Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nature's Swiftness Buff

On the PTR (according to the datamined update from Wowhead), Nature's Swiftness has been buffed.

Nature's Swiftness now also increases the healing done by the affected nature spell by 50%.

I did some testing on live, and when I already have a hot, my HT hits for about 23k (without a hot, it's about 20k). I have 7446 spell power and 12.31 mastery.

So, is an additional 11.5k of instant healing on a 3 minute cooldown worth the talent point?

I poked around with the 4.1 talent tree posted on Wowhead and I think that the choice is between NS and Perseverance. Looking at WoL for the past raiding week, I pulled out the magic spells that I took damage from and compared a 2% reduction in damage to the extra healing I would get from NS (considering how many times I could cast it in the length of the fight).

For all of the fights I've done so far, NS came out ahead (in providing more healing than Perseverance prevented). Plus, NS+HT can be cast on anyone while Perseverance only prevents damage to myself, and I can get onto my next spell faster, since I only used a GCD to cast HT, not the full cast time (2.3 seconds for me). On the other hand, Perseverance is a passive damage reduction, while NS+HT requires the use of a GCD.

There is an argument for preventing damage, and resto druids have very few tools for that. Still, I think the flexibility of NS+HT argues for it's use (even if you aren't tank healing, having the emergency cooldown is helpful).

The other possible place for that point could be in one of the talents that buffs Rejuv. I am still horribly abusing Rejuv (and my mana is showing it), so it's hard for me to judge that based on my current performance (if I buff Rejuv, I'll continue abusing it... that's a bad cycle). I know that some of my abuse of Rejuv has to do with learning the fights. As I know the fights better, I'll have more control over my movement and won't resort to instants as much.

I have 3 points in Improved Rejuvenation, and I'm planning to keep that. It buffs Rejuv and SM (and thus, Efflorescence), but Blessing of the Grove and Swift Rejuvenation are talents that I'm not sure if I need for 10s.

I'm planning to review my logs after this week's raiding and will decide after I see my Rejuv use on the fights that I have a better handle on (Magmaw) as well as the fights that I'm still learning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Building a Raid Team (or a Guild)

My goal with this blog is to post 1-2 times a week, or more if there's a lot going on. I'm already behind; it's been a busy week! 

I'll probably write about raid leading a fair bit; as I mentioned before, I'm a raid leader in a mega guild (7 current 10 man groups, and one is planning to expand to 25 man with Firelands).  I'm responsible for my own recruiting (both in guild and out), and if someone joins the guild to be in my raid group, then they're my responsibility.  So I've spent the past 2 weeks advertising in trade, chatting with folks (in game and on vent) and running heroics with prospects to get a feel for how they're doing (do they stand in fire, use their cooldowns, etc).  So this week I'll write about that process from my point of view, to hopefully help folks who are looking for a new group.  I hope that this perspective will help you see what group leaders are looking for (well, this group leader anyway!).

Making the Initial Contact
By far, I've gotten more interest by spamming trade than posting in various forums and such.  As much as trade spam annoys all of us, it works. I have a macro, and it has the guild name, level, the subgroup name, the time we raid, and what I'm looking for.

First impressions count, and I've gotten a lot of bad first impressions while talking to folks over the past week or two.  Here are some common mistakes that I've seen.

First, I cannot tell you the number of times that I've had someone reply to me and ask me what time I raid, or when I repeat the raid schedule, they tell me that they can't make one or more of those times.  I know it's an unusual schedule (6-9 pm EST, Sun/Mon), but if you read the ad, you should know. Don't waste both of our time by replying if you can't make the raid schedule.

Second, if you are not at level cap (85), or are geared in greens and 318 blues, then I'm not interested.  I'm looking for folks who are ready to go.  At this point in the expansion, you should be geared in 346's or 359's with maybe one or two 333's (I have 333 bracers because the only 346 leather caster bracers refuse to drop for me) if you want to raid.  

Third, if you whisper me with "invite pls", "i do gud dps", or "chk my gear", I'm not interested.  I'm an adult, and I prefer to be around intelligent folks who are thoughtful about joining groups where other folks are depending on them, and the best way to show that thoughtfulness is to talk in complete sentences, with correct spelling.  Certainly, if you want to be in a group with people who don't care to communicate thoughtfully, replying this way will ensure that this mode of communication is acceptable in your prospect group.  To me, it's a sign that you don't really care about talking to me and thus, aren't going to respect your team.

Getting to Know Each Other
After going over the raid team rules (loot, attendance, etc), if everything is agreeable, I go into a vent interview.  I haven't asked a consistent set of questions, and that's something that I wish I had done differently.

The main thing that I tried to ask everyone was what their progression goals are.  If someone wanted to do all of the hardmodes, then my group isn't for them.  If they want a situation where they don't have to commit to attending (my friends are going to the movies and I want to go), then my group is not for them.  I think the expected time/progression question is very important to make sure that everyone in the group will be satisfied with their raiding experience.

Other questions that I've asked have been:

  • What other roles have they played?  I'm curious there to see if someone has done other things so that they have some idea of the other players' experience.  As a healer, one of my pet peeves is when a dps is asked "why did you die" and they were standing in fire, but their response was "I didn't get heals!".  Someone with healing experience understands that there are some mechanics that you just can't heal through, and especially in Cataclysm, sometimes it's better to spend mana on someone who doesn't stand in fire (and become a mana sponge).  That doesn't mean I won't take someone with no other experiences, but I think it's a sign of a well rounded player.
  • Their view on boss progression vs gear progression vs achievements.  I'd like to make sure that everyone is in agreement for whether we should extend the lockout to work on a new boss more, or if we should keep farming bosses that we've already killed (for gear progression) or if we should wipe a bunch of times in a night for a difficult achievement.  My group is striving for a balance between boss and gear progression, with achievements as a distant third (if we get them, cool, if not, then no worries).
  • Research - do they do it, how do they feel about it, all of those sorts of things.  I don't want to spend 10 minutes before each boss reviewing basic strategies (a few minutes making sure that we're using the same strategy is different) nor do I want a mage gemmed for spirit.  
There's usually some free form chatting while we do a heroic together, and we talk about alts or out-of-game hobbies or other games.  The goal here is to get a feel for each other and ensure that we'll be comfortable spending time together.

Evaluating Performance Ability
We then run a random heroic together.  For the healers, I asked my enhancement shaman to get on his pally tank (his average item level is probably around 340).  He's not terribly experienced in tanking, so he sometimes made a few mistakes, and he takes a lot more damage than the raid geared tanks you sometimes see in LFD, so it was easier to evaluate their performance.  Dps and tanks were judged on awareness and cooldown usage (interrupts, survivability, etc), while dps was judged on damage output and tanks on their ability to maintain aggro.  Pretty standard stuff.

After the first raid, I'll be able to go over logs and see how folks are doing.  Some raid guilds ask for a log upfront, but I didn't feel like I needed to for this relaxed group.

Raid Balance
I tried to balance the classes so that we would have most of the available debuffs/buffs to use, and to try to avoid half the raid wanting the exact same loot.  We have a fair mix of classes, and I think I did fairly well here.  The  MMO Champion Raid Comp Tool helped make sure that I had most of the buffs, and I considered loot tables as well (I've tried to not collect 3 or 4 cloth casters).  I also made sure I had an off tank and an off healer for absences and the odd fight. 

Putting It All Together
Our first raid went off with only minor difficulties.  One person didn't realize that 10 man and 25 man raids were on the same ID now, but since I had a fair number of subs listed, that wasn't a problem.  I replaced him and we still started on time.   We killed Magmaw, Omnomnomnomtron, and Maloriak on our first night, which I think is entirely respectable for the first time the team has been together.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hello World!

I was talking with my husband a few days ago and complaining that so much of the resto druid analysis that's currently available on the web (mostly blogs and such) is geared towards folks who are running 25 mans and/or hardmodes.  I realized that I could help fill that niche - analysis and opinions for a 10 man raider who is unlikely to see hardmodes.  So, here I am.

About me:
I've been raiding on a resto druid since early ICC.  I've had a mage since vanilla, but the guild I was in at the time was short healers, so my husband and I RAF'ed some toons and I got the druid to level cap.  I discovered that I LOVE healing, and promptly shelved my mage (for raiding; I still do achievements and pet/mount collecting on her).

I bounced around a lot of guilds during ICC.  My original guild (a small friends and family guild that I had been in since vanilla) disbanded due to lack of ability to raid, so I've tried a lot of different raiding styles with different guilds (from "we can't kill Sindy even with the 30% buff" to killing her on HM in a 25 man group).

My goal going into Cataclysm was to set up a early raid group (my husband has to be at work at 3 am), and we're almost ready to start (I ended up having to wait for some folks to level their alts).  I didn't like the pressure of progression raiding, and am looking forward to relaxing and seeing the content with this group.   We're the seventh group in the guild (it's a mega guild, obviously), and there are a lot of skilled players in the guild; several of which have joined us for this group.

When I'm not druiding, I can be found playing the auction house, achievement hunting on my mage, or leveling alts with my husband.