And so it begins… T17 Starts NOW!

With a few weeks of some reasonably challenging content behind us in the form of UBRS Challenge Mode (I heard that other 5 man dungeons were available in CM format but to date I have no proof) and Molten Core we’ve had some time to play around with different talent and gearing strategies and come up with a plan for Highmaul.  I’m going to step through my personal strategy and gearing map.

Step 1: Talents

These are my generic selections for walking in the door to a new raid.  It is likely that there will be fights that use a slightly different configuration.

Highmaul Talents

Speed of Light is always my go to movement talent since having a sprint is so valuable in so many situations that I can’t conceive of not having it.

Fist of Justice is a great way to help out with add control, it functions as a ranged interrupt for annoying trash and is just all around useful as a utility talent.  What you pick here will be unlikely to make or break the success of your raid so go with whatever if you like something better.

Eternal Flame is a choice I’m making here that contradicts my previous plan that I talked about in my pre-raid BiS list a couple weeks ago.  At that time by looking at some sims and my listening to my gut I had a strong suspicion that Sacred Shield was going to be the go to talent for Highmaul.  After playing in this content for a bit one of the problems that SS has always had seems to be magnified and that is that’s it’s awkward to cast and feels like it doesn’t do enough to justify the GCD.  I know that’s not actually true but it’s hard to feel the difference between casting it and just skipping it entirely.  It was always the case that EF was going to pull ahead in Blackrock Foundry with our set bonuses so for that reason I’m not really trying too hard to make SS work for this first half of the tier.  I do reserve the right to revert myself on this revision once we get into Mythic content.

Unbreakable Spirit I’m not as confident about my making my default choice but having all my own personal damage reduction available more frequently plus being able to keep Lay on Hands in heavy use is pretty awesome.  I have heard many compelling arguments for taking Clemency here instead including being able to mitigate more damage on tanks and double bop is not inconsequential if the situation calls for it.  This is a tier that will see fight specific adjustment but I like US for a starting point.  I won’t judge anyone for taking Clemency though.

Sanctified Wrath allows us to keep higher overall throughput by extending the time we have Avenging Wrath active.  This becomes particularly powerful when paired with Glyph of Merciful Wrath giving us 33% uptime on AW.  In a 20m Mythic raiding environment there are variables as to effective healing vs. overhealing and fight design considerations that could make this less bursty strategy feel inadequate.  For those situations we’ll want to grab Holy Avenger instead and even consider ditching the glyph for even more burst healing potential.

Holy Prism just does a truck ton of healing for it’s super short cooldown.  The major drawback is the 15 yard bounce range but with sufficient melee in 20 man it’s unlikely to not hit its target maximum.  For encounters that have predictable damage at intervals that line up well with Light’s Hammer AND the raid is going to be stacked up, LH is a fine alternative.

Beacon of Faith is the “double beacon” talent.  It allows us to cleave healing to two secondary targets or cast our most expensive single target heal at reduced mana cost and bounce that healing to the other beacon.  Most often our two beacons will be on two active tanks while we heal the raid but there is tremendous value in being agile with one or both beacons to maximize effective healing and minimize beacon overheal which traditionally is quite high.

I’m also reintroducing this tidbit from an old article since nothing I do is complete without a bad MSPaint drawing:

“It is worth noting that Beacon of Light has a 60 yard transfer range. In addition, the cast range on beacon is also 60 yards. This is a longer range than almost any other healing ability in the game (most are only 40 yards).

There are a few other restrictions: For the beacon healing to transfer, you must remain in line of sight and within 60 yards of your beacon, and your Beacon of Light can only receive healing transfer from raid members up to 60 yards away. However, as the below diagram shows, your beacon does not need line of sight with your heal targets for the healing to transfer; only range from you and your heal target, and line of sight with you.”

Beacon Love Triangle

 

Step 2: Glyphs

Glyphing at this point is pretty straightforward.  There are a couple glyphs I consider mandatory and a couple that are more situational.

Mandatory

Glyph of Hand of Sacrifice – Never worry about offing yourself from Sac again

Glyph of Beacon of Light – If you do any beacon swapping at all, and you should, this is invaluable and cannot be skipped.

Glyph of Merciful Wrath – This will stay in place unless the burst healing requirement is so steep that I just can’t make it happen any other way but to take this out.

Situational

Glyph of Flash of Light should be better than it is in practice.  The tooltip states that following a FoL cast, the next heal is increased by 10%.  What it doesn’t say is that it is consumed direct heals on the target and any beacon heals the target receives so the the buff will be consumed by something as pitiful as a beacon transferred EF tick.

Glyph of Divine Protection will give you better physical damage mitigation if that’s necessary for a given encounter.

Glyph of Cleanse could have situational value on debuff heavy fights but it hasn’t been in the game yet so it’s use in practice is unknown.  I feel it’s worth a mention since it will show up at some point soon™.

Step 3: Stat Priority

tl:dr  – Intellect = Spirit > Mastery > Critical Strike > Haste > Stuff

Over at Holy Bouch, there is a recent article about the value of Spirit vs. Intellect vs. Crit that’s worth a read.

The paraphrase is that our stat priority starts with intellect and spirit and then we start caring about other things.  Practically this means that we should get spirit on all the pieces that can have it and that item level is more of a consideration than what secondaries a piece has on it within reason.  A 630 with perfect secondaries is better than a 636 with all the wrong things but a 665 with crap secondaries is better than a 640 that’s perfectly itemized.

1. Mastery

Our mastery is Illuminated Healing which places an absorb shield on the target for a percentage of healing done by a direct heal.  Made up numbers say that with 25% mastery, a 10,000 hp heal heals for 10,000 and puts a 2500 hp shield on the target that persists for 15 seconds or until it is consumed or refreshed with another heal.  88 mastery rating is equal to 1% of Illuminated Healing with a base of 10%.

Mastery is triggered and refreshed from any heal including Eternal Flame hot ticks but not from any beacon healing.

One point that seems to get overlooked is the value of extending the health pool of raid members during progression.  When gear and thus stamina is low, health pools can be treacherously close to large damage mechanics so any bit of damage taken prior to a big hit can be fatal.  When you factor absorbs into a proactive healing environment the health pool of the raid can be increased by a few percent which can be the difference between scary and a wipe.

2. Critical Strike

New with Warlords of Draenor is stat attunements.  Holy Paladins, for some mysterious reason, got a crit attunement with Sanctified Light.  We get an extra 5% crit from all sources.  110 critical strike rating is 1% of crit (104.762 including attunement).

Lifespark wrote an excellent piece on crit capping during WoD beta so instead of repeating it I recommend you go read the dirty details here.  The tl:dr is that at 2096 crit rating with Sanctified Wrath and Glyph of Merciful Wrath, Holy Shock has 100% crit under Avenging Wrath.  Past that point crit loses value rapidly.

3. Haste

Haste effects the speed we cast our spells and the speed at which our hots tick (Eternal Flame and Sacred Shield). Primarily we care about cast time.  There is no doubt that being able to cast more spells in a shorter period of time means we can heal more things faster and thus increase our throughput.  The linear partner to this is that we use mana faster as well.  Typically early in an expansion or raid tier, mana is at a premium so it’s not a good idea to go out of your way to use even more of it.  This is where I view haste on this opening day of Highmaul.  It’s still a good stat, but I’ll be aiming for other things first.  100 haste rating gives us 1% of haste.

4. Multistrike

This is a new secondary statistic with Warlords of Draenor multistrike gives each “hit” two chances to hit again for 30% of the original.  In my mind it occupies the niche that crit has had in prior expansion in that it’s too unreliable to be useful.  I don’t view it as bad or harmful and I’ll take any multistrikes that occur but it’s not something I’m going to go out of my way for.  It has no synergy with our toolkit and is therefore sort of a dead stat.  It is rather cheap though at 66 rating per percent.

5. Versatility

Another new secondary with WoD, versatility increases healing and damage and decreases damage taken by half of the healing/damage amount.  It is a rather bland stat and also expensive for itemization purposes at 130 rating per 1%.

Highmaul Loot

tl:dr – Coin The Butcher, Twin Ogron, and Brackenspore

Gear from this first half of the tier is generally lackluster.  There are a few pieces that are ok but for many slots there is one choice and we’re going to be fighting everyone else in plate for it.

The trinket situation in Highmaul is dire.  None of the trinkets that drop are particularly good for us and with very viable items available outside the raid, I’m going to suggest that you just save your pennies and get the Winged Hourglass and upgrade it as far as it will go and try to get your hands on an Everburning Candle.

Slot Item Stats Boss
Helm Casque of the Iron Bomber Haste/Versatility Kargath Bladefist
Neck Champion’s Medallion Haste/Spirit Kargath Bladefist
Shoulder Uncrushable Shoulderplates Crit/Multistrike Imperator Mar’gok
Chest Chestplate of Arcane Volatility Haste/Multistrike Twin Ogron
Waist Fleshchewer Greatbelt Crit/Haste Brackespore
Legs Legplates of Fractured Crystal  Haste/Mastery Tectus
Feet Entrail Squishers Haste/Mastery The Butcher
Wrist Bracers of Mirrored Flame Crit/Haste Ko’ragh
Hands Gauntlets of the Heavy Hand Crit/Versatility The Butcher
Rings Golden-Tongued Seal Mastery/Spirit Twin Ogron
Trinkets Winged Hourglass
Everburning Candle
Int/Spirit Proc
Int/Spirt On Use
Inscription
World Drop
Cloak Force Nova Cloak Multistrike/Spirit Twin Ogron
Weapon Butcher’s Terrible Tenderizer Mastery/Versatility The Butcher
Off Hand Maw of Souls Haste/Mastery Brackenspore

That’s it for now!  I wish you all good luck and many purples on this opening raid day!

WoD Pre-Raid BiS

I have reconsidered my stat priorities so this is more or less incorrect for me.  The random roll items can roll your stat preference and the suffixes are listed at the bottom.  In general the idea here is still correct but some of the pieces aren’t as well itemized as I would like.  If you want to look at my more up to date Highmaul musings, check this out!

The new gearing model has done an admirable job of making actual Best in Slot lists obsolete because of the incredible number of sources of gear pre-raid.  There are RNG rewards, Apexis Crystal vendor items, crafting and PvP rewards.  The restriction of three crafted pieces per character makes gearing via the auction house an impossibility, you will have to diversify.

An excellent guide to the general strategies surrounding gearing was done over at Wowhead.  This is meant to be a Holy Paladin companion to that guide.

Crafted items and those you receive from Challenger’s Strongbox have random enchantments.  For this list I’ve used “of the Fireflash” which gives critical strike and haste and “of the Fanatic” which is critical strike and spirit.  If you are interested in the other available random enchants, I have them listed at the bottom of this page.

This list is a WiP so if I’ve missed something please leave a note in the comments and let me know so I can add it!

Helm

Crown of Desolation 640 Crit/Haste Molten Core
Truesteel Helm of the Firelash 640-665 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Bouldercrush Helm of the Firelash 640 Crit/Haste Challenger’s Strongbox
Incandine Greathelm 630 Crit/Haste Heroic Dungeons
Crystal-Plated Greathelm 630-655 Mastery/Multistrike 5000 Apexis Crystals
Tehax’s Penetrating Visage 645 Mastery/Versatility Invader’s Forgotten Treasure

Neck

Osseric’s Ossified Chained Orb 665 Crit/Sprit World Drop
Whispering Taladite Pendant of the Fanatic 640-665 Crit/Spirit Jewelcrafting
Wavesurge Choker 630 Crit/Spirit Heroic Dungeons
Blackfire Amulet of the Firelash 640 Crit/Haste Challenger’s Strongbox

Shoulder

Truesteel Pauldrons of the Firelash 640-665 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Bouldercrush Pauldrons of the Firelash 640 Crit/Haste Challenger’s Strongbox
Spaulders of Primal Ferocity 645 Haste/Mastery Invader’s Forgotten Treasure
Incandine Shoulderguard 630 Crit/Haste Heroic Dungeons

Chest

Truesteel Breastplate of the Firelash 640-665 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Bouldercrush Breastplate of the Firelash 640 Crit/Haste Challenger’s Strongbox
Goldsteel Chestguard 630 Crit/Haste Heroic Dungeons

Waist

Primal Gladiator’s Girdle of Cruelty 660 Crit/Haste 1750 Conquest
Truesteel Waistguard 640-665 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Bouldercrush Girdle of the Fireflash 640 Crit/Haste Challenger’s Strongbox
Rivet-Sealed Waistplate 630 Crit/Haste Heroic Dungeons
Crystal-Plated Greatbelt 630-655 Mastery/Versatility 4000 Apexis Crystals

Legs

Truesteel Greaves of the Fireflash 640-665 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Bouldercrush Legplates of the Fireflash 640 Crit/Haste Challenger’s Strongbox
Crystal-Plated Legs 630-655 Crit/Versatility Apexis Crystal Vendor
Incarnadine Legplates 630 Crit/Haste Heroic Dungeons

Feet

Truesteel Boots 640-665 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Bouldercrush Sabatons of the Firelash 640 Crit/Haste Challenger’s Strongbox
Ozymandias’ Burdensome Treads 645 Haste/Multistrike Invader’s Forgotten Treasure
Incarnadine Greaves 630 Crit/Haste Heroic Dungeons

Wrist

Truesteel Armguards 640-665 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Primal Gladiator’s Armplates of Prowess 660 Crit/Multistrike 1250 Conquest
Incarnadine Bracers 630 Crit/Haste Heroic Dungeons
Crystal-Plated Bracers 630-655 Haste/Multistrike 3000 Apexis Crystals

Hands

Truesteel Gauntlets 640-665 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Bouldercrush Gauntles of the Fireflash 640 Crit/Haste Challenger’s Strongbox
Verdant Plate Grips 630 Crit/Haste Heroic Dungeons
Crystal-Plated Gauntlets 630-655 Haste/Mastery 4000 Apexis Crystals

Rings

Timeless Solium Band of Lifegiving 680 Haste/Spirit Legendary Quest Reward
Seal of Yen Ta 665 Crit/Spirit Shadowmoon Valley Zone Drop
Whispering Taladite Ring of the Fanatic 640-665 Crit/Spirit Jewelcrafting
Band of Growing Leaves 630 Crit/Spirit Heroic Dungeons

 

Trinkets*

Winged Hourglass 640 Int/Spirit Inscription(Darkmoon Faire)
Everburning Candle 665 Int/Mana World Drop
Voidmender’s Shadowgem  630 Spirit (Crit) Nhallish – Shadowmoon Burial Grounds

*I only listed the few here that are actually good.  The rest of the trinkets available pre-raid are mediocre at best so get the DMC for one slot and try to get either of the other two listed as second or just equip the best of the drek that does drop if you can’t get the decent ones.

Cloak

Flamelicked Cloak of Kaufebyrd 665 Crit/Spirit World Drop
Primal Gladiator’s Drape of Contemplation 660 Crit/Spirit 1250 Conquest
Drape of Iron Sutures 630 Crit/Spirit Heroic Dungeons
Brilliant Burnished Cloak of the Fireflash 640-665 Crit/Haste Leatherworking
Brilliant Hexweave Cloak of the Fireflash 640-665 Crit/Haste Tailoring

Weapon

Main Hand

Blackfire Scepter of the Fireflash 640 Crit/Haste Challenger’s Strongbox
Steelforged Axe of the Fireflash 640-655 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Soulcutter Mageblade 630 Crit/Haste Auchindoun

Off Hand/Shield

Genesaur Braid 665 Haste/Multistrike World Drop
Disc of the Third Moon 665 Haste/Mastery World Drop
Steelforged Aegis of the Fireflash 630-655 Crit/Haste Blacksmithing
Sadana’s Grisly Visage 630 Crit/Haste Sadana Bloodfury – Shadowmoon Burial Grounds

Intellect Suffixes

  • of the Aurora – Haste/Versatility
  • of the Deft – Haste/Multistrike
  • of the Feverflare – Haste/Mastery
  • of the Fireflash – Crit/Haste
  • of the Harmonius – Mastery/Versatility
  • of the Merciless – Mastery/Multistrike
  • of the Peerless – Crit/Mastery
  • of the Quickblade – Crit/Versatility
  • of the Savage – Crit/Multistrike
  • of the Strategist – Multistrike/Versatility

Spirit Suffixes

  • of the Augur – Spirit/Versatility
  • of the Diviner – Spirit/Mastery
  • of the Fanatic – Spirit/Crit
  • of the Herald – Spirit/Multistrike
  • of the Zealot – Spirit/Haste

 

5.4 Level 45 Talents

“Never before have so many said so much about so little to so few.”                         – not Winston Churchill


The forums have been busy discussing and rehashing this talent tier since the release of 5.4.  A couple changes to our talents and the way Illuminated Healing interacts with our spells made this talent tier far less clear cut than it had been prior to the patch.  Additionally there was a change to Sanctity of Battle that allowed haste effects to modify the cooldown on Holy Shock.

So functionally, what changed?  Well, that’s easy to answer.  Eternal Flame can no longer extend and refresh our Illuminated Healing shields since IH does not proc from the heal over time component anymore [nerf].  Sacred Shield has charges for holy and can be applied to up to three targets [buff].  Selfless Healer now gives a charge of Holy Power on Judgment and applies the buff to Holy Radiance [totally rewrites the script, buff].

In practice how big a change this makes to you, individually, in your raid will vary quite a bit.  There are very different approaches to talent selection and gearing based on your raid size and healing comp.  Before we get to that though, let’s look at how each one of these talents needs to be framed with secondary stats and what the playstyle really is.

Continue reading

Holy Paladin 5.4 by Lifespark

Because I don’t mess around when I’m not messing around, I give you the guide I promised you!  Lifespark has been an occasionally outspoken and always passionate member of the Holy Paladin community and it is my pleasure to give him voice here at IntPlate.  Without any further fluffery, Lifespark’s Guide to Holy Paladining.  

- Lucy


Hello, and welcome to the Holy Paladin Guide for Patch 5.4. As a veteran raider but first time blogger, I’m extremely excited to be presenting this guide, and I hope that you can find it extremely valuable.

State of Paladins

In Mists of Pandaria, Holy Paladins are extremely versatile healers. Long past our days of being relegated to “tank healer” only, paladins are strong at spread, stacked, and single-target healing with a toolkit combining direct heals, HoTs, and absorbs. We have almost no shortcomings when it comes to any type of healing demanded – whether it be blanketed raid-wide healing, or targeted spot healing. Paladin utility is second to none in the game, with unique abilities such as our Hands, and powerful immunity abilities.

About the Guide

As with most guides, beginning players are the primary target audience. If you are starting out as a Holy Paladin, whether you are a new raider, an alt player, or a reroll, I highly suggest reading all sections of the guide in order. First I’ll go over our toolkit, then how to play, and finally look at how to gear.

However, even for beginners, I truly believe success begins at the top. While easy to apply, the knowledge and concepts presented here will carry over into normal and into heroic raids. There is no disclaimer here, everything presented here is intended for raiders of all difficulties, from LFR to Heroic, 10 man to 25 man, and everything in between.

Finally, in addition to this guide, also, Int Plate will be featuring frequent articles on advanced healing concepts for the hardest content, and I highly recommend players check them out.

Author

Currently my main is Lifespark, and I’ve been raiding at Something Wicked, a 25 heroic guild on Whisperwind (US) for just over a year now. After a history as a semi-accomplished raider on several other classes, I switched to my Paladin near the start of Mists of Pandaria and have never looked back. While my main area of expertise is 25 man raids, I am also experienced in 10 heroic raiding on my alts, and also frequently enjoy healing other types of content, such as Challenge Modes and PvP.

Read the Rest! →

I need something that will… WeakAuras.

This is the second installment in the user interface series, the first one covers VuhDo but this time I’m talking about WeakAuras.  This is one of the most powerful add ons available and again I’ll be giving Holy Paladin specific tips, tricks and strings.  I did not do this on my own, big thank yous to:   Affiniti from Blood Legion who did an amazing monk package that I stole for my first set of holy pally auras. Touchymcfeel has a great video series that I’ve watched for some tricks especially dealing with Clemency charges which will also factor heavily in the new 5.4 Sacred Shield.  Lovecraft in Angry who wrote virtually all of our T15 enounter WA,  Revvo from the MMO-C forums who I stole stuff from,and innumerable people I’ve harassed over time to help with problems, testing and just listening to me whine (Sparky, Endule, Sinner, and the rest of you peoples).

“I’m looking for something that will show me a cooldown on my abilities.” – WeakAuras
“I want something that will show me when my trinket procs.” – WeakAuras
“When the boss puts that debuff on me, I want to know.” – WeakAuras
“Is there something that will show duration of a buff?” –WeakAuras
“I keep forgetting to put up a seal.” –WeakAuras
“Is there a way to remind me if I don’t have a beacon on anyone?” –WeakAuras
“I hate the Blizzard default Holy Power bar.” –WeakAuras

Are you seeing a pattern?  WeakAuras is probably the most game changing add on ever released.  Well, probably since AVR but we all know what happened to that .  At the moment we’re in no danger of losing WeakAuras since it doesn’t do anything that a host of other add ons don’t also do, it’s just a lot more user friendly (loosely defined in some cases) and allows mere mortals to create reasonably sophisticated notifications quickly and ahead of the boss mods since they can be done on the fly and instantly shared with the raid.  It also allows for UI customization that is dizzying when you first grasp the full potential. Continue reading

Lucy’s Ridiculously Premature and Probably Wrong T16 BiS List!


I blame Endule for anything that happens here.  Were it not for him doing all the legwork to get all this started I wouldn’t have been tempted to write about it.  So really, it’s not my fault, it’s his.

If anyone is interested in the numbers for next patch and how to determine what stats and rotations are good for us, I’m gonna send you to Bouchbagette over at Full Spectrum Holy Pally since he’s done an amazing job crunching the numbers.  Good stuff!

I shouldn’t even go there yet, but I’m bored and was putting my spreadsheets together for next tier and figured it’s never the wrong time to be horribly misguided!

There’s been some conversation over the MMO-C Forums about our stat priorities considering the relative mana efficiency of Selfless Healer and the likelihood that we’ll be using that almost exclusively next tier.  The agreement over there seems to be that we’re looking at a dropping a ton of spirit and because of the changes to Sanctity of Battle, reducing the cooldown on Holy Shock, haste is now pretty attractive.  What this means is that mastery will remain our number one secondary stat but haste will jump ahead of spirit and crit so that our final stat priority looks like mastery > haste > spirit >= crit (the order of the last two may vary depending on who you talk to but it’s largely irrelevant).

Our gear for T16 is absolutely soaked in mastery and spirt like it’s not even funny how many pieces have them both.  Every slot can have both on it with the exception of one ring if that’s how we want to gear.  We also have a lot of red sockets.  I’m not actually a huge fan of red sockets with intellect bonuses, but it’s what we’ve got to work with at this point.  My co-pally, Endule, ran some gear sims and it’s looking like we can hit 70% mastery with the amplification trinket and ignoring all our socket bonuses in heroic gear next tier as well.  Once the heroic pieces are put into the database I’ll be happy to look at that again and see where we are with the real numbers.

On to the list!

Slot Item Stat 1 Stat 2 Sockets
Head Headguard of Winged Triumph Mastery Spirit 1 meta 1 red (+180 int)
Neck Lost Necklace of the Mogu Empress Mastery Spirit
Shoulders Mantle of Winged Triumph Mastery Spirit 2 red (+120 int)
Cloak Jina-Kang Kindness of Chi-Ji Mastery Haste 1 red (+60 int)
Chest Chestplate of Fallen Passion Mastery Spirit 2 red 1 yellow (+180 int)
Bracers Smoldering Drakescale Bracers Mastery Spirit
Gloves Gloves of Winged Triumph Mastery Spirit 2 red (+120 int)
Waist Greatbelt of Living Waters Mastery Spirit 1 red 1 yellow (+120 int)
Legs Greaves of Winged Triumph Mastery Spirit 2 yellow (+120 int)
Boots Mogu Mindbender's Greaves Mastery Haste 1 blue (+60 spi)
Ring 1 Signet of the Dinomancers Mastery Haste 1 red (+60 spi)
Ring 2 Seal of Eternal Sorrow Mastery Spirit 1 blue (+60 spi)
Trinket 1 Prismatic Prison of Pride Intellect Amplify
Trinket 2 Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity Intellect Spirit Proc
Main Hand Kardris' Scepter Mastery Spirit 1 red (+60 int)
Off Hand Norushen's Enigmatic Barrier Mastery Spirit 1 red (+60 int)

salt_lick

Now, take this with all the appropriate grains of salt.  The gear isn’t finalized yet and there are plenty of reasons to think that there may be some changes to trinkets.  The amplify trinket specifically is going to be troublesome in the extreme with some classes benefiting so heavily that double equipping could prove game-breaking.  We’re also going to be fighting with shadow priests and likely warlocks for our bis ring even though it has a spirit socket bonus.

I went ahead and did some rough calculations to see where we’re sitting with our stats with a full normal mode set of gear.  I ignored most socket bonuses and stacked fractured in almost everything.  The exceptions being the helm where I traded 160 mastery for 260 intellect, the belt where I took 200 intellect over 160 mastery, and the chest loses 320 mastery for  340 intellect.  I ignored blue sockets and spirit bonuses entirely.  I’m not 100% sure this is what I’ll do when 5.4 goes live, but until I get more testing in on the PTR I’m faking it.  The end result gives us 24k intellect, 11.8k spirit (none of this has been reforged off), and 17k mastery, which puts us around 45.8% mastery unbuffed (52% with Blessing of Might).  To put this in a little bit of perspective as far as the amplification trinket goes, this gives us just over 58% mastery with an normal mode, non-upgraded trinket.  You can see now why I have my doubts that it will go live.

The good news is our current set bonuses are pretty mediocre so it will probably be fine to break whenever we get anything that looks remotely like an upgrade even if we replace it with tier not too far down the line.  I really don’t think our 2pc set bonus is bad for T16 but it may not be worth dkp dumping to get either.  As far as our 2pc/4pc in T16 we’ll end up with it no matter what since the itemization is good on all our tier minus the chest unless you go crazy haste which isn’t looking like the right thing to do at this point anyway.  Plus we get a snazzy chest with better sockets as our off piece!

Hooray for being wrong on the weekends!  Thanks for tuning in and I’ll likely be wrong about some other stuff soon!

Addendum:

If you’re feeling crazy, here’s the spreadsheet I used to tally things up.  It’s not that clean but should give a general idea.

Who Do VuhDo?

This is the first article in what will be a series detailing how to build a healing user interface (UI).  In my wanderings around the internet one of the themes that keeps repeating is that everyone, healers included, is always looking for a way to maximize their performance and many times UI improvements can go a long way toward that goal. 

Begin at the beginning…

Health_BarsThe core of any healer’s interface is the connection between the person behind the keyboard and the heath bars of our raid. Every decision that a healer makes need to be directed at how to make the bars stay happy.  I would say the biggest one, but also the most forgiving, is deciding which unit frames to use.  Gone are the days of the mythical HealBot that legitimately healed for you.  Current choices include standard Blizzard unit frames, Grid, Grid2, VuhDo, Healbot … Any of these will work and there are people playing at very high levels with them all.  The basic premise remains the same throughout, you have a little box that turns funny colors when people get hurt, or have a bad debuff, or a buff.  You can show role, class, name, health in absolute numbers or percentages, your hots/buffs on players, their own hots/buffs, the other healers’ hots/buffs and the list goes on.  The core of a functional set of raid frames is displaying the information that you feel is important in a way that is easily interpreted and can be quickly acted upon if necessary.  It is immensely easy to clutter up your raid frames so that they’re too busy to be useful so a lot of what gets done is streamlining.

After you’ve grabbed the raid frames of your choice, you need to set up how you interact with your frames to heal the peoples.  Some of the raid frames come with integrated spell tools that allow you to use right and left click with modifiers to cast healing spells as you mouseover the player unit frames, some rely on external input that can be mouseover macros set up through the Blizzard macro tool or through an external macro tool like Clique, or you can select a frame by clicking on it and casting a spell from a normal keybind (or clicking something on your action bar, but I promise you that’s a terrible way to do things).

Since this is all about how I do things, we’re going to look at VuhDo and have since I started my first healer back in Wrath.  It’s not that I’m being stubborn and haven’t tried other options.  I’ve dabbled with Grid and Grid2 (yes, these are completely different things) and was forced into Healbot during MoP beta since it was the only thing that worked in the early days but I’ve always come back to VuhDo.

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What are these logs of which you speak?

I think like most of you when I first started playing World of Warcraft I was blissfully unaware of the enormous support network of resources available on the internet to help with every aspect of character creation and development.  One of the best tools for raiders is World of Logs.  Very simply it takes a combat log and reorganizes the data into a more friendly format so that the initiated can use the information to get better as players, to analyse raid performance from the perspective of a guild master or guild leader, to compare against other players of your class, and to see how other players are doing in similar progression content.

Combat Logging and Parses

Navigating World of Logs

The combat log is the core of all external analysis tools and is not automatically created but instead must be triggered either by hand (/combatlog starts and stops logging) or by using an add on such as Loggerhead or Autolog, both of which are available through the Curse Client or from other popular add on sites.  Many guilds log their raids and have an established guild on World of Logs but if you’re not in a guild or if your guild is not logging, it’s very simple to set up a guild on the World of Logs website and start logging for yourself.  The instructions are front and center at the top of the home page.

If you’re not sure if there are any logs that feature you then a sneaky way to check is to go to WoW Heroes and look up your character.  In addition to showing armoury and boss progression there is a section that shows current World of Logs ranks and recent parses. (This is my WoW Heroes page for reference)

So, now that we’ve figured out how find or create logs to look at, there is still the little matter of figuring out what exactly to do with them and I think this is where people get a little lost.  The reality is that there is a lot of information contained in WoL parses and although much of it is useful, there are a few key places to look to find out what’s going on and what might need improvement or adjustment.

Log Analysis

Then you can look through various boss kills or wipes to try to analyse your performance.  I think that a lot of people get to a boss kill and figure out how to look at overall healing done and they see an order of the various healers and then get stuck.  You hear it all the time if you visit various forums; that raw HPS doesn’t matter.  If the raid lives and the boss dies you win.  That doing your job is more important than topping the meters.  But if topping the meters isn’t important and all you have to look at is the rank order on the Healing Done page, then what good are the logs?  What is this nebulous “job” that people are talking about?

The “job” we do as healers is to push our healing buttons in a way that has the best chance of keeping the raid alive and being efficient in our healing.  We’re also responsible for keeping ourselves alive and not being a burden to our fellow healers by avoiding avoidable damage and generally not dying.

Spell Selection and Comparebots

Spell selection is one of the playstyle areas where we can look at whether or not we’re playing in a way that maximized our healing potential.  We have a good variety of healing spells and looking at how we use them and what percentage of our healing comes from each one gives us a picture of what our healing looks like through a fight.

DashboardIt’s easy to look at any individual healer from any attempt or kill on a boss and see what spells are being used on the Healing by Spell tab but, as you know, the spells you use vary by fight based on the damage patterns and how the raid is organized.  So how do you know if you’re doing it right?  The easiest way to compare is if you have another holy paladin in your raid you can sort of flip back and forth and see who did what.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to compare the two of you side by side?  Behold the wonder that is Comparebot!  About midway down the page is a Bookmarklet that will allow you to pull parses directly from the World of Logs pages without having to copy and paste to the Comparebot.  I’ve used this very successfully in Google Chrome.  I would anticipate that it works similarly well in other browsers.  The instructions are pretty straightforward; you take the individual player page from any fight or group of fights and paste it in to the ParseURL or click the Bookmarklet and hit Compare!  What you get as a result is something that looks like this: http://raidbots.com/comparebot/51af156574254eff1a000165#healing.  I used the Comparebot to compare myself and Endule on our Council of Elders kill from this week.

This is a great example of what to look at since there are a couple to things to note for when you’re looking at similar compares.  The first is to look at the top bar and just see who did more healing, you’ll see that I’m ahead by a little bit.  If you look at how much healing we did with each ability going down the list you can see that more or less our spell breakdown is about the same.  The only real discrepancies are in Light of Dawn usage, Daybreak healing and Holy Shock healing.

Since this is my parse I know that I’ve been experimenting more with using Light of Dawn since the patch so I can look at how much healing I did with Light of Dawn plus Eternal Flame versus Endule’s Eternal Flame healing (this is a whole other thing that hopefully we can talk about another time).

My Daybreak healing is higher by a pretty significant margin where I had fewer ticks but each hit for more so that likely means I’m doing better with managing Daybreak stacks since the patch.  This is somewhat curious but it’s explained a little better if you look at Holy Shock.

Holy Shock is a core ability and it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to our ability to heal.  It is hammered over and over again in all forums that using it as close to on cooldown as possible is the way to play the class.  I don’t disagree with that at all but if you’re sacrificing a cast time heal or an instant Holy Power spender to make sure you use Holy Shock “on cooldown” then you’re actually missing effective healing as well.  For myself I like to see my Holy Shocks average at or above eight per minute.  The absolute maximum is ten per minute if you’re perfect.  I’m not perfect.  Ok, what was the point of that digression?  The point is that if you look at the side by side of heals per minute for Holy Shock, you can see that mine is 8.2 so that lines up with my personal ‘more than eight per minute’ goal, but Endule’s is 10.3 per minute.  “But Lucy, you just said that the absolute maximum is ten Holy Shocks per minute if someone is perfect!  Is Endule better than perfect?”  I will admit to Endule being very very good, but he’s not better than perfect.  In fact, the only way that can happen is if he’s still using the T14 4pc set and getting the five second Holy Shock cooldown.  Now, I know this to be true because we’re in the same guild and we’re friends, but even if that was not the case, I would know by looking at this that’s he’s still benefiting from last tier’s set bonus.  He has more Holy Shocks to spend therefore he’s going to do more healing with that spell than me.  He also has a lower overheal than I do which means he’s picking better targets than I am.  It also follows that he has more Holy Power to spend which lines up with doing more Eternal Flame healing which in a distributive sense he did since used Holy Power on Light of Dawn and he didn’t.

Ranks

So what if you don’t have another paladin in your raid to compare to?  Well, you want to be good at the game so you want to look at good players!  There are a couple tricks to picking out a good Comparebot buddy.  The guy in the neighbour guild might be good but he might not be that amazing either on a world scale (no offense to the guy in the neighbour guild).  I go to the World of Logs rankings to find someone.  I don’t look at the front page of rankings.  Very often to get the very high ranks, especially during farm content, concessions have been made to rank players.  Look in the top 50 to 100. Make sure that you’re comparing to someone doing the same raid size and difficulty.  You also want fight length to be as close as possible so that you’re able to use your cooldowns the same number of times.  It’s best if you look up the armory as well since gear disparity can make the numbers look a little out of whack even though distributions should be the same.  Just for fun I went and grabbed a random log to look at in addition to mine and Endule’s logs from this week.  This is Darnus from ScrubBusters with a parse rank 33rd from April.  http://raidbots.com/comparebot/51af1e3674254e0c5b000192 Using your newfound detective skills, see if you can deduce what tier set he was wearing when this parse was recorded.

Cooldown Usage

In any holy paladin guide, and Kerfax has written a very good one over on the MMO-Champion website, there is an emphasis on using all of our cooldowns both the short duration CDs like Holy Shock and Holy Prism and long duration CDs such as Avenging Wrath or Guardian of Ancient Kings.  We’re also responsible for using our personal CDs like Divine Protection and Divine Shield and I’d go as far as including Healthstones in that category as well.  So, how do we know if we’re doing that well?

If you flipped through the tabs in the Comparebots from the last section then you can see that there are compares for cooldowns and power generation but I didn’t really talk about those tabs.  They can be useful in context as a point of comparison, but really should stand as an independent discussion point. The basic reason for taking them out of a raw number context is that the timing and stacking or chaining of cooldowns can be very informative when it comes to how well you’re faring against a given encounter.

I already talked about what to look at for Holy Shock specifically since that’s by far our most important short duration cooldown.   There’s really not much more to it other than the obvious “use it a lot” mantra that you’ve probably been hearing.  You want to aim to do better than 80% efficiency with Holy Shock usage.  You can calculate this by dividing number of Holy Shocks cast during the fight by the number of minutes in the fight so if I cast 59 Holy Shocks in a 7.2 minute fight, my HS/minute is ~8.2.  You don’t have to be super precise here; you’re just looking for a round way to talk about how well you’re shocking. Your numbers should be bigger than the ones in this handy table.

Maximum Holy Shocks per Minute 80% Efficiency
Without T14 4pc 10 8
Pre-5.3 T14 4pc 15 12
Post-5.3 T14 4pc 13 10.4

One caveat about looking at Holy Shock numbers: if you look at the Buffs Cast tab and the Holy Shocks in the Power Gains section, that includes Holy Power gained through Holy Avenger.  The correct number of Holy Shocks cast as an independent spell is found on the Healing by Spell tab as the number of Direct Heals.

I didn’t really talk about Holy Prism but it’s easy to do the math to figure out how many Holy Prisms could be cast during a fight and how many actually were cast.  The cooldown on Holy Prism is 20 seconds and it heals five targets per cast as long as you have an enemy targeted and not like, yourself by accident, not that I’ve EVER done that.  So according to the logs you can hit a maximum of fifteen targets per minute, assuming you hit five in the first second of the fight and going up from there.  In fact Holy Prism probably shouldn’t be used precisely on cooldown although delaying for more than about five seconds or so is probably wasting it.  You want to actually heal as many targets as possible so if the only possible smart thing for it to do is zap the tank then it’s probably worth holding unless just nothing is going to happen until it could be off cooldown again.  I don’t get too fussed about Holy Prism unless it’s clearly just going unused for long periods of time.  In the Council fight we’ve been looking at I had 80 direct heals out of a possible maximum of 105 so I missed five possible casts.  I should probably aim for better.

That pretty much covers the short duration cooldowns.  So now we get to talk about the fun stuff.  Realistically we’re pretty weak outside our cooldowns and our unbuffed sustained healing is nothing really to get excited about.  The good news is we have a number of throughput cooldowns that we can use!  This includes Avenging Wrath, Divine Favor, Guardian of Ancient Kings and Holy Avenger.

Figuring out if we’re hitting the button the appropriate number of times is pretty easy.  You look at the fight length, the length of the various cooldowns and do some basic math.  A three minute cooldown can be used twice in a five minute fight; a five minute cooldown once; and a two minute cooldown three times.  That’s super.  Hitting those numbers tells us nothing about using them effectively.  We’re not dps in that we shouldn’t aim to use our healing cooldowns the absolute maximum number of times in all fights.  There are fights when you do want to use them as many times as possible (Heroic Tortos comes to mind) but more often there are good times to use them that may end up sniping a possible maximum number of uses in favour of optimal usage.

If you’re looking at your own logs then you sort of know what you did but what if you’re looking at someone else’s logs and trying to figure out how they’re using their cooldowns?  Are they stacking cooldowns and bursting or spreading them out?  What abilities are they using their own personal defensive cooldowns to combat?

Buffs

Well, the first thing to do is to show cooldown usage on the fight timeline.  Luckily this is pretty easy to do if you know the super-secret trick.  Next to all the buffs and debuffs is a pound sign.  If you click that it will put an encounter timeline up for you and color the time the buff/debuff is active.  Tricky, yeah?   So let’s look at what happens if you use that to see how I use my cooldowns on Megeara.  This fight has very distinct high damage phases so for someone who’s new to it, it might be worth seeing how paladins that have already killed the fight are approaching it.

Output CDs

So looking at this Megeara fight, you can see that I made sure I had cooldowns for each Rampage.  Knowing that each one is roughly a minute after the last you can see that I held my GoaK for the last Rampage.  What you can’t tell from looking at this is why but even knowing that I’ve stacked a bunch at the end is worth noting if you’re just starting the fight.

Now what about defensive cooldowns?  How are they being used?  In the Buffs Gained tab you can add in encounter debuffs in addition to personal cooldowns or output cooldowns which carry over if you’ve clicked them on the Buffs Cast tab but also show up here as well.  Using this we can see how someone like Bobina from Blood Legion  used Divine Protection to mitigate Huddle in Terror damage on Heroic Sha of Fear.

Huddle

In addition to personals like Divine Protection, Divine Shield and Lay on Hands, we have all of our hand spells like Hand of Sacrifice, Hand of Protection, Hand of Purity (which is amazing on a lot of Throne of Thunder mechanics), Hand of Salvation and Hand of Freedom.  These are mostly situational but when used properly can make a huge difference in the outcome of a raid.  As you look at other Holy Paladin logs, it’s good to see what’s being used and if it looks like one or more is getting more use than seems normal try to figure out why.

Hand of Purity is used to counter specific mechanics so digging through logs to find out what it’s being used on can be extremely helpful when you’re progressing on a new boss.  Here you can see how Fashionstar from Dread is using Hand of Purity to soak Feed Pools on Ji-Kun.

Ji-Kun

Well, I’ve gone from talking about how to set up a log to how to analyse your performance against other Holy Paladins and what to look for in your own logs to see if you’re maximizing your performance.  We’ve also looked at ways to see what other players are doing to deal with encounter mechanics so that if you and your guild are getting ready to start a new fight you can look ahead to try and figure out what you might need to do to be as prepared as possible to live up to your potential.  There is even more you can do with your logs but this should give a good place to get started.

Hopefully you’ve found something here to take away and use to better yourself.  Feel free to comment or ask any questions!