Category Archives: Playstyle

Very Serious Issue.

We interrupt this regularly scheduled (hah) blog post to bring you some pretty serious news:

Pretty soon, posting on Blizzard forums will require you to reveal your real first and last names.

The safety and privacy ramifications of this are horrific, from people like doctors and teachers whose careers could be ruined to gamers dealing with stalkers, crazy exes and other people they have to get away from for safety’s sake.

This is a ridiculous, terrible move for Blizzard to make. I understand that they’re trying to improve the quality of their forum conversations, but there are other ways to do that that don’t require people to put their livelihoods, lives, or just peace of mind at risk.

Do Not Want.

Avast, Ye Scurvy Dogs!

Bloodsail Admiral Sailan

Almost exactly a year ago I swore I was never going to do it, but in the end, I just couldn’t help myself. How could I pass up that sweet, sweet hat and title?

(Of course, it’s entirely out of character for a servant of the light to slaughter thousands of innocent businessmen for the sake of ingratiating herself with a bunch of pirates, so let’s just call this a psychotic break and move along, yes?)

I’d actually been thinking about the Bloodsail grind for months. The biggest delay in getting started was my dithering over Insane in the Membrane, the Feat of Strength for the truly obsessive, because that affected how far I’d be going with Bloodsail rep and how I chose to repair my goblin reps afterwards. Naturally, in the end, I chose the crazier option, and I’ve been killing goblins and pirates ever since.

So, my to-do list! This is entirely unrelated to any kind of progression, but this kind of thing is the reason I have a ridiculous number of days /played on my main. :)

The Insane/The Exalted

  • Exalted with the Steamwheedle Cartel factions. Currently Hostile with Ratchet and halfway through Hated with the other three factions. About 30-36 hours’ worth to go. Halfway through I’ll also pick up the Exalted as a title.
  • Exalted with Darkmoon Faire. Lots of herb farming, milling, carding, and turning in. This will probably take me a couple of months on and off.
  • Exalted with Ravenholdt. This means I’m going to have to dust off my actually-not-very-much-loved rogue, or bribe someone else to do the pickpocketing for me.
  • Exalted with Shen’dralar. This just makes me want to cover my face and cry, to be honest. Requires lots of farming of Dire Maul for librams, and lots of camping the AH for Pristine Black Diamonds, plus some Scholo and Strat Dead runs for the libram mats. Still, once I get this and the above three finished, I’ll officially be Sailan the Insane – possibly in RL too.

Mountain o’ Mounts

  • Baron Rivendare’s stinking mount. I’m up to forty-something runs now – one of my guildies got it on his first run, another took 106 runs to do it, and knowing my luck I fully expect to still be at it in 500 runs’ time.
  • Finish off Wintersaber Trainers rep – currently about 48 rounds of quests away, which … isn’t as bad as I thought, actually.
  • Keep farming ZG, Anzu and Attumen for mounts as often as possible.
  • Keep at the AT dailies, which I tend to slack off on; I still need seven of their mounts and the upgraded squire – and then I get to start on tabards!
  • PvP more, since there’s a lot of PvP achievements I still need, and I need AB and WSG tokens for the Black War mounts I don’t yet have. Plus I want Exalted with AB and WSG for the Justicar title and the tabards.

Other factions because I’m a completionist:

  • Keep doing the two dailies that reward Frostborn and Explorer’s League rep respectively, since it irks me to see non-Exalted factions on my reputation list. 120 days left for Explorer’s League, and 134 days for Frostborn. Oogh.
  • Another Black Temple run or two should see me at Exalted there.
  • Brood of Nozdormu. I’m a smidgen off Revered, so I need at least a few more runs through AQ40, which are scarcer than hen’s teeth on my server.


  • I’m 180 quests away in Kalimdor, and 89 quests away in Eastern Kingdoms. Probably can’t finish this one before I do The Insane, as I’ll probably have to do some goblin quests (which would screw my Bloodsail rep).

I’m not sure whether this to-do list looks better or worse, now that it’s in black and white. Help?

First Impressions of 3.2

Well, it’s been up for a few days now, and – restarts and server downtime and terrifying bugs aside – I’ve had a chance to put 3.2 through its paces. Some thoughts:

  • Isle of Conquest is great fun, although frantic and confusing at first. It’s a lot more fun when people aren’t just rushing to zerg the other faction’s end boss.
  • There are seriously not enough glaive throwers. >:(
  • The Wintergrasp changes are very disappointing; I don’t want to have to sit on a character for quarter of an hour waiting for WG to pop, only to miss out, and the new numbers cap gives the whiners some grounds for complaining about other people’s contributions.
  • The mount changes might be just what my poor languishing alts need. Riding at 20? Flying at 60? I’m sold.
  • The nerf to my mana regen is fairly tragic, although I haven’t had a good test of it in a progression raid because…
  • …the Deconstructor-spawns-a-squillion-adds bug is hilarious, but kind of raid-stopping.
  • (And having a half-hour downtime in the middle of prime raiding time doesn’t help, either.)
  • Epic gems are awesome, and just about made up for the giant nerf to Divine Intellect.

More intelligent thoughts to come when a) it’s not 6am after a hard night o’ Isle of Conquests, and b) I’ve had a chance to take the Holy/Prot Bubble Spec for a proper 3.2-style test drive.

Preparing for Mana Regen Changes in 3.2

Blizzard have been unhappy about the state of holy paladins for a while now – apparently crit is “too strong” a stat for us, and they don’t like our distaste for mp5 – and as has been widely reported, 3.2 brings some pretty solid regen nerfs to the table for us. In return, they’re buffing the mp5 on most items, in an attempt to make it more appealing for us.

The Changes

Most of the changes were announced or foreshadowed in this post:

So, we loseWeight Exercise 5% of our intellect, plus Replenishment’s been cut by 20%, plus crit-based mana regen has been halved. In exchange, we get a more powerful Beacon of Light (which is a subject for another post), and 25% more mp5.

Crunching Numbers

If you want to know just how this is going to affect you, you need to take a look at overall data from a raid, rather than just relying on your perceptions. I’ll use WoWWebStats (WWS) parses here to demonstrate, but you can also use other sites like WoWMeterOnline (WMO) or World of Logs (WOL).

Before a raid, take note of how much holy crit rating you have – personally, I’m usually around the 41-42% mark when buffed (since I don’t usually get Focus Magic, and we don’t have a regular raiding boomkin).

Step 1: Recalculate your Intellect

Because we’re losing 1/3 of the boost of Divine Intellect, it’s important to note how that affects our other stats.

To calculate this, make note of your stats when raid-buffed, then divide your current Intellect by 1.15 and multiply the result by 1.10, to see your raid-buffed Intellect after patch 3.2.

In my case, I’ll be going from 1657 Intellect to 1584 Intellect, a drop of 73 Int. Losing 73 Int costs me 1095 Mana and about 0.438% Spell Crit, which will further reduce the effects of Replenishment and Illumination.

Reducing mana pool will also affect the mana return from Divine Plea, but that’s a factor that’s under your control, as you can adjust how frequently you use Plea to compensate for a reduced return.

Step 2: Illumination

After the raid, take a look at the WWS parse. (If your raid group doesn’t use WWS or an equivalent service, you can save your own combat logs and upload them for your own use.) Select yourself, and pick a boss fight you think was typical, or pick “all bosses” or “defeated bosses” from the split menu if you want an average for the whole night.

Now, look at the top section of stats, and look for your “HPS time” stat. That’s the amount of time WWS identifies you as healing.

WWS Parse - Part 1
(Click to enlarge.)

This sample just shows one fight, so the HPS time is 6:17. If it’s a full night, the HPS time will be far higher, of course (but lower than you’d expect, since every raid wastes a surprising amount of time on getting ready, recovering from wipes, clearing trash, strategising, and so on).

So, now you’ve got the time you spent healing, the next step is to find out how much mana you got back from critical heals during this time. For this, click on the “Energies & Dispells” tab below the first block of stats, and look for Illumination (which is the talent that restores mana after crit heals).

WWS Parse - Part 2
(Click to enlarge.)

From these two screenshots, you can see that I spent six minutes and seventeen seconds healing (or 377 seconds), and got 27,718 mana back from crit heals. This equates to approximately 73.5 mana per second, or 367.6 mp5. Obviously, these numbers are going to vary based on factors like the rest of your healing team, whether it’s a progression fight or farm content, your latency, and so on.

So, my 41% spell crit gave me back mana equivalent to 367.6 mp5 on that fight. Halve that. That’s how much mana regen you’ll loseWeight Exercise from crits when patch 3.2 hits.

Also note that your reduced Intellect (as calculated in Step 1 above) will also reduce your spell crit, reducing Illumination-based mana returns further.

Step 3: Replenishment

On WWS Replenishment will show up in the “Energies and Dispells” display, just like Illumination. It doesn’t show on the screenshot above, because that fight had no-one with Replenishment, so here’s a sample screenshot (from a fight with 5:46 HPS time).

WWS Parse - Part 3
(Click to enlarge.)

On this fight, Replenishment restored 8190 mana over 346 seconds, an equivalent of about 118.3 mp5.

To calculate the effect of the 3.2 changes on how much mana you get from Replenishment, you’ll need to do two things:

Take the Replenishment value, and multiply it by 0.8. This new value accounts for the nerf to Replenishment itself. Now take this new value, and multiply it by 0.956, which accounts for the nerf to Divine Intellect (since 0.956 is 1.15/1.10). That’s the new amount of mana you’d have regained from Replenishment in an otherwise identical situation, post-3.2.

Using the screenshot as an example, we get 8190 * 0.8 * 0.956 = 6263 mana over 346 seconds, or about 90.5 mp5. That’s a loss of nearly 28 mp5, on this particular fight.

Obviously, that’s a very small sample; for accuracy, you’re best off looking at a number of raids and totalling all the Replenishment mana returns and HPS times before you do any calculations.

Step 4: mp5

This one’s the most straightforward calculation. On your character sheet, take a look at your current mana regeneration while casting (without Blessing of Wisdom), and multiply that by 1.25. That’s your new gear-based mp5 total.

The Impact

Using the above calculations, you can work out how much mp5 you’ll loseWeight Exercise from the nerfs to Intellect, Illumination and Replenishment, and how much you’ll gain from the buff to mp5 on gear and enchants. If you’re still primarily in Naxx gear, you’ll likely loseWeight Exercise a fair bit of mana regen overall, because there was plenty of Naxx gear with Haste & Crit, and no mp5. If you’ve moved into Ulduar gear, the impact will be lower as pretty much every single piece of Ulduar spellpower plate has mp5 on it.

However, there’s one important factor to bear in mind: mana regen from mp5 is not the same as mana regen from crit. Quantitatively, they might still give you back the same amount of mana; qualitatively; they’re different.

Mana regen from spell crits lends itself to spike-based healing; crit-focused healers are good at throwing out a lot of healing very fast to compensate for damage spikes, and Illumination restores mana dynamically; the more you use, the more you regen.

Mp5-based mana regen, on the other hand, is a steady trickle of mana; if you engage in over-enthusiastic spike healing, you may run yourself excessively mana-dry until you wait for the pool to slowly top itself back up again. mp5-based mana regen lends itself to more measured, steady healing to keep a target topped up, and is particularly aided by mitigation from shields and damage diversion abilities (like HoSac and Divine Sac).

Whether we like it or not, Blizz has decreed that we need to focus more on mp5 and less on crit. Numbercrunching will help us mitigate the impact of the changes – by being ready to use more mp5-based gear, for instance – but it’s also going to be important to keep playstyle changes in mind, too.

Holy Paladin FAQ – v1.0 (Pre-3.1)

Credits: This FAQ was developed in response to a request from Josh of Eye For An Eye, and was created at the PlusHeal forums with input from the community there. I’m posting a modified version of it here as a number of readers don’t frequent PlusHeal (although you should! it’s great!). The format is based on Josh’s excellent Ret 3.0 FAQ.

Holy FAQ – WotLK – Pre 3.1

  • Current as of 27 Mar, WotLK 3.0.9 build 9551.
  • This FAQ includes details that will be not be relevant after 3.1 goes live. It will be updated ASAP.
  • Many answers are simplistic and don’t go into details about choices in gearing, consumables, et cetera. This is intended to be an all-in-one FAQ; detailed discussions are elsewhere.


0. What do I do?

More than any other healer, paladin healers have a clearly defined role: you excel at healing a single target (or two) for massive amounts. You have no Heal-over-Time spells and no AoE heals, but you can keep a tank up through tremendous spike damage.

Which is not to say you can never heal a 5-man, or raid heal successfully – you certainly can, but it’s not your speciality.


1. How should I spec?

For PvE: 51/0/20 or, if you can’t rely on having Kings from another paladin, 51/5/15.
Some paladins choose to take the two points out of Pursuit of Justice, and put them into the Holy tree, into Conc Aura and/or Aura Mastery for a 53/0/18 build.

For PvP: 51/20/0 is the most common build for pure healing and support, although there are popular Holy/Ret hybrids for PvP as well.

2. What Seal should I use?

Use Seal of Wisdom or Seal of Light, depending on which one you have Glyphed (see Q. 7 below). This is purely to activate your glyph, as you’ll rarely be swinging in melee.

3. What spells should I use?

There are no hard-and-fast rules about what spells to use in what order, as healing is fundamentally a reactive activity and your choice of spells should always be based on the situation.

Flash of Light is a low-throughput spell with very good mana efficiency. Use this for non-urgent raid heals, and topping off the tank if they’re not taking much damage.
Holy Light is a high-throughput spell and is often used as the core heal for tank healing.
Holy Shock is a talent-based spell; it heals for a little more than Flash of Light, but is instant (with a 6s CD). Use this for an urgent heal. A crit Holy Shock gives you the Infusion of Light buff, making your next Flash of Light instant or your next Holy Light very fast and is a good way to put out a lot of healing fast.

Beacon of Light is excellent in situations where a couple of people are taking heavy damage, and can allow you to toss some raid heals while still healing your tank. Keep it on your tank in 5-mans; in raids put it on your heal target (if you’re going to be doing a lot of raid healing as well) or on someone else taking heavy damage. It’s costly on mana, so don’t cast it if it won’t be any use.

Sacred Shield should be used on people who will be taking multiple sources of damage, as it only kicks in after the first damage is taken. It does scale with spellpower, so it can absorb a lot of damage when cast a holy paladin. Try and keep it up at all times on your heal target.

4. What Judgement should I cast?

This depends on the situation:

– If you are the only paladin, use whichever your raid needs. If they’re not short of mana, go with Judgement of Light as a default.
– If there are multiple specs of paladin, have the ret paladins judge Light and the prot paladins judge Wisdom. (If the ret paladins want to judge Wisdom, that’s okay too.) Do not overwrite the prot paladin’s Judgement.

For more information on the complexities of who judges what, see this PlusHeal thread, and my previous blog post on the subject.

5. What Blessings do I want?

Wisdom > Kings > Sanctuary > Might until you start getting well-geared, then Kings > Wisdom.

See this post by Gryphonheart for details.


6. What stats do I want?

There is no easy answer to this question. Gearing as a healer is a balancing act between stats that improve your throughput (Spellpower, Haste, Crit, Intellect) and stats that improve your mana longevity (Intellect, Crit, mp5).

Intellect is the primary stat for a paladin healer because it affects your mana longevity (via mana pool, mana return effects like Divine Plea, Replenishment and Mana Tide Totem, and increasing your crit chance) and it affects your throughput (via Holy Guidance and increasing your crit chance). However, stacking Intellect early in the gearing process means you’ll never run out of mana, but your heals won’t be big enough to keep your tank alive.

As a general rule, go with the following order of priority on stats:

1. Intellect
2. Spellpower (which should be #1 on this list until you reach about 1700-1800; after that, focus on Intellect and the Spellpower will come via upgrades anyway)
3. Crit
4. Haste (but don’t go over about 500; much more than that is wasted due to the extra haste from your Judgements)
5. mp5 (far less important than the first four, but not useless)
6. Stamina

Bear in mind that unlike priests or druids, you will rarely get any benefit from Spirit. Don’t throw gear away just because it has Spirit, but ignore it completely when assessing an item’s worth.

7. What glyphs should I use?


Minor: none of these are essential; feel free to change them.

8. What enchants should I use?

See this post for a full run-down. In brief:

Helm: Arcanum of Burning Mysteries, Revered with Kirin Tor
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Storm, Exalted with Sons of Hodir, or Master’s Inscription of the Storm if you’re a Scribe.
Cloak: Greater Speed
Chest: Powerful Stats or Exceptional Mana
Bracers: Superior Spellpower or Fur Lining – Spellpower if you’re a Leatherworker.
Gloves: Exceptional Spellpower
Belt: Eternal Belt Buckle
Legs: Sapphire Spellthread
Boots: Icewalker
Ring: Greater Spellpower if you’re an enchanter.
Weapon: Mighty Spellpower
Shield: Greater Intellect

9. What gems should I use?

The best gems for socket colors are:

Red sockets: Runed Scarlet Ruby

Yellow sockets: Brilliant Autumn’s Glow or Smooth Autumn’s Glow

Red or yellow sockets: Luminous Monarch Topaz or Potent Monarch Topaz

Blue sockets: Royal Twilight Opal or Dazzling Forest Emerald

Follow your order of priorities from Question 6. If you’re still in the stage of gearing up spellpower, use Runed gems in red sockets, and Luminous or Potent gems in yellow sockets. If you’ve hit your target for spellpower, use Luminous gems in red sockets, and Brilliant gems in yellow sockets.

For blue sockets, the gems are so weak (relatively speaking) that you should think long and hard about whether you really need that socket bonus; there’s nothing wrong with putting an orange gem in a blue socket if the socket bonus is only 2 mp5.

Meta socket: The Insightful Earthsiege Diamond is streets ahead of the competition. (See this Elitist Jerks thread for the maths.)

For more details see this post (although bear in mind it’s old and some of the advice could use an update for raiders).

10. Should I stack any melee stats?
Generally, no.

– Crit and Haste Rating are equally useful for spells.
– Stamina is always nice; don’t gear for it, but consider it a bonus.
– Hit Rating is useful for making sure you land your Judgement for the haste buff, but shouldn’t be taken over anything more healery.
– Strength, Attack Power and Armor Penetration are useless. Defense, Dodge, Parry, Block Rating and Block Value are nearly as useless.

When it comes to the ‘perfect storm’ of holy paladin stats – Spellpower, Crit, Haste and Intellect – you’ll often find similar stats on elemental shaman mail, and it can make a good stopgap while looking for plate alternatives. Resto shaman mail is decent too, although it often has mp5 instead of crit, making it much less attractive.

11. Does my weapon matter?

Only the caster stats on it. On the rare occasions you melee with it, your ‘white damage’ (the damage caused by the actual DPS of the weapon) is irrelevant.

12. What consumables should I use?

Potions: Runic Mana Potion or Potion of Speed depending on your needs.

Elixirs: Flask of the Frostwyrm as the baseline flask, or Spellpower Elixir and Elixir of Mighty Thoughts for Elixirs instead of a Flask.

Food: Fish Feast if your raid uses them; otherwise Firecracker Salmon or Tender Shoveltusk Steak

See this post for more options and alternatives.


13. What addons should I use?

This is very much a matter of personal choice, so I can’t give you a canonical list of ‘the best’.

Plus, of course, any normal addons you might want to use like boss mods, threat meters and so on.

14. What macros should I use?

Again, there are no hard-and-fast rules here. Commonly people will talk about two frequently-used macros:

Mouseover Macro

This macro is used where you float your mouse cursor over your raid frames and hit your macro keybind when you’re mousing over the heal target. It’s fast because you don’t have to select a target, and good for healing lots of people at once (eg raid healing) or decursing/cleansing.

#showtooltip Flash of Light
/cast [target=mouseover][help] Flash of Light

Replace with the spell of your choice.

Healthrough Macro

This macro is designed so that if you have a hostile mob targeted (like a boss), you can cast your heal spell and it will land on the hostile mob’s target. It’s great for healing where you need to save whoever the boss is targeting and change targets fast.

#showtooltip Flash of Light
/cast [button:2,target=player][target=target,help][target=targettarget,help][target=none] Flash of Light

In order, this macro:
– Casts FoL on myself if I right click. If I left click or use the keybinding, then:
– Casts FoL on my target if they’re friendly. If they’re not, then:
– Casts FoL on my target’s target if they’re friendly. If not, then:
– Gives me the glowy-hand spell targeting cursor.

Replace with the spell name of your choice.

Rez Macro

This is used if your healers don’t use addons with rez monitors, to help cut down time wasted by three people rezzing the same corpse.

#showtooltip Redemption
/cast Redemption
/stopmacro [combat,nohelp,nodead]
/say Upsadaisy, %t!

Change the /say to /raid or /# (where # is your healer channel number) if that suits your raid group better.

For more useful macros, see PlusHeal: thread 1, thread 2, and the Macros forum.


Dual Specs and Why I Don't Think They'll Suck

A lot of people have posted concerns that dual-speccable hybrids will run the pure DPS classes out of a job; that why would a raid leader take a mage when they can take a druid who can swap between DPS and healing and tanking at will?

Here are a few of the other bloggers’ takes on the subject: Dinaer of Forever a Noob is against dual specs (with a second post on the issue here), Larisa of Pink Pigtail Inn laments not being unique any more, Big Bear Butt feels that pure DPS classes should outstrip hybrids as compensation. Spinksville points out that the issue is with raid design, not hybrids, and Aurik of /Hug posts an anti-rant in support of dual specs. There are doubtless many other posts I’ve missed, too.

I have three opinions on the issue, all of which are basically pro-dual-spec.

Flexibility sucks when you’re the only one who’s flexible.

Remember the ghettoization of some tank classes into “permanent offtank” status?

I know quite a few feral druids who hardly ever got to tank anything in TBC – despite being as dedicated and skillful as any warrior or paladin – because protection warriors and protection paladins did pitiful DPS if they weren’t tanking, whereas bears could cat it up and do okay.

Great for flexibility? Sure, but lousy for actually getting to play what you want. If you’re the only one who’s flexible, you’re the one who always has to pay the price.

The improvement of prot warrior and paladin DPS in WotLK is one step towards fixing this; dual specs are the final nail in the coffin of that ghetto.

Flexibility is necessary to compensate for raid design.

Spinksville made this point in her post on dual specs, but I want to reiterate it because I agree with it.

I’ve read quite a lot of anti-dual-spec posts characterising hybrids as greedy divas who want to be the best at everything. I’m sure there are some greedy diva types out there, but the reason why we want to be able to perform adequately in all our roles? is because we have to.

Look at Naxxramas as an example (assuming you’re not geared to the teeth and running 25-man Naxx in two hours with three healers). Naxxramas requires anywhere from one tank to three or four tanks, depending on the encounter and the strat you use. It requires anywhere from four healers to seven, depending on the encounter and your latency (and gearing level).

If I’m taking three tanks and six or seven healers for Patchwerk and Kel’Thuzad, what are those spare tanks and healers meant to do on Grobbulus and Thaddius, who both only need one tank, four or five healers, and a ton of DPS? Scratch themselves?

No – they either go back to town, respec and reglyph for DPS before Thaddius, and then repeat the process to return to their original spec for Kel’Thuzad (a time consuming and expensive solution), or they put out sub-par DPS on Thaddius and feel obsolete and inadequate.

In other words: in a raiding context the real problem is that raids require very different numbers of tanks and healers between one boss and the next, and respeccing for every second boss is a pain in the ass. Which means that without dual specs, you have a lot of bored tanks and healers not doing much, and getting frustrated and miserable with feeling superfluous. With dual specs we can at least do something, even if it isn’t our role of choice.

Flexibility isn’t everything.

How many raid leaders are honestly, regularly, going to bench a mage for a boomkin, or a rogue for a cat druid, solely because the hybrid can respec?

I really don’t think it’s actually going to harm pure DPSers as much as they fear, for three reasons:

One: This is nothing new.

Hybrids – i.e. everyone who’s not a mage, rogue, warlock or hunter – can already swap between one role and another. All they have to do is swing by a class trainer for the respec, and a Lexicon of Power for the reglyph.

People do this between one PuG and the next, one Arena match and the next, in the middle of raids when necessary. I’ve seen plenty of PuGs with a hybrid in them saying “I can do X or Y, depending on who else we pick up”. I’ve seen plenty of people port back to town and respec between one raid boss and the next because the extra DPS or tank or healer is necessary. And, as far as I know, the pure DPSers are still getting plenty of raid spots in spite of this. In this context, dual-specs just cuts down on waiting-around time, which is in everyone’s interests.

Two: Talents ain’t everything.

There are two points that are oft-repeated, but bear invoking again:

  1. Just because you can spec for it doesn’t mean you have the gear for it.
  2. Just because you can spec for it doesn’t mean you know how to play it.

There’s a lot more to playing a role than just having your talent points in the right place. Any raid leader who has me swap to tank spec in the middle of a raid is going to get a nasty shock, I can tell you. I’ll do it, but it won’t be pretty.

Three: Class balance dictates raid composition.

Every healing and tanking class is a hybrid, because they all have at least a second role (DPS) if not a third. As such, it makes much more sense to build your healer and tanking corps around the idea of them respeccing to DPS when they’re not needed in their primary role, rather than building your DPS corps around the idea that they’ll occasionally have to respec to heal or tank.

Honestly, I would be really surprised if, after 3.1, pure DPSers are regularly getting bumped for hybrids on the grounds that the hybrids can dual spec on the fly. If having the extra tank, or the extra healing, is that important to your raid group then you probably need to recruit another tank or healer.

What it boils down to is: having extra healing or extra tanking – and having DPS who can respec to provide it – is only situationally useful. Having extra DPS – and having healers and tanks who can contribute to that when they’re not needed – is always useful.

A Teeny Weeny Blizzard Slip-Up

On the whole, Blizzard’s done a pretty good job of normalizing the various crafting professions and their products in Wrath of the Lich King, although a couple of professions (tailoring and enchanting) arguably need a bit more love.

They even made sure you could skill up cooking without having to fish as well. Almost all the useful buff food recipes have four variants: a greater and a lesser food made with meat, and a greater and a lesser food made with fish. Look at Haste buff food as an example.

40 Haste Rating & 40 Stamina: Imperial Manta Steak, Very Burnt Worg
30 Haste Rating & 40 Stamina: Baked Manta Ray, Roasted Worg

This pattern continues all through the buff foods, pretty much, until you get to… Strength. Now, bear in mind that Strength is arguably the single most useful offensive stat for warriors, death knights, and any paladin who’s not Holy – so you have a lot of people looking for +Str buff food.

And yet, there’s exactly one strength buff food: Dragonfin Filet, for 40 Strength and 40 Stamina. No cheap-ass food for economy use; no meat-based version for the non-fisherfolk out there.

And just to compound the issue, compared with other in-demand fish, the locations for fishing up this tasty treat are sadly limited. Which means on a busy server like mine, competition for the few pool spawns active at any one time can get really savage.

Prediction: 3.1 will include three new Strength food recipes – a +30 Strength food made with Dragonfin Angelfish, and +40 and +30 Strength recipes using meat.

(This post brought to you by me doing laps up and down Dragonspine Tributary for an hour this morning.)

Poll: What Kind of PvE Do You Prefer?

Whenever I read people talking about their progress in 10-man raiding, my immediate response is to hope they can get into 25-mans soon for their sakes. I know that’s completely irrational of me; a number of 10-man encounters are more challenging than their 25-man counterparts, and plenty of people are happier in the smaller raid sizes, fo various reasons. I sincerely believe 10-man raids are just as real and valid as 25s.

But! I prefer 25s, and it’s so hard not to project this when I’m thinking about what other people want out of the game.

So please educate me, gentle readers – everything else being equal, what kind of PvE content do you prefer?


Learn 2 Ret!

A lot of Holy paladins dally with Ret when they’re not busy raiding, and with good reason: Ret has never been more fun, dynamic, interesting or well-balanced.

However, for the dedicated Holy paladin, Ret is quite a shift in approach, gearing, playstyle, the works. It takes a while to learn your way around this very different, very fun, playstyle.

For a while now, Josh over at Eye For An Eye has been my definitive go-to source for learning how to play a Ret paladin, and how not to. He’s now teamed up with an Enhancement shaman blogger (Stoneybaby of Windfury Crits) and a Rogue blogger (Zaltu of One Rogue’s Journey) to offer a new, definitive melee DPS source: Big Hit Box, a collaborative melee DPS blog.

I look forward to learning how to not suck as Ret. :)

Reader Mailbag: Levelling as Holy

I’m in the middle of a long and hefty post, so just to tide y’all over until I’m done, here’s a reader email I got recently, to which other people might also like the answers.

From Gemosi:

Is it possible to level to 80 as a healer. I am currently ret but looking to go to a healer for end game content. I need to learn all the spells and rotations for being a healer before then so I thought I would respec. Any suggestions and also if leveling is possible what the best rotation.

It’s certainly possible! However, be warned, you’ll find it much slower than Ret – but it’s perfectly viable, and means you can heal an instance at a moment’s notice.

I’m assuming you’re starting from level 70 at this point; if the toon is a reroll, I’d recommend going Retribution at least until you hit Outlands, because Holy is incredibly slow until you start getting spellpower plate/mail items.

Your typical rotation is going to be:

  • keep yourself buffed with Blessing of Wisdom; put up Retribution Aura
  • Seal up with Seal of Righteousness
  • pull the mob and Judge Wisdom on it for mana return
  • Holy Shock it
  • If it’s an undead or demon, use Exorcism
  • If you pull 3+ mobs at once, it’s probably worth using Consecration once they’re in melee range (and Holy Wrath if they’re undead/demons).
  • continue with Holy Shocks and Judgements (and Exorcism) whenever their cooldowns are up.
  • Consecrate a couple more times, but don’t use it on every cooldown; it eats way too much mana.
  • toss Hammer of Wrath into the rotation once the mob’s at 20%.

You can wring more DPS out by using more Consecrates, plus using Shield of Righteousness once you hit 75, but those are fairly mana-hungry and will increase your downtime.

Note that Seal of Righteousness’s mechanics were changed in 3.0.8 last week, and I’m still doing some research to work out if it’s still the best option.


  • ignore Strength/attack power on gear; you won’t be able to stack enough of it to be worth it, and it’ll gimp your healing significantly
  • stack spellpower, mp5, and crit
  • once you get to level 70, start swapping your gear over to drop mp5 – at 71 you get Divine Plea, which restores 25% of your mana on a 1 minute cooldown. At this point, you want to be stacking spellpower, int, and crit – you’ll also get a fair bit of haste on your gear, but you probably don’t need to start stacking it til you hit 80 and are gearing up for endgame
  • when doing quests, if the plate reward is melee or tanking plate, take a look at the mail. Wearing all mail does tend to lower your survivability a lot, especially if you pull multiple mobs all the time; however, you can afford to have a few mail pieces and they’re often superior to the plate you get access to.

In terms of spec basics, I’d go with something like this for a level 70 build. As you level to 80, work your way down the Ret tree; pick up Conviction and Sanctified Seals. That’ll leave you two points left over — I usually put those into Pursuit of Justice, because run speed buffs are awesome :) At 80 your spec will be much the same, but I’d drop Seals of the Pure at that point (in Holy) and swap it over to Spiritual Focus (also in Holy) at that point for healing.