So here we are, almost one full week after patch 4.0 deployed onto live servers. There have certainly been ups and downs with this patch, and I have enjoyed some things and completely hated others. So here, I will present you with my random Monday thoughts on them. If they are extra rambly, please forgive me, I just got back from a week of travel and I am staring Blizzcon down, so my mind is wandering in about a million different places right now!
On Raiding –
Our 25 man raid went in on Wednesday night and cleared out 9/12 HM ICC with a hiccup here and there, but virtually no issues. We will look at Valithria and Sindragosa tonight – and from what I’ve heard, Sindy will be interesting at best and impossible at worst. We will see what happens. We had a hiccup here and there in our raid night, and it took us a little longer to trudge through the content, but mostly from the random DCing and having to fix addons mid-raid. ICC HM certainly feels raid-able at this point. Granted, I may change my thoughts on that after Sindragosa tonight! :P
On Thursday we went in and cleared out Ulduar for our weekly Alone in the Darkness for Mimiron’s head. We cleared the entire zone, including a handful of wipes on Yogg in under 3 hours of time. If anything, clearing out the zone is faster post 4.0 than it was before the patch. I suspect that Mim’s head will be one of the mounts to have its drop rate lowered in 4.0.3 so we are going to keep at it until the patch drops.
While clearing through the zone is somewhat tedious (i.e. boring mostly) Mimiron’s head is a really, really cool mount and I know those that have won them so far have been really excited about it. We’ve been livening the clearing up a little bit by leaving group loot on for those who still need a Needy achievement (we got something like 5 or 6 of them our last clear, was kinda crazy!), and doing some of the other random achievements in the zone as we go through. Perhaps this week, we will throw in some random trivia or something to liven up the clear a bit.
I am not 100% positive, but save one guy on the alliance, I’m fairly certain our members are the only people on the server flying around with this mount. And I think that’s kind of cool, honestly. Even though Lady RNG has yet to grace my rolls with my very own flying head – I am excited for those who have won them and hope that we have time to farm a fair few more before all is said and done. My only regret about this adventure is that I wish we had started it earlier so that we could have gotten one for everyone before the drop rate is lowered.
On Druid Healing –
I did touch on it a little bit on my Q & A post on Thursday, but it is certainly still viable at level 80.
Nourish is painfully slow, and with the content we currently have pretty much not worth casting. I understand that is going to change as we move forward and level, but right now it’s not so great.
I have been using a fair bit of Regrowth, just trying to get a feel for how the spell fits into our healing now. Basically anytime that I would have cast Nourish before, I’m trying to cast Regrowth now and for the most part, that seems to be working out alright, but I suspect that I’m probably not going to have the luxury of casting so much Regrowth in Cataclysm.
Rejuv is still Rejuv – and in the current content I found you do still rely on it quite a bit. The same with Wild Growth. However, what I did have a lot of fun with was trying to weave my Swiftmend cool downs and my Wild Growth cool downs to complement each other. So where I would usually just wait for WG to come off of cool down, I would try to swiftmend for an efflorescence proc. I think it worked out decently enough. At least it was something different to try and play with while raiding familiar content.
I’m still not using much healing touch. I am actually debating trying how HT spam might work on Valithria tonight. Typically I went with HoTs + Nourish, but with Nourish’s longer cast time, I’m not sure that it’s worth it. I’m wondering if maybe HoTs + HT might not be superior on the encounter now, as I suspect that HT will give me more bang for my buck. I’m also debating glyphing in the HT glyph for the fight, as every time I cast HT it will take 5 seconds off of my Nature’s Swiftness cool down. I think that might be an interesting dynamic to play with. I’ll let you know how it works out!
I am keeping a full stack of lifebloom up at all times. Mostly for replenish – but it’s something that I figure I should get in the habit of monitoring again. I have set up a power aura to let me know when it’s dropped, and it was interesting trying to keep it up on Wednesday with Grid not recording lifebloom – at all. However, I muddled through, albeit somewhat inefficiently, I’m sure!
All and all, I’m feeling mostly OK with Druid healing right now. I am a little worried about our ability to heal up as we level and our co-efficients drop and our spells become almost prohibitively expensive, but I’m sure that I’ll adapt. Right now I still feel like I’m a viable healer, and that makes me pretty happy.
On Paladin Healing –
No, seriously. I’m not just being emo about this. It’s really, really miserable.
I did a full 10 man ICC clear on Dannie yesterday where I was healing with a Holy Priest and a Resto Shaman. And I felt next to worthless for most of the instance. I just didn’t feel…viable. I didn’t feel like I was contributing, and I can promise you that it wasn’t from a lack of trying or being stubborn and not “adapting” to the new feel of healing.
Holy Shock was my third highest heal for the night, with Word of Glory fourth, just under it. Divine Light was first, but not by a whole lot, with Beacon of Light second.
I was desperately trying to get my arms around it. I mean I was, at least in my thoughts, a fairly strong and capable paladin healer pre-4.0. Last night I was doing 1/3 of the healing of the Holy Priest that I was grouped with. And it’s not as if I wasn’t trying. Lord knows that I was. But by the end of the raid I was pretty much disgusted. I was not having fun. If Dannie was my main, I probably would have been asking to change my main.
As we went through the raid I wasn’t sure if Holy Priests are now that over-powered, or if Holy Paladins are just that underwhelming right now. While I do think that it’s a combination of both – I think it’s more of the later than the former. Holy Paladins got the short end of the stick. At least as far as trying to raid current content since 4.0.
I can only hope (pray) that the changes with healing in Cataclysm will make the Holy Paladin’s tool kit more viable. Because right now, it really isn’t. Let me outline what I feel are the biggest problems with it:
1) Light of Dawn – while cool in concept, this is a terrible spell. I think it’s great that we have a unique AE heal, but the mechanics of the spell are, quite frankly, a disaster. If you aren’t familiar with it, the way it works is that it’s a conal effect heal that works similarly to Cone of Cold. That is to say that you shoot out a beam of light in front of you and everyone that is in the beam receives healing.
Why is this so terrible? Because it’s a directional heal that requires you to position yourself to make it effective.
I know, you are probably thinking “what’s so hard about that?” Have you ever had lag as a healer? Most people have. What’s the first thing that you generally do? If you said “Turn away from the raid” you’d be right! Face a wall! Well guess what – kiss any Light of Dawn healing goodbye then. Unless you want to heal the wall to full health.
That doesn’t even get me started on the problems with trying to “position” yourself optimally while managing your other healing responsibilities. I can see it now – “Why’d the tank die?” “I was trying to heal with Light of Dawn”.
While it’s a cool enough concept, in practice it doesn’t really translate particularly well in my opinion. If we wanted to be fair to paladins, we’d make it a “smart” heal, in line with CoH, WG and CH.
2) Holy Power/Word of Glory – I don’t even know where to start with this one. Again, it’s a cool concept, but right now it doesn’t translate very well.
To gain Holy Power you need to a) Holy Shock or b) heal your beacon target (and I think only certain heals can proc it, but I’m not 100% on that). As you gain Holy Power you open up a new heal: Word of Glory. The strength of the spell will be dependent on how many stacks of Holy Power you have gained.
Now, in concept this could work really well. And in Cataclysm it may very well work great. In 4.0 it’s borderline terrible. At least in my opinion. And here is why: By the time you get 3 stacks of Holy Power – nobody needs healing anymore. So you have two options: a) blow your Word of Glory where it’s not needed so that you can build up a new stack of Holy Power; or b) sit on Word of Glory until it’s needed making sure that your Holy power doesn’t drop. Neither option was particularly great. Having a “resource” based heal just feels really clumsy right now.
One place that I did find it fun/useful/interesting was on Valithria. It was somewhat fun to stack those Holy Power stacks as fast as I could and then unleash a Word of Glory on the dragon. This is what makes me think that this system will translate better if Cataclysm does what it’s intended to do – and more people sit at lower life.
I’m going to rate this as having…potential.
3) Divine Light/Holy Light - Divine light is the new “holy light”. That is to say that it is our new massive heal. Holy Light is sort of what nourish has turned into for druids – a relatively weak, but mana efficient heal at the same cast time that Divine Light has. For me, with 930 haste, Judgements of the Pure active and a WoA totem, that cast time is 1.7 seconds (down to 1.4 with procs/cooldowns).
The problem that I have with these two spells is the length of time that they take to cast. It’s miserably slow. And it suffers from the same problems that Word of Glory does currently – by the time it’s cast my target has already been healed. Which means that I have just completely over healed my target, or only a small fraction of my cast heal was effective.
Again, maybe this will change with the “new” healing model. But right now, it means that paladins are just horribly sluggish healers.
4) Flash of Light – I know what you are thinking, if Divine Light/Holy Light is too slow, why not just use FoL? Well, sure, I tried this. And I ran flat out of mana. It’s just not viable to spam FoL.
Sure, Holy Shock is an option and I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the spell. But it’s only available once every 6 seconds, and I did try to keep it on cool down for Holy Power stacks – but the cool down on it makes it somewhat situational, and not something that you can rely on 100% of the time.
I am truly hoping that Paladin healing feels more natural/useful in Cataclysm – when each heal cast has more significance. But right now, it’s my opinion that Holy Paladins really aren’t in a great place. What was once my second favorite healer has become my least favorite. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I not “winning the meters” – but more with the fact that no matter how hard I tried I just felt that I really wasn’t a very viable and efficient healer. And I’m going to be honest – I did not have a lot of fun healing with my Paladin yesterday. Dannie will likely be shelved until Cataclysm.
Have other paladins had the same experiences/frustrations? I absolutely refuse to believe that over night I became a terrible paladin healer…but I see some other paladins indicating that they love the changes. Sure – I like that I now need more than two buttons to heal. But I also still want to feel like a viable and competitive contributor to my raid, and right now I don’t feel that way.
On Shaman/Priest Healing –
I haven’t raided at all on my shaman or my priest yet. I did however get them spec’d and glyphed. My initial thoughts are as follows:
Shaman – it doesn’t seem like a whole lot changed. A few spells have been renamed, but largely everything seems mostly the same. Am I missing something here?
Priests – my first thought was “dear god I am running out of key binding for all these spells”. And I did. I had to create I don’t know how many new keybindings for the plethora of new spells that priests have for healing. Not only that, but I had to set up a slew of new power auras for both my Holy and Disc spec to help me track cooldowns.
Chakra feels cool. Holy seems to be really strong right now. Disc, however, is a completely different story. I am actually considering dropping my disc spec for a shadow spec in Cataclysm – in fact, I know I will for leveling. I don’t like the Archangel/Evangelism mechanics. I played around with it for about an hour on the target dummy trying to get a feel for how it might play out in a raid (yes, I know it’s currently broken), and I have to say there wasn’t a whole lot of appeal in what I perceive to be the play style for me.
On The Patch in General –
Buggy. There have been more known/unknown bugs in this patch than I think any other that I have experienced and I’ve been playing since release. A lot of the bugs are hugely frustrating, and were released regardless. Entire specs that have key mechanics broken? Mastery that doesn’t work? Guild interface functions that are broken? Raid instances that had to be hot fixed the day of release…and still haven’t fixed all of the problems?
Blizzard pushed this patch too soon, in my opinion, and it’s quite honestly done nothing but frustrate a whole lot of people needlessly. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t wait until it was in better shape to send it live. What was the huge rush to get it out?
Right now, I think the bug that is annoying me most (currently) is that you cannot set officer notes for anyone that isn’t in the officer rank. Perhaps it’s because that is the only rank that can “view” or “set” officer notes? Regardless – we used officer notes to track a lot of things and they are all gone. It’s annoying.
On Blizzcon –
Brade and I are going again this year. There will be a post up here in the next day or so about it. I guess I’m curious what they will be announcing/talking about this year. I get the feeling that the highlight of this Blizzcon is going to be the social aspect as opposed to what will be actually happening at Blizzcon proper.
Outside of WoW –
We are watching the first season of Fringe, and I’m really enjoying it. It has a very X-files sort of feel to it that I’m digging quite a bit. So far the plot lines have been intriguing and think the show was well cast. We will definitely be picking up season two.
I am still chugging through those JD Robb books – although my appetite for them has slowed down some. I think that’s probably because I’m now on my 30th book in the series! Perhaps I should have read something different here and again. That being said, they are still very good reading and I do still enjoy them. I’m just not quite as excited about them as I was 30 books ago!
We went and saw RED last night. I found it entertaining enough, and Helen Mirran kicks ass. So if you are looking for a fun flick, I’d recommend it.
How have you been muddling through Patch 4.0?