Best of the Healing World: Feb 26th
I realized this week, as I started counting, that I read about 75 different healing blogs, which encompasses more than half of my WoW reading experience. Instead of making a post every day to inform you of some of the best coming from the healing realm of the blogosphere (and from many blogs that you may not have even heard of), I will sift through it all for you and try to provide links to the best of the week on Fridays.

Hopefully you can discover a lot of great healing blogs this way!

If I tried to link every post I found interesting, the list would never end - so I'm trying to limit it to posts that can give you tips and interesting insight into a specific healing class, or sometimes healing philosophy in general.

Priests


Druids


Shamans


Paladins






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Podcast Interviews Wheee!
I might just do a whole buncha posts today!

First things first though... Wednesday night I did an interview with Exanna at OMGpriest! for her podcast, and it was pretty fun. I sound so tired and goofy, so all of you haters will want to listen to it and give me hell for it!

In all seriousness, it's a fairly short interview just talking about some of the basics of Discipline priesting... things you might want to know if you're switching from Holy to Disc. Listening to it now, I keep thinking of all these other things I should have said, but alas, hind sight is always 20/20. It can be rough making the switch, but Exanna and I went over some of the basics that a fresh Disc Priest may need to know.

Check it out on her page: OMGpriest!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

And speaking of newbie Disc Priests, I want to leave you with a lesson I learned in a ToC25 pug tonight - It is far better to do nothing but cast Power Word: Shield as a Disc Priest than it is to go through entire fights without casting it once.

I've run into this a lot lately in pugs - other priests healing tanks with me, and me feeling that I needed to shield their tanks because they just weren't doing it themselves. Yes, Penance is an awesome spell - and you could argue that Penance is a bigger staple of the Disc Priest diet than even Power Word: Shield. But the foundation of Disc Priesting is mitigation - SO USE YOUR SHIELDS OR I WILL CRINGE.

And then I'll blog about it.

But at least I don't name names. I'd like to think that if you are a Disc Priest, and you read this blog... you know better.
Ghostcrawler Talks Priesting
There have been a couple of pretty interesting discussions over on the WoW Healing forums over the past week that have received some response from Ghostcrawler.

The first I want to touch on is a post titled "Role of Disc priest???? Is there one?"

If that title doesn't make you cringe a bit, then you obviously have a lot more patience than I do. Regardless, the discussion that followed was "interesting" enough to garner a few responses from Ghostcrawler, which I think were more in response to people misunderstanding exactly what Disc Priests DO.

I had to laugh a bit as his initial response, as it sounded a bit like he was trying to give Disc Priests a textbook definition... which, come to think of it, maybe he was.
Discipline priests specialize in single-target heals and damage prevention. They are nonetheless fairly well rounded and have some fun tools, such as Power Infusion and Pain Suppression.

Later he added a clarification:

Perhaps I should have said "single-target HEALING" since unglyphed PW:S isn't technically a heal. But any Disc priest who is trying to heal multiple people at once is probably doing it wrong. You can raid heal effectively by targeting one person at a time, and that's what Disc priests do. Shaman and Holy priests can heal several people simultaneously.
I think a lot of people didn't particularly like this definition. Paolo seems more than a little skeptical at least. For my part, I actually agree with Ghostcrawler completely.

I'm planning on talking more about this topic next week, but let's clear this up now - Single Target Healing does not necessarily equate to Tank Healing. Disc Priests can be a single target raid healer (no, that's not an oxymoron). It is no surprise that Holy Paladins have the ability to be better tank healers in general than disc priests, because disc priests still have a stronger ability to raid heal. Therefore, if Disc Priests were just as strong as Pally healers in the tank healing realm, they would be imbalanced.

I was going to draw you all a very lovely diagram to show where each healing class falls on the spectrum, but I decided that would just be asking for an argument. Any healer can be a tank healer, and any healer can be a raid healer. This is absolutely required so that each healing class can effectively heal in a 5 man environment. That having been said, of course some classes will be stronger at one type of healing than the other.

One of the constant complaints from priests is the perceived lack of a definitive niche. The trouble with that argument, however, is that our niche is, in fact, the flexibility that simultaneously leads to accusations of lacking a niche. Capisce niche?

But, with two healing specs in one class, what you do have is a "leaning". Both Disc and Holy have the ability to do some powerful single target healing. Both can do some nice group healing. Disc, however, leans much farther in the single target category, with Grace, Penance, and individual bubbles guiding the way. Holy is stronger in multi-target healing, with Circle of Healing and hasted Prayer of Healing. Yet they both still retain the intrinsic flexibility that defines the Priest class. A Disc Priest can still use Holy Nova and Prayer of Healing. A Holy Priest can still use a Power Word: Shield, and a hasted Greater Heal.

It is an error to disregard the features of your class you do not regularly use when considering balance issues. If all I ever chose to do as a Disc Priest was tank heal, then maybe I would feel a bit miffed about my inferiority to a Holy Pally. However, I switch up the roles depending on the fight - sometimes a shammy or a druid will do better healing the tank on this fight, while the other features of my ever-flexible class allow me to handle some fight mechanic better than another healer (Saurfang pre-BP change, Rotface). If you pigeon-hole yourself, you will always be disappointed when Blizz tries to maintain a balance amongst the healing classes.

How Does Ghostcrawler Heal?

In a separate thread about Priests, GC gave us some interesting insight into how he plays his priest.

Disc: PoM on cooldown. PW:S as much as you can (esp. on the Arcane mage until 3.3.3). Use Penance often when you need burst. Resort to PoH if a lot of people need healing at once, especially in 10-player raids where you don’t have a lot of other healers to pick up the slack. Keep Pain Suppression and Divine Hymn for emergencies. Use Power Infusion on a mage or lock if you don’t need it.

Holy: PoM on cooldown. CoH on cooldown if there is any raid damage. Renew to handle the rest of the raid damage. Flash Heal if someone is still low after all of that. Save GS and Divine Hymn for emergencies or timed boss cooldowns. I tend to use Binding Heal a lot more than most priests because it makes me feel smart, especially when globals are in question.

What I like: Feeling smart when I mix the right tool with the right problem. Saving lives when someone thought they were dead. Sitting there at full mana halfway through a fight because I didn’t heal when I didn’t need to. Penance in general. Body and Soul. Borrowed Time. Serendipity.

What I don’t like: Using CoH so much. Dealing with Weakened Soul (esp. as Holy). Lightwell. Seeing priests die. (In all honesty I don’t die a lot, but I see Spirits of Redemption constantly. I guess as a sweeping generalization, priests have the stare-at-Grid syndrome worse than other healers.) Blowing 3 candles every wipe. Looking like a mage if I pick the wrong gear.


I found this an enjoyable read, and there's a lot more where that came from. Ghostcrawler was very chatty yesterday with Priests. I usually prefer to link directly to the forums, but since I really can't copy and paste all the interesting things he told us about his healing experiences here, I'm going to link to the MMO-Champion summary that shows each of his responses. It's a pain to try and sift through the whole thread at times.

Raid Diversification
Remember how you were taught to eat certain foods from every food group? You probably learned young that while you may be able to survive off of nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the rest of your life, it was far from ideal. Health wise, you'd definitely be gimping yourself.

The same principle applies to raids. You could do an entire raid with nothing but Druids, I'm sure. You'd survive, with a bajillion combat rezes. Hell, you'd even be covering the basic 4 food groups of a raid: Healer, Tank, Ranged DPS and Melee DPS. You could go with all pallies as well, though you'd be lacking on the ranged dps.

The point is, you don't necessarily have to have optimum raid synergy or diversification to succeed. Blizzard has really pushed the "bring the player, not the class" mindset since the release of Wrath, though there have been multiple exceptions. None of us healing priests have forgotten the nightmares of trying to Mind Control for the first time on Razuvious. *shudder*

However, the main way that Blizz has worked in this philosophy of raid makeup is by merging various kinds of buffs. They started this in BC, and I really think a big reason for that was the true takeoff of 10 man raiding that was coming in Wrath. Instead of utilizing Shadow Priests as mana batteries, they introduced the Replenishment buff that could be provided by several classes (Frost Mages, Ret Pallies, Survival Hunters, Shadow Priests, Destro Locks - learn it, live it, memorize it!). The tradeoff to opening up that mana return ability to multiple classes? You really needed to have it. Lots of folks didn't like this, as it went away from the BtPNtC attitude.

What do I mean when I say a certain buff is "required"? I use the word loosely. Shadow Priests were definitively required for Instructor Razuvious in 25 man, and that is certainly a different degree of requirement than Replenishment. However, there are certain buffs around which encounters and dungeons were designed. When Ulduar was designed, and when it was first released, it was done around the assumption that parties going in would have a Replenishment buff just as much as a typical tank/healer/dps setup. The same goes for Icecrown.

Blizz recently added Runescroll of Fortitude to the game, as well as Drums of Forgotten Kings and Drums of the Wild, admitting that they consider these buffs as somewhat "required" for raids (and therefore allowing you to have a slightly inferior version of the buffs without the particular class in your group) - i.e. the encounters are designed around the assumption you have that buff. Does that mean that you can't take down a boss without a Stamina, Kings, and Gift of the Wild buff? Not at all - it just means that you will have to work that much harder, or be geared just slightly better than the suggested iLvl.

Putting Diversification into Practice

When I first assembled the roster list for my babyicc10man group, I agonized over the buffs and whom to invite. Trust me, Fulguralis gave me hell for it. At the time, there were only 5 people in my guild, and therefore I had to reach out into my various networks to figure out the best way to fill out my group. I also had to consider the various group makeup requirements of each of the fights that had already been released when we started (I'm looking at you, Deathwhisper).

  • Prot Warrior - Tank
  • Prot Paladin - Tank
  • Disc Priest - Healer
  • Resto Druid - Healer
  • Elemental Shaman - Ranged DPS (designated Third Healer)
  • Arcane Mage - Ranged DPS
  • Affliction Warlock - Ranged DPS
  • BM Hunter - Ranged/Melee DPS (The Hunter may be ranged, but the pet is melee - for BM hunters, their pet is worth quite a bit of dps!)
  • Rogue - Melee DPS -> Later replaced with an Enhancement Shaman - Melee DPS
  • Retribution Paladin - Melee DPS

Since its conception, I had to change the raid night, and in doing so had some roster swaps. Having a second shaman made me cringe a bit, but in actuality, it has worked out marvelously. Besides, nothing wrong with have two sets of totems.

The value of this raid lies not just in the ability of each individual player, though I am insanely proud of them. I've watched the DPSers go from a struggling 4k when we first started, to pushing 7k on Festergut - and I know it's not just gear upgrades. The diversification scheme also helps a lot. They each contribute to one another's abilities. I base my personal gear choices around the assumption that I will have replenishment and blessing of kings. Even Fulguralis finally acquiesced that having a diverse mix of class combos also helps on the gear front (and trust me, he and I have argued about the raid mix question for months, so even a tiny acquiescence is like a gigantic victory for me!).

But it's not just about the individual buffs that each class brings to the table. Having a diverse group that covers every type of damage mechanic means that the same 10 people can go through the entirety of Icecrown Citadel without having to swap people out for certain fights. This was incredibly important to me - I wanted my group to be cohesive and comfortable with one another. If we kept swapping people in and out, we would constantly be battling the challenge of learning how a new player works. I could have simply ignored raid synergy, and brought only the highest DPS possible. I could have chosen only those with the best gear.

I chose not to do either of those things, because I wanted this group to go into ICC from the start, and grow as a group through the entirety of this raid sequence - together. Spending all the extra time and effort into building a solid and diverse mix of classes for the team from the beginning means that I don't have to worry later about whether or not we can take on a certain fight without our makeup - we can. We have multiple forms of rezzing, buffs, crowd control, healing, damage, you name it.

I'm incredibly proud of my group.
Mitigation vs. Colander Heals
From a healer's perspective, there's a lot of fancy schmancy terminology in WoW. You've got people discussing throughput, mana management, mitigation, effective health, AoEability, clustering, stacking, proactive, reflexive, reactionary, etc etc etc. Sometimes when I want to feel good about myself, I just start throwing around these words like how I used Foucaultian terms in grad school. Makes people think you're smart or something.

Inevitably, these terms will get confused and misused. People will use one term when they mean another, or perhaps not understand the difference between two terms. And that's fine – after all, knowledge is relative. What one word means to you is not necessarily what it means to me. But I won't bore you with critical theory and philosophy today (I always get especially philosophical at 6 am, I have no idea why).

Let's look at a primary example of a word that is often misused or misunderstood conceptually. Fulguralis calls me a word nerd for a very good reason!


Mitigation.

-verb

1. to lessen in force or intensity, as wrath, grief, harshness, or pain; moderate

2. to make less severe: to mitigate a punishment.

3. to make (a person, one's state of mind, disposition, etc) milder or more gentle; mollify; appease.

4. to become milder; lessen in severity.



Disc Priests are the king of damage mitigation amongst the healing classes, and I don't think there's any argument about that. However, I often hear of Druids being referred to as damage mitigators as well, and this grates on my word nerdiness, and does not accurately reflect the power of the HoT. If you say that Druids are damage mitigators, then it could be interpreted that a Disc Priest + Resto Druid is a poor healing combo for a ten man raid. This is absolutely untrue – Disc Priest & Resto Druid is a fantastic ten man healing combo.

I have been unable to find a term that adequately describes the purpose and power of the Druid HoT. The word for Disc Priest is, of course, mitigation, but I cannot conceive of a proper alternative for Druids. I understand, therefore, why people often refer to them as mitigative (lawl I will not be put off by that squiggly red line!).

The power of mitigation healing is that it reduces the impact of a big burst of damage, smoothing the incoming damage out a bit, taking off the peaks of pain. HoTs have this same power, but in a different way. Mitigation smooths out the incoming damage. HoTs smooth out the health pool. They result in similar effects, but go about it in different ways. Both Disc Priests and Resto Druids are "smoothers" if you will – but they are inherently different in their processes, and misunderstanding the difference can be fatal.

The fundamental difference between the two is best described in an example.

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that you have a tank with 35k health. This tank takes a hit of 37k damage, and consequently dies. A Disc Priest can actively prevent this by using one of their many mitigative abilities – be it Power Word: Shield, Pain Suppression, or perhaps a well timed Divine Aegis proc. These "mitigation" abilities are, in effect, temporary hit points that will be absorbed before any of the actual damage. If I pop a 5k shield on the tank, I have effectively increased their health to 40k, albeit temporarily. This is enough to allow them to survive that hit.

A resto druid cannot give that tank temporary hitpoints. However, if my Penance is on cooldown, a Resto Druid can do something that I cannot. What if, right after that tank takes that 37k hit, and is down to 3k health, he continues to take melee damage? With his health so low, and all my cooldowns blown, he could die before I get my Flash Heal cast off. But if he has HoTs on him, he will have health trickling in that may be enough to keep him alive between the time that he took his giant hit and the time that my Flash Heal or Greater Heal lands. THIS is the power of a Resto Druid.

Of course, in the effort to find the right word for teh HOTNESS that is a resto druid, the Twitterati came out and threw me a variety of potential words to meet my demands. None of them were perfect enough for me, but some of them were pretty epic.


Cadistra and Angelya suggested "lifestream".

Angelya again: Trickling?

Me: Trickle top-offing?

Sheqeri: Increased effective health?

Dristanel: Flailing? Foundation HoTs?

Matticus: Health gappiness?

Nibuca: Hottification? Pre-cognitive burst smoothing? Bursty effective armor displacement stamina throughput druid mob tree? (I get this strange sensation as if she were almost teasing me...)


Wonderful suggestions, eh? But I do believe that Deyndor takes the prize for the best suggestion of all time: Colander Heals. (I made sure I spelled it right this time! Ever notice that my spelling errors are mostly limited to double consonant words?) Do you have a difficult time conceptualizing Colander Heals? Well, LET ME DRAW YOU A PICTURE



Making Sense of the PTR Notes
As I'm sure you know, late on Friday Blizz released a fresh PTR build, along with the PTR notes to go with it. Normally I would copy and paste all the notes for you folks at work, but I'm going to assume you've already read them, since you had the whole weekend! You can find the forum post by Zarhym here:

The major things addressed in the PTR notes themselves are:
  • Massive PvP and Battleground changes.
  • Death Knight tanking improvements.
  • Changes that allow some DoTs to crit.
  • Modifications to how some buffs proc and their duration.
  • UI changes for the AH.
  • Dungeon Finder tweaks.
  • Quest tracking tweaks.
  • Frost orbs become a form of currency!
  • Removal of some profession cooldowns.
There's a lot of things covered in these notes, but I'm going to focus on the issues that affect PvE healers.

First off, I'm crossing my fingers that the buffs for Death Knight Tanks will make it a lot easier to keep them alive. In addition to buffing some of their threat generation abilities, Will of the Necropolis may be losing its cooldown and the limitation on the size of damage that can trigger it. Why is this important to healers? Because I can tell you from experience that healing DK tanks can be really stressful due to the amount of spiky damage they take. Anything that helps some of their damage mitigation cooldowns is a good thing for healers. I don't play a Death Knight, so I don't know how much of a buff it really is... but if the changes help DKs maintain control of mobs, that will hopefully also be a help for healers.

A lot of buffs are being changed in ways that may seem pointless. For instance, let's look at the change for Disc Priests:

"Renewed Hope: Now has a 60-second duration, up from 20 seconds, but a 20-second cooldown."

For most of you, that may seem like a silly change that won't actually make any difference. In practice, it won't - however the goal is to make these proc based buffs have 100% uptime, and hopefully to make a small improvement in performance, with less combat log repetition.

From GC:

Basically, they are balanced around more-or-less 100% uptime now. We think talents of the variety when X crits, now you can do Y are cool, but these auras really weren't in that category anymore. They were just cute ways of getting a passive buff up. Nobody tended to think Leader of the Pack was boring because it was just on all the time.

Removing the constant application and removal of these buffs (through both the passive aura and the range increase) might improve performance a tiny bit, will clean out your combat logs (which actually improves performance too), and reduce the UI and in some cases spell effect spam, which might make combat a little more easier to understand.


We'll see if it really makes any difference.

I'm pretty pumped about the Renewed Hope change, because if you are a tank healer, as a Disc Priest,
and you aren't spamming shields, it's not uncommon to forget a shield here and there, and not have 100% uptime on Renewed Hope.

Actually, Dawn pointed something out that I completely didn't know... something about Mages getting a spellpower boost when they have a shield on that absorbs damage? And how that's getting changed? I didn't even know Mages got a boost in the first place. I'm a bad priest to my arcane mage :( Havoca, why didn't you TELL ME?





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Public Shaming... of Myself.
If you're reading this, you may be under the misconception that I am a nice person.

As of last night, know that you are officially wrong. I am a horrible, mean, cruel individual.

I wasn't always like this. I have always strived to be kind and courteous, generally warm and helpful. But something happened last night that opened my eyes to the fact that I'm not nearly as nice as I thought I was.

Up until the Naxx raid Ful threw together last night, my worst epic mistell story was the time I was talking back and forth with a friend of mine about song lyrics. I was singing Meatloaf to him... in caps. Because, you know, that's what I do. Somewhere in between "I'D RUN RIGHT INTO HELL AND BACK" and "OH YEAH I WOULD DO ANYTHING", my GM whispered me to ask me a question. I was not paying attention. He got the last few lines of the chorus. "..."

See, now, that's a slightly embarassing, but generally fairly hilarious mistell. You can't tell me you wouldn't find that funny, because I absolutely won't believe you.

Now, let's move to last night. After a humiliating, horrendous, and exhausting class at the YMCA in which we were required to work out in the middle of the main hall with all the kids from all the classes gawking at our jiggly selves, I came home, and Fulguralis was putting together a group of his guildies for the weekly raid quest, which was Anub in Naxx. Easy sauce. He asked if I wanted to join, so I said sure, he said invite your guildies, so I did, and suddenly we had 11 people. So he figured, what the hey, and decided to do it on 25 man with as many random friends we could throw together, even if it wasnt a full 25. It's just Naxx. None of us really cared about raid comp.

One of the girls who joined us is someone who may not be a very good player, but she is one of the sweetest, friendliest girls I've ever met, and she is in a friendly guild run by some very dear friends of mine. When I've run 5 mans with her in the past, we've had to be very careful to explain things clearly to her, and she seemed to really struggle on a lot of fights. A guild member had told me in a whisper once that he thinks she might be slower due to some medical issues, but I don't really know much about it. I don't think she'd ever been in Naxx, but none of us had any problem with carrying folks through, so I invited her to join us anyway while Ful got everyone settled and buffed and ready to go - she could probably get some loot upgrades, and it would be fun for her. I know she doesn't ever get to see any raiding content, and this was a good chance for her to do so in a low stress environment, where no one is giving her a hard time if her DPS is low.

I was the one who invited her in, but Fulguralis was leading the raid. I knew that most people would know the Anub fight, but she probably would not, and I wasnt sure if Ful planned on giving a boss explanation. It's not a hard fight, but it can be tricky and confusing if you dont know the fight at all, and I wanted to make sure she was at least told the basics. I was also in a ridiculously shitty mood.

So I sent Ful a tell that essentially said "Player x is borderline retarded, so make sure you explain the fight clearly to her".

Except it didn't go to Ful. I'll just let you guess who the whisper went to.


This is the part where some people might say "you know, there are add-ons that can help you avoid that." Or maybe you might suggest ways I could have played off what I said like a joke, to make it seem like I meant something else. Perhaps you may even be someone who will tell me exactly how shitty a thing that was to say, no matter who I said it to - and you are right, and I know it.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will change the fact that it actually doesn't matter who I said it to. It doesn't matter if it's even slightly true either (which I don't even know) - because I meant it in a mean way, and I said it like it was perfectly natural for me to do so. There are no excuses for it. Would I have considered what a horrible thing it was to say if I hadn't sent it to the very person I was trashing? Probably not.

What kills me is that I never say things like that. I may be snarky at times, or make cracks at other people's expense, but it's usually because they are being rude to others, or someone who will dish it right back to me. But the thing is, neither of those aspects apply to this girl. She has never been anything but friendly, goofy, kind and warm to me and everyone else. I genuinely do like her, and if I didn't, I would not have invited her to join Ful on the raid he was running. She has never done anything to deserve that. I would even prefer to try and pretend that I was whispering Ful to give him a heads up out of sympathy for her or something... except even THAT (which is still patronizing) is untrue. Plain and simple, I was being a bitch. Trying to pretty it up and make it sound less awful than it is is just further insult to her.

I wish she would have ripped me a new one. I wish she would have told me off, and put me on /ignore, and told the whole guild what an awful person I am. She would have been well within her rights. But what makes me especially ashamed... is that I think she hears that kind of crap all the time. Her response was "Hey now, it's not like I'm drooling all over my keyboard!" and she laughed it off. When I told her how unbelievably sorry I was, and that it was an awful thing for me to say, she tried to make ME feel better. Which of course means that I just feel worse. Good.

I listen to people all the time complain about some idiot in their heroic pug... someone who makes a stupid choice in talents, or cant hold threat, or any other myriad of poor player choices. I hear people insult them and call them names. And I think of her, in an heroic PuG, and the kind of crap people might say to her because she struggles sometimes to play this game that she still loves.

And then I think about the fact that I just became one of those people I hate.

I doubt she will ever see this post, or know just how dreadfully sorry I am for being that person. I doubt she will ever warmly greet me again, though I know she will never be rude. And no matter how many times she may struggle through a fight, I will be the one who lost most - because as a human being, she proved tonight to be much more superior to me than I thought I was to her.
Healer Help?
I don't really like meta-blogging, but I wanted to make a quickie post offering help to new bloggers.

If you start up a new blog about healing (any class!), please feel free to shoot me an email -> missmedicina at gmail dot com, leave me a comment, whatever you like if you want some advice or help. I will be more than happy to give you any advice, or tell you where to go to get started, or help introduce you to folks on twitter, etc.

I was thinking that once a week I might make a post linking to, and introducing, new healer bloggers. But that will likely mean I need folks to let me know when they find new ones, or when they start new ones.

For instance, I've been emailing back and forth a lot this week with a new Disc priest blogger who writes over at Pain Suppression. Sheqeri has just started, but you can catch him on twitter, and he's got some good posts up already, including a really interesting one on a Class big brother/big sister program, which I really like!

Insert witty concluding line that likely requires a lot more coffee in my system in order to do properly.





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Where Nerd and Geek Meet
I think every nerd/geek/dweeb/weirdo/emoelf/libertarian has different interpretations of the definition of certain words that define us within our hobbyist cultures. I'll share with you my personal definitions for the first three (read: these are tongue-in-cheek descriptions), but I won't touch the last three with even my Maghari Chieftain Staff, nor will I divulge to which of the last three I belong. Mwahaha.

  • Nerd: Academic and abstract minded. Could sit alone for an entire day merely "thinking". Could argue semantics for hours on end, and quite possibly does this very thing as a hobby. Often found with their nose in a book, or debating Foucault with Marxists. They get excited about dictionaries... or possibly very angry when they disagree with the definitions. Examples include: Your English teacher from high school. Your Statistics professor from uni. Hermione Granger. Yours Truly.

  • Geek: I attribute this noun to the "hobbyists". In this context: gamers. They have a hobby that they have integrated, or want to integrate, very deeply into their daily existence and lifestyle. They may become increasingly active in various "sub-cultures" would can encompass a wide variety of things. A geek is not defined by what their hobby is, but rather their attitude, devotion, and excitement regarding their hobby. Examples include: Most Likely Everyone Reading (or writing...) This Blog. Trekkies. Roleplayers.

  • Dweeb: Someone who is an outsider due mostly to poor social skills. Examples include: Steve Urkel. Nuff said.

Sorry, none of my fascinating MsPaint diagrams this time.

An individual can be more than one of these types of people. For instance, most dweebs are also a geek or a nerd. Many bloggers are a combination of Geek and Nerd. I definitely fall under that last particular combination.

When I was in grad school, I was surrounded by non-geek Nerds, and I couldn't stand it. There were plenty of dweeby Nerds, which I don't particularly like. I love geeky nerds. See, a nerd can get so caught up in the abstraction of concepts, in Academia, that they lose touch with people who aren't nerds. Too many develop a superiority complex, because they believe they are more intelligent than non-nerds. The dweebs just kept shuffling awkwardly when I tried to buy them a beer whilst gawking at my chest.

But see, a Geeky Nerd takes the excitement that comes from their innate geekiness, and directs it toward a subject often determined by their nerdiness.


I loved studying Classics when I was surrounded by Latin geeks, because we would giggle about silly jokes like "Semper ubi sub ubi! teeeeeeheeeeeeeeeee!!!" and fritter away our time debating about how to translate "amo" in a Catullus poem, or snickering about Roman graffitti that consisted merely of the words "ARMA" next to a naughty scribble. If you understood any of those three references, and giggled yourself, congratulations. You're a GeekyNerd. I have a tattoo on my back that says "Odi et Amo" because I wanted to be a Latin teacher... and what's cooler than a Latin teacher with a Catullus line imprinted on their back, right? RIGHT? I love it, so I live it.

Because of my particular personality combination of Geekiness and Nerdity, I absolutely adore literature about philosophy and psychology of gameplay. I discovered this great website for a PhD candidate at Washington State University (Christopher Ritter), in which he writes a blog about his topic of interest ("videogames as cultural texts"), as well as discussions surrounding his dissertation. From his "About Me" page:

Essentially, I approach videogames from the viewpoint of contemporary rhetoric, seeing them as cultural artifacts whose design reflects ideologies that are currently bouncing around U.S. culture. The videogames that really catch my eye – and suck up my time – are Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), because they’re both texts  and social spaces, and so studying them involves simultaneously unpacking how they’re designed and how they’re received. My dissertation will focus on the rhetorics of individuality in World of Warcraft.

But I was hooked when I saw his pictures from PAX09.

Those of us involved in the gamer community can be pretty defensive and protective about our hobbies. Most of us are accustomed to occasionally being referred to as some form of an "outsider". So, it's nice to read analyses from someone who is "one of us", even if I don't necessarily agree with all his conclusions. If you are interested in that space wherein Nerd and Geek meet, check out Ritter's page, and feel free to send me links to other things you've read that you enjoy as well.



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Secret Admirer Results and Randomness
My secret admirer is awesome. She/He sent me a mail in game that included candles, pinot Noir, and some heart candies. Someone must have known what a sweetheart-candy addict I am!

I know that everyone guessed it long ago, but the wow-blogger love of my weekend was Syrana... which was definitely an easy pick for me, since I've adored her for quite a long time. Never fall for a lock, my healer friends. They will simply Corrupt your heart, and shard your soul. Oh and apparently Sideshow got to her before I did.

Alas, I'm a Dwarf, and therefore about as subtle and stealthy as.... well, a Dwarf. Funny how that works. My allusions to snow-love, my drunken hiccups... it was all pretty obvious right from the first comment I believe. See, when I fall for someone, I feel no shame or shyness. I'm very much the HI GUESS WHAT I LOVE YOU LETS MAKE BABIES kind of gal, to be honest. Read into that what you will.

Have you been following the blogger secret admirers on twitter as we tried to figure out everyone's love interest? I think I even accused Deyndor of being a girl, what with the whole swooning over dark chocolate thing. Much like Brigwyn, he's male. Whoops.

Speaking of twitter, I changed my twitter name to MissMedicina, and elimeny is locked up, soon to be purged, and reserved for my friends and family who really do not appreciate me spamming their twitter accounts with WoW information. If you've been following Elimeny, please make sure to change it to MissMedicina.

I also swapped from my beloved Alice-got-a-gun avatar to this lovely Nurse. The picture was found on DeviantArt, and created by affekt.

Posts may be skimpy this week, because I have some family issues that resulted in a new addition to our household who needs to get registered for school and all kinds of fun stuff. But instead of hanging out here, wondering where I've run off to, head on over to The Physician's Log, and check out all the lovey dovey bloggers who participated in the Secret Admirer exchange. I'll still be on twitter too... so come join in on the fun (I'm looking at you Tam)! Maybe I'll even serenade y'all with a little Meatloaf...



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Love is in the Hair... wait.
I normally shy away from things like shared topics and Blog Azeroth events. I don't really know why. But I recently discovered Physician's Log via Bossy Pally, and I'm so in love with her website, that when she put out a call for people to get involved in this Secret Admirer's event on Twitter, I couldn't resist.

So now I must go forth and be subtle in anonymous comments in someone else's blog. I'm not sure I know how to do "subtle"... I'm a dwarf. There's nothing stealthy or subtle about a dwarf. Dwarf rogues? Oxymoron. Anyway, I digress.

Supposedly my secret admirer is supposed to comment on this post. So keep an eye on the comments if you want to watch the fun! I feel rather like a princess waiting on a throne, gazing out the window awaiting my secret prince to come tell me... okay I took that way too far. Ending this post right now. /awkward



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The Pet Healing Question
During my interview on the Twisted Nether Blogcast (which I'm sure all of you have listened to by now... right?!), Brigwyn asked a question that has plagued healers for 80 levels.

Should healers heal pets?

You'll find people with opinions on both sides of the spectrum. Of course, I'm assuming the hunter in question is neither a jerk, nor a "classic huntard" who allows his pet to pull everything. One of my best friends is a Beast Mastery hunter and runs ICC with us, so I'm quite used to running with good hunters.

A few weeks after I switched from Holy to Disc, another hunter I run with a lot pouted at me and asked why I no longer healed his pet. I was rather confused, since I had never really gone out of my way to heal people's pets. He told me that before, his pet always survived through all the fights. I sat down and thought about this for awhile, and finally figured out why he had noticed the difference - Holy Priests have Circle of Healing which is a smart heal, and therefore WILL heal pets. Disc Priests focus more on using Penance and Power Word: Shield. Neither of these will heal or protect a pet unless the healer makes a concerted effort to do so.

AoE Smart Heals


So let's take a look at some AoE Smart Heals that will heal pets without a concerted effort made on the healer's part:
Wonky spells that may require a bit of testing before I'm sure how they affect pets:
  • Chain Heal - (Resto Shaman) - this is a little wonky, depending on who it's cast on first - note the tooltip.
  • Holy Light (Holy Paladin) - note that this will only happen if glyphed for the splash effect. This is not actually a "smart heal" as it seems to randomly select 5 targets within range to benefit with the splash heal effect.

Divine Hymn is on a very long cooldown, so I wouldn't expect for pets to get healed from that very often. But essentially, if pets are among those with the lowest amount of health and greatest need for healing, they will be one of the targets chosen for healing by the smart heal.

Group Heals

So what about the not-so-smart group heals? These are heals that will heal all members in a particular group within a certain range.
I tested Prayer of Healing and Holy Nova last night. As long as the pet's owner (i.e. the commanding Warlock or Hunter) is in the party that is being targetted by the group heal, the pet will be healed as well.

Avoidance

Okay so we've talked about the passive ways in which a healer can heal pets. The next question is, how much healing do hunters' pets really need? In reality, as long as the hunter is doing their job and keeping their pet from being aggressive when not needed, and making sure the pet is attacking the right target... not much!

In patch 3.3, Blizz buffed the passive ability known as Avoidance. There is both a Hunter version and a Warlock version. Priests may have noted that even our Shadowfiends were given a similar ability to increase their survivability. In fact, the only class that didn't get a similar passive ability for their pet was the Death Knight, who needs to spec into Night of the Dead in order to get the same thing.

The stock UI and even most unit frame add-ons do not make it particularly easy to heal pets. If you use Healbot, you can set it up to show pets, and I have X-Perl configured to show them as well, but standard formats are not always amenable to pet-healing.

Raid versus Dungeon

However, due to the way AoE and group heals work, coupled with the changes to Avoidance, in a raid, healers should rarely, if ever, find it necessary to directly heal pets. Single target healers (Paladins, and to a lesser degree, Disc Priests) are least able to do much healing to pets. In a raid, this usually doesn't matter anyway, as they will likely be focusing on the tank. But, if your raid healer is a Disc Priest in charge of shield-spamming, or an extra Pally, keep this in mind.

The problem comes in 5 man dungeons. Depending on the type of healer the 5 man has, and the amount of AoE healing they do, pets may get little, if any, indirect healing at all. The first priority to keeping a pet alive is for the hunter to take care in how they manage their pet. Pets will nearly always be the lowest priority target for the healer.

Why did my hunter friend notice that his pet was no longer getting heals from me once I switched to Discipline? In 5 mans, I rarely need to use any group heals, because I focus more on bubbling everyone - except that I never remember to bubble pets. The unit frame for pets is much smaller and easier to overlook. Usually Prayer of Mending will hit them enough to keep them up... but sometimes it's not enough.

Should Healers Even Care?

Maybe not. Maybe it isn't our responsibility, since hunters do have the ability to heal their pets, as do warlocks. Pets and minions certainly are very rarely a priority.

However, the purpose of a healer is to help keep others alive long enough to perform their role properly. Particularly for Demonology Warlocks and Beast Mastery Hunters, pets make up a significant portion of their DPS. Losing their pet or minion renders them very impotent damage wise, and can make or break a fight if it's a DPS check.

In the end, after examining the passive avoidance ability, and the effects of AoE and group heals, I don't think it's necessary for healers to specifically make an effort to heal pets, except in certain fights (for instance, our hunter's pet is a significant portion of our physical DPS on the adds for the Lady Deathwhisper fight, so I do keep an eye out on her pet).

But as a healer, if you have some extra mana, and an extra GCD to throw around, consider putting a bubble on the kitty. Your hunters will love you. And who wouldn't want the love of someone like Pike or Brigwyn? Except those 'locks...



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Twisted Nether Blogcast Posted!
Pssst... If you weren't able to make it to the Live Blogcast last Friday at Twisted Nether, the episode has been posted! It's not quite the same as being in the chatroom with the rest of us, but go ahead and give it a listen. I'm very proud of my ability to cover up the accent... although a bit embarassed by how much I was giggling.

I want to send out a personal thank you to Fimlys and Nibuca who made me feel very welcome... and to all my friends and guildies who showed up and filled the chatroom until it was almost bursting! It was an awesome way to spend a Friday night.



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The Duel that Would Not End
It was a dank and chilly night in the Dalaran sewers I call home. I was feeling bored and melancholy and singing my Divine Hymn of Meatloafness around all the folks duelling when I was struck by a particularly interesting Holy Pally who was fighting others.

Dueling as a Holy Pally? Hunh.

If you've never participated in a Heal-Off, all you have to do is randomly start healing some healer in a capital until you run out of mana. Eventually you might even have 2 or 3 or 10 other healers join in on a circle jerk of green numbers. I've always enjoyed these, but it never occurred to me to actually try and duel another healer and see who could stay alive longer.

So when I saw this Holy Pally, I thought to myself "Hey, Faction Champs have taught me a few useful PvP tricks. Plus, I happen to have a Pally, and I know some of their abilities... this might be fun. Disc is supposed to be good at PvP, so it would be nice practice as well." So I invited the Pally in question to duel me.

30 minutes later, we were both at full health, and STILL fighting.

It was a Bubble-Up-a-Thon. He'd bubble, I'd Mass Dispel. I'd DoT him up, he'd Cleanse. I screamed at him, he Judged me. I Penanced, he'd Holy Shock. I tried to Mana Burn him over and over to no avail... he tried to melee me but my bubble absorbed it all. Hell I even tried to Net him a few times, but I just couldn't put out the damage needed to take him out while he was rooted.

Finally I just stood still and let him take me out because frankly, this was completely exhausting. So next I told him to stay Holy and I would go Shadow and try to take him out. 3 minutes later, he won.

I bow down before your superior PvP abilities random Dalaran Sewer Holy Pally Dude. But I still contend that 30 minute duel was a DRAW.



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Resourceful I Am
I'm feeling more practical and less philosophical today, so I thought I'd take the time to write up a list of various website resources that I love and share them with you fine folks.

Crafting

  • Crafter's Tome has long been one of my favorite resources for lists of all the different recipes for each profession, along with the mats required, where to get the recipe, drop rate, and lots of different filtering methods. Kaliope and I appear to share a love for crafting in WoW and in other games, and she has definitely put forth a lot of effort into designing and maintaining this site. The only problem I ever see is that she is meticulous about confirming the presence of patterns and recipes, so when new patterns arise from a patch or similar, it may be some time before she updates the list. However, if she gets a Beta key for Cataclysm like she did with WotLK, you can be sure to see the Beta patterns up (tagged separately of course) for your perusal.
  • FreeWithMats: The purpose of this website is to show you a list of all the people on your server who have a particular pattern or recipe available - assuming, of course, they have updated the site with their own information. Back in BC, this website was full of loads of people who had all the patterns - looking for a rare glove enchant that only dropped in AQ? This website was the place to check if anyone on your server had that pattern. Unfortunately, when Wrath came out, they redesigned the site - losing all the people who had previously been listed. In reality, this was probably a good thing, as many players had likely stopped playing since posting their info. The problem is that people don't know about this amazing resource, and so very few folks are listed (I'm the only one on my server) which greatly reduces the efficacy of the database. I use it anyway as a handy check list of what patterns/recipes I have, and which ones I still need.

Raiding Progress


There are two sites in particular that are popular amongst people who want to check out the quality of another's gear, gems, enchants, etc.

  • My preference is wow-heroes. I like this particular site because it has a very easy to read interface. A quick scan of the progression bar let's me know how my gear is for relevant content. It also shows me a person's off spec, and makes it easy to see their professions, their health and mana, their guild, and which spec is most likely their main spec. It's easy to scan over raid statistics and achievements, what type of gems people are using, if everything is enchanted with the best enchant for their class/spec, where they got their gear, the iLvl, etc. It also makes it easy to find upgrades. WoW-Heroes is a raid leader's dream - esecially if you lead a lot of PuGs. This goes way beyond gearscore.
Another reason I prefer wow-heroes is that it is NOT Level 80 specific. Currently, it only will provide information for characters level 70 or above, but the level 70-79 analysis is very handy for leveling through Northrend when you are looking for upgrades, figuring out which dungeons are within your grasp, etc.
  • Be Imba is another site that many favor over wow-heroes, but I seem to have a lot of technical difficulties with it and find it a lot less organized with a less informative interface. However, Be Imba will pick up if someone is not meeting their caps (i.e. hit cap) which wow-heroes does not point out.
  • Raider101 - This is a wiki intended to provide something akin to "cheatsheets" for those who are looking for the basics of raiding for their class. One of the problems with a wiki is that it is often outdated, and therefore there are plenty of classes and topics that need to be updated. I'm currently working on the Disc and the Holy pages, but I'm slow when it comes to all the linking needed. When I'm finished with the update for the wiki, I'll make sure everyone knows.
I've heard some debates from bloggers about Raider101, suggesting that it discourages people from coming to our blogs, and instead looking for an easy one stop shop for the info they need. Personally, I don't really have a problem with that - I think that the people who regularly read my blog will keep coming back to listen to me make fun of myself, and I also believe that generating knowledge in a simple and easy to use format is a benefit for everyone. In a short, easy to read wiki such as Raider101, you aren't going to be addressing anything I talk about in my notorious "philosophy of healing" type posts. You go to your favorite blogs for discussions and debates - but sometimes it's intimidating to even jump into the discussion when you don't know the basics. I'm a big fan of guides that cover the basics for newcomers, so they can get up to speed and join in on debates and discussions quickly.

Miscellaneous

  • WoW Gem Finder is the best tool for gem shopping. By using a series of filters, you can determine what gems you need to pick up at the AH - you can separate them by color or stat or quality, among other attributes. The only issue I currently have with this tool is that it needs a filter to separate WotLK gems from BC gems.
  • WoW Collect is my go-to resource when I'm achievement hunting, and trying to figure out what pets, mounts, or tabards I have or need to get for the next achievement. One of the things I love most about this site is the ability to create a very simple checklist of what you have. I like checklists. They're like mini-spreadsheets.
  • Alchemist's Apprentice Cheat Sheet. Remember the days before ToC dailies, when you were out in Zul'drak, grinding out your Argent Crusade rep? Well, in case you ever decide to torture yourself in similar fashion again, this was my favorite URL for weeks.

If you have any other suggestions for websites that are particularly useful for raiders, levelers, PvPers, achievement hunters, role players, etc, shoot me a link in a comment and I'll take a look at it and see if I think it might be particularly helpful for my readers.



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The Disc/Holy Divide
I had a comment yesterday that bemoaned my switch to Disc priesting, and yesterday Shintar asked "What is it with all the discipline priests?"

It's a legitimate question. Why have so many priests gone the way of the Disco, and abandoned their Holy roots? Now keep in mind, I haven't completely abandoned Holy. I still feel that at my core, I'm a Holy Priest, and I'm just checking out this Disc thing for a little while. Or a few months. Or something. Yes, I'm in denial.

I hated healing heroics as Holy, and the frost badge rewards mean that I really do need to run heroics. But it's insanely boring. No one is taking any damage, so there's nothing for me to heal. As Discipline I can at least try to tell myself that I'm preventing people from taking damage. There's also the joy of pugging with a Pally tank, and telling myself not to bubble him/her just for a little added challenge. Heroics were a good excuse to start trying out a Disc spec, and to get the hang of it. Heroics are great for trying out new talents.

But, I'm sort of getting off track. The question remains - why are so many Holy priests making the Disc switch?

Feeling the Blizz Love


I have this theory that Blizz regulates class/spec populations via a series of buffs and nerfs. No one was playing Disc, so they reworked the talent tree for Wrath IIRC. And still, Disc Priests were faced with the annoyance of Recount obsessed Raid Leaders telling them their healing sucked. So Blizz came along and designed fights like the third phase of Anub'arak in ToC and Deathbringer Saurfang in ICC. Suddenly, Raid Leaders were hearing all about how awesome Disc Priests were for these fights... and they were FUN as a Disc Priest. You got to feel special and super-powerful.

It's always nice and warm when you're in that snuggly spot of Blizz-favored.

But the tide may be turning. Others have noted how prevalent Disc Priests are these days, and too many people picked up on the fact that a Discipline Priest in your raid made Saurfang trivial. So easy for the average raider doing ICC content, that you could get away with low DPS, sloppy add control, and slow tank swaps. Disc Priests were no longer just mitigating damage - they were mitigating fail. Many were able to solo heal the entire encounter. Deathbringer Saurfang is the final boss in the first wing in ICC, and he was intended to be HARD. He was intended to be a DPS check. But, with a Disc Priest in the party, he was essentially a joke.

Now, for some of us, he was still hard. He was still rough for my group. But he is SUPPOSED to be hard. You are SUPPOSED to wipe on him repeatedly.

Although the presence of a Disc Priest greatly reduces the difficulty of Anub'arak, it really only affects one phase - it does not trivialize the entire encounter. The same cannot be said for Deathbringer Saurfang. So the buff to Saurfang, which effectively stops Disc Priests from being so powerful in this fight, was not a surprise to me - nor am I really *that* disappointed. I am glad I got a chance to take down Saurfang before the buff, however, as it was a very fun encounter, and it felt good to feel so important and powerful. But too many Holy Priests felt they were required to switch to Disc just for the sake of this fight, and too many other healing classes were potentially left out in order to bring in a Disc Priest. The fight is now much more balanced, imo.

In short, we are coming off of the peak of the Golden Era for Disc Priests. Or maybe we will stay peaked a bit longer - I don't know for sure, but Saurfang pre-buff was definitely a high point in the Disco world.

Is Discipline Healing More Challenging?


I cannot make this post without asking that question, even though it really grates on me to demand that answer from myself. I hate the idea of one spec or class being considered more challenging than another. It leads to people calling one spec a faceroll choice over another being the "hardcore" option. I feel I have something of a responsibility to my readers too... if I say Disc is more challenging, and Holy is less so, I fear it's going to ripple across the blogosphere as though it were The Divine Truth. I think people just listen to me because I have Dwarf boobs.

I've mentioned before the difference between reflexive and rotational healing. Holy Priests and Disc Priests are a great example of this difference. Both have reactionary aspects, and both have rotational - but Holy stands more on the reflexive side, whereas Disc Priests have talents that lend more strength to weaving their spells. If you have slow reflexes, Holy will provide more of a challenge. If you struggle with planning your heals and weaving them, Discipline priesting may be more difficult. I struggle with tying my shoes properly, so everything is a challenge for me.

However, the primary reason why I think Disc Priesting can provide a bigger challenge is due to the nature of preventative damage. In order to prevent damage from occuring without completely going out of mana... you have to know when that damage will occur. And that means you have to know the fights.

I want to draw your attention to a recent post made at Resto Shaman Flow by a new blogger who shows a lot of potential - and won me over by comparing Disc Priests and Resto Shammies. Wugan said it best when he said "The most glaring issue is that mitigation only works if you can successfully predict the incoming damage."

Raise your hand if you play Farmville or type messages on Twitter while your Raid Leader is explaining the fights. Don't worry, you don't have to confess. I see within your secret heart... and I know. I know because I'm guilty of it myself. You don't generally have to know the intricacies of each individual fight to know that most of the stuff that's on the floor is stuff you need to get out of. Don't stand in front of the boss, or you'll get cleaved or slapped, or vomitted upon, that sort of thing. The basic rules of raid fights can be generally applied to all fights, and the details themselves don't really matter when all you really need to do is heal people AFTER they've taken damage. Don't tell the DPSers, but many healers are just incredibly ADD.

Normally, I wouldn't know the fights. I'd be picking daisies out in Icecrown while someone else explains to others what they need to do, and I just assume I need to play whack-a-mole. But now that I'm leading the cavalry, now that I'm supposed to come up with the strategies, now that I'm the one sending out emails to everyone about how the fights work, I have to know the ins and outs of these fights.

Performing well as a Discipline Priest requires you to know the fights. Yes, you can perform better as a Holy Priest if you know the fights, but it's not nearly as essential to your healing abilities as it is for a Disc Priest. You can prevent the damage you personally take by knowing when events will happen, and you can alert your raid members of course, but there is very little you can do spell-wise to prevent these folks from taking damage. A really good Holy Priest will know when OOOOOBLIVION is going to happen, and will be sure to build up their Serendipity stacks before hand so that they can cast a lightning fast Prayer of Healing that lands right after Oblivion (Shockwave) hits - same for Decimate, and other similar abilities. Weaving your spells to maximize Prayer of Healing or Greater Heal casts is the mark of a superior Holy Priest.

For a Disc Priest, it is required in order to do even a mediocre job.

Thus, we have this prevalent attitude that Disc Priests are harder than Holy Priests - because it requires a bit more foresight and knowledge about the encounters to perform well. And of course, if it's harder to play, it's obviously superior, amirite? Or maybe it's just more fun.

But I contest this. Because last week, happily dual specced Disc/Holy, I tried to heal Marrowgar for the first time in my Holy spec - and it was a complete mess. We wiped FOUR times on a boss that should be a one-shot every week. I take full responsibility for it. Even putting aside the issues I was having with remembering my macros and clicks, the fact remains that seeing all those green bars go down was terrifying. My reflexes are rusty from so many weeks as a Disc Priest. I was on tenderhooks waiting for the damage to occur so that I could DO something about it, and then completely incapable of reacting to it quickly enough. It's not that you don't have to react quickly as a Disc Priest, it's just you don't depend on quick reactions nearly as much as a Holy Priest does.

The Disc Priest must plan - the Holy Priest must react. Both are difficult skills that require practice and talent. It's a lot easier to fail as a Disc Priest than it is as a Holy Priest - however, the flip side of that is that it is a lot more difficult to be a truly excellent Holy Priest than it is to be an excellent Disc Priest. In order to be a superior Holy Priest, you must master both the art of quick reaction and the skill of heal-weaving. Even if you do react quickly as a Disc Priest, it won't be as effective as it is for a Holy Priest - a 40% reduction in damage taken is vastly different than a free death.

The Nature of Mitigation

Either way, it's also quite easy for Disc Priests to top the effective healing charts (despite what Recount addicts may initially perceive), because of the nature of damage mitigation. Since a Disc Priest prevents the damage from even happening, there is nothing for the other healers to heal. The other healers don't ever see the green bars go down, so why would they cast a heal when there's no damage? This is, of course, an extreme example, but the point stands even though in reality it's just that there's a lot less damage going around, and therefore a necessity for less heals.

Even advanced combat log parsers don't seem to take bubble "overheals" into account due to the mechanics of the combat log mitigation reporting. They only record the portion of bubbles that were absorbed - not how much the original bubble was that was cast. In other words, if I cast Power Word: Shield on someone, and none of it is absorbed, and the whole bubble goes to waste (as well as the mana I spent on it), I know of no combat log parser that will pick up on that (correct me if I'm wrong please). So Disc Priests appear especially efficient and powerful.



This Post Brought to You by TLDR Tuesday: Because What the Hell Else Are You Going to Do?




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Bubble and Blood Power
I had heard rumors of the change, but was unable to personally confirm it until our sloppy attempts on Deathbringer Saurfang last night... but please note there has been a pretty significant change that Disc Priests need to recognize.

Daelo actually announced this almost a week ago but I somehow missed it, so here's the Blue Quote:

Absorbs such as Power Word: Shield no longer prevent Blood Power from being gained when damage is dealt by Saurfang. Casting Power Word: Shield is not a bad thing to do as the ability will absorb the damage dealt. This was an intentional 3.3.2 change. We also removed the ability to knockback the Blood Beasts off the platform and the removed of Blood Power gain from Mark of the Fallen Champion damage. We unfortunately missed getting these changes into the patch notes.

I feel kinda ashamed I didn't catch the blue note on it earlier. Sorry that I missed that guys. I feel I have failed you miserably.

I'll go pay my Penance now. Ha ha. SEE WHAT I DID THERE?





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Revisiting Circle of Healers
Saunder actually started this up nearly a month ago, and it has been sitting in a text document entitled "DO THIS JBIZZLE" on my desktop this whole time.

I've also been a bit hesitant to bring up the Circle of Healers topic again, because while it was awesome, it was also slightly overwhelming in terms of the number of responses! I actually STILL get responses from people, along with emails asking to be included on the responders page. For those of you who are listed on the page, you probably have noticed you still get quite a bit of traffic from it, especially if you were one of the first to respond.

The original iteration of the Circle of Healers healing survey was intended to make you think about how you heal, and to encourage you to learn about other healing classes, and how THEY heal - and then spread the word, and get to know your fellow healing bloggers. The aftermath was that dozens of healing bloggers added one another to their feedreaders, and we all got to know each other a bit better - but did we learn anything about our healing abilities?

Saunder wants to know, and asked me to personally look back on my responses and consider a handful of questions, to which I've added a few of my own. I invite the rest of you who originally responded to ponder these questions as well, and ask yourself: How much have you learned about healing since you replied to the survey?

The New Questions:

1. Reread your original answers to the questions. With the benefit of hindsight, score your own work in terms of its cringeworthiness.

It's interesting to look back on my responses from 3 months ago, because I have completely changed specs and raiding format. Therefore, it makes me laugh to think that at one point in time, Circle of Healing was my favorite spell. PSHAW. PENANCE FTW. I find myself shaking my head patronizingly at the holy version of myself. I was intimidated by the concept of Disc at the time... and now I completely love it.

2. Has your class's healing improved in the area you identified as its weakest?

My original answer to the "What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?" question was "Lack of instant burst healing... I'm thinking Penance or even Holy Shock. I wish we had a single target instant burst heal, even if it were on a long cooldown. Something like desperate prayer, but for someone other than ourselves."

Of course, now that I have changed my priority to Disc healing, I *do* have Penance. But aside from that, one of the many tips and tricks I learned from adding so many other healers to my Circle, and by getting more involved on the Priest WoW forums as well as the PlusHeal forums, is that I learned that in order to generate a lot more single target burst healing, a lot of Holy Priests use the Guardian Spirit trick. They pick up the Glyph of Guardian Spirit, which effectively gives your Guardian Spirit a one minute cooldown unless things go badly, and provides a 40% boost to the healing received by a target for 10 seconds.

It's still not exactly what I was looking for, but it's a start. To be fair, I don't think I will ever see the kind of single target burst healing spell to which I was referring for Holy Priests, and maybe that's okay from a balance perspective. Disc Priests have the single target burst healing spell that far surpasses any other (Penance), and Holy Priests have the AoE burst healing spell that is better than any other (Circle of Healing). In this way, Blizzard has managed to balance the two healing Priest specs against one another - when you pick your spec, you make your choice there.

3. Have you changed your "least favoured class to heal with"?

When I originally wrote this question, there was a lot of confusion about what I meant, since I worded it poorly. I had intended to ask what healing partner you prefer. My original answer to most favorite class to heal with, as a Holy Priest, was a Disc priest (which makes me cringe from a 10 man raid organizer standpoint, by the way). Now that I'm Disc myself, I frown when I see another Disc priest in the raid. It just doesn't work well in a ten man to have two Disc Priests (though in a 25 man it's perfectly fine - just takes more communication) due to the fact that Weakened Soul does not stack.

On the rare occasions that I do run Holy, I like the combination of a Holy Priest and a Holy Paladin now. The Pally can focus on the MT and OT, I can use my Renew liberally and take care of the rest of the raid.

Originally, I listed my least favorite class to heal beside as a Resto Druid - which is pretty funny now.

I absolutely love the combination of a Disc Priest and a Resto Druid. These two healers work in a fundamentally different way than the other healing classes, but partnered together, they can cover all the weaknesses of their individual classes. I can prevent a target from taking more damage and give the Druid's HoTs a chance to heal the target up. I can handle the tanks, with a spare bubble thrown around the raid, and the Druid works best peppering the raid with HoTs and rolling a few on the tanks to help me out. It's a great combination.

4. Did you read the entries from others in the webring, especially your class?

I did - and I put together some word documents separating the responses by class, but that's about as far as I got in terms of analyzing the responses. I learned quite a bit about how other classes work - knowledge I still use to this very day when organizing raids!

5. If Yes to #4, did you learn anything that made you a better healer?

Absolutely. I learned what other healers of my own class perceive as strengths. I learned tips and tricks for how to play my class better. I also learned that all classes have the ability to do well at single-target healing, but not all classes are as strong on multi-target healing. I learned the difference between Raid Healing and AoE Healing. I learned that plenty of Disc Priests are raid healers.

6. What tools/resources or information do you think you would need to improve as a healer and how could that help the community at large?

Saunder mentioned that he would like to get more feedback on his healing from other Holy Paladins, but the opportunity rarely presents itself. This is very true - when you are widely regarded as a single target healer, then you don't often get to raid with other healers of the same class/spec. Even in a 25 man, I rarely heal next to another Disc Priest against whom I can compare myself. It's not that I'm trying to compete with others - it's simply that I want to do the best job I possibly can. I'd love to put my numbers next to someone like Paolo on a 10 man ICC run, and get a feel for what kind of Weakened Soul uptime I have compared to him.

In regards to the larger community, the same problem that I saw three months ago still stands - a severe shortage of Resto Shaman blogs. Of course, since the Circle of Healers survey, I discovered Vixsin at Life in Group 5 and he has proven to be a wonderful resource to whom I recommend all resto shammies I meet. But I still do not see very many Resto Shammies period - and even less who have the skill and the ability to inform others on their class.

7. What did you identify as your worst habit as a healer? Have you improved in this area?

I listed my worst healer habit as using AoE heals when there were only one or two people needing heals. Obviously, as a Disc Priest, I no longer have this problem nearly as often - however, I have finally come to terms with the fact that using an instant AoE heal like Circle of Healing to heal only one or two people is incredibly common, and not necessarily a bad thing. Since Holy Priests lack that single target burst healing spell, it makes sense to use the AoE version liberally.

8. What did you list as your favorite healing spell and your least used healing spell for your class? Are these answers still true? If they have changed, what caused the change (i.e. patch fix, different healing environment, etc)?

I had to include this question along with Saunder's original six, because I think listing our most and least used spells helped many of us identify the weaknesses of our healing. When I run Holy, Circle of Healing *should* be my most used spell, and that was my original answer, and that was perfectly acceptable. However, I also identified that I never used Divine Hymn - and that was bad news. Of course, mathematically, with such a long cooldown, that spell will get used rarely - but I never used it.

However, I'm happy to report that ever since I took the time to note this problem in my survey response and set out to rectify it, my Meatloaf Hymn macro gets used nearly every boss fight - whether I'm Holy OR Disc. I can't even tell you how many wipes this spell has saved. Ever since I created my macro, I've never died during the third phase of the Black Knight fight in ToC5 - and that phase was always a challenge for healers.

Now that I'm Disc, I need to address the issue of not using Power Infusion and Inner Focus every cooldown. Paolo pointed this out to me in a 25 man ToC to which he invited me, and I have been working to rectify that ever since. So, who knows... maybe soon you will see a fun macro post about Power Infusion that is intended to encourage me to use it every cooldown! After all... it worked last time!

~~~

Since I despise memes, I'm not going to tag anyone specifically for this - but I do encourage all of you who originally responded to go back and reread your answers and ask yourself if the survey helped you improve as a healer at all. That was the original intention - so if you feel that it was an aid in any way, I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to take these questions written by Saunder to which I have added my own, and repost them with your own responses.
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