Context Insensitive
I can't wait until the day Google finally invents a way to search for images that actually scans the pixels. About a year ago, I randomly found the picture from which my avatar was cropped via Google Image Search (My source for almost all images on this blog). Unfortunately I misplaced the original picture, and now no matter how hard I search, I cannot find it.


If you ever wondered, the original picture is of Alice (of Wonderland fame) standing on the dead bodies of the Mad Hatter and I believe the March Hare, blowing the smoke from her gun. With the crop, you can only see the smoking gun, so you miss the context. I love the original, because Through the Looking Glass always creeped me out... poor Alice, surrounded by a bunch of weirdos in a world that makes no sense to her - she cannot rectify it to her own understanding of reality.

I love the idea of Alice, in a world gone mad, in a world that does not function the way she knows it should, surrounded by people who do not process things in the way that makes sense to her, finally decides that instead of trying to act the way her new environment suggests she should, says Screw All Ya'll and takes back her own sanity by removing everything that tries to make her feel insane. The image makes me think that at some point she decided she'd had enough of everyone being non-sensical and illogical and finally decided to take control of the situation.

If anyone could find the original, I will be forever indebted to you.

p.s. I don't condone violence. Or shooting people who don't understand you because you're insane. Cheer up, that's what Effexor is for - don't bring daddy's guns to school, kids!
Priest Leveling Tips
Before you really get into leveling your new priest, there are a few tips I can give you to make the (fairly painful) process easier. Some of these things you may already know, particularly if you've played a caster class before. But if you've stuck mostly to melee, it will help you a lot to understand some basics about mana and mana regeneration. A lot of the tips here will help all casters, not just priests!

  • Spirit vs. Mp5 - Mp5 is pretty tough to get at very low levels. If you are low enough level to not have Meditation, however, pay attention to the difference. While both stats directly affect your mana regeneration, spirit only affects your mana regeneration when not casting. Mana per five seconds (Mp5) increases your mana regeneration both while casting AND while not casting. This is why at low levels Mp5 is much preferred, and much more difficult to get.
  • "While Casting" and "Out of Five Second Rule" (OO5SR) - "While casting", your mana regeneration stops, unless you have a specific talent, ability, buff, or Mp5. However, the definition of "While Casting" is not actually while you are literally casting a spell. "While Casting" begins as soon as your cast ends, and lasts for five seconds. So if you cast Smite, or even instant spells like Power Word: Fortitude, your mana regeneration halts for five seconds. If you cast one spell right after another, you will stay within that 5 second rule, and not regenerate any mana. That's why it's best to bunch your spells together, so that you can take advantage of as much time Outside of the Five Second Rule (OO5SR) as possible.
  • Until you pick up the talents Meditation or Spiritual Guidance, your stat priority is Intellect -> Spirit -> Stamina -> Spellpower. Intellect is especially important at low levels because Priests never seem to have enough mana to get through a fight - let alone heal themselves to survive! They need all the mana they can get. You aren't going to stop casting long enough to regenerate your mana while in combat unless you use your wand a lot.
  • Get a wand! I cannot stress this enough. Enchanters make a pretty decent wand that you can start using at level 5, and since they make them to level up, they are usually fairly cheap. Save up your coppers and silvers in those first few levels, and as soon as you hit level 5, run to the nearest auction house and buy one. You will save yourself a lot of mana, and a lot of deaths by making use of a wand for about the last quarter or third of a mob's health.
  • Stock up on health and mana potions. Whenever you can get them cheap on the AH, buy a ton of them. Now that they stack in lots of 20, it doesn't use much bag space - but you will be thankful for them, trust me. Use them liberally to make the leveling process much less painful. People always think Priests have it easy because we can heal ourselves - but at low levels, we just don't have the mana.
  • Stock up on Scrolls of Intellect - Scribes make these, and they drop all over the place, so you can usually get them pretty cheap. If you find a good deal, stock up. If you can't get scrolls, beg mages for their Intellect buff - I always buff Mages with Stamina, in hopes that they will return the favor.
  • Always buy at least one full stack of the highest level drink you can use - if not two stacks! Unless you run around with a Mage, you will go through those drinks very quickly. You don't really need to buy food, since you can heal yourself between battles, and then drink up to recover mana.
  • Take the time to level up your fishing, if for no other reason than to stock up on Sagefish to make Smoked Sagefish and Sagefish Delight. This is one of the few sources of Mp5 at lower levels.
  • Hit Rating - We don't have a lot of mana in the first place, so if you can find a couple of sources for hit rating, this will help you avoid misses when you are DPSing. Don't worry about hit cap numbers - just try to get some hit if you can. Blizz recently introduced a few more items with hit rating at lower levels, but it's still scarce. Your best bet is to pick up Elixir of Minor Accuracy, Spidersilk Drape, Bronze Mace, or Simple Pearl Ring when, where, and if you can, as these are all crafted items. Check wowhead for Lavishly Jeweled Ring, Diving Crystal, and Robe of the Dragon Slayer, which are rarer or quest items.
  • Spirit Tap - once you're high enough level to have picked up Spirit Tap, you may notice that after you finish combat, both your health and mana regenerate faster. Spirit also boosts your health regeneration, as long as you are not in combat - so you should find that after speccing into ST, you have a lot less downtime between fights.
Professions for Leveling Priest

Some professions are more helpful for leveling your priest than others. I know a lot of people pick up professions simply for $$$ but I actually like mine to be useful. At low levels, Priests need all the buffs they can get - especially Intellect. I recommend picking up a profession that will somehow provide you with relevant buffs.

  • Alchemy & Herbalism - Lifeblood from Herbalism is a life and mana saver. Level it up with health and mana potions, and when you are able to make Elixir of Wisdom, always use it.
  • Enchanting - Enchanting is not always easy to level, but coupled with a profession like Tailoring, you will have plenty of things to disenchant for mats, as well as the cheap green items you'll pick up along the way, and quest rewards that are otherwise useless. You can make very nice wands at low skill levels, and even enchants like Minor Mana make a big difference at low levels. Not to mention Wizard and Mana oils!
  • Tailoring - You can couple this with Enchanting and it works very well, since Tailoring is the only armor crafting profession that requires no gathering profession for materials. Instead of using cloth for first aid (and since you can rarely use bandages while in combat, and you can heal yourself while out, who needs it?) use it to craft your own nice armor - and BAGS! If you don't want to take Enchanting with this, Skinning is good because you often need some leather with tailoring. If instead you want a profession from which to make more money, any of the other gathering professions work well.
  • Inscription & Herbalism - Make your own glyphs, your own off-hand items, and scrolls. Scrolls of Intellect are very very handy, particularly at low levels. As mentioned before, Herbalism is also nice for Lifeblood.
I'm leveling up a new priest specifically to figure out what helps most with the leveling process. As I find new tips, I'll add them here. If you have any tips, please comment and let me know so that I can add them!

Priests are HARDCORE
Ever since I started writing my Lolsmite priest leveling guide, I had been thinking about leveling up a new priest just for fun, and to give my leveling guide a try myself.

Having never leveled an undead horde toon very far, I thought I would give it a try. There are lots of different pieces of lore that I will never get to experience if I don’t try out the horde, and I keep thinking about the Wrathgate quest chain, as well as Lady Sylvanas.

Wow. I knew, and remembered, that leveling a priest is hard, but I don’t think I recollected just HOW hard it is.

Everyone seems to think their favorite class is the hardest to level. I do relatively well leveling a priest, because let’s face it, I have a high level priest, I understand most of the mechanics of … well Priesting. But I can’t deny that even with all that, I still believe Priests are the most difficult class to level, with the possible exception of mages. My fiancĂ© leveled a mage, and he always says “well at least Priests can heal themselves!” but this isn’t exactly true – you never have enough mana at very early levels to even heal yourself during combat.

I will say that doing it all over again has given me a lot more food for thought regarding my leveling guide, so I’m going to add another post today with some tips for the very early Priest levels (0-20).  For those of you who are following the Lolsmite guide, I’m doing it with you, so I’ll make adjustments as needed, in case I remembered things wrong, or gain a little more insight!

Friday Drinking Games
Soooo comments look screwy on yesterday’s post because my pet troll trolled me under a different account name on accident and I thought it was someone else and I was all like ZOMG /COWER SMITE and then he contacted me in game and now everything’s cool.

Love you Franklin. Even though you give me panic attacks.

It’s Friday! That means I’m gaming tonight with a piece of paper and a pencil and a few beers. And so I bring you…

THE LOOT DRAMA DRINKING GAME

1. “What? Priests don’t need crit, you shouldn’t be rolling on that item!” = 1x shot
2. Hunter rolling for leather = 1x shot
3. Healing shammy piece, with no shammy healer in the raid = 1x shot
4. Ret pally rolling on both healing AND tanking plate because “But… I was thinking about respeccing!” = 2x shots
5. DPS Plate wearers all rolling on Plate tank boots because the boots have hit rating = 2x shots
6. Kitty druid rolling on druid tanking gear because “What?! I’m specced feral!” =2x shots
7. Warrior rolling on awesome gun or bow against hunter =3x shots
8. Someone who jumped in to replace another raider on very last boss winning best item boss drops =3x shots
9. Tank who wins item trades it to someone who has a tanking off spec because it's a better upgrade for him - completely ignoring the three other tanks who rolled on the item and should have won =3x shots
10. The rogue who rolls need on the Reins of the Bronze Drake after everyone else has passed and then says  "ZOMG relax people, it's just loot, I don't know why you're getting so upset LOL!!1!9!" =THE WHOLE DAMN BOTTLE

I wish you all a super happy weekend as I continue to battle the same Headache That Would Not Disappear I've been battling for three days.




And for the first time ever, Blizzard causes Loot Drama! /sarcasm
LYL Peeps - please see ETA below!

If you’ve raided at all within the past few weeks, you have no doubt noticed a very significant change Blizzard made in how BoP items are handled. Within two hours of a person looting that item, it can be traded to anyone else who was eligible for it. This is due quite a bit to how when Loot Masters made a mistake in the past, several people would actually have to make a GM ticket in order to get the problem fixed, when an item was accidentally given to the wrong person. Loot Mastering for a 25 man raid is a nightmare. Mistakes happen, and this change to BoP items was instended to help with that. I mean, isn’t it great? So much more flexibility! No more worries about accidental Loot Master errors! Loot Masters can now sit back and relax!

WRONG.

What a nightmare. This has caused so many new loot problems that have absolutely no enforceable or controllable solution, that our raiding team is practially in uproar. I suppose for people who raid with DKP, this isn’t a problem at all.

What is really sad, is that most of the problems are caused by people trying to be generous and help one another out.

We run on a tier system. An item drops, people roll on it, and whoever wins it moves down a tier. There are exceptions and open rolls for various things, like Runed Orbs, etc. People are given a certain amount of time to roll for loot, and then rolls are taken and closed down. There is no perfect amount of time to give people for rolling. Some people feel rushed, some feel like it’s taking too long.

What is happening is that people are rolling for an item and winning, and then experiencing what I call “roller’s remorse” afterwards. They now have the item, and they realize that it would have been a better upgrade to someone else who rolled, so they are kind and give the item to the person who would better benefit from it.

It sounds great. It sounds like exactly the sort of attitude we like to foster and encourage amongst our raiders. It is a complete nightmarish headache however.

At first we were giving people back their tiers and adjusting tiers when this happened. That adds even more time, confusion, and complication to looting. The second problem is that if this is the equivalent of withdrawing one’s roll, shouldn’t the item go to the person who would have won the item had the winner not rolled? Sometimes people were not giving it to the person next in line. Sometimes it can be hard to tell, because due to it being a tier system, one person might technically roll higher than another, but lose due to being on a different tier.

And the worst of all is that this system allows a conspiratorial maliciousness I never would have expected amongst our raiders – and is very difficult to prove has even happened.

Multiple people can get together and decide that tonight they are going to essentially “donate” all their tiers to one player. So they all roll together on items, and then whoever wins the item gives it to the designated player. It’s shady, and it’s unfair to those who don’t have multiple people rolling on items for them.

It brings up all kinds of loot debates. On one side, you can argue, you won the item – you can do whatever you want with it, including give it to whomever you choose. If you want to use your tier for a friend, is that your right? And then… how can we even prevent this? We have no way to control how items are handed about after it has been given to a player. There are different ways we can police it, but all these methods require a measure of time and effort on behalf of our officers that is not really reasonable for a casual raiding alliance.

Ideally you should be able to trust the people with whom you raid. Ideally everyone is working for the benefit of the whole raid. Ideally everyone likes one another, and wouldn’t go out of their way to simply screw another player over.

Ideally I could pull hundred dollar bills and flowers out of my butt.

I spent all day yesterday dealing with these loot issues and trying to find resolutions, and I suspect I will spend most of today trying to figure out if others have had these problems, and if there is any hope, EVER, that Blizzard will change this system, though I’m not feeling too hopeful.

What about you? Have you had any problems with this? Share with me your loot drama stories via comment so I don’t feel so bad about my own!

ETA (9/30/09) - There is a LOT of traffic coming to this page from the Lose Your Life forums - hai guyz welcome - I can't read the forum post that directs to this page. Are ya'll having a similar problem or did everyone just like the Loot Whore picture I found? ;) I'd love to know what ya'll's forum post said, if anyone would be kind enough to put it in the comments section here.

ETA - I have been scouring the forums, and have found very little on this subject - maybe it's just still too new of a change? I'm not sure, however BobTurkey made a really interesting post about it and the Black Market - you should check it out.

I'm not Blind! I can see! It's a miracle!
Did you know that if you work as a Stereo Compiler for more than a year, you will burn out your eye sockets? Maybe it has something to do with staring a computer screen with 3d imagery with 3d dark glasses on in a pitch black room trying to find little tiny things in the imagery. Dunno.

Anyway, I've had a couple of people kindly mention that it is a bit difficult to read my blog due to the template. I have a really hard time viewing light colored backgrounds (which is the real reason I don't use MMO-Champion much and prefer WoWInsider) because it hurts my eyes.

But i like you folks more than I like my eyes, so hopefully this template is easier to see. I'm not impressed with Blogger's HTML customization options, and I never have been. So I guess this will do until I figure out how to hack the system (just kidding! just kidding!!!! /cower).
Hasty Critilicious
Okay I spent an hour trying to write up a post about finding a balance between haste and crit. It didn’t work for me. My every effort at theorycrafting ended with LOLWUT. Here, I’ll cop out and give you the skinny from ElitistJerks about stats for priests:

Holy: “Rough goals for the start of Ulduar.25 are to have 2800 spellpower, 26-28% crit, and 12% haste, along with ~ 500 Mp5 I5SR fully raid-buffed”

Disc: “Rough goals for the start of Ulduar.25 are to have 2500 spellpower, 35% crit, and 8% haste, along with ~ 500 Mp5 I5SR fully raid-buffed.”

Look at all that work I did. Now that THAT’S done, let’s talk about something really fun. Let’s go beyond the stat streamlining Blizz will be bringing us in Cataclysm and talk a bit about Path of the Titans… and I’m gonna get all fun and creative.

Path of the Titans Brainstorming

The long and the short is this – Blizzard will be redesigning talent trees to be more “fun”, i.e. focusing on bringing you fun spells like Guardian Spirit and Pain Suppression. Path of the Titans will work with the new secondary profession, Archaeology, and will be how you get all those little bonuses, like +3% damage, +5% crit, etc etc etc,

I want to see the crit vs haste debate take a whole new meaning with this change to talent trees. Whether it be via Path of the Titans or the talent tree, I want to see two different paths for healers of all classes. One path for haste, one for crit. Maybe you can choose to balance between the two, or maybe you would pick one over the other.

For instance, for the Poker Player Priest, we have the crit path. Do you like high risk, high reward situations? Then stack crit, and with this chosen direction, you get special bonuses based on crit. Are you more of a Conservative Caster, and prefer predictable, steady bonuses and improvements to your casting style? Stack haste, and take the haste path.

Not so long ago for Priests, Serendipity was completely different, and actually gave you a percentage of mana back when you overhealed. Overhealing is a problem for every healer, though less so for Druids. However, even if your heal isn’t marked as overheal, if you spend your mana, and the heal you cast, or the hot, gives less healing than was intended, it’s a problem. I think this is a great opportunity for some interesting procs.

The Poker Player Priest versus the Conservative Caster


Let’s say you’re a Poker Player Priest (stacking crit), and your heal crits, and overheals your target. I’d love to see some fun procs based on this – whether it be a return of some mana (only on overheals that are crits), or perhaps a short term boost to your crit rating. Or, if you overheal due to a crit, the target gets a damage absorbing shield that absorbs the amount for which they were overhealed. Everytime you crit, you could get a stacking buff that will increase your crit rating by a small amount, up to, say, 5 stacks. Or everytime you crit you have a chance to proc some regen mechanic, like with Holy Concentration. For raid buffs, maybe everytime you crit you could proc a raid buff for a few seconds that would increase crit rating by 5%.


For the Conservative Caster (stacking haste), we could have a serendipity like effect with a smaller boost each stack, but more stacks. So, 5 casts of Flash Heal could give you an instant Greater Heal, or maybe just a very speedy Greater Heal. An overheal could either return some of your mana to you, or give you a small haste boost to your next cast. There could be some ability or proc called “Just in the Nick of Time”, and if you get a heal off on someone who is at less than 5% health, that target gets a double heal, or a HoT effect, a shield effect, a decrease in threat, or maybe all heals on that target are boosted by a certain percentage. For raid buffs, everytime you peel off a Greater Heal of a Prayer of Healing, the entire raid could receive a 10% haste buff.

I use holy priests as an example here, but the same theory could apply for all healers, and really all casters. I really hope that Blizzard gets creative with the new talent trees and Path of the Titans, because I see room for lots of fun stuff in the direction they are heading. I am also pleading for a resolution to the crit vs haste debate.
Update to Disc Guide
Quickie post before I head out to my interview. There was a really great comment left on my Intro to Disc healing guide with some suggested improvements, so I have updated the guide.

If you have come here looking for some (hopefully!) helpful healing guides, they are listed to the right under Miss Medicina's Guides. I might start making it a weekly thing... until I run out of ways to boss you folks around. I have debated on and off about making a Holy Priest starter guide, because there haven't seemed to be a whole lot of requests for that, but I may do it anyway.

Oh bother, I have to go sell myself. Too bad I can't put "Writes many TLDR guides with lots of detailed information about healing in World of Warcraft" on my resume.
Blizzcon 2009 Recap via Links
Firstly, the boys over at the Save or Die Radio podcast have asked me to start writing a blog for them about what it's like being a total and complete n00b at table top gaming. I only just recently started spending one night a week RPing with them, and so far the comedy of errors (what, me? make errors? psh) has led to lots of great material. Check them out, and I promise you won't be disappointed! (I totally didn't ask permission before using this image either, I like to live on the edge.)

Blizzcon is over, thank God. For ease of review over Blizzcon panels, I have provided a list of the panels and events, along with links to the websites I used to get my information about them. All the websites are so disorganized, and it grates on my type Aness.

Friday:
Saturday:
I'm still trying to sythesize a lot of the information coming out of Blizzcon this weekend, because some of it is pretty confusing and unclear. But don't worry, I'm going to clear up what's in store for us healers in Cataclysm - Matticus made a nice start for us over at WoW Insider, and you can read my post about stat streamlining from Saturday if you are desperate for info!
Stat Streamlining
Okay so in case you don't feel like searching through WoW.com front page (slacker) here is a copy and paste about what is known so far regarding the incoming stat changes for the new expansion Cataclysm.
  • Attack Power on gear is gone. Instead, some classes will get 2 AP from each point of Agi (Rogues, Hunters, Shamans, Druids), and other classes (presumably Warriors, Paladins, and Death Knights) will get 2 AP per point of Strength. Side effect: no more plate wearers stealing your gear
  • Spell Power is gone. It comes from Int now.
  • MP5 is gone. Spirit is the mana regen stat, and all classes that need it will get some form of Meditation. (Hunters, never fear - you don't use mana any more. More on this in a separate post.)
  • Armor Penetration is gone. That one was just confusing.
  • Defense is gone. Tanks are now defense-capped from talents, like Druid tanks.
  • Haste now increases your rate of resource regeneration (mana, energy, rage, runes, focus).
  • Block Value is gone, but blocks now mitigate a percentage of damage.
  • Stamina is going to be more equal across different armor types - no more "plate HP envy."
(Source - http://www.wow.com/2009/08/21/blizzcon-2009-stats-vastly-simplified/)

This is one of those changes about which I'm totally on the fence. On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense. We have these basic stats, and really, everything else should be derived from the stats. Wow is based on D&D, and that's essentially how D&D works. Attack Power has always been based on Agility or Strength depending on class anyway, so there was really no need for excess AP stats. I never understood Armor Penetration (in my defense, I'm more the caster type dammit, don't call me a noob!). The Block Value eradication, and change of Block makes more sense to me too. I am cheering about Spirit becoming the main point of mana regen again (although a little irritated that they just nerfed spirit by buffing mp5, when they are making such a change in the expansion... but then again, let's all remember that despite all the excitement, Cataclysm is still a long way off). The fact that Hunters needed mana was stupid, I really like the idea of it going to focus, theres more similarity with their pets. I think it's pretty clever how haste is changing - I always thought it should be that way instead. Intellect should be the basis for more caster abilities, such as spellpower.

Now, another incoming addition for Professions is the ability to "Reforge", which will be specificly based on your profession. I.e., Tailors can reforge cloth items, Blacksmiths plate, etc. Reforging is the ability to readjust some of the stats on an item. For instance, if a cloth piece drops with 50 Spirit and 40 Stamina, I can reforge it to make it have 10 Intellect, 40 Spirit, and 40 Stamina. No word yet on the limitations regarding amount, however, you will not be able to add to a stat that is already on the item (So while I can add 10 Intellect, I cannot take 10 points from stamina to make 60 Spirit.)

Okay, now that i've covered those basics, here are the problems I foresee. In TBC, there was so much variety and specific stats on items, that it was not uncommon for an item to drop that was no good for anyone. Then they combined melee and spell haste into simply haste, and same for crit and +healing/+damage into spellpower. This simplification really changed the way gear dropped in raids - there was a lot more competition for each item. I don't think that's a bad thing... it's painful to disenchant some really nice items.

But now it's going even further. Without knowing what limitations they are going to put on reforging, I could pick up any cloth item (after all, armor class is still important) and remove stats on it to add stats that are important to me. So, in the extreme, all that really seems to matter is what armor class it is, and what slot? This is frighteningly generic to me. There have already been a lot of complaints in Wrath about how generic items seem to be (at least the artwork... how many different versions/colors of that damn Moonshroud Robe has my priest worn anyway?) It's too soon to tell for sure, or to get too worked up over it though. I'm working off of a very small amount of details at this point, but so far I am a little concerned.

All this information is derived from the first "Class, Items, and Professions" panel yesterday. There is a second one at 2:30 PST today, and I am waiting with baited breath for that one. I have a lot of ranting I want to do about Path of the Titans as well, but I'm hoping there will be more clarification at tonight's panel, so I'll hold off on my comments for that. The classes discussed yesterday were Hunter, Priest, Shaman, and Warrior. There weren't a whole lot of details, and it was pretty disappointing. I think the most exciting news so far class-wise was for hunters.
Blizzcon madness
Ugh, not feeling super great today. I think all the pinching and prodding of my body yesterday rearranged some organs. But fear not, I took down the Bitch Sales Lady boss and won two emblems. Why no I will not try on that ridiculously overpriced dress with the impractical long train for a third time, and I am DONE prancing about like a show pony. OH SNAP

Anyway. I don't normally post on weekends, but this weekend is special. If you haven't been paying attention (LAWL), the best sites, IMO to check out are wow.com and, of course, the official Cataclysm website.

I am not going to relist all the new crap covered, since it's pointless and you can just go to the website. But I AM wondering if there are a lot of people eating crow over the details about Cataclysm. There was a lot of rage and talk about irresponsible journalism with MMO-Champion and WoW Insider leaked the news about Cataclysm, and a lot of people saying that the news was untrustworthy because of that.

I was skeptical about a lot of the information, but I think it was more because I didn't *want* it to be true. The perfectionist inside me is weeping about night elf mages. Also, I'm skeptical about most things, but I will say that I personally have a LOT of confidence in Wow Insider. That's where I go to get my news, and they never disappoint. There is a reason why I rely on them for incoming patch info. They always source things pretty well.

A week and a half ago Matticus made a post about responsible journalism, and I think that post really helped convince me that Wow Insider wasn't doing anything particularly wrong. I was still skeptical, but soothed quite a bit. Now, I don't know much about MMO Champion, I don't like their interface, so I don't read them, heh. And then, a few days ago, Dueg pointed out something that for some reason I hadn't even considered - it was quite possible that Blizzard purposely leaked the information, to get people hyped about Blizzcon (even moreso at least). And I truly believe that's exactly what happened.

Although I guess it's pretty safe for me to weigh in after the whole controversy is resolved, eh?

I wonder if the next time Blizz decides to leak things, they will do it in a different way... because at this point, I'm convinced that is exactly what they did. I feel bad that Wow Insider bore quite a bit of criticism over the whole ordeal, but I suppose that is the nature of the beast. I hope that regardless of that fact, it generated a lot of hits on their website and made them some money. This is American, money fixes, like, everything. Just ask Ross Perot yo.

Now that I've covered that, I'm going to set out by explaining some of my thoughts on the announcements made at Blizzcon so far. There are definitely a lot of really cool changes incoming. Overall though, I'm more than a little concerned. People, enjoy the way Azeroth looks now, because it is confirmed that when the expansion comes out, you will never see it look that way again. Cataclysm is a perfect name.

I have a very conservative personality. I'm not talking about politics, though this aspect of my personality is reflected in many of my political beliefs. It's not that I don't like change... it's just that I get really nervous about sudden, drastic (you may say CATACLYSMIC) change. So even though I know the expansion is still quite a ways off (even though I'm sure there will be kids in trade chat insisting it will land within 6 months), I'm still trying to prepare myself for what I know will be a difficult transition for me. I mean seriously, I still clutch to the days of waiting until level 40 for a mount.

So yes. I'm already feeling nostalgic for "Old Azeroth". But I also recognize that people have been begging Blizz for the ability to fly around the old world ever since TBC came out. The response has always been that they want to focus their development efforts on moving forward, not going backward. It seems, however, that they did listen to us. I mean let's face it, so much time and effort was put into the old world, it's ridiculous how little time we spend there after level 60. So as much as I'm sad about leaving Old Azeroth in the dust, I am happy that they finally have decided to turn their attention back to the Old World. I am really interested to see just how much phasing will take place, and how it will be administered. I'm also glad they will be improving the UI so that you can tell when someone is in another phase.

Also, Worgen look way cooler than any wedding dresses I tried on yesterday FYI. I can't wait to see what the females will look like!

Expect lots of long posts from me coming in as I weigh in on Blizzcon announcements. I still have a LOT left to say (is anyone surprised?).
Extrapolation
Taking a break from the lolsmite regime for a day. I have most of the rest written, but I did actually want to talk about some other stuff too.

I wrote this ridiculously long three page rant about what it's like to be one of those rare magical creatures in Azeroth known as a “female”, continuously subjected to the giant bloated egos of arrogant males all around me. I decided I wouldn't subject anyone else to it this early in the morning. Suffice to say, I have just about had it with the ridiculous amounts of arrogance bouncing back and forth between raid members and officers and boys thinking they SHOULD be raid leaders and yada yada yada. I am at the end of my patience with it. Do you boys think it's cute? Or endearing? It's not. Total turn off in every sense. And, in WoW, I've only seen it be a problem with the guys. Oh and Ful, being an engineer is so not an excuse for everything you know. Nor is being a blogger!

Now that that's off my heaping dwarven bosom...

I have been spending a lot of time doing research and write-ups justifying the lolsmite spec, and this has led me to ponder other class specs that are subjected to so much ridicule. Case in point, I am having a difficult time leveling my shammy and my druid. Everyone tells me to level them enhancement and feral respectively. But I truly do suck at melee. And now I’m wondering if it even matters if leveling one way is fast when I hate it so much that I don’t even bother to play the character anymore.

So I’ve decided screw what everyone else is telling me I need to do. They’re my toons, and I’m going to do it my own way. Hell, I leveled a priest all holy, all the way, and that spec is undoubtedly considered one of the most challenging, if not THE most challenging, spec for leveling.

There are two problems with this decision I have made regarding leveling my shammy and druid alts...

The first is that against my better judgment, when I purchased the heirloom items for my shammy and druid, I purchased items for melee, with attack power and agility and all that jazz. So it is sort of a waste of the items I purchased. And now that those emblems are so useful for really nice high level gear for my Priest and Pally, I can’t justify spending them on an alt. Oh well, what's most important about the items is the XP bonus, and they do have stats like intellect at least.

The second problem is that I just can't figure out the right spec. So I challenge you, my dear readers, to help me with this. Link me up your recommendation for a good caster leveling spec for a druid and one for a shammy. Wild and creative ideas are encouraged. Specs that give me plenty of exposure to the different healing spells I will have at 80 are also encouraged.

Bring it. In the words of Sir Cadogan, "A QUEST!!"

Edited to Add: Also, I like how I completely ignore all major things WoW related. Like the expansion leak storm. Or, you know. BLIZZCON. There is actually a reason for this. I have nothing to say that is original about it, and nothing informative to add so... why bother? While everyone else is pitching in their two cents I kinda just go off and do my own thing if I don't have anything particularly insightful to add.
Where it all began

Do you remember when you first found yourself interested in RPGs? Very few of us actually began with World of Warcraft. After all, WoW has only been around for five years, and who knows where it will be in another five?

I was never a video game person. I still am not quite sure how to turn on the xbox. There are all these colorful buttons and I feel slightly close to a seizure wathing my fiancĂ© play Guitar Hero. It’s all a bit confusing to me, thank you very much, and I rarely find myself impressed. I need real plot, and video games have always struck me as shallow entertainment, even though I know that’s really not true in many cases.

I, however, began my gaming career at the tender age of seven years old. Twenty years ago… that makes me feel old! It began with simulation games. You know. SimCity. SimAnts (seriously? Yes.). Civilization (the FIRST one).

And then I progressed into RPGs, and fell completely in love. Hero’s Quest (or Quest for Glory) I, II, III, IV, and finally V. King’s Quest. Space Quest. Leisure Suit Larry. I loved those old Sierra games so much that I continued to play them up until about 3 years ago when I finally started playing WoW. I was skeptical and certainly not impressed by flashy realistic graphics. AGI is just fine, thankyouverymuch.


Quest for Glory turned me on to the idea of Paladins – it was truly an epic thing in QfG because you had to beat two games and import your character, and all these things that were always too complicated for me to figure out how to do when I was a kid. Therefore, the first class I rolled in WoW was my pally, Elimeny.

What got YOU started in the world of RPGaming? Was it D&D? Video games? Computer games? Or were you a complete gaming n00b, and dragged in by your friends?

Priest Q&A
Better late than never, right?

Part of the delay on this is that after reading the Q&A I had no thoughts, because for healers it seemed to have very little relevant information, relatively speaking. We've sorta been put on the back burner while other classes are given more tweaks, and while I'm not opposed to that in principle or for any particular reason, it makes for a pretty boring Q&A. But regardless, let's get to it - I'll try to keep my comments limited mostly to the topics relevant to disc or holy.

For the full Q&A, instead of the tidbits I'll be quoting here, please visit the source.
"In World of Warcraft, the priest isn’t a stronger healer than the other classes, but does have unmatched versatility. At its core the priest has two unique talent trees for healing, while the others only have one. Furthermore, the priest has strong heal-over-time spells (HoTs), direct heals, and area-of-effect (AoE) heals."
Strong heal-over-time spells? Where? There is ONE official HoT, and that is Renew. Don't get me wrong, I love my renew spell, particularly coupled with the Empowered Renew talent for Holy. And yes, we have the option of more HoTs with the Glyph of Prayer of Healing, but I think GC is overestimating our HoT abilities here. In spite of that, I do agree with his underlying message - Priests really are incredibly versatile healers, with lots of tools in their toolbox. This also means that contrary to popular belief, they are not easy healers to play well. Sure, you can spam a couple of spells and probably do okay in most 5 mans and the like... but there are so many different healing spells to choose from that it can create quite the headache (not that I'm actually complaining!). That's one of the reasons I chose to level holy instead of shadow - by the time I hit level cap, I finally understood all my different healing spells. You can have a 25 man raid with only priests for your healers, and you will be okay, though it is certainly not ideal. This is generally not the case with Pally healers or Resto Druids, though it might apply for Resto Shammies. Our versatility is our strength.
"Overall, we feel the priest is one of the most versatile classes in the game, and can be the most enjoyable of the healer classes in the game because of its feature of having two different unique talent specs providing two different types of play styles."
The idea that priests are "one of the most versatile classes in the game" is so completely laughable that I can't even laugh. That's definitely a feel-good phrase if I ever heard one - did GC say that for every class Q&A? If you want true "versatility", roll a shammy, a druid, or a pally - not a priest. However, if you are into healing in a big way, a priest is the way to go, because with one class you can try two different types of healing due to the uniqueness of priests being the only class with two healing talent trees.
"When we go to improve Holy, things we want to improve are mana efficiency and burst healing."
I suppose with this statement I am left wondering how, exactly, the developers go about improving "burst healing" for any class. I say this because it seems that over the past year or so, they have done a couple of things that have already improved "burst" healing for Holy priests. The change in focus from haste/regen to crit in and of itself fosters and encourages priests to stack crit, which gives burst (if unpredictable) healing. Also, the changes to Serendipity give another source of burst healing, depending on how you look at it. A large amount of healing in a much shorter amount of time = burst healing in my book. Now, if you wanted to add a talent that granted more healing bonus on someone with some other type of healing buff on them, and define that as burst healing, I would like that too. Otherwise, I think we're okay without needing too much more burst healing, though I suppose this may not be the case in PvP. In response to mana efficiency - YES PLEASE. Holy priests are at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of mana efficiency.
"Flash Heal is big, so Greater Heal is just overkill. Combine this with the fact that there are other spells that are doing a lot of the healing that Greater Heal used to do -- Penance for example. I don’t think many players look at Greater Heal as being too expensive from a mana-per-healing standpoint. They often aren’t in danger of running out of mana. It’s also worth pointing out that max rank Greater Heal has always healed too much. The difference is that priests used to be able to cast down-ranked Greater Heals. We have considered offering say Lesser Heal as a literal 50% mana, 50% healing version of Greater Heal."
To be honest, I never used downranked heals. Part of that is that I started raiding only a short time before downranking was removed as a viable option, but the other part is that I just always found it stupid, and much more effort than it was worth. Priests have so many heals in our aresenal that quadrupling those split-second decisions with downranked additions was jsut too much for my tiny brain to handle. Greater Heal is a bit of an issue, because it does heal for too much, and too slow. Unless I have several stacks of Serendipity, I just don't use it, it's just not viable in Ulduar when we need to be on the ball and quick. GC does address this later, and I'll get to that in a second, but lastly I wanted to add that I've always thought it was a pity that after a certain level, Lesser Heal is completely abandoned. You get your highest rank of Lesser Heal at level 10, and if you compare it to Greater Heal, you'll see what I mean. What is the point of having a spell that is essentially abandoned 1/4 of the way through your leveling career? I encourage any efforts by developers to bring back this spell in a raiding environment.
"In a raid in which healers don’t coordinate well it’s easy for other healers to stomp on your big, slow heals. While you are casting, someone heals your target for you [...] Or else everyone has their targets and won’t heal someone else unless something unpredictable happens. Other raids just heal anyone who is injured and don’t have a lot of assigned targets, except for probably the tanks."
There is a lot of truth in this, and I do applaud GC for pointing that out. It can be very difficult to coordinate heals, and in fact, from my experience, even when you give healers specific healing assignments, a lot of them just can't resist healing others. Sometimes this is fine, and other times while they're healing someone else's target because they are bored and think they will "help out", and their targets are fine, some big whammy comes along and makes sausage out of one of their responsibilities. In a 25 man raid, chatting over vent and saying "I'm healing Jimmy!" "Big heal incoming on Pat!" just doesn't work very well. Too many healers, and too much healing going around. We've trained ourselves to heal essentially one of two ways - either via mitigation, in which we prep our targets for incoming damage and try to reduce what the consequences of the hits they take, or even more commonly, reflexively. It's reflex for us to respond to someone getting a big hit, and even if it's not one of our main targets, we can't seem to resist clicking on that shrinking green bar. It's hard to focus our attention on only a select few targets, even though in theory it should be easier. I can give all kinds of healing assignments, but it doesn't stop people from ignoring them.
"Q: Have you considered reducing the 10-minute cooldown on Divine Hymn?
Ghostcrawler: It was balanced like Tranquility. We basically want these to be once-an-encounter spells. "
Hey look! I spell I never remember to use, and have therefore never established a good justification for it. See, that's the problem with having such a large toolbox. >.>
"Pain Suppression is more or less targeted Shield Wall. It’s really good. "
I beg to differ. The problem with Pain Suppression is that it reduces the amount of threat on the target. This may seem like a good thing, but it is a deep Discipline talent, and the strength of Discipline healing is in single-target healing. Single-target healers usually focus on tanks. Therefore, reducing the threat of the tank is rarely, if ever, a good thing. I'm never quite sure just how much threat the tank can afford to use, so I avoid using Pain Suppression on the tank, and therefore rarely get any use out of this spell, sadly - which is too bad, because it is an awesome spell. I have no doubt that personally I'm far too conservative with it.
"Q: Do you have any plans to improve [Lightwell's] functionality?
Ghostcrawler: [...] The basic root of the problem is that most dps classes seem unwilling to have to take the time or spatial awareness to make use of the Lightwell, even if it provides great healing. [...] We don’t like that dps characters focus on dps at the exclusion of even their own survival and just assume that’s the healer’s job [...]. Lightwell heals for a lot. The problem is just getting players to use it. Encounters currently are very fast-paced, in terms of both dps and healing required so you have trouble finding room to use it. "
GC hit the nail on the head with this one. This has always always ALWAYS been the major problem with Lightwell. They keep improving it and making it even more awesome, but it does nothing to fix the problem with people not remembering, or taking the time, to use it. It is also a situational spell - some fights it's just pointless because everyone is moving around too much. But consider the benefits - you can precast it before a fight, players can use it whenever, it lasts for a long time, has plenty of hits available, and heals for a helluva lot. The tanks I run with are usually pretty good at hitting it here and there, but it seems to be more of a struggle for dps. I also understand that it's not always easy to target with so many visual effects going on in fights now. One way they could change it would be to make it a stationary AoE heal - standing near it will give a HoT to the lowest health players near it. This would make it way OP, and it would undoubtedly need to be nerfed, but it would get a lot more utility. However, it's not really the fault of the developers if people just can't be bothered to make use of something, no matter how awesome they make it. That's why you'll often hear holy priests calling out over vent "Lightwell up! Use it or die." I make frequent reminders to people to use it, and I hope that helps.

After the Lightwell discussion, there is a short discussion about the technical difficulties of showing absorption mechanics in combat logs, which is an important issue for Disc priests. They have made some changes to make it easier for 3rd party add-ons to pick up on it, and I hope it helps. A few uninteresting comments on dispel mechanics (yawn) and then we touch upon Inner Fire.
"Q: Would you consider increasing or removing altogether the charges of Inner Fire?
Ghostcrawler: At that point it just becomes a passive buff and we might as well just say that priests have the armor of a leather-wearer while wearing cloth. It works a little better for mages and warlocks who are at least making a decision about which armor spell to cast. If we go ahead and add alternatives to Inner Fire ("Outer Fire"! "Inner Shadow!") then we might take off the charges. Certainly the spell requires a lot less micromanagement now than it used to. "
I agree completely with GC here. If everyone is doing their part, we don't really need the extra armor provided by Inner Fire - the main benefit is the added spellpower buff that came a few patches ago. Inner Fire used to only have 10 charges, lasted 10 minutes, and it was a pain in the ass. Now it lasts a half hour and has a lot more charges along with the spellpower buff, and I'm quite pleased with it - most of the time the buff wears off long before the charges are all used up. However, it would be really awesome to have a few options for armor spells, like locks or mages. It would be much more useful to have spell resistance than an armor buff, or to reduce any damage taken, that sort of thing. I'd love to see a decision change like that made.

All in all, I was supremely disappointed in the Priest Q&A, unlike the pally one. Though I certainly found plenty to say about it, the Q&A itself just seemed rushed, and it didn't even look like GC put much thought into his responses. It seems like Blizz thinks that priests are fine just as they are, and while I can't say I necessarily disagree, it's kinda a bummer to see so little creativity going on with regards to priests from developers.
Starter guide for PvE Discipline Priest Healing
There are plenty of sources on teh interwebs for information regarding Discipline Priest healing, but I thought I would throw my own two cents in. If you’re looking for theory crafting, there’s no better place than ElititstJerks. If you’re looking for hilarity, try Bubbles. And if you want a perspective from a raid and guild leader who runs Discipline, check out Matticus.

And if you’re totally lost, and don’t even know where to start to try out this Disc thing you’ve been hearing so much about, well here I am. Rock you like a hurricane.

I’m not an expert, but I too went the way of the Disc. If you’re switching to Discipline from Shadow, you will have a completely different learning curve than if you are switching over from Holy. If you are especially n00by, bubble = Power Word: Shield :)

The first thing to remember as a Discipline priest, is that unlike other healers, your focus is on damage mitigation. You will not top healing charts. You are going to be bubbling and trying to prevent targets from taking any damage in the first place - therefore your priority is in damage prevention, not reactive healing.

Table of Contents

Talent Points

If you’re looking for a basic Talent Point distribution to give you an idea what you need at level 80, I threw one together that will suffice. You can move a few talents around here and there, but for PvE and raid healing, you will want all of the bottom half of the Disc tree.

Most Important Talents:
  • Inner Focus – Personally, I’m pretty rotten at remembering to use this spell, but you really should take it and learn how to manage it properly. In addition to being providing you with a mana free heal, it also gives you a good shot at a nice crit boost.
  • Improved Power Word: Shield – Discipline priests bubble. That’s what they do. You cannot call yourself a Disc priest without this basic, staple talent that ensures your bubbles are superior to Holy bubbles.
  • Soul Warding – This effectively removes the cooldown from Power Word: Shield so you can bubble like crazy. Go nuts. You can spend all your time bubbling your companions – and that’s kinda like, what Disc priests do yo.
  • Mental Agility – You will be using a lot of instant casts, so you might as well take this to move on to the next tier.
  • Mental Strength – See below for reasons why Intellect is such a great stat for Disc Priests. This is a must-have talent mainly because in addition to a very nice increase in regen and mana pool, it is a prereq for Power Infusion, and gets you to the latter half of the tier.
  • Reflective Shield – Why do I not include this in my PvE spec? With our personal delight in bubbles, why not have a reflective bubble? If you are speccing for PvE, skip this talent because it only applies to bubbles you cast on YOURSELF, and is therefore not worth the 2 talent points for a raid healing spec. Great PvP talent though.
  • Power Infusion – This is a pretty snazzy spell that will give you (or someone else – it is castable on other members of your raid) a significant speed boost, as well as cutting down mana.
  • Renewed Hope – This is a staple Disc spell. If you didn’t know, Weakened Soul is the debuff given when someone has Power Word: Shield on them to prevent you from spam casting your bubble on one individual taking damage. This talent explains why you should be casting Power Word: Shield on SOMEONE at LEAST every 20 seconds as a benefit to the whole raid. This is also why you usually want to bubble someone up before you start casting heals on them, because your heals will crit more when you do so.
  • Rapture – This talent ensures that you do not run out of mana. Take this, bubble freely, and you will have few mana issues.
  • Aspiration – the only part of this talent that is especially crucial is the reduced cooldown for Penance. But, that reduced cooldown is so crucial that this is a must-have talent.
  • Divine Aegis – It’s your double-bubble! When one bubble just isn’t enough! You will likely be critting quite a bit.
  • Pain Suppression – If you are joining us from the Holy side, this is the Disc version of Guardian Spirit. In other words, it is your oh shit button. Despite what I may have said elsewhere regarding the efficacy of an oh shit button that reduces threat, it still has a significant damage reduction associated with it. Don’t just use it on tanks! Everyone has that ridiculously aggro-happy mage in the group who needs the threat reduction…
  • Grace – This talent is one more reason why Discipline priests are great single target healers. It’s a 9% healing boost, which is pretty significant.
  • Borrowed Time – There are two parts to this talent. The speed boost is nice, no doubt about it, but that’s not what makes this talent required. The increase in how much your bubble absorbs explains why Disc priests keep yelling at Holy priests to stop making half-assed bubble attempts. Disc bubbles will always be far superior to Holy bubbles.
  • Penance – The awesomest heal ever. You are not a disc priest until you have Penance. This will quickly become your favorite heal, and it should become your most used heal.
You’ll likely have a few talent points left over that you can spend over in the Holy tree. For the most part, you only want/need to spec into Holy deep enough to pick up Inspiration. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Holy Specialization – Crit is pretty important to Disc priests, so you can go ahead and pick this up as your tier 1 holy talent for all your non-Penance heals. You know, those silly heals you’ll be using when you aren’t spamming Penance or your bubble. Pfft.
  • Divine Fury – another anh talent picked up mainly to get to Inspiration. However, you probably will use Greater Heal in between Penance often enough to justify the half second reduction in cast time. This is all a matter of personal preference. If you find you are more of a Flash Heal spammer, pick up Spell Warding instead.
  • Spell Warding – as an alternative to Divine Fury on your way to Inspiration, you can pick this up for a little extra survivability. Most AoE raid damage that can’t be avoided is spell damage, so it’s not a bad talent to have, just not a necessity.
  • Inspiration – This is the most important talent for you to try to get to in the Holy tree. Because you will often be focusing as a single-target healer, which means you will often be the tank healer, this is an added damage reduction talent for you.
  • Desperate Prayer – If you have an extra talent point left over, this isn’t a bad spell to pick up. It’s a personal oh shit button (I am not mourning the days when it was mana –free and Dwarf racial. No really, I’m not. ::weep::)


Stats

Alright, so you’ve got your talent points sorted out. Now it’s time to figure out your gear. You will probably already have picked up on some of the stats that are important to Disc priests by filling in your talent points, but here’s a more detailed look.
  • Hit Rating – if you are new to healing, this applies to all healers – Healers do NOT need ANY hit rating. Heals always hit.
  • Spirit – Holy and Shadow priests, take note. You do not get a spellpower bonus from Spirit when you are Disc. Spirit is very blah for Discipline priests. You can take it or leave it, but it's not really any better than Mp5, and should be well balanced with Intellect.
  • Intellect – this is an important stat for all casters, of course, and certainly all healers, but if you are coming over from the Holy side please note this is an even more important stat to Disc priests. (This is another good reason why when deciding on your talents, Mental Strength is a must-have.) Intellect boosts the size of your mana pool, boosts your regen, and increase your crit rating. The size of your mana pool is actually in and of itself a regen mechanic – take a look at the tooltips for the following raid regen spells, and you will see why – Replenishment, Shadowfiend, Rapture.
  • Crit Rating – Crit procs your “double bubble”, Divine Aegis, which is a large portion of the "healing" (mitigation) you will be doing, so it's pretty important.
  • Spell Haste – it may seem that Spell Haste isn’t as important to Disc priests because we spend so much time using instants (a la Prayer of Mending and Power Word: Shield) but because Spell Haste also reduces your global cooldown, and therefore allows you to cast more bubbles in a smaller amount of time, it is still important. The Haste vs Crit debate still applies for Disc priests, but it is largely a matter of personal preference. If you want to read more about the theory-crafting behind it, check out ElitistJerks.
  • Mp5 – The recent 3.2 boost to Mp5 makes it a better stat. If you are Shadow or Holy, and are used to avoiding Mp5 in favor of Spirit, remember that again, Disc priests don’t get any supplemental boosts from Spirit unlike the other talents. Therefore Mp5 is better for Disc priests in some ways. Mp5 will directly increase your mana regen while casting, with the tradeoff that it does not scale with Blessing of Kings, and similar buffs. You usually have a choice between Mp5 and Spirit, but it’s not a bad idea to have a decent mix of both. Intellect is still superior in some ways because of all the different ways it increases regen mechanics, and the fact that it scales with Kings, but it does have a smaller direct effect on your regen, so you don't want to solely rely on Intellect.
  • Spellpower – In my original version of this guide, I neglected to notice the full tooltip of Borrowed Time - in addition to making your direct heals larger, your bubbles are also increased by 40% of your spellpower. That's some pretty powerful stuff.
As a side note, if you are switching to Disc from Holy, your gear will most likely be fairly sufficient to work for both specs, however, you will want to take a second look at your enchants and gems. Switch out your spirit enchants and gems for Intellect, crit, or possibly Mp5 to adjust better for Disc healing.

Glyphs

If you want to see a solid list of all the Priest Glyphs, Wowwiki has a nice one. For Disc specific glyphs, there are no minor glyphs that really matter too much. We don’t really have a whole lot of option, but most priests like to have the handy Glyph of Levitate. Everything other than that really is a matter of personal preference. I, personally, like to use Glyph of Shadow Protection, because it adds some time to my Shadow Protection buff, and I don’t really care about the other minor, heh. Now for some info about major glyphs for Disc priests:
  • Glyph of Penance – This is a must have, hands down, no questions asked. Penance is your bread and butter healing spell, and you want to use it as often as possible, so you definitely want a reduction in its cooldown.
  • Glyph of Power Word: Shield – You will be bubbling so much, that it’s very nice to get an extra little free heal from it.
  • Glyph of Flash Heal – If you use Flash Heal a lot, this is a good option. Personally, I never have mana problems when I’m running Disc, but better safe than sorry, right?
  • Glyph of Holy Nova – If you suspect it will be necessary for you to contribute to raid healing, this glyph is one of 2 that will help boost your raid healing abilities. If you like healing with the instant AoE non-smart Holy Nova, this is a good choice.
  • Glyph of Prayer of Healing – If on the other hand you prefer raid healing with the long cast, but powerful AoE heal Prayer of Healing, this adds a nice little HoT buff to it.

The first two Major glyphs are pretty standard, but the third is more a matter of personal preference.

Spells

Healers don’t necessarily have a “rotation” per se, but due to cooldown management and the fact that Disc healers excel at single-target healing, they are more likely to have something close to a rotation than most other healers. We will start with just a basic list of the spells you will use while healing from each school.

Discipline:
  • Pain Suppression – your oh shit button (or as Ghostcrawler likes to call it, the “oh snap!” button). Note the threat reduction – if you are going to use it on the tank, try to be sure he or she can handle the threat loss.
  • Penance – One full cast of Penance will give three stacks of Grace to your target, increasing healing on the target. This is your bread, but it does have a cooldown. The Discipline tree is built around this spell and Power Word: Shield – basically, all the other spells are what you are casting while Penance is on cooldown.
  • Power Infusion – Super boost. Use it on someone, or yourself, every cooldown, and people will learn to appreciate Disc priests more.
  • Power Word: Shield – If Penance is your bread, your Bubble is your butter. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Not sure. Your bubble shield is what makes you Disc. Specced properly, it can mitigate massive amounts of damage, be cast every Global Cooldown (you know, when you aren’t casting Penance), and will keep up a nice raid buff after you cast it.
Holy:
  • Binding Heal – There is little reason to ever just be healing yourself. You might as well cast this spell on someone else, and heal the both of you. I love this spell like whoa.
  • Desperate Prayer – If you specced deep enough into Holy to pick up this spell, it’s a nice little personal oh shit button. It’s a matter of personal preference – I’m a creature of habit, and never remember to use it.
  • Divine Hymn – This is essentially a once per encounter AoE heal. Remember to use it, it’s pretty handy. If you are assigned to tank heals, it may not be worth the risk of casting it for 8 secs, however – a tank can take a lot of damage in 8 secs, so be sure someone else is throwing heals on the tank in the mean time.
  • Flash Heal – Staple small heal for all priests. You will probably still get a lot of use out of this spell as Disc, particularly if you pick of the Glyph of Flash Heal, and/or the talent Improved Flash Heal.
  • Greater Heal – Staple large heal for all priests. If you aren’t as big a fan of Flash Heal, and prefer larger slower heals, this is your main choice, but be sure that you spec deep enough into holy to pick up Divine Fury if that is the case. Note that the talent spec I linked does not fill out Divine Fury completely, so you'll have to rob the talents from elsewhere, such as Improved Renew.
  • Holy Nova – Baseline instant AoE heal for all Priests. It’s instant, AoE, no cooldown, but it ain’t cheap, and it ain’t smart. It is going to only heal the people in your party.
  • Hymn of Hope – Regen spell. Note that this returns a percentage of mana – therefore, for a real boost, couple this with Shadowfiend and/or Replenishment.
  • Prayer of Healing – Slow cast, very large, non-smart AoE heal. This is pretty powerful stuff, but keep in mind that it is not a smart heal. Unlike Holy Nova, however, it is not limited to your own party – you cast it on someone, and then it heals THEIR party.
  • Prayer of Mending – Instant bouncy reactive heal. Keep it bouncing around at all times, and it does the work for you.
  • Renew – Our nice little HoT. Unless you find yourself using Greater Heal a lot, spec into Improved Renew from the holy tree. In addition, if you pick up Mental Agility in the Disc tree, the mana cost is reduced. If you are solo healing a target (particularly the main tank), it's a good idea to keep a Renew rolling at all times.
  • Redemption – Your basic healer rezzing spell.

Shadow:
  • Fade – This is the panic button for when a mob is running at you. It is not a permanent threat dump, but it is usually enough to get the mob to forget about you so that the tank can pick them up. Better than running around like a mage, yes?
  • Shadowfiend – Another regen mechanic priests have. Love it or hate it, shadowfiends are handy for mana intensive fights! Couple it with Hymn of Hope or Innervate, and you can easily go from an empty mana pool to a full bar. If you can’t couple it with other regen spells, use it early in a fight so that you get a chance to use it more than once.

Rotation:

Your “rotation” will depend largely on how you are assigned as a healer. In a raiding environment, you should be assigned to one target to make full use of your awesomeness as a Discipline Priest.

Single-Target Healing:
  • Power Word: Shield - Always always always start with Power Word: Shield. Keep an eye on that Weakened Soul debuff – your target should have this debuff at all times. If there are other priests in the raid, kindly ask them to refrain from bubbling your target – your bubbles are better. In addition to keeping up the Weakened Soul debuff so as to get full benefit from Renewed Hope on your target, you need to be bubbling at least often enough to keep up Renewed Hope buff on the raid as a whole. Specced properly, there is no cooldown except global cooldown for your bubble, so you have no excuse not to bubble! And after all, why wouldn’t you?
  • Prayer of Mending - Keep a Prayer of Mending bouncing around the raid. Start it up on the tank since they will likely be taking the first hit. This is another spell you need to monitor to make sure it is bouncing around at all times.
  • Penance – Follow up your bubble or PoM with Penance. You want to keep three stacks of Grace up on your target at all times to maximize healing.
  • Greater Heal/ Flash Heal / Renew– When Penance is on cooldown, and you have ensured that your target has the Weakened Soul debuff, fill in your cooldown times with Flash Heal and Greater Heal as needed. It’s a very good idea to keep a Renew rolling on your target as well.
With one target, your rotation is pretty simple. Prayer of Mending -> Power Word: Shield –> Penance –> Renew –> Flash Heal/Greater Heal. You should be able to get in 3 flash heals or 1 greater heal and 1 flash heal between Penance cooldowns if the weakened soul debuff is up.

Group Healing (Primarily for 5 man instances)

  • Bubble Bubble Bubble!!! One of the biggest advantages for raid healing as a Disc priest is no cooldown on your Power Word: Shield. When in doubt, bubble. When happy, bubble. When dancing, bubble. Always be a-bubblin.
  • Disc priests do not have any smart AoE heals, but all of our AoE heals affect the entire group, so in 5 man instances, it doesn’t really matter. If you have predictable large amounts of incoming damage for the whole party, use Prayer of Healing. For sporadic AoE damage, use Holy Nova. Otherwise, bubble penance and Flash Heal. With only 5 people to watch, it should not be too difficult to keep a bubble on everyone at all times, though it may be trickier to keep up the Weakened Soul debuff. Therefore, try to bubble the tank often enough to maintain a steady Weakened Soul debuff on the tank, and just try to keep a bubble on everyone else.
Raid Healing
  • If you are contributing to healing the raid in general, it is not too different from healing for a five man. Bubble! If you are in a raid with other priests, ask them to avoid bubbling in general so that you don’t get frustrated. If there is another Disc priest in the raid, divide up your groups so that you will not overlap in your healing assignments due to the weakened soul debuff. It is exceedingly frustrating to be going around bubbling and to get error messages because the target cannot be bubbled again.
  • Because neither Prayer of Healing nor Holy Nova are smart ("smart heals" automatically heal the people within range who are lowest in health), they really aren’t the best for raid healing, unless it is AoE damage that everyone takes. Even in this scenario, if there is a Holy Priest in the raid, their Prayer of Healing is likely to be more powerful, and a faster cast. So if you know some damage is incoming, go on a bubble craze first.
And there it is! Everything you ever needed to know about starting out as a Discipline Priest Healer for PvE. Unfortunately you will need to look elsewhere if you are looking for tips for PvP, as I am utter fail for PvP. I realize this guide provides no theorycrafting for you, and that is because MATH IS HARD zomg. If you are looking for more specifics about the maths behind my suggestions, mosey on over to ElitistJerks and calculate to your heart’s content. I spent a lot of time reading the stuff over there to get an idea for how to heal as Disc, so it’s definitely a spot you should check out.

If you feel you have graduated past the level of starter Disc guides, and are looking for more tips on min/maxing your priest, I highly suggest checking out PenancePriest (especially this post). PP is MUCH better than I am at theorycrafting and min-maxing.

Updated October 6th, 2009 (added link to PenancePriest post and Enchants)
And on an entirely unrelated note...

Where have I been? Why so few posts?

I've been in a bit of a WoW funk for various personal reasons. I've been catching up on a lot of reading that I always enjoy, and I've been a bit down due to some bad news about our dog, a giant purebred black lab of the sweetest and friendliest disposition. Unfortunately, after dozens of vet visits, trying to find out why he's been so tired, non-hungry, and less animated over the past 8 months, we finally went to a different vet. Last week he was officially diagnosed with advanced Lymphoma.

It definitely hit me like a ton of bricks because even though I was convinced he was sick with something serious, he's not even 5 years old - so cancer didn't even seem like an issue to me. Lymphoma is already a tender topic with me because my father was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago, which led to a lot of changes in my personal life. Luckily, my dad is in remission, but it doesn't look like that will be the case with Chopper, the big black lab of love.

So in the meantime I've been putting forth a lot of effort in researching different recipes of things I can cook him at home, and trying to spend some time with him for his last few weeks with us. It's hard for me to get the inspiration or motivation to research WoW stuff, or find my muse to write about it, or even raid or play much more than a few dailies here and there when I've got a brain full of a drooling, bouncy black lab that may no longer be around in a few weeks.

In spite of all this, I will try to get some content out about the recent crappy priest Q&A, and some reflections on how the 3.2 priest changes have affected my own personal gameplay.
More Noble Truths

I believe that one of the philosophies presented by Buddha was that desire for love, wealth, and all other manner of things leads to our own suffering (Dukkha). As a priest who wants only to find joy in the warmth of the Holy Light, I certainly follow this philosophy normally, particularly in regards to material things.

But even I'm a sucker for achievements. And collections often reward achievements. And now that the Spectral Tiger mount thingie is BoE, I've had my eye out for it... even if I know I could never afford the 20k gold I'm sure it would sell for.

Yesterday morning, while sitting in Dalaran organizing things I'd picked up while doing dailies, I saw someone advertising this TCG Spectral Tiger mount in trade. People in trade started offering joke amounts of gold for it ("1g!!" "I'll give you 2g!") and so forth. So I joined in on the fun and jokingly offered 2000g for it. The thing is, if you know anything about this mount, you know that is a ridiculously low price to pay for it - it's worth at least ten times that. So imagine my surprise when the guy sent me a tell and said "2000? Seriously?". Uhh, yeah. Are YOU serious?

That was the first red flag. The first sign that greed can easily blind common sense and intelligence.

What followed after that was a brief conversation with the seller (in very good English, I might add, for any naysayers) that moved too quickly for me to catch up with my own brain. He said he would give me the code and I had to plug it in to the website and the mount would be sent to me, which I believe is actually correct with TCG mounts, but since I've never had one, I'm not sure. I typed in the url he gave me, which required me to log in, and I'm sure you're all bright enough to know what happened then.

Before I start getting a bunch of comments about how obvious the scam was, about how naive I am, yada yada yada, let me tell you a story that might give you a little insight into my personality. Two years ago, I was frying shrimp in the kitchen, and the oil I was using caught on fire. In my panic (which essentially revolved around me jumping up and down shrieking "oh shit! oh shit! ZOMGZOMGZOMG") I forgot every single thing I know. Here's a pop quiz for you: How do you NOT put out a grease fire?

In my panic I remember thinking "wait, wait, there's something I'm NOT supposed to do with grease fires... whatisitwhatisitwhatisit OH WHO CARES i don't have time for this I NEED WATER". I then proceeded to throw the pan in the sink, and turn the faucet on full blast.

The giant column of fire that followed that moment was a surprise to me until i thought about it five minutes later when the entire kitchen was covered in soot and smoke.

I am engaged to a guy who is so strict about network and computer security that sometimes he even forgets how to fix something on his own computer because he has set up so many passwords and firewalls, etc. I am normally very very careful about scams and security and the like, believe it or not. So why, oh why, did I fall for such an obvious phishing scam?

Greed. Pure greed.

It all moved so quickly, that even though in the back of my head I thought "wait a second, this isn't right... why is he not telling me to come to Stormwind and give him his money, why is he only selling it for 2000 gold, why does this url look a little funny...", I have always had the blessing/curse of actually being capable of typing faster than I think.

Of course immediately after I logged in through this fake phishing website I knew what I had done, and it all came crashing around me. I was immediately disconnected. And then I immediately starting laughing about how stupid I am. And unfortunately, it was 9 in the morning EST - which meant that I had to wait another 2 hours to call Blizzard. Smart move on scammers part.

It's actually a pretty good scam, for the following reasons:
  • Done early in the morning, while Blizzard phone lines are still closed - this gives him more time to clear my toons out before getting disconnected.
  • Scammer was conversational, and spoke perfect English, so it was obviously not a bot.
  • Scammer used a high value item and trade channel, and an item that many may think requires a website login, to limit his victims to only those who he already knows have a large amount of gold.
When I got everything settled and was able to log back in a few hours later (with the authenticator my fiance purchased for me a year ago that I had never started using), I was surprised to see that even though the scammer had a couple of hours free reign with my characters, I still had all my gear, on all my toons. I had 11,000 less gold than before of course, but he hadn't even bothered to vendor my gear or anything from my nearly full bank. He didn't bother checking the mail on my toons, where I had gold. Each of my level 80 toons are in a different guild - he only tried to take gold from the guild banks. I do not have access to the gold in GB in one guild, but he cleaned out the 370g in another guild bank.

It reminds me of when my car was stolen a few years ago, and when I got it back, it was actually cleaner and in better condition than ever previous. The grand jury when I went to testify simply loved that story.

He left me with 600g on Jessabelle, which I will most likely be depositing back into the guild bank. I submitted my ticket to Blizz, and hopefully I will be able to recover all the gold lost - but I'm not too optimistic, and I have no intention of making a big fuss about it. After all, it is completely my fault, and I'm very lucky. I did a scan of my computer, and found no malware whatsoever. I use a mac, and I wonder if the phishing website would have downloaded malware on my computer had I been on my pc desktop? That was my primary concern.

So then, what is the moral of this story my friends? Don't let your greed blind you!!! And if you do make a stupid mistake, and get yourself hacked, laugh about it. Do everything you need to do to get the situation fixed, but don't be miserable. We all make mistakes, we all do stupid things from time to time, and much like setting one's kitchen on fire, they often become stories you can learn from and laugh about later.
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