And the Wheel keeps turning: PvP and Chakras

Nothing seems to divide Holy Priests like Chakras. I know people who have quit their Priests all together over them, Priests who have gone Disc or Shadow because of them as well as plenty of Priests who have stuck with Holy but tend to pick their Chakra and stick with it regardless of their circumstances. My focus today is PvP but a lot of what applies here can also be used whilst dungeoning and raiding.

First of all, know your “enemy”!

chakra01

and

chakra02

Now I deliberately didn’t include the third Chakra and the reason for that is simple. Chastise is our default ability if we aren’t in a Chakra at all. So lets say I’m in Serenity and I have been for a while, all I need to do to throw a disorient on that pesky Holy Paladin over there is leave Chakra state, cast Chastise and then re-enter Serenity immediately incurring no real penalty (ok Chastise hits for less but…..).

chastise01

/cancelaura Chakra: Serenity
/cancelaura Chakra: Sanctuary
/cast [target=mouseover, harm, nodead] Holy Word: Chastise; Holy Word: Chastise

You do need to hit the macro twice to get the disorient but it leaves whichever of the two Chakra states you’re in and then will stun either your mouse over target if you have one or your actual target if you don’t. I’d definitely recommend using a macro because in hectic pvp combat the last thing you want to be doing is trying to right click off the right buff whilst the person you want to disorient is trying to smash your face in with an axe.

So with the basics covered, what I do use and why? Well my general rule of thumb sees Serenity as my go to Chakra for most things pvp related. I’m a great fan of casting on the move (you can tell I was a Resto Druid in a former life can’t you) and given that in most pvp, standing still just makes you an easier target, you can’t beat instant cast abilities. Being able to dance through and behind your enemies throwing out heals can make a huge difference on your time to live and that of your team-mates.

Also if you’re left alone, Serenity is definitely where it’s at. That instant heal can and will save your life over and over again.

However, especially in the two 40 mans, Sanctuary has it’s place:

Isle of Conquest

  • On entering the boss room to take down the opposing boss I switch because with his leap, every little bit of aoe healing counts. 
  • If we’re winning by attrition and camping the graveyard, i.e. everyone is grouped up in one place with lots of people taking damage, I switch.

Alterac Valley

  • End bosses are an obvious choice for Sanctuary, especially if you’re forced into pulling with towers up.
  • Any huge face offs on the road, i.e. by Iceblood graveyard or between Stonehearth and Stormpike, using Sanctuary is a potential option. It depends whether you’re just championing one person, i.e. a warrior/deathknight or trying to keep the masses alive.

As for Arenas, given that I only ever play 2 v 2, I tend to switch between Serenity, no Chakra at all for the disorient and then using Chakra: Chastise if I need to nuke.

Basically before you make a decision on which Chakra to use, consider the following:

  1. Are you sticking with the vast majority of the team or are you off either solo or with a handful of others. Then consider Sanctuary for the former and Serenity for the latter.
  2. How many opponents are there? Lets say for example that you and a rogue are attacking the Farm in Arathi Basin. There is just one defender but you know that this team have been fairly good at communicating thus far. Do you stick in your healing Chakra or do you switch to Chastise for the extra bit of oomph? After all, the faster they die, the quicker you can tag.
  3. Is anyone focusing you? Serenity all the way then.

TL,DR

  • Macro cancelling Chakra and disorient early and often. The more CC you can provide, the less healing you need to do. Consider things like Chastise – > Mindcontrol for defending the Lumber Mill in Arathi Basin or in 2 v 2s. Not only is it annoying, it’s also effective, especially if you follow it up by parking the person next to you and then fearing them. 
  • Serenity normally beats Sanctuary unless the opposing team is kindly focusing on aoeing down your team at roughly the same rate, you aren’t taking huge amounts of damage yourself and you don’t like anyone else in the team enough to focus them with lots of single target heals.
  • Chakra: Chastise has it’s place. I use it in scenarios, 5 man groups in which people don’t stand in bad and the tank actually uses cooldowns and for nuking demolishers in Strand of the Ancients. It can also be handy in one v ones against certain classes (i.e the ones which don’t currently hit very hard themselves) as long as you’re ready to swap back to defensive mode Serenity the second they get a mate. The other thing to consider is how many healers are on your team. If I end up in a healer heavy side and no one has the gear/spec set up, I’ll use Chastise for dps, especially to help kill flag carriers whilst the others heal. My Dps isn’t awesome but I’ve never come bottom yet although in random battlegrounds that’s perhaps not surprising.

Above all, don’t be afraid to play around with them. Also I have it on good authority that chastise the disorient is cheating (rich coming from a Paladin :p) so use it often!

Patch Notes Thoughts: Easier Chakra Surfing

I’ve been keeping a vague eye on the notes for the forthcoming patch, oohing over the thought of riding dinosaurs but my brain has been rather disengaged. However one little tidbit I spotted today changed that:

The 4pc PvP bonus for healing priests has changed: Reduces the cooldown of Chakra by 25 sec and during Spirit ShellFlash Heal costs 50% less mana. (from MMO Champion).

I’m not particularly interested in the second half (Holy for life!) but the first bit had me thinking. Now I’m a chakra hopper by nature and the thirty second cool down between switching annoys me considerably. I’ll happily admit to not being the greatest fan of chakras as I think their implementation has always been clunky and I hate running around with huge disco lights under my feet yelling “Holy Priest….try and kill me” to all comers. However I think a five second cool down between switching states is a huge improvement, so huge in fact that I feel it’s got no place being a set bonus at all.

The whole point of chakras as I understood them was so that we could switch on the fly as sadly PvP in particular doesn’t come in nice perfectly timed segments with the opposing team seguing politely from aoe to single target and back again. I know from playing against plenty of other Holy Priests, most seem to pick a chakra and stick with it regardless of the situation, especially now they last after zoning/death so hopefully this change will change that, pushing people into a bit more experimentation. That said, I don’t see why this change couldn’t be either baseline, leaving the PvP set bonus as it currently is or altering it’s implementation slightly. Why for example can’t it work like the Monk roll? In that you could switch once and then again without incurring a time penalty. It would be more dynamic than just a flat cool down and would potentially allow for more tactical play.

Right now this is a necessary change but a really boring set bonus.

Slightly off-topic, one of the more common searches which seems to bring people to my blog is “What chakra should I use in pvp?” and that to me feeds into the sense that quite a lot of Priests feel trapped in one chakra because of the cooldown. (For those of you which are interested, I’m currently working on a rather massive post with flow charts and possibly diagrams to cover what I use, when and why).

 

Dark Dreaming of the Moon

The Darkmoon Faire has rolled into town once again, bringing with it a whole host of new and shiny things to tempt the eye.

Up first we have the Carousel with it’s experience and reputation buff (sorely needed in the Age of Dailies). All you have to do is buy a ticket and ride it for a while, just like the Maypole buff from the Fire Festival the duration ticks up the longer you spend spinning around. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately riding it backwards doesn’t seem to effect your age unlike Bradbury’s.

WoWScrnShot_120212_012440

What I also like about this is that Blizzard seem to have drawn heavily on the design which featured in their Student Design Contest, even down to the watching eye on top.

contest02-lrg

Borrowed from MMO Champion

Sadly the balloons haven’t made it into the finished product though, perhaps if we’re really lucky they’ll turn up as mini pets some time in the future.

WoWScrnShot_120212_020219

As seen from a distance

The new Pet Battle Master was an okay fight, easier than a certain gentleman in the Argent Tournament grounds for example. I took his team on with a Beast (Spider), a Flying creature (my Cenarion Hatchling) and a Humanoid (my Hopling). My reward bag yielded no Eye but then this week I have been fairly lucky with other pet drops (the Vanilla raid ones and the tailoring ones) so fingers crossed I’ll get one this week as it’s the pet I’m most excited about.

Buoyed up by this success, I went and purchased my Darkmoon Hatchling, which when inspected closely has a very prehistoric look. Sprout will definitely be careful when feeding, I suspect it’s pet biscuits thrown from quite some distance.

WoWScrnShot_120212_013953

Finally I hit the wilderness looking for the two tamable pets. Finding a Darkmoon Glowfly was easy, the woods seemed filled with them, albeit with a massive level range.

WoWScrnShot_120212_013413

The first one I tamed was level 11 and the first one Mr Harpy accosted was level 1. Sadly it seems that the other pet I actually want, the Crow still hasn’t been fixed. Here’s hoping Blizzard get it done before the end of the week.

All in all, the new additions to the Darkmoon Faire get a massive thumbs up from me and no doubt I’ll be spending even more time here than before.

A Happy Harpy Day

The first thing I did yesterday on logging…

 

Transmogrification – Heirlooms in Disguise, plus post patch wonderings

First thoughts on 4.3.

Transmogrification + heirlooms = fun.

An Identity Crisis

My lv 2 rogue sporting an autumnal palette which matches her hair.

This year, the perfect accessory is an angry octopus!

My lv 14 mage who just needs some acceptable shoulders, shame she can’t have the leafy ones too.

I know the heirlooms are meant to lose their transmogrifications when you mail them (I mailed mine the way I always mail stuff and the transmogrification was still there at the end) and no doubt Blizzard will get around to fixing it at some point but in the meantime…. time to smash some people in the face with a angry octopus. I admit I have mixed feelings about that rule. Eventually my alts could just farm the items themselves, it’s not as if they don’t exist in the game any more so why not let transmogrification work across battlenet accounts.

Still sulking about about not being able to use lv 60 PvP set on any character. “I” as in the person who  plays the game met the requirements on four separate characters but the one I want to use it on, I can’t :(. I was marginally appeased by this blue post:

It’s the player that earned those items, really, not any specific character. If we had a way to make them account-wide right now, we would. We can’t, but account-wide achievements are planned for Mists of Pandaria, and we hope to be able to include Feats of Strength with that system, which would open up these items to all characters on that player’s account.

Then I realised that even if I could equip it on any and all characters, it still doesn’t seem fair that it’s the only armour set with a restriction. I’d rather they had left the titles as a unique piece of the game’s history and let everyone dress up the way they want.

I’d actually forgotten that my very first character, a warlock reached Knight Captain until someone reminded me last night so I ran all the way to Area 52 to have a look.

If Blizzard do get around to allowing us to have more than 10 characters on a server, I’m going to rescue her along with my two other Priests and my vanilla Druid. She’s even still got bits of Forsaken and Troll in her bags from the “good old days” when you could collect body parts for hand-ins in Alterac Valley.

Divine Hymn could be slightly overbuffed as Holy. 40k crits in my PvP gear came as a surprise. Just seems like sticking a plaster cast on a bruise. I’m not denying Holy has issues but not convinced this is the answer. Being a tiny little Gnome and hiding in bushes and watching your battleground team’s health shoot up is pretty priceless though.

The general atmosphere and attitude in random battlegrounds also seems to have improved ten fold, either that I’ve just been exceedingly lucky since the patch. People can talk and not just to say “LOL NOOBS!111! U SUCK!!”, but are announcing before they lose nodes and just generally chatting. Even the few games I lost weren’t particularly painful and no one said “lose fast”. Hopefully this will continue.

Listening to everyone talking about the new raid instance has made me realise I do miss raiding. Unfortunately I’m not in a position to do anything about it right now but hopefully come MoP, I’ll be able to find a guild who really needs someone addicted to Priests.

I’m still working on transmogrification sets for my mains.

Excuse me, your squid is on fire!

Yes, my Rogue wants to be a Druid when she grows up.

Ideally I’ll get her a staff from somewhere so she can have either Benediction or the Staff of Rampant Growth. That’s the Virtuous belt which isn’t a perfect match either.

Hope everyone else’s post patch experiences have been as relaxing and as fun.

 

New Beginnings and Sad Goodbyes

The end of the world is upon us.

I’m torn between looking forward to a new beginning and mourning the end of a world I’d come to know and love so well. On the negative side, no more Holy Word: Aspire. I will miss you. You were one of the best things about the whole chakra system.

On the plus side though, finally my Hunter can tame this little fellow.

I’ve wanted one of these as a pet ever since I first started playing. My warlock used to use enslave demon on them as I quested through the Plaguelands but now one of the first things I’ll do when the servers come up, is go and grab one.

In the minus camp, the changes of the zones I’ve come to know so well. No more Southshore, no more desolate Desolace and a devastated Auberdine.

The other side of the coin of course is so many new places to explore and new quests to find. Perhaps the biggest draw of WoW originally was the sheer scope of the world and if the Shattering can recreate even a 10th of that sense of wonder, well then it’s been well worth every penny.

Goodbye Feathermoon Stronghold, can’t say I’ll miss that boat ride. Taking a scenic cruise around the islands is fine once or twice, but every single time….

Farewell Hillsbrad Fields, I hope Stanley is somewhere safe from undead poisons now.

Holy Priest PvP: Aspire to be the best

Holy Priesting is finally viable for PvP so get out there and grab some chastise fun whilst you can. Reports from the Beta are depressing to say the least about PvP healing at 85 so this might be our only window of opportunity. The fact that we’re losing Holy Word: Aspire is sad too, I wish there was some way of adding it to our arsenal even though Renew Chakra is going away.

First up, a handy macro which cancels your current Chakra state and lets you cast Power Word: Chastise instead of the corresponding heal.

#showtooltip Chakra 
/cast Chakra 
/cancelaura Chakra: Prayer of Healing 
/cancelaura Chakra: Renew 
/cancelaura Chakra: Heal

Hit once to enter a Chakra state, hit it again to leave.

Whether it’s by design, oversight on Blizzard’s part or some sort of bug, cancelling the Chakra makes Chastise available straight away. For example I’m in Chakra Renew state and I’ve just used Holy Word: Aspire and then I use the macro to cancel my Chakra, I can Chastise someone right away.

I imagine that once the cooldown of Chakra is dropped to 30 seconds on live as well, this macro or something similar would be useful in PvE too for easier “stance” switching.

Back to PvP

Do

Stack Resilience, including gems. Ever since Blizzard buffed it to counter damage numbers, it’s been crazy (even now they’ve nerfed the buff a bit). At the moment I’m sitting at around 1650 and unless you’re an arcane mage or someone who actually uses silences/interrupts and the like, dspers are merely annoying flies buzzing around you. Arcane mages on the other hand are the devil incarnate who should be avoided at all costs.

Body + Soul is amazing. Yes, my shields don’t absorb a huge amount but being able to outrun people or help your flag carrier escape means those two talent points are well worth it.

Keep moving. As a dpser it’s far easier to kill stationary targets as you can just fall into a pve rotation rather than the person hopping around like a jumping bean.

Remember you can dispel poisons from yourself if you are specced into Body & Soul. Chastising a rogue, dispelling their slowing poison and speeding off to your teammates leaves you feeling all warm and fluffy inside.

Lightwell is handy for two reasons, A. some people actually stop trying to kill you whilst they kill it. This means that they aren’t hitting you or your squishier team mates. B. If they don’t kill it, you can use it to heal whilst killing them. On top of that, you can use it whilst stunlocked, hexxed, feared or frozen. I’m definitely learning to love my lightwell in PvP. Whilst solo defending nodes in Arathi Basin, you can use Smite Chakra + Lightwell to great effect.

Guardian Spirit early and often. Whenever it’s off cooldown I find myself throwing on people.

Use your Chakras. So far my favourite has to be renew for PvP because I like being able to cast on the move but in mass zergs like bottlenecked AVs, PoH definitely has a place. Get 40 people together in a small space and watch the numbers from Sanctuary covering your screen in green awesomeness.

Stick with instant casts as much as possible. Prayer of mending, circle of healing, renew, holy word: aspire, shield are all essential tools. Always keep a renew on yourself, use them as a cushion just like you would shield’s as Disc.

With Serendipity maxxed out, two flash heals make the next greater heal have the same cast time as a flash heal. If you have a two stack, remember to use greater heal rather than flash.

Remember that Chastise and Mind Control work really well together. Ideally use fear to make them trinket, Chastise them and then use those three seconds to cast Mind Control. Chastise breaks and you can just run them off the nearest cliff. Great for defending the Lumber Mill solo or just keeping their defending Holy Paladin out of action whilst someone else tags the flag.

Glyph Inner Fire. Having 12k armour plus lots of resilience makes a huge difference against melee.

Aligned Chakras and Post Patch PvP Pains

First of all, I have to say I love Holy. The chakras are fun, easy to keep up and the whole tree feels like it has synergy. Power Word: Chastise is useful on it’s own and great when working with the chakras. I ended up speccing like this.

Since Holy has so few choices, I’ll talk briefly about the points I avoided rather than those I took.

  • No Spirit of Redemption – I’ve always hated this talent and have only taken it for the last few years because of the extra spirit it provided. Not only is it part of the reason that the myth of extra squishy priests who die all the time exist (because addons like recount count 2 deaths for every one you actually have), if you die just before a boss and are masquerading as a fail angel, you don’t get credit for the boss kill which is particularly annoying for first kills as you watch the rest of your raid spam their achievements.
  • No Desperate Prayer – In PvE I have plenty of self healing options already.
  • Blessed Resilience – It’s current version is actually fairly tempting but the top of holy is too full of other crucial stuff to make it worthwhile.

Yes, I took Lightwell. Cataclysm is going to be the expansion in which I “persuade ” people to use it.

Then the first problem reared it’s head when I realised that the alt self cast function wasn’t working properly. Instead of letting you heal yourself regardless of whom you were targeting (as it was yesterday), now it only worked if you were targeting an enemy. Now because I don’t tend to use clique on myself in PvP (I prefer just using alt + keybind because I find it works better on the move) this was a bit of a problem. One which I worked around by making macros for every spell.

#showtooltip

/cast [mod:alt,target=player] Flash Heal

/cast [nomod] Flash Heal

(Remove the spaces between each line and replace flash heal with whatever spell you want).

That problem solved, all excited and happy I agreed to do a few battlegrounds with some guildmates. Mind blast, solar beam, starsurge, splat… it didn’t matter what I did, not only was I struggling to stay alive, I couldn’t keep anyone else up for long either. The win went to the team fielding the most boomkins, mages, warlocks and shadowpriests. Luckily this varied a bit, but frustrating doesn’t fully explain it. The feeling of going from pre-patch happiness when it took two or three people playing properly to kill you, to being regularly hit for upwards of 12k whilst stunned in a solar beam.

That said, as the battlegrounds progressed and we managed to get our raid frames to stop jumping around all over the place, they did get easier. Perhaps all the really nastily geared people went to bed or something but by the last game I think I only died once which was a huge improvement on the slaughter of the first few. I ended up preferring Holy for PvP which surprised me. A combination of chastise with body and soul was great for escaping, especially since we can remove poisons from ourselves. Racing to get to your flag to hand in before they pick up, chastise the guy chasing and shield the flag carrier. For a proper PvP build I’d pick up Blessed Resilience and Desperate Prayer but I’m definitely planning on trying a Holy build at 85.

The other thing I managed to do was run around looking at the water effects which having inspected in a variety of locations, I decided I liked a lot.

All in all, I’m fairly positive about the patch and the next two months. Blizzard have already posted saying that the classes I was struggling with are doing too much damage, so I wasn’t necessarily doing anything wrong. Whilst I have mixed feelings about Disc, I think Holy feels amazing but then I’ve always had mixed feelings about Disc so nothing has really changed there.

5 things I’m excited about in the Icecrown patch

  1. Icecrown itself. The fight that involves healing a boss in particular. Although I love the look of some of the new bosses, specifically Queen Lana’thel and Festergut (his colours are nicer than Rotgut’s). All in all, I think the fights for the most part sound interesting and dynamic. A big improvement on the current tier of raid content.
  2. My hunter intends discovering a BM spec and then taming the new spirit beast. One of my first pets was black bear called Jasper and now I’m going to reclaim a dead ghostly version of him.
  3. The new looking group thingie. Right now, you go “LF 3 dps” in trade and get snowed under with whispers. Then its trying to figure out a fair way to pick people. Do you take the first three people to whisper even though they are usually all the same class. Do you fuss about achievements, in my opinion no but there is always some snotty dpser who complains about the fact that Mr Mage is wearing greens and hasn’t completed normal let alone heroic. So this new system is the answer to my prayers. Join up and let them do all the work and get rewards too. Can’t wait. Plus the Pug for pugging has to be the most awesome concept ever invented.
  4. The Fishing Derby. I want the boots that transport you to the best drinking establishment in the Eastern Kingdoms, the Salty Sailor Tavern. These could become especially useful in Cataclysm, you never know.
  5. The Toxic Wasteling – “Right Click to summon and dismiss your toxic wasteling. Do not feed toxic wasteling. Do not allow toxic wasteling to approach small animals. Do not touch, sniff, or even look at toxic wasteling for extended periods of time.” I want one and I’m going to feed it and let it play with critters.

So what things are you looking forward to in 3.3?

Poisoned Chalice

When the patch was released one of the things I was most excited about was experience from battlegrounds. Finally an alternative to grinding the same quests/mobs. So after raid on Wednesday, I logged my hunter who was half way through lv 79 (I hate Icecrown so had got stuck) and rushed off to Alterac Valley. My first thought was how awesome is this, 20k per tower, 20k for Galvanger as I powered my way through level doing the stuff I enjoy. However shortly after hitting 80 myself I realised something. AV in my battlegroup at least is now full of people in the 71-76 level range. Now I don’t blame them, personally I would much rather pvp my way to the level cap on alts, picking up resilience gear as I go but its impacting on AV in a number of ways.

  1. From my perspective at least as a hunter, AV now feels a bit like bullying. I wouldn’t dismount in Northrend to kill a lv 71 questing yet I’m chasing them half way across AV (you get sweet crits though <3).
  2. By defending our bunkers the way I’ve always done, we are stopping people from gaining experience which feels a little like griefing. In one of my last games last night, a little bloodelf paladin ended up /crying at me when I took back Stonehearth Bunker for the 11th time. Yes, we would have won even if I let him have the bunker but it felt a bit like I just killed his robo chicken escort quest just seconds away from the hand in point.
  3. The games have doubled in length primarily because instead of being a team of 95 percent 80s, 5 percent everything else. We seem to be looking at 50/50 if not more in favour of the low levels. Now the PvE aspect of the game becomes much harder when half your team can’t hit Drek.

I really think a small change to the Alterac Valley brackets would improve game play for everyone. Make it 71-79 and add a separate bracket for 80 just like they have for the Isle of Conquest. That way everyone can have fun playing against semi equal opponents. I don’t enter battlegrounds to 2 shot clothies, if I wanted to do that I’d be lurking in the Borean Tundra looking for baby questers minding their own business. Its just too extreme to mix people in 213  plus epics with people wearing 138 item lev greens.

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