Category Archives: Playstyle

Blog Azeroth Shared Topics: #1

Explanation: over at Blog Azeroth, I suggested a semi-regular feature where one person suggests a topic and anyone who feels inspired can respond. This seemed to go down well, so I proposed the first topic, and here we are.

Q: What do you enjoy about the class you play the most?

For me, obviously, the class in question is paladin. I can summarise its biggest appeal in one word: survivability.

Playing a paladin has made me lazy. I think nothing of running into the middle of half a dozen mobs, slapping down a consecrate, and swinging-and-judging my way to victory. And I finish the fight on 90% health and 80% mana. In contrast, my other level 70 is a mage, and something of a glass cannon to boot. (Well, glass peashooter, really; she doesn’t have the gear to be called a cannon.) She has a lot of punch, but I have to be so careful about how and where she fights, or she just falls over like a limp noodle. And then I load the paladin back up again, and suddenly I don’t care that the mobs are trying to kick me in the face.

Admittedly, it takes me a lot longer to kill anything, but I can live with that, you know.

Now, all of that is applicable to any pally, but I’m not just a pally, I’m a healer. Truth be told, all the other healing classes have their appeal to me in TBC endgame – holy priest finally looks like fun, ditto resto shammies and druids – but I really enjoy pally healing. I like being able to pump out big heals in a really focused way – and it keeps me away from the dreaded whack-a-mole game of raid healing.

That said, I do lament the obstacles to multi-target healing on a pally – no area heals and no HoTs means that it boils down to “spam FoL on anyone in range”. But again, I’ll take the survivability of a paladin over the raid-healing ability of a priest or shammy any day; it takes a lot more to one-shot me than it does my lesser-armored brethren. (And sistren.)

Also, pallies have fantastic spell effects. I mean, those blessings are swank. It almost makes up for the armor design.


Recruitment! (I’m nothing if not an opportunist.)

Since the new Blog Azeroth community is likely to bring a few readers from other servers around this way: my guild is currently recruiting!

We’re an Oceanic timezone guild on a medium-to-high-population US server – Proudmoore, one of the original launch servers – and we’re currently looking for a hunter, a warlock and a feral druid tank. We raid during Australian prime time (raids start between 1:00-1:30 a.m. Pacific time) and we do have a few American nightowls amongst our raiding crew.

Applicants welcome! Hit up the link above for more information, or drop me a line if you’re interested.

Okay, shameless ad over. On with the regular content!

Heroic loot imbalances

Now this is something that really bugs me. Heroic instances are a regular part of life for many (most?) level 70s; they’re the next step after gearing up at 70, and provide a good transition between standard instances and raids. There are heroic versions of every TBC dungeon, from Hellfire Ramparts through to Shattered Halls and Arcatraz.

Unfortunately, the loot is a little imbalanced. Heroic versions of pre-70 dungeons (ie Hellfire Ramparts, Blood Furnace, Slave Pens, Underbog, Mana-Tombs, Auchenai Crypts, Old Hillsbrad, and Sethekk Halls) have all-new loot tables on every boss; the early bosses will drop a level 70 blue item (iLevel 115), with a chance to drop an epic gem, while the final boss will drop similar stuff and a nice Heroic-level epic (iLevel 110). (And every boss drops a Badge of Justice.)

Heroic versions of level 70 dungeons, however, are a bit different. (ie Shadow Labyrinth, Black Morass, Steamvault, Shattered Halls, Mechanar, Botanica and Arcatraz.) The final boss has the same sort of tasty loot tables as the final bosses in other Heroics, but the earlier bosses have exactly the same loot tables as they do in Normal-mode versions of the instance! The only difference is that they have a chance to drop an epic gem, and they drop a Badge of Justice.

This has always felt like a real gyp to me. Heroic dungeons are not easy until you’re fairly well geared, and when you’re running them to try and gear up (rather than just farming them for badges and nethers) it feels like a total ripoff to slog your ass off to a boss, often dealing with brutal trash on the way… only to get just the same junk you’d get from a Normal-mode run of the instance. It makes PuGs a particularly dicey proposition; if you’re not confident that your group is going to go the distance to the final boss, there’s almost no point in starting.

It’s not a huge deal, but I do hope that if Blizzard retains the Heroic-mode concept for WotLK, the Heroic versions of level 80 dungeons will have more generous loot tables.

Addons: Lightheaded and DoubleWide

Okay, let’s look at a couple of nifty addons that add extra functionality to the quest log. I’m not going to discuss MonkeyQuest or addons like that here, because I don’t like or use them, but here are a couple of handy addons that will help you get more out of your questing.

Download from WoWInterface here.

This handy addon shows quest information from WoWHead in-game, so you don’t have to alt-tab to a browser window when you get stuck – as happens so often.

Lightheaded Collapsed Lightheaded Collapsed

The left-hand image shows LightHeaded in its collapsed state; the little pullout tab on the right edge of the quest log is clickable to pop the LightHeaded panel out. The right-hand image shows the log with LightHeaded popped out; the panel shows the details of the quest, where it starts, and so on. (The quest giver names are clickable, which will show you the co-ordinates where the giver can usually be found. The coordinates are also clickable, which apparently adds them to map mods like Cartographer or TomTom as waypoints, although I haven’t tested that.)

Lightheaded quest details

You can page through the LightHeaded panel to see all the WoWhead comments for a given quest (or you can set them to all show on one page in the pane, and scroll down).

Download from WoWInterface here.

DoubleWide in use

This addon does pretty much what the name suggests: it gives you a double-wide quest log. The picture above shows it all, really; the left-hand panel shows a list of your quests, the right-hand panel shows the quest description. Usual buttons at the bottom. A nice addon for people who have plenty of screen real estate and prefer to see more info at a glance.

LightHeaded and DoubleWide in use

And as you can see, LightHeaded and DoubleWide play nicely together; if you’ve got a widescreen monitor, this combo works well.

Addon Recommendation: Talented

Having recently stumbled across a couple of very nifty addons, I thought I’d give some of them a plug here. First off the block is Talented, an ACE mod that helps with picking a talent spec, planning future specs, and respeccing. It’s particularly useful if you respec between a couple of ‘standard’ specs fairly regularly – for instance, if you spec tank or healer for raids and then back to DPS for your weekday soloing.

Talented is invoked by bringing up your normal talent window; it enhances and replaces it. Here it is in Normal mode:

In Normal mode it acts just like the normal Talent window, except that you can see all three of your trees side-by-side.

From the Mode menu, you can select Template mode to work with the other features of Talented:

Here you have the ability to create multiple talent templates; they don’t actually change your character in any way, they’re just a preset talent spec that lets you play around with your options. You can save each spec as a template (and for convenience’s sake, you can just copy your current spec to a template as well). For instance, I have a saved template called “40/21 Healer/OT” (which is my standard raid spec) and another called “49/12 Tankadin” (which is the spec I use on those rare occasions when I’m needed to change to Protection spec). The templates are available across multiple characters (and are coloured in the menu by class color, so they’re easy to tell apart), so you can see all your characters’ specs from any character.

In addition, you can set Talented to automatically spend all your talent points on a spec when you respec at a trainer, which is really handy for respeccing in a hurry. Ten minutes before the raid and one of our tanks hasn’t shown up? I can grab an benched healer to fill my raid slot and go respec to Protection with a minimum of fuss and bother. Not to mention it solves all those nasty problems where you lag or misclick, mis-assign a point and have to blow anywhere from 15 to 50 gold resetting everything back to zero again so you can get it right this time.

The Mode menu also allows you to export your template: to a chat window, talent calculator URL, or WoWhead talent calculator URL.

All very handy! I haven’t been using Talented long, but I am expecting it’s going to be rather useful, especially for characters I’m still levelling. Thumbs up.

2.3: Healers Get Some Loving

With 2.3 scheduled to roll in a couple of days, one of the changes I’m eagerly anticipating is the revision of healer gear. Almost all healing gear is being modified to add spell damage as well, approximately equal to one-third of the item’s +heal value. As an example, Breastplate of the Lightbinder (a plate healing chestpiece with +88 healing) is being updated to add 30 spell damage in addition to the +heal.

This is a welcome change for almost every healer in the game; healers have long bemoaned their itemisation, and the frustration of one’s complete inability to quest and farm has led to a lot of healer burnout (which is bad for pretty much everyone, as high healer turnover harms raid groups and guilds alike).

This change, however, is going to make raiding life a lot more interesting, from two perspectives:

Holy paladins can generate a pretty solid amount of DPS (stop laughing, I promise it’s true) with what’s known as the shockadin playstyle, relying on Holy Shock and Seal/Judgement of Righteousness to deliver a decent amount of holy spell damage (which has the advantage that Holy resistances are very rare, too). As an example, with about +750 spell damage on my DPS set, I can pull around 350 sustained DPS – which is far from great, but I’m specced for healing/offtanking. If I ditched the OT part of my spec and sacrificed a little bit of healing efficiency, I’d be looking at more like 450 DPS – considerably more against demons and undead. (In fact, I’m going to go test this on the PTR after I’ve written this post.) In comparison, in healing gear one’s DPS looks more like the 80-100 range.

However, raiding shockadins are so rare as to be all but non-existent; holy paladins on raids are pretty much always healers. At the moment, despite the fact that we wear plate and a goodly portion of our raid synergy (the seal/judgement mechanic) comes from melee, there’s zero incentive to get into close combat – the bonus of a judgement on the target is generally not worth the added healing load of an extra body in melee. So healadins sit back, the seals and judgement on their actionbars going virtually unused.

This may change in 2.3 – obviously, a healer paladin is still going to need to spend most of their time healing. However, the potential to actually deal some worthwhile damage while still in healing gear really suits the paladin’s nature as a hybrid; assigned to spot-healing (or a pull with lower healing needs)? Join in melee, put up judgement of light on the target, and half your healing work is done – you can whale away with seal/judgement of righteousness while your melee swings keep judgement of light active, and just throw some flashes of light to top people up. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen on every fight – or even most fights – but the fact that it’s at least a worthwhile option adds some much-needed versatility to a spec whose contribution to a raid consists of mashing two buttons.

Speaking as a healadin, thumbs up.

Many raids have one or more off-healers – people who can heal if needed, but are far better suited to pewpewing away. Shadow priests, elemental shammies and boomkin are the classic examples (since holy shockadins just don’t tend to raid, and ret pallies/feral druids/enhancement shammies have totally different gear needs for their roles). Using these people to best advantage tends to be a dilemma for heal leads and raid leaders: what happens when you have a target who needs a bit of healing, but not much? Why, you put an off-healer on the job. But what do they do in between, or after the healing? They pewpew half-heartedly while stuck in heal gear.

The High King Maulgar fight is a perfect example, for those of you familiar with Gruul’s Lair. The offtank for Blindeye needs some healing, but not that much, and not for long; Blindeye is the first kill target, and doesn’t do much damage even while he’s up. An off-healer would be perfect for healing the Blindeye offtank, but what gear should they wear? If they wear healing gear, they’ve got all the DPS ability of a bag of wet feathers and they may as well AFK for a coffee once their heal target’s done tanking Blindeye. If they wear DPS gear, they’ve got sod-all in the way of mana efficiency and conservation for healing (since healing and DPS mana regen/conservation mechanics tend to be different for most classes), so by the time they’re done healing they’re low on mana, and there’s nothing sadder than seeing a shadowpriest resorting to wanding.

2.3 fixes this kind of dilemma. You put your offhealers in healing gear, and they’ve got the mana longevity and efficiency to finish their healing duties with a goodly amount of mana left – and then they can turn to pewpewing and still do 60-75% of the damage they’d do in full DPS gear. (Of course, this assumes that your offhealer is nearly as well-geared for healing as they are for DPS, but in my experience that’s generally true.) Suddenly, your hybrids really are hybrids, able to do more than one job reasonably effectively, rather than people who can do more than one job – but only one at a time.

Speaking as a healer lead, thumbs up.

The Joys of Rerolls

I’m an altaholic, I admit it. On my main server, Proudmoore, my character list looks something like this:

  • Level 70 Paladin
  • Level 70 Mage
  • Level 63 Priest
  • Level 37 Druid
  • Level 24 Shaman
  • Level 19 Hunter

plus two other attempts at hunters, another shaman, another priest and another paladin, all under twenty, and about seventy gazillion banker alts. (Why yes, I do have two accounts, how could you tell?) So when it comes to starting a new character, I have lots of options. I have plenty of cash to help them along their way; I have enough stockpiled resources to help them skill up any tradeskill; I have a higher-level character with whom I can dual-box to push them through any tricky quests.

I’ve recently started a little warrior alt on another server to play with a close friend, and it’s just weird; I’ve got none of those resources to hand. No twinking, no helping hands; what I’ve got is what I’ve got. Combine that with the fact that I’m playing with a default UI (since I’m not familiar with the warrior playstyle, I’m not sure how to configure things best yet), and it feels almost like a new game again – except I have to stop myself from watching the trade channel for familiar names, or thinking “oh, I’ll just swap to my banker alt and mail over some ore”. Good times.

Which makes me wonder, really – I know I’m not alone in generally clinging to my ‘main’ server, but I also know plenty of people will happily reroll on another server at the drop of a hat, and will very often have one or two characters on each of half a dozen servers. That kind of mindset is really alien to me, that willingness to shelve all the resources one has worked for and start over totally fresh, over and over again – but hey, as long as they’re having fun, more power to them. In the meantime, I’ll be over here on my lonely little warrior, looking sadly at her bank balance. :)

Netherwing Eggs are rare?!

I’ve been doing the Netherwing faction grind lately, to get the Commander’s Badge for my tanking set, as it’s one of the best trinkets available to me at the moment. Netherwing Eggs (as described in my guide to the Netherwing dailies) are theoretically fairly rare, as well as highly-sought-after.

I must have the luck of the Irish, because somehow I generally manage to get anywhere from two to five eggs a day. They’re still exciting, mind you; my usual quest partner is probably now partly deaf thanks to my enthusiastic glee on TeamSpeak every time I find one. Today was a ‘typical’ day; I scored three of them, all ground spawns in the Nethermines. I’m sure I’ve had more than two dozen eggs by now, and boy howdy it speeds up the rep grind nicely*.

* – I’m now about 80% of the way through Revered – you only need Revered for the Commander’s Badge, but I figured “well, if I’m doing dailies for cash, I may as well do ones that get me Netherwing rep as well”. I’m not particularly enamoured of the Netherdrakes, but another Exalted rep to tuck under my belt is never a bad thing!

Meet Your Hostess

An introduction seems to be in order at this point, so: Hi! My name’s Eleanor, and I play WoW. I’ve been playing since January or February of 2005; I migrated to WoW from EQ2 (and from Star Wars Galaxies before that). I play a human paladin, Sailan, whose focus has always been healing – although of late I’ve expanded my focus to cover off-tanking as well, since a pally offtank is invaluable for AoE pulls in places like Karazhan. I find tanking challenging and interesting, but I wouldn’t want to do it full-time, that’s for sure. On the other hand, I’ve played main healers in every MMO since Ultima Online; a bit of variety would probably do me good.

I play with an Aussie guild, Southern Wardens, on the US Proudmoore server – we’ve been together for nearly four years now, from Star Wars Galaxies through Everquest 2 and now into WoW (with occasional side jaunts into diversions like Lord of the Rings Online to boot). We’re a casual raiding guild; we’ve just finished Gruul’s Lair and will probably go hit up Magtheridon or Void Reaver next – lagging behind the raiding community, certainly, but we got off to a slow start after TBC’s release thanks to major burnout on the part of most of the officers, and we’re picking up speed pretty well now.

Oh, and just to make life more interesting – and more complex! – I’ve been the Southern Wardens guildleader for the last six or eight months, the … *counts on fingers* … fourth, I think, since the guild migrated to WoW (although I was the guildleader in EQ2, as well). As if I didn’t already have enough to do… ;-)