Friday, May 22, 2015

Raiding - What to do now that Blackhand is dead?

Well, we did as I said we would, which was do alts and casuals in heroic.  How we were going to do that seemed clear - we set an ilvl limit for alts and casuals at 660 and then said that if you died to mechanics within 1 minute of the boss encounter for 2 bosses then you would probably be sat out because we wouldn't be able to carry very well without our mains.  This seemed to kick people into paying attention and though I thought there would be many people who may need to be sat out, that didn't happen at all.

It was particularly cute that Gunsnbowses, Koda's hubby, who raids on Sundays was so excited about the raid that at lunchtime he was chattering about how he had all his flasks and pots and runes ready to go and he had parked himself outside Blackrock Foundry.  Taxar was excited too, and so was Tacky.

Voe was pretty keen to come along. He came on Sunday to the normal BRF run, but he obviously hadn't read up because he died to every mechanic within the first minute or less of the fight!  Was this Voe, I wondered.  He was not playing particularly well, maybe he was just rusty!  I had a word to him and told him I hoped he would do better, and he said he would not disappoint.

Loot was not done particularly well, though it wasn't an issue during the raid.  I had decided to loot it like we do the weekend, mains over alts rolls, and each person looting two items before the items had to be shared with others.  After I'd said that to the raid, Madcow said it should be one because we actually may not kill many bosses to be able to share loot anyway, so we changed it to one.  Luxy suggested an even better option which we will do next week - as there are a few items that the heroic raiders still want - which was to have the alts and casuals roll on the loot that is to be sharded, and loot that heroic raiders want they pay for in EPGP.  There was only one item which that would have applied to - the strength trinket that drops from Flamebender.  That item was coveted by Madcow for many raids and we hadn't seen it drop and it dropped last night and everyone was rolling on it.  Fortunately because Madcow hadn't looted all night, he was able to take the item ahead of the person who rolled higher than him.  But the awkward situation could have been avoided with Luxy's idea.

All up we did 6 heroic bosses which was good.  Very little loot was sharded and alts and casuals seemed pleased with the run overall.  We had started off with Ultra's monk tanking with Crusnik, but we switched over to Arelion when poor Ultra was having a time of it with Oregorger.  I played like an idiot and got hit by trains in Thogar TWICE, but the rest of the raid went well.  Sev's workmate, Teknoman, joined us halfway through the raid as a trial to see if he would like it in our guild (and to see if we could put up with him) and his mythic geared mage blew most people out of the water.  Or maybe everyone.

Guns and Koda were holding hands together and got smacked by a train, though it may have been lag.  They were both so apologetic about dying, that it made me feel guilty about dying also.  But I wasn't going to apologise.  No, I would rather laugh at myself.

Voe didn't die to every mechanic under the sun!  And Taxar didn't either!  Taxar had tanked on Sunday and he actually did a great job - when he DPS's he has dreadful positioning and dies a lot but his tanking was good, with the clear, concise instructions that Kyjenn said to him, that I complimented him afterwards on his tanking.

Crus and Arelion tanking was an interesting combination.  I think they had fun trying to pull threat off each other.

With that raid happening, I didn't really feel like doing Sunday's raid anymore.  I think that until 6.2 hits, we won't be doing Sunday raids if we are doing alts/casuals on Thursday.  What are we going to do on Monday?  Well, there are the bosses we haven't finished off and we might just do Thogar on heroic with everyone and for maidens and blast furnace see how it goes for a couple of attempts before we start switching over to mains.  Either way, I think this is a nice relaxing thing to do and I'm glad that everyone seems to be on board with it and not yell at me about why we aren't going into Mythic.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Raiding - Our turn to smash Blackhand

I hate to say it, but they love to hear it. The warlocks may have saved the day.

It's Wednesday.  Every Wednesday I'm usually in a great mood at work because I know I'm going home and going to raid. However, it's Blackhand Wednesday and I hoped to get some progress on Blackhand today, so I was excited about that, but yet not excited about people getting frustrated or continuing to make mistakes. Koda said we were going to kill it today and I laughed because... well, I didn't want to get my hopes up.

We are always light on ranged and Aza said that he would come to raid on Wednesday, as I think he's slowly coming off his break from WoW.  Sev happened to logon before raid time and Aimei said to him "Are you going to raid Sev?  Aza is coming and we're doing Blackhand."

Sev is still on his break from WoW and so I have been telling him not to come back early because it will just reset his cycle of WoW apathy and so I was surprised when he said he would come.  TWO extra ranged!  TWO warlocks!

Two warlocks who haven't seen much of the fight and don't use DBM.  Two warlocks who pick up the fight relatively quickly. But it's two ranged.  YAY!

Raid started and everyone was agog.  "WARLOCKS! Not one, but TWO!" Everyone was pleased to see them, I think. Hopefully that would inspire them to come back to raiding.  It's always nice to be wanted.

So we had a good Wednesday turnout. Our roster was:
Tanks: Aimei, Kyjenn
Heals: Navi, Koda, Bish, Rag
DPS: Madcow, Arelion, Hwired, Crusnik, Luxy, Crooked, Ultra, Kel, Aza, Sevrus, Lushen, Punchynok, Yuuda

We had some good attempts and then some bad.  I took Heart of the Wild because I was solo tranqing the demolition phase. First phase was going well and DPS was good - we measure it as good when Kyjenn doesn't get punted by Blackhand before the transition (so the tanks only get smashed once each).  And we were making that.

Phase 2 is always where the struggle is.  Rag was being sent into the up group, and he didn't think that was ideal (and I didn't either because tanks REALLY take a hit during that phase).  However, everyone knows how crap I am at getting up onto the balcony - I'd be lucky to make it up half the time and then nobody would get heals.  Which meant I had to chase the bloody tanks around and hope Bish and Koda had everyone else covered.

We had lots of mistakes as usual, the usual things we struggle with.
- both warlocks had their share of being shot by the Mark
- Ultra was kiting the tank around and positioned himself a little bit funny so he ended up getting shot because he was in front of the siege engine when marks came out.
- bombs in melee being triggered
- siege engines not being killed fast enough and fire going out
- healing just before the transition

I had some spectacular mistakes.  One time I was concentrating on healing the tank and then I got the mark so I turned and bolted to the siege and set off a bomb on EVERYONE around Blackhand, right before transition.  Well that was dumb.  I also got shot a couple of times and I had a bad habit of swearing into vent.  Crooked made a subtle comment that vent should be less cluttered and I have to control myself with talking into vent - I'm not even sure why I say "Oh shit....!" when I misclick a heal or get some bad debuff to myself.

It was good to see that Phase 3 was getting better - BOMBS LEFT MARKS RIGHT was eventually sinking in.  Madcow stood there with the bomb one attempt not realising he had it but overall people were good with the bombs, but the marks were still a bit iffy.  Healing for phase 3 feels like a massive poo-fight, and so we had Bish standing out of the smash constantly so that the tanks get healed, and obviously anyone who had the bomb wouldn't get in the smash.

On the 11th attempt for the night we had a really great attempt.  We got to phase 3 and people were doing OK, and then the tanks died when the boss was at about 10% and we managed to squeeze a little bit more out and wiped at 4%.  EVERYONE was stoked for that attempt and on our 12th attempt everyone was excited and feeling positive and we managed to kill Blackhand, though a lot of us were dead towards the end.

BIG CHEERS WENT OUT! Everyone was excited, happy, elated - it had taken us 156 attempts to get it (which according to Ask Mr Robot, at our ilevel it should be 85 attempts) but who cares, we had done it!

Well wouldn't you know, 3 vanquisher tokens dropped.  Crusnik was a happy DK.

Aza walked off with Blackhand Doomstaff, and both Iron Soldier's Sabres were taken for transmog. Shattering Smash leggings were sharded.  No trinkets were rolled and none dropped so that was disappointing!  But who cares, we killed it!

So what to do for the rest of the week?  The officers had a pow wow and we decided that we would welcome alts into the heroic raid depending on DPS and heals, and the casual raiders on Sunday could come as well.  However, some limits were set - if they died to mechanics within one minute of the fight for 2 boss fights then they would be asked to sit out.  I think that's fair.  And it will give others the opportunity for a break now that Blackhand is dead if they don't want to raid but secretly I'm wishing that we would do some of the meta achievements.  Maybe I can hijack Sunday to do that since we're alt raiding during the week.

Are we doing Mythic?  Some people asked that, but we noticed that patch 6.2 is on the downloader so that means patch will drop in the next couple of weeks.  I think our time would be better served doing Blackhand and then relaxing for the rest of the time doing alt runs or achievements so we still keep our fun yet have our toes in the raiding scene still.  Ah, the life of a casual raiding guild :P


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Resto druids - How do I make this stupid T17 4 set bonus work for me?

After my previous post about druid healing, I suddenly had this strange and compelling idea....

Affinity and Jarre (and just about everyone other resto druid in various forums) mentioned how crappy the T17 resto druid 4 set was, and that when it was complained about to Blizzard, the response Celestalon gave was that it was a "different playstyle" issue and they would not look at altering it.

(For those who don't know, the 2 set bonus is 3 casts of regrowth are free and instant after activating Nature's swiftness, and the 4 set bonus is the mana cost of wild growth is reduced by 25% after casting two consecutive healing touches)

I have complained about the crappy 4-set bonus before, because it didn't suit my playstyle, but perhaps I was going about it all wrong.  Perhaps what I should be looking at is how I SHOULD be playing to make the most of this bizarre bonus.

As I've mentioned before, the times that I want to use Wild Growth are during the times of group damage.  At that time I don't want to be casting a 3 second Healing Touch, I would rather get out a rejuvenation on one person, swiftmend them and then do a Soul of the Forest Wild Growth on the others and then some rejuvenation top ups.  So in about 7 seconds I can do that with 3-4 top up rejuvenations.  Compare that to two healing touches on two targets and a 25% cheaper wild growth - doesn't seem very effective.

Some smart people have cracked down some numbers on the usage of the 4 set bonus:
a) with new 4p setbonus: 2x HT + SM + WG
Base Mana cost: 20.7% + 13% + 28.31% = 62.01%
Healing done (from my log): 94k + 46k + 506k = 646k
HPBM% = 10,417.67 (healing per 1% base mana spent)
b) without using the set bonus: SM + WG
Base Mana cost: 13% + 37.75% = 50.75%
Healing done: 46k + 506k = 552k
HPBM% = 10,876.85
So, by using the 4p bonus, we reduced the HPM by 4.22%. This means, it is less effective to use the 4p bonus than just to cast WG, even though I'm fully accounting for the HT healing. (Without SotF, HPM is reduced by 1.5% when using 2xHT+WG compared to just WG.)
One thing that isn't very obvious is that the buff you get (for the cheaper Wild Growth) from casting two sequential Healing Touches lasts for 16 seconds - so you don't have to use it straight away or on the next cast (like you do with Soul of the Forest).  Knowing that made the mana conservation a LITTLE bit more useful - at least incidentally. To try to make a more active use of this buff, I started doing two Healing Touches 15 seconds before I'd use Wild Growth to top up two lower health and then heal as normal. When the time came to use Wild Growth (at the time I was going to use it anyway), it was cheaper.

To get more bang for your back, using a Glyph of Healing Touch helps because each healing touch you cast reduces your cooldown on Nature's Swiftness by 2 seconds which means you can do your 3 instant regrowths more often - great for those emergency times.  Just to increase my healing output I tend to use my nature's swiftness as often as possible not only to heal up people quickly but also it's free so I can snipe that heal before the other druids hot them up heal and save some mana.  And with only a one minute cooldown, and reducing with the continuous Healing Touch casts, you can get your NS up again for that oh-sh** moment when you need to do a super fast top up on someone about to die.

The problem with low healing time is that you don't really want to be standing around not casting so you might as well DPS instead of wasting mana casting healing touch, refreshing your lifebloom..  If you're going to cast some wraths then you might as well take Dream of Cenarius, which heals increases your damage by wrath by 20% and also heals a nearby ally for 150% of the damage done. Now assuming no haste procs from Darmac's trinket, the cast time of wrath on my toon is 1.68 seconds, and it does 16-17k damage and heals for 24-26k (with just MotW buffed, no flasks or food), and wrath costs no mana to cast.  Healing Touch (without Rejuv glyph) takes 2.1 seconds to cast, costs 3312 mana and heals for 32k.  So in a fight with periods of low activity Dream of Cenarius is not a bad choice and it is also not a bad choice if you want to conserve mana. Free heals at 25k or so is not bad! Of course the drawback is you can't control who that heal goes on.

If you play to maximise HPS then I think you will find that the HT/Wild Growth playstyle will not work for you.  It's more of a conservative mana playstyle.  However, everyone only seems to look at DPS and HPS and if you aren't doing good numbers on those, then it implies you are a shitty healer (which may not be the case) and of course with absorbs around your healing is going to look even more shitty.  But back to the topic, I have come to the conclusion that the 4 set isn't TOTALLY useless - the mana savings are small but better than nothing, and if timed correctly you can get some use out of it without having to waste mana to gain mana.  I had been thinking about dumping a less ideal itemised armour piece and breaking my T17 4-piece but I think that having it is probably better than nothing.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Are resto druids a non-essential healer?

A GM of another guild on the server with whom I regularly converse with was talking about recruitment as one of his healers had decided to stop raiding.

"Do you want a resto druid?" I said jokingly.  "Because I have lots of those."

"Nah," he said. "Resto druids are pretty weak in heroic.  I'd rather have a monk or a shaman.  At the moment we have a disc, holy pally, monk and a shaman."

Of course I laughed at him.  We have been running two to three resto druids with one other healer for most of our BRF encounters. Sure, it's a bit of a struggle sometimes especially on tank healing but we can do it, but it's not that easy.

I didn't think much more of it until I ran across another blog of someone who started following me on Twitter.  Sarindre writes at Through the Eyes of a Tree and has been blogging for as long as I have - her blog goes back to 2010 - and in her last post she wrote about how people are saying that Resto druids are not an essential healer.
In my current guild, we do not have many options and are running with three Resto Druids ... and a Holy and Disc Priest... Are we the reason we have only downed 2 bosses in BRF and 4 in Highmaul? There is always the excuse that “oh the tanks are taking too much damage” or “we do not have enough DPS” but what if the real reason is “we do not have the right kind of healers.”
This is similar to our guild, where we reliably run with three resto druids, and holy paladin and a holy priest who are there at least 2/3 of the time.  I know that it isn't great, but we work with what we have.  Obviously there are times we are STRUGGLING and would love to have a paladin or disc, but we have managed.  It's on Blackfuse that we are really wanting those paladin heals though. (And remember, we are only a heroic guild, not a mythic one)
Then we moved onto Operator Thogar. We are doing pretty well on the fight but seem to lose it on the raid splits. I am the one chosen to follow the tank over to the one side and heal them. Normally I believe this roll of single tank healing would fall to a Pally, someone with great burst healing that will not let the tank die while he is being smashed in the face by a boss and tons of mobs. I am able to do it, basically I HoT the tank up and Regrowth/Heart of the Wild spam, but as I think about it, it would be way more effective for a non-HoT healer with great single heals to do this role.
This is true but it's not impossible. We do Thogar and when I am on solo tank heals, you hope to high hell that your tank hasn't taken the boss AND all the adds because that means deaaaatttthhhhh. I do the same, full HoTs rolling on the tank, mushroom, and get a swiftmended rejuv on them and then spam regrowth on them and chuck an iron bark and then yell for them to use a cooldown if it gets ugly. Not the best thing ever, but I do some wrath healing as well when it's not too stressful.

Sarindre said that she was listening to FinalBoss #78 where Affinity and Jarre were talking about resto druids in end game (mythic) and they talked about a lot of things, mostly lamenting that by end game, holy pallies and disc priests negate the need for a resto druid.  In heroic they're good but the absorbs scale a lot by end game, making them nearly a necessity to a raid.  A shame really, and I could see that happening if we moved to harder content.

Germination was also something that I find particularly mana draining - I actually much prefer Moment of Clarity because of the mana conservation that I get especially in Challenge mode - but I spend a lot of time spamming regrowth when it procs so you can get 4 regrowths out which is really quite decent. But I must be the only one who likes it.  I must switch to germination sometimes and see what my mana and healing compare.  And double germ must be so crappy when there are disc priests around!

They also spoke about current 4 piece tier, which Yuuda and I have discussed - and the 4 set is truly horrible.  I have tried doing it, but it has no place in the times I'm using it - when I'm spamming Healing Touch it's for a few targets getting damage, but once I need to use wild growth I wouldn't be using Healing Touch at all, I'd be going rejuv and a swintmend then a wild growth.  One amusing comment for what would be more useful would be if the 4 piece bonus was "When you cast 2 sequential Healing Touch spells, the next spell is an absorb" or something hilarious like that.  I think it would be more useful if it worked with a spell that would go well with healing touch, like using a damage reduction such as ironbark.  Maybe "When you cast 2 sequential healing touch spells, your next Ironbark will reduce damage by 40% for 10 seconds".  Well, I'd have to think about that really.

So, what do you think?  Resto druids - are they the worst healers for raids?