Thursday, March 5, 2009

All My Mains

I am launching a new blog, All My Mains, and closing the door on Totem of Wrath. ToW had a good run but it never had a purpose behind it. It tended to serve as a dumping ground for whatever I felt like saying, whether it was shaman-related or not.

AMM, the new blog, has a purpose (and a schedule and a bunch of other stuff) behind it and it's my hope that it will serve the WoW community better than ToW ever could.

Without further ado, here is what AMM is about (stolen from the About page!):

All My Mains is a blog about World of Warcraft. The content is general because my interests are general! I am an admitted altaholic and I have a number of characters that I play regularly. I don’t consider myself to have one main character, but several, and I think they are all interesting. I am not an expert in any particular class, but I can talk about the ones I choose to play with some intelligence. It is my hope that while this blog may be general in nature, a few people will find interesting tidbits and useful advice.

AMM is not a theorycrafting blog. Sure, I may share meters or WWS reports. I may discuss some basic math or complain about nerfs, but my interest in the game is fairly casual and I’m not good enough at math to figure out the complexities of how the game is designed.

Tl;dr: I'm closing ToW and redirecting traffic to All My Mains. Stop by, look around, and maybe subscribe to the RSS feed! Thanks for stopping by Totem of Wrath. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

3.1 PTR Notes - Shaman

The Public Test Realm is up and Blizzard has released the first round of patch notes (MMO-Champion version). Here are the relevant restoration shaman changes:

  • Bloodlust/Heroism: Cooldown reduced to 5 minutes, but Sated and Exhausted now last 10 minutes.
  • Poison Cleansing Totem and Disease Cleansing Totem have been merged into "Cleansing Totem." Cleansing Totem pulses every 3 sec, down from 5.
  • Ancestral Awakening: This talent now accounts for your ineffective healing, rather than effective.
  • Cleanse Spirit now has a new icon.
  • Riptide: This spell has a new icon.
  • Tremor Totem: Now correctly pulses every 3 sec, up from 1 sec.

I have to admit, I am disappointed - one tiny buff (Ancestral Awakening), a totem merge, a couple new icons, and two nerfs. The totem changes are undoubtedly pvp-related, but I am really sad about Tremor Totem. It's been absolutely lovely at a 1 second pulse. Many, many wipes have been prevented in 5-man instances because of that little totem (heroic Nexus or Halls of Lightning, anyone?).

I don't understand the nerf to bloodlust, except that Blizzard is apparently trying to enforce the one bloodlust per encounter rule. Disappointing to shaman in 25-mans, definitely. My 10-man won't be affected much because we typically bring one shaman.

Enhancement got some attention and it looks like many of the changes are towards an increase in pvp utility (buff to Frostbrand Weapon?! - I'd forgotten shaman even had that!). I am increasingly tempted to respec Salanthe enhancement and just dps with her. Perhaps I will...

Overall, I'm quite disappointed by the lack of changes to restoration shaman. I've essentially retired Salanthe because druid healing is so much more fun and enjoyable (and hax, I'll admit). I think Blizzard needs to address shaman mana regeneration and they need to give chain heal some benefit from our talents (like Tidal Waves, for example). Maybe even a new healing spell or two to mix things up, as long as the new spell is mana efficient and, well, useful.

If you'd like to read a very good synopsis of what's wrong with resto shaman, let me direct you to the blog Shields Up!, which has a very good post on the subject.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Malygos Down

My little 10-man raiding guild got Malygos tonight. Everyone forgot to take a screen shot though!

It was my first time in there and I have to say, I really enjoyed the fight. The drakes were a little hard to get the hang of, but didn't take too long to figure out. Hit "3" five times, then hit "4," and stay close to everyone!

I did go on my druid, Miothe, instead of on my shaman, however. I've mentioned before that my guild has two regular healers, myself and a resto shaman. After doing some reading on the fight and talking to a few folks that have done it before, I decided at the last minute to take Mio, primarily for healing during the vortex in Phase 1. It was a very wise decision, as I cannot imagine how horrible it would have been with two resto shaman unable to heal while everyone's health is dropping. Of course, I have the key on Salanthe and not on Miothe, so this means Sal will probably never finish the quest chain and get her necklace.

It took me a while to get the hang of healing the fight. I ended up keeping a full stack of lifeblooms up on the tank, usually regrowth as well. I used wild growth frequently to keep the raid topped off. I also used rejuvenation prodigiously. My feeling for druid healing is not very keen yet, so I have no idea if my spell distribution is good. It seemed to work pretty well and I certainly didn't have mana issues.

For reference, here's my WWS breakdown for all our attempts:I only used innervate once per attempt, usually just before Phase 1 ended. I'm not sure it was necessary to use it then, but I was trying to be careful. Miothe's gear is still pretty iffy (she got her first tier piece tonight!), so her regen isn't as good as it should be. All-in-all, Phase 1 was the only time I ran low on mana. All the other phases had enough downtime that I could keep my mana bar nearly topped off. Such a change from shaman healing! I know my fellow shaman was certainly hurting for mana by the end of Phase 1 and doesn't have the regen options to fill up his bar again.

The tl;dr version is that I was very excited to drop Malygos and very pleased with the way the druid handled. If she survives Kel'Thuzad this week, I am going to make a switch in main characters.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Trees Rock (for now)

Let's be honest. Shaman healing is brutal this expansion. It's stressful, horribly reliant on replenishment, and just not fun. Five-mans are awful, raids are a combination of boring and stressful, and the mechanics are bad.

This may be due to burnout from all the healing I did in Burning Crusade, but regardless, I have come to loathe shaman healing with all my heart. I'd rather retire Salanthe and never play her again than heal anything else.

There are a number of factors that make healing awful for me. Mana regen tops the list. I find myself running dry incredibly quickly if I don't have replenishment. This is what makes five-mans particularly miserable. In raids, my heals are not fast enough or don't hit hard enough to make a difference. Not to mention a number of fights in both five-mans and raids in which standing still is very, very bad or very hard (e.g. Heigan, Sapphiron (sort of), Loken, Keristraza).

As a result of my disillusionment of the shaman class due to aforementioned problems, I leveled my druid up and healed my first Naxxramas run on her. I am testing her out to see if I can find a healing class that doesn't send me into an emo rage everytime I try to heal something. I have to say, despite being quite undergeared compared to everyone else in the raid, Miothe the tree did very well.

I wish I had taken screenshots of Recount after the run, so you'll have to trust that I'm telling you the right thing. My raid composition was no different than what it is when I heal on Salanthe. I duo-healed Spider, Plague, and Construct quarters with a resto shaman (I'm fairly certain that some of my frustrations with raid healing are due to the fact that the two healers play the same class and spec). I topped overall healing for the night by a slight margain and some fights went much better than they typically do when I'm healing on my shaman (Anub'Rekhan and Gluth, most notably).

Overall impressions are definitely favorable towards the druid, although I am not passing official judgment until I can heal Kel'Thuzad. That fight makes me want to delete the shaman, so it will likely be the watershed for the druid as well.

Mana efficiency was not an issue. I do need to break myself from the Burning Crusade lifebloom dependency and tweak my healing overall, but there were no glaring problems or stumbling blocks. Unless you count the two trash wipes, which may have been prevented if I were on my shaman. My AoE damage panic healing is definitely not as effective as it is on Salanthe.

There is one thing I miss about shaman though - dispelling. A shaman can cleanse three things (poison, disease, and curses) with one global cooldown. This is a huge advantage over a druid, particularly when you consider that druids rely on heavily on instant-cast spells, so it seems much harder to devote a global cooldown to cleanse than it does on the shaman.

I am quite nervous about the changes to mana regen that are coming in the Ulduar patch, 3.1. Shaman will emerge largely unscathed, but druids will bear the brunt of it. Since mana efficiency and regeneration are one of my major complaints about shaman, I am very afraid that druids will end up the same way.

I will definitely continue to report here as I continue this experiment. Next time I'll use Recount or WWS to back up my claims, too!

(This post was inspired by Aurik over at /hug.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Free Respec!

Last week, shaman were bestowed with a free respec courtesy the WoW development team. This was primarily due to significant changes with the elemental tree, which really needed a buff. More on that in a bit.
I took full advantage of the free respec to tweak Salanthe's restoration build. Since patch 3.0, I've had Salanthe specced for pure raid healing and made a few small sacrifices to boost her raid healing. Notably, I gave up 3 points in Healing Way. As time went on, I began missing the talent more and more, particularly when I healed 5-man heroics. Such a small talent that can make a big difference in single-target healing.

With the free respec of 3.0.8, I decided to squeeze 3 points out of my preferred raid healing spec and toss them in Healing Way, particularly as the talent was buffed in the patch as well. Instead of requiring 3 Healing Waves to gain the full benefit of the talent, it now takes one. A most welcome change, as it makes it much easier for a shaman to keep Healing Way up on the tank (though Healing Wave itself is still a mana-intensive spell).

Without further ado, here is Salanthe's new spec. I dropped a point in Thundering Strikes, Ancestral Fortitude, and Tidal Force to accomodate Healing Way. I rarely used Tidal Force because I'm terrible about on-use effects like that (I even had it bound to my mouse wheel and I'd still forget to use it!). The extra point in Thundering Strikes wasn't a big deal to me, although I do love my crit. I am not however, particularly happy with losing a point in Ancestral Fortitude. It took much debate before I finally decided that of all the one-point losses I could take, that would be the one place I could do it without hurting my healing per second or mana regeneration.

I have yet to test this new spec in a raid, but it seems to be effective in 5-man heroics.

Now, my promised comments on the elemental buff. Let me begin by stating that I have not tried the new elemental myself yet. Anecdotally, from my observations of an elemental shaman I tank and heal for regularly, her overall damage and dps has improved significantly since the patch. Previously, she was doing fairly high dps but very low overall damage. Post-3.0.8, she seems to be doing competitve damage and dps. One of these days I need to get around to respeccing to elemental and try the changes out for myself.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Proper Care and Feeding of Healers

Beastclaw of Clan Beastclaw's Blog wrote a post today that resonated with me as a healer. I strongly recommend you hop over to her blog and check it out. Take the advice in there to heart and your healers will love you.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Healers.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Where has Salanthe been?

I have been playing my fresh level 80 protection paladin. About the last time I posted here, I found a new appreciation for my then level 37 paladin. A month later, he dinged 80 and I've been gearing him up to tank heroics and maybe some Naxxramus!

As far as Salanthe herself is concerned, she's been in Naxx a handful of times. My new little 10-man guild, Nocturne, has been a bit slow in getting started and I haven't been interested in pugging on Salanthe.

I have gained a new appreciation for Healing Way, as my spec does not have it. When our talent points are refunded with the next patch, I may try very hard to pick it up, particularly as it will take only one application to gain the full benefit instead of three. Healing Way makes an enormous difference in 5-man instances.

Now that I have an 80 tank and healer, the debate begins as to which alt I should level next. Zgu, my dps warrior, is level 71. Miothe, my perpetually respecced druid, is level 74. And lastly, my death knight, Miyasi, is level 68. (I also have a 53 mage and a 35 priest.)

The obvious choice would be either the druid or warrior for dps. Then I can complete the holy trinity - tank, healer, and dps. However, I am tempted to level up another healer so that I have something capable of filling in for extra Naxx runs when Salanthe is saved to guild runs. When one takes into consideration the fact that the druid is also my farmer for Salanthe's professions, things definitely look stacked in her favor. The druid fulfills all of those ideals - dps, healer, and farmer.

We'll see what happens. The paladin (affectionately dubbed "Sally Pally" by my friends) wasn't even on my leveling priority list before I started playing him again. I may end up power-leveling a brand new rogue!