Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lifebloom cost doubled in 3.1; now refunds mana and heals more on bloom

The official PTR patch notes have been updated. Here's the biggie for us.

Lifebloom: Mana cost of all ranks doubled. When Lifebloom blooms or is dispelled, it now refunds half the base mana cost of the spell per application of Lifebloom, and the heal effect is multiplied by the number of applications.

What this means:

In ToL/with talents and 2pc T7, Lifebloom (hereafter referred to as LB) costs 366 mana. In 3.1, it will cost 732 per application. That means that it will cost 2196 mana to establish a triple stack, and then 732 mana to refresh (either 9 or 10 seconds, depending on your glyphs).

If you then allowed that triple stack of LB to bloom, it would refund half the cost of the 3 stacks, and give you a triple-sized bloom at the end.

In my gear (with just MotW, no raid buffs etc), my LB is 392 healing per tick, 1176/sec rolling triple stack. It blooms for 3217. In 3.1, it would bloom for 9651 (obviously quite a lot more if I had raid buffs and consumables), or 14477 crit (wow). The stack would cost you 2196 to establish, and would refund 1467 mana.
So basically you can allow your LB to "bloom" for ~10,000-15,000hp (more with raid buffs) and a 1467 mana refund. Remember though, that you will need to re-establish your triple stack or you are losing 1176/sec ticks, plus Nourish heals will be smaller if LB isn't on your target.

Despite the fact that this 10k heal would be hard to control, it might be good in an emergency to opt to let it go.
Also consider that if you choose to heal this way, you might opt not to use the Glyph of Lifebloom because you might prefer to have a shorter LB. You could also remove 1/1 point in Nature's Splendor to shorten it even further - but consider that this will affect your other HoTs, so I wouldn't recommend it.

The basic changes

In raid healing, if you happen to toss a LB to someone to smooth out their health, it will bloom for the same amount as before (single stack = no multiplier on the bloom), and refund you half the cost. So, if you're using LB on the raid, it will be the same cost and healing as it is now - there is no nett change.

If your style is to roll LBs on the tank/s, it will cost you double to establish and to maintain your stacks. This will obviously have a marked effect on your mana, particularly if you roll on more than one person. You may need to lean more heavily in favour of regen gear/consumables, save your innervate for yourself (and possibly consider the Innervate glyph - although I'm not sure what I could swap out for it). It may also make staying in 2pc T7 more attractive for the 5% LB cost reduction.

To put it very simply:
If you allow your LB to bloom all of the time, your mana efficiency will say the same, but your nett healing output will likely go down. You will lose healing through the loss of ticks and having to re-establish them, plus the fact that your blooms may end up as overheal because you can't easily time them (on fights where your target is taking heavy damage, the bloom is more likely to end up as effective healing).

If you roll your LBs most of the time, you will have the same healing throughput as you do now, but lose mana efficiency, which will be magnified if you roll on more than one target. It will cost you double to refresh your LBs, and will only ever get a little of that back if you accidentally drop your stacks. You will need to carefully consider how many people to roll LB stacks on (most likely only people taking constant, heavy damage, to warrant the high cost).

Blizzard's reasoning

GC has responded to questions about the change here. To paraphrase his major points:
Rolling Lifeblooms on 2-3 tanks is just hands down one of the most -- probably the most -- efficient heals in the game. We didn't want to nerf the amount Lifebloom heals, but we were concerned druids would jump to the top of the healer stack pretty quickly with the recent mana changes.

We think rolling is a fun part of the spell. It's just too efficient and makes Lifebloom the best heal per second and heal per mana.

We don't want (rolling on multiple people) to be very efficient.

Now it does potentially give you a new healing style, where perhaps you roll the 3 stacks on the MT but do 3 stacks and let it bloom on the OT. You can imagine a Patchwerk scenario where the MT is taking damage consistently and the OT takes it in bursts. The traditional roll is more expensive, but keeps the healing per second high and consistent. Allowing for a bloom is more mana efficient at the expense of having the hot up 100% of the time.

We have done a lot of calculations on this, but we also need to see how it plays out in Ulduar on the PTR in a real raid scenario, as well as seeing if any theorycrafters can poke holes in the model.

So, basically, they STILL consider rolling on multiple tanks to be too good (too efficient) and while they want us to still have that power, we need to consider more carefully when and how to use it (and on how many targets).

My initial thoughts

I'm disappointed that we're being nerfed again. I don't think we need another hit to efficiency, and I don't think we need something to discourage us from rolling LB. While I agree that LB was a little overpowered in the Hyjal days of rolling on 4 or 5 people and ONLY doing that, I enjoy rolling on a couple of people and I think it makes our healing interesting and challenging. Unfortunately it would appear again that Blizzard's definition of challenging is "more of a pain to do". I think I will still be rolling LB on the tank, but this will definitely discourage us from rolling on a couple of tanks, because the cost will be prohibitive.

This is my healing style and it concerns me that I might find myself struggling for mana and unable to roll on two or more people. For now though I am going to adopt a "wait and see how it feels" approach.

Despite the inefficiency of doing so, it does give a nice little option that if your triple stack is about to expire and you see that the target could use a 10k heal in a hurry, let it go.

Personally I think I would rather refresh the stack and toss a Nourish or Regrowth, saving the trouble of having to re-stack LB to 3; but it's an option. On fights like Loatheb there always seem to be people falling lower than others (eg, ret pallies), so you could double or triple LB them and time it to fall off when the aura lifts, meaning they will get an automatic 6-10k heal while you're busy throwing WG or healing the tank. I can see this being quite handy, albeit extremely situational.

Normally though, you can't really ask, "Will my target need a heal in 10 seconds' time?" and it would be hard to use this proactively. It would be almost impossible to know whether your 10k bloom will be helpful, or merely end up as overheal. I think instead it will more be a case of waiting until almost the end of the LB cycle to see if a 10k immediate heal would be helpful, and letting it bloom (again keeping in mind the loss of your 1100ish/sec ticks, the time to reapply, and the loss of +healing to your Nourish until you get LB back on).

As an aside, it's also a nice consolation for the times that your LB accidentally drops off because you had to switch to healing someone else in an emergency, or you were out of range, lagging, etc. A 10-15k cushion of healing and a small mana refund while you get back on track. Where normally losing a stack would be too bad, this is a little bonus.

Now we wait for release

GC has said that they will consider tweaking the numbers if testing reveals that the change was a little heavy-handed. The best we can do is get as many druids onto the PTR to test how this change will affect us. Other than that, we'll have to wait and see if this change goes live as-is.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday ramble: Guild progression and achievements

(Standard disclaimer: we don't know exactly what is coming in Ulduar or how challenging the content will be, things may change, etc etc)

Soapbox time again guys!

I am a very competitive person. I'm very proud of our guild's #1 spot on our server, and excited to see what happens come Ulduar, and how strong the competition against us will be. While I am very confident in our ability to hold that position, I try not to become complacent; Naxx wasn't exactly a challenge and things may be different when we all take off from the same starting line, rather than level 80s slowly trickling in and guilds beginning to raid at different times. I'm looking forward to a race.

Anyway.. I'll just come right out and say it. I may need to duck the flying tomatoes for saying this, but here goes.

25 man raids should be harder, more rewarding, and seen as more of an achievement than 10 man raids.


Wait, let me explain..

10 man raiders are people too

First, let me say that I agree that 10 mans should be challenging - I do not consider 10-man guilds to be less skilled in any way. Those raids should provide a challenge to people who can't run 25 man raids (or simply prefer 10s). And 10 man progression should be recognised as such; I have been in 10 man guilds and those boss kills were just as important to us as any hardcore guild's kills. I just want to be super clear that I'm not saying 10 mans are bad in any way, or that people who choose to run them are not as skilled as 25 man raiders.

But what really bugs me is when 10 man content is considered harder and therefore more of an achievement. That a 10 man fight should be tacked onto the end of all of the 25 man boss kills in order to say that you have actually "finished all endgame content."

I'm talking about 10 man Sartharion, of course.

I just.. don't want to do 10 man raids.

I've definitely enjoyed the challenge of Sarth10 these few weeks.. but aside from being something interesting to do, I don't really care about getting it done. 10 man raids, to me, are for fun, badges, something to do, and perhaps a gear stepping stone. They are a means to an end. Obviously to other people they are their "end game" and I'm not knocking that, definitely not. But as a hardcore 25man raider, 10 mans are not end game for me.

People have knocked me for not having Undying yet. But if they actually asked (or if they checked the Armory), they would find that I've done Naxx10 five whole times (plus two times I subbed in to help out for a few bosses). I do it specifically to help guildies out, but I always prefer not to do it. I've picked up a few 10 man achievements here and there, but I have no drive to go in and finish them off anytime soon.

I just don't care about 10 mans. To me, they are a side endeavour, a hobby, something to do casually - whereas 25 man raids are what I'm really here for.

So it really annoys me that I should feel obliged (yes, obliged) to take a step backwards into 10 mans to complete a fight that is seen as the hardest fight in the game. I feel that if I don't have this notch on my belt, I am in some way inferior to other 25 man guilds who have killed the same 25 man content but also added this 10 man fight to their resume. Basically, you can't claim that you A) have finished the game and B) you're a top raiding guild unless you step out of your 25 man raiding and go do this 10 man. And to a lesser extent, you need to go do 6min Malygos(5min pre-patch) and the Immortal, too. Then you're really finished. Properly.

It doesn't matter if you have zero interest in 10 mans (as I do). If you haven't done this fight, you're not such a great raiding guild after all. You can't claim to have finished everything, so don't even try to say you have!

A smaller margin of error, a more challenging fight

There are plenty of arguments out there that 10 man should be just as hard (and just as rewarding, gear-wise) as 25 mans. It seems a popular view (and it makes sense) that 10 mans leave less room for error, as well as giving far less flexibility in terms of group makeup and buffs, meaning that things can be more challenging. You can't afford to have slackers because everyone has to perform. There's probably room for underachievers more in a 25 man because a couple of people dragging their feet in a large group will have little effect compared to in a 10 man.

10man Sartharion with drakes is definitely much, much harder than the 25man version - because everyone has to perform at 300% capacity for nearly 15 minutes straight, and the slightest slip will cost you the attempt. It's crazy stuff (and definitely very rewarding).

But I just can't help feeling that it is really wrong for smaller raids to be seen as a bigger achievement than 25 mans.

Worse though, that I should feel obliged to do these 10 man fights and achievements to prove myself and my guild, even if I have absolutely no interest in 10 man raiding, because if I don't, I can't claim to be as progressed as I'm supposed to be. Finishing 10 man content to prove myself as a 25 man raider. lolwut?

QQ, my beautiful linear progression

Server progression used to be black and white. Here's a list of bosses, and here's a list of who has killed them - done. The top guild is the one who has killed the newest boss first. Recognition goes to the guilds who kill the bosses generally seen as the big milestones; the Ragnaroses, C'thuns, Vashjes, Archimondes, Illidans and Kil'Jaedens of the world. And now, Sartharion with drakes. It's pretty simple. You kill a boss before anyone else, you're the new leader (until someone beats you to another boss sometime).

Delicious linear progression. Om nom nom nom.

But if 10 man bosses are seen as harder than some of the 25 mans, where does that leave progression ratings? Do we make up our own rankings based on subjectivity and whatever people generally consider to be the harder content, regardless of group size or Tier number?

We saw a little of this kind of problem after changes were made to allow guilds to progress to BT without having to kill Vashj and Kael. The progression lists were suddenly thrown into turmoil as their caretakers tried to work out how to rate guilds who had killed the first couple of (easy) bosses in BT (a Tier 6 instance), but never killed Vashj or Kael (Tier 5 bosses), who were considered the most challenging bosses at the time. People could choose to skip the hardest encounters of lower tiers and go straight into the easier encounters of higher tiers.... and nobody knew how to rate them easily. They had to make up some kind of arbitrary scale of which bosses they considered harder, ignoring where they were "supposed to be" in progression ladders.

Vashj & Kael: in the Too Hard Basket

But my beef isn't so much with skipping content - it's about having to step outside of 25 man raiding for "progression" because a 10 man fight is perceived (in this case, correctly) to be harder and thus a step ahead of the 25 man version.

I won't go so far as to call it a "trend" yet, but if 10 mans do continue to give as much or more of a challenge and a greater victory than 25 man raiding, how will we rank guilds in the future?


Hard modes - here to stay

Preliminary Ulduar info is out. 14 bosses, 11 hard modes. Hard modes are things like Sartharion with X drakes up; the example they've given so far is the Flame Leviathan, which has defense towers that you can either kill to make things easier, or leave them up. The concept is very similar to Sartharion with drakes - depending on the number of drakes/towers you have up, the fight changes in difficulty and rewards different loot.

So it would seem that we will now have 11 more Sartharion with drake/s fights (basically). That's pretty exciting - so far it has been a case of "clear Naxx, work on killing Sarth with 1/2/3 drakes....... now um.... farm until Ulduar." On the other hand, it sounds like Ulduar will keep us busy for a long, long time because almost all of the bosses are Sarth-style encounters with optional challenges.

But the question is: will the 10 man "hard mode" fights be harder than 25 man?

Sarth3D on 10 man is the hardest fight in the game at the moment because it requires precise raid stacking, huge dps, and every single person to perform perfectly. On 25 man it's still a huge challenge, but when you switch to the 10 man version, 25 man seems like you could watch TV or eat a sandwich while you do it. I don't think Blizzard is trying to make 10 man the bigger challenge, but since you're really limited in how much you can "stack" your raid, not to mention the dps requirements, that's just how it's turned out.

Will Ulduar 10 man hard modes be the same?

I'm going to guess that they will. Not deliberately; not because Blizzard necessarily wants them to be the better challenge, but because they just require a much tighter raid than 25man, and are therefore more of a challenge by default. And that puts them higher on the subjective progression chart.

10man Sartharion+3: a bump in the 25man road

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah (amirite?)

I'm sure to a lot of people, this is a very trivial thing. But to hardcore, competitive raiders such as myself, we need to be able to see where we sit. Who the competition is. How close the race is and how hot the other guilds' breath is on our necks. It was hard enough in Tier 6 content when early Hyjal and early BT were basically parallel and it was difficult to say who was leading when one guild chose to start in BT and the other chose to work on Hyjal. Why can't things move in a straight line...

I like to know where we stand. Exactly where. It's a big deal. And having extra stuff like hard modes, 10 man fights and achievements (while fun and challenging) makes it much harder to know where you sit on that ladder.

I had hoped that 10 man Sartharion was a blip; that this kind of thing wouldn't happen again, but more and more I am thinking that perhaps this is the way things are going to be from now on - that Blizzard will make 10 mans as challenging, if not more, than 25 mans (whether deliberately or not). 10 mans are easier to fill, and are accessible for more people. Obviously it is a good business decision for Blizzard to allow more people to raid and have this challenge. Hardcore raiders are far outnumbered by the more casual raiders who want to see the raids, and it would be dumb for Blizzard to cater more for 25 man raiders rather than their larger casual customer base.

I love large raids. It makes me sad though, to think that large raids might no longer by the pinnacle of raiding, that 25 man bosses might no longer be the real barometer for server progression, and that 10 mans and achievements will become a necessary part of the 25 man progression ladder.

Dammit, I want my linear progression back.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nourish take 2: The dangers of getting ahead of oneself

Ok, so I may have got a little ahead of myself and jumped the gun on the Nourish Glyph. We don't know whether the new Nourish glyph stacks with the Tier 7 bonus. It might, it might not. We have to wait and see what is announced. Mmm, waiting. I'm not so good at that.

I was blinded by excitement. For the past few months I have wished that Nourish was better, that I would be justified using it over Regrowth in 95% of situations. I've waited for this buff and I got so excited that I jumped to the conclusion that because most other things in the game stack and are multiplicative, and so must this bonus be. And it would be GLORIOUS.

But maybe it won't stack. And there's a compelling reason for it not to stack: that would keep us stuck in T7 for a while. Then again.. 2pc feral T6 anyone? So that's not exactly proof positive. Still.. it's a good reason to make the glyph an alternative to T7, not something that actually stacks with it. I don't think anyone wants to have to pass on shiny new gear because you need set bonuses.

If they don't stack, I'll definitely be disappointed, because T7+glyph would be great. But even so, things won't be so bad.

In patch 3.1, Nourish WILL be better than it is now. I WILL include it in my rotation.

Pre-patch, and with 4pc bonus, Nourish generally heals for slightly more than glyphed Regrowth. Now, normally, a bigger heal is a bigger heal, and you would logically choose the harder hitting heal (especially since it's faster and cheaper). The difference though is that I can walk into a raid with 70% crit on Regrowth and only 20% on Nourish. I don't often need a faster heal, I don't need to save mana, and the crit is abysmal. So it's pretty easy to see why I would use Regrowth over Nourish. But aside from my own personal preferences and style, there are plenty of people who have done the actual math and will tell you that Regrowth is better HPS (for the moment), and you need that 4pc set to even begin to approach glyphed Regrowth.

In 3.1 though, with the crit rate adjusted down for Regrowth and up for Nourish, Nourish will end up with 4% more crit through talents; 25% on Regrowth and 29% on Nourish (more if you have Natural Perfection). Regen will be more of an issue as well.

With HoTs loaded up and either T7 OR the glyph (assuming they don't stack), average individual Nourishes will hit harder than glyphed Regrowth does. They do that already of course, but Regrowth's massive crit pulls its average heal size up (and HPS with it). Nourish was always faster, cheaper (talented) and hit a little harder, but Regrowth crits so often that it comes out ahead. With the crit rates evened out in 3.1, Regrowth will no longer have this unfair crit advantage, giving Nourish a chance to get a foot in the door and meaning that we don't have to use Regrowth as our filler heal.

This is for tank healing, of course; I think raid healing will vary much more based on individual play styles. Tank healing has more of a rotation, whereas raid healing can vary greatly according to how different people approach it.

So - I'll still get my ideal rotation of HoTs+Nourish+Nourish+refresh+Nourish+Nourish+refresh (etc). Nourish will be cheaper, bigger, faster, and have a higher crit rate. The only proviso is that you keep 3 HoTs up to be able to make the heals worthwhile, but on tank healing this should usually be the norm.

Quick word on Living Seed - my thoughts

Also, regarding people getting upset about Living Seed now proccing a lot less (say, ~45% of the time instead of ~70%) - I think I prefer the changes. It will now work on ineffective healing, so rather than throwing a 9k crit heal and having it completely overheal and award a 0hp Living Seed, it would now (as far as I am following) award a 3k seed regardless of how much was effective heal or overheal.

Yeah, it'll be happening less often, but I think I would prefer a Living Seed that procs less often and is guaranteed to produce a seed, rather than a Living Seed that procs 70% of the time but is usually tiny or nothing at all because I overhealed (which is frequently the case). I have NO idea what the math on this is, maybe it will result in less HPS, but on spiky fights like Sartharion I cry when I see crits wasted and no seed awarded because my last heal was overheal.

Of course it also depends how many points we have left over as to whether I can take seed this time around; but I have found it to be valuable on select fights (like Sartharion, Patch..) and although it is situational, when it does come out to play I think it really helps. I don't rely on these procs, I see them as a bonus shield-type effect, so having them actually land consistently for 3k+ (instead of 500 or even nothing) would be great on these fights, even if it is happening a lot less often.

Whatever happens though

From a tank healing perspective, whether you have 4pc T7, the glyph, or (pleasepleasepleaseplease) both, Nourish will be improved, and I'm definitely looking forward to using it. With only one bonus it still doesn't blow me away with awesome, but bigger is bigger, faster is faster, and cheaper is cheaper. I can't ignore that. I've also never enjoyed "spamming" Regrowth; the idea of weaving Nourishes into my rotation seemed far more elegant, and it's what I've wanted since Nourish was announced.

Kugrette from Gnomeregan sums it up:
For the most part, nourish and regrowth fill a similar healing niche. Most players will use the one that is the strongest the vast majority of the time. If the strongest one is nourish, they will use it. If the strongest one is regrowth they will use it.

Until then, we wait.
As soon as anyone hears anything, you'd better tell!

*fidgets impatiently*

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hello Nourish, it's so nice to see you again

Please note: in this post I make assumptions about glyphs and set bonuses stacking. This is my assumption based on a few reasons but nothing official has been announced and we cannot yet test them on the PTR. I may be wrong; they may not stack when the changes go live, which would obviously change this entire post (and make me feel a little silly). Another possibility of course is that the glyphs and set bonuses on our gear my change before the patch - so please take this post with a grain of salt!

Preliminary 3.1 info is out, and boy is it interesting. A bunch of new pets, mounts.. dual specs, new patterns (I knew it was wise to stockpile my Moonshroud..) Ulduar of course, and a legendary mace, oh my. But as much as I'd like to ramble about all the cool new stuff, I want to focus on the changes to Regrowth and Nourish.

Glyph of Nourish *new* -- Your Nourish heals an additional 6% for each of your heal over time effects present on the target.
Improved Regrowth (Tier 6) renamed Nature's Bounty. Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth and Nourish spells by 5/10/15/20/25%. (Previously increased just regrowth crit by 10/20/30/40/50%)

At first glance, it's "boo - massive Regrowth nerf", but I'm intrigued by this change and I'm excited that it will likely mean that I get my wish for Nourish to become part of my standard tank rotation. Back when Nourish was announced I thought it would be a great filler spell inside our standard HoT rotation due to its speed, mana efficiency and the fact that it was boosted by HoTs that would inevitably on the tank anyway, plus by using it rather than "spamming" Regrowth you aren't "wasting" the HoT component. I was so excited about Nourish's potential - but in the end, it just wasn't what I had hoped; Regrowth outshone it in so many ways.

Although it's sad to see Regrowth nerfed, I'm excited that Nourish is getting a badly needed buff (and a badly needed glyph!) so that it will actually be a good/better choice for direct healing, rather than being mediocre at worst, adequate at best.

As it stands, the only thing Nourish has going for it is a slightly faster cast time (but RG's ~70% buffed crit rate means it is often just as fast as base Nourish). Yeah, it's also a little more efficient, but at the moment mana is not a concern, so you can "spam" Regrowth all day, there's just no need to substitute Nourish.

Nourish is much weaker, has no glyph, no HoT component, horribly low crit (meaning seeds only happen 15%-20% of the time and are usually smaller), and basically relies on you to have all your HoTs up to make it competitive. Even then it's not great - in my current gear (but assuming 4pc) I think it's an average of about 500hp (non-crit) extra compared to glyphed Regrowth's direct heal - but to do that you must have the 4pc bonus and all three HoTs up (and don't forget the 70% vs 20% crit on the two spells).

I've often referred to Nourish healing as feeling as though you're trying to fill up a swimming pool with a bucket.. you can toss bucketfuls of water in fast, but it feels like you're going nowhere with such a low crit rate, poor talents and no glyph, compared to Regrowth with a huge crit rate (more Living Seeds and faster casts), a bunch of talents to increase its effectiveness, a glyph to boost it by 20%, a HoT component (plus Swiftmend)....

Nourish can be good if you need a top-up in a hurry, but otherwise Regrowth just has so much more going for it, particularly for tank healing, which is what I prefer to do.

I want to embrace Nourish!

I want to be clear. I'm NOT anti-Nourish. I actually don't like using Regrowth as my direct heal; it feels wrong to overwrite the HoT. Weaving Nourishes in would be more elegant than simply "spamming" Regrowth. I WANT to use Nourish; I want to use it so badly. But, sadly, aside from some very situational fights, Regrowth beats it in so many ways. Other than being a bit more zippy in tight squeezes, it's pretty bad. I use it regularly on a single fight at the moment, and ONLY because it's a little faster, otherwise I would ditch it altogether.

But - things are changing!

In 3.1, Nature's Bounty adds 25% (max) crit to both Regrowth (down from 50%) and Nourish, which will even the playing field a little. Nourish will actually have a slightly higher crit rate because Nature's Majesty adds 4% crit to various spells, including Nourish but excluding Regrowth. This isn't much, but it means 4% more crits and that means 4% more seeds too, and since Living Seed is now going to be based off your full heal (not just effective healing), this is worth noting, I think - another small reason to use Nourish as a direct heal if RG is already up and not ready to be refreshed yet.

The Nourish glyph will add 6% for each of your own HoTs on your target. For tank healing you would generally have three HoTs up, so Nourish would be boosted by 18% with the glyph. If you happened to have WG up (not expected, but possible, especially if melee are taking damage), it's 24% extra. Tasty.

I did some number crunching (haha, no, I really did) to work out how Nourish would look if I actually picked up 4 pieces of T7 and the new Nourish glyph. Being highly scientific and just using my current stats, MotW and ToL only (no raid buffs), average heals look like this:

Regrowth: 4488, 6733 crit (plus a 2020 living seed and 800/tick HoT)
Regrowth+Glyph: 5386, 8080 crit (plus a 2424 living seed and 960/tick HoT)

Right now (no T7, no Nourish glyph)
Nourish: 4226, 6339 crit (plus a 1902 living seed)
Nourish+HoT/s: 5071, 7607 crit (plus a 2282 living seed)

Post 3.1 (with T7, glyph, and 3 HoTs up)
Nourish: 6881, 10322 crit (plus a 3097 living seed)

It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to realise I'll need to grab myself a couple more pieces of Tier 7 in preparation for patch 3.1. If my (terrible) math is correct, as a direct heal on someone, Nourish will be healing for roughly the same amount non-crit as an unglyphed Regrowth crit.

The only problem will be deciding which glyph is going to make way for the Nourish one.

At least Dreamwalker looks great.

The only thing that I DON'T like about this is being cemented into 4 pieces of Tier 7 for who knows how long. The glyph and the 4pc bonus makes Nourish VERY nice, meaning I may feel obliged to stick to 4pc Tier 7 for a long time (I didn't even want to be wearing it in the first place). Breaking a set bonus and subsequently losing 15% (if 3 HoTs are up - usually) on what may now be our staple direct heal is not something I'd want to do.

I want to wear the new shoulders!!!!!

BUT, honestly.. if this "fixes" Nourish and lets it into my rotation where I want it, I don't mind too much about being "stuck" in 4pc T7.

As usual, the bulk of the responses to this change are negative; mostly complaints about the nerf to Regrowth, making me wonder if I'm mental or missing something. I know I suck at math so I can't spit out any figures on HPS or HPM to report on the pros and cons in that respect, but at first glance I can see this change making my healing more enjoyable simply through producing more elegant and varied tank rotations (rather than stack HoTs, Regrowth Regrowth Regrowth). I don't know if I'm missing something important, but it looks good to me.

I'm hoping this will mean that my rotation will be to stack HoTs, get RG up, and then fill in with Nourish, refreshing HoTs and throwing emergency spot heals as necessary. This is what I have wanted ever since they announced Nourish, so I am hoping this is how things pan out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Resto4Life is closing (also on WoWInsider).

I KNEW something was up. Phae hadn't posted in a while and I was getting concerned. Biting my nails and pacing, refreshing my Blogger dashboard every few minutes, waiting for any R4L entry to show up. I had a feeling...

I didn't see her entry at first, but rather a couple of other entries from other bloggers lamenting her departure. NOOOooooooo!

I got a bit teary, I'll admit. I'm soft like that. I've only been blogging for a few months, but I really look up to Phae a whole lot. As far as theorycrafting and druid current affairs go, I don't have many people to chat/vent/ramble to, so I always enjoyed talking with her about the current goings-on in the druid world. It's always great to be able to talk to someone like-minded, especially when things are frustrating. I have to resist the urge to keep writing, "I NO RITE?" because she knows exactly what our collective frustrations are. I'm just sad that I started so late; I wish I had found R4L and Phae earlier.

I haven't been around long, but Phae always looked after the theorycraft side of things and I was grateful that I didn't have to. I'm hopeless at math and will never pretend to know what I'm talking about in that respect. I always saw R4L as THE resto resource. TBJ simply hopped onto Phae's coattails and rode around squealing, "wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee", dealing more with my own personal experiences as a druid rather than the serious, number-based side of things. But now she's going, who will help me with my math homework?


I spent some time clinging to her virtual ankles (do trees have ankles? /ponder) and whining (lots and lots of whining), but she told me to be strong and to be my own druid. I agreed to suck it up, be a man, and keep going. *wipes nose*

I suppose when it comes to the math side of things I'll just need to make creative use of my few theorycrafting brains that I keep handy (read: geek friends).

Suddenly, the rest of us have some really, really big shoes to fill.

What's important though is that we DON'T PANIC. There are a bunch of really great druid blogs out there. The Daily Druid will keep you up to date on various resto happenings, and I'll do my best to do some "community spotlight" posts like Phae did, to highlight great new blogs to watch, so everyone can still get their daily fill of resto rants and ramblings.

We've lost a wonderful resource in Resto4Life, but I know everyone will wish Phae & Mr Phae the best of luck for the future.

Farewell Phae! <3

Thursday, February 19, 2009

GC clarifies the OO5SR regen changes

For those who may be interested, GC has given a little more detail on the future regen changes (bold text is my emphasis):

The goal is to have mana last about the same for all healers. We don't think many players would be that interested in a style where you heal crazy good for a short period and then run OOM. How classes manage their mana varies a lot, and we are making tweaks to it for 3.1 to try and keep them in line. For example, the shadow fiend needs to be more reliable.

I am still not following the logic that Int now trumps Spirit by even more. It may have been a better stat already, but these changes shouldn't affect it that much unless you A) skip Meditation and Intensity, or B) relied a whole lot more on OOFSR regen than the average raid healer of reasonable skill.

I will break from our normal practice and go ahead and provide the numbers, just to make sure nobody is guessing about the details when doing their estimates:

-- The amount of base mana regen granted has been reduced 40%. We called this "Spirit" in the notes, since most players associate OOFSR regen with Spirit, but in reality Int factors into the equation as well and we only lowered the constant, not the relative contributions of Int or Spirit. In retrospect, this probably caused more confusion than it alleviated, but mana regeneration is a fairly technical concept.

-- The effects of talents that provide mana regen while casting have been increased by 67%. This includes: Arcane Meditation, Improved Spirit Tap, Intensity, Mage Armor, Meditation, Pyromaniac, and Spirit Tap. For example, Intensity and Meditation are now 17/33/50% mana regen while casting (up from 10/20/30%). For most dps classes who never got much mana from OOFSR in the first place, the results should not be noticeable. Boomkin may be a possible exception because of Innervate, and we'll take a look at that.

-- This should leave mana regeneration while casting (even the contribution of Spirit) relatively unchanged, but reduce mana regeneration while not casting by 40%. (If you don't understand our logic, I suggest you re-read the excellent post I quoted above.)

-- Since paladins don't rely on any of those abilities for mana regeneration, we lowered the healing penalty of Divine Plea to -50%. We are also likely to make Spiritual Attunement provide less mana for non-tanking paladins. We are not touching Illumination for the moment. Nor are we lowering the effects of Replenishment (though as I have suggested, it would be our likely next target if we aren't happy with the results of these changes).

Intensity will be yummy, but Innervate, at least for now, will remain untouched. That is, they won't be including it in the list of buffed abilities. Here's GC mentioning that changes to regen will mean Innervate will be less effective:

I don't think it will suddenly make druids regem from Spirit to Int. We'll see.

If you mean these changes will nerf Innervate, yes, it will. On live Innervate can be 120% of your bar, say 25,000 mana. Historically it was more like 75% of your bar, and it should be closer to that with these changes.

So thirsty...

Ok, my skeleton friend is a bit of an exaggeration. I'm not particularly worried about this. I don't often use Innervate on myself now, and when I do, I feel like much of it is wasted (even if I'm "spam healing"). I don't need that much; 75% would be fine.

Honestly, I'm actually looking forward to a bit of a regen nerf. I'm not a maths-head like a lot of people, I don't do the sums to work out how long I'll be able to last in a particular fight, etc.. but I do know that it is dead boring to feel like you have unlimited mana and you can spam all day without caring. Not to mention the fact that some of the other healers have so much mana that they can spam their heals all over the place too. So I'm actually ready to embrace this nerf and see if it helps to create the challenge I've been so antsy for.

I want to have real assignments, feel like the healing is deliberate. Managing mana (to an extent) adds to the drama and thrill of a kill; being able to scrape through on Lifebloom refreshes.. to really agonise over whether I should use my innervate or whether I can spare it... I miss that stuff. I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing what regen is like after this "nerf". I want to jump in and get a feel for things and see what longevity is like with the changes.

I'm excited to be nerfed and to see how I adapt.

I'm a weirdo.

Sixth Screenshot

I've been tagged by Bell and Phae to dig out the sixth screenshot in my WoW folders. They're ganging up on me so I'd better do it :/

I laughed when I grabbed this, I'm glad it turned up as number 6. It's a great picture of me being ultra-noob:

Level 23 on my first druid, standing in Westfall. I ask a friend, "Why are their names in yellow?" Heh, what a noob. Check out my awesome minor beastslaying enchant.

Baby Alliance Keeva, d'awwwwww ;)

Raaff from Druid Heal!
Aertimus of HoTsTree
Averna from Nerf this druid
Keredria from Tree of Life
Raine from Orbital Bombardment

You're up!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Raid frame challenge Part 1: Grid

Once I began to write everything up, I realised how much information there was to share - even though I'm really only writing about the parts of the mod that I personally make use of. I think I will need to break it up into the following format:

Part 1a: Grid    What can Grid do? Where does it let you down?
Part 1b: Healbot - impressions as a new user    What's great about Healbot? What's a pain?
Part 1c: Grid & Healbot side by side    How do they compare - can Healbot do what Grid does?

For simplicity I will add these parts to my sidebar so that they're easy to find later.

There are features and modules that I don't use but many people do, for example showing tanks, using dynamic layout, etc. I can't possibly go through all the different options because it would take forever (and I would undoubtedly miss a bunch anyway), so instead I'll be going through the common things that I personally need to see on my raid frames. I'll assess the common things such as aesthetics, ease of use, HoT tracking, buffs.

Obviously that means that this won't be a comprehensive comparison of the mods, comparing every feature; but that would just be too massive a task. So I won't be able to tell you everything that the mods can and can't do, but hopefully I will be able to give you a decent comparison of how easy they are to set up and show the basics like buffs, debuffs, hots, and general layout, and how useful they are for a resto druid.

And once again, the final goal will be to be able to assess whether I could disable Grid and be satisfied to use one of the other frames instead.

Throughout these posts I'll be using visual guides and symbols to help make it a little easier to see what each mod requires to get them working to my satisfaction (legible, useful, and attractive).

Note that the green check marks come in two flavours: ready to go, and ready to go (but you can adjust the display).

Some features are ready to go by default, but are usually set up in a way that isn't very attractive or just isn't quite what I want. For example, poisons will show up, by default, as an icon in the center of the frame, and a corner square also. I don't like that - I prefer my frame to turn green to indicate poisons. I could certainly get by using the icons, but I prefer to use different display options. So, technically I could install Grid and have poisons showing just fine - but the options are there if I want to make things a little more attractive or to suit my tastes better.

A plain check mark, on the other hand, means that the feature is ready to go and presents in a way that is nice and easy to read, and doesn't need tweaking to be attractive, and can be left as-is.

I hope this makes sense!

Part 1a: Grid

Grid has been around since 2006, and was designed to present as much information that healers (and decursers) would need, while taking up minimal screen real estate. Grid is famous for its (somewhat overwhelming) abundance of display options and the fact that users can freely change the look of their frames to suit personal taste and available space. It is equally famous (or infamous) though for the fact that it isn't particularly user-friendly "out of the box" as other raid frame mods are, and that is seen as a big negative for new users or for people who don't want to invest much time in configuring their frames.

Here are some guides to setting up Grid: - Unkicking Butt - a Grid Story
Resto4Life - Grid - Thinking Within the Boxes

plus my own guides for copying my Grid layout or setting up HoT tracking.

Again, I can't possibly go through every feature of the addon, but I will try to give a good overview of the features that I use on a daily basis and consider important (if not essential) for a resto druid raid frame display.

1. Aesthetics

When you first start it up, Grid looks terrible. I’m not afraid to admit that. The boxes are tiny, drab squares that only display part of the player’s name, eek. It's hard to think where to start to turn it into the frames you really want to see.

You can see why new users feel a little lost at first..

I think Grid's creators should perhaps consider having Grid install with more of a horizontal, bar-shape, so that it's not such of a shock when you fire it up and you're looking at these tiny grey squares. But honestly, if you can get past the initial bewilderment, and spend some time setting Grid up, you will end up with an extremely powerful frame mod that will show you anything you want to see, and in any way you want to see it.

Let's rate things properly, though.

Default Grid settings are probably fine if you’re a dps class and you just want to see who has your buff and who has aggro, but for a healer, it’s not very good “out of the box”, and this is what turns many Grid-newbies away – the scary prospect of having to take those tiny grey squares and turn them into something that you can actually read and use.

However, if you take the time to set it up, Grid has incredible flexibility in terms of appearance. You can change the squares to be bar-style (by changing width and scale), change fonts, font size and text lengths, change the colours and assign custom colours to different classes, use different gradients, backgrounds and borders to taste. When it comes to displaying buffs, debuffs and other visuals, you can choose between text indicators, border colours, corner squares (in various colours), center icons, frame color, and opacity. With additional modules you can add extra corner squares, texts, and icons – to display any number and combination of buffs and debuffs as you see fit.

You can also use Grid as your 5 man party frames; I have mine set to only show one row of frames when I’m in a 5 man; in a 10 man it grows upwards to become two rows, and in a raid it grows upwards further to be 25+pets or 40 (for BGs). This is something that I really value because I don’t like using standard party frames for small groups and then switching to raid frames for larger groups.

The ability to change the overall look of the frames is by far one of Grid's biggest selling points, and a major complaint against the other raid frame mods in the past.

2. HoTs and HoT tracking

HoT counters are not built into the standard Grid addon. You can assign your HoTs to corners and assign them colours (for example, I use purple for Rejuv, green for Regrowth, and yellow for WG), but this will display a corner square if that target has any druid’s HoTs on them, not just your own. While it is helpful to see if there is any HoT on your target, it’s much more important to know when your own HoTs are up so you know when to refresh.

Installing the GridStatusHots module (and GridStatusLifebloom if you prefer), plus the GridIndicatorCornerText module will allow you to put HoT counters in the corners of your Grid frames. Personally I like to have Rejuv and Regrowth in the top left and right corners, with Lifebloom as my Center Text 2 (bottom middle). Apologies for recycling this image for the third time, but this shows how great GSHoTs, GSLifebloom and the indicator corner text addons are:

Setting up HoT tracking is one of the more complicated tasks in Grid, and may cause you some frustration if you’re new to the mod – but it is definitely very valuable to have actual counters and not just an icon or dot telling you that there is a HoT on your target or not.

3. Buffs and debuffs

Although buffs such as Mark/Gift and Thorns are not set up by default, they are very easy to assign to corners and color them appropriately (I use pink/purple for Mark and brown for Thorns). Grid’s menus can be a little confusing and it takes a little while to get used to the fact that you need to first assign the buff to a corner under Frame and then choose the appropriate color under Status > Auras. It would be good if you could instead configure everything inside the Auras area; set the color, set where/how you want it to display, the priority, etc. Aside from being ugly out of the box, Grid’s menus are definitely one of its big drawbacks, even for experienced users.

You can also set up custom debuffs that you want to track (but will not necessarily be able to remove). For example, I used to have Felmyst's Encapsulate set to colour the frame bright pink, so I would know in an instant who was encapsulated, and to either heal them fast, or if it was my group, run. The ability to set up these custom debuffs is something I find extremely valuable and would not want to give up. The fact that I can set them up as a frame colour means that I don't have to watch for dots or icons; instead I can keep healing and as soon as something turns bright pink, I can react without thinking. This is extremely valuable to me.

4. Other

There’s not much to say about these other items that I like to have on my frames, aside from the fact that if you want mana/rage/energy bars to show, you’ll need to install the GridManaBars module. The rez monitor also requires an additional module.

Other things such as aggro alert, low mana, offline warning etc are all enabled by default and will show up out of the box (but you might want to pretty them up a little from the default settings).


I'll go into better detail when I put Grid side by side with the other mods, but for now, my super brief summary would be that Grid:

- is definitely ugly and overwhelming when you first open it (where on earth do I start changing things??)

- doesn't show mana by default, which is annoying, but it's easy enough to install

- has FANTASTIC HoT display options but you'll need a couple of extra modules first

- has great options for size, bar orientation, display, colours, etc - meaning you have tonnes of flexibility to change the look of your frames to suit your UI - but this will take you a while to set up and perfect

Overall, Grid basically shows you every buff, debuff, HoT or state that you ever want to see on a raid frame, you just need to put in a bit of work to arrange them just-so. It will take you probably an hour or two to get running, from scratch, but the results are well worth it. I'm really looking forward to putting the others to the test to see how they measure up.

Stay tuned for the next installment - Healbot: first impressions.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A shave and a haircut

Well, not exactly.

I got tired of my blog being so narrow; mostly because my posts are often fairly lengthy, and the narrow format makes them seem as though they go on for pages and pages. Plus, I am restricted to pictures being about 400px wide, and sometimes I want to put wider objects like screenshots or diagrams in.

So I finally decided to dive in and pick through the template to try to make it wider. It took me a while - I know nothing about xml - but I got it in the end.

Of course, that meant that my header was the wrong size, but I couldn't find my original Photoshop document (naturally..). I decided it was probably about time I freshened it up a little, gave Keeva her real horns, and dressed her in something a little more current.

I'm very pleased with the result. Please let me know though if you notice any formatting problems or funky layout issues. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Project: Compare the raid frame heavyweights

Major project time! *rubs hands together*

This is going to require a fairly hefty investment of my time, but I'm really keen to do it.

There are Grid lovers and Grid bashers. Healbot devotees and Healbot haters. Healbot, Pitbull, XPerl... how do they all measure up against Grid, the once standout leader in the raid frame race?

Let's settle this like gentlemen, shall we?

Healbot, Grid, XPerl, Pitbull. If you like your mod, you'll likely advertise that fact, and defend it when other people announce that theirs is better. I've seen some pretty nasty Grid vs Healbot fights, and I know that I have been very strongly opposed to Healbot in the past. I'm not the kind of person to shove Grid in people's faces and force them to use it, but I was always very vocal in my belief that it was the best option for raid frames (and I still believe that until fairly recently, there was no real competition).

But.. is that opinion justified now - or have the other mods been improved to the point where they can do everything Grid can do?

It's difficult to really know which mod is better on one hand you have people who are vehemently opposed to one or the other, or so passionate about their own mod being the best that they're simply not willing to listen to reason about the other addon options out there. On the other hand there are players who have used their mod for so long that they simply don't know the improvements that have been made to the other addons over time. They'll say something like, "I've used Grid for 3 years and it's the best because it can do X, Y, Z" but then a Healbot user will say, "Healbot can do X, Y, Z, too!". Similarly, you have some players who tried Grid or Healbot years ago, hated it, and stuck with something else ever since - and aren't willing to budge (not realising that the mods have come a long way since then).

Nobody seems to be comparing today's Grid with today's Healbot, XPerl and Pitbull. At least not in a meaningful way that helps us directly compare the mods and help people to understand their different features and any limitations. They just say why they love the mod they have - with no actual, meaningful comparisons.

I've decided it's time to inject some objectivity into this age-old debate.

So here's the plan:

I run an extremely minimalist UI with lots of free space - so I was inspired to do just that - compare them. Directly. I intend to download each raid frame mod, set it up, and see how well I can have it match what I want out of Grid in terms of aesthetics, HoT display, buffs and debuffs, etc. Side by side, Grid vs the others. I want to see if I can make them look the way I want, display what I want, and perform how I want in raids.

Now is the time to do it, while we are farming Naxx and things are easy enough that I can afford to take some focus away from healing trash to look at two sets of raid frames and decide which of them is working the best. Come Ulduar I probably won't have the luxury of messing around with experiments in raids ;)

Also, importantly, I intend to show people how they look "out of the box", because this is something that new users or players new to addons always want to know. One mod may be fantastic and packed full of features, but if it takes hours to set up, someone may prefer something a little simpler and less dynamic but that comes pre-configured with common settings.

Anything you can do, I can do better.

I intend to rate the mods on various points such as ease of use, HoT display, buffs & debuffs, general aesthetics and readability, as well as point out any advantages or limitations compared to the others. I'd like to be able to present it in a tabular format so people can directly compare each of the features. At the end of the series of tests, I'll make a summary post comparing all four mods.

The questions I'll be asking will be:

1. Can the other mods show me what Grid can show me?
2. Can they show me in the way I prefer, or at the very least, in a pleasing and easy to interpret way?
3. What really makes this mod shine - what's the major drawcard?
4. What are the major limitations?

If you guys have any particular questions you would like me to address, or things you'd like to see tested and compared, please let me know :)

The 64,000g question -

Finally, the big question: After all these years of loving Grid, could I happily disable it and raid effectively with one of the other mods in its stead?

So - standby for Part 1: Grid vs Healbot, sometime in the next week or so.

Objective mode on - watch this space!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My current UI part 2: Addon list

Following my post showing my current UI, a few people asked for me to list the addons I use - so here goes! Unfortunately I will have to be fairly brief in my descriptions or it will turn into a massive wall of text - but if there's something I haven't described fully enough, let me know and I will try to help you out.

Gradient panels
The pretty black gradient panels you see on the top right, left and bottom of the screen are made with eePanels2. It seems this addon is no longer being updated, but it works fine currently.

It's a very nifty little addon that you can use to make frames to put your bars onto, add custom art to your UI, funky gradients, etc. I use it in the simplest of ways - I have three gradient panels, very plain, no borders. The ones at the top and left are used as spots for buffs or other buttons, without being obtrusive - if there are no buffs up, they simply look like a nice border. I like the asymmetrical look of them, but you could ditch the gradient look and have solid panels if you wanted.

The gradient at the bottom of the screen is a couple of inches tall, and although I can see through it and it doesn't obstruct my view of bad things at my feet, it makes text and other UI elements easier to see, rather than just have them floating on your screen.

Unit frames
Down in the bottom right are my player and target (ToT, focus etc) frames. For this I use Pitbull.

Pitbull is very, very customisable, and I can't really go into all of the different things you can do with it, because it would take forever. Pitbull is responsible for those funky unit frames you might have seen with the character portrait that runs through the middle of the bar. Very stylish - there are lots of different things you can do. If you spot a sleek looking unitframe on someone's UI, there's a good chance it's Pitbull.

As you can see on mine, I have changed my own frame to green (rather than druid orange). I've left a blank space between my health and mana bars, and inside that I put my cast bar.

On the target frame I have done the same thing, but also asked it to put the target's buffs inside that blank space as well, so I can see my buffs and HoTs on them (this is more for aesthetics than for any practical use, though!).

I find it really cute to be able to put things right inside your unit frames. For example, my old hunter UI had a pet bar that was inside my pet's health bar - things like feed pet, passive/aggressive stance, growl, and mend pet were right on his unit frame. Here's an old version I dug up:

It's a cute way of doing things; but I stopped when I decided I wanted to try and have a UI with absolutely zero buttons showing :P

Pitbull is also used for party frames and raid frames, but I don't use these features; I just use the player, target, ToT, ToTT and focus/focus target frames.

Action Bars
Well, as you can see I don't really have action bars as such; no buttons are visible when I play. But I still use action bars for things like food, trade skills, mounts etc - they are just hidden, and show up when I use modifier keys like ctrl, shift or alt, or simply when I mouse over the spot that I know they live in.

For this I use Macaroon, which is the 3.0 replacement addon for Trinity.

It handles almost the same as Trinity did, although you need to get used to the fact that it uses mouse-scrolling to increase or decrease values (such as button count). That took me a while.. but now I love it.

Like most bar mods, you can make bars invisible as described above, which is handy if you're building an minimalist UI. Obviously if you don't have bars, you'll need to have your abilities bound - I use BindPad for this (see below).

Action keybinding
Bindpad is wonderful.

This is something you can't see on my interface, because it works behind the scenes; but if you use any action bar mod then I highly recommend grabbing it.

Bindpad gives you a window into which you can drag spells, items, macros - just about anything really, and then bind them how you like. Here's what mine looks like at the moment:

So you can see I have a bunch of spells in there, all bound. This pic shows that I use G for poisons and shift-G for curses.

Buffs and Debuffs
For buff and debuff displays, I use Buffalo. Buffalo lets you move your buffs and debuffs around, resize them, decide which way they grow, etc.

I chiefly use it to make my debuffs huge liek xbox, under my map, so I can easily spot them. I'm not really concerned with my buffs as much.

I use Simpleminimap to let me move my map around, change the size, border, shape, etc. It's a very simple little map addon. I basically just use it because I wanted a simple way to move my map around, make it square, and change to a simple thin border.

Cast bars

Quartz is an absolute must for DPS classes, but even for healers it is fantastic. Most importantly, it has a little red section on the cast bar that shows you when it is safe to start casting again to account for lag. Again this is mostly something that DPSers use to maximise DPS and avoid "clipping" shots, but if you're chain casting Regrowth or HT for example, it makes a huge difference if you can tell when the soonest time is that you can begin to cast your next heal.

So as soon as the cast bar gets into the red section, it is safe to cast again and you won't get an error message saying that another action is in progress.

Quartz also has a GCD bar that will show you your GCD; I use this because I don't have any buttons on my screen to show me the GCD :P

Other stuff

Chat: Prat - allows you to customise your chat windows with different fonts, layouts, colours, etc.

Cowtip: Allows you to move your tooltip to any position, and customise the look and what information you would like it to show.

MiniMapButtonBag: Puts all of your minimap buttons inside one, to save clutter around your map.

MSBT: an alternative to Blizzard's scrolling text. Lots of configuration options, different texts, etc.

Outfitter: one-button wardrobe changes! Allows you to set up "outfits" such as healing gear, dps, tanking, fishing, resist sets, haste gear, or even just town sets, without having to dig through your bags to find all of the pieces. Also has a very handy "birthday suit" outfit which will strip off all of your durability gear in the case of needing to suicide. In combat it will remove your weapons to save you a bit of money if you're about to die.

Grid: Obviously!

I think that's it!

If there's something you see on my UI that you're not sure about, or you'd like to replicate but you're not sure how, let me know and I'll try to explain what to do, or perhaps do another entry on that particular addon.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Crisis averted

In the wake of reports earlier in the week, a lot of people are under the impression that massively-multiplayer online games are now barred from sale in Australia. Off the shelves. Well, they are not.
Read more here.

TLDR version: business as usual. In true Aussie fashion, we're far too lazy to care about something that's been fine for so long:

But it's important to remember, this is Australia we're talking about. Any changes made to the way the OFLC rates games has to come on a national level, not from some state politician, and with the country on the precipice of recession I highly doubt politicians will want to devote time and resources to amending a loophole that's stood for a decade and has already allowed millions of game sales.

Carry on!

First preview of 3.1 changes

UI addons post is coming soon, I promise!

Following on from their first announcement, Blizzard have released the first set of notes for Warlocks, Druids and Warriors:

We are planning a lot of exciting content for patch 3.1.0, and we are doing a three-part preview series on upcoming class changes. This is the second in the series: Warlocks, Druids, and Warriors. Please keep in mind, that this list is not at all comprehensive, and subject to change. To read the previous list in the series, check out Part 1 -

Here are the druid changes so far, with resto-affecting stuff in bold:

  • Savage Defense – this is a new passive ability. When a druid in Dire Bear form deals a melee critical strike, the druid gains a damage shield equal to 25% of their attack power. The next hit completely removes the shield regardless of how much damage was done.

  • Survival of the Fittest has had its bonus armor reduced to compensate for the above increase in damage mitigation.

  • Faerie Fire (and similar debuffs) now reduces armor by 5%. See Sunder Armor in the warrior update below for additional details.

  • Thorns and Nature’s Grasp can be cast in Tree of Life form.

  • Survival Instincts now works in Moonkin form.

  • Replenish – to avoid confusion, this talent has been renamed “Revitalize.” It now also works with Wild Growth.

  • We are also looking at increasing the sustained (not burst) damage of feral druids in cat form.

So far, very disappointing.

Being able to cast Thorns in tree form is a nice convenience, but not really anything more than that.

Replenish being renamed to Revitalize is a good little fix, I'm sure it was confusing for some people. Adding it to Wild Growth is great, but it still has such a low proc rate that I doubt I'll bother unless I have leftover points and nothing to do with them.

I really hope their next set of notes for us is better than this. I saw the priest notes and I got REALLY excited; here's a few things they are getting:

  • Divine Spirit – this spell is now a core ability available to all priests.

  • Discipline has access to a new talent, Power Word: Barrier. (Think of it as Power Word: Shield for your whole group).

  • Several area of effect (AOE) heal spells have been improved: Prayer of Healing can be cast on any groups in your raid party. Holy Nova’s mana cost has been reduced. Circle of Healing now heals for more.

I don't want this to seem like a whine post; I'm not saying "no fair, priests got XYZ and we got squat!" - but I honestly saw the priest stuff and got excited about what was in store for druids. I'm not kidding when I say this - after I saw the priest stuff, I went to bed and woke up this morning thinking, "I have to get out of bed and check if the druid changes are out!" (pretty bad, huh?)

DS being made a core ability, a group shield, and a buff to AOE heals; awesome! Will we get some similar-quality buffs, or just name changes, a tiny buff to Replenish, and the ability to cast a couple more things in forms?


Guess we'll have to wait for more notes.

I still want my Imp Barkskin to cast on others..

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Aussie + WoW = jail time

Australia, February 3, 2009 - In a shocking move this morning, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Australian retailers will no longer be allowed to sell any online game that has not been classified by the Australian Classification Board.

This move directly affects games such as World of Warcraft(...)

Australian police will be responsible for enforcing the penalties, which range from $1100 to $11,000 for individuals and/or 12 months' imprisonment, and approximately double those figures for corporations. (my emphasis) (Source)

So basically, if you sell WoW or other unrated MMOs, you'll be in big trouble.

Guess I won't be selling those two spare CEs of mine..

And more:

The New South Wales Police are asking people to contact them if they see retailers selling World of Warcraft or other massively multiplayer online games.

To make things more interesting, a spokesman for the New South Wales police minister told The Sydney Morning Herald that if people see a store selling these games they should file a complaint with the police so they can take action.(Source)

Read the Sydney Morning Herald story here.

Apparently this was first picked up by Massively - here's the original article.

I really have nothing to say but /BOGGLE. Rather than find a workaround for this problem, they want to make all of these popular games illegal - take the easy way out - and send people to jail for selling them?

They'd better fix this rubbish before the next expansion or they're going to have a whole bunch of angry Aussie nerds beating down their doors.

Quick post re: Wild Growth and Vortex

No more annoying "Invalid Target" during Vortex on Malygos:

We identified a bug preventing Circle of Healing and Wild Growth from being able to find targets in Vortex. It was not our intent that these heals be prevented during Vortex (beyond the nerf we already made to prevent them from being spammed).

We should be able to fix this in the next couple of days. (Source)

I usually pre-HoT (Regrowth and Rejuv, depending on raid size) to heal through Vortex, but we had a couple of deaths in 10 man last night just from people ticking down and not really being able to do anything about it when Swiftmend is on cooldown. Being able to toss one Wild Growth again will make a big difference.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My current UI

It's been a while since I took UI shots. I often get people asking to see my UI, but the last time I took a screenshot to post was of us just starting to attempt Felmyst.. so the shots were slightly dated.

Here's what I use currently (click for larger images):

Solo (no target):

Showing the fact that I have no visible buttons on my UI. Any buttons that I do use are hidden; most of my abilities are bound and only seldomly used items are on invisible bars (see pictures below).

Solo (target, ToT, cast bars):

Secret stuff revealed:

This mostly speaks for itself - all of the hidden elements on my screen. I don't use any bars to play; the hidden button bars in this shot are for things like mounts, tradeskills, food, etc. I have a few oversized empty buttons that I use for gimmicks or quest items. Generally speaking though, there are no buttons on my screen that I use in combat - everything is bound.



Obsessive compulsive tendencies: bags, etc

I have an entry I'm working on at the moment, but I stumbled across this snippet on wowinsider about weird habits that people have in-game, and wanted to share mine.

My problem: my bags.

My bags, bank, guild bank, money and equipment must be tidy. I can't log off for the night until this is done. I used to joke that it was a mini game for me - and people have actually asked me to help tidy up their bags and banks for them. A kind of Warcraft Clean House or something... I come and salvage your hideously cluttered bank before it collapses on you one day in an avalanche of old blues, trinkets, and items you'll never need but you can't bear to part with "just in case".

I get all tingly just thinking about it.

Here are my self-imposed rules:

  • My bags must be tidy at all times. This extends to my bank and my auction alts' guild bank. Everything must be placed in the right spot, greys vendored, etc.

  • I use Arkinventory to keep my bags tidy, potions with potions, gear with gear, trade goods where they should be. Prior to that, I used to hand-arrange items so that consumables were in one bag, equipment in another, etc. As you might imagine, this was a time-consuming task at the best of times.

  • The guild bank (both the guild and my own private guild banks) must be tidy, with items stored in columns (not horizontally), and in a meaningful order. I spent hours arranging all of the glyphs into class order...

  • I repair at every opportunity (much easier now that I have a mammoth). I can't log off at night unless my gear is repaired.

  • Everything in my bags must be topped to full stacks at every opportunity. If I have 3 extra elixirs that won't fit into a stack, they are banked or sent to an alt so that they are out of my sight. In the past, I have given away potions and food purely because they didn't "fit" - much to the amusement of the recipients.

  • When I farm for something (eg fish, cloth, eternals) I have to keep going until I get full stacks. If I get one or two extra by accident, I have to keep going until I get another full stack. If I absolutely can't keep going, I have in the past destroyed the ones that wouldn't "fit".

  • Only full stacks of items are placed into my personal guild bank. Part stacks are left in my alt's bags and never placed into the bank until they become full stacks.

  • I have a particular order for checking my bank alts; I always follow this order. Priest first, then hunter. First thing when I log on for the day, and last thing before I log off.

  • I never keep more than 250g on Keeva; any surplus is mailed to an alt, whenever I am near a mailbox.

  • I only ever keep multiples of 250g in my guild bank (eg 1000g, 3750g, 8250g). I have a friend who has an alt in my personal guild who threatens to log on and throw 37c in the bank just to upset me. I also often go to the main guild bank and add enough gold, silver and copper exactly to top the guild's gold up to a round figure.

  • I'm so obsessed with tidy bags and a tidy bank that people often sabotage my efforts for laughs. While standing at the bank and rearranging things with my usual tunnel vision, I realised guildies were giggling on vent, and found out they were standing there too, moving one item so that it was out of place, and then timing how long it took me to find the item and move it back.

    Who did this? Wrong.
    Wrong, wrong, WRONG!

    Current guildmembers have put vendor food, level 5 potions, and other junk in the bank to irk me. One dumped about 500 raw fish in there purely to fill up all the tabs. In the Sunwell days, it was that awful free oil that you got from the daily quests - I had to change the guild MOTD to say NO MORE BLESSED WEAPON COATING, and threaten people with violence if they put anymore of the stuff in there (we're talking about 4 columns of it at one stage). Occasionally someone would do it anyway, just to push me. I would vendor it and loudly claim the 15s as "stupidity tax" or a small wage for the time I have to spend cleaning up after people who dump vendor trash in the bank.

    If you guys are reading this, and you know who you are, I'm shaking my fist at you.

    Possibly the best abuse of my sickness was the time that a friend spent about an hour rearranging the entire guild bank alphabetically (which, of course, meant that potions were not with potions, gear was not with gear, and trade goods were not where they were meant to be). My head nearly exploded. I couldn't stay mad for long though, because I really had to admire his diligence and dedication to the cause.

    Tidy bags make me really happy.

    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    On lucky drops

    Dropped from trash on Sartharion, and I won it.

    Very happy druid.