Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I've moved to a new blog at Mace and Staff.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time Out Button

I've been healing on my pally for a few months, but when I was raid healing on my druid, I'll admit that I didn't pay much attention to my pally's cooldowns and extra buttons. I wasn't a good holy pally.

Now that she's getting more play time, I'm actually using my cooldowns more often.

My favorite has been nicknamed "the Time Out Button".

It started when I was in a ZA with my husband. He got too close to the mobs to hex, pulled, so I Hand of Protection'ed him with 1k hp until I could get the tank stabilized, then I healed him back up.

While I have used it to protect myself from healing aggro, I really hadn't thought about using it on the dps before (like I said, I'm still learning the holy pally). My first thought was that it would be fine for casters, who could continue to dps.

Then I was in another heroic (GB, for variety) and the dps DK kept pulling aggro. I was yelling at him through the screen to stop that, so the next time I cast HoP, which kept him from being able to dps for several seconds.

As a lesson, I think it worked... he stopped pulling aggro, but I didn't have to let him die and slow the group (I am totally that healer). It said "I see what you're doing and you should stop" without punishing everyone else. It's a lot more obvious than Hand of Salvation (and more effective to get the mob(s) back on the tank).

Obviously, in a raid I save this button for it's intended purpose, but when running 5 mans with badly behaved dps, I really like having my time out button!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Circle of Healing

I was touched when I read that I had been tagged by Tzufit from Tree Heals Go Woosh for the Circle of Healing questionnaire that has been going around the blogosphere. I decided to answer the questions from my paladin's perspective, since I'm really trying to get into that mindset! BE the PALLY!

Before I start, I would like to say that it's been awesome to read everyone else's answers (especially the druids who want to HEAL ALL OF THE THINGS - I totally understand your point of view!). Also, I'm still working on revamping this blog. I suspect I'm going to go with something more personal, which will allow me to feel like I can write more often (and less pressure). I'm having trouble coming up with a name, though!

On to the questionnaire!

Here’s how it works:
Post this questionnaire, with your answers, on your blog. Pick the healing class you know most about (or is the focus of your blog) for the questionnaire, and then send it over to another healing blogger you know and love who heals with a DIFFERENT class. Include a link to the blogger who sent you the questionnaire, as well as a link to the blogger to whom you are sending it.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Zaralynda, holy pally

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Up until 2 weeks ago, it was 5 mans and occassionally filling in for a raid (10 or 25). Now it'll be 10 mans (and 5s to cap VP).

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
It's a toss up between Divine Shield (because pally bubbles are so iconic) and Light of Dawn (because I can't help yelling "FLASHLIGHT" every time I use it... I amuse myself very much). In terms of function AND form, Avenging Wrath. How can you not love a 20% boost to your heals with a great visual (Avenging Wrath gives you WINGS!).

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Probably Guardian because I'm just not sure what are the conditions that I should be looking for to use him, but because he has such a long cooldown (5 minutes), I worry about not having him available if I want him, so I don't use him enough.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
Utility. We have a cooldown for EVERYTHING! Movement debuff on the tank? Let me fix that for ya. Dps getting above the tank in threat? I'll help you out there. Want a debuff cleared or a mitigation cooldown? Check and check. We have the best emergency heal in the game (Lay on Hands), plus a variety of auras and Aura Mastery for a short boost.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
AoE/raid healing. We have some tools (Light of Dawn, Holy Radiance) but times of heavy raid damage leave me whimpering behind my keyboard "Tranquility... Tranquility... I miss you!"

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
Tank healing, because of our lack of good raid healing tools. We can help out here and there (Aura Master and the like) but it's not a main assignment I would feel comfortable with.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
I feel better with a druid in the raid, since everyone seems more stable. I've had that for a very long time and now that I'm not providing it, I've found that I miss it when our druid healer is out.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
Whatever class I'm healing on. I like a diverse healing team to handle a wide variety of abilities.

What is your worst habit as a healer?
Trying to HEAL ALL OF THE THINGS. I think it comes from being a raid healer for so long, and in Cata being given the ability to also tank heal. I think I can do everything and now as a pally, I can do a lot of things, but not the throughput of the druid. I have to unlearn that habit.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
People calling for heals. Seriously? You think I didn't notice? One benefit of switching to the paladin is that pugs no longer stand in fire, die, and then demand rebirth. If you couldn't stay out of the fire in the first 5 seconds of the fight, why would I waste my time rezzing you?

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
Balanced can mean different things. I don't think that all of the healing classes are equal (which was Blizzard's stated design goal). I think that we are closer to that than we were in LK, but we still aren't there. Last night when my raid leader assigned me to the raid and the holy priest to the tank, I literally facepalmed and sent him a fast whisper that those assignments were NOT the best use of our resources. Could we have pulled it off? Probably (since we were running through BoT to get some folks their titles/achieves), but it's much smarter to play to the strengths of the individual classes.

I do think we're well balanced in that a healing team can be made up of very nearly any combination of classes and it'll work. Gone are the days when you must take a pally healer for the tanks, or struggle, and I think we're better for that.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
Instant, in game feedback is "did my target die?" and looking at my spell distribution, specifically cooldowns. Right now I'm mostly trying to get in the habit of pressing my bazillion buttons and seeing how they all interact, and once I'm in those habits I'll work harder at making sure I'm pressing them at the right times. For example, I was healing a pally tank last night and every time I Hand of Sacrificed him, he used his Divine Shield (I think? I didn't get any damage transfer through HoSac). We need to communicate better, but some of that is also in getting used to a new team.

Out of game, I use World of Logs to look more in depth at my spell usage and the effect of my cooldowns (to try to plan things out better).

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
That the only thing we can do is pump out big numbers on a single target. I'm totally enamored of the cooldowns available (perhaps because as a druid my solution to everything was MOAR HEALZ).

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?

Right now we've mostly been doing T11 mop up and trash runs (I've seen a few attempts on the spider boss), so I've been bored and Holy Light'ing the tank going straight to overheal but putting a shield on him. To play with that mechanic.

I'm not sure how things will even out once we're doing more progression. I guess I'll see on Sunday!

Haste or Crit and why?
Haste makes me more responsive while crit (sometimes) makes me heal harder. I like haste!

What healing class do you feel you understand least?
Priests. I leveled one to 40 in vanilla (when dwarf priests were the rage) and haven't touched them since. Plus, since they have 2 different healing specs, I can't keep straight which spells go with each spec.

Since the husband and I have an open RAF setup (for leveling a pair on a server with some local folks), we decided to roll new toons on the new server so I could have a priest (or maybe I bullied him into it).

I have a shaman at 77, but when we faction changed I made her a goblin and can't stand them. I guess I have to make her another race before I can play her again. So, I haven't played her since Cata and have only the vaguest understanding of shaman'ing.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
The essentials are Vuhdo for frames and mouseover macros for spells. I have a G13 keypad so that I can have a ton of buttons within easy reach (and a joystick for character movement). One of the issues with using the paladin cooldowns is teaching myself where they are! But, the biggest thing I like about mouseover macros is that if I want to rearrange things, I can just drag and drop on my bars rather than having to go into a menu of options.

Other addons I use for healing...

  • Can't Heal You sends a whisper to a target if they're out of range, out of LoS, etc and is SUPER helpful in PUGs, and dealing with the uneven ground in Firelands.
  • Power Auras helps me keep track of what cooldowns are available. Some addons (like ForteExorcist) will show you when they become available, which works for me when I want to use something on cooldown (Holy Shock, Judgement), but other spells with cooldowns that I want to know if they're available (all of the hands, for example), I don't want to have to look and say "well, it's not shown as being on cooldown, so it must be available". I'd rather look in one spot to say "yes" or "no".  I know some folks are switching to Weak Auras (less overhead), and since my computer crashed now would be a good time for me to switch, but I'm hesitant.
  • Quartz to show my my GCD.  This is less important now than it was on a druid in LK (where it was super important!), but it's still a good thing to know.
  • Raven to show my tank buff through a Focus frame (as a druid it was Lifebloom, as a pally it's Beacon).  I use it for all of my other buffs, too, but that's the most important one.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
I believe I'm going to go for balance with everything besides crit and see how that goes. As a tank healer, mastery helps a lot (now that they changed it in 4.2), but it's not worth stacking at the expense of spirit or haste.

And now, to tag a few other healing bloggers … or blogging healers!
I would love to see Tomaj from Holy Troll answer these questions, since I don't know much about priests.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I mentioned in my last blog that I was having some health issues, so I decided to stop raid leading and find a guild with a low key schedule (6 hours/week) where I could just raid for a bit without the responsibility.  It's really the best decision for me.

The guild that I found, unfortunately, wants my holy pally and not my resto druid.  So, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this blog since I'm no longer a tree or a raid leader.

I plan to finish writing about my time in the mega guild (2 more posts, I think), but after that I'm not sure.  Unfortunately, my desktop fried it's harddrives, so my notes on those posts are gone and I'll have to start over (I have the saved drafts for the parts I've already written, but not the notes on the parts I still need to write).

I'm just having a run of bad luck apparently.

Anyway, a shout out to Peon Liberation Front on Turalyon for taking in a healer and a mdps. They seem like a great bunch of folks, and I'm enjoying raiding with them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Patch Notes

I noted on Twitter that I've been having some health problems.  It's hard to write on a blog when I'm getting migraines nearly every day.  It's also hard to lead a raid group, but I'm dealing as best as I can.

Anyway, here are some thoughts on the patch.

Druid Specific Patch Changes

Innervate now grants an ally target 5% of his or her maximum mana over 10 seconds, but still grants 20% of the druid's maximum mana over 10 seconds when self-cast.

I don't foresee this changing the 10 man raiding scene much; how often are there 2 caster druids in a 10 man?  Well, my group had a tree and a boomkin, but as we used him for AoE in a lot of fights, he often kept his innervate.

All healing critical strikes now heal for 2 times a normal heal (+100%), up from 1.5 times a normal heal (+50%).

I'm glad to see this change, but it's not interesting enough to get me to stack crit.

Symbiosis (Mastery) has been removed and replaced with Harmony. Harmony increases direct healing by an additional 10%, and casting direct healing spells grants an additional 10% bonus to periodic healing for 10 seconds. Each point of mastery increases each bonus by an additional 1.25%. Healing Touch, Nourish, Swiftmend, and the initial heal from Regrowth are considered direct healing spells for the purposes of this Mastery. All other healing from druid spells is considered periodic.

The mastery change is really exciting.  In 10 mans, often a WG is enough to prep the majority of the raid for heals, so it's not as good a change as it is for 25 man raiders.  It is still an improvement, though, since no longer do we have to apply a buff (a hot) to someone before getting the effect of our mastery.  The buff that we need to get the effect of mastery (Symbiosis) is applied to ourselves by casting a direct heal.

Many 25 man druids report that they're planning on using SM on cooldown to activate Symbiosis.  I haven't been using SM on cooldown, and I suspect that in the same sized room, 10 man raiders are more spread out than 25 raiders, making it less effective in that environment.  I could just put it on the tank in those cases, to stabilize his health and activate Symbiosis.  I'll have to see how it plays out.

Between the mastery change and the crit change, I'm considering putting more points into Nature's Bounty.  As we spend more time at 85, and our gear upgrades, I've noticed that I spend more time healing similarly to LK - very mobile, using a ton of instant spells.  We've taken advantage of that in my raid team by giving me all of the healing assignments that involve a bunch of movement.  I suspect that I'll be using Regrowth more often (to activate Symbiosis). If I do, I should move points also to Living Seed, I suspect, as I'll be criting a lot more.  I'll probably remove them from Naturalist, Swift Rejuvenation, and Nature's Swiftness.

I suspect that I'll have a full post on my thoughts on our talent choices soon, once I've played with the new mastery a bit.

Other Random Patch Day Thoughts

Molten Front
I'll admit that I've been dreading this patch a bit.  I'm actively playing 3 85s, plus leveling another 2 characters.  Adding a full set of dailies does not sound like much fun, so I've had to decide who is getting the dailies done.  

My mage will eventually get them done for the vanity items and gear.  She is used to being last in priority (still doing TB dailies for mounts, since I can't stand to do them every day).  The only thing that I want for her ASAP is the JC bag recipe, but it may not be such a pressing need since gems are supposed to stack.  She'll get them last, and if I'm already tired of the dailies by the time I get to her I won't feel bad about skipping.

My pally often fills in for other raid groups, but almost never gets gear (since she's an alt, I defer to the raiders in the group and only take what others don't want).  She'll have to do the dailies to get her gear upgraded.  Plus, she's a blacksmith so getting the new BS recipes will be nice.

The druid I'm still not decided about.  I'm working on my gear lists, and there's the possibility that I'll have upgraded beyond the vendor gear by the time I would unlock the vendors (since it's a lower ilevel than raid gear). OTOH, she's killed Chimaeron 6 times or so, and has never even seen the bracers drop, so it's entirely possible that in a month I'll still be wearing some 359 gear (or the 353 bracers).  Right now I'm planning to do them on her.

My Raid Group Specifics
We're having attendance problems, so are trying to merge with another group in guild.  I'm not entirely sure if it'll be a success or not, so I wish we had another week or two to try it out.  I'm guessing that folks will be coming back for 4.2, and if we aren't going to merge, I'd like to recruit for my group!
We also haven't figured out legendary stuff (since it's contingent on if we're merging or not, really).  We'll have to figure something out for Friday.  Headache!

We finished the tier 9/12, but since we only really gelled for 2 months (started in March, got hit hard by attendance starting in May), I'm not terribly upset.  I did fill in for another group on Sunday and got a Cho'gall kill (they had it on farm, so it was not as cool as if I had gotten it with my group).  That was an interesting night, since I had to keep swapping back and forth from my druid to my pally, since the druid was saved to some stuff, but the pally didn't have nearly as much gear.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Anatomy of a Mega Guild: Part II, It Was the Best of Times...

Welcome to the second post in my "Anatomy of a Mega Guild" series!  The previous post described my motivations for joining the mega guild and what I knew about how things would work when I joined.

This post will discuss the advantages of the mega guild structure.  The previous post in this series is Part I: Joining.

Is Anyone There?
There are approximately 580 individual characters in my guild (I'm not sure if the /ginfo is working correctly, but it's currently reporting 210 accounts - a PLAUSIBLE number at least).  I have occasionally seen fewer than 5 people online, but only at weird times such as 6 am on Saturday morning.

With this number of people, I can almost always find someone for whatever I need.  I can ask in /g and almost always get at least 2 other people so we can get guild rep for a heroic (if not a full group).  I can easily find a crafter for whatever I need crafted.  Folks are always doing arenas and pvp (not me, I'm terrible with it).

Specifically for Raiding
As a player it's easy to find groups to sub into on my alts.   My alts are actually doing about as much raiding as I did at the end of ICC.  Both my mage and healing pally are 4/5 in BWD and 2/4 in BoT.  Progression on my server is pretty terrible (we're ranked 115 as a server; no one had Light of Dawn until March 2011 or so).  My server is just not running PUGs right now, so having the opportunity to see these raids through the eyes of my alts is quite amazing. 

As a raid leader, it is much easier to find a sub for last minute (or unannounced) absences.  With the proliferation of alts carried over from LK, it seems that everyone has several alts.  It's a lot nicer to pick up a sub and only have to say "so, as [role] you need to worry about [extra ability]" rather than having to go over the whole fight, since they raid regularly on another character.  

Guild Perks/Achievements
Also quite obviously, it's easier/faster to have access to the guild perks.   We reached level 25 on April 7.  We had the Big Cauldron of Battle (3k flasks) on March 23. I'm not sure when we had Fish Feasts (the interface is only showing our progress towards 50k fish, we have 30k caught).

At this point it's not a terrible advantage.  The leveling perks aren't as big of a deal for a raiding group compared to the recipes (cauldrons, feasts).  If a significant number of my raiding group decided that we didn't want to be a part of the guild any more, we would take those recipes with us to the new guild.   I think a lot of the leveling perks are quality of life improvements (rep gains, faster running when dead, mass rez, etc) and aren't quite such a big deal for raiding progression. 

So, I think leveling in a large guild is only going to be a big deal at the beginning of an expansion when a bunch of things are added.

Dealing with BoEs
The only good thing (in my mind) about the extensive amount of trash in BoT are the epic BoE drops.  Obviously different groups do different things with their BoE, but selling them and funding the raid is a pretty common thing to do.   

One thing that's nice about our guild is that the raid groups often trade BoE loot to help equip their groups faster.  It's roughly equivalent to selling a BoE and then buying the other item, but by keeping trades in guild we avoid AH fees, which is definitely a plus.

Identity and Change
My raid group is being affected by summer attendance woes.   This problem is pretty common, and I was chatting with the leader of another group who has having the same problem, so we're currently in discussions to combine the two groups.  We aren't facing nearly the number of problems as when I've read about guild mergers; we already have an identity as a guild, so there's going to be a minimum of drama.

Also, as people's schedules change and their ability to raid changes, they can change teams fluidly without learning a whole new guild's worth of people or culture (there are culture differences between teams, but it's not as severe as guild to guild culture differences in my experience).

External Management
No one in my raid team has to worry about website or vent management.  When we formed, we were given a sub forum on the website and a channel in vent.  I throw $10 at the guild leader every now and then to cover costs, but reducing the number of people responsible for support functions not directly in the game means that my team has more time to actually play.

Unfortunately, All is Not Sunshine and Roses
That's a pretty big list of advantages for the mega guild structure, but there have also been problems.  I'll cover those in my next post.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anatomy of a Mega Guild: Part I, Joining

I mentioned earlier that I raid lead one of several raid teams in my guild, so the culture is different from the "normal" one raid per guild structure that most people are accustomed to in World of Warcraft.

This turned into much too long for a single post, so it's broken into several sections.  The first section explains why I originally got into the guild.

Finding Myself Without a Home
As ICC and WotLK drew to a close, I hopped around in several different guilds.  I had left my ICC guild due to personality conflicts, and was searching for a home.  I transferred to different servers and tried out a bunch of different types of guilds, progression, and so forth.  I spent time with a 10 man working on Sindragosa normal, was an officer for a guild just starting out, and spent several weeks with a 25m guild working on Sindragosa HM (we finally got her!).  While I like raiding, I also like a lot of other things in game.  I realized that I didn't want to do hardcore raiding, since that would prevent me from doing these other things.

As the holiday season got closer, my husband's work got busier, and he didn't have much time to play.  He remained on our initial server, and I eventually brought my characters back there.  I joined a casual guild, but raids with them were unsatisfying.  The roster was in constant flux, so every raid was a progression night for several folks.  We didn't get very far into the instance.

I knew that in order for me to enjoy raiding, I would need to find a group with consistent attendance, but a short schedule, and without any window lickers.

And Then There Were Two
My husband loves to raid - it's his favorite thing to do in game.  Unfortunately, he works a weird schedule that keeps him from most normal raid times (he gets up at 3 am, so needs to be in bed around the time most raids start).  In LK, it seemed like there were PUGs going at all hours of the day, and that was fine for him.  It didn't seem like that would be the case in Cataclysm, though.

I realized that if he wanted to raid in Cataclysm, he would have to find a team that raided at a time that would work for his schedule.  And if I wanted to raid with him (I do!), then it would also have to meet my desires as well.

I searched around for awhile, and found a small guilds on the US servers that even met his schedule requirements.  Eliminating the groups that didn't have a stable roster or performance problems (I generally did this based on record), and I was left with a hardcore guild or two.  My husband also works 50-60 hours a week, so that wouldn't work for him, and I just didn't like raiding that much.

I realized that in order to get a group with everything we wanted, I would have to create it.  I'm the natural organizer in our relationship, and I had much more free time.

During my transition period, I had worked as an officer of a start-up guild, so I had an idea what would go into creating a guild.  It's a lot of work....and I didn't really want that.  I like to putter in game (I usually have 20 projects at any given time) and I didn't want to spend my time managing a whole guild.

About the same time, I noticed a post on our realm forums. This would be great, I thought, since I could run a raid team without the overhead of guild management.

The guild was horde (I was originally alliance), so I rolled an alt and spoke with the guild leader about what I wanted to do. While we agreed that it may be difficult to find 8 other people at a time that would work for us, he said that his guild would be a good place to attempt it.  We decided that after the Shattering (when I could be a TROLL!), I would faction transfer.  

What I Would Be Doing... and Avoiding
From those initial discussions, I learned that I would be responsible (or able, however you look at it) for recruiting folks for my raid team, and if they weren't already guild members I could invite them.  I would be responsible for my raid team (and any drama that they created).

My responsibilities also included determining my loot rules, attendance rules, and conduct rules (if above the guild requirements of "be cool"). We would have use of the vent server (and our own channel) and the guild forums (we have our own sub group).  We have a single bank tab.

By starting a group in a guild like this, I can recruit without people worrying about my guild dissolving after a few months like so many start up guilds.  The mega guild is well established and has been around for years (it was created in 2006).

I don't have to worry about managing a social rank of non-raiders.  Especially in the Cataclysm environment, some guilds are taking in extra people to help them level or get achievements.  I haven't had to face that question - we get achievements easily.

I don't have to manage the external sites - Vent or the website.  We have our own area, and the guild administrators take care of it.

It's the least time consuming way to run a raid team when I don't already have a group of folks that I can trust to delegate things to.  I know that if I started a guild, in time I would find trusted people to delegate things like this to, but in the meantime I would have to do everything myself.

Moving Forward   So, these were all things that I knew going into Cataclysm.  The next several posts will break down the specific advantages/disadvantages, as well as address some concerns that people seem to have when they talk about this.