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Posts Tagged ‘3.2’

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 These threads made me realise that much of the information in the gemming section of my Discipline guide is a little out of date!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.

THE GOLDEN RULE

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.)

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It took me quite a while to decide what to write about next, but having settled into raiding with my new guild and downed all the Crusader bosses I figured this would be a good time to take a look at what has changed since 3.2 and my impressions of the new raid so far, in much the same vein as my last post on 3.2. Yes, Cataclysm has been announced, but all I’d really be writing about if I covered that would be stuff you’ve probably already read about! Suffice to say I’m really looking forward to the expansion and excited to see how stuff like guild levelling and the Mastery system plays out.

So, without further ado;

Flash Heal

But why?

But why?

Why? Good question.

About a week after 3.2 hit, the Glyph of Flash Heal made its glorious return to my talent pane. I’ve replaced Glyph of PoH with something that I once told you “just wasn’t worth it”. This means that something must have drastically changed – because let’s face it, the PoH glyph was pretty insane back in the day.

The key in this glyph puzzle is the 3.2 nerf to Penance. Back in 3.1 with Penance on a ~6 second cooldown, (6.4 if you’re a pedant like me,) tank healing wasn’t really much of a problem. We could throw a Penance on the tank every 5 or 6 GCDs, and provided we kept Shield/Renew/PoM up whenever possible, keeping that tank alive was an absolute breeze. In 10-mans, we could solo tank-heal no problem. In 25-mans, we could support the other tank healer and have plenty of time to shield the raid, safe in the knowledge that a tank death in-between Penance cooldowns was very unlikely.

But then Blizzard increased the cooldown by one precious GCD. Suddenly tank deaths in-between Penances became a possibility – especially considering Coliseum bosses are hitting harder. What fills the gap between Penances if the tank is in danger of dying? Yep, you guessed it. Flash Heal.

Flash Heal has suddenly rocketed up my healing charts and thanks to the Replenishment nerf, it was increasingly correlating with me running on fumes at the end of hardmodes. Fights like XT and Steelbreaker became battles to do as little overhealing as possible in an attempt to conserve mana. Despite hitting ~26k mana raid buffed with the +int elixir and getting in two Shadowfiends per fight, (along with the odd lucky Alchemist’s Potion double-mana proc,) I was really struggling at the end of those fights. Enter Glyph of Flash Heal, and now I’m just that bit more comfortable.

Trial of the Crusader – Impressions So Far

He's the new Heigan!

He's the new Heigan!

First things first – yes, I hate the artificial gate system too. Maybe “hate” is too strong of a word, but it seems counterintuitive to release one boss per week when the ones you put in are so, so easy. Many guilds are already getting the normal-mode achievements (things like Upper Back Pain and Three-Sixty Pain Spike) just because they “feel like having a go” and proceed to one-shot them. It remains to be seen how difficult the hard-mode bosses are, but I’d imagine they’ll just be the same mechanics with slightly increased damage. Doubtless having said that, Blizzard will prove me wrong – but given the current difficulty and the time we’ve had to practice on them, I still imagine it will be a race for server firsts rather than “the best guilds” getting them.

Anyway, as for what the raid is actually like – it’s really fun! I’m enjoying it, despite the system of progress. Many of the encounters – things like Jaraxxus, Faction Champs and the Val’kyr – strike me as the sort of fights that simply require good organisation rather than good gear to beat. Faction Champions is just about my favourite of the four fights so far, and take note here DPriests, it’s a fight that we absolutely destroy. Blizzard have to tune the fight so that the AI will set up spikes on players, but it can’t be crazy enough to give the healers no time to react. This means that you’ll see when people start to die, all you have to do is shield them – which essentially lowers the reaction time required by the other healers. With the lack of cooldown on shields and the lack of an aggro table for the fight, they’re super-spammable and make the encounter a lot easier.

Jaraxxus comes a close second in that there’s a lot of movement required and I always have to react to something – the style of the fight led me to describe it to someone as “Shade of Aran with adds”. That might not seem too accurate at first glance, but just cast your mind back to Zelda games (if you’ve ever played any). The boss did some kind of special attack, you reacted in a set way. It’s very black-and-white gameplay, as opposed to fights like the Faction Champs or the Jormungar where your strategy needs to be fluent, for want of a better word (we found that Ventrilo was a massive help for those fights). With Jaraxxus;

a) Someone gets a debuff, they run to the wall.

b) Someone gets a different debuff, healers heal them.

c) He casts a fireball, someone interrupts.

etc.

See what I’m getting at? There’s no room for different reactions, it’s just cut-and-dry. I almost enjoy it more that way.

Then there’s the Beasts encounter. This is relatively fun (and kindly asking your tanks to swap at 3 debuffs instead of 5 makes it a hell of a lot easier) and strikes me as “the new Heigan” – see picture. Icehowl is the third phase of the encounter, after you’ve downed the Magnataur and the two Jormungar. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m saying this… let’s face it, Heigan is a unique fight! Two things make me say this – the first is that Icehowl can, up to a point, be killed with as many or as few people alive as possible. The first week of 3.2, my old guild’s first Icehowl kill was with 5 people alive at the start and 4 at the end.

The second point is that in theory, Icehowl’s big gimmick is just as avoidable as the eruptions in Heigan’s dance phase… but people still die to it. Provided you’ve got a Hunter in your group and the tank positions himself correctly, someone dying shouldn’t be a problem. I’m not going to lie, I’ve died to it once! But that was lag on the stun debuff wearing off, so it doesn’t count. 🙂

Finally, the Twin Val’kyr. An interesting concept for a fight, but sadly far, far too easy provided your raid has the DPS to break their heal shields and people are quick to react to the floating orbs. I hadn’t popped a single mana cooldown and I was still at half mana when the fight finished! We almost got the 10-man achievement, but a couple of our DPS were offspec and not pushing as much as the guys in our guild’s other raid group, who got the 3-minute kill without a problem on their first attempt. Frankly, I think that if there was no shared health pool, they had to die within X seconds of each other then the fight and there was a strict 3-minute enrage (on hardmode) then it would become much more interesting, but still fairly easy.

EDIT: This was written before the Val’kyr were fixed. The healing in this fight is now what I’d call “stressful”. 🙂

The Truth About the Penance Nerf

Something struck me the other day when I was thinking about this post and how I was using Flash Heal more. I imagined myself sat in the Blizzard design offices, balancing Penance. Why would I nerf it? Sure, it was pretty overpowered, but it was the only way we could heal tanks effectively. And that’s just the thing, folks. They nerfed Penance to make sure we were staying in the role they designed us for – a mix of healing on the tank and raid support. Think of that extra GCD as a choice – if the tank needs healing, we can use it to heal him. If he doesn’t, we can throw out another shield.

But gone are the days when we can just main-tank heal in 25-mans. I was put on our Steelbreaker tank the other day and let me tell you, it’s no longer easy to solo tank-heal or be the main MT healer. I got switched to our OT and could suddenly shield the raid a whole lot more – and we instantly made it to phase 3 as opposed to wiping on phase 2. Let’s look at Penance and FH;

Penance: Heals an MT faster than they take damage (net increase on their health)

Flash Heal: Heals an MT slightly slower than they take damage (net decrease on their health)

Imagine, for the purposes of this exercise, the MT is taking a constant stream of damage instead of 20k chunks. We pop Penance, the tank goes back to full health. As the main MT healer, we have a choice here. We can either pause to shield the raid and then have to spam-heal the MT to keep him alive, (thereby completely killing our mana bar and risking a tank death,) or keep Flash Healing the tank to make it much smoother for the MT and not shield the raid. We can only do one or the other now. Remember 3.1, when we could use Penance on every cooldown and be able to throw out some shields on the raid? We weren’t a good raid healer, and now we’re just a slightly worse Holy Paladin as a tank healer.

So there it is, the truth about the Penance nerf. It may have been to make DPriests a little less scary in PvP, but in PvE it was to reinforce where we should be in raids. Ladies and gents, the day I get told by my RL “just do whatever you want” I will be a happy man.

— Roble

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WARNING: There are many numbers in this post!

You may have noticed that I didn’t make a 3.2 “preview” thread, for the simple reason that I knew whatever I said would probably be wrong. It’s easy to look at changes on a piece of paper and say “that’s a nerf” but it’s often tough to know how it plays out until you get some playtime with the finished product. Having never transferred a character to the PTR before, I decided not to change that this time around and just waited until the patch went live before giving my initial impressions. I’ll be covering three topics today – the direct changes to Priests that affect Discipline players, the mana regen changes and the new 5-man dungeon. I’m not going to be covering the new raid yet, as I haven’t had a chance to try it! So, without further ado;

Priest Changes

The changes that affected Discipline in 3.2 were few and far between. While other classes like Death Knights got a veritable myriad of tweaks, Priests only really got two big changes. Our Shield Glyph causing Divine Aegis is nice, but ultimately that’s just a fairly small throughput increase. Nice, but not game-changing. The two really big changes were the addition of 2 seconds to our Penance cooldown and the reduction of our Prayer of Healing “spell coefficient”. I’d put both of these into the Small Nerf category – but how much do they affect gameplay?

Penance Cooldown: Cooldown increased from 10 to 12 seconds. Thanks to talents and glyphs, this a 1.6 second increase (percentages and stuff always screw things over) which effectively gives us an extra general-cooldown in between Penances. In reality? It’s not that big a change. I ran Ulduar 10 last night and got through a few hardmodes – keeping the tank up was never a problem. If he needed some more healing, I’d throw in an extra Flash Heal. If he didn’t, I’d throw out an extra Shield. It might take a little while to get used to, but it’s not a horrendous nerf!

Prayer of Healing Coefficient: “Coefficient” often conjures up nightmarish images of algebra lessons back at school. So I’ll break it down for you.

The “spellpower coefficient” of a healing or damage spell is the percentage of your spellpower that spell gains in damage/healing done. For example, say there’s a spell that does 500 base healing and has a 50% spellpower coefficient. With 2000 spellpower, that spell heals for 1500 (500 base + 50% of 2000) – with 3000, it heals for 2000. Now the change to Prayer of Healing reduced the spellpower coefficient from roughly 80% to roughly 50% (exact numbers 80.7 to 52.6) per target.

In 3.1, every time you used PoH, it would do the base healing + 80.7% of your spellpower in healing on each target, which made it quite overpowered – especially when hasted by Borrowed Time or Serendipity. In 3.2, it does base healing + 52.6%. So for a 2k spellpower geared Priest specced the same as me, you’ll see a reduction on each target of about 560 healing per target. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s pretty damn big. Considering that it also affects our PoH glyph, it’s even worse. The one saving grace is that as Discipline Priests, this isn’t quite as big a change as it is for our Holy counterparts, who I imagine are sobbing into their Sunny Ds.

So how does this affect our playstyle? Not a whole lot, I’ll be honest. It just places more importance on shielding properly. All in all, while the changes are clearly an overall nerf, it’s nothing we can’t deal with.

Mana Regen

A curious thing happened to mp5 in this patch. You may have noticed that all your pieces of gear on them with mp5 have had that stat buffed by roughly a quarter. Not Spirit. Oh no, that would be imbalanced because Holy priests would get an extra X spellpower which would completely negate the PoH nerf. This completely solidifies Spirit’s place as the worst regen stat. It’s now absolutely “incredibad”, as the Lonely Island would say. But with the nerf to replenishment, has mp5 become the better regen stat?

Let’s take a look at a 20k mana Blood Elf DPriest, which is what I’m running (and is by far the best PvE healing Priest race, by the way!).

One Intellect: Gives 16.5 mana (Blessing of Kings included) – 0.04125 mp5 from Arcane Torrent, 0.165 mp5 from Replenishment, 0.0345 mp5 from Hymn of Hope (including the mana increase and extra Replenishment gains during it,)  and 0.1375 mp5 from Shadowfiend, 0.066 mp5 if you’re in a group with a Resto Shaman and a marginal increase from spirit-based regen. This totals roughly 0.44 mp5 = 1 point of intellect. In reality? We can add slightly more to this, as this assumes you pop every cooldown as soon as it comes off cooldown, whereas we actually get an “extra” usage due to the fact that they’re off cooldown at the start of the fight. We’re probably looking at one point of mp5 is equal to something like 1.5 points of intellect.

EDIT: Thanks to Niefe for pointing out there’s a +15% intellect from talents, boosting it to roughly 0.5 mp5 for one point of Intellect. I also forgot Rapture and several other small pieces of the puzzle. If you’d like a much more accurate analysis, Zusterke does some excellent number-crunching in the comments section.

So it’s a toss up, but more importantly the +intellect bonus on gems is, I believe, still superior to +mp5 for DPriests. It’s pretty close, but I’d wager intellect is still better.

As for how mana regen actually works out during fights? I’ve hardly noticed a difference. For all Blizzard’s attempts to nerf regen on healers, I’m now sitting at 500 mp5 base before we even consider intellect/cooldown regen. I can breeze through hardmodes with 24-25k mana raid-buffed (so much so that I’ve forgone +int potions for now to go pure SP flask). If you’re going out of mana, you’re really just undergeared for the instance you’re in!

The New 5-Man: Impressions

It's a bit dull...

It's a bit dull...

Don’t get me wrong from that picture – if you haven’t gone and done the new 5-man, try it! It’s a boatload of fun, especially the joust bit at the start. The thing is, it’s just not Ulduar. The scenery’s pretty dull, which is a stark contrast to the luxurious decor of the big 3.1 addition. All in all, it kind of feels like this is a filler patch for 3.3, that Blizzard are concentrating most of their efforts on a big Black-Temple-style finale (although the speed at which these patches are coming out suggests to me that there’ll be a 3.4 as well).

The difficulty of the 5-man is pretty comparable to most other heroics. It’s certainly not a Magister’s Terrace equivalent, and stuff like kiting the Ghouls around in the last fight is really optional provided you’ve got a decent geared healer who stays on his toes. I just advance shielded everyone, threw out PoM/PoH and didn’t experience any problems at all with wipes and the like on bosses (although we did wipe once in the heroic version when we experienced some problems with the trash MCing our tank). Fun, worth it and some good iLvl gear if you have a couple of pieces that need replacing – but not one of Blizzard’s best instances.

Next on the drawing board are articles on UI and why two DPriests in one guild causes problems – let me know if you’ve got any preferences!

— Roble

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