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Facing the Lich King March 24, 2010

Posted by Leiyan in Icecrown Citadel, Strategy.
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To me, that one point in Brambles to get further down the talent tree to Celestial Focus, is a Thorn in my side.  It’s just not a talent I particularly like or desire.  Despite Phaelia’s write up on Brambles (which honestly has made me more vigilant in maintaining Thorns on my Tanks ever since reading it), if there was ANYTHING that was even remotely useful for that 1 point, I would choose it over Brambles in a heartbeat.

So what does that have to do with the title of this post?

Well, we faced the Lich King in 10s for the first time on Sunday.  We wiped many, many times… but it was so much fun.  We learned something at each attempt, and we are looking forward to more attempts when we probably go back this Sunday.

So far we can consistently make it into Phase Two, but that is where everything falls apart.  More precisely, things always seemed to fall apart right at the end of the first Transition Phase, too many adds, too much chaos. Figuring out the mechanics on the Val’kyr was also definitely slowing down our progress.  Still, I think we were really getting somewhere on our last few attempts.

In an effort to maintain more control over the Spirits in the Transition, we decided to have me DPSing the Ice Spheres which would allow the 5 DPSers to really burn down those adds.

With only 6000 health, the Ice Spheres aren’t too bad to take down.  I was a bit worried I wouldn’t kill them before they reached one of the raid members, but two Wrath’s usually took them out.   When that wasn’t enough I could finish an Sphere off with a Moonfire.  In fact, I took to opening with Moonfire as I was running into range, and then hitting Wrath twice to kill it off.  It was always a close call, but it was doable.  As a result, the adds were much better managed by the DPS and things started to look up for Phase Two.

So, once we called it for the evening, I discovered that I finally had a real reason to switch that one point dumped into Brambles to SOMETHING ELSE.  That’s right.  I now proudly have one point in Nature’s Reach and my Balance spells  have a 33 yard range.  That extra 3 yards doesn’t seem like much but when you barely have enough time to kill an Ice Sphere as it is, any edge helps.

Does my raid lose the 25% buff to Thorns?  Yes, but balancing the minimal damage output from Thorns against the need to kill the Ice Spheres swiftly or face a wipe…  Well, Nature’s Reach wins in my book.

Eventually, once we get a better feel for the fight and the DPS move back to killing the Spheres, I’m sure I’ll go back and pick up that 1 point in Brambles… but until then, feel my (33 yard) Wrath!!!

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GG Blizzard, You’ve Won: ICC 25s BiS List March 18, 2010

Posted by Leiyan in Icecrown Citadel, Loot, Tree.
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My ICC25s Best-in-Slot Gear List

This list completely excludes any and all drops from heroic mode ICC, either 10s or 25s.  Also, this is only my current BiS gear…and I discuss below, it has been quite a trip to get to this point.

Head: Sanctified Lasherweave Helmet
Neck: Bone Sentinel’s Amulet
Shoulder: Sanctified Lasherweave Pauldrons
Back: Greatcloak of the Turned Champion
Chest: Vestments of Spruce and Fir
Wrist: Braces of Eternal Dreaming
Hands: Sanctified Lasherweave Gauntlets
Waist: Professor’s Bloodied Smock
Legs: Sanctified Lasherweave Legplates
Feet: Blessed Cenarion Boots
Finger: Marrowgar’s Frigid Eye Memory of Malygos + Ashen Band of Endless Wisdom
Trinkets: Althor’s Abacus + Purified Lunar Dust
Weapon: Trauma
Off-Hand: Sundial of Eternal Dusk
Relic: Idol of the Black Willow

Check out my WoWHead Wishlist Profile updated WoWHeadWishlist Profile to see the enchants/gems/talents I’ve chosen to go along with these pieces.

Now, as I said at the top of this post, this is just my current BiS wish list.  I have at least 5 other iterations saved in the WoWHead Profiler, and countless other small changes and edits which I didn’t record anywhere.

During my lunch break, I was re-reading the post on MMO-Champion from March 1st regarding Cataclysm Stat Changes, and this line from Eyonix really stood out to me.

Our ultimate goal is make gear a more interesting (and less confusing) choice…

Well, congrats Blizzard.  Not only have I played WoW for a bajillion hours these last two weeks (read: more hours than I would care to admit), I have also spent countless hours over the same two weeks theorycrafting my gear, my enchants, my gems, and my spec in my free time.

Despite all of that, I am still not 100% certain this is the route I want to go with my gear.

When you get right down to it, there are so many good options for speccing and gearing, all of which accomplish the same basic goal of getting myself haste capped.  After that, I just have to decide if I would rather trade talent points for stats.

Go all the way to 3/3 CF, loose Emp Touch, but gain better stats through dropping haste gems?

Get a little bit of everything with 2/3CF, 2/3 Living Spirit [see Rethinking Living Spirit from Beruthiel], 2/2 Emp Touch, and sticking with a few haste gems?

Completely ditch CF, pick up Living Seed and use Dying Light plus a bazillion Reckless Ametrine to reach the Haste Cap?

And there are so many more variations… Obviously some will appear to be better choices to you than others, but it all depends on your healing style and what you value in terms of stats.  Personally, I’ve found myself wavering between all sorts of possibilities, finding myself convinced I wanted to go one direction only to change my mind completely the next day.

Right now, I think I am pretty settled in the above list… I have spent two weeks contemplating this stuff after all.  However, I still feel as if I could play with the options and figure out another combination that I like even better.

But I will tell you this, if it was Blizzard’s goal to make gear and talent choices interesting, I’d say they are headed in the right direction as far as Restoration Druids are concerned.

Healing Effectiveness for Valithria Dreamwalker February 17, 2010

Posted by Leiyan in AddOns/Mods/Macros, Icecrown Citadel, Tree.
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After my guilds eight or so attempts on Valithria last week, I glanced through my recount logs, trying to make sense of how well I managed to maintain my HoTs and how effective my healing was over all.  What I saw didn’t really surprise me and here is a screen shot of my healing done on Valithria for our longest attempt of the evening (a little over 8 minutes, if I recall correctly).

I spent a lot of my time outside of the Dream State staring at my focus buff bars, refreshing HoTs and casting Nourish whenever I had a spare moment.  I didn’t Swiftmend as often as I would have liked, but I still threw it in there a good number of times.  Though it seemed like healing Valithria would be a lot like healing a tank, the focus on raw throughput as opposed to keeping the target alive coupled with the portal phases made it a super hectic experience and I felt a bit frazzeled by the end. When healing a tank, clipping your HoTs isnt the best idea, but its far from detrimental to your healing especially if you have the regen to support sustained casting.  In this fight…every HoT clipped is that many less seconds that could have been spent spamming Nourish for optimum throughput.  I dropped HoTs, accidentally refreshed Lifebloom when it was already at three stacks badly delaying the bloom, died once or twice to a void zone, and even missed an entire portal phase.

Well, I glanced through the recount logs of the other healers to see how they were managing with this new outlook on healing, curious as to what kind of spells they were using…  I shouldn’t have been surprised by these graphs, but when I first saw them I was floored.

The Paladins

The Shaman

The Priests

Four of the other five healers did 70% or more of their healing on Valithria with a single spell, and the last Priest there, still did over 50% of their Valithria healing with a single spell and another 25% with a different spell.  Now I’m not a Priest, or a Paladin, or a Shaman. I can’t speak to how they heal, and I’m not looking to critique anything, but it was rather surprising to see that most of the other healers on this fight were hitting a single button over and over again while I was regularly using five or six different spells and doing everything I could to maintain four different HoTs.

I had a sudden vision of how much simpler this fight might be if I only had to spam one button.  I could pay a lot more attention to making sure I was near a portal spawn point, to getting into the portal as soon as it opened, and to moving out of the void zones.  Now, I could go into Valithria next time intending to basically spam Nourish or a Glyph-ed Regrowth, but I think I would loose too much healing for that to be a worthwhile endeavor.  I needed to figure out what my ideal rotation would be instead of scrambling to figure out what my next cast should be while paying attention to everything else going on in that fight.

In many ways, Valithria is a DPS race for healer.  For the most part you need to stand there and work your rotation to the best of your ability.  It was thinking on that when I came up with the idea for a healer HPS macro.  It almost feels like cheating to write a healing rotation macro, but dps do that sort of thing all the time. I know that such macros can never really replace or exceed being able to play your class well a dealing with unexpected situations… but when there are so many other things vying for your attention and seeing that so many of the other healers are basically one button spamming….I couldn’t help but try to write one out.

The results…?

This screen shot was taken from our successful 10s Valithria save, using the first iteration of my macro.  I’ve since improved on it, but I haven’t had a chance to try it in action, so this will have to suffice.

As you can see, my Nourish spam went up by about 10%, but the other spells are still strongly represented.  The improved macro, which I’ll post below, fine tunes some of the timings, and includes Wild Growth and Swiftmend (the macro I used for the image above didn’t include either of those so I had to throw them in on the fly).  Neither versions of my macro include Healing Touch… I’m planning to cast NS+HT at least twice, one at the very beginning and one near the end of the fight when I (hopefully) have 25-30 Emerald Vigor stacks. Again, it isn’t exactly fair to compare this screen shot to the first one posted above since one is from 25s and one is from 10s, but I think it’s a good enough approximation.

The Valithria One-Button Spam Healing Macro
/castsequence reset=9
Rejuvenation,Swiftmend,Lifebloom,Regrowth,Nourish,Wild
Growth,Nourish,Nourish,Lifebloom,Nourish,Nourish,
Rejuvenation,Wild Growth,Nourish,Swiftmend,Lifebloom,
Nourish,Nourish,Wild Growth,Nourish,Nourish,Nourish,
Nourish,Nourish,Nourish

This macro is actually not intended to be the only button you would ever hit. It’s supposed to work with the macro posted in my previous entry, for acquiring Valithria as a target and casting Wild Growth to start out with. It will take about 30 seconds to complete the macro, you’ll probably end up back in the Dream before completing it fully. Also, this macro resets to the beginning of the casting sequence after 9 seconds of not being used (basically it will start over from the beginning every time you fall out of the Dream). Unfortunately, I believe all of my HoTs will fall off Valithria shortly after entering the Dream, so I’ll have to spend some time reworking the end of the macro to maximum my healing while not present.

The macro is built around being haste capped and using Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation.  As a side note, it does not account for Nature Grace procs, but since it already assumes 1 second GCDs (and 1 second Nourish casts), a NG proc wont change anything in regards to timing.

Anyways, I’ll be trying out this new macro when we get to Valithria on 25s this week. Personally, in the 10s, I found I was able to spend more time focusing on getting into the portals quickly and maintaining my Emerald Vigor stacks and less time watching my focus buff bars. In fact, with this macro I don’t believe that I even need to see my HoTs on my target… something to consider.

UI for Healing Valithria Dreamwalker February 17, 2010

Posted by Leiyan in AddOns/Mods/Macros, Icecrown Citadel, Tree.
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Instead of having a fancy dinner on Valentine’s day, my husband and I were in the upper reaches of Ice Crown Citadel, saving a green dragon by the name of Valithria.  We found 8 other adventurers, willing to forgo the holiday in favor of mauling faces, and we managed a guild first Valithria  save.   As we have yet to save this drake in 25s, I think our experiences here will help us fine tune our guild raid attempts on Thursday and there are a couple of points I wanted to go over.

Our 10s team:

Tanks: A Prot Paladin and a Prot Warrior
Healers: A Resto Druid (myself) and a Resto Shaman as drake healers.  Our Feral Druid graciously specced Tree to raid/tank heal for this boss.
DPS: A Rogue, a Ret Paladin , a Hunter, a Warlock, and a Moonkin.

Now, since I went through the portals, I honestly have very little idea of what the DPS, Tanks, or other Resto Druid did during that fight.  Suffice it to say, they were an excellent team and they did a fantastic job of killing the adds and staying alive long enough for the Shaman and I to heal Valithria.  For the remainder of this post, I am going to focus on setting up a Druid UI for healing Valithria.

Valithria Dreamwalker UI Settings

I had about 8 attempts on this encounter as a drake healer on our second night of trying in 25s.  Given that I had been relegated to raid/tank healing for the first night I was relatively unprepared for the switch to drake healing.  Luckily, I did have a spare Rapid Rejuvenation glyph on hand, but I spent the first few attempts adjusting Quartz to show my healing buffs on the drake, writing a macro to quickly re-attain Valithria as my target, setting up Power Auras to tell me how many stacks I had, how long they would last, and how long I had left in the Dream State, and getting some first hand experience with the green clouds.  I was finally getting into my stride around the fifth attempt once I was able to get my UI set up.

HoT Timers
As others have mentioned, having a HoT timer can be of crucial importance.  I already had quartz installed, so I simply had to enable the focus buffs module, resize it, and place it in an appropriate location on my screen.  At first, right in the middle of my screen, right on top of my character and above my raid frames, seemed an obvious choice… but that quickly proved to be a terrible idea as I couldn’t click on the portals to get into the Dream State.  I frantically disabled it partway through the attempt and had to use the little buff icons on my focus frame.

Next, I followed the advice I’ve seen in various places and disabled my raid frames.  I moved the focus buff bars to where my raid frames used to be.  This worked out very well.  My eyes were already used to watching that area of my screen while paying attention to where my character was standing (to avoid the Fire and what not), so I was able to pay attention to my refresh timers, move out of void zones, and get to portals fairly easily.

For future attempts, I do not think I’ll be using a HoT timer of any sort…. I’ll explain this in more detail in another post.

Macros

I’m a little uncertain how much benefit Wild Growth has in this encounter, or if other Trees would recommend using it or not, but I decided to include it in my rotation. When I was healing the raid/tank, I made sure to put Wild Growth of Valithria every cooldown… raid members stood near enough to the drake that it splashed onto at least 4 or 5 others (I used Glyph of Wild Growth) while healing Valithria so I never skimped on my assignment while helping a little with drake healing. As a drake healer and using Glyph of Nourish, Wild Growth adds 6% more healing to Nourish, so I figured I could help with a little raid healing while not skimming on my drake healing assignment.  In either situation this macro came in extremely handy.
#showtooltip Wild Growth
/target Valithria
/focus
/cast Wild Growth

As a raid healer, this macro would automatically target Valithria for the Wild Growth and it put her as my focus target so I can see how the fight was progressing over all. As a drake healer, this assured that my focus buff bars would become active again and set Valithria as my target without having to frantically click all over the screen trying to find her behind raid members and adds.

Power Auras Classic

After going through the Dream State a few times, I quickly saw the need for a big number on my screen to tell me when I only had 3 or 4 seconds left in the Dream State.  I was also having difficulty tracking how many buffs I had and how much longer they would last.  The little red debuff bars on the side of my screen just wasn’t cutting it, so here comes my favorite addon to the rescue.

I think I’m still going to tweak things a little bit, but this image basically shows how I intend to have my auras set up.  The big plus sign means that I have the Emerald Vigor debuff on me.  The number in the upper left side is how many stacks are active, the number in the upper right side is how much longer the debuff will last.  The ring circling around that indicates that I am currently inside the Dream State, while the timer at the top counts down how many seconds I have left before being dropped out of the Dream.  I think I’m going to move that timer to the bottom of the ring so that it is more visible.  I might move the stack number and stack timer to the lower half of the plus sign as well…and I’ll probably change that icon.  I was in a hurry when I set it up. =)

Anyways, these auras helped me keep track of what was going on so very much.  They were probably the single biggest contributor to helping me feel more confident in the Dream.

Also, despite the greenish tint to the Dream and the bright green color of my auras, I found them easy to see while flying around.

Emerald Vigor
Version:st3.0.0E; gcd:bofalse; b:nu0; anim1:nu1; g:nu1; optunitn:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue; stacksLower:nu0; target:bofalse; icon:stInterface\Icons\Spell_Nature_ElementalShields; size:nu0.75; torsion:nu1; r:nu0.23137254901961; y:nu164; x:nu0; customname:st; groupany:botrue; isAlive:botrue; timerduration:nu0; unitn:st; bufftype:nu2; stacks:nu0; focus:bofalse; raid:bofalse; texture:nu25; alpha:nu0.75; aurastext:st; symetrie:nu0; owntex:bofalse; isResting:bofalse; duration:nu0; mine:bofalse; multiids:st; inVehicle:bofalse; speed:nu1; anim2:nu0; spec2:botrue; stacksOperator:st>; realaura:nu1; InactiveDueToState:botrue; threshold:nu50; exact:botrue; textaura:bofalse; sound:nu0; wowtex:bofalse; groupOrSelf:bofalse; customsound:st; combat:nu0; id:nu145; inParty:nu0; HideRequest:bofalse; Active:botrue; aurastextfont:nu1; buffname:stEmerald Vigor; inRaid:nu0; tooltipCheck:st; customtex:bofalse; stance:nu10; isSecondary:bofalse; thresholdinvert:bofalse; spec1:botrue; Debug:bofalse; beginSpin:bofalse; Showing:botrue; UseOldAnimations:bofalse; begin:nu0; off:bofalse; party:bofalse; texmode:nu1; inverse:bofalse; ismounted:bofalse; targetfriend:bofalse; randomcolor:bofalse; finish:nu1; timer.InvertAuraBelow:nu0; timer.dual:bofalse; timer.HideLeadingZeros:bofalse; timer.h:nu1; timer.ShowOnAuraHide:bofalse; timer.UpdatePing:bofalse; timer.Texture:stDefault; timer.enabled:botrue; timer.Showing:botrue; timer.lastShownLarge:nu2; timer.y:nu196; timer.x:nu40; timer.CustomDuration:nu0; timer.Transparent:bofalse; timer.a:nu1; timer.HideRequest:botrue; timer.id:nu145; timer.cents:bofalse; stacks.a:nu1; stacks.Showing:botrue; stacks.HideLeadingZeros:bofalse; stacks.enabled:botrue; stacks.y:nu194; stacks.h:nu1; stacks.id:nu145; stacks.Transparent:bofalse; stacks.UpdatePing:bofalse; stacks.lastShownValue:nu4; stacks.x:nu-45; stacks.Texture:stDefault

Dream State
Version:st3.0.0E; gcd:bofalse; b:nu0; anim1:nu1; g:nu1; optunitn:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue; stacksLower:nu0; target:bofalse; icon:stInterface\Icons\Spell_Arcane_PortalShattrath; size:nu1.2999999523163; torsion:nu1; r:nu0.35686274509804; y:nu151; x:nu0; customname:st; groupany:botrue; isAlive:botrue; timerduration:nu0; unitn:st; bufftype:nu2; stacks:nu0; focus:bofalse; raid:bofalse; texture:nu1; alpha:nu0.75; aurastext:st; symetrie:nu0; owntex:bofalse; isResting:bofalse; duration:nu0; mine:bofalse; multiids:st; inVehicle:bofalse; speed:nu1; anim2:nu0; stacksOperator:st>=; realaura:nu1; spec2:botrue; InactiveDueToState:botrue; threshold:nu50; exact:bofalse; textaura:bofalse; sound:nu0; wowtex:bofalse; groupOrSelf:bofalse; customsound:st; combat:nu0; id:nu146; inParty:nu0; HideRequest:bofalse; Active:botrue; aurastextfont:nu1; buffname:stDream State; inRaid:nu0; tooltipCheck:st; customtex:bofalse; stance:nu10; isSecondary:bofalse; thresholdinvert:bofalse; spec1:botrue; Debug:bofalse; beginSpin:bofalse; Showing:botrue; UseOldAnimations:bofalse; begin:nu0; off:bofalse; party:bofalse; texmode:nu1; inverse:bofalse; ismounted:bofalse; targetfriend:bofalse; randomcolor:bofalse; finish:nu1; timer.InvertAuraBelow:nu0; timer.dual:bofalse; timer.HideLeadingZeros:bofalse; timer.h:nu2; timer.ShowOnAuraHide:bofalse; timer.UpdatePing:bofalse; timer.Texture:stDefault; timer.enabled:botrue; timer.Showing:botrue; timer.lastShownLarge:nu1; timer.lastShownSmall:nu4; timer.y:nu247; timer.x:nu-13; timer.CustomDuration:nu0; timer.Transparent:bofalse; timer.a:nu1; timer.HideRequest:botrue; timer.id:nu146; timer.cents:botrue

And that is about it for this post.  In my next post on this fight I’m going to talk more about my healing strategy.

Looking Forward to Frostwing Halls January 21, 2010

Posted by Leiyan in Icecrown Citadel.
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With the Crimson Halls opened just two days ago for the first time, I find that I am really looking forward to the next wing of Icecrown Citadel.

I don’t mean to say I am eager to put the Plagueworks and Crimson Hall behind me (well, okay, maybe I am looking forward to moving past Plagueworks with all of its…”body humor”… ), but I am definitely interested in seeing what fights await us with Valithria, Sindragosa, and of course the Lich King himself.

My guild, like many I would suspect, was really tired of our uninspired runs through Trial of the Grand Crusader.  We zoned in, killed bosses and looted, all the while growling at Highlord Tirion as he dealt us back-handed compliments (“Alas, you are victorious….” is certanily my most hated line in all of World of Warcraft).

Icecrown was a much-anticipated and very welcome change.  Suddenly we were fighting in, not a single room, but a hallway of rooms, and there was an elevator!  And, best of all, an airship battle that required you to wear rocket-packs!  Well, the novelty may have worn off by now, but given the choice between running the first four bosses of ICC and the first four of ToCG for eternity, ICC wins hands down.  At least this instance has some scenery changes!

The Plagueworks has been an interesting addition.  Festergut quickly became one of the easiest fights in the game for our guild, once we figured out what was happening.  Rotface is still a bit of a challenge, but we don’t have much trouble on that front either.  Putricide still stumps us, but I think we all have a feeling that tonight will be the night he dies.

As for the Crimson Halls, my 10s group last night managed to put down the Blood Prince Council after about 5 or 6 attempts.  We also got two attempts in on Blood Queen Lana’thel before having to call it a night, and that fight looks like a lot of fun.  I am excited about trying both of these new fights in 25s this week.

And so, as the title of my post suggests, I am really really looking to the next and final wing of Icecrown Citadel.  This instance has been a blast so far and I have nothing but high expectations for what is to come.  It feels like Blizzard has really been stretching their creative wings in designing this place… I hope they keep it up in all the raids to come!