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Archive for June, 2009

So maybe you’re taking your first steps into raiding, maybe you’re an established 10-man raider and wondering what all the fuss is about over heroics. Today, I’m going to give you a bit of advice on the general differences between normal and heroic raids from my experiences, as well as how our playstyle differs as a result!

There’s probably a few of you out there who are a little clueless about heroic raids. Why are 10-mans seen as inferior to 25-mans? Why aren’t they “recognised” as much by guilds like Ensidia and Method? And why won’t people accept your 10-man achievement for a 25-man raid?

Well, the latter kind of people don’t exactly endear themselves to me, or my guildmates. But as for the others – well, to put it simply, 25-mans are simply more difficult. In a post-3.1 world, Blizzard have achieved what they didn’t quite manage with 3.0, which was to have a clear seperation in difficulty for the two levels of raiding;

  • Easier: 10-man raids.
  • Moderate: The majority of 10-man hardmodes, 25-man raids.
  • Difficult: 25-man hardmodes.

In 3.0, OS10 with 3 drakes was actually harder than OS25 with 3 drakes, simply because of restrictions on raid composition (ie. which classes/how many tanks, healers, DPS to take). Now 25-man hardmodes are as intended – more difficult than 10-man hardmodes, just as 25-man raiding is harder than its 10-man equivalent. So the reason that all these “world-firsts” are for 25-mans is simply because cutting edge guilds thrive on the difficulty of those encounters, and the 10-man equivalent of any given achievement just doesn’t carry quite as much kudos as the 25-man version. Not only do 25-mans require better gear (and give out better gear) but they also require more co-ordination, organisation and require more people to perform well.

So, that’s the basics explained. How do we play differently?

Here’s an example of my healing done from a recent 10-man Emalon fight;

A pie-chart and some percentages for Emalon in VoA10.

A pie-chart and some percentages for Emalon in VoA10. // Addon: Recount

Notice anything? Well, there’s some stuff which is just perfectly ordinary. Penance occupies the top slot, as normal – every time the tank took damage, Penance was my first port of call. Renew also took care of a lot of healing while I was running in and out of the lightning AoE. But then things start getting interesting.

  • Greater Heal > Flash Heal: I’m actually healing up more with Greater Heal than Flash Heal! Over the course of a three-and-a-half minute fight, I used only three Flash Heals. Between PoM/Renew/Shields and Penance on a 6.5 second cooldown, I barely need to use either of these spells and when I do, Greater Heal is more useful for a 10-man encounter – I might just Flash Heal to top off the the tank before an AoE.
  • Shield Glyph: The 13% from the shield glyph is simply thanks to me throwing out so many shields. Emalon is a very short, intense fight – the boss will only take a few minutes to die, but a lot of AoE damage gets put out with Chain Lightning and Lightning Nova. Because of the short fight time, I wasn’t afraid to throw out a lot of shields. I ended up having 7 or 8 raid members shielded every time the Nova went off, which made the job a lot easier for the Resto Druid in the raid (we ran with two healers).
  • Low PoH Percentage: For a fight with a lot of AoE, you might expect me to be using Prayer of Healing quite a bit… but check out my shielding! It took care of most of that AoE. Because it’s a 10-man, I was able to shield almost everybody in the raid in advance of AoE, meaning that a lot less healing was required afterwards. We’ll talk about this in a bit more detail later.

Now sadly, while I did run VoA25 as well this week, I completely forgot to screenshot the stats from that fight. That doesn’t, however, stop me from talking about it. What was different in my playstyle?

  • Flash Heal > Greater Heal: As a 10-man raider, Greater Heal is a really useful tool for when Penance is on cooldown. As a 25-man raider, that health deficit will probably have disappeared pretty quickly, because you’ve got another healer on the tank. So GH simply becomes less useful – the only time I’d use it is when the tank is going to take extreme damage, like Plasma Blast on Mimiron.
  • Higher PoH Usage: The first thing you need to appreciate when rolling out shields in a 25-man raid is that you can’t shield everybody. It physically cannot be done. Because of this, there’ll be more raid “damage” flying around, and so more healing will be needed! This is where PoH comes in, and you’ll usually be able to help out in that department.

So, there we have it! Next time you change raid size, give some thought to how you need to switch up your play and I guarantee you’ll be a lot more useful to your guild. 🙂

— Roble

PS. Apologies for the lateness of the latest update. I’ve been moving back into my family house after the end of my first year of uni, so things have been a little hectic! Naxx 10 bosses will be up soon in the guide, and I’m hoping to start with a new guild next reset after my old one disbanded, so there’ll be lots of lovely Ulduar screenshots for you. I’m considering doing my next post on addons/UI.

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PenancePriest isn’t necessarily the most famous blog in the world, but it’s certainly a favourite of mine. Paolo, its author, wrote an interesting article on his new talent build yesterday afternoon. Having just finished the Talents section of the guide on this blog, I felt like I was missing a trick and so decided to talk about the idea in general, and why it works.

The build stems from the idea that in Ulduar and with the changes to Grace/Soul Warding, Flash Heal isn’t all that useful anymore.

Paolo: “Flash Heal now makes up about 6% of my overall healing.”

And Paolo is completely right – I’m much more reliant on Penance, Shields and PoM/PoH (and GH as a 10-man raider). So the suggestion is to remove 2 points from Improved Flash Heal and put them into the Holy tree, resulting in a 55/16/0 build.

And yep, there’s still one point in IFH. Paolo has said that this is “until he finds a better use for it”. It’s quite possible to leave it like that, and the 4% crit isn’t to be sniffed at, but if you’re playing a Priest with longevity problems then you could just take that point and put it into Improved Healing. If you’re still having longevity problems, take a point out of Spell Warding to get 2/3 Improved Healing. The mana reduction on Penance is very useful and I’m a big fan of GH, so that helps there too.

My first though was “yeah, that could work” and I may even try that out when I get home, with 5 points in Divine Fury. But the best thing about the build is the flexibility it affords you. Previously, with a 57/14/0 build as on my Talents page, you were forced to pick. Do you go Divine Fury for hasted Greater Heals? Spell Warding for reduced damage taken, or Healing Focus for the faster “eventual” cast times? You’ve only got 5 points to put into those three talents, so you’re forced to pick. Taking points out of IFH allows you to pick and choose a little more from the Holy tree, as well as opening up the 15-point tier. Holy Reach has also been suggested as a possible spot for the last IFH talent point.

Also mentioned is the Flash Heal glyph, which as of 3.1 became pretty irrelevant. I’ll be including discussion on glyphs in part 4 of the Discipline guide, with spells. But in case you wondered, the upshot is that with the insane buff to PoH (especially with the Priest t8 2-piece bonus) and the arrival of Glyph of Penance, the FH glyph – while not entirely “useless”, per se – is an inferior choice now and you should swap it out if you still have it!

When I get back home, I’ll probably be checking out a modified version of Paolo’s build, and I look forward to trying it out. Thoughts, anyone?

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Four nights back, our guild progressed to and downed Thorim in Ulduar 10 (we exclusively run 10-mans). The following is a little recap of what happened on that fight. In particular I’ll be concentrating on two things – some useful things to bear in mind on this fight and how to get the most out of Discipline for the encounter.

The most difficult part of the fight – and indeed the part I’ll be concentrating on – is splitting your 10-man group between the “hallway” and “arena” teams. If you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about, here’s Vodka (a top US guild) downing Thorim 25 hardmode. Sadly they don’t have the PoV of an arena team member, but I won’t be talking so much about that anyway.

. . . . .

. . . . .

Now the observant amongst you might have noticed that they don’t split their teams equally. 8 or 9 of them run the gauntlet, while the remainder stay in the arena. For the 10-man version, we found that a 3/7 split worked well.

Our first problem was with the first mini-boss, who you probably noticed “nukes” one side of the room every 8 seconds or so. When we were still learning the ropes of the fight, our hallway tank/DPS had some difficulty keeping their eye on the mini-boss while still doing their respective jobs. As a Discipline Priest, you should be in the hallway group anyway, (for reasons I’ll explain in a minute,) but if your group is having trouble with the nuke then you’ll find it helpful to work out a couple of quick macros. On the fly, I just used;

/rw <– LEFT SIDE IS SAFE

and

/rw RIGHT SIDE IS SAFE –>

and bound them to SHIFT+side buttons on my mouse for easiness of access. Since my job was pretty simple – just keep the three people shielded and heal the tank occasionally (and use Mind Sear now and then) – it wasn’t difficult for me to click another button every now and then. Remember to get your raid leader to give you an assistant position beforehand!

Our second problem was running the gauntlet fast enough to not only beat the enrage timer, but also make sure the arena team didn’t become overwhelmed. They were having a tough time, and here’s where Discipline really shines in the hallway team!

We’ve got a spell called Power Infusion which gives a 20% haste boost (the equivalent of ~650 haste rating) for 15 seconds, on a 96 second cooldown when talented. That’s actually a decent amount of uptime when spammed, and this is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Normally I’d think about when I’m going to pop PI, so normally it gets used when the caster in question can just stand and spam for 15 seconds (also note it doesn’t stack with Bloodlust).

In the hallway team, though, it’s pretty much just flat DPS the whole way, with maybe 5 seconds of moving between trash groups. So what did I do? Well, I swapped our hallway Hunter with the highest spell-based DPS in the raid and got in three Power Infusions before we reached Thorim, which ended up knocking roughly 30 seconds off our gauntlet time! It might not sound like much, but that’s 30 more seconds for a healer to make a mistake or the tank to miss picking up an add.

Finally, as for how to heal the hallway group, Discipline Priests’ shields make us a great class to do this. We can pre-shield the three group members and then just spam Mind Sear when the tank doesn’t need healing! A decently-geared tank will take surprisingly little damage in the hallway, and a healer than can off-DPS will make the whole thing go faster again. Even better, if you pop your Shadowfiend on the first mini-boss, you’ll get an extra DPS boost, full mana back and the Fiend will be back up roughly 90 seconds after you start the final phase.

So if your guild is just coming up to Thorim 10 and you’re wondering how to best make use of your spec, I hope this helped out. Best of luck!

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