Archive for September, 2009

Wow, it’s been a whole two weeks since my last article. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind recently and I’ve been slacking on my blog – it’s one of those things that takes a backseat when other stuff gets crazy! My guild disbanded and reformed under new leadership after the officers got sick of the GM and I’m getting ready to go back to uni in a week’s time, so I need to start remembering all that stuff I did last year…

Anywho, there’s been a bit of a ruckus on the Ensidia forums over the last few days. Two threads about Priest gemming, one for Discipline and one for Holy, started off with the usual advice and suddenly descended into a debate (to say the least) about the value of Spirit compared to Intellect for Priests of different specs. These threads made me realise that much of the information in the gemming section of my Discipline guide is a little out of date! While it was more than valid for Ulduar, 3.2 has changed the game when it comes to gemming and I’ll be writing about what I’m doing differently, as well as what Blizzard is doing differently.

Perhaps at this point it would be prudent to go and look through my old advice for DPriests. I wrote a paragraph or two on how to gem your Priest for best possible results and I basically summed it up by saying “screw socket bonuses, gem for spellpower”. This still holds true… to an extent. It’s just not chapter and verse anymore.

How To Do It!

How To Do It!

Allow me to explain.

Back in the mists of time at the release of Wrath, classes and specs were still working out what stats were best for them. Socket bonuses on gear varied vastly between useful (spellpower) and relatively pointless (spirit, crit). The question you had to ask yourself was “would I rather have X spellpower, or Y crit/spirit and Z intellect/mp5/whatever?” where Y and Z were much inferior to X. The answer was almost always X spellpower, because rule number one for Discipline Priests is that spellpower reigns supreme.

Then 3.2 came along. Blizzard realised that pretty much every caster class was gemming for straight spellpower, because that’s what was most useful for them. If the socket bonus wasn’t spellpower, we just stacked more spellpower. Gear in top-end guilds was getting to the point where it wasn’t customisable, (as the socketing design is supposed to make it,) because everyone did the same thing and gemmed for straight spellpower. DPriests were no exception. Something had to be done.

Suddenly Blizzard’s policy on socket bonuses changed. Notice the overwhelming majority of 3.2 set pieces and item drops have spellpower bonuses? We’re being forced to make much more difficult decisions, because there’s finally some carrot attached to that socket-bonus-string.

Say we have a piece with a red socket and a yellow socket which has a +7 spellpower bonus. Here we have a choice. Do we socket it with two +23 SP gems and get +46 SP, or do we go one 23 SP and one 12 SP/10 INT – which gives us the socket bonus? It’s a tough choice. Whichever option we go for, we’ll get at least 42 spellpower. Beyond that, we have to choose between 4 extra spellpower and 10 intellect. And that’s difficult… is there even a cut-and-dry “better” decision? What about 12 SP/10 Crit? Gear becomes less about what’s best for your class and more about what’s best for your current situation.

So, we need a new set of rules. Obviously knowing what stat is good for what will help, so let’s do another quick runthrough of that;

  • Spellpower: Your bread-and-butter throughput stat. You get more of it from better gear, and it pretty much trumps everything – but we don’t want to sacrifice 10 Intellect or 10 Crit for 1 Spellpower. Priest stats are about achieving a balance, remember?
  • Intellect: Your bread-and-butter regen stat. Intellect gives more than double the mp5 per point than Spirit as well as giving extra Crit. We’re never out of the 5 second rule because we’re pretty much spam casting. If we’re not healing the tank, we’re shielding the raid!
  • Crit: Nice for throughput, helps to stack Divine Aegis on the tank. Thanks to the change to Divine Aegis (stacks up to 10k on any Level 80 target) there is no longer a realistic soft-cap for crit. Divine Aegis is now capped by spellpower. Once your triple-crit Penance heals for ~30k (with the t9 4-set bonus) you will start to see small reductions in Divine Aegis throughput. The upshot of all this mumbo-jumbo? Crit is good.
  • Mana Per 5 (mp5): Better for straight-up regen than Intellect, which gives about 0.8 mp5 per point. The tradeoff is that there’s less mp5 on gear/gems and it doesn’t give us any crit. Decent for regen.
  • Spirit: 11 Spirit is roughly equal to 4 mp5 for regen. What does this mean? Well, you’ll find Spirit on gear but DPriests would rather have Intellect and mp5. Don’t pass up gear just because it has Spirit, but don’t gem for it!
  • Haste: Useful up until the soft-cap of just under 5%. You’ll get this just about exclusively from gear.

So, what are our rules going to be? Well, here’s what I’ve started doing.

How Not To Do It!

How Not To Do It!

Rule One: Spellpower Socket Bonuses Are Awesome

In most situations, you’ll want to fulfil your Spellpower socket bonuses. I could see an argument for going straight Spellpower if it was a double socket item with no reds (where gemming for the socket bonus if it was, say, +7 Spellpower would still lose you 15 Spellpower) but a combination of gut instinct and wanting to get the most usefulness possible out of my gear tells me that if an item has an insane socket bonus, I’m going to get it. After all, I can choose what non-SP gems I put into my gear but I can’t choose my socket bonuses.

Rule Two: Don’t Be Afraid of Intellect – Just Don’t Stack It

Intellect is where we get the majority of our regen from. The fact that there’s double the Intellect on gems than there is mp5 makes gemming for Intellect better for regen purposes. The trick is achieving a balance. I can fully understand if you want to gem Intellect to get some more regen, just don’t get too much of it. It seriously pains me to see the kind of thing in the above picture, where someone sacrifices a Spellpower socket bonus for more Intellect. If you’re finishing ToC/Ulduar hardmodes on 10k mana then something is badly wrong – or you outgear that encounter, but you probably already know that if it’s the case. You’re either not casting enough spells or you’re sacrificing throughput, and it’s probably the latter.

Examples. I’m at 27k-28k mana raid buffed depending on what elixirs/flasks I use. I finished Vezax hardmode last night on zero mana. Zero. Zilch. Nothing. But more importantly, I reached that point between 2 and 5 seconds before the boss died. That’s about perfect. If trials in our guild would stop failing on Icehowl charges, I’d be finishing Beasts hardmode on ~3-4k mana. Also perfect, not too much left but still enough to be comfortably healing at the end. I don’t need more Intellect on gear, so I’ll stop gemming for it!

I met a DPriest from a pretty good Kazzak guild today who had a nice chat with me about our respective gearsets. I told him he had a little too much Intellect and he told me he cycled gear for different fights. That’s cool, and especially easy to do with trinkets. My point? Get as much Intellect as you need for the given fight you’re doing, then STOP.

Rule Three: Make Sure to Keep Your Metagem Active

Should go without saying really, but if you run out of blue or yellow sockets on gear then just gem the prismatic in your belt for whatever you need. There’s no excuse to not have your metagem working! Oh, and DON’T get the 2% Intellect metagem. It’s pretty worthless, the mana restore metagem (Insightful Earthsiege Diamond) is much better and gives such an insane amount of regen that you can gem for much more Spellpower. And that is good.

Rule Four: Gem Straight Spellpower in Prismatic Sockets and non-Spellpower Bonus Items

Unless in the situation mentioned above, prismatic sockets are just free Spellpower! As for non-Spellpower bonus items, they’re small enough to be pretty much negligible. Say we have a yellow item with a +4 Intellect bonus like the one in the first picture. Option one, we gem for SP/Int for the socket bonus – option two, we gem for straight Spellpower. The choice is between 14 Intellect from option one and 11 Spellpower from option two. That’s almost 1:1, and I’d rather take the Spellpower in that situation.


Prioritise Spellpower, then get whatever else you NEED.

There’s a simple way to sum all this up into a general rule of thumb. The 3.2 changes to socket bonuses on set pieces and other items allow us to gem for what we need on the majority of our gear rather than just gemming for Spellpower and relying on other sources for our regen. You need regen? No problem sir, find a Spellpower socket bonus and stick an mp5 or Intellect gem in there. Got enough regen but lacking much in the way of Crit? Never fear, just find another Spellpower socket bonus and put some Crit in a socket!

Thanks to Blizzard, there is no longer a “best way” of gemming your gear in many situations. You can realistically gem for whatever you need while still sticking to the framework I outlined above.

Next time – addons! I’m finalising my UI and I’ll be talking about how to create space on your screen as well as what addons are essential for DPriests! I’ve made some sweet changes since Friday’s raid, but click here for a preview! (And low resolution screen users be warned, it’s a bigun.)

Read Full Post »

While I’ve written a lot about raiding recently, I haven’t talked about the means to do it. Sure you can go with pick-up groups, but for by far the best and most consistent results, you’ll need to join a raiding guild. Between all the drama-laden horror stories about loot and YouTube videos of screaming raid leaders, the guild environment can seem quite intimidating. In reality, it’s the greatest asset of the game! Finding a guild that fits your lifestyle generally allows you to see content with a group of friends at your own pace, and is a much more reliable way to experience the game than PuGs.

Having watched a good 15 to 20 trials in my most recent guild, as well as having been a trial in two guilds myself, I’ve identified some problem areas which prevent people from fitting in and meshing with the rest of the guild. So, without further ado;

Step One: Find The Right Guild!

The first step on your road to happiness and purples is to find a guild whose goals and methods fit your own. Do your research! Anyone can find a guild in /Trade, but the best matches are the ones where the interested party has read up on guild policies, (things like loot policy and raiding atmosphere,) asked guildies questions and generally made sure that it’ll be fun for everyone involved before they join.

Finding guilds themselves can be a tricky process and where you go to find them will largely depend on things like how many times per week you wish to raid. The more hardcore guilds can be found on progression websites (I used GuildOx to find my current guild) or occasionally in General/Trade chat. More casual guilds will generally advertise in in-game channels, but you can generally distinguish between the two by how they word their ads.

Once you’ve found a guild, chances are if it’s decent (read: if it’s worth joining) that you’ll have to go through some sort of screening process. What does this entail? Normally, it’s either an in-game chat about anything from your raiding experience and gear to where you’re from, or an application on the guild’s forums. But applying to a guild which is completely at odds with the way you play the game is a recipe for disaster!

Step Two: Impress!

Making a great first impression is key to getting an invite to your chosen guild. Some guilds will say that they’re full on all classes (or your class) if you choose to apply on their forums, but that shouldn’t stop you persevering – I know from experience that excellent applications for any class are always considered by the management. The three main keys to a successful application are;

  • Be informative, but concise in an application – and use common sense! If the application template seems a little small then the guild probably expects you to buff it out a bit with your answers – if there’s several sections on everything from raiding to whether you prefer your eggs hard-boiled or soft-boiled, they probably want shorter answers. If there’s no template at all, consider everything that you’d want to know about a prospective applicant if you were in charge of a guild. Past raiding experience, explanation of glyphs/gear/talents that might be different from other class members and motivation for playing the game are all great things to include.
  • Keep your spelling and grammar tight. You wouldn’t litter a CV with typos and bad grammar, so why do it on any other application? An excess of spelling mistakes, shortened text (“i gt 2 imprv my gear a lil”) and other basic errors will put any sensible raid leader right off you from the word go!
  • Be honest. In this post-Wrath world, there’s more methods than ever to check what someone has and hasn’t done. If you can’t be bothered to grind your Sons of Hodir reputation, (a huge indicator of in-game effort,) don’t make up some half-boiled excuse about not having the time. Raid leaders can see right through that and it won’t stand well with them. Either set about correcting holes in your profile or be honest about just not wanting to do them.

If you’re just going through an in-game chat, the last two of these points still apply. Don’t spin fairytales about your raiding experience and try to come across as someone who takes pride in what they write, even if you normally cut corners with your text chat!

Step Three: Be There, and Whatever You Do… Don’t Die.

Congratulations! You got invited to the guild. Here’s where the real work starts. Firstly, make sure you turn up to raids. Do it on time, and inform the guild in advance if you’ll be late or not there. I made 10 of my 12 trial raids and 3 optional 10-mans, with good reasons for the other 2 which were given in advance. Follow this example and you’ll quickly gain a reputation as a reliable guy who wants to help the guild progress – the “attending optional raids” thing is great for when you miss a progress raid.

Once you get into the raid, stay focused and concentrate on one thing. Do. Not. Die. These are the three most important words any trial can hear.

Why? We generally get an influx of trials at the rate of about one or two per week. That means that in this situation, you’ve usually got one or two raids to make an impression before the next trial comes along and we’re watching them instead. As a healer, I’ve always found that the new guy’s tendency to stand in the fire tells me a great deal more than their DPS or their healing done on the meters. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that after activity, (a trial got kicked today for joining and then promptly missing his first raid – the same evening – without a reason,) competency at basic execution is what makes or breaks 90% of our trials. We can live with an average DPS or a healer who misses a dispel here and there so long as he doesn’t repeatedly fail. A tank death is generally a much more acceptable way for a raid to wipe than someone screwing up!

Think about it – it’s what separates the average guilds from the bad ones. The bad guilds will wipe over and over when they get to Twin Valkyrs because people won’t pay attention to orb colours. The average guilds (“good” here referring to the likes of Ensidia) will learn within 2 or 3 wipes that orbs of the opposite colour are bad, and should not be picked up. They then have 25 people who execute correctly, and they down the boss. Guilds can down Yogg-Saron in blues because teamwork and survival is more important than numbers on your profile. Your gear isn’t what impresses me in a raid – it’s how often I see DEAD where your name should be on Grid.

Step Four: Get the Basics Right

You’d be surprised how many people in our raids still miss important things when they’re starting. As an Alchemist, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve got “hey mate, need some Wild Magic pots” whispers just after the start of a raid! It’s the kind of thing that people are often embarrassed about, but never learn from.

  • Flask up! Flasks cost next to nothing nowadays and even one round of SoH dailies normally covers the cost of an entire raid’s flasks for a non-Alchemist. You should have that lovely free +125 spellpower buff from start to finish. Last progress try on a boss for the night and your flask has just run out? Don’t go slacking! That kind of dedication – paying 25 gold for 10 minutes’ raiding – gets noticed.
  • Bring plenty of potions! I normally have at least one stack of Crazy Alchemist’s Potions with me for every raid – the Alchemist’s equivalent of a Runic Mana Potion (plus a bit!). If you’re not an Alchemist, bring plenty of mana potions and use them – that’s what they’re there for, and you never know when that mana pot might turn into a Shadowfiend off-cooldown and a boss kill!
  • Take a stack of food incase you miss the Fish Feast, and stock up on candles/reagents for instances where you don’t have easy access to a reagent vendor. Paladins never seeming to have DI reagents (despite it saving them a repair bill) is a good example of this.
  • Keep buffs up! A tank without Fortitude will not pull, and that slows down the raid. Buff early and often – there are several addons that will track who in your raid doesn’t have a given buff when you mouse over it.

To conclude – prepare for raids, don’t just show up first and ask questions later.

Step Five: Don’t Whine

I cannot stress this enough. By all means express your opinion. Talk to your GM or raid leaders about the raid setup, the way the guild is run or your concerns on any other matter. My current guild actively encourages debate as it almost always improves the guild environment (the last major change being a switch from DKP to Loot Council). But there’s a difference between airing your opinion and whining.

You probably know the guy I’m talking about, and as Mock The Week so brilliantly put it: “if you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you”. Maybe it’s about loot, maybe it’s about being told to do something differently, but whatever it is, his response is never “okay” or a sensible argument of his case. His response is to moan, complain with no good reason and generally be the Guild Diva. As a trial, not doing this is especially important.

Let’s start with loot! If a piece of loot drops and you need it, you roll. If you don’t win it (for whatever reason, be it member prio or a losing roll) then say “gz” and get on with your life. It is, after all, just pixels on a screen. If you get told to do something differently then either do it to the best of your ability or formulate a sensible argument as to how a) you can’t or b) you’d have to stop doing something else. Present it in a measured and calm manner. But don’t whine.

Hope all this helps, and best of luck with getting into the guild of your dreams!

— Roble

Read Full Post »