A Learning Curve

I learnt several things yesterday. The first of those things is that I’m a terrible Mistweaver Monk.

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I hadn’t really played her since the pre-patch which brought so many changes but either I haven’t properly looked through her spell book and am missing half a dozen useful spells or I’m doing something very wrong. I got my artifact and am only level 99 but it felt way harder than doing any of the three Priest artifact weapon chains.

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Secondly I discovered there is a real dust problem in Dalaran. Having acquired the weapon, I felt my Monk needed a change of hair colour to match her outfit so wandered off to the Barbers. Having accidentally clicked on the rug, I came out to discover an infestation of bunnies running around.
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Then when sitting down to take a screenshot of said bunny, I noticed a floating Pepe hanging around next to me.

All in all, a rather lucky day made perhaps even more important by the fact that it was World Suicide Prevention Day yesterday and that it’s nothing short of a miracle that I’m still here to write about the joy of something so insignificant as finding a little orange bird in a video game. I know I’ve talked about depression before but one thing I haven’t admitted is that my postnatal depression almost killed me. I remember those feelings of emptiness, of believing that my son wasn’t real and the despair… I could have drowned whole continents. Yet whenever I tried to seek help I was dismissed, patronised or told that there was something fundamentally wrong with me because of the “unnatural” feelings I had. In the end, I reached a point where I felt not only was my life pointless but that I was already blighting my son’s. Killing myself before I did him any more harm seemed the only logical solution.

My life was saved by the kindness of a passing stranger* and so I’d like to pass that on, please if you’re feeling depressed and that you don’t see any point going on, talk to someone. The one lesson I’ve learned in all this madness is that the way we see ourselves is very often warped and twisted like a fairground mirror and that to get a true picture, we need to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes.

*(and also the amazing support of Mr Harpy who never gave up on me)

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.

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  • 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.

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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”.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.