Green grow the rushes oh: May’s ROYGBiV entry

The colour for May is green, the colour of envy. We associate it with spring and new shoots sprouting but also with decay as it’s the colour of mould and drowned flesh.

I knew right from the start that I had to use the Jinxed Hoodoo skin because it’s a piece dear to my heart. Two of my Druids are currently sporting it as part of their transmogrifications and I’ve always intended farming it on my Monk. At first I thought about just creating something for my other Druid, the one I plan on getting to 90 and transferring from her old forgotten server before Warlords goes live but then I got side tracked by that sword and realised that my Monk was in danger of ending up envious of the Druids.

Despite my lack of love for yellow, I’ve always preferred these shoulders to the original and so it made sense to  use them to tie together those pale vanilla shades in the kilt and the detailing on the bodice.

WoWScrnShot_051714_211518 WoWScrnShot_051714_211501 WoWScrnShot_051714_211514

  • Crown of the Forest Lord
  • Mantle of Autumn
  • Jinxed Hoodoo Skin
  • Bracers of Rolling Fields
  • Duskwing Handwraps
  • Moss Cinch
  • Jinxed Hoodoo Kilt
  • Swampwalker Boots
  • Ethereum Phase Blade
  • Councilor’s Sceptor

Stand by Me: Thoughts on Instant Casts in Warlords

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
All the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

From  the song Stand by Me.

I know Blizzard are going to be posting a blog post about the up coming Healing changes either later today or tomorrow but thought I’d throw in a quick post about potential changes first partly because I drafted it a week ago and also because wild speculation is always fun.

This post was sparked by a comment of Prinnie’s

But now, apparently, the WoD thinking is, “CASTING WHILE MOVING IS BAD.”

which only took firm hold in my head later on when I read this on MMO-Champion.

Raid encounters will have more interesting mechanics for healers, allowing them to avoid the boredom that comes with just spamming the same skill over and over.

I must admit these two so innocent looking sentences when added together have me considering a whole new career as some sort of dpser. For interesting mechanics my mind wanders back to Instructor Razuvious and that sinking feeling I’d get whenever we entered Naxxramas, made ten times worse by the memory of the night where I effectively had to solo tank him due to our other Priest’s mindcontrol deciding not to work whilst our raid was working on Immortality. I think of General Vexaz, a fight I hated as a Holy Priest and who can forget Leotheras the Blind and his inner demons which were a whole lot of pain to kill as healers and of course I think of vehicle fights in general.

Now I’m not denying the days of being able to spam Circle of Healing and win were boring in the extreme but I also don’t know many healers who like having the success or failure of raid depend on their ability to deal with “interesting mechanics”. I know we lost healers in Wrath over mindcontrol and also over tank cooldowns because they couldn’t cope with the fallout of timing it wrong and being yelled at by our angry raid leader, they just wanted to stand at the back and heal.

In a conversation with my Guild Master the other day, the phrase “interesting times” was used  and certainly with every detail which drips out,  it seems accurate in the extreme.

In terms of casting on the move:

Holy Priests

  • Holy word: Chastise or Holy Word: Serenity (depending on Chakra state)
  • Renew
  • Power word: Shield
  • Cascade or Divine Star or Halo (Talents)
  • Prayer of Mending
  • Circle of Healing
  • Power word: Solace
  • Desperate Prayer or Spectral Guise (Talents)
  • Levitate
  • Holy Nova (Glyph)
  • Guardian Spirit
  • Shadowfiend
  • Power Infusion (Talent)
  • Void Tendrils or Pysfiend (Talents)
  • Angelic Feather (Talents)
  • Shadow word: Pain
  • Fear
  • Void Shift
  • Dispel
  • Purify
  • Leap of Faith

That’s 21 abilities that depending on my talents and glyph choices I could cast whilst running for my life. Out of that list, I currently have access to 19 (don’t have angelic feathers or power infusion on my Holy Priest) and 9 of them are ways in which I can increase the health pool of other people. Is that too many? Perhaps, I would definitely see no harm in adding a half second cooldown to the level 90 talents. There is probably room for Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing to merged in some way, perhaps by making Prayer of Healing smart rather than having the party limitation and adding a small cooldown to stop it being spammed. When you’re AoE healing you are unlikely to being either of the instant cast Chakra power words, so they are fine. Tank cooldowns like Guardian Spirit and Void Shift I feel should be instant cast as they should be reactive not cast at x percentage of the way through the fight. The same is true of Leap of Faith, especially from a PvP perspective. Void tendrils/Pysfiend/Fear don’t really have raid uses and shadow word: pain isn’t likely to kill anyone. Holy Nova is little more than a gimmick, I have it because it’s still useful for finding stealths in PvP as well as stopping people tagging flags.

So in terms of what is useful in healing most aoe raid encounters we’re looking at:

  • Renew
  • Cascade or Divine Star or Halo
  • Prayer of Mending
  • Circle of Healing
  • Guardian Spirit
  • Void Shift
  • Shadowfiend
  • Power Solace if talented but the others require a lot less time management

which is a much shorter instant cast list.

I’m not going to do a comparison for every Healing Class, but thought I’d have a brief look at what’s available to a couple of other classes that I play.

Resto Druid

  • Rejuvation
  • Lifebloom
  • Swiftmend
  • Wild Growth
  • Ysera’s Gift/ Renewal/Cenarion Ward (Talents)
  • Wild Mushrooms
  • Wild Mushroom’s Bloom
  • Moonfire
  • Faerie Fire
  • Barkskin
  • Ironbark
  • Wild Charge
  • Nature’s Swiftness
  • Nature’s Cure
  • Innervate
  • Disorienting Roar/Ursol’s Vortex/Mighty Bash (Talents)
  • Stampeding Roar
  • Force of Nature (if Talented for)
  • Mass Entanglement/Typhoon (Depending on Talent choices)
  • Soothe
  • Nature’s Grasp

I deliberately tried to avoid anything which required cat or bear form but that still left me with 21 instant cast spells from the Druid. Like the Holy Priest a good few of those are utility spells and many match up, for example I suspect shadowfiend is instant cast because innervate always has been. Mass Entanglement too might be further down the tree than Void Tendrils but the two spells are very similar in every way apart from graphics. Of these stampeding roar and nature’s grasp definitely shouldn’t have cast times in my opinion as this negates their purpose, i.e. helping you escape.

Mistweaver Monk

  • Healing Spheres
  • Chi Wave/Zen Sphere (Talents)
  • Renewing Mist
  • Detox
  • Paralysis
  • Nimble Brew
  • Expel Harm
  • Thunder Focus Tea
  • Chi Brew
  • Tiger’s Lust
  • Roll
  • Uplift
  • Revival
  • Dampen Harm/Diffuse Magic
  • Summon Jade Statue
  • Disable
  • Ring of Peace/Charging Ox Wave/Leg Sweep
  • Chi Torpedo/Rushing Jade Wind/Xuen
  • Life Cocoon
  • Zen Flight
  • Blackout Kick
  • Tiger Palm
  • Touch of Death
  • Grapple Weapon
  • Mana Tea (can be glyphed to be instant)

So in the notes on MMO-Champion, I did notice that they’re planning on removing Healing Spheres as an actual spell because:

We’re removing it because of the bad gameplay it provided, despite its power. Healing Sphere was spam clicking on an intended target’s feet, trying to account for their movement and latency, tight hit area.

Which personally I disagree with, never having had issues and would rather be in control of where I place my healing tools so that there is a small chance people other than myself will actually use and benefit from. It would also make the current Proving Grounds somewhat harder for Mistweaver Monks.

I find the fact that Summon Jade Statue is instant cast when Lightwell has a cooldown interesting but mostly these spells fall within definite categories. Each one has a hot of some sort, spells which deal with mana regeneration, i.e. innervate, shadowfiend, power word: solace tend to be either baseline instant cast or have the ability to be modified in that way. All single target dispels are instant too and so are movement modifiers whether that’s clearing snares like Nimble Brew or just increasing speed like Stampeding Roar, Roll or Angelic Feathers.

These lists are actually longer than I expected them to be given these are just abilities you can cast whilst moving and perhaps more importantly, they highlight the fact that too much choice can sometimes be a bad thing, especially when it comes to balance. I’ve been watching a quite a few PvP streams on Twitch lately and whilst you tend not to notice it when you’re the one running around chased by three male Bloodelves all wearing plate, carrying very big swords and spamming /lick macros, one grumpy Orc who can’t stop spitting and a gossip of Goblins, spectating on PvP shows just how much of it is done with instants these days. In fact I suspect that’s the issue, each expansion has seen huge amounts of interrupts and crowd control given to every class and in order to counter that, everyone has been given instants to actually be able to cast something. Pare back the control and there is much less need for instants in any aspect of the game.

A Brawling we will go

Entirely by accident I found myself in the Brawler’s guild yesterday. I wasn’t planning on doing anything as messy as stepping into the ring but then I realized that I was completely alone. The rest of the server were either running around on the Timeless Isle or busy hanging out at the Darkmoon Faire in search of Moonfang related goodies, therefore if I fell flat on my face with my silly Mistweaver DPS, no one would know. So with my heart racing, I spoke to that Worgen gentleman and waited. A mere heartbeat later I was in the ring, waiting for an oversized crocodile to eat me alive. Surprisingly he didn’t although I didn’t notice this until I was ported out because I was too busy staring at the chomp cast bar. Heart in my mouth, I queued up again and again and again, ticking off ranks 1 through 4.

WoWScrnShot_100713_185632

So I’m now the proud owner of Clock’em, ok it’s months after everyone else but I did do it specced as a healer which has to count for something right? Can I get all the way to rank 10 as a Mistweaver? I suspect not, at least not without some major gear upgrades but I do intend to try. I also need to see if it’s doable on other classes as Sprout would love to be Brawler.

Day 26: A Screenshot A Day

Today’s prompt is “Curve” and I’ve chosen to interpret that as a “learning curve”.

provinggroundsgold

I entered the Proving Grounds torn between self doubt and over confidence. I thought it would be a walk in the park, after all I’ve been playing a Healer now for more years than I care to mention and yet at the back of my mind a tiny goblin sized voice whispered away. As it turned out, perhaps there was more “proving” to be done that I expected. I made a choice not to see how other Monks were doing it which led to quite a bit of experimentation on my part, something which with hindsight I’m glad of. In the end I had to reforge my stats quite a bit as well as change my talents and am probably stronger as a result of that. I’d also forgotten exactly what some of my tooltips said (the joys of not doing anything more serious than random battlegrounds and questing) and this forced me to start thinking about my cooldowns, my spells and all the utility my class brings.

In short, I found the Proving Grounds to be frustrating, annoying, addictive and somewhat maddeningly awesome. I’m so close to getting “You’re doing it wrong” and the silver dps challenge as a healer and I want to at least get Bronze for Tanking too. In the meantime I’m working on Endless with my first try getting me the achievement for over 10 rounds which I know is nothing in the grand scheme of things but to someone who is facing their first “proper” raid since the start of Cataclysm this weekend, every little confidence boost helps.

In case anyone else is struggling as a Mistweaver, the secret of my success (once I’d got a reasonable amount of spirit) was these happy little curvy balls. Wonderful for pre-positioning under the Hunter and Mage as well as brilliant for clearing “chomp”.

WoWScrnShot_092613_203657

Also Xuen is well worth it, not only for helping to clear annoying packs faster but for teaming up with your serpent statue to help with the healing. Leg sweep in my experience is also better than the ring of peace and chi brew used every time it was available got my mana under control to the point that I ended on 70 percent mana. Also don’t forget that we can disarm and kick so something which shows enemy name plates and their buffs, debuffs and cast bars really helps.

In the end my first proper reforged go with spirit was the slightly stressful zombies lurking behind trees and werewolves in the bushes walk in the park I’d first envisioned.

I’d also recommend adding “Chomp” as a custom debuff to whatever raid frame addon you’re using.

If that happens to be Vud’ho, go to debuffs -> custom  and then type “chomp” into the window and set it up accordingly. Personally I had it changing the whole bar to a disgusting shade of brown which had my subconscious itching to remove it before the rest of my recognized what was going on.

What I love about the whole concept is that there is always going to be room for improvement, always another wave to survive and that it allows experimentation with spec, with spells and indeed with alts in a private space where the only ego which can get bruised is yours.

Endgame: The Monk’s Gambit

So I bit the bullet and leveled. My monk is now 90 and having a surprisingly large amount of fun. Ever contrary it seems that as everyone else is losing that WoW feeling, I’ve got my groove back.

This weekend I found myself uttering the words I never expected to slip past my lips, “Let’s just queue to Strand of the Ancients because it’s the call to arms and it’s amazing”. As it turns out, on monks it is a great place to pvp because of all the utility which comes as a standard regardless of spec. No one else slowing vehicles, fine, I can do it myself at no mana or chi cost to myself. No one else cc’ing chasing opponents, no problem, slow one, paralyze one, silence one, disarm one and rinse and repeat. Finally I have the control my control freak nature appreciates.

I’ve also being doing a lot of Tol Barad as it’s an easy five hundred honor per game. It’s just a shame that the Horde on my server don’t see the point of queuing up. This is one zone that I really wish was cross realm as I miss the massive battles with three raid groups we had the start of Cataclysm when it was new and shiny and gave semi useful rewards.

tol barad
In between PvP, I’ve started leveling archaeology. My goal for this week is to cap it out and also hopefully acquire as many of the interesting items as possible. The pick up, put down nature of it suits being interwoven in between battleground queues and the screenshot opportunities it provides suits me down to the ground.

wetlands

I’m almost completely geared in the current honor set and my conquest point count is climbing nicely so the next thing on the agenda will be to run those scenarios so I can experience the Battlefield which has become the Barrens prior to the patch. Given all those happy days I spent pvping in the Barrens it seems only fitting that my journey should take me there again.

 

Fear of Flying (and being 90)

My Monk is just on the cusp of 89 and endgame is so close I can almost taste it. My honor point stash is close to maxed and I’ve got plenty of justice points to play with too. Yet I almost don’t want to hit 90. I love the class, pvp is so much fun and suddenly battlegrounds that I hated on Sprout, I now adore. Strand of the Ancients being one because if no one else is slowing vehicles well I can bring them to halt plus healing whilst nuking annoying people in the face… always awesome.

So therefore my rough plan is to force myself over the finishing line and then start both pvping with the big boys and at least hanging out in the Isle of Thunder and running scenarios with the intention of getting a look at the Battlefield Barrens carry on before it’s removed. Here’s hoping I still have enough time to get the Hordebreaker title, after all, it’s some what appropriate in oh so many ways.

I also need a proper transmogrification outfit because I can’t always hide like this:

WoWScrnShot_071213_211448

Baby panda + zen mediation = Cuteness

I’m also planning on tackling my left over achievements in a reasonably sensible fashion. Got far too many left to tick off to suit my list focused brain. Besides this might slow down the march to 90.

BETA: Weaving the Mist – healing from a Monk’s perspective (lv 11 to 45)

First of all, I’m not going to cover levels 1 through 10 because Tzufit has already done  a great job of doing that, which can be found here. Secondly this is going to concentrate a bit more on PvPish things because well, I’m a ganker at heart.

So you rolled a Monk, reached lv 10 and picked Mistweaver, well congratulations!

From picking up your specialisation, you get access to your first heal, Soothing Mists. From levels 10 to through to dinging 18 this is it, the extent of your healing toolbox.

It is a great spell for a couple of reasons, first of all, the mana cost is not upfront. You only pay for what you use. Over the course of eight seconds, you can potentially (if you choose not to interrupt it) get with my meagre haste levels, nine ticks of Soothing Mists. However I find myself rarely going full channel with this. In PvP related activities, grabbing the first two ticks and then moving is great as a way of keeping health pumping in but making it hard for your opponent to interrupt you.

Secondly, each pulse without overhealing counts as a possible generation of chi (it seems bugged in the current Beta build providing a 100 percent chance).  This combined with point 1, means that you can cast a tick or two on the tank, stopping when they reach full health, wait a bit for them to take a hit or six and then recast it again, ensuring you maximise both your mana usage and your chances of gaining chi. This is not, in my opinion a spell you want to have overheal on because it’s just not necessary.

At lv 18, we get Chi Wave.

This is a quite a contentious spell and whilst I agree it does have a few negatives, I like it. Yes, it’s targeting could definitely do with being a bit smarter, less critters and mobs on the other side of walls please. That said, I’ve had a lot of fun with it and because it will go you -> the thing you’re fighting -> you etc etc, I find it to be a great PvP and grinding tool plus it’s definitely contributed to my success in 1 v 1s.

In my dungeon experience , especially those that Mr Harpy and I two manned, it worked really well (apart from the odd bounce through solid walls). I could build chi either through the careful use of Soothing Mists or through clobbering stuff (in Serpent Stance or switching to Tiger if I thought mana would be an issue at some point) and fire this off every 8 seconds. I love having two resource systems for healing, in the same vein as Paladins with Holy Power but would like to see more Chi based abilities at low levels to help people get in the habit of using it earlier on.

Our next heal pops up at lv 26. Now this isn’t Mistweaver specific but I decided to include it here because it’s still useful in both PvE and PvP environments.

Because it’s available to all Monks, there is of course an energy version which differs slightly to this one (40 energy cost/heals you for 313 and causes 120 percent of the amount healed as damage). I see it as a mini version of Desperate Prayer with a really short cooldown which also provides a smack in the face to whatever is currently trying to kill you. It does suffer from a similar issue to Chi Wave, in that it’s choice of targets isn’t exactly smart. Make sure there aren’t any critters between you and the boss …. but I’ve found in the vast majority of dungeons I’ve run so far, this is enough to keep myself alive. Again, overhealing doesn’t translate into damage so make sure you’re aware of your own health before using it.

Now we hit a bit of a healing drought, having to wait until level 34 for our next heal.

I believe there is talk of making this require a target rather than it functioning as a smart heal and I think that’s probably the right line for Blizzard to take. Right now it’s awesome and certainly from a random battleground perspective, it would increase your chances of being healed by monks with zero situational awareness but I feel that since it fits into the “flash heal” type category and can already become instant cast whilst providing chi that leaving it the option to remain as a smart heal is a step too far.

That said though, I tend to only use it whilst channelling Soothing Mists so that I can double dip into my chances of getting chi so wouldn’t miss that utility. As a PvP tool, the fact that when you’re channelling Soothing Mists, the only impediment to it’s instant castiness is your reaction time means that it’s wonderful. Burst healing and instant casts are king in the PvP world and as Monks all our abilities seem to be based around that principle.

The last heal we gain in the this bracket is my all time favourite.

An infectious renew which lasts for almost double it’s cooldown meaning that you could technically have them spread over quite a few people in a battleground or a dungeon even at this level and without Uplift.

Going from left to right, 3 and 4 are the timers relating to Renewing Mists. 4 is the duration of the mists itself and 3 shows the number of potential jumps remaining plus a timer in which those jumps must be made.

So far, I love our toolbox. That fact that everything is either instant cast (renewing mists, expel harm and chi wave) or can be instant cast depending on how you use it (soothing mists and surging mists), means that we’re really well set in PvP for quick and effective healing on the move. So that’s the healing abilities covered, now lets look at utility and what that brings to the table.

At level 18 we gain Resurrection. This isn’t particularly exciting just a necessary part of levelling a healer these days.

I do find the PvP implications of the second half interesting though, Night Elf monks shadowmelding to drop combat behind well-placed pillars and then pulling off sub 5 second resses perhaps.

Level 20 brings Detox, another staple of playing a healer.


Apart from the Bleed effects, this is a fairly standard spell. The bleeds do make it a bit more interesting though and I’m interested in seeing if it allows Monks to “cheese” spells like Grievous Wound and Grievous Whirl. It also means that not only will we be stealing Feral Druid gear for our offspecs but that we can pretty much negate them in PvP too.

At 28, we get our very own hamstring.

I found that this plus roll provided some rather satisfying results against melee classes, especially since we can remove poisons and bleeds into the bargain.

The Monk kick requires either Tiger Stance or Ox stance but I feel it’s worth including here because any decent Mistweaver who PvPs is going to have to get into the habit of switching stance to use it, just as Resto Druids currently have to go catform to interrupt spellcasting.

We get it at lv 32 and regardless of whether you intend playing a Monk or not, you might want to play close attention to the tooltip.

In short, when you’re playing a Monk, make sure you’re facing them when you interrupt for added insult to injury. When you’re not playing a Monk but you’ve got one in your face, try and keep your back to them when you feel you have to use cast times. I must admit as a healing Priest, it’s spells like this that make me sad that all my cast time shadow spells have been taken away because if they catch me casting, I’m still going to take a five second silence regardless of whether I’m dpsing or healing.

Finally, there is Paralysis.

In PvP, the duration is eight seconds from behind and four from the front.

We learn this at lv 44 and again it’s baseline for the class. Unfortunately you can’t win, don’t turn your back on a Monk and you risk being locked out of all your spells for five seconds, turn your back and you could find yourself incapacitated longer.

In PvP at any rate, given that most of our useful utility requires melee range, I think it’s going to be an interesting game of chase (at lower levels anyway). Allowing pesky melee to catch you every so often just you can get the most of your incapacitates and disables whilst chasing down other healers and casters yourself to interrupt them, all the while punctuating your utility moves with as much instant or near to instant healing as possible. I don’t know about you, but I love to dance….

There are a few things I’d like to see improved/changed, perhaps most importantly another way of spending Chi that isn’t just doing melee dps (by lv 44, we still only have Chi Wave as a healing spell which relies on it). That said, I think I definitely do more than decent dps in both a PvP and PvE environment (testing PvP is a little hard at the moment since Battlegrounds haven’t worked since a patch or two ago) by generating chi through healing/clobber and spending it on mostly melee dps.

I’d like the “smart” aspect of Chi Wave and of Expel Harm to get a lot smarter. Please prioritise stuff we’re already in combat with and don’t go for yellow mobs/critters over red ones.

All in all though, I haven’t lost a duel yet at any level, even against the other two specs of Monk. This is mostly because of Expel Harm and Chi Wave with the odd melee hit thrown in for good measure. I’ve also managed to 2 man a lot of the lower level dungeons, including Razorfen Kraul which was far too easy for two Monks (healing and tank) to saunter through randomly pulling stuff through walls and not stopping runners. The cynic in me expects things to change quite a bit between now and live but the naughty little Gnome with an eye on MoP PvP secretly hopes they won’t.

I would definitely recommend if you have the time and the Beta access, levelling a Monk from scratch rather than just grabbing a premade. It’s a bit like building a house of cards, starting from the bottom is always best. Learning each ability as you get it and figuring out how best to interlace it with others makes getting to grips with a new class easier than trying to sort out forty abilities all at once. This is particularly true of the Monk class as quite a few abilities do work best when used in tandem with others (as an example see Soothing Mists and Surging Mists).

Right now, I think Blizzard are sending mixed signals with the Monk class. Are we meant to be in melee hitting stuff between casting just like my Paladin used to have to in the old judgement days? or are we meant to be pure healers just standing around at the back? I know that even at this point, we have two clear ways of generating chi, one to potentially appeal to both groups but the most effective way seems to be a combination of those methods. Personally I enjoy being in melee range using spare chi to dps but I know it’s a play style not to everyone’s tastes but also groups don’t always seem to like it either.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a screenshot of one of the battlegrounds I did manage to do on the Beta. Eighteen Monks in Warsong Gulch was a fairly hilarious experience (there was a Mage and a Warlock making up the numbers).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,307 other followers