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!

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

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.

Continue reading