to squeeze in to come out ahead.

Remember that Evangelism procs from Penance in MoP, so if you’re heavily raid healing then you may not need to cast Smite at all. This means that FD,CL is not an automatic choice for Discipline even if we’re using Archangel liberally.

As a general rule of thumb to get started, if I were going to be primarily raid-healing I’d lean towards PW:Solace to begin with, while if I knew the tank might need more attention on a given encounter I might try FD,CL as my first pick. But the key to maximising this is actually reflecting on your healing style and the number of PW:Solace opportunities in a given encounter and making an informed decision.

 

Conclusions

For tank healing FD,CL looks like the strongest choice. If you’re able to cast more than 6 FD,CL-eligible heals per minute (and you should be if you’re healing the tank) then FD,CL beats Mindbender. Deciding between FD,CL and PW:Solace is trickier, but bear in mind that you need to fit in at least 1 PW:Solace for every FD,CL-eligible heal you cast. If you’re throwing a stream of Heals and Greater Heals (with PW:S, Penance, PoM and Smite/HF woven in) at your tank then you’re looking at somewhere on the order of 10 PW:Solace casts per minute to break even.

For raid healing PW:Solace should be your first choice. To guarantee to beat Mindbender you need to fit in 3 Power Word: Solace casts per minute on average, but you can often come out ahead with just 2 PW:Solaces per minute.
However, if you’re finding yourself in a ‘floater’ role and you find that you’re casting more than twice as many FD,CL-eligible heals (Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, Flash Heal and Smite) PW:Solace casts, then you might see a greater benefit from picking FD,CL. I’d recommend starting off with PW:Solace and looking for as many opportunities to cast it as possible, and then checking your logs and seeing what’s most appropriate for your playstyle.
Remember that PW:Solace has the most potential if you can find and take the maximum number of opportunities and cast it as often as possible.

Mindbender is valuable for non-stop raid-healing when you aren’t going to benefit from FD,CL but also can’t squeeze in enough PW:Solace casts. Its fire-and-forget nature leaves you free to get back to what you’re doing without much thought and management.



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[MoP Beta] Snapshot of the Disc Priest

Posted by Malevica on May - 12 - 2012

I’ve spent a bit of time in the last week or two playing my Discipline Priest in the Mists of Pandaria beta, and trying to figure out what’s changed and what’s what in the new world order. Of course, this being Beta, it’ll all have changed again next week, so treat this as a snapshot of where things are at. (I actually delayed publishing this until I had time to see the new Spirit Shell changes, more on that below!)

As is my wont this post got a bit long, so if you want to skip to a specific part here’s links to the discussion of spells, their costs and performance, Spirit Shell, Rapture, Talents and Glyphs.

Bear in mind that I’m still only level 86 as I write this, and the experience changes a lot as you level up.

 

The Gotcha Test

The first thing I do when I log into a beta or PTR is what I think of as the “Gotcha!” test. I take a close look at the HPS, HPM and costs of all our spells. Why? Remember Flash Heal in Wrath? And in Cataclysm? That’s what I’m looking for, a go-to ability that’s undergone a drastic shift. Here’s the list at level 85, at my gear level which is ilvl 404 on Live:

Priest Spells, Costs and Performance (Build 15677)

Priest Spells, Costs and Performance (Build 15677)

Notice that the mana costs are all nice neat round numbers. That’s because all healers now have a fixed mana pool of 100,000 MP (except gnomes, who have 105,000 MP thanks to our racial!) and spells cost a fixed percentage of our maximum mana.

No huge surprises in there this time, so I won’t go into too much detail. Most of the spells are where they have been in Cataclysm, which is nice. Flash Heal and Power Word: Shield remain our fast, expensive emergency heals. They have pretty punishing HPM and high costs, but they’re quick. Penance is still earning its cooldown with comparable HPS to Flash Heal but half the mana cost, and Prayer of Healing is still good when you have 3 or more people to heal up.

On the subject of abilities, there’s a new page on the spellbook labelled Core Abilities:

Priest Core Abilities Tab (Build 15677)

Priest Core Abilities Tab (Build 15677)

This is a helpful little nugget to nudge new players in the right direction when picking up a spec for the first time, or returning to a spec after a while away. It might be nice to draw attention to this tab more obviously, maybe as a tutorial tip, because it’s not even in the Talents window so you could easily overlook it.

 

Spirit Shell

While for a while Spirit Shell was an absorb replacement for Greater Heal, that design was rolled back in a recent build in favour of giving us GH back and redesigning Spirit Shell. Personally, I like what they’ve done with the spell.

Spirit Shell is a 15s self-buff on a 1 minute cooldown that turns all the heals you cast into absorbs with their own 15s duration. According to Ghostcrawler it’s been designed to take account of Divine Aegis (by increasing the size of the bubble by your crit chance so if, for example, you have 20% crit chance your bubble will be 120% of the size of the heal), the bubble size benefits from Grace in the same way the original heals would, and the bubbles also scale with Mastery. Note that the bubbles don’t “crit”, your crit chance has already been taken into account.

To put some numbers on this, imagine you hit Spirit Shell, then cast Greater Heal on your tank. Suppose, for the sake of argument, a baseline Greater Heal is good for 50,000 HP.
I have 15% crit chance, so that gives me a bubble of 50,000 * 1.15 = 57,500 HP.
I also have 25.73% stronger bubbles from Mastery, which takes my bubble up to 57,500 * 1.2573 = 72,295 HP.
Add in a triple-stacked Grace for a 30% boost, and my Greater Heal bubble is up to a whopping 72,295 * 1.30 = 93,983 HP.

That’s good stuff!

The current implementation is still a little early. Currently it’s not actually benefiting from any of those extra effects so we’re stuck with the basic heal. There’s also the open question, which Ghostcrawler acknowledged is still one they don’t have an answer for, of how stacking and capping these bubbles will work. Currently the Spirit Shell shields from different heals stack with each other (they create separate buffs for themselves depending on the spell) but casting the same spell twice refreshes the duration but replaces the absorb amount with the latest value, even if it’s lower.

I expect both of these behaviours to change and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the effect end up working more like DA does, where all the heals contribute to a single bubble buff which stacks up to a cap. The developers did point out that they don’t like us feeling like we need to spam something up to a cap (PoH/DA, anyone?), but I don’t think I mind that sort of mechanic. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

The utility of this is centred around preparing for and preventing damage. Know the Elementium Bolt is about to splash down, or your tank’s going to get Impaled? Get those bubbles out there to take the edge off it. The fact that it scales with Mastery means that you’ll get a slight healing boost out of this cooldown as well (Mastery affects the whole bubble, rather than just the DA portion of the heal), but the tradeoff if that you’ll have to have enough damage coming out to take proper advantage of the absorbs.

 

Rapture

Rapture is something of a vexed subject at the moment.

Rapture, on Beta and on Live, returns a lump of mana when your PW:S breaks; on Live it’s a fraction of your total mana, on the Beta it’s 150% of your Spirit. On Live this is (significantly) more than the PW:S cost to cast, making it an important source of mana regeneration, whereas on Beta the return is less than the cost of PW:S.

If we consider Rapture as a regeneration mechanic, it’s a slightly problematic one. The objections been gone over several times, including in the links above, but they more or less come down to difficulties in getting PW:S to break reliably when the damage is light or unpredictable or cases where you have multiple Disc Priests fighting over opportunities to bubble a single tank.

This unreliability is a problem on Live because Rapture is a form of “active mana regeneration”, like a potion on a 12s cooldown, and it’s a major part of our mana equation – we cast a bubble every 12 seconds to give us the mana we need to do whatever it is we actually want to be doing – and because it’s so powerful we don’t bother with Spirit for the most part. Imagine if your Shadowfiend had a 50% miss chance, or your Hymn of Hope didn’t actually give you any mana back half the time. Oh, wait…

However, Ghostcrawler explained that that this wasn’t actually the intention of Rapture:

Rapture isn’t trying to be Telluric Currents. You shouldn’t spam PW:Shield when you need mana. Rapture is intended to offset the cost of PW:Shield when the latter is used intelligently.

So instead of thinking of Rapture as part of our mana regeneration, instead we should think of it as a discount on casting PW:S as long as we don’t do it too often and pick a target that’s actually going to take damage. Think of it as a proc like Surge of Light, giving us a cheap PW:S every now and then instead of a free Flash Heal, only it doesn’t proc randomly but activates every 12 seconds instead. I still think there’s a possible issue with PW:S needing to break, especially in the case where you have two Disc Priests fighting over the damage, but you can at least see why that design is there, and that might be an application of the Divine Insight talent (call-ahead!).

Have a look back at the table, and look at the HPS and HPM of PW:S with and without Rapture. Without Rapture it’s still our best HPS ability, but the cost is punishing. Factor in a Rapture proc though and it’s suddenly right up there with our best HPM abilities as well.

There’s still one small wrinkle though, and that’s Meditation. You see, Meditation for Disc Priests is 25%, whereas it’s 50% for every other healing spec. The reason for this is that because Rapture makes PW:S so cheap and so powerful (when we weave it in) we can achieve the same output as the other specs for a smaller mana cost. To balance out this lower cost, our background regen is lowered to match.

The upshot is that if we don’t use PW:S at all, or don’t use it especially intelligently, we’ll end up a little behind the other specs mana-wise. If we use it exceptionally well, we’ll potentially end up ahead. Now the ball’s in Blizzard’s court, and they’ll need to tweak the numbers as the Beta progresses and we hit the level 90 content to make sure we’re balanced.

 

Talents

I’ve not done a talent run-down in a while, so let’s see where we’re at with those.

Level 15

Priest Level 15 Talents (Build 15677)

Priest Level 15 Talents (Build 15677)

Level 15 remains the “CC” tier. Void Tendrils summons a Tendril for every mob within 8 yards of you that roots it for up to 20 seconds; Psyfiend lets you spawn a Psyfiend at a location you choose that fears a mob attacking you every 1.5s; Dominate Mind is Mind Control. Videos of the first two are below for your enjoyment.

Void Tendrils:

Psyfiend:

Personally I’d go with Void Tendrils as my standard pick, just because fear is often a risky proposition. But I can see a lot of value in the Psyfiend in PvP. Throw it down on a flag or into a tower and watch the fun, or maybe just use it to keep people off you.

Level 30

Priest Level 30 Talents (Build 15677)

Priest Level 30 Talents (Build 15677)

At Level 30 you’ve got the movement talents. Body and Soul is the same ability we’ve known and envied for two expansions, only now it’s available to all Priests regardless of spec. The contender for PvE is Angelic Feather, which lets you place up to 3 feathers on the ground that grant a movement speed boost to the next person to step on them. If you have a known kite patch or need to keep someone moving at speed for a while then Angelic Feather is stronger than Body and Soul, but Body and Soul is more flexible if you just need to get someone moving and don’t necessarily know who it’s going to be. Tailor your choice to the situaion.

Phantasm looks at first glance like more of a PvP choice, although don’t rule it out entirely for PvE either. It makes your Fade remove all movement-impairing effects and makes you untargetable by ranged attacks and immune to movement-impairing effects for 3 seconds. The untargetability might have niche applications (I wonder if it would make you immune to Shrapnel, for example) but the freedom of movement could be handier.

I suspect the choice will usually be between Angelic Feather and Body and Soul for PvE, but it’s nice to have the option of Phantasm as well.

Level 45

Priest Level 45 Talents (Build 15677)

Priest Level 45 Talents (Build 15677)

Level 45 is the first tier where you get to actually improve your output. From Darkness, Comes Light (FD,CL), which still has that extraneous and slightly grating comma, gives you a 15% chance to proc a free, instant Flash Heal when you use (most of) your single-target heals. The list includes Smite, but not Penance or Holy Fire; this may change, I’d certainly expect to see Penance in that list. Given the high HPS of Flash Heal, this is a strong talent if you’re using a good number of single-target heals.

Mindbender replaces your Shadowfiend and deals double the damage and gives back double the mana. Because everything scales off base mana and base mana is fixed, your Mindbender will return 72% of your mana bar (assuming he doesn’t miss) compared to 36% for the Shadowfiend. This extra mana allows you to use more of the expensive spells, and is a great choice if you don’t think you’ll see the benefit of FD,CL, if you’re AoE healing, for example.

And finally we have Archangel, another old friends that’s been opened up to all three specs. This is a straight up output boost for 18s on a 30s cooldown, assuming you’re able to weave in the requisite number of Smites, Holy Fires and Penances to stack Evangelism up to 5. That’s right: Penance stacks Evangelism now, one stack per tick, and causes Atonement heals as well, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting Evangelism stacked.

In this tier you’re picking what you need. The first two are all about efficiency, the third is about simple output. I suspect we’ll shift from the left to the right as the expansion progresses and mana becomes less of an issue, and at the start we’ll be interested mostly in FD,CL for tank healing and Mindbender for raid healing, although I’ll admit I’ve not sat down and worked through them in detail yet.

Level 60

Priest Level 60 Talents (Build 15677)

Priest Level 60 Talents (Build 15677)

Level 60 is all about taking care of yourself. You get a choice of an instant 30% self-heal on a 2-minute cooldown (Desperate Prayer), a shield for 20% of your HP when you’re damaged below 30% of your health every 90s (Angelic Bulwark) and the new Spectral Guise.

Spectral Guise is an interesting talent. When you hit it you spawn a clone of yourself which your enemies will attack, while you get stealthed for 6 seconds or until your clone (“your true form”) is hit 3 times. You can either use the time to run away or to throw a couple of heals on yourself unimpeded.

Spectral Guise feels more solo- or PvP-orientated than the other two since you don’t often take direct attacks as a healer in raids, but it may be useful to save you from a powerful attack directed your way (again Shrapnel comes to mind), since you don’t share in the the damage your clone takes.

Level 75

Priest Level 75 Talents (Build 15677)

Priest Level 75 Talents (Build 15677)

Here’s where things get really weird, with a jumble of talents. Twist of Fate gives you a 15% damage or healing buff after damaging or healing a target under 20% HP. I can see this possible being useful for handling low-health enrage phases: throw a HF on the boss at 19% and enjoy 15% extra healing for a while, as well as the more orthodox behaviour of rewarding triage-style healing of the lowest people when the raid is weakened.

Alternatively you could go for Power Infusion for 20% faster, 20% cheaper spell for 15s every 2 minutes either for you or for a friend.

The real wildcard is Divine Insight. For Disc Priests this procs from Penance casts and allows your next PW:S to ignore and to not cause Weakened Soul.
I can see two main uses for this. It’d be pretty handy if you needed a quick throughput boost on a single target because it would let you to throw out a PW:S, Penance, PW:S combination, and it would also be useful to let you maximise the frequency of your Rapture-cheapened PW:S casts even if you or another Priest has already got Weakened Soul on your target.

Level 90

Priest Level 90 Talents (Build 15677)

Priest Level 90 Talents (Build 15677)

Until we’re able to actually play with these all we can do is speculate. I’ll link the three options, but reserve comment until they’re opened up on the Beta.

Your choice at level 90 is between:
Cascade, Divine Star, and Halo.

 

Glyphs

Since the Prime Glyphs have been removed, we’re left with the utility-focused Major Glyphs and the cosmetic Minor Glyphs.

The minors are all more or less unchanged. Shadow Protection went away with the removal of spell resistances, and we got Glyph of the Heavens instead. This one makes your Levitate targets appear to be floating on a cloud. Funky!

As for Majors, a lot are unchanged, but there are a few interesting changes.

  • Glyph of Dispel Magic – Deals damage when you dispel an enemy, rather than healing when you dispel a friendly.
  • Glyph of Purify – Heals 3% of max HP when you dispel a friendly. Dispel Magic is now our offensive dispel, while Purify is our defensive dispel/cleanse ability.
  • Glyph of Fade – Reduces all damage taken by 10% when you Fade, which could be mighty handy.
  • Glyph of Holy Fire – Makes Holy Fire instant-cast. Doesn’t save you any time if you’re able to stand still, but could add a valuable extra tool to our healing-on-the-run toolkit.
  • Glyph of Levitate – Increases your movement speed by 10% while you’re levitating and for 10s afterwards.
  • Glyph of Penance – Allows you to cast Penance while moving, but increases the cost of Penance by 20%. If you need healing on the run this is a good bet. The cost just stops it from being a no-brainer.
  • Glyph of Power Word: Shield – Similar to the old version, but where the healing used to be a bonus, this time the healing is taken out of the absorb instead.


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[Cataclysm Beta] Healing Throne of the Tides

Posted by Malevica on August - 3 - 2010

I have some thoughts on the new party healing UI but they’re not fully formed yet, and I was a little too busy to take proper screenshots on the way through, so I’ll return to that another time. For now, here’s my not-so-quick walkthrough of Throne of the Tides (without many pictures, although I may add them another time).

This is a rather long post, but it’s an entire instance and there’s a lot of detail in here. Ctrl-F is your friend!

This is based on beta build 12644, it’s all subject to change. I’ll add this to the strategy section once it’s closer to Live.

Layout and route

First and foremost, how to get there! The entrance is in the Abyssal Maw area of Vashj’ir, which is in the north-east of the Abyssal Depths subzone, or smack in the middle of Vashj’ir. I’ve included a map below:

Map of Vash'ir, with the Abyssal Maw entrance indicated by a green arrow

To get to the instance entrance area, just swim down into the Abyssal Maw as deep as you can go, and eventually you will ‘fall through’ the bottom and land in a cave with the instance entrance in it.

The layout’s a bit tricky to describe, especially since the game doesn’t yet include maps for the place, but I’ll do my best.

TotT (that’s a messy abbreviation…) essentially has three “wings” over two levels. When you walk in through the front entrance you’ll move forward through the first trash pack, up some stairs, and into a room with three exits. The left and right exits are blocked by wiggling tentacles, belonging to Ozumat, the end boss, who we’ll get to later. So first you need to fight your way forwards to the end.

When you reach the end you’ll find a friendly goblin who’ll tell you all about how he’s all set to get this elevator working. Since you’re in a bit of a hurry, ask him instead to teleport you upstairs (I can’t tell if this is an under-development kind of joke, or if we’re laughing at goblin workmanship). Another long hallway to fight through, with Lady Naz’jar at the end.

Once you’ve defeated Lady Naz’jar, turn around and go back the way you came. You’ll quickly discover Commander Ulthok has arrived and is inconveniently standing in your way, so dispatch him post-haste. Ask the goblin to teleport you back downstairs again, and head back to the three-way junction.

One of the side passages will be filled with purple elementals, that’s the way to Neptulon and the end, so go the other way first, past a lot of smaller Gilgoblin mobs. After a short slog through the trash you’ll come to Erunak Stonespeaker, who’s boss number three. Finally, head back to the centre again and hack and slash your way through the corrupted elementals to Neptulon’s room, and prepare for the final battle.

Lady Naz’jar

I’ll cover the trash mobs leading to each boss as well as the bosses themselves in each section, since some of the packs need a bit of care.

Trash

Getting to Lady Naz’jar involved taking out packs of 4-5 naga, consisting of the following types:

  • Naz’jar Spiritmender – Will cast Healing Wave a lot, or Wrath otherwise, and need to be kept under control or you will literally not kill anything. If there’s two in a pack, CC one and burn the other with stuns, then either leave the second one or kill it, it’s up to you. These will pretty much be the biggest challenge you’ll face in these packs.
  • Naz’jar Invader – Will melee swing and also apply Lacerate to their target. Lacerate was doing 225 damage per second per stack to the tank I had, but I saw it stack as high as 30 (for 6750 damage per second) on our tank before he died and we wiped. This shouldn’t be a problem as long as the rest of the mobs are going down in a timely fashion though, since you get one stack every 5 seconds.
  • Naz’jar Tempest Witch – These mobs have a Chain Lightning which starts at around 10k for the first hit although it does drop by about 2.5k per jump. Ranged need to be at range and spread out to mitigate the worst of this. Tempest Witches will also cast Lightning Surge on a random player giving them a magic debuff of the same name, which causes the player to explode for around 15k Nature damage after 5 seconds if it’s not dispelled. All healing classes can now dispel magic on friendlies, so this needs spotting and dispelling.

There are also a couple of lone patrolling Naz’jar Sentinels to watch out for. They hit fairly weakly in melee, but they will cast Noxious Mire on a random player, leaving a patch of green fumes on the floor which lasts 10 seconds and deals 5000 Nature damage per second to anyone inside it. Again, ranged should be spread out and the tank should kite the Sentinel out of any fumes on their location.

Boss

Lady Naz’jar is an alternating boss/adds type fight. At 66% and 33% she will banish herself by casting Waterspout and spawn three adds, unbanishing after one minute (possibly also once all the adds have died).

When fighting Lady Naz’jar herself, there are a few things you’ll need to watch out for. The most dangerous is Fungal Spores, which is a disease cast on a random player causing them to take 10000 Nature damage every 3 seconds for 15 seconds (5 ticks). It’s recast pretty much as soon as it fades, so you’ll spend a lot of time dealing with this. This can be healed through by an attentive healer, or dispelled where available.

Besides the disease she will summon a Geyser on a random person. You have a small delay of a second or two before the Geyser deals 30k frost damage to you and knocks you into the air. This is likely to kill you if you’re not fully topped off, and the falling damage can be risky as well, so healers need to be alert for this one.

When she casts Waterspout and banishes, she will spawn two Naz’jar Tempest Witches (which we’ve seen before) and one Naz’jar Honor Guard. The Honor Guard will melee fairly weakly initially, but will also use Arc Slash every 6 seconds or so. Arc Slash is a 5-yard frontal cone attack which cannot be dodged, blocked or parried, so this keeps a consistent background level of damage on your tank and the cleave aspect means you need to take some care with positioning.

My recommendation is to CC one of the Tempest Witches to keep the dispel requirements manageable (remember that Lightning Surge) and the Chain Lightning under control, and burn them down one at a time before moving on to the Naz’jar Honor Guard.

Rinse and repeat, and she should go down easily enough.

Commander Ulthok

Trash

There is no trash. As you turn around to head back into the rest of the instance, Ulthok will pop up in front of you from the pool on the floor. If you’re careless you may find yourself in combat automatically, but it is possible to avoid this.

Boss

Ulthok is a more challenging boss in theory, although we discovered on beta that he can be kited and killed solo by a class with slows due to his infrequent casts and the number of places to line-of-sight him. I imagine this will be altered before going Live.

His melee swings on the tank come in at around the 5-6k mark, which is not massive but can add up.

Ulthok’s first special ability is Dark Fissure which is a 2 second cast, at the end of which Ulthok smashes the ground in front of his feet, dealing 60k Shadow damage to anyone within 2 yards of the target (i.e. directly in front of him) and leaves a Dark Fissure on the ground (lasting 2 minutes) which deals shadow damage to anyone in it.
The tank should move away quickly to avoid being one-shot, and should move Ulthok out of the way so that melee DPS can avoid standing in the resulting Fissure.

The other thing Ulthok will do is Squeeze a random player in his hand, stunning them and dealing 5k Shadow damage to them per second for 6 seconds (6 hits). Given that health levels are around 30-35k for most non-tanks it is important to keep players topped off where possible, or to give them some focused healing if they’re low.

Erunak Stonespeaker

After heading back to the three-way intersection near the beginning of the instance, there will be two paths to take. Erunak Stonespeaker is along the path which does not have purple elementals on it. (I forget whether it’s east or west, but it’s on the right as you enter the instance).

Trash

There are three types of trash mobs to deal with here: two types of goblin forming mixed packs, and single Faceless Watchers, some patrolling.

  • Gilgoblin Hunters will attack with Poisoned Spear, which hits for around 15k Nature damage and ticks for around 1k Nature damage per stack.
  • Gilgoblin Aquamages will cast Water Bolt which deals 5k Frost damage and reduces melee, ranged and spell haste by 5% (dispellable, magic).

Pulling a pack with more than a couple of hunters is a risky business, because 4x15k from a barrage of Poisoned Spears may make short work of your tank. Be sure you’re at full health and go in with a bubble/CD, or pull with a stun/CC to reduce the numbers to manageable levels (being sure not to get your mage gibbed, of course). The Aquamages have a 2 second cast, but the Hunters have a 0.5s cast, so you’re unlikely to be able to interrupt them easily off the pull.
Once the pull is made though, the mobs die fairly easily and their damage is not nearly as focused.

The Faceless Watchers are interesting to fight. They will cast Void Rip, lifting everyone up into the air and drawing them inwards, and then after three seconds Void Rip fades and you are all dropped near his feet. He’ll then cast Ground Pound, which makes the ground near his feet rumble and deals 6k Physical damage per 0.5s to anyone inside. The Ground Pound lasts 6 seconds, but you should run out of it before this happens, or you’re likely to not survive. Given that you’ll have a maximum of 30-35k HP on average, you’re looking at 2.5-3s TTL from full health, and probably less since you’ll have just taken falling damage as well.

Boss

Erunak Stonespeaker is not truly the boss here; he’s actually being controlled by Mindbender Ghur’sha, a sort of ooze/headcrab thing riding on his head. You need to kill Ghur’sha, but it’s pretty stubborn and you need to “persuade” it to let go.

When you first pull, you’ll need to take Erunak Stonespeaker to 50% HP, at which point Mindbender Ghur’sha will detach and sit on the floor for a time. Burn it as hard as you can during this vulnerable time, before it picks another target,the highest threat player each time, and leaps onto them. Once again, DPS this target to 50% health (or wait 1 minute, but why would you?) and Ghur’sha will detach again. From here it’s just rinse and repeat until you’ve killed Ghur’sha for good.

While you’re fighting Erunak Stonespeaker, he will be doing one of three things besides meleeing your tank. He will randomly cast Lava Bolt on a random player dealing 20k Fire damage and knocking them back, and he will also send Earth Shards towards a random player, which will turn into a patch of spikes when they hit, dealing around 2k physical damage per second to anyone remaining in the area.
The big danger in this phase is the Magma Splash, which is a frontal cone Fire attack dealing 20k damage upfront and applying a DoT to anyone afflicted dealing 2k Fire damage per second for 10 seconds unless dispelled (Magic).

Once you’ve passed the 50% mark and Ghur’sha is Enslaving players, it will use its own set of abilities rather than the player’s own.

The first, and most subtle, is Absorb Magic. This magical debuff (Purgeable) is cast by Ghur’sha on itself, and absorbs all spell damage. What’s more, when damage is absorbed Ghur’sha will be healed for three times the amount absorbed. Purge this one quickly or stop DPS, although currently this doesn’t heal for enough to make much of a difference.

The other ability the whole party needs to react to is Mind Fog. A patch of fog will appear around Ghur’sha and remain for 20s, which pacifies anyone inside it and deals 500 Shadow damage per 0.5s. Run out, and ranged DPS might have to be careful of their threat while the tank is pacified.

The big damaging ability in this phase is Unrelenting Agony. This looks a lot like Mind Flay beams from Ghur’sha to every player, and ticks for around 2k Shadow damage per second for 10s. This needs some preparation to top people off and spread some healing around, although it’s not fatal in and of itself.

Ozumat/Neptulon

Trash

The trash to Neptulon’s room takes the form of a gauntlet, with the constantly spawning small Unstable Corruption mobs controlled by the large Tainted Sentry elementals.

The Unstable Corruptions will spontaneously die, casting Wall of Corruption on nearby players. This is a disease which ticks for 250 Nature/Shadow damage per second per stack, up to a maximum of 20 stacks, with a duration of 8 seconds. The trick to handling these is to ignore them and just proceed to the Tainted Sentries, although if your healer requires time to catch you up (not all healers can remove diseases) then you can build a pause into the progression.

Tainted Sentries are mostly melee mobs, although they have the ability to buff themselves with Swell, causing them to deal 10k Nature/Shadow damage to the party every 3 seconds for 9 seconds. This can be deadly, especially on the last pull when there are two of them or when you’ve got diseases ticking, so it must be purged as quickly as possible. If you have no purge available, try and keep one out of commission while you heal through the other one.

Neptulon in his room in the Throne of the Tides.

Neptulon in his room in the Throne of the Tides

Boss

To start the fight, talk to Neptulon. You’ll actually be fighting against Ozumat, the leviathan outside the room you’re in, in a three-phase fight. You must keep Neptulon alive for the duration of this fight, or the encounter will reset.

Phase one is a bit of a warm-up, where you’ll pick up and kill Deep Murloc Invaders, Vicious Mindlashers and Unyielding Behemoths. The Murlocs are easy enough to deal with through AoE, they only melee swing.

Vicious Mindlashers will cast Shadow Bolt on their target for around 5k Shadow damage, and will also curse their target with Veil of Shadow, reducing healing taken by 50%. Their final ability is Brain Spike, which is a 3 second cast that deals 7k Shadow damage to the party and drains 1k mana. This can be nasty, and needs to be the priority for interruping.
Vicious Mindlashers should be the kill priority in this phase, burning them one at a time. They do not seem to melee swing, so they do not need a tank staying near them to tank them, which is just as well, as we’ll see.

The Unyielding Behemoths do need to be controlled by a tank, and they need to be moved on frequently because they will periodically cast Shadow Blast, where they will leap into the air, hover for 5 seconds, and then slam into the ground dealing 25k Shadow damage and a knockback to anyone close to them.
Care also needs to be taken because they will also cast Blight Spray in a 25-yard cone in front of them for 3.5k Shadow damage per second for 4 seconds.

Phase 2‘s arrival is heralded by three Faceless Sappers spawning and running in. They will spread out around Neptulon and channel Entangling Grasp on Neptulon, stunning him. These all need to die before Phase 3 can begin.

Hindering you in this are the Blight Beasts which are spawned. These definitely do need to be kited around the outside of the room, since they will apply Aura of Dread to anyone within 7 yards of them, dealing 2k Shadow damage and increasing Shadow damage taken by 10% per stack (up to 200 stacks!). There will be multiple Blight Beasts active at any one time, so this can become very deadly very quickly.

Current strategy on beta seems to be to have the tank kite the adds while the DPS nuke the Sappers down a.s.a.p. This might not be optimal on Live though, perhaps a melee/ranged split onto Sappers and Beasts respectively might feel more controlled.

Throughout this phase, Ozumat will also be throwing black patches of Blight of Ozumat onto the floor, which stack a 200 Shadow damage per second per stack DoT to anyone standing in them. Run out of these quickly. They are a little tricky to spot, since there’s a lot of black shadow around the place, but they are visible if you watch out for them.

Phase 3 starts when the Sappers die. The first goal is to clear out the remaining trash mobs as quickly as possible, before turning your attention to Ozumat.

Neptulon is now active and will cast Tidal Surge on the whole party, increasing HP, healing and damage massively, as well as your size and run speed. He will also help you to kill Ozumat by chain-casting Pure Water on Ozumat, dealing 100k Frost damage at a time.

Because Ozumat will be constantly casting Blight of Ozumat, this last phase is a race against time before Neptulon or the raid dies due to the stacking DoT, making it very reminiscent of the end of the Lady Vashj fight, for those with long memories. From a healer’s perspective it’s pretty rough, and will test your triage skills!



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[Cataclysm Beta] First Impressions and Thoughts

Posted by Malevica on July - 30 - 2010

I have to confess I didn’t get around to much healing on the PTR in the last couple of days, spending most of my time soaking up the scenery and making mouseover macros. I did take myself off to Vashj’ir to do some levelling though.

I will try and keep the Cata posts generally more structured than this, but I’ll admit I’m excited enough to throw up a first impressions post early, so here it is.

This is based on build 12604, and may already be out of date, although I didn’t see anything in the spell diffs that contradicts what I’ve written here.

Graphics

From the moment I zoned in, standing in the middle of Orgrimmar, I was genuinely impressed with the graphics upgrade the game has been given. The art and design folks have done a great job of updating the models and textures for the buildings and scenery to make them look a bit less 2005 and more 2010. It’s certainly no Aion, but the game world does feel a lot more real than it used to.

The most striking difference is the water texture, which is a lot more realistic-looking and less regular, and such a massive difference I feel compelled to add a screenshot. I’m sure everyone’s been poring over the screenshots on MMO-Champion for months, but I haven’t so this is new and exciting to me. Allow me my moment!

Screenshot taken while flying over the Great Sea

Screenshot taken while flying over the Great Sea

Absorbs in the combat log

Here’s a nice change: the combat log finally handles absorbs properly.

First, an edited screenshot from the in-game combat log:

Combat log extract showing PW:S reports

Combat log extract showing how PW:S is reported

And here’s an excerpt from the WoWCombatLog.txt file. They’re not of the same fight section but you get the idea. For those not adept at reading this form of combatlog, I’ve bolded the event type (e.g. SPELL_AURA_APPLIED) and the amount (e.g 8615)

7/28 20:26:57.008 SPELL_AURA_APPLIED, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 17, “Power Word: Shield”, 0×2, BUFF, 8615, 0, 0

7/28 20:27:07.839 SWING_MISSED, 0xF5309BEE000C9764, “Clacksnap Pincer”, 0x10a48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, ABSORB, 320
7/28 20:27:08.171 SPELL_AURA_REFRESH, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 17, “Power Word: Shield”, 0×2, BUFF, 6678, 0, 0

7/28 20:27:09.920 SWING_MISSED, 0xF5309BEE000C9764, “Clacksnap Pincer”, 0x10a48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, ABSORB, 377
7/28 20:27:10.096 SPELL_AURA_REFRESH, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 17, “Power Word: Shield”, 0×2, BUFF, 6301, 0, 0

7/28 20:27:11.934 SWING_MISSED, 0xF5309BEE000C9764, “Clacksnap Pincer”, 0x10a48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, ABSORB, 424
7/28 20:27:12.081 SPELL_AURA_REFRESH, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 17, “Power Word: Shield”, 0×2, BUFF, 5877, 0, 0

7/28 20:27:24.145 SPELL_AURA_REFRESH, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 17, “Power Word: Shield”, 0×2, BUFF, 8615, 0, 0

[...]

7/28 20:27:54.141 SPELL_AURA_REMOVED, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 17, “Power Word: Shield”, 0×2, BUFF, 3789, 0, 0

What you can see in the second log extract is the way the information is handled and reported.

First the log shows me casting PW:S on myself (“SPELL_AURA_APPLIED”), and the size of the shield as the third from last number in the list (8615).

Then you can see the log reporting that the mob failed to do damage (“SWING_MISSED”) and the reason why (“ABSORB”), and the last number on the line is the amount absorbed (320, 377 and 424).
On the next line the Power Word: Shield is refreshed (“SPELL_AURA_REFRESH”) and the third figure from the end tells you how much absorption is left in the shield (6678, 6301 and 5877).

If you re-cast PW:S before it has been fully used up, as I did in the last line in the quote above, you get another SPELL_AURA_REFRESH line with the new value of the shield. As expected, shields don’t roll over their unused portion, hence this says 8615 again. (I miss the ICC buff!)

And if PW:S fades early, you also get a report in the in-game and text-based combatlogs telling you how much remained unused. (“SPELL_AURA_REMOVED” or “Malevica Power Word: Shield fades from Malevica. (3789 Remaining)”).

For a Disc Priest in particular this is fantastic news. Not only because now we can get correct credit for our contribution (for every situation where a pugger with Recount has shown us doing less healing than the Feral Druid, there’s a situation where WoL has given us credit for every Sacred Shield going, not to mention the fun we had on the Twin Val’kyr for a week or two…) but also because it opens the door for proper estimates of how much absorption is left on a given player.
I dream of adding another power bar to each player’s frame with a PW:S indicator analogous to their health bar. It’s a nice thought, anyway.

Power Word: Barrier

Screenshot of Malevica standing inside her Power Word: Barrier

Malevica standing inside her Power Word: Barrier

Is just awesome. The absorb amount seems a little low at the moment, especially given the long-ish cooldown (3 minutes), but there’s plenty of time to change this before release if necessary. It’s essentially a holy version of the DK’s Anti-Magic Zone, and it looks like someone froze Holy Nova at it’s fullest extent and made it extra golden and sparkly. I hope this animation stays, because it looks spot on. And it’s very visible too.

It’s also nicely sized at around 15 yards from side to side: you do need to group up quite close to stay inside it, but you don’t need to be stacked too tightly to be comfortable, and the edge is pretty well-defined as you can see in the screenshot above. You also get a buff Power Word: Barrierapplied while inside which you could add to Power Auras or similar so it’s easy to see when you’re inside the area of effect.

One downside of PW:B is that unlike it’s single-target counterpart it doesn’t appear to report it’s absorb amount remaining in the combatlog. You get a SPELL_CAST_SUCCESS for the spell, and a SPELL_SUMMON when the PW:B is created, and you do get an ABSORB report with a value, but there’s no indication of how much is left, in contrast to how PW:S works.

Here’s another combatlog extract for your delectation. This log shows me putting a PW:B down, standing inside it, and letting a Zin’jatar Guardian and Zin’jatar Overseer hit me for a while. Again, I’ve bolded the events and amounts.

7/29 18:12:48.351 SPELL_SUMMON, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 0xF53081E0001AA61E, “Power Word: Barrier”, 0xa28, 62618, “Power Word: Barrier”, 0×2
7/29 18:12:48.701 SPELL_AURA_APPLIED, 0xF53081E0001AA61E, “Power Word: Barrier”, 0×2111, 0xF53081E0001AA61E, “Power Word: Barrier”, 0×2111, 81781, “Power Word: Barrier”, 0×2, BUFF
7/29 18:12:48.701 SWING_MISSED, 0xF530A209001AA281, “Zin’jatar Guardian”, 0xa48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, ABSORB, 384
7/29 18:12:49.679 SWING_MISSED, 0xF530A24D001AA284, “Zin’jatar Overseer”, 0x10a48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, ABSORB, 639
7/29 18:12:50.865 SWING_MISSED, 0xF530A209001AA281, “Zin’jatar Guardian”, 0xa48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, ABSORB, 456
7/29 18:12:51.523 SPELL_PERIODIC_MISSED, 0xF530A209001AA281, “Zin’jatar Guardian”, 0xa48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, 13445, “Rend”, 0×1, ABSORB, 238
7/29 18:12:51.687 SWING_MISSED, 0xF530A24D001AA284, “Zin’jatar Overseer”, 0x10a48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, ABSORB, 632
7/29 18:12:52.708 SWING_MISSED, 0xF530A209001AA281, “Zin’jatar Guardian”, 0xa48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, ABSORB, 424
7/29 18:12:53.707 SWING_MISSED, 0xF530A24D001AA284, “Zin’jatar Overseer”, 0x10a48, 0x01000000000A5496, “Malevica”, 0×511, ABSORB, 456
7/29 18:12:54.038 SPELL_AURA_REMOVED, 0xF53081E0001AA61E, “Power Word: Barrier”, 0×2111, 0xF53081E0001AA61E, “Power Word: Barrier”, 0×2111, 81781, “Power Word: Barrier”, 0×2, BUFF

Now the tooltip for PW:B is slightly confusing. Here’s a screenshot of the tooltip taken in-game:

Tooltip for PW:B

In-game tooltip for Power Word: Barrier

The tooltip says “Absorbs 4784 damage done to friendly targets within it each time they take damage”. This suggests that every hit has 4784 damage taken off it, but in my testing the PW:B lasted 5.3s, and absorbed a total of 3229 damage spread over multiple hits before disappearing, not quite what the tooltip suggests. Perhaps there’s a bug with the numbers, but that top figure seems to be a per-person cap, rather than per hit.
The tooltip definitely needs some clarification.

I mean, clearly a 32k shield would be massively overpowered while solo, so there ought to be a cap, but 3-4k still seems a bit low to me, compared to 8.6k PW:S casts with effectively no cooldown.

The other downside, albeit a situational one since I was mostly levelling in Vashj’ir, was that it was a bit frustrating that PW:B, as a ground-targeted spell, was not especially useful while fighting in three dimensions. Sometimes it’s not convenient to drag mobs down to ground level to cast the spell.
Again, I don’t know how I’d solve this problem while still retaining the ease of use. Maybe it’s just one of those things that we’ll have to live with. If you replace it with a more free targeting mechanic like the anti-air guns on some vehicles (Demolishers in Ulduar, I think) then it could be quite clunky to use in raids when you really just want a quick action and you’re (probably) limited to two dimensions anyway.

Tooltips

Speaking of tooltips, I was very pleased to see that spell damage/healing amounts on tooltips now update in real time, as well as cast times and mana costs (we only have the latter two in WotLK, as far as I can remember). It won’t replace DrDamage, but it’s a really nice thing to see which should have been there for a while anyway.

General UI

Getting beyond the superficial, as expected there are no addons in use at the moment on the beta realms. I’d forgotten how much fun it was working with the default action bars again after all this time.

I did nearly die on more than one occasion because I’m so used to having a HUD and having my player and target frames near the bottom of my screen rather than the top that I wasn’t paying attention to the screen.

There’s a big thread up on the beta forums with feedback and requests for the default UI. I doubt I can add anything to that list, although I do think that some of the people commenting in that thread might be missing the point a little. If you want total customisation, I think that probably ought to remain the province of addons, since customisation, especially in GUI form, costs resources.

My wishlist at this stage would be:

  • The ability to move the player and target frames around. You can do this with the focus frame, so it would be nice to be able to do this with the other frames. The reasoning is that your eyes tend to be focused on the bars at the bottom of the screen (not all of us are fluent in 20 keybinds) and it’s easy to neglect something hidden away in the top corner.
  • Also thinking of the player and target frames, if you turn on the health bar numerical display it pretty much entirely obscures the green bar behind it, making it tricky to see at a glance roughly how healthy you are. Perhaps this is a bigger problem because it’s compounded with the location of the frames themselves, which means you might only be taking a quick glance rather than having time to look in detail.
  • Some sort of Clique-like interface alongside the key bindings interface. The trouble with this is that Clique steals the right-click which is used to access the menu for things like raid marking, inviting, inspecting, leaving groups and vehicles, etc. I don’t have a good solution to this. Thinking about it, I tend to use VuhDo to target a player and then right-click on the standard target frame to use the menu, although I’m aware that you can set VuhDo up to show the menu directly.

I’m not going to go so far as to demand fully-customisable player and party frames Pitbull-style, because I think that’s too confusing for the average beginner (and for me, quite often) and I think it’s probably best handled by addons since the choice between unitframe addons, at least for me, tends to come down to the customisation UI rather than the appearance of the frames themselves. (I didn’t get along with the older versions of Pitbull, although Pitbull4 seems to make sense to me somehow.)

I noticed that there’s an option for compact party frames, which I presume are similar to the default raidframes but for a party, but since I didn’t join a party last night I’ll have to wait and see about that one. Likewise, I’ve not seen how buffs and debuffs are handled in party or raid situations, so I have no comments to make on that.

The other big change is the vehicle UI, which completely replaces your action bars and makes it very clear you’re in a different type of situation. It’s nice to see this being revamped, rather than just replacing your main bar, although I think the new UI looks a little bit to cartoony at the moment. The health bar being represented by a jar filled with green liquid just doesn’t match any other element of the UI (the party frames just have bars) and looks a bit too cheesy for my money.

Class balance

OK, a slightly frivolous point to finish, but seriously, it felt like more than half the players I was with were Druids, most of them Moonkins. I don’t think I saw another Priest all night.

Maybe this is a sign of things to come?



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Categories: Cataclysm Beta