January 17, 2011

Introducing the World of Warcraft Best In Slot Resource

I am very pleased with the success of Best In Slot Holy Paladin.  So much so, I've decided to expand its idea and execution to all of the classes in WoW (well, minus subtlety rogues since I guess they don't raid at all).

The result is the World of Wacraft Best In Slot Resource, a subscription-driven website.  I cannot picture spearheading such a huge project like this without being compensated in some way.  The cost of (good) hosting, SSL certificates, domain, and other setup fees are very real.  The subscription model is reasonable: $9.99 nets you three months of full access and even after that you don't see ads anymore while logged in. $3.33/mo is similar to other online subscription services so I think this is a fair price.

Subscribers get full weight/filter access, see all items on the site, get to comment on all of the lists, and more.  To view a full list of features visit the subscription page.  Free users still see all BIS lists, they're just limited and don't show the full picture of gear for that spec.

This means BIS Holy Paladin as a site will no longer be actively maintained.  The site isn't being shut down, so as holy paladins you are all set until it becomes outdated.  I'm not heartless, I know a lot of people use this site so shutting it down and putting up a paywall on it is just a bad move.

Updates to all holy paladin information will be present at the new site.

December 22, 2010

To off-hand or not to off-hand

It has come to my attention that off-hand items are better than they were in WOTLK.  In WOTLK I used to list off-hand items on the list even though you couldn't enchant them.  Now, I do not list them even though you can apply +100 intellect to both off-hands and shields.  As Wowhead shows, the number of off-hands in Cataclysm is decent (for the ones without hit).  I'd like to justify myself in not listing off-hands before I make the jump and do it again.

Reasoning behind leaving out off-hands:
  1. Off-hands have no armor.  Armor used to negate only physical mob hits, which made it rather useless.  In Cataclysm, armor reduces all physical damage.  If an AOE ability or boss ability is physical damage you will take much less damage wearing a shield.  I can think of one example off the top of my head which is Quake on Ascendant Council.  Granted, you're not supposed to get hit by it.... but with a shield you can survive.
  2. Competition.  With shields you compete with other holy paladins and with off-hands you compete with (potentially): paladins, priests, druids, shamans, warlocks, mages.  The likelihood of the caster classes being pissed when you take the off-hand is relatively high.
  3. Adds.  On the off-chance your tank isn't Chuck Norris, a few adds may hit healers while being picked up.  Shield armor helps then.  It's probably not enough damage that your self healing can't cover, but it might save other healers the trouble of getting your health bar up.
  4. Pride. Yeah, it isn't a good gameplay reason.  So be it.
Are these reasons enough to not list off-hands on the BIS list?  Are there reasons I'm missing?  Let me know in comments.

December 17, 2010

Cataclysm Raid Healing Guide/Impressions: Chimaeron

Since I've done the majority of the raid bosses in Cataclysm as a holy paladin now, it seems only appropriate that I do a write up on something I found particularly impressive.  The raid boss Chimaeron in Blackwing Descent is a mentally taxing boss for healing on 25 man normal mode.  I cannot comment on the 10 man normal version but I do know my friend's guild used four healers to beat it.

Simply put, this is the first boss since... probably Burning Crusadee that actually made me feel sick to my stomach while doing it.  I honestly feel like I should've eaten a little something before the raid during this because doing it on an empty stomach was almost painful... it's like I was burning calories doing the fight.

Enough prologue... what happens?

Chimaeron has a little bot active around him that prevents your raid from dying if they have above 10,000 hit points.  If players go below 10,000HP they receive a debuff called "Low Health" (NOTE: put this on grid or whatever unit frame you use.  You'll wipe forever if you don't).  This is the premise for the fight.  Here are the mechanics that complicate things:

  • The raid has to spread out because Chimaeron shoots poison that will normally 1 shot you without the bot's buff.  This gives you the "Low Health" debuff, the less people that get hit the less people you have to pop above 10,000HP constantly
  • There has to be two tanks because one gets debuffed and the other takes the ability called "double strike".  Double strike will 1 shot a debuffed tank but a topped off tank with no debuffs can live.  Obviously the "double strike" implies Chimaeron can potentially take the target to "Low Health" and the second strike will kill them.
  • Chimaeron casts Massacre, bringing everyone to 1 health.  This is somewhat frequent, so everyone that gets brought down in health needs to be topped above 10,000HP to get rid of "Low Health"
  • Chimaeron takes the bot that prevents you from dying offline.  When this happen he casts "feud" which shoots poison at people and the damage is spread between the targets.  Everyone groups up on him for this and massive, massive AOE healing ensues.  After the feud ends the bot goes online and he casts a Massacre right away, just to piss you off.
As a holy paladin I was assigned to global heal duty.  I kept my beacon on the tank getting debuffs (the primary tank).  The only purpose of beacon on this tank is to keep him above 10,000HP.  The boss swings incredibly slow, so when a hit gives the tank "Low Health" you have a good amount of time to get him above 10,000.  The other tank takes the double strike when they happen by taunting.  I believe there's an emote, but tanks will be able to comment further.  The double strike tank needs to be topped off when they take double strike otherwise they will most likely die.  In 25 man it should be the job of a healer or two or three to make sure this happens.

Damage Output
  • Tanks take steady damage, watch debuff tank and manually top him above 10,000HP if you have a moment.
  • Chimaeron will spit poison every few seconds and bring ~3-7 people to "Low Health" in 25 man.
  • After three or four rounds of poison he will Massacre.  Anyone still with "Low Health" from previous poisons will die.
  • After a certain massacre the bot will go offline, the Low Health debuff will disappear from th raid, and everyone groups up.  Feud damage starts, requiring massive AOE heals.
Holy Paladin Talents

It's very much worth your while to obtain Tower of Radiance (even the nerfed version) in your spec for this fight.  You will need it for extra holy power and Light of Dawns during Feud.  I also highly recommend Eternal Glory for this.  Blessed Life will proc on several of Chimaeron's damage abilities.  Protector of the Innocent (at least 2 points) is good to top yourself off quicker from Low Health.  2/2 Paragon of Virtue allows cooldowns to be up sooner for feud damage.  Also, the Last Word talent is useful for critting WOG with low holy power here.

Global Healing Strategy

Your healing strategy is effective if you:
  • Always try to have 1 or 2 holy power available.  You will not be able to get up to 3 during the poisons, they are too quick.  The only goal is to get people above 10,000HP as soon as possible and you can do this with 1 or 2 holy power pretty easy, especially with the WOG crit talent at low hp in holy.
  • When poison hits 3-7 people do a holy shock (2 if you have a proc), Word of Glory on the next target (2 if Eternal Glory procs) and then either a quick heal if you're getting close to the next damage (infusioned HL) or a slower spell if you're in good shape.  Your Protector of the Innocent should top you above 10k life.
  • Save cooldowns for feud.  The rotation I like is: 
    • Divine Favor + Holy Radiance first feud.  For all feuds after Holy Radiance is started I Light of Dawn the group as much as possible, even if it's only 1 holy power.  This is where you FOL the beacon target to get extra holy power for more Light of Dawns, because you will need them.  Waiting 6 seconds for the next HS is too slow of a holy power rate of gain for this part of the fight.  Also, switch beacon for a moment to a target with less health so it isn't wasted on a tank (they don't tank during feud).
    • Avenging Wrath + Holy Radiance second feud.
    • Guardian of Ancient Kings + Holy Radiance third feud.
    • The next feud(s) will have a cooldown or two come back up.  By then you'll be wanting more heals, so you could pop DI + AW on a single feud near the end (they come up almost at the same time I found... I have 2/2 Paragon of Virtue).
  • Light of Dawn can be useful during non-feud times to bring multiple targets above 10k, but most likely not.  You're spread out, so it'll take some creative positioning.  Probably easier and more effective in 10 man.  It's better to use WOG during these parts because you can proc back your holy power for more WOG's.
General Things and Notes
  • Consecutive poison volleys have a chance to not hit the same person again... but sometimes they do.  You can get lucky and have someone who still has Low Health from the last one live, but it's in your best interest to get them above 10,000hp before the next volley.
  • The fight is like Anub'arak phase 3... for the whole fight.... on crack.  Those not used to seeing everyone on their raid frames about to die might get stressed out (you probably will anyway).
  • You can see his cast bar for Massacre... it's basically a race from the last poison volley to top off the last Low Health before the cast finishes.
  • We found it useful for the double strike tank to receive a Lay on hands following the massacre right after feud.  He'll double strike soon after and that tank isn't likely to be topped off yet.

Good luck!  This is a huge wake up call to raiding if you're coming from WOTLK.  If you feel frustrated, stick with it.  You'll be a better player for it afterwards.

December 13, 2010

Healing Cataclysm heroics and the coming raids

Just thought I'd post a follow up to my Cataclysm healing impressions post.  Heroics are very fun in greens/blues and it's refreshing to be required to use all abilities again.  I haven't seen my cooldown tracker overflow down the screen in a while.

Raiding is pretty challenging after having a brief view of it last night.  My position in a guild has been flaky for a while but I think I may have found a raiding guild to stick with finally.  I'm a sucker for organization and prepared players.  The bosses have really unique abilities that are very punishing if you do it wrong.  In WOTLK overpowered healing could compensate for bad play but it definitely isn't happening anymore.

Cataclysm Holy Paladin Gemming

The gems and enchants page has been updated on the main website.  It lists the best enchants along with cheaper alternatives.  Gem choice is also outlined for each color slot.  Currently I believe getting socket bonuses is worth it since the gems are pretty good for each slot and each gem socket gives +10 to a stat on items.  This may change and is definitely up for debate.  Something with 3 sockets will give +30 to a stat though, so it's almost an extra gem in itself.  Helms give even more of a socket bonus.

December 6, 2010

Cataclysm Item Drop Locations for Holy Paladins

The main site now has drop locations for all gear minus a few odd items here and there.  This includes raid gear.  The new battle.net has drop locations for all of the raid gear listed, so we now know what bosses drop the goods!  I've also added several items lower than ilvl 333 since the non-85 normal dungeons have lower level items than that.  I'll continue to add these as I find them (I have most of them I think).

November 30, 2010

Impressions of Cataclysm holy paladin healing

I'd like to reflect on the holy paladin healing I managed to do in beta. I didn't do raids there, but I did do a decent amount of dungeons and I've seen most of the raid boss videos.  At first I pugged a couple of normal modes in full blue heroic gear and the damage/health ratios feel... scary at first.  That's the only word I can use to explain it.  You will struggle with normal modes, especially if you haven't seen them yet.  Our heals at 85 literally do the same amount of healing that they do at 80.  The only thing really boosting their effectiveness is spellpower itself, not new ranks or anything like that.  Everyone has a lot of health, floating around 60-90k I believe.  Damage has scaled up, especially AOE damage. Most of the time during a fight people are at deficit health.  In starter gear this will be even more true.  Holy radiance is a key spell in our new arsenal.  It will save your group.  A lot.  Don't be afraid to use it.

Later on I did some heroics in the fully epic premades for the heck of it to see how gear scales.  Heroics are still decently challenging in full epic raid gear which is refreshing.  With full heroic blue gear heroics are challenging.  With starter 85 gear they will be quite brutal.  With full epics I was able to compensate for mistakes my group made and recover after situations that I wouldn't be able to handle in early blues.  I simply would have run out of mana in that other gear.  This is as it should be.

Mana is back.  Even at 80 with 4.0.3 mana isn't an issue.  We can use spells like Flash of Light over and over again, albeit we do see mana dip if we use Flash a lot at 80.  At 85 you'll have to change.  You will switch from using Flash of Light because even using 3-5 of them in a fight will sap your mana pool.  HS+HL+WoG/LoD and Holy Radiance will be your best friends and FoL/DL will be second class in your toolbox.  Divine Sacrifice will be your best friend for saving damage on the tank and transferring it to the free healing on yourself.  Cooldowns will be your best friend again (AW+Divine Favor are incredible at getting a group back on its feet with Holy Radiance).  Divine Light will be a strict backup spell, and now that Infusion of Light works to speed it up it's a great spell to heal someone from a very bad deficit.  It still costs an arm and a leg though.

You'll have to take my word for it that 80 healing, even with 4.0.3, is nothing like Cataclysm.  It's just a totally different environment due to health pools, spell cost, spell potency, and encounters in general.