Proofing Grounds: The L100 Mekka PG Challenge [feat. Hamlet]

Sometime last week, DK theorycrafter and soloing trailblazer Mione tweeted that the MoP Proving Grounds were available on the Mekkatorque Warlords of Draenor beta server, and they scaled with gear! While initially this prompted a round of testing to determine how the scaling works and whether it was a good or bad idea – an opinion I’ve still not fully formed for myself – it also led to something a little more generally interesting:

… A friendly “competition” between me and the only other Proven5 Healer I know, and my favourite healycrafter, Hamlet! You may know him from Twitter, or perhaps from maintaining Moonkin and Resto Druid theorycrafting threads on Elitist Jerks, or from his shared blog with Perculia of Wowhead - and if you love healing, you definitely should know him, as he dissects the theory behind healing concepts in great detail and knows more about all the classes than I do :)

Table of Contents
Caveat Healor
Druid (Hamlet)
Monk (Hamlet)
Paladin (Hamlet)
Holy Priest (Dayani)
Shaman (Dayani)
Disc Priest (Dayani)
Synthesis

As it turns out, attempting the Proving Grounds provided us both with a lot of insight into each class’s mechanics and toolkit. The exercise became more of a collaboration, as we discussed strategies and helped each other the whole way through – just like the last time I did a Proving Grounds challenge. And since we worked together closely on these challenges, we thought it’d be a great opportunity to present a joint post detailing our shared PG experiences. So please welcome Hamlet as Healiocentric’s first ever co-author!

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Posted in Discipline, Druid, Holy, Monk, Paladin, Priests, Shaman, Warlords of Draenor | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Achievement Spam

I’ve been pretty quiet over here for a while, but I’ve been working on a few things and now I can share them all with you! I’ll try to go here in the order of what I suspect most of my readers will care about ;)

Warlords of Draenor Alpha

Squee I'm one of the cool kids

Squee I’m one of the cool kids

I’m in! I’ll be bringing you all the healing news that’s fit to print from the Alpha, just as soooon as I get it downloaded and set up! I’ll probably be focusing first on Resto Shaman news, since that’s the class I’m most established in, but I’ll do my best to think of things to write about every class so that none of you feel left out (except for you dirty DPSers who randomly read my blog ;) )

If you also are on the alpha, and want to chat, I’ll be Dayani on Alliance side and I’m already set up as Hordeyani on Horde side – I think only the one server is available right now, Lost Isles, so that’s where I’ll be. I’ll be looking to spend some time there this weekend; I’d love to hang out and hear some of your thoughts on the changes in progress.

45/45 Gold!

This past weekend I also finished my long-standing but previously neglected goal of reaching 9/9 Gold Challenge Mode dungeons on each of my five healing characters. It was nowhere near as grueling as my Proving Grounds challenge, and frankly it wasn’t as satisfying, but I did have a great time hanging out with some new and some old friends throughout the whole process. I owe a great deal of gratitude, and probably beer, to Arielle of The Inconspicuous Bear, as well as Serrinne (whose lovely presence graces Twitter here daily), for organising, leading, and fun-ifying the Challenge Mode project :)

The lovely, lively ladies of Healiocentric: Marjaneh, Holy Paladin; Hamera, Mistweaver; Dayani, Resto Shaman; Peshka, Disc Priest; and Aiea, Resto Druid

The lovely, lively ladies of Healiocentric showing off their great new gear:
Marjaneh, HPal; Hamera, Mistweaver; Dayani, RSham; Peshka, Disc Priest; Aiea, Resto Druid

I won’t be writing a multi-class guide to Challenge Modes, because I don’t feel that my experiences were particularly valuable to players who want guides, let alone need guides. Arielle is so pro, it basically didn’t matter what I did so long as I stayed behind the bear butt :P But I’m happy to answer questions and give advice just as I did with my Proving Grounds post, so if you have anything to ask, just leave a comment!

And if you were hoping to do Challenge Modes yourself, don’t forget to check out Hamlet’s video guides playlist, all from a healing perspective. Eventually, Arielle and Serrinne will run every single person on the planet through these CMs, so you’d better be prepared! :D

High Esperations

And in other news, I’ve finally reached level 50 on my Esper in WildStar! This means it’s time for raid attunement, which entails doing all of the group content and actually performing well. It’ll be a good project for getting the hang of Esper healing, and you can be sure that some of that process will end up here in some form of commentary.

Still super cute, even though she's a certified bad-ass.

Still super cute, even though she’s a certified bad-ass.

The WildStar leveling process has been … an interesting experience. I hate leveling – because it represents the longest block of time I have to spend outside of a healing role, and you all know by now how I feel about that. WildStar was a real love-hate relationship for this process (whereas usually, I just hate, with the white-hot fury of a million Eldan Power Supplies). I have complicated feelings on the topic, and I’ll just briefly comment for now.

The game is pretty hard in comparison to what we’re all used to by now in WoW. It’s not that leveling requires a great time investment – I have 6 days /played and at least half of that was me standing around in my housing plot while alt-tabbing and chatting to people about how much it sucks that standing around in my housing plot whilst alt-tabbing and chatting to people doesn’t award XP – it’s that leveling requires you to actually learn how to use your class’s skills and to deal with the game’s combat system. You will die if you elect to ignore telegraphs, or can’t deal a reasonable amount of damage, or don’t learn to interrupt certain important spells.

And die, I did. A lot. But you know, I kind of admire this relentless take on leveling. At the very least, it was nice to feel engaged in the process. I often don’t in WoW – I can just watch Scrubs or something and auto-pilot my way through tedious quests and kill X of this and gather Y of that. WildStar’s innovation isn’t in the quest design – you’ll still eradicate X and deplete the world of its strategic Y reserves – but in the requirement to actually care about what you’re doing in order to survive.

Unfortunately, this can feel punishing and frustrating, especially where the area design and the game mechanics seem to conflict. Yes, I’m talking to you, I.C.I. Base Camp. A game where the primary objective of combat is to dodge huge areas on the ground should not take place in (a) a cave (b) with terrible camera angles (c) and lots of patrols (d) with some packs of enemies that respawn immediately (e) and surprise-five-levels-above-you! respawns at that.

However, there are some really great things about the leveling. It’s a mix of exploration and breadcrumbs, so you really do get to see the world and feel like you’re part of it. There’s some genuinely funny stuff. And every so often you get to do a “Shiphand” mission, which is like a solo instance (think the Isle of Thunder scenarios, tech-wise, but with more direct involvement in the events) that develops the “World Story”. The Shiphands are pretty cool, and are actually quite worth it, taking about 15-20 minutes and rewarding around 8-12% of an XP bar. Plus you get a bunch of loot in them.

There’s a lot of incentive to level in groups – although the game’s tech doesn’t always play nice with this concept in terms of quest credit sharing, it does a pretty good job, and there are even group quests to kill dangerous mobs that remind me a lot of running into scary giant robots in the Outlands.  The “Mentoring” function that lets you scale your level down to your friends’ level if you get ahead is really great and ensures that helping out lowbies isn’t a complete waste of your time.

The group content itself – Adventures and Dungeons – are, from what I saw, a lot of fun, but unfortunately don’t seem to reward enough XP to make it worth leveling through them. You can even run the Shiphand missions with multiple people – and at least one of them has a special objective that you can’t do without friends!

In the coming weeks I’ll be finding out if all that leveling was worth it. The state of the end-game is the most important aspect to me, and that’s what I’ll be investigating now. Well, now now, I’m going to bed. As a parting gift, I will leave you now with some of my live-Tweet material from my leveling process – I hope you enjoy, and come back here for more updates on WildStar, Warlords of Draenor, and all the other random things I spill on my keyboard ;)

Posted in Challenge Modes, Discipline, Druid, Esper, Mists of Pandaria, Monk, Paladin, Priests, Shaman, Warlords of Draenor, WildStar | 2 Comments

WildStar for Dummies: Don’t Let the Nexus Vex Us

wildstar

Table of Contents
Basic Training
Telegraphs
Dual Resources
Shields and Absorption
User Interface
Wrapping Up

In this long, dreary drudge ’til World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Alpha, or Beta, or you know, something, my WoW guild decided to take up WildStar. And since I’m rather susceptible to peer pressure, I went along with it. While I’m typically not interested in new MMOs – they mean new leveling! Ugh! – I figured I’m probably missing out on opportunities to hone my WoW critique by not learning new systems. Figuring out what does and doesn’t work for me in a new game could help me understand more about what does and doesn’t work in WoW, and why; and a new game with new ideas could give me a broader background to draw upon for analysis.

Dayani Esper

Aren’t I adorable? :)

So with this in mind, I thought I ought to write some about my WildStar experiences. I don’t know if I’m going to do a full-blown theorycraft/ encounter/ class guide, and I don’t even know if I’m going to try all three healing classes in the game. Don’t expect to see WildStar icons up there on my header anytime soon! But it might be interesting, helpful or fun to share my WildStar adventures (and Adventures!) with you all.

Today I reached level 20 as an Exile Human Esper, and in the past 24 hours completed both a Dungeon and an Adventure (like Dungeon-lite) in the healing role. At the end of it, I was pretty happy – the group content was hard, it required coordination and awareness, and best of all, there was plenty to heal!

In this post, I’ll talk a little about my first impressions and give a bit of info about healing and how the game works. Remember, I don’t know a lot about WildStar yet myself, so these posts will be pretty much a chronicle of one old dog’s attempt to learn new tricks.

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Posted in Esper, Medic, Off-Topic, Spellslinger, WildStar | 5 Comments

A Brief Amp Trinket Update

I’ve already added this information to my Amplification trinkets post, but here I’ll do it in short form for quick reference since the information may be getting lost amongst the older content of that post.

In 5.4.8, the following changes have been made that affect Amplification trinkets:

New Amplification trinket values in 5.4.8

New Amplification trinket values in 5.4.8

  • 8 more additional item levels are available through Valor Point upgrades.
  • Wearing two Amplification trinkets now provides a multiplicative, rather than additive, effect for Spirit, Haste, and Mastery, which is a buff to players already wearing 2 of these trinkets.
  • The effect of wearing two Amplification trinkets on your Critical Strike effect is weirder, but is halfway between the additive and multiplicative values.
  • All healer specs can now proc the Intellect proc of the Purified Bindings of Immerseus via auto-attack.

If you are wearing two Amplification trinkets of the same iLvl, the table below will help you determine exactly how your stats and Crit effect will be affected:

The secondary stat boost and critical strike bonus from wearing two same-iLvl Amplification trinkets.

The secondary stat boost and critical strike bonus from wearing two same-iLvl, fully Valor upgraded Amplification trinkets.

Update: I’ve also modified a Google document my friend Frozenorange made, to show what this’ll look like if you have two different iLvl trinkets (click the image to enlarge it so you can read it, haha). The numbers here are truncated to 2 decimal places, which frankly, should be pretty much good enough for every application :)

More information than anyone should ever need about dual Amplification trinkets.

More information than anyone should ever need about dual Amplification trinkets. Click to enlarge!

You can use this information to reverse-engineer the Haste you’ll need to be at when you reforge, trinketless, to reach your desired Haste breakpoint, since I don’t know how many reforge programs are up to date with this information yet. If you’re aiming for, say, 12138 Haste Rating, and you have two 588-iLvl trinkets, then when you are trinketless you’ll want to be aiming for (12138/1.203415) = 10086 Haste Rating.

The change that allows Amplification trinkets to stack multiplicatively rather than additively is not big enough by itself, IMO, to make you use both trinkets if you weren’t already using them in 5.4.7. However, I know this is currently in vogue for Mistweaver Monks (where I don’t quibble – they can very easily proc the DPS trinket’s Intellect effect, and the other trinkets are lacklustre for 10-player-raiding Mistweavers), some Discipline Priests (I guess Dysmorphic, the Cleave trinket, and the Multistrike trinket are unattractive), and Selfless Healer-specced Holy Paladins (for more Mastery and incidentally Spirit). I do not see much value in this for Restoration Druids or Shamans, or for Holy Priests, but I’m sure some of you will want to play around :)

Posted in Discipline, Druid, Holy, Mists of Pandaria, Monk, Paladin, Priests, Shaman, Theorycrafting | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Warlords of Draenor Mini-Analysis: Chain Heal and High Tide

I promise you only have to get to level 100 to take this Talent.

I promise you only have to get to level 100 to take this Talent.

In this [Editor's note: not-so-] mini-post, I’d like to explore changes that are being made to Chain Heal in Warlords, and then look closely at the Restoration Shaman level 100 Talent High Tide, specifically a particular aspect of the Talent that came to light via Twitter. (Seriously, if you want to keep up-to-date with WoW stuff, following Twitter is the best way. If you hate social media, or just don’t care for Twitter itself, there’s always Wowhead’s super awesome “Blue Tweet Tracker” to help you stay abreast of new developments.)


But first, a brief aside – based off Twitter chatter, I’m pretty sure Stoove of Icy Veins and the UNconstant blog is working on a full-blown statistical Chain Heal model that will eventually blow all of my very unsophisticated analysis out of the water – something that’ll account for varying damage patterns, varying raid positioning, raid health, and all sorts of goodies. And I’ve been having Haileaus over at The Shadowy Dancer (yes, a Rogue!, but a helpful one … who knew they existed?) work on something for me, as well, though with the limited parameters and naive assumptions I gave him, I very much doubt it’ll be as thorough as Stoove’s.

In no way do I intend to step on either of these bloggers’ toes with this analysis. (And you two, I apologise in advance if you feel that I have, but rest assured that I’ll be linking/updating/writing about your efforts when you have finished them, and will do everything I can, from my limited platform, to make sure you get the recognition you will most definitely deserve!)


I’ve had this topic on my mind ever since I chatted with Celestalon about it the night of the patch note release, and if I didn’t put it down on paper I was going to go frickin’ insane. My curiosity was piqued by Celestalon’s assertion about how High Tide would change our personal Chain Heal targeting algorithm:

Before I can really unpack what this means, I’m going to have to talk with you guys a bit about the way Chain Heal works now and how it is going to function in Warlords, what the High Tide Talent is going to do, and a little bit of statistics. Whee!

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Posted in Shaman, Theorycrafting, Warlords of Draenor | Tagged | 14 Comments

Warlords of Draenor Mini-Analysis: Mistweaver Edition

This is going to be a pretty short post as I don’t want to get into all the details of Mistweaver changes – just check the patch notes’ Monk section for the vast majority of the details that have been released so far — I just want to examine one particular aspect of Mistweaver that’s always fascinated me – the Renewing Mist spreading mechanics.

Just in case you need a refresher, right now things work like this:

  • Renewing Mist ticks every 2 seconds, with a duration of 18 seconds, under no Haste.
  • Haste reduces the tick interval, which also lowers the duration of the HoT, until a Haste breakpoint is reached; at the breakpoint, the spell gains another tick, which then extends the total duration a bit.
  • The total duration wavers around 18 seconds ± 1 second.
  • Each time ReM ticks, it can jump to another player. This can occur up to twice.
  • Fluctuations in tick interval and HoT duration can change the maximum number of ReMs you will see active at any one time, which causes variation in the number of Uplift targets you get with each Uplift cast.
  • The median number of ReM HoTs active on the raid at any one time is 6. However, this can fluctuate up to 8 right after casting a new ReM, at high Haste levels, but this lasts only a few seconds.
  • A Thunder Focus Tea-empowered Uplift resets the duration of all existing ReM HoTs, allowing you to briefly gain very wide raid coverage – up to 15 targets! – with ReM.

(If you’re interested in more, you can check out my previous post on this subject, but be warned that it was a novice attempt. The post is in error where it implies that ReM itself does less healing in between breakpoints than at breakpoints. However, all the stuff about Haste’s effects on Uplift targets is accurate!)

Now let’s move on to the Warlords-specific details and their implications for Mistweaver gameplay.

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Posted in Monk, Theorycrafting, Warlords of Draenor | Tagged | 2 Comments

Warlords of Draenor Mini-Analysis: Double Your HR, Double Your Fun

Pretty late in the evening for you Western Hemisphere types, Celestalon dropped a major bomb on Twitter about Restoration Shaman:

<< record scratch >> What?!

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Posted in Philosophy, Shaman, Theorycrafting, Warlords of Draenor | Tagged | 8 Comments

Warlords of Draenor Mini-Analyses: Healing Gameplay

Preliminary patch notes for Patch 6.0 (the Warlords of Draenor pre-patch) were recently released, and there is a lot of information contained therein. It’s a little overwhelming, and a little difficult to fully piece everything together. Healing is going to change significantly in Warlords, and from what I’ve read and what I’ve been discussing with other community members, I’m very excited about it.

It's a new dawn in healing, and I'm feeling fine <3

It’s a new dawn in healing, and I’m feeling fine <3

Rather than write one big omnibus post analysing everything in detail, or just regurgitating what’s already been written by the developers and many other community voices, I thought I would just present a few short vignettes on little details of the patch notes that have sparked my interest. I’ll be splitting these up into several posts, with plenty of links to related things I’ve written previously and to other peoples’ take on the matter, so you can read as much related information as you can handle :)

Remember, I’m not planning to cover every little nuance or detail here. And unfortunately, we can’t trust the data-mined information that’s available to us, since the patch is still in Alpha and tooltips and spell coefficients haven’t been reviewed for accuracy:

As such, there’s not a lot of real, informative analysis that I can do. So like my MoP in Review series, I’ll be falling back on a lot of opinion here. I’ll try to keep the panicked conjecture to a bare minimum – it doesn’t serve you guys, or the community as a whole, any benefit to Chicken Little things. I’ll revise my stance on that as necessary once Alpha progresses into Beta and we start seeing the results of focused testing. :)

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Posted in Discipline, Druid, Holy, Monk, Paladin, Priests, Shaman, Theorycrafting, Warlords of Draenor | Tagged | 8 Comments

Off-topic: Proving Grounds (Endless Baker)

Now that my guild has finished the tier and is down to 1- or 2-night clears of the raid, and since everyone ever has abandoned me for Diablo 3, I’ve had a lot more free, non-WoW time on my hands, and I’ve been recently spending it baking. This is off-topic so I’ll keep it short (though there’s a lot of pictures, so you’ll do a lot of scrolling), but I wanted to share with you a few of my recent baking exploits, because they were a lot of fun for me to work on, and they were rather challenging. Feel free to skip this post if you don’t want to see pictures of nerdy but delicious food ;)

Baking is Science for Hungry People!

(Yes, I just outed myself as a lover of Questionable Content :P)

I’m not sure where exactly I got the idea to do this. I think it was just a combination of rewatching How I Met Your Mother (Marshall’s pie chart of bars and bar chart of pies bit) and my desire to practice making pies that coalesced into a grand idea:

Pie Chart Pie: Totally worth it

Pie Chart Pie: Totally worth it

I will make a pie, that is itself a pie chart, of the most popular pie types!

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Posted in Off-Topic | 7 Comments

My Endless Journey: Proving Grounds

I know I am supposed to be writing my MoP in Review series right now – and for the past three weeks – but I kind of got caught up in a different healing project, and, well, it sounds like MoP’s going to be around for a while, so there’s no real rush, right?

dayani the proven proven proven proven proven proven healer

“Yeah; her title’s so big, she has trouble walking through doors”

Over the past two-and-a-bit weeks, I’ve been working very hard on Proving Grounds, with my goal being to achieve the “Proven Healer” title criteria on each healing spec. It was a goal I’d had since Proving Grounds were announced, but I never quite had the courage to try. Then, Watcher announced plans for a PG Silver requirement to queue for Heroic dungeons in Warlords of Draenor, and my immediate reaction was one of fear and dejection. But my rational, experimental mind overruled my emotions, and I decided that in order to determine just how onerous the Silver medal requirement would be, I’d better try Proving Grounds, and if I’m going to try Proving Grounds, why not try to attain my ultimate goal? And I really did it, finishing the last spec about 48 hours ago.

Table of Contents
Personal Prologue
Improving Grounds
NPC Behaviour
Gear and Consumables
Class Discussions
Shaman
Druid
Monk
Paladin
Holy Priest
Discipline Priest
PGs in Warlords

This post is going to be a bit of a meander through my experiences, more emotional than informational: PGs were not just an in-game diversion for me, but a deeply personal challenge; a battle against not just NPC AI and RNG, but also my own struggles with depression, low self-confidence, and biased self-perception. I can’t divorce these things from the overall experience, so I might as well talk about them. Being open about it has helped me before, and if any of my readers are unfortunate enough to suffer the same issues, I’d like to think that I can help.

I won’t be all fluff. I’ll cover some basic tips and tricks and talk about what I did for each spec – some in more detail than others. I’ll talk about class differences, and even speculate a little about Warlords Proving Grounds and what I’d like to see done differently.

Since – in typical Dayani fashion – this is going to be a long post, if all you care about is how I did things on your spec, you can jump straight to it with the links in the Table of Contents. And if you care about everything else I am going to ramble about, read on! :)

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Posted in Discipline, Druid, Guides, Holy, Mists of Pandaria, Monk, Paladin, Priests, Shaman | 56 Comments